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Friday, July 8th, 2016
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SdrDx 2.16o

So, here's the latest as of July 8th, 2016. That's the 20 meter amateur radio band — dead as a door-nail in the middle of the afternoon. No signals. Those spikes are RFI coming from the various and sundry electronic gear around here, they aren't proper radio transmissions. One day, I'll figure out what's making them and take a sledgehammer to whatever it is. 😊

Note: hah... figured it out. Long ethernet cable. Changed the units on the end of it (Amazon Fire TV, XBox360) to wifi, end of QRM. Ahhhh....

We are approaching the valley of the sunspot cycle. As the sunspots decrease in number and intensity, so too does signal propagation in the range of 10 MHz and higher. This is a huge downside for HF radio enthusiasts; long distance communications are almost impossible during the day, and this will last for about 6 years before it begins to get better again.

There is a slightly silver lining to this, which is that the sun is never quite dead, even in the depths of the sunspot minima. Every once in a while the sun throws a serious belch, and when it does, the band will come alive for a few hours, or even a few days. At which point there will be much excitement, flapping of jaws, and (virtual) knob-twisting. 😊

Anyway, the most recent new features I've added in version 2.16o include variably timed auto-hide of the on-waterfall guides, and cross-bucket spectrum and waterfall smoothing. 2.16o is available for both OSX and Windows, in both cases, as a beta release. You can get the software (it's free) at It supports RFSPACE, Andrus, AFEDRI and FunCube SDRs under both OSX and Windows. Additionally, under OSX, you can use the ultra-cheap RTL-SDR sticks. Just keep in mind that the reason they are ultra cheap is that they are ultra lousy performers for anything but FM signals.

Among other things, for about $20 or so spent on such a stick, you get an FM stereo capability better than the most expensive tuners ever made, bar none, in almost every way. Better selectivity, better ultimate signal to noise ratio, better frequency response, better pilot suppression, multipath and XY separation scopes, mono and auto-stereo modes, user-configurable multiplex filtering for weaker stereo signals, white and pink noise generators, full RDS capability... not too bad, eh? The only thing you will run into is not-superb FM sensitivity. For that, you will need to choke up more money for a quality SDR capable of 200 kHz or more bandwidth at VHF frequencies and a hot front end. Which is a purchase well worth it, in my opinion.

#swl #sdrdx

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