Welcome to the rtlsdr.org wiki!
This Wiki is intended to collect all sorts of disparate information concerning the use of the so called RTLSDR.
If you wish to add to this wiki please contact the Osmocom guys and ask for editing access rights to this site.
- The ADC and USB data pump. It is mated with one of the following three tuner chips. NDA needed for the data sheet.
60MHz to 1700MHz
The Elonics E4000 is the most desirable tuner to have as it's the most capable. This part may now be in short supply as Elonics IP seems to be up for sale. NDA needed for the data sheet.
FC0012 - Tuner
50MHz to 1000MHz ; Fitipower - no public information available.
FC0013 - Tuner
50MHz to 1700MHz ; Fitipower - no public information available.
R820T - Tuner
24MHz to 1850MHz ; Now the E4000 has gone this is the tuner to get as it's comparable in performance. It also seems to be cheaper overall.
What to listen to
By installing and using RTLSDR hardware and software you have now entered the long established world of scanning and receive only HAM radio. The twist is that instead of using expensive purpose built hardware you are using a PC (which you no doubt already own) and a $20 USB dongle. It is now possible to listen to:
FM: both narrow band and wideband. The former is used on two way radio systems such as emergency services and private radio networks (like couriers and taxis) and UHF CB and the latter is the usual broadcast FM the likes of which you have in the kitchen and car. Aircraft and boats and ships also use narrow band FM which you can use RTLSDR to listen to. The SDR# software can receive both narrowband and wideband FM and the latter do stereo FM too!
AM: Most AM transmissions are below the bottom frequency of RTLSDR dongles. You will need a translator (I'll deal with translators soon) to get these frequency bands.
Upper/Lower Sideband (USB/LSB). See AM above.
CW: Continuous wave for morse code enthusiasts.
With GNURadio you can receive and demodulate digital modes such as pagers (POCSAG), ADS-B (aircraft positions), AIS (ship positions), AP25 and TETRA (digital trunk radio) and many others.
GPS reception is currently being worked on but should be do-able.
Satellite reception including receiving ham transmissions from the International Space Station are possible to. I have seen some screen shots of someone using RTLSDR and a 2.5m dish to track the carrier signal on deep space robots such as Voyager and the Mars missions.
alludes to the tuner chip being disabled and the RTL chip being used to receive transmissions at 30MHz and below.