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ThumbNet N3 SDR

Inspired by a hobby colleague, I was tempted to test a RTL SDR's. I've had RTL tuner based SDR's on the table in the past. Unfortunately, the partly very cheap RTL sticks never fulfilled my expectations. On shortwave these were not to operate on my hobby antennas. Constant overdriving and enormous noise levels were the result. In order to get a grip on this, elaborate preselection measures are necessary, which far exceed the price of the RTL stick.

This present RTL tuner based SDR is worth a test, I thought to myself. He is reasonable as you can see in the pictures. The already shielded components on the board are also installed in a sturdy aluminum housing. So elaborate shielding with a RTL SDR are rather the exception and can hope for good performance! As the only known RTL SDR, the N3 has two power options. It can be conveniently supplied via the mini USB port with the necessary 5V. This has the disadvantage that get unwanted interference from the power supply of the PC / notebook in the N3. With the second option, you can connect a "clean" 5V power supply via the green plug. Super thing that the manufacturer is thinking about a clean power supply. Absolute exception so what!



The most important technical data

- Frequency range: 24MHz - 1766MHz
- Operating modes: USB, LSB, CW, FSK, AM, SAM-DUL, FM, WFM, DAB + (software-dependent)
- Standard chipset R820T2 + RTL2832U
- 8 bit ADC (RTL2832U)
- Temperature stabilized TCXO (+/- 0.5ppm)
- Antenna connection type F
- Double RF shielding
- Additional connection for clean 5V power supply
- Power consumption 400 mA
- Dimensions: 60x40x20mm (LxDxH)
- Weight: 60g
- Price with aluminum housing double shielded USD 33.50 $
- Reference Source: Thumbsat

included supply
- Green plug for the external power supply

My interest in this case was not the shortwave reception. The frequency range of the N3 starts so only at 24MHz. Much more was the reception of DAB + in the center of my interest. But how do you do that? Since I had never dealt with the reception above 30MHz great, I had to first get some information. After reading something and thanks tips from forum colleagues of dx-u , I managed to receive DAB + with the N3.

In addition to the N3, it also needs a corresponding DAB + software with suitable drivers. This I found in the colleagues of ukwtv.de . There is in addition to FM and TV reception and DAB + a topic. Under Downloads the DAB+ Software von Andreas Gsinn can be found. These should be downloaded. For the N3 it also needs the right driver , which can also be found there. It is also important that you install "Visual C ++ Redistributable". Depending on the Windows operating system the x64or x86. Also, the instructions on the download page should read briefly.

If everything was installed correctly, the N3 should be addressed by the software. After starting the DAB + software, a search is started first. This searches the frequency range 170 - 240MHz for stations. At the Superdiskone Diamond D130 9 * ensembles are found. Among them are 136 services. Of these 123 audio and 13 * data channels.

* Ensembles: groups of digital audio broadcasting stations. Transfer multiple digital radio channels on a single frequency.
* Data channels: Additional information such as text and pictures are sent via this.

The operation of the DAB + software is quite simple. Save the stations found during the search, so that they are available at the next software start. You should occasionally start a new search. Often new stations are switched on. A click on the channel name activates this. Now you can hear DAB + on the computer or notebook. The software also offers a recording function. The recording is saved in .mp4 format. This format is best played with the VLC player . Some stations offer slide shows. Then a corresponding symbol will appear in the lower left corner of the program window. The DAB + software also offers an information window "DAB-Info". Various information about the transfer is displayed here. This is more for the specialists among us.


The DAB + reception with the software by Adreas Gsinn is amazingly easy and good. She is also freeware. What more do you want. Cheaper you do not get to a DAB + receiver.


With the N3 you can do more. I was still concentrating on receiving FM stations. The very large frequency range allowed even more things to be received, as an example, to listen to the civilian radio. Here in Switzerland this is allowed. But that would go beyond the scope.


The N3 is also good for FM reception. Overloads were only a few outside the FM radio band to receive. Mainly at 85MHz. Within the radio band were occasionally shortwave transmitters audible and visible. but that did not matter much. This did not disturb the FM reception, because the FM stations were much stronger and the interferers mostly covered. As an antenna here also the Diskone Diamond D130 was used.


As already written above, I am actually pure shortwave listener, but let me be carried away to the excursion to the upper frequencies. The N3 is a recommended RTL SDR for its price. On FM and above he is really low noise. Other RTL tuner based SDR's were playing much harder on the upper frequencies.

installation Guide

To make the entry easier for those interested, I have written a small installation guide here. The device names might be different in Device Manager.

In order to operate other programs, it requires a small, but very important change! The driver that addresses the N3 needs to be changed. The Realtek driver (driver2) that communicates with the DAB + software does not work with the software SDR-Console and SDR #! To do this, the Zadig driver must be installed.

For inexperienced, the procedure below is relatively difficult to accomplish. You have to know what you are doing. Therefore, I expressly warn against it and take no responsibility for any damage to the operating system!

Open Zadig installation program, click Options, select List All Devices.

Open selection by clicking on the arrow on the right and select "Bulk.In, Interface (Interface 0)".

Then click "Reinstall Driver". Then the WinUSB driver will be installed.


f the Zadig driver is installed, open the Device Manager. There, under Audio, Video and Game Controllers, select the Realtek 2832U with the right mouse button "Update Driver".

Then select "Search for driver software on the computer".

Select "Choose from a list of available drivers on my computer".

Select the red framed driver "Bulk-In, Interface (Interface 0)" and click on Next. Thus, the driver is selected.

With the above driver you can operate the N3 with SDR-Console as well as SDR #. If you want to go back to the DAB + reception, the whole procedure has to be done again, except that you choose the USB-device "Bulk-In Interface". Again press right mouse button to update driver.

The same procedure here too. Just to select the driver "Realtek 2832U Device Version 64.1.521.2012 (21.05.2012) and click on it to load the driver for DAB + again.

Summary of the required programs and drivers. Are linked to the provider.

DAB+ Software

Treiber 2 (Realtek) for DAB+ Software

Zadig Treiber for SDR-Console & #SDR



postet: 06.11.2017


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