10 March 2006

computer-controlled radios

Computer-controlled HF radios are becoming readily available and more powerful. Companies like Elad, Icom, and WinRadio are producing such products.

The concept is that the receiving electronics are inside an undistinguished plastic or metal box, and a connection to a computer allows control of the radio through software. External antennas seem like a necessity here. I can immediately conjure up a list of advantages over self-contained portable or tabletop radios:

* Larger area available for user interface, only limited by the computer screen size
* A radio without a screen or control panel can be smaller and cheaper to produce
* Controls won't break or wear out
* User interface problems can be resolved by a software update
* Support for decoding digital signals may be integrated already, or added to the software later
* Unit could be powered by the computer (although I don't know if enough power is available this way)
* Computer can provide advanced DSP capability
* Easy management and browsing of station memories and broadcast schedules
* Easy to control remotely
* Easy logging

But these radios just don't appeal to me. I find that I want to spend time away from computers, as I work with them all day long already. So grabbing a radio and existing within that world, at least for a short time, is a perfect escape.


Adam said...

I'm loving the idea of computer controlled radios but as an Apple user I'll be holding off as long as I have to (already longer than I'd like) to buy one until it supports OS X.

I have and can run Virtual PC (works perfectly for this type of application).

weatherall said...

Hey Adam:
I'm an Apple (Mac OS X) user too. What is it about computer-controlled radios that appeal to you?

JB said...

Add one more to the "Waiting for OSX Support!"