Best SDR for Raspberry Pi

Software Defined Radio (SDRs) has revolutionized the world of amateur radio and signal processing, offering unprecedented flexibility and capabilities previously reserved for expensive, professional-grade equipment.

For enthusiasts and hobbyists, integrating SDRs with a Raspberry Pi can open up a world of possibilities—from tracking aircraft positions to receiving satellite signals and everything in between.

In this article, we delve into the best Software Defined Radios compatible with the Raspberry Pi, exploring their features, performance, and the unique projects they enable.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Starter Kit - 8GB RAM

Whether you are a seasoned ham radio operator or a newcomer eager to experiment, finding the right SDR for your Raspberry Pi setup can enhance your understanding of the radio spectrum and expand your capabilities in exciting new ways.

Join us as we guide you through the top picks, helping you make an informed choice tailored to your interests and technical requirements.

Table of Contents

Top Pick – HackRF One

Nooelec HackRF One Software Defined Radio, ANT500 & SMA Adapter Bundle for HF, VHF & UHF. Includes SDR with 1MHz-6GHz Frequency Range & 20MHz Bandwidth, ANT-500, and 4 SMA Adapters

The HackRF One covers a broad frequency range from 10 MHz to 6000 MHz to include the most popular bands of operation. It has both a transmitter and a receiver to enable true standalone operation as a radio system. The HackRF has a sampling rate of 20 million samples per second which allows the user to process waveforms that are 10 MHz wide. The product has a USB 2.0 interface which allows for high speed data throughput into a host processor. The antenna port can provide up to 50 mA of current at +3.3 V to enable the operation of a low noise amplifier for noise reduction and greater sensitivity.

The HackRF is fully open source with support for GNU Radio, SDR# and a large community of users with an active mailing list and support. The HackRF provides excellent value for money and is the best SDR on the market today.


  • Completely open source
  • Many online learning resources including how-to videos
  • Frequency coverage and bandwidth


  • The maximum input signal power is -5 dBm.  Signals stronger than this will damage the HackRF. This is a very low max input level and care must be taken not to inject strong signals into the RF input
  • Half-duplex operation so you cannot transmit and receive simultaneously
  • The power amplifier in the transmitter is susceptible to damage and repairing it is a non-trivial endeavor

Best Budget Software-defined radio receiver – RTL-SDR

If you are looking for a low cost device to experiment with SDR and get your toes wet, look no further than the RTL-SDR. It is a small USB dongle that is packed with radio receiver electronics! On account of its low cost this is is truly the Arduino of the SDR world. The RTL-SDR is being used in thousands of applications as varied as Airplane tracking, Cellphone identification, Ham Radio and in schools to learn about communication signal processing.

RTL-SDR Blog V4 R828D RTL2832U 1PPM TCXO HF Bias Tee SMA Software Defined Radio with Dipole Antenna Kit

The RTL-SDR has some nice gain control settings that can be adjusted in conjunction with an external low noise amplifier if required, to improve sensitivity and optimize linearity.


  • Price
  • Large community of users
  • Extensive Software Support – pretty much every software works with this device from GNU Radio to MATLAB


  • Very limited frequency range – that doesn’t cover many popular bands
  • Other hardware specifications such as bandwidth and dynamic range are limited as well

RadioBerry for Raspberry Pi

The Radioberry is a highly regarded Software Defined Radio (SDR) transceiver designed to be used as a Raspberry Pi hat. It’s especially notable for its use of the AD9866 chip, which supports a frequency range of 0 to 30 MHz with a maximum bandwidth of up to 384 kHz. The max output power is 20 milliwatt.

This makes it suitable as a transceiver for amateur radio applications within the HF spectrum.

AURSINC SDR Radioberry for Raspberry Pi 4 Radio Card Analog Devices AD9866&10CL025 12-bit Broadband Modem With 7in HDMI Screen LCD Display Monitor for Raspberry Pi 4 4B 3B+ 3B 3A+ 2B B+ Windows 7/8/10

One of the key features of the Radioberry is its affordability and open-source nature, making it an appealing choice for hobbyists and educational purposes. It has active community support and open-source software development.


How does a Software-defined Radio Work?

  • Flexibility: The software in an SDR can be swapped out or updated to change the functionality of the radio. This means it can transmit and receiver across a wide range of frequencies and use different protocols without requiring new hardware.
  • Processing: An SDR processes RF signals and converts them to digital form that represents radio signals. These signals can then be processed in the Raspberry Pi. The transmitter in a SDR uses digital signal processing (DSP) to modulate digital data onto a radio frequency (RF) carrier wave.
  • Output: After modulation, the signal is converted from digital to analog, amplified, and transmitted via an antenna. Conversely after signal reception and demodulation, an analog signal is converted to digital data.


Software defined radios are highly versatile, capable of handling multiple frequencies and modes, which makes them popular in amateur radio, research, military, and commercial sectors for various applications. The adaptability of SDR also means it can adjust to new technologies and standards, making it a future-proof investment.

Here are our top picks:

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