Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ham radio and software..........

It would seem that software and ham radio can get along very well and there is an abundance of software out there to choose from. Some software is free other are available for a price, I have both here at VE3WDM. There seems to be some myths about both the free software and the software for a price. Regarding the free software I have read and heard.....
1.  It's no good as it's not supported.
2. Since it's free it must be very simple and buggy
3. I am sure it's not updated.

As for the software for a price I have heard and read......
1.It's way over priced.
2.Why pay when free software is out there?
3. Someone is just trying to make a buck.

I have both free and software I had to paid for and am very happy with both products. My software is not  the be all and end all but it's what works for me. There is some fantastic software out there that can make you grow in your ham radio journey. I hope to just excite  you to look to see what is out there.
Here is what I use and as most ham I know they love free stuff and here is the free software I use.

1. DXlabs for my every day radio adventures I am sold on DX Labs! This software has rig control, logging, world map view of DX, QRZ (and many more) look up feature and much more. With this software and with the click of a mouse able to use many features of my K3. At a glance I am able see on a world map DX spots, I am told if  I worked this country before....on what band.....and what mode. There is a huge amount this free software can do. As for updates it seems that it's almost daily this software is improving. Oh and as a side note updates are a breeze to instal and no need to jump through hoops to get the latest and greatest upgrade. If you are not sure about a feature or if the software does not seem to be doing what it should, support is fast and readily available on the internet.

 2. If you are into contesting (like me) then once again the free stuff comes to the rescue. N1MM seems to be one of the staples for contesting. Again it has rig control features, CW and SSB features, VFO A and B control, spotting networks this is just to name a few things this amazing software can do.
There are regular updates and bugs are very few and far between. Again if you have troubles the support is there and it's fast.
Ok lets talk crazy now.....paying for ham software

1. When contesting I said I use N1MM but I also use a rig control program by N4PY and it's not free but WOW does it enhance my contesting. (now this software is not only for contesting I just chose to use it this way) This program allows me to adjust most of my Elecraft K3 controls with the mouse or keyboard. I can used my K1EL keyer, this program allowed me to use my Flexcontrol knob.

2. Another program I dished out some coin for and never looked back is MRP40 cw decoding program. Now I know what your thinking "there are lots of free CW decoding programs out there" This is true I have tried them and they are good BUT MRP40 is GREAT. In contesting when the speeds get to what I call "crazy speeds" this program has no trouble at all decoding them. 

Lets say  you want to have multiple programs work together without a hitch.........

 3. Then LP Bridge or  VSP manager come to the rescue. These are free programs and will allow your computer to set up virtual ports thus having multiple programs working at the same time and talking to each other. These programs work like a dream and as far as my needs go no bugs at all.

4. If you are into the digi modes like I was and in the near future hope to be there is a free program called Quickmix. This program will remember all the audio settings you use for each digi mode, so for example when operating PSK and you want to now switch to WSJT-X which has new audio settings for you PC. You no longer have to remember them Quickmix can in the blink of an eye adjust the sound card to the new settings for the selected digi mode!!

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