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Foundations of Amateur Radio #197:

from Onno VK6FLAB on March 15, 2019
Website: http://vk6flab.com/
Add a comment about this article!

What's in a Chirp?

On Thursday the 3rd of July 2008 at 6 minutes to 7 at night a developer called Dan KK7DS started to scratch an itch and published the results. The next morning before breakfast Dan added more. Since then about a hundred people from around the globe have contributed to that project.

Some people made little changes, others made large contributions over many years. In all, on average, the project saw a change every 29 hours over more than a decade of contributions.

On the 16th of July, less than two weeks into the project, it got a name, CHIRP. It's been translated from US English to Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and the Queens English.

From the beginning of talking to a single Icom IC-92 radio, CHIRP today supports 27 different Icom radios, 36 different brands of radio, hundreds of different radios in all, with new ones being added every couple of months or so.

The software runs on anything that will run Python, that includes Windows, OS X and Linux and it does it with an extremely modest footprint and it's free, free in cost and free as in Open Source.

If you're not familiar with CHIRP and you have a radio, then it's time to get to know this tool. It makes it simple to program your radio, to configure settings and to make backups of your current channel listings. I should mention that this is not just for hand held radios, there are plenty of HF base station radios supported.

When you run CHIRP it presents you with a window where you have a spreadsheet view of the channels in your radio. You can download the channels from your radio or upload new ones. Changing a frequency is as simple as clicking on the frequency and typing a new one, with a full-human-sized keyboard, rather than the poor excuse for a dial-pad your radio has. If your radio supports it, you can supply a human readable name, configure offsets, CTCSS and tuning step size, the mode and several other properties.

If you're unsure where to get started, CHIRP even comes with a list of frequencies to get you on your way.

You can create different configurations for different types of operations. For example, if you're into SOTA, you can make a configuration file that has all the relevant SOTA frequencies, but when you head back home and want to use the local repeater network, you can build a set for that. If you visit a different state, another country, or if you want to copy your channels from one radio to another, you can with CHIRP.

If you want to get started, there's a Beginners Guide, a list of frequently asked questions and you'll find information about what cables to use, specific errors and issues you might encounter and if you're a software developer, you'll find information on how to contribute.

If you want the ability to program your radio on any computer, you can download a boot-able CD that will run CHIRP without installing it and if you need help, there's an active mailing list, going back to 2008, an up to date wiki, issue tracker and of course, you can download the source-code, if that's your fancy.

CHIRP makes all that possible because one amateur wanted to scratch an itch.

What's itchy in your life?

I'm Onno VK6FLAB

TL;DR This is the transcript of the weekly 'Foundations of Amateur Radio' podcast - for other episodes, see http://vk6flab.com/

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