A LOT of (or maybe a few of) ham operators these days also use Software Defined Radios to gain more than what the physical hardware gives, or to monitor multiple devices simultaneously, or to modify the apparatus as they wish without investing in expensive hardware.

These SDRs mostly support Rx, with some having Tx capabilities too.

The question is do questions on these systems too belong here?

P.S. If not, please vote for a new site I've proposed on Area51. (Shortlink: http://j.mp/sdr-area51 )

Thanks for your help. :-)

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect non-amateur-radio-related SDR questions might be acceptable on Electronics, but don't take my word for it; ask on their Meta first :) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 7 '13 at 20:16

Yes, i think we should also cover SDR.


Yes, if it's an SDR commonly used by hams, an SDR that someone's trying to apply to ham use, or a general theoretical question about SDRs. For example, the softrock kits are on topic. The use of the RTL-SDR dongles is on topic if and only if the question otherwise relates to amateur radio. General questions about the theory are on topic. Questions about SDRs for other uses, including the regular TV tuner use of the RTL-SDR dongles, is not on topic. For example:


  • Which qualities/features does an SDR radio device need to be usable for Amateur Radio? (general theory of operation as it relates to ham radio)
  • What software can I use to transmit HF PSK31 using my Softrock SDR? (specific ham radio software)
  • Why do SDR transceivers often still require hardware filters? (not specifically related to ham radio, but is a general theory of operation question that does apply to ham SDRs)
  • What determines the maximum bandwidth of an SDR tranceiver? (not specifically related to ham radio, but this is a question that many amateur radio operators need to answer when using an SDR)


  • Installing cuSDR on Ubuntu 13.04 (relates to ham software, and amateurs may have the answer - the question is on topic, but may get more answers from a general "how to build a package for Ubuntu" FAQ followed by either StackOverflow or the ubuntu SE)


  • AIS and RTL-SDR Dongles (relates to the RTL-SDR project, but AIS is unrelated to amateur radio, while hams may have the answer, the question is a better fit for a community based around SDR or general digital RF protocols)
  • Installing cuSDR64 on Windows 7 (64-bit) (this would probably be closed on StackOverflow in its current state due to being too specific (unlikely to help future visitors) and not demonstrating a minimal understanding of the problem, if it was improved it could probably get a useful answer from a user familiar with the MSVC linker and GUI, questions about compiler errors while compiling software related to ham radio are much more on topic in a forum about compiler errors than a forum about ham radio)
  • What's the best antenna to attach to my RTL2832U-based dongle to receive DAB transmissions? (the chip can be used for amateur radio, but this is not an amateur application)
  • How can I use my USRP to receive P25 digital voice/GPS/create a cell repeater? (none of these applications relate to amateur radio, even though the USRP can be used)
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's a good answer, I must say. But aren't there too many restrictions being proposed here? $\endgroup$
    – TomKat
    Nov 12 '13 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think so, I think it's more an explanation of a few simple restrictions: SDR isn't automatically ham radio, if your question is about SDR in ham radio it belongs here, if it's about SDR in not-ham radio or if it's about compiling software, there are better sites for it. $\endgroup$
    – Dan KD2EE
    Nov 12 '13 at 12:39

Yes! SDR is an amateur radio topic. Just because it's software defined doesn't mean it's any less a radio than any other ham radio.

However, there are questions which will obviously lie in a gray area, and which may be better solved elsewhere.

The example question, which asks about trying to compile an SDR program on a computer, isn't an Amateur Radio question. We won't solve it using Amateur Radio techniques and knowledge.

It is a question an Amateur Radio enthusiast might have, but it's not an Amateur Radio problem.

Still, I don't see a problem with allowing these problems - we're trying to build a community of Amateur Radio experts, and we do want SDR experts to hang out here.

So my vote would be to keep the question up, allow similar questions that primarily regard trying to get an Amateur Radio station on the air, even if it involves programming knowledge, and revisit the topic in a year or two.

  • $\begingroup$ One reason I feel the 'compiling' Q belongs here (and maybe to other places 'less' so) is that say gnuRadio would be used only by SDR/ham enthusiasts, and many may have faced the same issues & solved it, and can in turn help others. There'd be very few such people at sites that target only programmers. $\endgroup$
    – TomKat
    Nov 12 '13 at 5:15

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