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    • This particular model is $20 off Amazon and comes with a telescoping antenna.
    • Covers 24 MHz – 1700 MHz
  • Laptop


  • Replacement antenna

Replacing the Antenna

You can easily get much better signal reception on your USB dongle by replacing the stock antenna with a better antenna, or one better matched to the frequency range you are tuning to. Many of the USB dongles use a PAL or MCX connectors. You can purchase adapters that convert to BNC or SMA adapters for less than $4 on eBay. Once you have an adapter, you can easily connect another antenna. There are many options for antennas.

Telescoping Antennas

You can purchase telescopic CB or scanner radio antennas with BNC connectors for under $10 online. These are designed to go on handheld CB radios or small portable radio scanners. They are cheap and they can collapse to fit in your backpack or pocket.

Mobile Antennas

These are simple whip antennas. They're typically magnetically mounted to vehicles, and are usually tuned between 140 MHz to 160 MHz (amateur and public safety frequencies). You can pick up one of these antennas in $40 range, and they'll also work with a mobile radio transceiver if you have one. You will likely need an adapter to convert to the PL-259 plug/SO-239 socket commonly used on these antennas.

Wideband Antennas

Wideband antennas like TV antennas or discone antennas work well. They are designed to work over a wide range of frequencies. Contrast this with most ham radio antennas which are typically tuned to a narrow range of frequencies. Directional TV antennas can be purchased for fairly cheap online (20-40 dollars). TV antennas range from ones that can sit on top of your TV or on a desk to antennas that need to be mounted on your roof. Most US TV antennas use F-type connectors. These are the connectors used on the standard coax cable that goes into your TV. You will need an adapter to connect it to your SDR. Discone antennas are similarly priced. You will probably need a PL-259 plug/SO-239 socket adapter for a discone antenna.

Making your own

Making your own antenna is fairly easy, too. See the projects page for instructions on making some antennas.

Local Radio Frequencies

Here are some stations you might hear around campus. You can also check the list of frequencies article for more stations and a general list of frequency allocations.

Frequency Mode Station
144.390 MHz NFM APRS Calling Frequency
147.060 MHz NFM W4LEE Repeater
147.240 MHz NFM K4RY 2m Repeater MHz NFM Auburn Fire Dispatch
155.610 MHz NFM Auburn Police Dispatch
162.525 MHz NFM NOAA Weather Radio Station WWF54
444.800 MHz NFM K4RY 70cm Repeater

SDR on Windows with SDR Sharp

Follow this setup guide for Windows to setup SDR#.

The frequency shown in SDR# may be off from the actual frequency the dongle is tuned to. In my experience, it's typically 0.01 MHz or 10 kHz high. You can add a correction factor to the tuning display by checking the shift option under the radio menu and setting it to the offset (specified in Hz, so -0.01 MHz is -10,000).

WEGL will saturate your receiver if you are on campus, especially if you're tuning around 91.1 MHz. You can actually pick up WEGL without the antenna connected at all! That's what happens when you're within a mile of a 3 kW transmitter.

Running on Linux with GNURadio

usbsdr.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/10 16:35 by cwh0009