What is RTL-SDR?

The RTL-SDR is an ultra cheap software defined radio based on DVB-T TV tuners with RTL2832U chips. The RTL-SDR can be used as a wide band radio scanner.
RTL-SDR is a very cheap software defined radio that uses a DVB-T TV tuner dongle based on the RTL2832U chipset. With the combined efforts of Antti Palosaari, Eric Fry and Osmocom it was found that the signal I/Q data could be accessed directly, which allowed the DVB-T TV tuner to be converted into a wideband software defined radio via a new software driver.

Essentially, this means that a cheap  TV tuner USB dongle with the RTL2832U chip can be used as a computer based radio scanner. This sort of scanner capability would have cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars just a few years ago. The RTL-SDR is also often referred to as RTL2832U, DVB-T SDR, RTL dongle

There are many other software defined radios better than the RTL-SDR, but they all come at a higher price. Currently we think that the Airspy and SDRPlay, SDR’s are the best low cost RX only SDR’s. Then there are the HackRF and BladeRF SDRs , which can both transmit and receive.