Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grounded

I hope all of you had a very good Christmas. I was not very well a couple of days before the holiday. Nothing to do with my cancer, I'm glad to say, but possibly a result of all the treatment for it. I'm feeling a lot better now, but have got to have more tests and may have to go into hospital for removal of gallstones or kidney stones - I'm not sure which as I've been told I have gallstones but I have had some sharp pain in the kidney area. As a consequence of this I haven't felt much like getting up at a reasonable hour to start the beacon monitor or HF APRS gateway.

Creative Design New FM+DAB USB DVB-T RTL2832U+R820T
Before Christmas my interest was piqued by Tim G4VXE's adventures using cheap digital TV dongles as receivers for, amongst other things, aircraft spotting. The first dongle I ordered was described as a Creative Design New FM+DAB USB DVB-T RTL2832U+R820T with antenna, and cost just over six quid!

EZCAP eztv645 RTL2832U / FC0013 USB DVB-T Digital TV Dongle
After a bit more reading up on the subject I began to doubt that this would be compatible with the software everyone was using so I ordered a second one, described as an EZCAP eztv645 RTL2832U / FC0013 USB DVB-T Digital TV Dongle for WIN7 LINUX SDR which was a massive £8.68 including postage from Hong Kong.

Both arrived yesterday. I tried the ezcap first, but my shack PC didn't like the mini-disc that came with it so I was unable to test it as a TV receiver. Following the instructions for the aircraft decoders I installed the driver using zadig_xp, then downloaded and ran rtl1090 which is a decoder for the ADSB packets. This seemed to work - no error messages appeared - but nothing else happened. To display the aircraft data that I hoped to receive I downloaded ADSBScope and installed it. I then spent a lot of time trying various options to connect ADSBScope with rtl1090 but got nowhere. I also tried SDRSharp in the hope that I could use the dongle as a VHF/UHF SDR, and ADSBSharp as an alterntive to rtl1090. But neither of them received anything.

After a while I gave up, disappointed. I then installed the Creative Design dongle and its software. A scan for channels found about 55 TV channels with its quarter wave antenna hung in the window. So it was obviously working. Just not with any of the SDR or ADSB software, as I had suspected.

This morning I tried installing the ezcap software CD that my shack PC couldn't read on another computer. The software installed perfectly on this laptop so I plugged in the dongle and hung the antenna in the window. The software scanned for channels and found precisely nothing. I think this proves conclusively that I have a duff ezcap dongle. Ah, eBay!
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