Overview

Software-defined radio (SDR) is a technique for turning a computer into a radio. But not just an AM/FM radio - by using the computing power on your desktop you can listen and decode a wide variety of broadcasts. SDR can turn your computer into a weather-band receiver, a police/fire report scanner, a music listening station, and more! Instead of manually tuning inductors, its all done in software by chips fast enough to pick up and decode radio waves on the fly
If you've ever been curious about software defined radio (SDR), this USB stick is the easiest way possible to have fun with a powerful, configurable receiver. Packed with the powerful RTL2832U and R820T tuner, it can tune into signals from 24MHz to 1850MHz. That means you can use a computer (with Windows, Mac, or Linux) to tune into: FM Radio, AM signals (but not AM radio), CW (morse code!), unencrypted radio signals (such as those used by many police and fire departments), POCSAG pagers, and more.

In this tutorial we'll show how to get your very first listening adventure underway - listening to FM radio and decoding the RDS/RBDS data signal that is sent along with many FM radio stations as well.
Wan't lots more info? There's hundreds of tutorials, posts and projects over at http://www.rtl-sdr.com/

Next, we'll set up the software -- if you're using windows, head to the next page -- SDR-Sharp for Windows. On mac os, jump to the page CubicSDR for mac os.

To see some SDR action live, check out this episode of John Park's Workshop:

This guide was first published on May 19, 2014. It was last updated on Dec 10, 2018. This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 21, 2018.