by Tony Thomas
I am a licensed Amateur Radio Operator. As a result, I have an inherent love for all things radio.
If you like to listen to radio, you may want to check out the latest trend: SDR or Software Designed Radio. For less than $25, you can buy a USB dongle that turns your computer into a powerful radio. Not only can you tune in commercial FM stations, you can also access the VHF Ham radio bands, aircraft bands and more.
It all begins with a DVB-T TV dongle based upon the RTL2832U chipset that was originally designed to pick up TV broadcasts in Europe. Some enthusiasts discovered that, with the right drivers and software, they were able to use this dongle to produce a powerful software defined radio.
I have a few of these dongles, and while the quality can vary, they are a lot of fun to experiment with. The software that I currently use is called SDR# (SDR Sharp) and, while it is very powerful, it has a steep learning curve. That said, Software Driven Radio is a lot of fun!
For more information:
Buy an SDR on Amazon:
A great book on SDR: