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Thread: Listening in to DMR on and SDR radio

  1. #1

    Default Listening in to DMR on and SDR radio

    Please forgive my newbie questions but I am new to SDR and digital transmission. First a bit of background if I may. I had been thinking of purchasing a scanner, but it seems that everything is going digital these days including ham transmissions. Looking around there does not seem to be much in the way of a handheld radios or scanners that can do both analogue and digital. I figured that a secondhand analog scanners like AOR8200D might be worth considering, but in light of the digital revolution I am beginning to question whether that would be a wise spend? The AOR DV10 looks interesting, but evidently has frequency drift issues which according to at least one review makes it unusable. Having done quite a bit of reading, I must admit that am still finding the picture rather confusing.

    For the present, rather than paying a lot of money for a scanner, I decided to buy a secondhand SDRplay SDR radio to allow me to scan the bands, experiment and determine whether there is anything of interest to me that can be picked up in the UK.

    What I am trying to determine at the moment is:

    1. Is there a scanner emulator program that works with for SDR radio?

    2. Is there anything of interest that can still be picked up on an analogue radio in the UK?

    3. Is there anything of interest on digital services, e.g. DMR, D-Star or TETRA or whatever? Is any of it actually accessible or is it all encrypted? I thought hams use DMR repeaters for example, but where can I find more information?

    4. I presume I will need a discone, but a single or double? There seem to be various opinions regarding whether a double discone is actually better.

    Sorry, its a long post with lots of questions but before I spend lots of money on any kind of radio, I would like to think that there is something worthwhile listening to?
    Last edited by WaveyDipole; Tue 19th Feb 2019 at 14:25.

  2. #2

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    Well its been three months since I made this post and not a single comment!. Well I think that the SDR radio was the right way to go as a starting point. The folks over on SDRPlay, DSD+ and elsewhere have been helpful and I have been able to decode some DMR and Fusion signals using DSD+ as well as experimenting with DIY antennas with reasonable success.

    Question 1 was answered when SDRPlay released SDRuno v1.31 which now has a scanner feature and this does seem to work quite well.

    With regards to question2, which I perhaps could have phrased better, the answer seems to be very little. Apart from some HF broadcast stations, I did pick up some voice on the amateur radio bands (80m, 40m) but mostly in languages other than English. There seemed to be no analogue voice on the 2m or the PMR band or with the exception of airband, anywhere else on VHF/UHF.

    In answer to question 3 I picked up a couple of local amateur radio repeaters transmitting digital signals which I decoded with DSD+.

    I have still not entirely resolved question 4 but I did find that most discones are too big to fit in my loft which is why I resorted to band specific DIY antennas.

    I would say that the learning experience has been interesting, and while I have not given up on it yet, it was in some ways rather disheartening.
    Last edited by WaveyDipole; Fri 17th May 2019 at 10:17.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    For receiving anything above about 30MHz, you need antenna height & low-loss coax. A wideband masthead preamplifier can be useful here, but the signal gain can overwhelm most receivers.

    Mounting any antenna inside a roof is fine, until it rains, then the antenna is effectively shielded.
    If you can get away with mounting a vertical outside, you will pull in more signals for the same height.
    Fibreglass/plastic coated antennas have less noise during rain than exposed aluminium/stainless ones, each rain drop carries a small charge which is picked up by your receiver when it touches Earth.

    Go ahead and acquire some old scanners, you can never have too many radios...

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