N9EWO Review's:
Software Defined Receiver's
SDRplay RSP1 "WideBand SDR"
Perseus "HF SDR" (midway down this page)
Our sincere gratitude to Sungchul Cho , his generous donation of the SDRplay RSP1 made this review possible.”Thank You !!”

The UK made "SDRplay RSP1" SDR.  Black plastic cabinet using a SMA antenna connector.
Full HF coverage (with no silly converters). Sold in the USA by Ham Radio Outlet . (manufacture photo)

Approx. Test Sample Serial Number : #2501xx#14#92x
Country Of Manufacture : United Kingdom

N9EWO's Review : SDRplay RSP1 "WideBand SDR" (software defined receiver)

*** What is a "SDRplay RSP1" ??  /  No USB 3.0 Sockets !!
***

The SDRplay RSP1 is a fairly low cost SDR (Software Defined Receiver) device that features full radio spectrum coverage without any silly converters getting in the way. One side mounted SMA antenna connector for all ranges. 12-bit architecture allows for improved dynamic range over the lower cost 8 bit dongles. There is even limited band-pass filtering inside its smooth plastic box. Power is supplied via the host computer USB port via a USB cable, so no additional external power supplies are required.

Low current consumption (well under 200 ma) along with many operational platforms offered makes for a nifty Android SDR as well (not tested, requires Java with Android). In our testing here we will be limiting the scope to Windows 7 operating systems only (64 Bit). Sorry, we did not test this device on any other Windows OS (Windows 8 or above) or platform. Important Note (as experienced in testing) : Be sure and plug the SDRplay RSP1 into USB 2.0 socket on the host computer (NOT a 3.0). Yes USB 3.0 are supposed to be backwards compatible, but in the real computer world many are not so may not work properly with the device (which was made for 2.0 only).

Any new owner needs to supply the proper high quality USB cable and connecting antenna cable as neither is included.  

*** Genuine Plastic Case / Cool Operator ***

Question has been raised a number of times around the internet, “Why is the SDRplay RSP1 not sold in a metal case ??”

As Jon Hudson G4ABQ of SDRplay states (via the web site forum) :

“The problem is that the biggest source of interference is the USB cable and the USB comms...putting in a screened box can often cause the USB interference to get “trapped” inside and generate more problems than it actually isolates.”


Interesting that NOW they sell the updated RSP2 model in 2 versions. One in a metal coated plastic cabinet and even a all METAL case version. Hummm...so what was said in the last paragraph is perhaps not so valid after all ?? In any event in our testing with the host computers and proper cabling we never experienced any issues here using decent outdoor antenna's.

Aside from that it is in a most sturdy “plastic box” about the size of an over sized Klondike Ice Cream bar. It is held together with 4 screws, so no heat welded or glued together cases here. 4 small stick-on rubber like feet were added to keep it from sliding around on the table.


There is a female SMA antenna connector (early versions used a female F fitting) and connection to the computer is via a B type USB socket. Certainly a much sturdier connector being used here say over a Mini or Micro USB.

Being in operation for hours, the case remained cool (only ever so slightly warm). It is not using a TCXO, but overall stability appeared to be most adequate.

*** Full DC To Daylight Coverage ***

Receiver coverage is from 10 kHz right up to 2 GHz with no gaps. How they got around the old and extremely outdated US federal laws that restrict coverage in the 800 MHz band with ANY radio receiver for the US general public is unknown. It has no FCC OET ID on it and again unknown why that is ?

*** Host Computer : Dual Core OK , but best with a FAST “Quad Core” Processor ***

Unlike more expensive boxes (Perseus, Bonito, Elad etc) these bargain SDR devices make much more use of the computer resources to make it happen (with much less internal hardware). With the more pricey critters, a computer with a single core processor with low memory was possible. Even a processor running at only 1.5 GHz and just 512 MB of memory (just as we did with the Perseus, our review located midway down this page).

Yes, one can use the SDRplay RSP with a Microsoft Windows computer with a more limited “Dual Core” processor around 3 GHz at only say 4 GB of RAM (Memory) and only using a limited scope bandwidth (2 MHz sample rate, IF Bandwidth at 1.536 MHz or less). This is what was used for most of the testing in this report in fact.

The slower the computer the worse the performance / dropouts and even lockups are possible. Any additional programs running along with it makes any limited computer recourses be even worse. Don’t even think of using an old "single core" computer at any speed, you will probably be disappointed (if it works at all).   

As it always goes with computer software/hardware, this will vary with the SDR program used. Connected to a speedy 3.0 GHz QUAD core computer and say have 8 GB of memory, it will be dropout / doggy free and the user will be a happy camper. 

*** Driver / Tested Software ***

Mirics API Driver

The Mirics (API) driver is the first software that needs to be installed before the USB cable is installed for use with ANY software. No installation issues at any time with 4 different Windows 7 computers in testing. Version tested was 1.97.

OPERATION SOFTWARE

The 4 FREE software packages tested for this report were (in order of our ratings) :


1. -  SDR Console V2 only
2. -  HDSDR  Version 2.70
3. -  SDR# (SDR Sharp) Ver 1.0.0.1361 (1361)
4. -  SDRuno Version 1.04

1. - SDR Console (V2) *** Top Rated ***

Was the easiest to use and most appealing GUI out of the 3 tested (version 2 ONLY !!). Easy to install and to get up and running. No other software (EXTIO) was required for operation aside from the driver.

SDR console V2 at the lower spectrum bandwidths were most usable provided nothing else was running in the background with a lesser computer. In fact it was the second runner up for using the least computer resources to operate. Supports FM stereo plus RDS.

Memory operation (V2) was straightforward and useful, however direct frequency entry was quirky / difficult and sometimes locked up the program. Important tip :  Be and enter the proper leading zero’s.  Features include: Noise Reduction, Noise Blanker, Manual and Automatic Notch Filter, Double Sideband AND LSB / USB "Synchronous Detection / ECSS" which holds lock well. Excellent AGC (Fast-Med-Slow) with adjustments. "Span" adjustments were first rate.

SDR console (V2 or V3) also worked the best with the DSD+ program (with a Virtual Audio Cable). 

A huge downside, as this report was being complied , “SDR Console” uses an expiring license scheme. So it turns into pumpkin sooner or later. Not a good scenario here of course. We can hope that when V3 gets officially released, the V2 license will be changed to indefinite use (as was the case with the old V1 which does not work with SDRplay RSP.....too bad as we liked the interface).

We found V3 to be less appealing to the eyes and layout, but in general was similar in operation. Hard to say too much here as in the testing period it was not even into a beta state. But if I were to only compare V3 as it stands when this report was compiled to HDSDR, we would lean towards HDSDR as the number 1 spot in our ratings.

2. - HDSDR *** Alternate Top Rated ***

This is an older SDR program. Installed with no problems and easy to use. EXTIO plug in is required after installation and before use with HDSDR (newer versions has been released since this report was compiled, not tested).

Spectrum scope colors (but not easy to do) and all of the important adjustments are there and EASY to use and understand. Does have a nice looking S-Meter, it over reads at default settings however there is a easy way to calibrate it. Direct keyboard entry is difficult to make work just as with SDR Console above.

One can adjust to even turn off the waterfall and or spectrum scope (or change the displayed sizes from default, but is not obvious). Text as taken from the old Winrad V1.32 manual  (which is still useful to get started with HDSDR as it's based on that) :

"The upper window is divided into two panes, the waterfall and the spectrum. It is possible to choose how to assign the available space between the two panes by using the right mouse button. Just place the mouse pointer on the frequency scale. The pointer will change shape, indicating that you can drag left and right the portion of the spectrum that is displayed (keeping the left button down) or you can drag up and down (keeping the right button down) the frequency scale which divides the spectrum from the waterfall. Much more complicated to explain than to do…". Just be sure when you adjust this that the receiver is in operation.

If you only desire the Spectrum Display using these adjustments and then desire the frequency indication ruler on the BOTTOM like I did (not on the top), then set in Options > Visualization >  Swap Spectrum / Waterfall  Position .
Another important spectrum display user note , by hitting C on the computer keyboard will CENTER the receive frequency.

Features include: Noise Reduction, IF and RF Noise Blanker, Manual and Automatic Notch Filter, AFC. Excellent ECSS that holds lock very well and operates on both sidebands or LSB or USB (selected in a 3 loop cycle by left clicking the mouse on the ECSS button). ECSS does add bit of bass kick to the audio. Built in recording interface that records the spectrum or audio (right click on the RED record button to configure). Even includes a scheduler as well. Sadly it does not offer FM Stereo but it does have memory storage ("FreqMgr" icon) and quick band presets. Even can download and import the latest EiBi data.

One sees a DRM mode button. However to make that work the Dream program needs to be installed in the host computer and the Virtual Audio Cable in use (DRM mode untested). Using it with DSD+ is mixed bag. Depends greatly on settings as it does with any of them, but here is a bit more finicky. Appears there is no way to turn off the FM de-emphasis ?, which could be the reason for sub-optimal performance with DSD+ ?

HDSDR uses the least computer resources to operate out of the lot. If you have an older slower (dual core) computer that chokes with the others, this is the one you should try. Is really the ONLY one that will work with the elder Windows XP OS. Overall is a winner for overall use and performance. It’s simple, sounds good, fun and recommended for anyone starting out using a SDRplay RSP1 (or any SDR). Great program to get your SDR feet wet and learn the ropes and for general use after.

3. - SDR#  (SDR Sharp)


An older version of SDR# (SDR Sharp) was tested for this report, version 1361 (1.0.0.1361). We were unable to make any versions above this one to properly work with SDRplay RSP1. An older EXTIO version 3.7 MUST be used with 1361. It is common knowledge that more current versions of SDR# do not work well with SDRplay RSP1 (if you can make it work at all). 

Worked well enough and enough adjustments to satisfy most folks, easy to figure out. Not the easiest to deal with changing frequencies, but has a useful memory window and that is easy to enter and edit. We found the Spectrum scope not to be so user friendly or eye pretty (or usable for that matter), but is big and one can turn off the waterfall. Sadly the SDRplay RSP1 does not work with any of the SDR#’s extensive plug Ins.

Program has no S-Meter and only very limited color changes possible on the spectrum scope. Works adequately with DSD+ with the Virtual Audio Cable (more on that later). Even with this working OK with the SDRplay RSP1 OK,  it was not left installed after testing. It does support FM Stereo where HDSDR does not.

4. - SDRuno

SDRuno is the mother ship software and to be fair was still in its early stages as this report was being typed (version tested 1.04). Installed with no problems and no EXTIO required.

Is made up of various screens that one must bring EACH ONE up EVERY time the program is accessed. There is a way around this "multi screen" game by setting up a profile (called "Workspace's"), but that still adds a step in the process when accessed every time. Even with that these screens not attached together (so are all loose on the desktop), but that can be a plus or a minus depending on user preference (we did not care for that). But more importantly the general way of operation makes for a sour and confusing user experience in our view. One example is where the selections of the Audio INPUT and OUTPUT sound card device are located. They are in 2 totally different spots which makes it extremely difficult to deal with.....WHY ?? Parts of it were not well thought out and to us is not ergonomically friendly.

It does have the most adjustments of any program tested in the lot (expect for the spectrum scope). For many this is a huge step forward. But if you want it simple and easy, this is not the program for you. Spectrum scope was not impressive or versatile (HDSDR is FAR better). Lack of adjustments including colors and general tweaks that others do.

Audio issues with the tested version 1.04 in testing. It was not the smoothest sounding audio out of the lot. General background noises and it’s audio sounded muffled and weird at default settings (including being grizzly and harsh under certain situations, but not always), at least with our 4 test computers. Was clearly on the bottom of our “desirability” list. Lets hope they improve on the entire scheme and audio in time?

It was NOT usable with DSD+ in the testing period (more later in this report). Started to sort of work, but it was a "no go" for us.

*** Dynamic Range / Sensitivity and General Performance ***

To make matters more fair we compared sensitivity using a standalone Yaesu VR-5000 wideband receiver. For my review on the Yaesu VR-5000 (click here).

Testing (ears method) here was done only with SDR Console V2 at default settings (which we found out are the best settings to use) :

-  LNA (OFF)
-  RF Gain at –50db
(other settings in the Mirics API also at Default)

Antenna’s Used (for both receivers) :
-  SW/HF Outdoor Antenna : 55 foot RF Systems MLB (long wire)
-  VHF/UHF Outdoor Antenna (above 30 MHz) : 19 inch ground plane at 25 feet height.

Dynamic Range : While tuning the ShortWave / HF bands “Dynamic range” (overloading) was never experienced during the testing period with the SDRplay RSP. It behaved itself very well even in the 49 Meter band at night. No FM Broadcast overloading either.

Receiver Noise : SDRplay RSP1 was the overall winner here. But in some areas the Yaesu actually won the battle.
Selectivity : Of course the SDRplay RSP1 blew away the Yaesu VR-5000 here , no real comparisons required.

***** Sensitivity Winners (as compared to the Yaesu VR-5000) *****
(very weak signals and audio recovery, mode and bandwidth setting changed as required) :

MW / AM Broadcast : Yaesu VR-5000 (SDRplay RSP1 was OK on MW , but the VR-5000 was the clear winner even with it’s attenuator on)
SW 11 Mhz : SDRplay RSP1 (by a hair). Signals were about equal, but the lower noise floor made recovered audio from the SDRplay wins easy here, especially with the Sync Detector on. 
-  FM Broadcast 93 MHz :  Equal. Perhaps a very slight edge to the SDRplay RSP1. But it’s pretty much an even showing here.
162 MHz :  Yaesu VR-5000. Audio was heard better from the Yaesu here for some reason, but a near equal signal on SDRplay was present. Another close one.
-  450 MHz : Near Equal. S/N goes to the SDRplay here.

In general it’s a very sensitive device, just as much as the Yaesu VR-5000. Of course the overall performance edge has to go to the computer connected SDRplay RSP1. But the elder Yaesu VR-5000 held it’s own. The Sync Detector with SDR Console works fantastic. Double sideband ECSS or just LSB or USB selections. Holds lock with even signals that are near into the noise.

*** Image Issues / Center DC Spike ***

Some users have reported FM Broadcast signals bleeding into other parts of the tuned spectrum with the SDRplay RSP1. We did not experience any of this in our testing. Any image signals were also absent at the test location. Please note, we do not live in a large metro area with excessive broadcast signal levels.

One bug we did experience was the well-known DC spike issue. That is one sees/hears a low level carrier always in the dead middle of the spectrum scope no matter where it’s tuned. With some software (HDSDR and SDRuno) there is a way to deal with that (not tested). This bug varies as it’s related to the sound device (or sound card) in the host computer. Some may never see this gremlin.

*** USB Cable Chokes “To Be Or Not To Be ?” ***

The SDRplay folk’s recommend that a USB cable that has chokes on either end be used to help keep radio interference reduced.

In our testing we could tell no difference with more or less interference (using outdoor antennas with coax feed line) using a USB cable with and without the ferrite chokes . This was with a laptop computer or Desktop, cable length under 6 feet. Using with any indoor antenna, this could be a different story ?

But of course this will depend on YOUR situation and no 2 are going to be the same. As they say the shorter the USB cable the better. I would say better quality cable 6 feet (around 2 meters) or less length.         

*** DSD+ Program ***

OK….we try and only cover Short Wave / HF part of the radio spectrum here with any reviews, but in this case we just had to try and make work the DSD+ program with the SDRplay RSP1.

DSD+ is a popular Windows Computer software program used for decoding digital speech such as P25 with SDR receivers. With the tested version 1.101, includes an event log that shows call target and source ID history and an audio waveform screen, which can help determine if DSD+ is receiving audio correctly (a very useful feature as we found out). Has the ability to decode the following digital modes (and is automatic too). Please make note the DLL's are downloaded separate and when unzipped are placed into the same directly as the program files.

• D-STAR
• NXDN4800
• NXDN9600
• DMR / MotoTRBO
• P25 Phase 1
• X2-TDMA
• ProVoice

It can be used as stand alone program as well. In other words one can take a stand-alone scanner receiver, tap the discriminator audio output and feed that into the computer (line and or Mic input jacks). But in our case we desired to use the same computer that hosts the SDRplay RSP with the DSD+ program. To do that the use of a Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) is required. We used a FREE donation-ware version (click here) and worked well.   

After installation of the VAC and with certain adjustments and procedure (whew!!), it performed adequately. Not as stable and clean P25 as a standalone scanner, but was very usable especially with SDR Console program. This program decodes digital modes that are not covered on most standalone scanners as well. Trunking is not normally possible with only one SDR receiver. Success depended on the software used as well as careful adjustments (especially when using HDSDR). Some were better than others with decode quality and stability.

That is the stinker with making DSD+ to work with the SDRplay RSP1, frustrations and hours in the battle of setting it up. Provided in the link below is a PDF document on my PERSONAL notes what I did to make it function. This of course it cannot cover everyone’s situation (computers, sound cards etc), so treat this only as a base. Some parts may be more my feelings and not facts.

N9EWO’s Set Up for DSD+ with SDRplay RSP1 (Two Page PDF Document..click here)


Please keep in mind these tests were done using a Windows 7 “DUAL Core 3 Ghz” computer with 4 GB of memory. Your experiences may vary and could (should) work better with a more zippy and QUAD core processor computer? More memory does not hurt either (say 8GB). Again when using the SDRplay RSP (and especially with DSD+ in the mix) with a lesser computer one should not have ANY other applications running. Otherwise expect decode dropouts and other nastiness with any of them.

IMPORTANT NOTES : Of course use FM wide mode (with no filtering) at around 20 kHz bandwidth for most digital modes. Setting of the VAC audio level is extremely important. If it's too loud or too soft, decoding will be choppy or even not at all. So watch your audio level (metering bar on the VAC in the Audio Properties). 


So the preference list for the best program using DSD+ with the SDRplay RSP1 :

1. SDR Console (V2 or V3). Works the best “bar none” with DSD+.
2. SDR# (SDR Sharp). Not too shabby. But not as stable or clean as SDR Console. A drop out once in while.
3. HDSDR. Works but more dropouts than with SDR# (usable).
4. SDRUno. Plain and simply unusable. Maybe a stream of good decoding and then back to near nothing. (Yes the FM filtering was turned off).  

*** Final Word ***

The SDRplay RSP1 is clearly the winner in its price point for a low cost SDR. Gives for increased performance when compared to those under $ 50. RTL-Dongles that we see sold all over the place at time this report was compiled.

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO, all rights reserved
Ver 3.6

If you found this review to be enjoyable and useful, please consider a small donation to help keep it here on the internet and updated. ANY donation amount is very much appreciated. Please see the main page for more information. Thank You.


SDRplay Links / Information (subject to change without notice)

June 2015 Spectrum Monitor Review
Dec 2014 "RadioUser" review
Excellent WTFDA review here that also goes over set up (old style case)
Bob Nagy's "Review and Operation" (You Tube Video..includes set up notes)
SDRplay RSP1 Schematics (PDF)
SDRplay RSP1 Technical Information (PDF)

N9EWO Review:

Microtelecom - PERSEUS

"Direct Sampling HF Receiver"


The Italian made PERSEUS "Direct Sampling HF SDR Receiver" from Microtelecom (Nico Palermo)
My Review , and useful links are located below. But after awhile the "love" party was over for me (see text).

(photo : N9EWO)


N9EWO's Review : Microtelecom - Perseus

Approx. Test Sample Serial Number : 006xx
Country Of Manufacture : Italy
Included FRIWO switching AC power supply : Germany (Used a 5 v Analog/Linear Supply in Use/Review)


Small Size / Includes Power Supply / Runs A Bit Warm

The Perseus is in a attractive black aluminum case that measures 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches. It is made in Italy. It runs only warm even after being on for 8 hours continuous.

External 5 volt (at one amp) power supply is required to use the set (does not power off the USB socket of the computer). A worldwide SWITCHING German made (FRIWO) AC adapter is included and did give for some noise in the lower end of the received range at the test location (approx. MW and below ). 2 input plugs are included that lock onto the adapters case. That is the standard 2 pin European style and 2 blade American type. We switched to the use of a analog/linear supply for use and in the review below.

We found that any DC input plug fits loose (that is it can pull out rather easily).

A Zippy "Dual Core" Computer is Really a Requirement / 2.0 USB Port Another Requirement / Software and Driver Installation / Works on Windows 7 (32 Bit).

The manufacture specifications on what computer needs to be used (as stated in the English version EN12 PDF manual) is stated as 2 GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512 MB of memory for sampling rates of 125, 250, 500 KS/s. 2.5 GHz Pentium “Dual Core” processor with 512 MB of memory for the 1000 and 2000 KS/s sampling rate. (Which gives for 100 kHz, 200 kHz, 400 kHz, 800 kHz and the maximum 1800 kHz total swaths of the excellent spectrum scope). Operating Systems :Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2 (or above), Windows Vista. (Mac is not supported, sorry).

Our testing was done with a 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 "single core" processor with 1 GB of memory using Windows XP Home for the operating system (with service pack 3 installed). We were able to make this work fairly well (at least up to the 500 KS/s sampling rate). But it with ANY other computer programs in use made for ruff going. Locking up, Donald duck sounds, and other weirdness. Sometimes we had to close down and restart the program when it did this.

How well it will run with even lesser computers is hard to say. Way too may variables. Normal CPU usage with the single core 2.8 Ghz test computer was (the only program in use). Sampling Rate : 125 KS/s 32%, 250 KS/s 42 % , 500 KS/s 55 %, 1000 KS/s 75% . 2000 KS/s 100 %.

A requirement is a USB 2.0 port. Don’t even think of using a old 1 standard USB port with this one. Add on cards can be purchased at local retail outlets at a low cost for those who need to upgrade. There is no power button to be found. Once the computer is powered down (or up) the Perseus does the same.

Installing the USB driver was the first thing to do. As indicated in the manual, with the radio connected, the included CD is used to load this driver. This installed with no problems with Windows XP Home edition. On a Windows 7 (32 bit) computer was not quite as easy to load. I had to force it in the Control Panel to take it (of course install the driver as an "Administrator"). From the information I have, the "included" USB driver will NOT work with a 64 bit version of Windows® 7 (contact the manufacture ?).(UPDATE : The later used USB driver we were unable to make work on 3 different XP computers)

The software/firmware is not actually installed. It is just loaded into the desired directory and run from there. Doesn’t get any easier than this.

With Other Computers : We also tested the Perseus with a lesser Pentium 4 “single core” computer with 512 MB of memory and a 2.0 USB port (Windows XP home with service pack 3). As could be expected the same issues as above but more of a problem. With the spectrum scope at the sampling rate at 1000 KS/s / 800 kHz, the receiver was dropping out sometimes just running all by itself. Screen twitching was noticeable here too with all sampling rates. But we were actually able to use the spectrum recorder expect in the maximum 2000 KS/s / 1800 kHz selection where it pretty much locked up everything. In any event it was a much more choppy experience and not good.

Another test on the other side of the mountain was with a Windows 7 (32 bit) laptop computer using a 2.1 Ghz Intel Duo Core 2 (dual core processor), 3 GB of memory. It worked PERFECT with no dropouts at all even with the Dream DRM program in use and a couple of other applications in operation. A more beefy computer made a HUGE difference.

Frequency Coverage / Excellent Spectrum Scope

One can peek up to a 1800 kHz swath of spectrum with many adjustments to make one happy. With the Sampling Rate adjustment one can view in 5 different swaths. 100 kHz, 200 kHz, 400 kHz. 800 kHz and the maximum at 1800 kHz total. As covered above the larger the chunk looked at the more computer CPU horse power is required. I must say that is one of the best spectrum scopes I have  ever used
, including the detection of the weakest of signals. Coverage is from 10 kHz to 30 MHz (usable up to 40 MHz).

Good Ergonomics / Parts of the GUI Can Be Hard to See / Memory Channels / Selectivity Excellent - 7 Preset Settings

The Perseus has very good ergonomics overall. However parts of the GUI use small and darkish icons.

The mouse wheel can be used for a defacto tuning knob and the steps are selectable.
Mouse tuning steps are : 1 , 10 , 100 Hz. 1 , 5 , 9, 10, 12.5 and 25 KHz

Slewing is also provided with the arrows at each end (corner) of both spectrum displays (steps are user selectable).
These steps are : 1 , 2 , 5 , 10 , 20 , 25 , 50 , 100 , 200 , 400 , 500 KHz and 1 MHz

Selectivity is provided with 7 preset bandwidths. Those being .08 , 1.6 , 3.0 , 6.0 , 12.0 , 25.0 and 50.0 Khz. However any of these can be adjusted down to almost nothing (in certain steps) in sub scope window with the mouse wheel (when the cursor is over the sub spectrum display).

The tested firmware/software " v2.1f " (and above ?) have 100 memory channels in 6 banks. Even stores alpha tags for each channel. The MEM window as one looks at the GUI turns out to be a very useful integrated broadcast station database that pops up on screen as one tunes around. Only shows stations which are active at the time (in UTC) that they are transmitting are displayed. This can be toggled to show all stations using this frequency as well.

The 2 databases uses are either the EIBI or HFCC. There is one additional USER database that is whatever frequency/station data the user desires but must be written in the EIBI format. The owners manual cover the details on what need to be done to update these.

Direct keyboard entry is a bit difficult to my eyes. One needs to bring up another sub-window. Click again to make sure the cursor is in the proper spot. Then one can use the keyboard (or the keypad in the window with mouse clicks). With software/firmware v2.1f or above this can be entered in kHz or MHz format.

Other than the convoluted keypad entry, there are no other keyboard operations with the Perseus that exist at all (not including aftermarket , second source options).

Excellent Synchronous Detection / Good Clean Audio But DSP Sharpness / No Tone Control / Excellent Stability / Small Clock - Date Display

The Perseus has a excellent synchronous detector that just about never loses lock (only with extremely weak stations). One can fiddle around with the PBT and remove interference from whatever sideband interference that exists to get the same job as “selectable sideband” done. So it can be said that is does indeed have selectable sideband sync.

The audio is indeed in the tradition of DSP sets, that is it has the harshness trait. But it is very clean. So clean in fact that distortion almost non existent. Kicking in the Sync lowers any fading distortion to nothing. SSB and manual ECSS signals sound equally good.

Ok overall the audio is good but with the DSP "sharp" harshness, a good set of computer speakers with tone controls is a must. A good pair of
amplified computer speakers should be excellent for use with the Perseus (not tested) ? These are a 2 way system (woofer and tweeter), separate bass and treble controls and use a internal power supply (no wall warts or floor warts). Street price about $ 80. in the USA.

Speaking of Manual ECSS, it has rock solid stability once warmed up. With the test sample it started out “cold” at 35 hz low where it took about 60 minutes to reach a stable state. But this will depend on room environment ...etc.  Sadly unlike the Flex 5000, there is no tone control or a EQ of any kind to help fight this audio harshness. With software/firmware v2.1f (and above ?) the date and time (in UTC) is shown at the bottom of the GUI in the "Spectrum Recorder" area. It's small but useful. There are 3rd party timer programs around, not tested.

The AGC has settings of Slow, Med , Fast and off. There is a way to adjust the AGC rise and threshold in a screen with software/firmware v2.1f (and above ?), but getting to this is a bit of a chore.

There is not a real RF gain control. So when one uses the “Off” AGC setting for super weak signals the volume control provides a way to control the gain of a received signal. But overall AGC performance works properly (even in SSB modes). Function called “SpkRej” (AGC Spike Rejection) is provided. This is touted to emulate the AGC behavior of analog receivers. This indeed helps reduce the harsh DSP sound of the audio. It really does help, but not that it eliminates the beast either (it doesn’t). In fact we detected a (very slight) hint of added distortion added in use.

Good Sensitivity and Excellent Audio Recovery / Excellent Dynamic Range and Image Rejection / Real Front End Filtering.

In real testing (using a good outdoor antenna) sensitivity is good. Even weak signal sensitivity is very good. A extremely low 2 db pre-amp is provided, but as one can expect with such a small boost it’s nearly noticeable (if at all). However, when the going got VERY ruff with signals down in the mud ,
the WJ-8711A came out on top easy. Also the noise floor is a bit better on the WJ too.

Dynamic range is excellent, we experienced no overloading at any time in testing. A 10 or 20 db attenuator is provided and is more useful for clipping of the Analog-Digital-Converter (ADC "clip" red light on GUI or on the black box). It appears to be free from most nasty spurious, DSP burps or ay other weird signals. Image rejection is also equally good. Unlike most other SDR receivers, the Perseus has real RF "front end" preselection filtering.

Built in Spectrum "Recorder"

As with other SDR receivers on the market the Perseus has a function to be able to record up to 1800 kHz of the spectrum for later playback in real time. One can change modes, bandwidth etc, just like receiving it live. It works excellent once the bugs were ironed out. Also as it goes with these recorders, it eats up hard drive space like a large starved goat.

The playback function does not operate properly until we installed the “Virtual Audio Cable” software , otherwise it would not playback (UPDATE : software/firmware version v2.1f and above does not require VAC for this function). See the DRM text below for more information on this software.

No function in the GUI for standard “audio” recording of just one signal. This has to be done with a separate audio recording program of the users choice. We used the old “Cool Edit Pro 2" program with very good results. Well at least until the computer resources gave out with the limited XP test computers.

Good Noise Blanker / Very Good “NR” noise reduction and Manual Notch / S-meter “Bar” is a Winner / Excellent Manual Notch / Auto Notch a Bust.

We found the NB “Noise Blanker” to work fairly indeed. It did help to reduce local power line noise. Selectable wide and narrow modes too. We did noticed cross modulation setting in about 2/3 up it’s sliders scale , but that about normal for noise blanker circuits.

In the case of the NR (Noise Reduction) it was even more useful. For signals in awash of local noise, it made for a very useful tool. Improved audio recovery by leaps and bounds with noisy signals. However, it gives that “wooshy” and hollow tube sound that all of these NR’s tend to produce. It gets hard on the ears (and brain) to use this for any length of time (well for me anyway).

S-meter uses a horizontal bar screen display and appears to be very accurate. Shows in dBm or standard s-units (at the same time). One can also chose between RMS or Peak type of display as well.

The provided manually adjusted "single" notch is very sharp and deep, excellent overall. Auto notch was provided on the software/firmware version " v2.1f " (and above ?) that we tested. Sadly we found it to do harm than good at any adjustment (killing the signal).

Excellent SDR Receiver, But WAY Overpriced...

Perseus is the best SDR receiver we have used out of the number we have tested (including the RF Space SDR-14 and Flex-5000). Its performance is very good aside from the steep price tag. Also being a SDR "Software Defined Receiver" (no Mixer or IF stages at all), one can hope for improvements down the road. The synchronous detection holds lock very well and improves the already minimal distortion even further. Has real front end filtering too.

Again in my tests the top rated (standalone)
Watkins Johnson WJ-8711A DSP super set still beats it out when it going gets tough. The main bug here is the sensitivity and noise floor. They both could be a bit better with the Perseus.

Important Updates / With Any New Firmware - Software Can Include New Bugs That Go Along With It / So Long Perseus.....

After a few years of playing with the Perseus, I have since given up (in fact I'm no longer a owner). Seems that with any new Firmware / Software update(s) came a ROYAL "Pain In The Rump" that went along with it. Yes one should expect to have a few bugs with a SDR type of a set this is, but really folks it was getting so bad to make one cry and with only limited (or very poor) support. I was spending more time TRYING to fix the software ills than listening to the receiver. If you are a computer geek, OK , you will be a happy camper. In my case, forget it. The tiring DSP type audio (after awhile), self-generated noise (at least on my sample), limited sensitivity and high noise floor are 4 performance ills that killed it for me.

They went to a new USB driver (which I never got to work properly with 3 different XP computers). The one bug that really broke the straw was the fact after connecting it to a new very quiet "Dual Core" computer; we discovered that the set generates self-inflicted noise (yes, using a analog power supply). This was verified in a number of ways, so is not a fluke (at least with my sample). So at that point I said goodbye to the Perseus and lots of headaches along with it.

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO
ver 5.9

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WARNING : I will NOT be held responsible for any information that is listed here.
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !


Important tips using the “Griffin Technology” PowerMate USB device
Sorry , beyond the information listed below I can not provide any additional help on this.
Powermate software version tested: 2.0.1,
Microsoft Windows XP Home and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit).

The Griffin Powermate worked well with the Perseus for a "defacto" tuning knob, When used with a slower computer (non dual core), Windows may not recognize it at boot up in XP. (see text below). This bug can get to be a royal pain in the rump after awhile with XP. Using it with a Windows 7 computer it was bug free and worked well.
(Griffin photo)


Intermittently when using Windows XP it may not recognize the device at boot up in normal use (blue base LED does not light up.). With some computers this may happen every time or every other time it’s booted ?

1. To restore the device back into Windows XP, go to :

- Start > Settings > Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager
Look for “Human Interface Devices“ (HID) in the list of hardware.
- Disable the one marked in its list with the yellow exclamation point in front of it. Right click and select “Disable”.
- Then repeat the above procedure using “enable”
- If this does not restore operation after a couple of attempts then repeat the above steps (right click) but this time using “Uninstall”.
- Next (in the “action” top tool bar in Device Manager) select “Scan for hardware changes”. This should reinstall the Powermate hardware back properly on the system.

NOTE: It may take several attempts for this fix to take with either method listed above.

- If still unable to make the device recognized and operational after a number of attempts, then uninstall using the above procedure. But next unplug the device from the USB port. Then reinsert the USB plug again let Windows do the reinstall automatically.

2. If using “Run at Startup” feature with the PowerMate software (version 2.0.1) and the device is not recognized as covered above, the program MAY have to be closed and restarted in order for the previously stored settings to be recognized. It’s a good idea to use the export feature and save all applications just in case.

3. Another possible solution is to reinstall the software. This information was received from Griffin Customer Service. This is for Windows XP. Please note this did nothing to cure the issues with the 2 test computers.

Uninstall the program using the add/remove programs from your control panel.

Next, make sure that there are no remaining preference files still on your computer:


1. Open my computer
2. Double click Local Disk C:
3. Double click Documents and Setting
4. Double click your name
5. Goto Tools in the menu bar and select Folder Options
6. Click the View tab
7. Look for Hidden files and folders
6. Click Show hidden files and folders
7. Click OK
8. Double click Application Data
9. Double click GriffinTechnology
10. Delete the PowerMate folder
11. Empty your Trash
12. Restart the PC without the device-plugged in.
13. After the PC has rebooted, plug the device in.
14. Download and install the latest version of our software from our website:

Final Word : Sadly we were never able to make the "properly installed" Griffin Powermate boot up reliably no matter what we tried on 2 different computers running Windows XP (home edition). Always have to fiddle with it in one way or another at some point as covered above. Once it's recognized by Windows, it's works well.

UPDATE : The use of a faster "Dual Core" computer (or Windows 7) TOTALLY cleared this issue up.

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO
ver 2.4


WARNING : I will NOT be held responsible for any information that is listed here.
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !


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