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Thread: Book recommendation

  1. #1

    Default Book recommendation

    I am just getting back into amateur radio after a very long (@30 years) absence and much has changed. I would really like to learn more about software defined radio and prefer to learn by reading books. Can you suggest a good book on sdr for a complete newbie...something like SDR for Dummies (no such thing exists unfortunately). The two that seem closest to what I need are "Software defined radio: for amateur radio operators and short wave listeners" and "The hobbyists guide to RTL-SDR". Would you recommend one of these or perhaps something I haven't seen yet? Thanks for any advise you can give.

    Jim KE4RM

  2. #2


    I know exactly what you mean, being perhaps a similar age (licence originally in 80) - but the book route is NOT possible for reasons other than the obvious one. Authors are not writing books because they cannot make any money. I've ben involved with specialist books for quite a few years and mine died a speedy death and never recouped production cost - so the 1200 odd books I sold never made me a penny. Libraries were always good for a run but they don't buy them any more. One of my friends, however was a prolific author, and I bought his books when I was a teenager starting out, and ever couple of years there was a new edition - but suddenly, about ten years ago it stopped dead. His publisher, with his excellent track record wanted a guarantee of 15,000 sales or no money, and his new books were doing around 10,000 - so he was dumped. Here in the UK there is a healthy technical press range of books that sell on this subject (theatre stuff - lighting, sound etc) but the authors get a tiny payment, so they're mainly from University staff who need to have published works as part of the job role.

    SDR radio in books is a bit limited - but there are some.

    Software Defined Radio: for Amateur Radio Operators and Short Wave Listeners Paperback – 28 Nov 2016 by Andrew Barron

    He has another book too:

    An introduction to HF Software Defined Radio: SDR for Amateur Radio Operators by Andrew Barron ZL3DW

    The Hobbyist's Guide to the RTL-SDR: Really Cheap Software Defined Radio Mr. Carl Laufer

    SDR for Beginners Using the SDRplay and SDRuno Brian Schell

    Books, I agree, are still great - BUT - they get out of date so quickly, and of course cost quite a bit.

  3. #3


    Thanks for coming back with the info. Unfortunately, I agree with all you have said but I (being old and old school) don't really like reading for any length of time on a computer or a tablet. Youtubes are good but all the ones I have found seem to start out over my head and move up from there. Thanks again.

  4. #4


    Youtube is hopeless for learning. There are so many truly awful ones, and they're usually incomplete at best, but at worst, they confuse - because you rarely can see exactly what they are doing, and your own installation, using a computer will look totally different. Drop down boxes will have different driver details, or different hardware, so available options are wrong, and very, very rarely are any critical points explained - they are just assumed to be how it is. Books have to generalise, but normally deal with specific building blocks and explaining the components, and they don't deal with equipment specifics - Youtube view it from the operation end, so what you need is underpinning knowledge then perhaps a youtube over-view? However, don't forget that the on-line info is NOT always video - there are some very good information sites, and of course the manufacturers have good info sources. The worst, I always think is youtube, where opinion is always top of the pile. I use youtube to find quick solutions to editing problems or image tweaking in photoshop - I know it can do it, but cannot find the menu - youtube leads me to where it is, I watch ten seconds and go back to the computer. My own foray into SDR followed this approach. The trouble is that the term SDR applies to a ten grand radio and ten quid dongle - so there are major differences in the scale of SDR information. So your needs might be different from the info in those book suggestions - HF, VHF, SHF or microwave? Then analogue or digital modes? The books tend to be always 5 years behind. If the author uses something for three years, becomes expert and then writes a book - the world has moved on!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Bedford area, England


    This book is quite good from the RSGB called Software Defined Radio by Andrew Barron - recently updated (although the index of current SDRs still doesn't include the latest SDRs like the Airspy HF+ and the SDRplay RSP1A and RSP2/RSP2pro which are excellent mid range receivers. The link to the RSGB book is here: The other thing to consider is videos. The SDRplay YouTube channel has lots of links to videos showing demos and explaining techniques for getting the most out of an SDR receiver:

  6. #6


    Thanks Jon. I will check out the book and the YouTube channel. I think I saw the book online and wasn't sure if the RSGB shipped to the US. I will look again.

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