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Author Topic: Setting up a shack PC for the first time. What software do you love???  (Read 4927 times)
KRAZZZ
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Posts: 2




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« on: April 04, 2016, 01:02:50 PM »

Hello, newbie here. Just got my general so I am looking to get into HF. I have a PC tower with dual monitors that I plan on using in the shack. I have a budget of about $500 for a HF transceiver so I don’t think I will be able to get one with a PC interface (If I’m mistaken please send some models for me to keep my eyes open for.) There are so many software programs out there for the PC that it’s a little overwhelming. I’d love to hear what the top 3 or 4 programs are that you can’t live without. I for sure want to use it for logging and satellite tracking. I would also be interested in a spectrum analyzer, SDR receiver.

Update: My PC is running Windows 7. It is a quad core with 8GB of RAM and will have high speed internet as well.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 01:24:53 PM by KRAZZZ » Logged
KD8MJR
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 11:57:14 AM »

If you want everything in one package, including satellite tracking then you will need HRD 6.x
There is freeware software out there but HRD decodes just about everything and covers just about all the bases in one package.

73s
Rob
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“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
K7EXJ
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2016, 12:43:53 PM »

FLdigi, WSJT-X are both free (open source) and available for Linux and WIndows.

Rigblaster Nomic for $50 will interface the PC and rig. $50. It's also good for portable (SOTA, IOTA, NPOTA, etc.) ops.

Those two software packages will do all the digital modes (PSK-31, Olivia, RTTY and the JT modes as well as WSPR).

Make sure you buy your transceiver first before you buy the Nomic so you can get the right cables.

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73s de K7EXJ
Craig Smiley
N0IU
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2016, 01:32:31 PM »

Quote
Setting up a shack PC for the first time. What software do you love???

I have lots of software that I love that is suitable for the type of operating that I do and what might work well for me might not be at all appropriate for you!
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K5UNX
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2016, 02:45:46 PM »

I am using the older free version of HRD. I'll buy the new version someday. I also have WSJT-X and JTAlert for JT modes. I am using RT Systems software to program my radios. That's about it.

About HRD. I used the logging, DM780 for PSK31. I have not tried RTTY yet. I don't really use the dog control portion, nor anything else yet. I am re-considering software. Trying to decide what to use since I don't really use most of HRD's functions. Fldigi would accomplish PSK31 for me. I could probably find another logging program.
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AC6CV
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2016, 08:14:41 AM »

If you are within a tight budget I would stick with FREE software. I like Digipan, MMTY, N1MM. For rigs I like the Icom 706mk2g but it will blow out your budget used at about $600.
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W4KYR
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2016, 08:25:04 AM »

If you ever run Packet Radio, you can use Putty for a terminal program. Older computers with XP and earlier can use Hyperterminal. Both are free....
.
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K5TED
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Posts: 132




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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2016, 08:59:23 AM »

Hello, newbie here. Just got my general so I am looking to get into HF. I have a PC tower with dual monitors that I plan on using in the shack. I have a budget of about $500 for a HF transceiver so I don’t think I will be able to get one with a PC interface (If I’m mistaken please send some models for me to keep my eyes open for.) There are so many software programs out there for the PC that it’s a little overwhelming. I’d love to hear what the top 3 or 4 programs are that you can’t live without. I for sure want to use it for logging and satellite tracking. I would also be interested in a spectrum analyzer, SDR receiver.

Update: My PC is running Windows 7. It is a quad core with 8GB of RAM and will have high speed internet as well.

Your PC is fine for shack control.

The software you will need is the software you can use.

HRD or any rig control software is useless to you unless the radio has at least minimal serial control functionality. That said, it is the most comprehensive suite of ham programs out there, IMO, including decent logging, digital mode functionality, though not as comprehensive a list of modes as FLDigi, and satellite tracking.

MMSSTV is better than the SSTV functions in HRD's DM-780, IMO. I have not tried the latest version of HRD though, so there may be some surprises in there.

I use Omni-Rig for some things as well. Really depends on what I'm trying to accomplish.

As for the sat tracking piece, without rig control, you will do just as well by looking up sats on N2YO.com or some other online sat tracker.

Are you presently using a VHF/UHF radio for the sats? If not, an HF radio will not allow you to work or even hear any sats of note.


I recommend saving up another $200 or so and keeping an eye out for a good used FT-450D or IC-7200 for HF/6m, and then figure out what you want to do with the satellites. You can work them with an inexpensive VHF/UHF handheld radio and handheld directional antenna out in the backyard, but a 'base station' setup for sats will be substantially more involved.
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ON5MF
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2016, 10:59:57 AM »

For general logging and digital modes I use the DXLabsuite.

For contest logging I use N1MM+

WSJT-X for JT65 and JT9

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Mostly (low power) rtty contesting using OQ6A, sometimes dxing using ON5MF
in november '14,'15,'16,'17 and '18 also OP5MF, special prefix in commemoration of 100 years WW 1

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N1EN
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Posts: 111




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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2016, 06:05:32 AM »

I just went through a complete reinstall of my shack PC, which provided a good opportunity to distill/simplify my collection of radio applications.

Here's what survived:

DXLabs suite -- not as pretty as HRD, but the price is right and the logging is more capable
FLDigi -- for most soundcard digital (I find it more intuitive than the PSK capability of DXLabs)
WSJTX and JT-Alert -- for the JT modes / weak signal work
N1MM+ -- for contest use
NAP3 -- poor man's panadapter, when fed by an SDR dongle connected to my xcvr's IF out
LP-Bridge -- for COM port sharing

I don't live in a good place for satellite work, but I played with both SatPC and Nova when setting up for an ARISS contact awhile back.

Note, however, that just about everything aside from basic logging functions assumes that you have some degree of computer interface...but interfaces can be bought or home-brewed for just about any HF rig that has been sold as new in the past 10-20 years.
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KZ7ZUL
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Posts: 86




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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2016, 06:49:23 AM »

I'm fairly new to HF myself! I just passed my General last night, but have had the HF rig setup for a few weeks and connected to my pc using a signalink USB sound card to it, and the free HRD (I think it's version 5.24 something like that) and worked out all the bugs in it. One of the bugs was when I launch it and it automatically boots up the MD780, then it isn't connected to the logbook. So, I manually launch the logbook, and that satisfies that issue where I can then connect and upload my QSO's with LoTW and eQSL. Unfortunately the only way that I'm aware of for logging your QSO in the QRZ logbook, is to do that manually. Maybe there's a way in HRD, but I'm not aware of it at this time?

I'm using Windows 10 on my PC, and I also have a cable which controls the HF rig directly so when I use HRD, I can easily change the settings (frequencies, etc) from the computer directly, which is pretty cool.

Hope that helps.

73,
Wes
kz7zul
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W1XWX
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2016, 04:12:10 PM »

HRD the free version, Ham Clock, Nistime, WSJT-X, WSJT-X Alert, JT65HF, WSPR, FLdigi, ADIF Master, EIBIview30, Log40M, DXview for rotor control, FreeDV, Echolink, and DVTool for Dstar and DVdongle, and CHIRP.

All of these are free -- except DVtool requires that you have a Dstar DVdongle. I also use the HRD rotor control from time to time.

Have fun and 73,

W1XWX
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Life's too short for QRP
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