Ham Radio Deluxe


What is Ham Radio Deluxe?


Ham Radio Deluxe is an amateur radio Windows software suite that includes five ham radio apps. Together they can be one of the best assets you can add to your ham shack.


It includes most everything an amateur radio operator needs to automate their ham radio station on their personal computer or laptop. These applications are all built to work together.


Ham Radio Deluxe History


Peter Halpin (PH1PH) and Simon Brown (HB9DRV) started developing Ham Radio Deluxe in 2003. By 2005, there were over 20,000 registered users worldwide. Peter became a Silent Key in June of 2005.


Simon continued to make progress through great participation of volunteers. By 2010, there were over 100,000 registered users and Simons interests turned to other endeavors.


In late 2011, Mike (WA9PIE) talked Simon into selling the source code and all rights to Ham Radio Deluxe to him and two other partners – Randy Gawtry (K0CBH) and Rick Ruhl (W4PC).


HRD Software, LLC. was the new company formed in 2012 to continue the development of the Ham Radio Deluxe software suite for amateur radio. Their goals are:


#1 - To have happy customers who would recommend Ham Radio Deluxe to their friends. Providing great service to their customers is their best form of marketing.


#2 - To make great software for amateur radio operators.


#3 - To have the kind of employees that our customers rave about.


Rick W4PC was the managing partner through the end of 2016. At the beginning of 2017, Randy and Mike assumed control of the daily management of the company.


In the early years under the original developers Ham Radio Deluxe was free software. When the software transitioned to HRD Software LLC the software became licensed and was being sold.


Newcomers to Ham Radio Deluxe often get confused by this detail as there are two versions commonly found online. One for free and one for sale. Version 5.24 of Ham Radio Deluxe was the last free version of the software released in October of 2012. It’s available in multiple locations online and is still free to this day. This version is great for someone wanting to try it out at no cost, and it does a great job even though it may not have all the features of the newer versions.


The current retail version of Ham Radio Deluxe is version 6.5 and you can download it from




Then enable a 30 day free trial and test drive all the latest features.


So what is Ham Radio Deluxe and how does it work?


The Ham Radio Deluxe Software Suite consists of the following programs:


#1 is the Connect Loader When you first start up HRD the Connect program stores the profiles for the radio or radios that you’ve configured. There is a long list of popular radio brands and models built into the software with individualized profiles for many many models. The loader allows you to select which of the individual programs that you want started up when HRD launches. It also controls which programs close when you exit HRD. All of this makes for a quick and convenient experience when using HRD.


Even if you don’t have a CAT compatible radio you can run HRD using the Dem-o-matic brand of radios which offer demo versions of popular models strictly for demo-ing the software without the need of a physical radio connection.


#2 is HRD Rig Control this is the CAT control program. CAT stands for either Computer Attached Transceiver or Computer Aided Transceiver, I’ve seen both terms used. Simply put its most often a serial connection on the back of your radio that plugs right into a serial COM port on the back of your PC. With software like HRD, you can now let software perform many of the functions that you might normally use a button or dial on your radio to perform. With a click of your mouse or keyboard you can change frequencies, trigger your tuner, switch modes or bands.


HRD Rig Control is a critical piece of the HRD suite. When using the other HRD applications Rig Control will be able to control the radio when those other applications ask for it.


An example of this would be DX Clusters. In the HRD logger app you can connect to many different DX cluster servers that give real-time information about stations all over the world active on various bands and modes. When you find a station in the DX Cluster and click on it, the Rig Control program will seamlessly change you radio to the same band, same mode, and the exact same frequency all with that simple click.


Another great feature in Rig Control is a personal favorites list. This list comes with some default entries, but it can be customized any way you wish. You can organize your favorites by band specific folders.


Did you find a net one day, why not create a favorite for that frequency and enter the time or day of the week of the net in that favorite as well. Now it will be much easier to find that net again in the future.

Another example might be creating favorites for the start and end of the CW or Phone sections in any given band. Now when your navigating the bands you can simply click a button and jump to the spot on the band when you want to start dialing around.


#3 HRD Logbook is a feature rich ham radio logging software with powerful features for QSO logging, awards tracking, DX clusters, QSL card printing, integrated to rig control, and more.


If you're a serious DXer, a DXCC fan, or enjoy casual DXing, Logbook is a great logger program


Newer versions even have automated logging of JT65, JT9, and FT8 using WSJT-X, JTAlert, or QSO Relay.


There are live Solar weather tracking and greyline maps also included.


Automatic callsign lookup with your QRZ account online.


Wikipedia integration provides atlas information about DX countries your hearing or making contacts with.


Are you serious about submitting your contacts to online services like the ARRL LogBook of the World or eQSL.cc. Well you can setup your accounts on those services into the HRD Logbook and all your contacts will be automatically uploaded to those online databases.


Input your stations GPS location and when looking at the live Greyline map of the world your QTH is marked on the map for easy viewing.


Monitor DX Clusters and find stations operating on certain bands or certain modes.


Are you trying to make contact with a limited time dxpedition or rare contact from a rare country, well you can have the software monitor the DX Clusters and trigger a custom alarm in the logger. That alarm can be a beep from your PC, a spoken alarm saying the callsign and band that their live on right now, or even an email sent to your phone.


Lots of your information can be stored in the software for completing log entries quickly, and lots of information about the other station can be pulled from the internet and also populated in your log entries automatically.


#4 DM-780 is a digital modes software program that has support for all of the following digital modes; RTTY, PSK, QPSK, Contestia, DominoEX, Hell, MFSK, MT63, Olivia, Thor, and Throb.


A powerful Morse code skimmer for both send and receive is also built in.


This program works by adding audio connections between your radio and PC using an amateur radio soundcard like a SignaLink or RigBlaster, or built in USB connections on some newer radio models.


DM-780 lets you jump your radio to specific frequencies for the various digital modes. On a waterfall type display you can see the QSO’s and then you simply click on one and the software starts translating the exchange as text on your screen. When you’re ready to reply you can either type into your keyboard as your radio transmits. Or you can create quick canned responses to the common exchanges that occur in digital modes.


Like all the programs in HRD, your radio is controlled, and your contacts are logged.


DM-780 uses the same automatic callsign lookup that HRD Logbook uses.


With DM-780 you can control an unlimited number of transceivers, transmitters, or receivers simultaneously as long as your PC has the power and enough COM ports to support your ambitions..


#5 HRD Rotor Control is a software program that supports most popular rotator controllers.


While not everyone has a large tower and beam with a rotator, if you do you want your beam to automatically point towards the contacts that your trying to reach.


With the HRD Rotor Control program all you need to do is setup your compatible rotator with it’s own connection settings into the software and then sit back and watch the antenna turn automatically when triggered by your activity in the HRD suite of programs.


The auto rotation can be triggered by various sets of information that you provide.

  • A callsign
  • A Country code
  • A 4-6 character maidenhead locator
  • Or by just clicking on the two choices or world map built into the software Great Circle map, or Mercator map.


When using the maps three track lines will appear showing the path of your antennas signal. The middle line is the estimated path from A to B, and the two outer lines represent the edges of the estimated path.


#6 HRD Satellite Tracking is a software program that makes your 2-way satellite communications much easier and includes integrated rig control.


Keeping track of amateur radio satellites or the International Space Station is tricky all by itself. You need software or a website to plot your location and the live path of these objects in space rotating around the planet and occasionally passing overhead at your QTH. Add the complexity that satellites may be transmitting on one band and receiving on another band, then add the dopler effect on the frequency as it passes overhead during a window of just a few minutes and that’s some of the key challenges in Amateur radio satellite.


HRD’s Satellite Tracking programs tries to solve those issues with as much automation as possible. You’ll see a live global map and you’ll be able to track the satellites that interest you.

The software will tune to the correct frequencies and make those tiny dopler adjustments to the frequency while the satellite is overhead. You get to focus on making that contact and not having to multitask quite as much.


If you get serious into amateur radio satellites you can even control your dual-axis rototator with HRD and have your two big UHF and VHF beams automatically tracking the skies for you.


So while not all ham shacks will get full use out of all of these programs, most shacks should be able to get good use out of a few of them.


Let’s Try Out Ham Radio Deluxe


Here’s a quick shopping list to get you started


For basic rig control look at the owner’s manual for your transceiver and make sure it supports CAT. Next…source the right cable to go from your radios CAT port to a COM port on your PC. Now keep in mind many modern PC’s don’t use COM ports anymore, but there are tons of USB to serial adapter cables that help you convert from Com port cable to USB cable.


If you have an ICOM radio be aware that the CAT port and cables on these radios often require something special. At the radio end of the cable it often looks like a small headphone jack and not a traditional 9pin serial port found on other brands. On the computer end of the cable you can get custom ICOM cables that terminate in a serial port or a USB port depending on your PC or laptop needs.


If you want to connect audio for digital modes, you’ll need an external ham radio soundcard, not to be confused with the soundcard in your laptop or PC. These soundcards can be configured for various makes and models of radio usually by adjusting dip switches or jumpers inside of the soundcard enclosure. Some of the RigBlaster external soundcards have both CAT and audio connections all-in-one box, the advantage of this is that they can convert everything to a single USB cable for an easier connection to your PC.


For example, my Yaesu FT-847 All Band, All Mode transceiver is designed for Satellite use and I have it connected to a RigBlaster Advantage model from West Mountain Radio. This external soundcard has connections for the radio’s outbound audio from the radios speaker out port. Inbound audio is handled via a microphone patch cable into the radios mic jack, and then a CAT cable for rig control. Those three connections wire from the transceiver to the external soundcard which typically sits on top of the radio. Coming out of the soundcard box is a single USB cable that wires into your PC and carries all of the bi-directional audio as well as rig control. Other features I liked about this model was a 2nd microphone jack on the soundcard so your mic is also plugged in when you need it, and it allowed me to connect the transceivers LDG external tuner into the chain as well. Essentially a solution where everything was connected all the time and I didn’t have to swap cables around for different activities on the radio. 


What’s the cost?


Remember HRD is available in the free version 5.24 from 2002. That version as long as you can find it somewhere online should always be free.


The latest version of HRD is available from Ham Radio Deluxe LLC. You can activate that version, free of change, for a 30 day trial.


Buying HRD is available in a couple ways.

  • Buy a new copy via an Internet download with 12 months of support and updates for $99 US.
  • Buy the same new version on a CD or USB flash drive for $120-$125 US
  • While you don’t have to renew annually, doing so earns you updates to the software as soon as they are released and 12 more months of support.
  • You can drop the support and updates after your first year and then decide later when you’re ready for an upgrade or some support to renew for another year.
  • Also I would get on their mailing list as they often have specials on new licenses or renewals at multiple times throughout the year.