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The Radio Desktop

I started listening to HF/VHF/UHF frequencies when I was about twelve years old from my bedroom at my parents house in Oregon as I was going up and began a life long journey into radio and electronics. My radio hobby has carried me through my life with great enjoyment and has expanded my horizons in not just the world, but in science, physics and engineering. I have a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University and a Bachelors of Science in Music from the University of Oregon.

Radio can provide a lifelong experience while we learn about the world around us.

When I started researching the VR-5000 in 2005, I was coming up with very little beyond the basic facts. I, like so many I am sure, have made my own inquiries about the VR-5000 to Yaesu’s technical support department, yielding very little or nothing at all. I learned how to use all the features and deal with all of the documented quirks, but nothing out there really covered the subject on a comprehensive level. I really started to learn about this neat little radio once I started programming it.

Other people's experiences with monitoring/listening were often very different than my own simply for the fact that we all have different listening/monitoring habits. So, I took other people's comments about the receiver to heart, along with my own and began writing a CAT Control program that worked the radio as it was actually intended and made the controls accessible, useable and understandable as 'a communications receiver' and not a 'computer program'.

I take into account the majority of the complaints made by many users on message boards and news groups. These are not just complaints about specific receivers themselves, but about other CAT Control software programs.

I wanted a program that worked like the user was using a real radio, not as a CAT Control program to function when connected to a radio. I avoided complex controls in my program, because it makes using it more difficult and frustrating. Spinner knobs to tune across a band are very difficult to use as an on screen control (like in TRX-Manager), but easy when they are actually part of the radio itself (like on a real communications receiver).

The Classic ICOM R-70 Desktop Receiver

Still one of my favorite receivers

Buttons are much easier when using a mouse to control the radio. I use buttons to change the frequency up and down in several predetermined steps, or the user can highlight the frequency display and type in a new frequency on the computer keyboard. If the user has a wheel mouse, they can roll the wheel like a tuning knob on a real receiver and the frequency will change accordingly. I like to give users several ways of controlling the frequency of their receiver, because we all have a slightly different approach to our listening hobby. It's all based on common sense and skills we already possess from previous experiences using the computer and other communications receivers.

I didn't design this software to 'pretend' to be a desktop communications receiver. It really is a desktop communications receiver on your computer.

I like to use controls and methods that people already know from previous computer software experiences, not something that everyone has to 'learn' what it does before they can actually use it. When you see my program, you already know what to do. It is a communications receiver, you use it exactly the same way you would if you were sitting in front of the real deal. The logging software is simple and convienent and the displays are easy to read and understandable. You can save information as audio files, numerically and graphically for future reference about what you are monitoring or hearing. This lets you go back and re-eveluate your signal captures. The beauty of being connected to a computer is not to just control a radio, but to capture and evaluate what you are hearing and to evaluate a signal you must be able to record it as it received. This is the basis of my design philosophy as I continue to develop my radio software.

Use what makes sense, don't invent some difficult control or process that isn't used in the real world.

This is all starting to come together now, as I have continued to add to my philosophy with the idea that we can 'arrange' our tools on our computer desktop to suit our listening habits as well. Everything has its own windowed place on the computer desktop, just as our log book, our receiver and 24-hour clock does on a real desk and we can set these tools up in any arrangement that assists us in making our listening experience more convenient and much more enjoyable.

Welcome to the Radio Desktop.

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This page was last updated: June 20, 2011

Copyright 2011, Kenneth Stevens, KE7ATE

ke7ate@yahoo.com