Designing a truly portable SDR Part 1

Ideas concerning a real portable SDR Part 1

Background Story:
In his blog ‘Blog SWLing Post‘, Thomas Witherspoon published an article called ‘ Designing a truly portable SDR‘ by  London Shortwave. When I saw the picture, I only thought: “He can’t be serious! All these cables, the USB isolator, extra batteries, rod antenna etc will scare potential shortwave listeners away.


I was immediately reminded of a customer at the Dayton Ham Radio Fair with exactly the same surface tablet, but connected to a RadioJet 1102S. There was only one cable and everything was working smoothly. I posted a photo in my Dayton blog:

RadioJet 1102S on Microsoft Surface 2 in Dayton

RadioJet on Microsoft Surface 2 in Dayton. Unfortunately, no reception was possible in the exhibition hall and the customer was gone. The discussion in the thread ended as usual: The RadioJet is way too expensive and less portable…..

When I was testing the USB-power supply for the GigaActiv  and MegaLoop (ML60  and ML200) antennas, which run on 5V and are ideal for portable operation, I had an idea: With a Windows Tablet, a small hub, the RadioJet 1102S or 1305P, FiFi-SDR, FDM-S1, the USB power supply and the MegaLoop/GigaAtive antenna, I can put together a really portable system.

I wanted to contact Microsoft and explain what I wanted to do hoping that they would provide me with a Surface 2 tablet. However, who could I contact? After a long search, I called their press office. It only took a few e-mails and the nice Mrs. Gleissner made it come true and had Microsoft send me a Surface 2 Pro for four weeks. Thank you so much!!

Day 1: The Microsoft Surface 2 arrived!

Microsoft Surface 2 Pro Bonito

Today, Friday, August 1, the Surface 2 arrived. Its front is black and completely covered with glass. The case is also black but made of metal. It does not bend at all. It not only looks classic but also feels great and fits nicely in your hands.

On the back, there is a second camera and a stand, which can be folded. That is a good idea because you don not have to buy bags, jackets or stands.

The Surface 2 comes with a battery charger, which can be attached to the case with the help of a magnetic plug. It even has a USB-output. to charge a Smartphone or something like that. I already have an idea provided the charger produces no noise, as is the case with the Apple Macbook, which also comes with a magnetic plug like that.

The display is very bright, sharp and with a good range of viewing angels. The resolution is 1.920×1.080 pixels. It remains to be seen whether it is suitable for outdoor use. But even there the display is pin sharp.

For a tablet, the Surface 2 has many ports. I only would like to mention a USB-3.0 port. No such thing comes with the Android-tablets or iPads. The Android has a micro USB 2.0 port at best, which needs additional adapters but does not support a wide range of devices.

Battery life
Without being recharged, the tablet has been running now for almost four hours and there are still 6 hours and 51 minutes left. Well, that is without any device being connected. Let’s see what it will be like when there a lot of loads.

Here are the first components, which I will use: Surface2 Pro, RadioJet 1102S, MegaLoop antenna ML200 and the USB power supply. And cables, of course.

Bonito Radiojet, MegaLoop ML200 and Surface Pro 2
RadioJet with Surface Pro 2 and USB junction box plus MegaLoop active antenna.
First, I am going to install the programs, charge the Surface and will prepare everything for the first tests on Saturday. I will drive around and will conduct further tests and see how long this combination is going to work.

To be continued shortly!

This entry was posted in Bonito Newsroom. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Designing a truly portable SDR Part 1

  1. laleuf lionel F11CKA/SWL says:

    congratulations BONITO pour vos fabrication ANT/RX…SDR Supers 73 lionel

Leave a Reply to laleuf lionel F11CKA/SWL Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.