Learning Ham Radio Deluxe. My adventure begins.
I finally chose a logging/rig-control program, Ham Radio Deluxe.
This blog post will chronicle my adventure learning how to use it and how to integrate it into my station.
…Let the journey begin…
Having been off-the-air the decades, I have been fascinated the most with how ham radio and computers are now so cleverly intertwined. Clearly I want to choose a logging/rig-control software package that will meet my needs long term since changing software midstream would not be easy — a new learning curve, etc.
I tried demo or free versions of a handful of packages including Log4OM, Logger32, Aether, MacLogger, and Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD). After using the 30-day demo version of HRD for about three weeks, I felt that HRD was best for me. Here’s why:
- HRD is a modern program with a beautiful user interface that makes a lot of sense to me.
- It was easy to configure basic rig control between my Icom IC-718 HF transceiver and HRD. HRD supports many radios, but not everything. Your mileage may vary.
- Logging a QSO quickly is easy and works nicely in concert with the built-in DX cluster and frequency graph by call sign displays.
- Have a problem with HRD? Support including tech support by phone is available.
Cons or other issues with HRD:
- HRD costs $100. One time purchase.*
- If you want support after the first year and access to newer versions, you must pay an additional $50 annually.*
*Personally, I don’t look at these as negatives. I see that a lot of development went into HRD. It is an elegant program. And a revenue stream coming into HRD should allow for robust future development; i.e. it will be around for a very long time…
- My 30-day demo was running out so I went online to purchase the full product which would get me the activation key I needed to turn my demo version into the full paid version. The purchase side of the HRD website is bizarre. Took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to actually pay for the activation key. Terrible site design. HRD really needs to streamline the purchase process.
- To actually get my activation key, I was instructed to click on the PayPal link to return to the HRD website after my Paypal transaction was successful. But my browser, Firefox, warned me that clicking on that link would direct me to an unencrypted page and asked me if I indeed wanted to continue. I tried to click “Continue,” but Firefox locked up hard at that point. I frowned…no activation key number. No way to go back and get it. Could be Firefox’s problem…I don’t know.
- So I forwarded a copy of my PayPal email receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a short explanation of my snafu. Within about three minutes, I received an email reply from HRD which included my activation key number. I was really impressed with HRD’s timeliness.
- I applied the activation key to my installation and the “demo” copy warning window went away permanently.
- Two days later I had the opportunity to really use HRD tech support for the first time. I found out from QRZ.com that a new version of HRD was available. I, of course, wanted to update to the new version. I went to HRD’s website and looked around for update information. Specifically, I wanted to know whether I needed to uninstall my old version before installing the new version or simply install over it. For the life of me I could not find the answer to my question in any of the HRD online support resources. So I created an account at HRD, then filled out a trouble ticket asking my question.
- Later that day I tried to get back into my new account and check on the status of my support ticket, but I got locked out of my account. I thought my user name was my call sign, but it’s actually your email address. After thinking I had typo problems or a password problem — tried a few times — HRD locked me out of my account. No info was given about how long I would be locked out or how to proceed from there. I waited until the next day and tried using my email address and password — it worked. Looked up my support ticket and was pleased to see my question had been promptly answered the day before: just install the new version over the old version.
- One other comment about HRD updates…from the HRD program you can click on Help, Check for New Updates. But doing that simply takes you to HRD’s home page at ham-radio-deluxe.com. It doesn’t actually check to see if there is an update available and/or take you to the download page. HRD needs to fix that.
I am temporarily on hold with HRD. I want to be able to use HRD’s DM780 module to give me keyboard CW. I want to be able to use a paddle too. I am using a RIGblaster Plug and Play device to provide keying and digital modes integration into my transceiver. Though I have followed the RIGblaster instructions to configure HRD to work with my RIGblaster, I simply can’t get any CW output — though HRD can (as it should according the RIGblaster) key my transceiver. I Googled everything I can think of, but no joy. I will call RIGblaster (West Mountain Radio) first. If they point the finger at HRD, I’ll try out HRD telephone support for the same time. I’m even willing to get rid of my RIGblaster if there’s a better box out there that integrates with HRD.
I will try to find the time next week to figure out my CW snafu. This blog post will be updated on an on-going basis as I continue to figure out HRD…