Bookmark and Share

No Mac support as yet, but… install VMWARE and XP, and it works great. I’m listening to Radio Havana on 6050 KHz right now on a three foot piece of wire. Tomorrow, when I can buy a length of coax, I’ll hook it up to my shortwave antenna, which is out of reach of my computer desktop right now. I expect to have a lot of fun.

I tried it with Parallels 2, but Parallels screws up the USB connection and it just won’t fly. It was less expensive to “cross-grade” to VMWARE than it was to buy a Parallels “support incident”, so Parallels just lost a paying customer. Funny how that works. VMWARE imported my Parallels XP VM without comment, and the only catch was that XP bitched at me about having to be re-registered because “my hardware had changed significantly.” Oops. Turns out that wasn’t a problem… re-registration went smoothly, just a couple clicks and it was done. One of the benefits of having a legal copy, I presume.

Anyway, just thought it’d be worth noting for Mac users that you too can have an SDR instrument on your desktop. You do have to run it inside a Windows VM, but that doesn’t seem to be much of an inconvenience.

On the left, you see WinRadio; it has a lot fewer features than SpectraVue, but on the other hand, it acts a good deal more like a radio than a spectrum analysis tool. It doesn’t seem to have any system for managing memories, but that may just be new-user unfamiliarity. I confess to not (yet) having RTFM. I will update this post if I learn otherwise.

Some benefits WinRadio brings to the desktop are ECSS reception for standard SW and AM signals, and DRM (Digital Radio Mondial), a digital reception mode. ECSS works very well indeed; DRM is… well, it’s interesting. Haven’t got that figured out yet. I downloaded the DReaM decoder, and tuned in to some DRM broadcasts, but haven’t got anything to report other than no success.

Now, as fun as these applications are, I have to report that the state of development for them is kind of pitiful.

SpectraVue’s author informs me that the “program is full” (whatever that means… reminds me of the top gun scene where the tower controller tells Maverick, in response to his request for a flyby, that the “pattern is full.”) He says he “might” do small changes, but that’s it — and furthermore the development tools “only exist on his machine, and when that goes, so does SpectraVue.” Pretty harsh, eh?

WinRadio isn’t much better. They (winradio.org) say that they have no developers at this time, so no changes will be forthcoming. This, for a program that explodes if you change the size of your desktop, and then refuses to start with an exception. Oy vey.

Still, the good news is that these programs do work, and SpectraVue in particular works very well. I’ve spent many hours now fiddling and poking around the bands from VLF right up to the highest ham bands and CB, around 28 MHz. I’m very impressed with the SDR-IQ’s performance, and frankly delighted to have found a way to run this stuff on my desktop. I even ordered another display card so I can dedicate a couple of monitors just to my DXing activities, both card and monitors being relatively inexpensive these days. Desk space… that’s another matter. Haven’t figured the logistics of that out quite yet!