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Listen in to Radio Signals from around the world with an SDRplay box and a length of wire

If you're looking for a fun lock-down project that doesn't cost the earth and you're interested in radio, then this might just be for you!

Before the Internet, Ham Radio allowed people around the world to connect and make new friends across continents. Although the advent of the Internet has allowed us all to communicate in multiple digital ways, analogue radio is still a facinating thing to explore. Tools like the SDRplay mean that you don't need to be an experienced Radio Ham with expensive equipment to listen into all kinds of radio signals, all you need is your computer, a little black box and an antenna.

In this video I show you how to hook up a basic wire antenna to listen into transmissions on the 20m band (14-MHz to 14.5 MHz) from around the world.

The SDRplay is a low cost software defined radio receiver that connects to your computer.  Starting at around £100 (GBP), it's a relativley inexpensive gadget, and is a great way to explore the world of Ham Radio without the need of a licence.
 
This versatile family of devices can also do other cool things, such using it as a Spectrum Analyser.
 


It's not quite Tik-Tok, but here's one of my daughters surfing the radio waves seeing what she can pick up.

SDRplay RSP1A (150-3954) RS Components

Learn more about the SDRplay at https://www.sdrplay.com/

Geek, Blogger, Gadget Junkie, Crisp addict, Technology Evangelist. ***If you meet me, ask me for the Pete and Greet Badge code.*** DesignSpark Team. twitter - @petenwood

28 Apr 2020, 8:16

Comments

May 5, 2020 08:22

Love it!

0 Votes

April 29, 2020 12:38

Brilliant Pete! For anybody interested in ham radio, you can hear Pete talking about it on Episode 1 of our podcast at https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/geeks-we-are-your-fathers-1-ham-radio-gaming-and-working-from-home

0 Votes

April 28, 2020 08:07

Great post, thanks Pete, I think I might explore this activity. I have found the aerial wire already while tidying my garage, see attached image.
I should be able to tune in Radio Luxembourg with these old electrons....

0 Votes

April 29, 2020 12:44

@Boss wow!!! what an awesome retro cable! @Andrew Back, check this out!

April 29, 2020 12:44

@Pete Wood Very cool indeed! Never seen that cable before and have a real soft spot for vintage products/product marketing.

April 28, 2020 08:07

What an excellent piece of kit, thanks for posting about that Pete. I love listening into air traffic control with my handheld radio scanner and I would love to start experimenting with software defined radio. Your video made it look very easy, I will have to give this a go!

April 28, 2020 08:07

@ElectricJosh Thanks! The basics are easy, then it's fun to start to learn what all the functions do to get better results. I've got a Uniden handheld Scanner that I use for Air traffic, the SDRplay allows you to do so much more! I'd also encourage you take the Foundation Radio Ham licence, I did a weekend course and the exam is multiple choice. I'm looking at the Intermediate licence next, that's a bit more study and more practical stuff that involve getting your soldering iron out.

April 28, 2020 08:07

@Pete Wood I am very impressed with how functional it looks, I can see how it would be fun to spend hours experimenting and learning about all the different functions. I have seriously considered getting a HAM licence in the past, I will have to come up with some big radio projects then definitely give it another look!

May 4, 2020 10:00

@ElectricJosh Give amateur radio a go! It’s not difficult for beginners to learn the basics. Three steps to a full license, the basic one was passed by a nine year old and a 70 year old at our local club. Check out the RSGB website for details of your nearest club offering tuition.

May 5, 2020 08:22

@Clive_Cosgrif Thank you for your encouragement. I am very interested in both the theory and practical sides of amateur radio so I will definitely give this another look!