Introduction: Don't Cut That SDR Antenna Cable

Picture of Don't Cut That SDR Antenna Cable

So I decided to check out those cheap SDR dongles......

But after a few hours of YouTube and several downloads later I learned that the antennas supplied with the dongles really are not that great, especially if you don't live in a city. Myself, I live many miles from any town and even more from the nearest radio station. So I got to Radio Shack, and as expected they do not carry the adapter for these devices and I didn't buy one when I bought the dongle. Maybe you won't have to either if you haven't already. So there I was ready to cut the wire, which I really didn't want to do. But I saw that the screw in the antenna base wasn't extended as far as it originally was. <light bulb> (Despicable me)

You'll need a small jewelers or watch repair screwdriver.

Step 1: Exporatory Surgry

Picture of Exporatory Surgry

Picture 1. Antenna Base, this just needs to be dismantled...

Picture 2 and 3. You can see in picture 2 how the bottom has a cover to it, about 4 o'clock you can see where I started to pull it off, I tried to show the edge in picture 3, but my camera is not good.

The bottom cover is just a thin piece of plastic with a sticky side to it., kinda like tape.

Step 2: Remove the Metal Cover

Picture of Remove the Metal Cover

Picture 1 shows what you will see after you remove the sticky bottom cover. That thing that looks like a battery is actually a magnet.

Picture 2 I am about to use that jewelers screwdriver you see there to carefully pry out the metal cover.

Picture 3 shows what you might see after you remove that metal cover. I say might cause this is the second time I have taken this apart. The first time was to see if the antenna screw was actually connected to the cable. I did notice that the ground wires really did not make very good contact with the metal cover. So I reworked it, I did get a very very very slight improvement.

Picture 4 just shows the inside with the cover out of the way.

Step 3: Remove the Antenna Screw

Picture of Remove the Antenna Screw

Picture 1 shows my finger on the antenna screw before giving it a slight push.

Picture 2 shows the screw after the finger push.

Picture 3 is after I pushed the cable into the base. You want to do this to give some slack to the cable inside the base before trying to pull out the antenna screw.

Picture 4 All done, At this point just unsolder the lead connection from the antenna screw, pull the cable out of the base and attach that cable to whatever else you got in mind.

Step 4: Credits

Thanks to my wife for proofreading/editing, sorry about the so so pictures.

Comments

AbDuCt (author)2014-06-15

The antenna is pretty bad, but you would not be able to pick up radio stations very well anyways. The antenna is meant for higher bands, it actually works quite well with pagers in the 900mhz band and digital encoded emergency services in the 800mhz band. Also software has a big part to play with these SDR's. Newer versions of sdrsharp do no work as well as the older versions. If you want more information or details feel free to message me I have a bit of experiance with these little guys.

Mike63 (author)AbDuCt2014-08-03

true enough, I bought a 108MHz - 1.3GHz antenna from the shack, mounted it outside and I have been able to get some aircraft chatter with an airport about 1.5 hours away (drive time). I can get some FM stations, not that I expected to get any, and I get audio from a TV station from about 8 hours away (drive time). Still haven't gotten any local TV stations yet. There are some other bands that I see a lot of traffic on but haven't spent the time yet to determine what is being communicated. Still looking into hanging / mounting a few other antennas to connect to.

TechPaul (author)Mike632015-10-17

I thought most USA TV was now digital, if so, you won't receive it with this dongle using SDR. You probably can't use the dongle in its native state either , different DTV coding.

Mike63 (author)TechPaul2015-10-22

I wasn't interested in using it to watch/listen to TV. I wanted it to see what kind of signals I could pick up on it. Unfortunately the software I have been using with it and youtube don't get along so I don't use it as much as I intended, for the moment anyway.

rjkorn (author)AbDuCt2014-06-17

what versions and what issues did you see?

I used the installer from NoElec since I bought the dongle from their eBay shop. Every time you run it it downloads the latest version but so far no issues.

I did find they start with the RF gain all the way down so they don't receive anything. Once you turn up the gain they are pretty sensitive. they seem as sensitive as my little Baofeng dual bander when listening to the local police and ems

Lifeslider (author)2015-09-25

Grate instruction. I was ready to cut the cable too, but disassembling of stock antenna went great. No proceeding to the soldering iron :)

Thanks again!

rjkorn (author)2014-06-17

I noticed the same thing. there not very well put together. I ended up tossing that antenna and putting a BNC connector on the end of the cable. that made using an old scanner antenna.easy.

If you go with a big outdoor antenna watch the protection diodes on the input as they pop easy from static discharges. I use a balun now to provide a bit of isolation.

theyre still fun to play with and even small enough to take on trips....

Mike63 (author)rjkorn2014-08-03

Thanks for the heads up on the protection diodes. 8 )

About This Instructable

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Bio: Just a mild mannered programmer by day and a wannabe evil mad genius by night.
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