Saturday, 21 November 2020

FLIGHT SIMULATOR 2020 (NOT RADIO)

MICROSOFT'S LATEST

BUT IS IT THE GREATEST? Well it's a far cry from the very first offering from Microsoft way back in 1982! Looking back at an early screenshot, it seems incredible that we even bothered to load it, let alone pay for it! But back then, it was every bit as "cutting edge" as the 2020 version is.


1982 FlightSim
 
When it comes to sims, I've always preferred to play with CombatSims like Falcon, LockOn and more recently DCS WORLD. I do own a copy of X-PLANE and have bought a study-level GA, but never really got too far into it. I've also owned a few Microsoft Flight Simulator versions over the years, but in the main, I prefer military aircraft over civil.

When I first heard about MSFS2020, my ears pricked up a bit, not least of all because of the stunning graphics and live streaming of ground mapping data. This introduces realism at a whole new level. IN THEORY it meant that when you fly over one of your known local landmarks (such as Winter Hill in Bolton), you should see it on the ground. WOW!!

It hasn't quite worked out that way. But damn it's good!


The graphics are simply stunning!!! Not just the flyable aircraft, but the airports too. And the general scenery and the weather and the 'objects' scattered around, here, there and everywhere.


I opted for the Premium Deluxe version of Flight Simulator because when you buy the basic version, you only end up spending extra on more planes and airports anyway! I also opted for a physical DVD version instead of a mega digital download. And then I upgraded a couple of airports using ORBX.

10 x DVD's!!!

Anyway, the point of this post is to show some doubters that this massive simulation will run perfectly well and without any hitches or problems on a decent PC and I don't mean one with an i9-Extreme CPU and a GeForce 24Gb RTX3090 !

So let me tell you the spec of my PC so that you can make comparisons...

  • ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-F GAMING motherboard
     
  • INTEL i7 9700 CoffeeLake 3.6MHz OC to 5,000MHz
     
  • 32Gb Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz

  • 2 x CORSAIR MP-510 SSD storage drives

  • MSI GAMING-X  GEFORCE GTX 1080 Ti 11Gb
     
  • Monitor Resolution : 2560 x 1440p

So yes, it's a nice computer, but it's not a beast or anything. Before I installed FS2020, I was honestly thinking I was going to be disappointed and after reading all the complaints about stuttering and FPS figures only just getting into double figures, I envisaged an evening of pushing sliders back and switching off a lot of eye-candy 😨 There's lots of videos online showing people doing their best to tweak the sim so that they can achieve a steady 30fps.

On with the installation - I should say that even though I had DVD's it still took an incredible 5 hours to complete the installation and even then I had to download a further 100Gb of up to date data before I could run the sim 😵. Oh by the way, I installed the sim on its own dedicated 500Gb SSD.

Once it was up and running, I went into the settings and saw that the software had estimated which settings I should use based on the hardware it had found. To my amazement, it had selected ULTRA for everything!

Despite what the software thought of my PC, I was still rather sceptical. As recommended, I chose to start my first flight from a very busy and visually complex airport in order to get a true picture of what my PC could handle. I also made a point of using an aircraft with a glass cockpit instead of steam gauges.

Innsbruck Airport

Once in the cockpit, I found that I was in the mid-40 fps and everything was supremely smooth. There were no hiccups, no delays and no stuttering, even when I spun my views around and around. Up in the air, it was the same - no issues whatsoever and never once did the fps drop below 40. I purposely flew through clouds, flew past magnificently complex scenery, taxied past some of the most realistic (and heavily populated) airports I've seen. 



So based on this experience, I have to say that I don't understand why some people who claim to have very high-end PC's are struggling and criticising Microsoft. Sure, if your PC is getting a bit long in the tooth, then you're going to have a dreadful experience - this is, after all, an incredibly complex and demanding sim. Now it's a fact that Microsoft have not yet developed this sim sufficiently enough to take advantage of ultra-modern, high-end GPU's, but this will improve over the coming months hopefully.



Is FS2020 better than XPLANE?? I'm not even going there! I'm a flightsim hobbyist and not one of these techno-geeks who will tell you it's all about the flight model and not the graphics. My enjoyment is somewhere in-between the two. For me, FS2020 is a whole lot of enjoyable fun!!

I even got my Amateur Radio callsign on the aircraft 😂....


 
 
 
UPDATE : 24 Nov 2020

I have decided to change my monitor to give me 4K Ultra High Def. This will make FS2020 look absolutely awesome but it will mean that the GPU will need an upgrade if I want to have everything maxed out at that resolution (3840 x 2160).

So the only real card to buy is the Nvidia RTX 3080 but availability is simply shocking!!! Anyway, I eventually managed to get my hands on a new ASUS RTX 3080 TUF OC 10GB but it cost me £100 over RRP (robbing b'stards)!! This is the OverClocked version and is about as good as it gets for the money. 

ASUS RTX 3080 TUF OC 10GB
'TUF GAMING'
 



It's a monster of a card and is all-metal construction. It weighs a ton and one does worry about the weight of such a beast - I feel like it could do with a vertical support at the end of it.

Performance is a given at this spec - it just screams along at a blistering pace no matter what you throw at it. You can get as much as 150fps in some games at ULTRA settings, but FS2020 is still really in development and has yet to be optimised to take advantage of these new video cards. It will no doubt get better as time moves on and updates improve efficiency. Still, it looks like liquid silk with absolutely everything maxed to the hilt.

   Click to see league tables


The temperature control of this particular card is pretty spectacular! It runs cooler than my 1080Ti - no matter what you throw at it. The only down side (apart from the eye-watering price) is the power consumption. There's no such thing as a 'green' game PC anymore 😂

My only concern is that the Intel i7 9700k CPU will be the next bottleneck. And the fact that my Z390 ROG STRIX MotherBoard only has PCIE-3 slot for the GPU when it should really be a PCIE-4. It is, of course, backward compatible, but it means that I'm not squeezing every ounce out of that card.

FULL REVIEWS HERE

Review-1



Review-2


Review-3



Monday, 16 November 2020

YAESU TO EMULATE ICOM's SUCCESS?

 HF,  VHF/UHF COMBO?

Icom have had incredible success with their IC-7300, followed by the superb IC-9700. It's a great combo and I'm sure that all the other big manufacturers have been green with envy, these last few years. 


And now, in 2020, Yaesu launch the FT-DX10 which is a compact 100W SDR transceiver like the 7300. It looks to be a great bit of kit and I love the look of it (apart from that chavvy 3D waterfall). The spec looks fabulous and I don't doubt that it's going to receive great performance reviews, despite its £1550 price tag 😮 



I reckon that they'll follow it up with a very high-spec 2M/70cm/23cm radio with C4FM to compete with the IC-9700. Maybe they'll sort out all the limitations that the 991A has when it comes to Fusion and dual-band operation. Hopefully it will be able to offer VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF, VHF/UHF, VHF/C4FM, UHF/C4FM and C4FM/C4FM like the little FT300 does. 

We'll see 😊

PLEASE NOTE : this FT-DX90 is not a real radio - it's a guess at what Yaesu might do!


Thursday, 12 November 2020

 ANTENNA TUNER FOR SWL

Being a newly licensed amateur radio enthusiast with transceivers and long wire antennas, it soon becomes evident that ATUs are not only great for transmitting, but also for receiving. Getting the right match between antenna and receiver greatly boosts those weaker stations to the point where it makes the difference between hearing them clearly or struggling to make any sense of the signal.

When I installed an SDRPLAY RSPdx in the corner of my lounge, I found myself wanting to tune the G5RV to get a better match and a stronger signal, so I decided to buy a tuner. Sadly, the vast majority of manual tuners on the market are made for transceivers and are very expensive.

I posted on some SWL forums/groups for some recommendations and I got quite a few links sent to me which pointed to Auto ATUs. Obviously, Auto ATUs need to transmit in order to get a match, so they were no good. When I pointed this out to people, they got quite snotty and defensive, so I just moved on. 😕

Finally, I found a cheap solution in the GLOBAL COUPLER AT-1000 which is an older piece of equipment which can be found on eBay for around £60. The one I bought was actually from my local Radio Club - it was surplus to requirements.




The unit looks a little old fashioned, but it's perfectly functional and in great condition - the front panel in particular, is in fantastic shape. All the screws are original and apart from some of the usual marks to the case's paintwork, it's like new. 

Inside is the same - probably better, in fact, than some newer-built stuff!

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a manual for it online, so I had to refer to one for the AT-2000 which is very similar. It's pretty obvious what you've got to do anyway! You connect your antenna to the "ANT" SO-239 on the back and then connect a patch-lead from the Coupler to your radio's antenna input.

 
Once you're ready to listen to a frequency, tune your radio to it, then on the Coupler, you choose your band with the BAND SELECTOR, adjust the TUNING-1 dial until you get the best signal, then adjust the TUNING-2 dial to improve it further. Once you've got a better, clearer signal, you can again make a final tweak by repeating the operation for finer-tuning.

Is it as good as just pressing a button on an AUTO ATU?? No, of course not, but it does the job and gets you a better antenna match and therefore a better (usually) signal. Without it, you're simply stuck with whatever you can hear.

Is it worth it? Yes, they're a really handy tool to have in the SWL toolkit and the good thing about stuff like this is they never really lose their value.

Thanks for popping by.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.


Thursday, 5 November 2020

SONY ICD-UX570 AUDIO RECORDER

PORTABLE AUDIO RECORDER

My trusty 12yr old Olympus VN-5500 Audio/Voice Recorder decided that enough was enough and fell into an eternal sleep. It had been a really handy device and I've enjoyed many years of reliable service from it. So it's time to find a replacement.

Looking around, there's lots of choice but having experienced the quality and reliability of my Olympus, I decided to ignore all the obscure manufacturer's offerings and stick with big names. 

The Olympus only cost me around £30 (12 years ago) and I could see from the internet that you could easily get carried away with modern recorders, so I was determined not to go overboard. I set myself a maximum budget of £60 and in all fairness, there was quite a lot to choose from. My main focus was on devices which would provide me with good built-in stereo microphones plus a LINE IN facility to permit the connection of an external mic or to record from a direct connection to another device using a 3.5mm jack to jack lead.

The very first thing I noticed in my search for a replacement was that some digital recorders had a file limit of 99 recordings. That's woefully inadequate and a definite backward step. My Olympus could hold 100 recordings in each Folder (and it had four)!

Storage capacity wasn't a massive consideration because my old recorder only had 512mb and all the new devices had  far more space. Mind you, I should take into account that the modern devices were capable of recording at CD Quality and therefore produce some pretty big files.

A feature of the Olympus which I really liked was its quick startup. It was almost instant and that can sometimes be important. My iPhone has a built-in recorder of course, but by the time you've unlocked the screen with your password, found the App, loaded it and started recording, you could have missed something important.

So, after spending an hour or so mooching around the internet watching videos and reading reviews, I plumped for the SONY ICD-UX570.

 
It is lighter than my Olympus, just as compact and far more functional. The screen is nice and crisp and the controls are typically Sony - they fall to hand and everything's pretty intuitive.


Above that OLED crystal-clear screen is an LED indicator and on top of the device (either side) are the high-sensitivity, low-noise 'S' microphones. Depending on which mode you're in, the microphones capture the sound from the top in a directional way or from the sides too, for more of a surround/omni-directional capture mode. The external Mic and Headphone sockets on the top there too.

 

In addition to being able to 'just record', you can also let the Sony work in an 'Auto Music' mode where it will pause inbetween tracks and split the recordings into separate files as long as the songs have got a 2-second gap between them. That can save a whole lot of editing.

Recordings can be made in Linear PCM 16bit,  44.1kHz Stereo WAV files through to MP3's at 48kbps Mono to 192kbps Stereo. That's a much better range of options than I had before.


The SONY ICD-UX570 'only' has 4Gb of built-in memory, but that's 8x more than I previously had and it will provide up to 59 hours of STEREO MP3 recordings! You can also add a micro-SD card to provide you with an additional 64Gb of space 😮

I mentioned file-quantity limitations previously and how some devices only permit 99 files. The Sony will handle 5000 and you can place them in Folders which can be named and edited straight from the unit itself.

A great feature of the Sony Audio Recorder is the built-in USB Port which slides out from the bottom of the device. I really like that feature, since there's never any need to find an interface lead to connect to your PC (or MAC).

Yet another great feature of the Sony is the Noise Reduction. It can be found in the menu under the heading of Clear Voice and it has two levels. The first one attempts to reduce ambient noise while boosting the human voice frequencies. The second level of noise reduction further attempts to reduce ambient noise. In practise, it really is quite effective.

Of course it always a good idea to record in the right mode from the start, but if you feel that you chose the wrong method initially, you can always use the noise reduction to improve your recording.

Speaking of choosing the right mode, there are a few to choose from. They range from a close-up and personal mode where you're going to be speaking directly into the mic like you would with a dictaphone, to a wide mode where there might be lots of speakers sat around a large boardroom table or recording music in a hall. It's worthwhile practising with the modes so that you know which is best for each situation.

If you're recording your amateur radio QSO's with the Sony, you can use the recorder in the normal method of placing the device in the proximity of the radio and the operator, or you can plug the radio's headphone socket into the Sony's Mic socket and activate your radio's Monitor feature so that the audio from both operators can be heard.

There's also a sound-equaliser built-in, with some great settings... Excited : Relaxed : Vocal : Treble Boost : Bass Boost and Custom. The Custom setting lets you define sound levels in five different frequency bands. 

The built-in speaker has a decent volume level but in a noisy environment, you'll probably want to use headphones/earplugs. The speaker should really be considered as something to use to quickly check recordings and not for critical listening. 

Your files can be protected against accidental erasure by simply choosing the PROTECT option from the menus. These files can be played back but not deleted without UNprotecting them. It's worth noting that you can also mark any part of a recording with a 'Track Mark' so that it's easy to find it later. You cannot mark a protected file though. 

Power is supplied by rechargeable battery which is recharged via the units USB port. A very brief charge can give you an hours worth of recording for emergencies. 

So in conclusion, I'm very pleased with my purchase! It's such a great recorder. My one and only regret is that I couldn't find the "F" model here in the UK because that gives you an FM Radio tuner too.

The Sony comes with a nice pouch style case...
 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

73, Tom, M7MCQ

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

IS HAM RADIO UNCOOL??

MY SECRET SHAME


Whenever I find myself discussing my hobbies with other people, I have no issues declaring my interest in Photography, Art, Motorcycling, Walking, Sci-Fi or Music. But as soon as I mention Flight Simulation and HAM Radio, I find myself becoming defensive.

I always feel that it's not enough to just say "I'm into Amateur Radio". I have to follow it up with a long, wittering explanation of why I do it and explain what makes it interesting and worthwhile. It's almost as if I  know, deep down, that it really IS a bit of a sad hobby.

Going back to when I was a youngster growing up, I believe that I was always a bit different to most of my peers who simply wanted to play football, climb trees and break into derelict buildings. I enjoyed some of those things, but I also had a strong interest in engines, transistor radios, tape recorders, television and generally how things worked (also known as pulling things apart).

I was also a prolific Model Kit builder. Planes, tanks, cars, ships. Anything that was a bit challenging. Needless to say, most lads my age found it all a bit 'sad' 😂

In my teens, all my mates loved the Beatles, I loved Steely Dan. My mates dreamed of having a Ford Cortina, I dreamed of having a Kawasaki Z900. My mates watched The Fonz in Happy Days and I watched Captain Kirk in Star Trek.

I was not a brainiac! I was not even the slightest bit clever. But I was curious about things and always a bit 'contrary'. Not for the sake of it - just because I liked to explore alternatives and not just accept the mundane, run of the mill stuff. 

Anyway, here I am in my 60's and nothing's changed much. I'm still into Photography, Art, Motorcycling, Walking and I'm still building models, listening to Steely Dan and riding motorbikes.  I added serious SWL to my hobby-list about 30 years ago and Flight/Combat Simulation about 20 years ago. 

So are we a bunch of saddos? 

Well no - I don't think so. In fact, I honestly feel sorry for those people who have no hobbies - and I know a few of them! Personally, I can't even imagine a life without hobbies - and not just any hobby, but hobbies which challenge you or things which provide a creative outlet.

I often find that it's those people who have no hobbies who are the ones who have the most to say about my hobbies. And it's not always 'dumbos' who cannot see the value of my hobbies - I've even heard mocking banter from some pretty intelligent acquaintances when it comes to Amateur Radio!

I find Amateur Radio quite exciting for a number of reasons and I especially love exploring the wide range of operating modes. I love to speak with people from all walks of life, from all sorts of countries, with all sorts of outlooks and attitudes. I like to look people up on QRZ as I'm talking to them and finding that they're actually an airline pilot or something similarly interesting. I love the idea of speaking with someone in space or bouncing a signal off the moon! Or just having a bit of a natter with a local friend on 2M or maybe joining in the local LockDown Net.

And I still just love to sit twiddling the dial on a ShortWave radio listening to foreign broadcast radio, as I did when I was a young boy, marvelling at the idea of radio waves travelling from China to my house through a little cheap transistor radio.

I do know that many people link Amateur Radio to CB and as soon as I mention my hobby, I get the usual "Breaker Breaker" and "Eyeball Eyeball" comments, along with "Oh yeh, I used to do that in the 80's". 

But then I have a confession. 

I too, can be a bit snooty about certain hobbies, so maybe I'm just as bad as my own critics. I frequently distance myself from any notion that HAMS are similar to CB operators! No, no, we're way above  the Children's Band. We have an Ofcom Licence don't you know? 😂

I think Fishing is a bit sad. Having a day off work to sit on the wet bank of your local lodge waiting to catch a fish that you're going to throw back into the water 😵

And what about Train/Plane Spotters in their anoraks with notepad and pencil?

And Football Fans who watch rich guys kick a ball, shouting "Come on you reds"!!

And Stamp Collectors. And Comic Collectors.

Maybe we're all a bit sad in our own way? But surely, we're all that little bit better off than those people who don't have an interest in ANYTHING?

Personally, I would never let anyone'sopinions effect my enjoyment of a hobby. Sure, it would be nice if everyone agreed with our choices, but that's never gonna happen is it?

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

73, Tom, M7MCQ 😀

ELAD TM-2 TMATE2

 ELAD TM-2 TMATE2

I spotted the TMATE some time ago and nearly bought one. Back then it was sold (from memory) by a company called Woodbox Radio and it was a pretty basic design with a large dial and a few programmable buttons. It was pretty expensive for what it offered, so I held off for a cheap second hand one - which never came. I wanted it originally to control my SDRPLAY RSP1A and when I purchased an Elad FDM DUO, I thought it might be handy for that too. But like I said, a cheap one never came along.

 THE ORIGINAL TMATE
 
So here we are some years later and it appears that the unit has progressed somewhat and the latest incarnation is the ELAD TM-2. The unit is much more attractive to the eye and it features a large tuning dial (optical encoder) with 2 additional rotary encoders (all metal) and 6 programmable buttons. There's also a lovely LCD screen to provide tuning, signal strength and mode information, etc.

BUT it's still expensive - almost £300 with postage 😦


And that's why I still decided against purchasing one. Sure, they're incredibly handy when using an SDR receiver connected to your laptop, but boy, that's a good chunk of money for such a limited device.

Anyway, I eventually found one on HamRadioDeals.co.uk and the seller wanted £250 so I messaged him with a very cheeky bid and he very kindly accepted it. It had been on sale for a while with no apparent interest, so I was just in the right place at the right time. The unit was absolutely brand new in the box, unopened and unused 😮

The TM-2 is a simple Plug&Play device, requiring no drivers, so you really do just plug it into a USB socket on your PC and away it goes - it takes its power from the PC. That's similar to my ICOM RC-28 (except the RC-28 costs the same but doesn't include an LCD screen)!

ICOM RC-28
 
Although the TM-2 has a definite Elad identity, it can, of course, be used with a variety of SDR software and the one of greatest importance to me is SDRPLAY's SDRuno.






The TM-2 integrates perfectly with SDRuno, requiring very few alterations to the software menus to get it going. The main VFO Dial obviously tunes your active receiver (VRX) and pressing it like a button, locks the LO. The dial and software provides you with progressive tuning which is a feature I really love on my Icom radios.

If you have more than one receiver setup onscreen (as you often do with SDR software), then you can have the TM-2 LCD screen change colour as you move from one receiver to the next. Another handy feature.

The primary functions of the two smaller knobs (E1 & E2) control volume and filter-width, but by pressing the buttons, they cycle through other functions....

E1 Encoder

The function of this control can be selected by you: pushing the knob and selecting the current function among the five available:

- VOL adjust the VRX audio level (AF level or volume).

- RFG adjust the AGC gain (if AGC is enabled) or the RF gain (if AGC is disabled).

- SQL adjust the squelch threshold.

- NR adjust the amount of Noise Reduction

- NB adjust the threshold of the Noise Blanker

E2 Encoder

The function of this control can be selected by you: pushing the knob and selecting the current function among the two available:

- HIGH adjust the selectivity filter high frequency limit.

- LOW adjust the selectivity filter low frequency limit. 

It's worth noting that the information on the LCD screen updates instantly and there is no discernible delay between the PC screen and the TM-2 screen. And that includes the signal strength meter!

The row of Function Buttons at the bottom of the TM-2 perform specific functions in SDRuno and they are....

F1 – Decrease Step.

Decreases the tuning step to the next lower value (if available).

F2 – Increase Step.

Increases the tuning step to the next higher value (if available).

F3 – Knob Lock

Locks/unlocks the tuning knob; the locking status is indicated in the RX Control panel, to the left of the frequency dial and by the LOCK LED on the Tmate 2 window.

F4 – Assignable Button

The function of this button depends upon the current parameter controlled by the E1 encoder:

- VOL MUTE on/off.

- RFG AGC on/off.

- SQL squelch on/off.

- NR Noise Reduction on/off.

- NB Noise Blanker on/off (NBW only).

F5 – RX Mode

Selects the current receiving mode.

F6 – VRX Selection

Assigns the Tmate to the next VRX of the same instance.

It may sound a little confusing, but in practise, it's actually pretty simple - just like how the Elad FDM DUO works. It certainly makes using your SDRuno much easier and more 'natural'.

The device itself is very well made and has some heft to it so it doesn't get pushed around as you operate it. 

Am I glad I bought it? YES! Is it great value for money? NO! Well, not at full price, anyway. I guess it's like anything else - it's worth what a buyer is willing to pay for the features and functionality of such a thing. If the SDRdx was the only radio I had, then I wouldn't hesitate in buying a Tmate because it just gives you that 'real radio' feel. You pay your money and take your choice.

Thanks for visiting - leave any comments in the box below.

73, Tom, M7MCQ 😊


Friday, 30 October 2020

SDRPLAY RSPdx REVIEW

 RSPdx QUICK LOOK!

When it comes to low-cost SDR's, there's an amazing choice out there and ShortWave Listeners have never had it so good. The quality and feature set available for just a few pounds (or dollars) is a dream come true, so let's just thank our lucky stars that technology has moved on so rapidly in the last few years.

Personally, I've used the SDRPLAY RSP1A for a few years now and it's provided everything I've needed. Since getting an ICOM IC-7300, it has been permanently assigned to the shack acting as a big-screen panadapter and waterfall, using the RadioAnalog PTRX-7300 interface module.


My old RSP1A was fitted with a plastic case which I quickly discarded and replaced with a dedicated metal case from a Chinese eBay seller. It was a very high quality bit of kit and represented great value for money.

With the RSP1A permanently attached to the IC-7300, it was time to look at buying another one for general Shortwave Listening duties elsewhere in the house. When I started looking on the SDRPLAY website, I noticed that they had a brand new model out called the RSPDX so I decided to take a closer look at it.

The RSPdx is a replacement for the RSP2 range. The first thing which struck me was that it was twice the price of an RSP1A so I was intrigued to know why! Maybe it has 2 tuners inside like the DUO model??

Well it turns out that it's only a single-tuner device but it is has higher specs than all the other models. In particular, the front-end has been totally redesigned with new filters and special attention has been paid to the frequencies below 2MHz!

This change to the RSP range is significant because it's the weakest area of the SDRPLAY products. Having an extremely wideband receiver (1kHz to 2GHz) means that compromises must be made somewhere and it seemed to hit hardest (to me at least) in the lowest part of the spectrum where all the broadcast DX stations live. Even strong, relatively local station like BBC R4 198 sounded quite poor.

Well that's all behind us now that SDRPLAY have redesigned the receiver and added a new "HDR" mode which makes a dramatic improvement on MW/LW. But the HF frequencies benefit greatly from the improvements too!

Is it twice the radio that the RSP1A is?? No, but if you want the best performance from something with huge frequency coverage, then the RSPdx is the one to consider. Before the RSPdx came out, narrower-band SDR dongles like the AirSpy Discovery were more sensitive than SDRPLAY's offerings, but then you lost all that 30MHz-2GHz.  Now you don't have to compromise at all.

Another thing I like about the RSPdx (apart from it coming from the factory in a nice steel case) is the fact that it has THREE antenna ports. This is perfect for me because I have a G5RV, a Discone and an AOR SA-7000. Switching between the three is an absolute doddle and it frequently surprises me how much the signal is improved by switching (even when it sometimes doesn't even make sense)!

In order to take advantage of the RSPdx's features, you need to run the company's own software, SDR UNO. At the time of writing, it's up to V1.4 and it provides access to the receiver's HDR mode.

I know that some of my friends don't like the UNO software because it requires some investment of time to learn it and properly understand it. But if you do get to grips with it, there's nothing quite like it for what is essentially free software.


 
I bought the device from Martin Lynch & Sons in the UK and it arrived two days later. I must admit, I was disappointed to see that it arrived in a pretty flimsy Jiffy-Bag which could afford little protection against the usual rough handling dished out by couriers. The £200 device itself is in a very thin, non-padded box, so as far as I'm concerned it needed to be slightly better packed for the 200 mile journey.

 
The package also contained a couple of patch leads (ordered separately) which could easily have caused damage to the thin packaging. Anyway, I guess I'd better stop moaning about resellers - it never makes any difference to the way they operate.

Before connecting to my laptop, I decided to open up the box to marvel at all the internal goodies that made up this 200 quid receiver. Hmmm, I guess you're paying for the development that goes into them, not the components 😂😂 There are cheaper SDR receiver manufacturers out there, for sure, but none (IMHO) who provide as much support to the community. I think it's important to repay the efforts of companies like this. It makes them stronger, which in turn results in newer and better products for us.


 
With everything connected up, I pressed UNO's play button and delved into the MW/LW sectors to see how much better it was than my trusty RSP1A. And yes, in HDR mode, it was much better! It made Broadcast dxing far more enjoyable.

And even above 2MHz everything HF seemed that bit better on the ears and easier to pick out weaker stations. And the Notch Filters work superbly for me, making a dramatic difference.

I'm quite happy with this purchase. Would I have been better off buying the £100 RSP1A and spending the remaining £100 on an additional antenna? I don't think so. I've spent about £400 on the three antennas already and I can't invest in any beams because of housing/planning restrictions.

So overall, I think I made the right choice. It's the very latest incarnation from SDRplay and the hardware will be future-proof for a good while. The UNO software improves month on month and those improvements will only get better with V1.4's addition of a "Plug-In" which gives 3rd Party software writers the ability to add more features like the new ones included in the latest release (eg DAB).

I'll edit this page later when I've done more testing and gathered more data/pix.

HERE is a comprehensive review of the RSPDX by Mike Richards in the RadCom magazine January 2020. Bear in mind though, that this review was done with a pre-1.4  version of SDRuno.

Thanks for visiting! 73, Tom.