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This Wiki is intended to collect all sorts of disparate information concerning the use of the so called RTLSDR. If you wish to add to this wiki please contact the Osmocom guys and ask for editing access rights to this site.
60MHz to 1700MHzThe Elonics E4000 is the most desirable tuner to have as it's the most capable. This part may now be in short supply as Elonics IP seems to be up for sale. NDA needed for the data sheet.
50MHz to 1000MHz; Fitipower - no public information available.
50MHz to 1700MHz; Fitipower - no public information available.
24MHz to 1850MHz; Now the E4000 has gone this is the tuner to get as it's comparable in performance. It also seems to be cheaper overall.
By installing and using RTLSDR hardware and software you have now entered the long established world of scanning and receive only HAM radio. The twist is that instead of using expensive purpose built hardware you are using a PC (which you no doubt already own) and a $20 USB dongle. It is now possible to listen to:
It turns out that Antti Palosaari is perhaps not entirely responsible alone in getting credit for the discovery of Realtek 2832U tuners being used for SDR. The RTL2382U parts were always intended by design for SDR as the dongles come with closed SDR software in Windows for DAB+ and FM reception on the mini CD. I think the credit for uncovering of what the Windows software does lies with a fellow named Eric Fry originally sniffing the USB packets from the Windows application in FM and DAB mode way back in March of 2010. He had hoped to get a DAB+ or FM receiver working in Linux (he had originally been providing unofficial support for Linux and this Quad Realtek DVB tuner). Eric and I discussed this privately at length and I made some reflections about this SDR feature in 2011 on the linux-tv mailing lists and discussed SDR potential on the associated #linux-tv IRC channel. Realtek had sent me some alpha FM SDR software for Linux with a promise of DAB+ to come. Antti's infamous email followed in early 2012. Very quickly the Realtek RTL2382U Linux driver and and some independent work by Osmocom (who were making their own E4000 based SDR) collided and in RTL-SDR as we know it exploded onto the scene.
So, the original 'discovery' lies with Eric. Much of the work getting the RTL2382U and it's associated tuners tamed in between then and now lies with Antti and Osmocom.
Here are some USB data dumps Eric took of his RTL dongle tuned to the FM band in April 2010.