Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chirp, chirp

I discovered some free radio memory management software this morning. Called CHIRP, which is presumably an acronym that ends with "Radio Programming", it is a free, cross-platform, cross-radio programming tool that is being developed by Dan Smith, KK7DS. CHIRP works on Windows and Linux (and MacOSX with a little work, according to Dan). It supports a whole list of radios from manufacturers such as Alinco, Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu and Wouxun.

As the VX-8R is listed, I thought I'd give it a try with my VX-8GR. Unlike the excellent but non-free FTBVX8 software from G4HFQ, CHIRP doesn't prompt you with the steps you need to perform on the radio. If you just connect the radio, load the software and start the download nothing will happen. With the VX-8R you must begin with the radio turned off, then after starting the download press and hold the F/W button on the side while turning the radio on. When CLONE appears on the display, press BAND. The download will then start and the program will display its progress. With other radios different steps will no doubt be needed. Hopefully at some point prompts will be incorporated into the software.

My first download attempt did not complete. Instead an error message appeared near the end. But I tried again. This time the memories were downloaded successfully and displayed in the program as you can see. The "cross-radio" part of the specification means, presumably, that memories are saved in a unified format so you can download them from one radio and upload them to a different one.

I didn't try uploading to the radio. I have heard of people bricking radios by using software that wrote unexpected stuff and I'd already seen one error message. Besides, I have the FTBVX8 software and I didn't have any changes I wanted to make anyway. But if you don't want to pay for memory management software, you want to maintain one memory file and upload it to multiple different radios or you want a program that will run on Linux or Mac OS, CHIRP is a development that's worth keeping an eye on.

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