Picked up an RTL-SDR software-defined radio dongle. Because reasons.
After an evening of driver hell, I decided today that maybe I should read the quick-start instructions. Gosh, they’re more helpful than I imagined. Finally got the SDRSharp software to recognize the dongle and start tuning and decoding radio.
Unfortunately, my poor old laptop is just too slow. Once it gets a buffer of samples from the dongle, decodes them, processes them, runs them through several filters, displays them on screen in the FFT and waterfall views, and then finally outputs them to my soundcard, the audio is supremely distorted, as if it just can’t fill the audio buffers fast enough to keep them from looping internally. It just sounds like a cheap digital stretch of whatever audio is going in.
I’m sure the SDRSharp application could have been written to be more efficient, but my dual-core 1600MHz machine just can’t handle it. Maybe I’ll get a new laptop, or actually repurpose my music workstation tower to run my ham radio shack. For that, I need to rearrange my apartment and actually get new furniture.
See? It’s true. Amateur Radio is a hobby where you just dig a hole in the back yard and throw money into it. Nothing you get is ever enough.
Radio is hard.