Friday, 18 May 2012

RTLSDR - Part 1 - Failed to Launch!


Well that was quick! The USB Receiver with the RTL2832 receiver I ordered it on Tuesday afternoon and arrived yesterday (Thursday) morning (from Jersey based retailer Cosycave via ebay) so was eager to try it out last night.

Fired up the old laptop and went off to and the getting started section to download the drivers and software and everything seemed to be going well. Following the instructions the device appeared to be correctly detected and the appropriate drivers installed, but then it went pear shaped.

HDSDR would open, the EXT-IO window would appear and attach to the device but as soon as I tried to tune the stick or start receiving various errors would appear and nothing worked... I tried a number of different option settings but still no luck!

Feeling a bit disappointed I put it down while I watched some TV and tried again later. I uninstalled everything and went through the process again but still ended up with the same errors.

I decided to rule out a defective receiver so I uninstalled everything again and installed the manufacturers supplied software.

The drivers and something called BlaseHDTV installed without a hitch. I connected the little supplied antenna to the receiver and set off scanning for TV and radio stations. It didn't complain but found nothing! By now it was well past midnight so I went off to bed in a huff.

This morning I connected the receiver to the roof aerial and it did find TV channels from the two local transmitters Waltham (60% signal strength and 100% quality) and Belmont (low signal strength and quality) but when I tried to watch anything I just got random coloured blocks and random noise. Interestingly it didn't find anything using the DAB or FM radio applications.

So is the receiver defective? Unlikely as it did go away and find TV channels.

The culprit is almost certainly the computer. Being an untrusting soul when it comes to software 'off the internet' I didn't want to try any of this out on my main computers in case it messed anything up. However the laptop is an old Sony Vaio with a Pentium 4-M processor and only 512MB of RAM and can be prone to sluggish behaviour, especially when trashing the hard drive. Saying that it will happily run SDR-Radio with the FUNCube Dongle.

Checking back over the specifications of the receiver it clearly states on the packaging that it requires a USB2.0 port... mmmm the old laptop only has USB1.1! Unfortunately I have grown accustomed to ignoring the pop-up balloon which appears I plug something in...

The looks like the most likely reason for the problems, not enough bandwidth - which would certainly explain the DTV issues. So I will have to try it on another PC...

As Captain Picard would say!  


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