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Cross Country wireless SDR 4 +

The Receiver

I purchased this receiver in November 2012. I had not had much experience with SDR receivers before other than playing around with some single band Softrock receivers which were loaned to me.

What attracted me to this SDR receiver was the possibility on putting it online so I and others could use it remotely (more of this later).
Anyway a few weeks after ordering the receiver arrived



This is what was in the box 


And of course the receiver itself


You may be able to see in the picture the SDR box has two USB connections. One links to the internal soundcard, one controls the receiver. I tried using a USB hub with the receiver but it didn't seem to like it. Of course that may be a problem with the hub I have rather than anything else. in the end I attached some other peripherals to the hub and connected the receiver directly to the PC. Problems solved!

The receiver comes with a CD which includes the relevant driver files plus a selection of SDR software and some data decoding software.

After installing the software my receiver was up and running. However the performance was poor with images across the bands every 20khz or so. This was due to Windows 7 selecting the wrong soundcard settings (all covered in the SDR4+ setup guide) a quick tweak of the settings and all was well with a vastly improved performance.

The receiver itself covers from 850khz up to 30mhz. If your interested in VLF or an avid medium or long wave listener then obviously it wont be suitable for you. That said on the part of the MW band the receiver covers it seemed very lively and capable of some excellent audio.

On the amateur bands I was very pleased with the performance, I have listened quite extensively on 160, 80 and 40 metres with good results. The receiver also seemed lively on the higher bands when open and I have been able to receive quite a bit of CW on 10 metres.

On the broadcast bands the receiver performed well, some overload was evident at peak times (particularly when using my wire doublet) on the 49 and 41 metre bands where there are some very strong BC stations around.

All in all the receiver was on a par with my main SW receiver the Kenwood R5000. The obvious advantage of the SDR is the easily controllable filters and various noise reducing facilities that are built into the SDR software plus an ability to see 48khz of bandwidth (24khz each side of the signal you tune to).

Given the current cost of the receiver £

169.95 plus shipping. ( $266.82 or 204.28 Euro.) I think this little SDR is a bargain.


Software


There is a large variety of free SDR control software. I have opted to use SDR Radio written by Simon  HB9DRV the author of the well known Ham Radio Deluxe software. The main attraction of this software was its ability to use the internet to remotely control the receiver over the web. For more details see sdrspace.com/.



Additionally the SDR radio software has a very nice record facility, easy to use quick memory bank and the ability to use Sync AM all of which make for a good broadcast SW receiver.
Also the software has a built in decoder for PSK, RTTY and CW etc which can be used to decode data from the receiver even when you are operating remotely.

However if you are planning to purchase an SDR receiver so you can use it remotely be prepared to struggle with your router and firewall settings and grapple with the murky world of i.p addresses and port forwarding. These are things I knew  virtually nothing about but am having to learn. At times my receiver works perfectly using remote control over the web, sometimes it wont work at all! I am still trying to work out why. Please dont take this as a criticism of the software, it isn't, just a warning that if your not totally computer-savvy it may not be as easy to set up as you think!

Update Jan 2015

Just over two years of owning the SDR4+ and I can report I have been very happy with it. My particular radio has one odd "quirk" however. Inputting a frequency into the software which is out of the receivers range, or simply just Qsying to 10 metres (28mhz) can cause the receiver to lock up and the only thing that can be seen on the waterfall is the "spur" from the soundcard. Once this happens you have to either unplug the USB cables to the receiver and replug them , or reboot the PC. Not too much hardship unless you are operating the receiver remotely as I often do! For this reason I now also run remote connection software (I use LOGMEIN although I think there are many others) so that I can reboot the home pc as well as running other tasks remotely.

The current version of the SDR4+ now covers up to 70Mhz but I believe it still omits the spectrum below 850khz.

All in all however the SDR4+ is an excellent introduction to the world of SDR radio. It does not require a fast PC with  lots of memory. mine has worked well with an old windows XP laptop 1.2ghz cpu with 512mb of ram!
I still run mine alongside my latest sdr acquisition an ELAD FDM S2.
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