ColibriNANO USB SDR Receiver Reviewed

At first glance, the ColibriNANO SDR looks like another cheap SDR dongle. But after watching [Mile Kokotov’s] review (see video below), you can see that it was built specifically for software defined radio service. When [Mile] takes the case off, you notice the heavy metal body which you don’t see on the typical cheap dongle. Of course, a low-end RTL-SDR is around $20. The ColibriNANO costs about $300–so you’d hope you get what you pay for.

The frequency range is nominally 10 kHz to 55 MHz, although if you use external filters and preamps you can get to 500 MHz. In addition to a 14-bit 122.88 megasample per second A/D converter, the device sports an Altera MAX10 FPGA.

In addition to interfaces to different software packages, the dongle works with remote software. The idea is to put the dongle and an antenna somewhere advantageous (that is, high and radio-quiet) and then use a Raspberry Pi or similar computer to pipe signal over the Internet.

If you don’t want a dongle, we can endorse [Lukas’] build from scratch. If you are looking more for a getting started resource, check out what [Richard Baguley] had to say about SDR.


23 thoughts on “ColibriNANO USB SDR Receiver Reviewed

    1. I haven’t watched the video, don’t know anything about the product, but I do know that the effective precision and sensitivity can be increased by oversampling and decimating. That is, it takes 32 samples for I and 32 for Q, does digital filtering, resulting is more than 14b of precision. For some uses, an 18b 3MHz signal is more useful than a 14b 60 MHz signal, especially since it is hard to get that much data off of a USB device.

    2. It’s for LF though and no higher than 55MHz. So you only need so much.
      Still, $300? uhm.. is there really that much interesting stuff on shortwave?
      But if shortwave is your thing then I guess it’s OK

          1. I used to be skeptical too, but the hardware RF pipeline reasoning becomes clear when you dig into the lectures.
            Recall the lime is also TWO full duplex systems with multiple RF input switching to select different HF/VHF/UHF line inputs.

            I was used to looking for LNA and filters for SDR (specifically notching out FM 88MHz-108MHz to reduce the noise floor), but when I got my lime it already had respectable amps built-in to the front end.

            The app notes can be thick to read, but it was designed by people that wanted everything but the power amp and output filter on a single chip. Now if someone makes a dual wide-band digitally tunable 1W bandpass filter, than the device will be 2/3 complete digital transceiver/repeater.

            More Data does not always mean better SNR.

      1. I have 3 various chipped RTL-SDR dongles. All work great; scanning, trunking… They’re all on a shelf now that I have a LimeSDR. Killer setup, tons of bandwith.

    1. There is this DSP thing called oversampling where, provided there is enough noise!, you can increase the dynamic range by sampling at a higher sample rate. For a dynamic range of 110 dB, that would imply 18 bits, since the ADC above only has 14-bits (~86.dB of dynamic range ), that would imply that they are gaining 4 additional bits (Or an additional 24dB of dynamic range) by oversampling – 122.88 MSPS real @ 14-bits is 61.44MSPS IQ @ 14-bits and if you decimate that by 256 for 4 additional bits of dynamic range that is 240 KSPS IQ @ 18-bits.

      1. To decimate means to remove 1-in-10, as in decimal. Or as used by the Romans, line up everybody and count off. Every tenth one is killed. It is true that, like news readers, DSP jargon uses a different meaning, I wish there were something that makes more sense. Removing 1-in-10 will almost never happen in DSP. Hexamate? Octomate? It doesn’t really work since in DSP you are removing 7-of-8 or 3-of-4, etc.

        1. “Upsampling” and “Downsampling” are also used, but have been overloaded in lay speak (to include the antialiasing filtering) such that in practice they’re more imprecise.

          “Decimate” is a sufficiently rarefied term that it doesn’t have that problem.

    1. Sorry you thought so. I don’t think it reads that way.

      We absolutely, categorically don’t do sponsored posts or sneaky adverts. I know the rest of the Internet is going to hell with twitter bots and fake news and clickbait and etc. But this is Hackaday.

  1. Meh!

    DC to daylight receivers were a thing advertised in the back of electronics magazines that I read over 20 years ago.

    Waterfalls are nice but 3MHz isn’t all that wide and that’s a lot of money.

    I’ll stop being bored when a ‘good’ SDR doesn’t cost $300!

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