As a computer geek, I’m always investigating things online that I’m already interested in or thinking about ahead of when I need it. Before I even had a HF rig (loaner Icom from a friend), I was looking at computer controlled software and logging programs. I downloaded and installed a few just to see what they provided and the user interface of the application.
What I decided on, and have used since I’ve had a HF radio (a whopping 2 months), is Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) by Simon rown HB9DRV. The decision was not made on price, though FREE is a really nice perk. The decision was made on the user interface and functionality provided in 1 integrated (or what feels to be integrated) solution. There’s also 2 online forums for the software – traditional site hosted forum and a Yahoo Group, both of which are active and receive responses from the developer.
I use HRD for controlling the radio for tuning the frequency, switching bands, initiating an antenna tuning, etc. What I typically touch the radio directly for, though I could use the program too, is for the volume and RF Gain knobs. Maybe I’ll get used to adjusting them in the program via sliders too. The darn program does pretty much everything you’d want to control on my TS-2000.
The TS-2000 is mindless simple to connect to using a standard RS-232 cable. When I was borrowing a friends Icom, I got a cable for that unit on eBay for $10. If you can hook a radio to a computer, I’m guessing HRD will control it.
What I really liked about the program when I checked a bunch out is the logging functionality and integration with the radio control. I’m sure there are stronger programs to do just logging but if you’re not contesting it’s more then adequate. It’s also the area where I have the most ideas for more full featured integration with the rest of the program and with outside programs, many of which are already on the feature request list for the developer. My main requests are about integration of creating new log entries and querying existing log entries based on the DX cluster window which is also integrated in the program. With these added it would save some clicks and make it more user friendly. There’s plans for additional integration in this area.
When logging, it automatically sends the log entries, in real time, to eQSL and supports exporting for signing/loading into LOTW. I’ve used N1MM in 2 contests and imported those contacts into HRD. There’s some manual work to do after importing (or I don’t know how to automate it) but it’s all possible if not a bit tedious.
What I did over the weekend is launch the Digital Master 780 (DM-780) program that is also installed/integrated and used it to have it read CW and show me what was sent, display RTTY data that it captured, and also capture SSTV pics just by hooking up the audio out (split my headphone jack) to the microphone connection on the PC. I was amazed at the accuracy of the CW and RTTY captures and even though 20m SSTV was noisy, I could still make out the still pictures that were sent. I’ve ordered a SignaLink USB which should be coming in the next 2 weeks and that will allow me to more easily send/receive CW/RTTY, etc. I’m really looking forward to checking those out. Maybe even make my first CW contact without really knowing CW.
So check out Ham Radio Deluxe to see the wealth of features it has. It really lets you become more productive on the radio.