You and I need good UI

ham radio
Flex 1500

October 28, 2023

Screenshot from PowerSDR connected to a FlexRadio 1500 on the first morning of the CQ WW SSB DX contest

I Lola woke up early. We took a walk to drain her tanks, and there was a beautiful morning Moon. So, when we got back I made some coffee and sat down to practice operating my FlexRadio 1500 with the PowerSDR software written by KE9NS. It’s a contest weekend, after all, so even the W6LVP loop mounted indoors should hear something. And it sure did.

What KE9SDR has done with the user interface is really impressive. The 1500 is a software defined radio (SDR), so must be controlled by a PC. There are many controls, but most of the critical ones for an experienced operator are simple keyboard presses. To change frequency up or down, press one set of keys. To make a larger frequency jump, press another pair. To change the receive filter width, press another pair. To change the automatic gain control (AGC) threshold–a key adjustment for reducing noise on the FlexRadio platform–press another pair of keys. Change band segments or bands, you guessed it.

You do need a mouse or trackpad to navigate to different parts of the window, but it is largely a keyboard-centered experience. And it’s really, really great. Better than the SmartSDR program for Windows and the SmartSDR program for MacOS and iOS that I use on my Flex 6400. And that’s saying a lot. I really like the iOS SmartSDR app.

I think my friend Karen Adolph who designed the Datavyu video coding program specifically to minimize mouse use and maximize the use of keyboard commands would really like it, even if she doesn’t see the point of ham radio. We all need good UI even if we don’t always appreciate it. PowerSDR is clearly a labor of (very thoughtful) love. Thanks KE9NS.

Now, if we could just get FlexRadio to bring the 1500 back. It’s a great form factor. If hams keep Heathkits and tube rigs on the air for nostalgia’s sake, why not classic SDRs?

FlexRadio 1500