The SDRPlay RSP1 and RSP2 are software defined radio receivers, covering frequencies between 100 kHz and 2GHz. When people consider upgrading from the popular RTL-SDR, there are some mid priced software defined radios receiver that come to most peoples minds: The Airspy R2/Mini/HF and the SDRplay RSP1/2 . These are all in the price range of $150 to $300 USD and provide more features and improved performance over RTL-SDR.
According to SDRplay official account over support forums a consignment of RSPs that was recently stolen from our manufacturing partner have appeared for sale on eBay. SDRplay advised that have now black-listed serial numbers and these devices will not work at all or will only work with a very restricted range of software.
In addition anyone with any of these devices will not receive any form of support or technical assistance from SDRplay.
1. We have end to end traceability of our products from the point of manufacture to the point that they reach our seller. If any are stolen, we will know and we will know the serial numbers of the devices taken.
2. Via the serial numbers we can render these devices worthless and so there is no point in attempting to sell them. The unwitting purchaser will become aware that they have received a stolen device and will want their money back.
3. Because we can make these devices worthless, there is no point in stealing any more of our products.
Presumably this means that the SDRPlay SDRuno software and/or RSP device drivers will not accept these specific devices or even that they can be bricked, given that the manufacturer has not specified exactly what the measures will consist of other than saying that it will make the SDR "worthless".
In case of acquiring one of those products the manufacturer asks to contact them and they only offer to be treated VERY sympathetically.
We made public the serial numbers of the RSP1As and RSP2Pros public and very clearly asked anyone who may have purchased one of these devices (believing them to be genuine) to contact us. Those that do and assist us in tracking down the thieves will be treated VERY sympathetically.
This announcement has been strongly criticized by users of multiple radio forums and HAMs over twitter, who think that innocent customers are being punished for a manufacturer's problem. And remember especially the case of FTDI malicious driver.
Back in October 2014, the FDTI manufacturer shipped a device driver that checked the authenticity of USB chips claiming to be FTDI. If it detected a non-original chip, the driver would make any operating system stop seeing the device by setting its USB product ID to 0 , basically killing the USB device.
That release led to criticism that the company was penalising people who didn't know they had an infringing product. FDTI chips are usually part of general-purpose devices and the end user has no way of knowing whether a particular component is original or not. In some cases these chips are used in expensive devices such as laboratory equipment or medical equipment, and may cause severe interruptions and losses to innocent users. FTDI removed the "feature" after severe backlash only to reintroduce the "feature" two year later.
SDRplay case also created some doubts in the community after the manufacturer admits that controls and track the use of all devices serial number, from the factory to the customer home, which raise some important questions about privacy. While others question if be SDR play drivers phones home for white/black-listing. UPDATE: SDRplay staff wrote a third message answering some of these questions on May 17, 2018 4:49 pm.
The SDRplay decision to blacklist some devices comes just one day before SDRplay showcasing new product at Dayton ham radio conference. It remains to be seen how this controversy influences public reception of this new product.