The title says it all; I’m sure I’m not the only one that wants to be able to have their SDR handy in the field. This weekend I set about to do it, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.
To put it bluntly: I don’t recommend anyone else try this without more forethought than I put in (none). I can somewhat pick up some of the stronger local FM stations when outside; granted, this is with the first collapsible antenna I had at hand, but I would still expect better reception. To put it bluntly, don’t forget to check your gain and bitrate settings like I did . Initially I had trouble picking up any signals, but once I tweaked my device settings in gqrx things started coming through decently (although practical testing still awaits)
(reception indoors of a broadcast FM tower a mile away, after my setting tweaks)
Since the RTL stick can draw a lot of power, I didn’t want to leave it connected when not in use, so I wired in a little switch on the VCC pin of the USB connection
I took a small plastic container, and hand-cut it to size with a razor blade; after enough trimming, it fits snugly over the mounting posts (I was also able to repurpose part of the side of the container, making that nice little lip to mount the SMA connector/switch on)
In order to make this relatively reversible, I used Dupont pins for all the connections; I originally had plans to fit a USB hub in as well, but couldn’t fit it. It did test without any loss of write speed to a USB stick though, so in the future it should make for a decent internal USB connection.
A note on fit: it’s snug. I had to compress the housing of the SDR with pliers (as seen below), and even then I had to trim some of the plastic away from the back half of the devterm case. I only kept the case on as a heatsink, and would recommend anyone else trying this either delid the stick, or trim off the upper rear portion of the metal case.
In any case, hopefully whoever attempts this next can learn from some of my mistakes. I’m going to do some more testing to see if I can improve the reception, and would love suggestions on how to do so