After a number of years of hemming and hawing I finally purchased my first SDR! Yesterday morning I was up at my usual 4:00 AM CST thanks to the recent daylight savings time change. The clock may say that it is 4:00 AM but my body still thinks that it is 5:00 AM. In any event, as I was nibbling on some breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee I was making a pass through some blog updates and noticed a post earlier in the week on The SWLing Post blog about the recent release of the SDRPlay RSP1A. It was apparently just released on Wednesday, 11/15. In addition to the announcement regarding the release there was also a very nice first review of the device which I read with great interest.
After reading the review and watching this video interview with Jon Hudson of SDRPlay and this video that presents a nice comparison of the various SDRPlay SDR receivers I decided that it was time to wade into the world of the SDR.
As I began the order process on the SDRPlay site the first selection is the country to which the radio will be delivered. Upon choosing “United States” I was immediately informed that SDRPlay products are available from Ham Radio Outlet. Given that I live about 13 miles as the crow flies from the nearest HRO (much too close in some regards,) I checked their site to see if they even listed the new RSP1A, much less had them in stock. Given that they were just released less than 48 hours previously, my expectations were calibrated to the fact that they likely wouldn’t have them listed yet. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the RSP1A listed but they also indicated stock in two locations, unfortunately neither of which was the Milwaukee store. Oh well, I placed the order and chose to have it shipped to the store expecting that I’d get it early next week. At 12:48 PM CST I received a call from Mark, KD9EEE at the Milwaukee HRO store informing me that my RSP1A was ready for pick up! Perhaps HRO is using drones to rapidly move product (don’t tell the FAA) or quite possibly, SDRPlay and HRO did a great job of filling the supply chain prior to announcing the release. In any event I had the RSP1A in my hands late in the afternoon, well less than 12 hours after I first learned of its existence.
After some jiggering around with the USB driver (Microsoft’s problem, not SDRPlay’s, more on that later) the device was working and SDRuno was running.
This thing is fantastic! The notion of receiving an entire band at once as opposed to peering through a keyhole at one thin slice at a time is fascinating. Yes, I know, I’m late to the SDR party. I’m usually a late adopter. And yes, I’ve seen and fiddled with SDR-in-a-box radios like the IC-7300, but owning an SDR and being able to sit and play with it for awhile is very interesting.
I’m not giving up my knobs and buttons anytime soon. In fact, I’ve only been using this thing for several hours and I’m already missing a VFO knob. Thankfully SDRPlay has a suggested solution, the Griffin Powemate USB Multimedia controller. Amazon will have it here tomorrow.
My intention for today was to finish the installation of my new antenna however as I was writing this post this began to appear outside:
The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow, with Monday even nicer. The antenna will need to wait a day (or two.)
I guess I’ll have to declare this SDRplay day and have fun with my new SDR!
USB driver: Regarding the USB driver. The driver would install but would not start due to a Windows error, “Windows cannot verify the digital signature for the drivers required for this device. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source. (Code 52).” Argh. It was already late on Friday so I called it a night and planned to start fresh (at my usual 4:00 AM CST) on Saturday morning. I was able to get the driver to load after disabling the driver signature enforcement on boot however this was not a good long term solution. I opened a support ticket with SDRplay via the support page on their site and had a response in less than 40 minutes (this is Saturday morning at my QTH in Wisconsin and they are in the UK.) They said to install a Windows patch, Microsoft security advisory: Availability of SHA-2 code signing support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: March 10, 2015.
After the installation of the patch all was well. The driver starts and functions correctly. My OS is Windows 7 SP1.