Sunday, September 18, 2016

KiwiSDR: First Run

OK, so here it is, the new kid in (the SDR) town, the KiwiSDR. On the top shelf, with three old blokes below, all named Perseus.

And here is how it looks, when tuned to the only daytime broadcast signal I have, NRK Ingøy on 153 kHz.

Lots of noise down there as well.

The box, described as a kit, comprises the SDR board and a BeagleBone Green computer. So it doesn't need to be connected to a specific PC. No software is required, you set it up on an HTML5 capable web browser (which excludes Internet Explorer. I have tested with Edge and Chrome, and they work fine).

Unlike other SDRs, the KiwiSDR is supplied with a GPS antenna. With GPS enabled (not yet tested here), frequency accuracy and stability will improve, especially on higher frequencies. And speaking of frequencies, the KiwiSDR is a standard HF device, capable of tuning 0 - 30 MHz.

It's a bit unfair at this stage to write a "review" of the receiver. The user interface is, I understand, a work in  progress, and I have addressed several suggestions and comments to the developer. It will be interesting to see in which direction the user interface evolves.

I did make sensitivity measurements (as I always do when I get a new receiver), but the results were inconsistent with real-life observations, so I will let that rest for now. Real-life observations, in the form of comparisons with the Perseus, did tell me that the KiwiSDR is a very good receiver. It hears what the Perseus hears, and I was not able to overload it.

In its present form, the KiwiSDR is for "live" listening only, and with the capacity of four simultaneous users, locally or as a server for external access. My 4G ISP is unable to provide an APN for me to make it available online, so that door's been shut. For now.

The KiwiSDR will set you back USD 299 + shipping.  You have to use your own ethernet cable and power supply, which should be 1.5A, 5VDC. I tested with a 1A PSU and it crashed. Well, not the PSU. The antenna input is SMA.

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