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FUNcube Dongle Pro SDR

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31 replies to this topic

#1
Auntystatic

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Thought this might be of interest to the readers of this part of the forum, it is a software defined radio in a usb dongle that receives from 64MHz to 1.7GHz.

It was designed by AMSat (the radio amateurs Satellite Corporation) As part of AMSAT-UK’s FUNcube satellite project, the FUNcube Dongle is the “ground segment”, or a radio receiver designed to allow anyone to try their hand at reception of satellites like FUNcube anywhere on Earth as part of a global educational collaboration project collecting information from space.

As it has such a wide frequency range, it can be used for many of the radio astronomy bands including the 1.420GHz hydrogen line.

It costs around £125 gbp and I will be getting one to add to my other amateur gear as soon as I have funds after the telescope purchase, but thats for another part of the forum.

Danielle
:)
Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
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#2
iwatkins

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Did you get one Danielle?

I would be interested in any results if using a small dish.

Cheers

Ian

#3
Schorhr

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I would like to know if anyone has experience with the cheaper USB DVB-T/DAB sticks (E4000 chipset, if I got it right its a similar or even identical chipset as in the funcube dongle? See http://superkuh.com/gnuradio.html or ebay or here)
Also, there seem to be two Upconverter available (plans/kits, ct1ffu.com and george-smart.co.uk)... Would that be sensitive enough for Jupiter @ ~20 MHz?

Edited by Schorhr, 21 May 2012 - 01:54 AM.


#4
Auntystatic

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I haven't got one yet as I've been saving for a scope, don't know anything about the dvb-t sticks but the funcube was designed and built by an amsat member for the funcube satellite system.

The hf convertor looks great and yes it would be sensitive enough for Jupiter, but you will need a good dipole cut for 20-21mhz, it comes as a kit so I hope your good at soldering surface mount stuff, or you can buy the ready made kit from here..

Jupiter is up during daylight right now close to the sun, but is rising just before the dawn earlier each day.

I went from radio professional to radio amateur, so if you need any help just shout, I wonder how many radio amateurs are members of the forum, for those that don't know, if you pass the very easy first radio amateurs exam you are licensed then to talk to the astronauts on the international space station.
Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
Posted Image

#5
Schorhr

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Thank you for the info!
I've looked at the german amateur radio license, most questions seem basic physics (lots unit conversions for example)- so it's doable. But I don't need yet another hobby ;-)

Could you specify which product at wimo you where referring to? The link is just to the frames.

Yes, I picked the wrong time to get into radio astronomy for Jupiter, but I allready looked into the charts to view it when the sun is down. And hey, I can allways point my antenna towards the sun, better then nothing ;-)

As for the DVB-T USB sticks: As they use the same chipset and they are available for 7-15€ shipped I might give it a try. For the 20MHz range I'll use a cheap radio or I'll solder a simple receiver circuit depending on my results. As I posted in the other thread I am planning in using a simple (but not optimal) antenna to be portable and build it with kids/teens. Otherwise, IF I find a good big place I will just set up a dipole as suggested on most radio Jove websites...
For the atempts with the USB stick, a helix antenna might be a good idea? At least I've seen that a lot of times, as they are more portable then the larger dish reflectors.

-Marcus

#6
Auntystatic

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Sorry here is the link
Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
Posted Image

#7
Schorhr

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Thank you!
Ouch, for a little experimenting that's a bit much :-) I think I'll just try the $9 stick with the similar chipset. If it does not work I still have a DVB-T stick for my laptop :-) Still trying to confirm that's one with e4000/RTL2832U (else these sell at ebay for under $20)

#8
garethmob

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how can you get normal tv tuners working with the radio software? iv got one spare but how do i check what board is in it?

Coulter Odyssey 8 Dob*/*William Optics Megrez 72*/*Meade ETX 70AT*/*Meade LX90 8"
Opticron 8X42
Skywatcher Synscan AZ*/*
Celestron AZ3*/*ASTROTRAC AG*/*Kson Eklipse
Canon 1100D 
forecast.png


#9
Schorhr

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I have not been able to try it yet without a dvb-t stick, check out
compatibility list post
http://www.reddit.co...rogress_please/

software
see http://hackaday.com/...-tv-tuner-card/
or
http://napan.ca/ghps...x.php/Main_Page
or
http://sdr.osmocom.o...ac/wiki/rtl-sdr (prebuild windows version linked there)

As far as I read
-DR Software; for example HDSDR http://wiki.spench.n...rfaces#Download
- http://wiki.spench.n...rfaces#Download / http://spench.net/dr...-BETA_Setup.zip
- driver http://wiki.spench.net/wiki/USRP_Zadig / http://sourceforge.n...hp?title=Zadig2

possible places to lurk arround at
http://groups.google...r-widget/topics

#10
garethmob

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thanks schorhr! the one i have isnt compatable (migila one) but the prices of some of them are cheap

how big does the arial have to be to use with these?

Coulter Odyssey 8 Dob*/*William Optics Megrez 72*/*Meade ETX 70AT*/*Meade LX90 8"
Opticron 8X42
Skywatcher Synscan AZ*/*
Celestron AZ3*/*ASTROTRAC AG*/*Kson Eklipse
Canon 1100D 
forecast.png


#11
Schorhr

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Depends on what frequency you want to receive? :-)

Here a side-by-side comparison of a cheap stick and the funcube. No idea if all inexpensive sticks will have a similar performance.


All I found regarding the cheap sticks and antennas so far is
Inmarsat via dish


GPS
http://www.reddit.co...tv_tuners_into/

Discussion about OH lines & cheap SDR
http://groups.google...296a95cd8838411
As the sticks are rated for 64 - 1700 MHz perhaps, but I do not know how sensitive they are at that end of the band. I wish they where capable of receiving 20 MHz (Jupiter) without up-converter... Though as far as I read everything below ~40 MHz is useless, the reception gets worse under the specification.

Well... I'm just dabbling in things I don't know about and find interesting. But I hope there's some information you find interesting at the links. I've browsed quite a number of sites and came to the conclusion it's a interesting and inexpensive device, but detecting Jupiter's bursts is doable with very simple setup, everything else needs a lot of post processing and large antennas... I'll be glad if anyone proves me wrong ;-)
Personally I would find it interesting to detect pulsars, but where can I get the antenna? http://www.moetronix...ulsar/index.htm :-)
or at least http://www.dmradas.c.../Equipment.html

The most promising I found was http://ephemeriden.c...dioastronomy.py (German) but the pre-amplifier used costs quite a bit.
I've also seen some projects using a modified satellite finder ( eg http://markusfunke.d...jufo2/index.htm ), as the analog receivers are not usable here anymore, many buy new digital complete sets and throw out old equipment, so it's easy to get components at the moment.

#12
garethmob

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i wonder if it would be possiable to use a sky dish, one of the older ones?

are there any DBT usbs that can do a full range above 20mhz?

Coulter Odyssey 8 Dob*/*William Optics Megrez 72*/*Meade ETX 70AT*/*Meade LX90 8"
Opticron 8X42
Skywatcher Synscan AZ*/*
Celestron AZ3*/*ASTROTRAC AG*/*Kson Eklipse
Canon 1100D 
forecast.png


#13
Schorhr

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Well, with the upconverters I mentioned earlier perhaps.
As for dish- what are you aiming for? :-)
As for ~20 MHz a dish won't do much good, a dipole or loop will be more practicable I think.

Edited by Schorhr, 25 May 2012 - 12:08 PM.


#14
garethmob

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well i was thinking of doing somthing when its not great weather, planetary, (jupitor) solar, have a go at maybe somthing interesting, it would be interesting to show a optical, and radio of the same objects

Coulter Odyssey 8 Dob*/*William Optics Megrez 72*/*Meade ETX 70AT*/*Meade LX90 8"
Opticron 8X42
Skywatcher Synscan AZ*/*
Celestron AZ3*/*ASTROTRAC AG*/*Kson Eklipse
Canon 1100D 
forecast.png


#15
Schorhr

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That's what I want to do with Jupiter and his moons (comparing optical observation of the moons and the RF bursts)... see the other thread :-)

#16
Auntystatic

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OK so I bought myself a newsky dongle for £12, had a little problem with the drivers at first, but managed to get it working, I hooked up my big white stick 2m/70cm aerial and tuned to my local 2 meter repeater to test it, so far its not as sensative as my walkie talkie on its rubber duck.

Its limited to the software you can use with it, but it does have a wide bandwidth which is handy to see whats around. This one is 18.5KHz too high in frequency and has to be adjusted in the software.

The funcube dongle on the other hand is a bit more expensive, but it works with a wide range of sdr software as it has a sound card built into its usb interface, therefore not requiring special drivers, it has a narrow bandwidth geared up for low signal level satellite communications (not sky tv!) but amsat/esa/nasa etc.

You have 2 animals here from slightly different stables, one is a massed produced hacked tv dongle with limited software, the other is produced by a man in a shed in low numbers, designed to be used by the majority of sdr and audio decoding software out there, you pay's your money and makes your choice.

For a HF sdr check out this

There is some great free software out there like sdr-radio

Edited by Auntystatic, 30 May 2012 - 02:32 AM.

Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
Posted Image

#17
Auntystatic

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One thing I forgot about, sometimes aldi and lidl have small travel radio's on offer for around £10, these are normally quite sensitive and may do for your 20MHz listening, it all depends on the aerial you use.
Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
Posted Image

#18
Schorhr

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Thanks for the information! :-)
So the cheap sticks are more for tinkering, not for serious use.
As for the aldi/lidl receivers, I considered it, but then got the cheap KK11 radio 4,50€ (shipped). I read the KK9 (Kaide) are sensitive but lack of selectivity. So this device might work... No ssb though.

#19
Auntystatic

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I wouldn't say the cheap sticks are only for tinkering, the problem is as they are a hacked job you have to use special drivers to allow use with HDSDR etc, but the software available is very limited because of this, it also allows for wider bandwidth which is useful when looking for signals.

Where as the funcube was designed from the ground up to be an easy to use satellite communications tool, it uses a standard sound card arrangement that limits its bandwidth somewhat, but there is much more software available to it.
Danielle
Scopes: Skywatcher 190MN DS-PRO, ED80 DS-PRO, CANON 500mm f4 & 600mm f4
Mounts:
NEQ6 PRO Synscan, HEQ5 PRO Synscan
Guiding: QHY5 + Startravel st80, QHY5v finder guider
Posted Image

#20
Mr TamiyaCowboy

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well have to say i jumpped in and grabbed an EZ 668 DVB-T dongle.

it is on the links above running the e4000 chipset.
now all this radio stuff is new to me, the electronics , everything.
i have downloaded and installed HDSDR to my astro notebook.
the device is on route but i need an aerial.

i have read the ones that come with the devices are very much not very good.
so my idea was to use a satellite dish to direct the signal to the whip aerial received with the device.
see if i could make it a little better while i get my head around aerial builds and designs.

i am very much stuck with a small space, the gardens full of Veg so no large jungle style aerial.
any ideas on how i can build a very cheap but effective high power aerial ?.
do i need to do any hacks to get the device to run in HDSDR ( plug and play newbie proof).

along time ago i used to sit with my grandad listening to the aircraft and likes buzzing around.
sadly he passed away, but i would like to bring back those memorys, also sit my niece and godson down
and let them listen in to maybe the ISS and other interesting signals

Edited by Mr TamiyaCowboy, 13 June 2012 - 03:13 PM.

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