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Computer Hardware Ideas?

Jan 20th, 18:34

K7RMA

Joined: Jan 10th 2013, 23:05
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Studying for my technicians exam and appreciate all Elmers.

Looking for both my first xcvr and a new computer at the same time. I've never considered my needs as a ham when purchasing / building a computer before, so looking for thoughts on ham-appropriate computer hardware specs.

For what it's worth I plan to run Linux on the new machine too; I enjoy the DIY aspect of that.

What do you experienced hams look for in computer specs when buying / building a new pc? Thanks in advance for any ideas.

Jan 21st, 01:20

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
The good news is that just about any current computer will have what you need for ham radio. The big question is what form factor you want: screen size, laptop vs desktop, etc. You need to be able to do web browsing (qrz.com, arrl.org and other operating info), contact logging, and (probably) digimodes like PSK31, RTTY, etc. (I'm assuming you're interested in HF operation.) You want an Internet connection (Ethernet or whatever), too.

Most any common CPU and RAM configuration will work for ham purposes, especially when running Linux. Some of us, like yours truly, are Linux geeks, but of course the big majority of hams will be on Windows. That does affect the availability of ham applications software.

The only slightly nonstandard thing you might want is two sound cards, one for normal audio playback or recording and one to connect to your radio for digimodes. That might be as simple as obtaining a cheap external USB soundcard in addition to the one that is normally built in to the computer.

Many people choose a laptop because it's the simplest to set up, and it can save space on your desk. If you go to a typical hamfest, you'll probably find bushels of cheap older laptops for sale. They will usually run Linux well, but you take your chances. :)

73 Martin AA6E
Jan 21st, 02:38

9V1DB

Joined: Aug 10th 2011, 09:34
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
I completely agree with Martin's comments but have an additional suggestion. I use two monitors because I like to have up several windows when using digital, such as HRD, DM780, HRD Log, JT65, Internet, and email. Of course, if you are willing to switch between them the extra monitor is not necessary. I happen to have an extra monitor so tried it and now find it difficult to do without.

73, Dan 9V1DB
Jan 21st, 14:24

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
I like multiple monitors, too, for my general computing workstation, but space is limited at my operating position. I actually would like to have 1 or 2 screens, about 12-14" each. But it's not easy to find such a small LCD monitor these days! Actually a couple of 10" Android/iOS tablets might fill the bill, but I'm not aware of any good way to use them as remote X11 servers for my operating PC. Someone must have done this, however!

And then you ask, why do you want a PC any more? Tablets are powerful enough, but they don't run many ham apps, they're not easy to program for, and you can't expand them easily. One scenario that might be fun is to use a BeagleBone Black with a 4-, 7- or even 10-inch LCD in this role, running X11 under Linux.

73 Martin AA6E
Jan 21st, 19:24

W1VT

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
There is a surprising amount of good free software available for hams--but since it is being given away--the folks writing the software rarely make it available on multiple platforms--though an exception is Fldigi.

http://www.w1hkj.com/download.html

Zack W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer
Jan 21st, 21:02

K7RMA

Joined: Jan 10th 2013, 23:05
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
AA6E, 9V1DB, W1VT, thanks very much for the suggestions. Hadn't considered either a second sound card or second monitor, both good ideas. Nice to find another source for software too!

73 Rob
Jan 21st, 21:07

K7RMA

Joined: Jan 10th 2013, 23:05
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
AA6E, 9V1DB, W1VT, thanks very much for the suggestions. Hadn't considered either a second sound card or second monitor, both good ideas. Nice to find another source for software too!

73 Rob
Feb 12th, 03:44

KD8VLY

Joined: Sep 1st 2013, 01:24
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
I have a dedicated netbook. Seems like there might be some problems with legacy programs and newer windows not wanting to give up hardware addresses, but XP will do the job. I have my radio programming stored in it (CHIRP) as well as Ham Radio Deluxe and logging software. They are very small and portable enough to go with your HT. Screen is just big enough. My only problem is my wife fell in love with using it for Facebook from her lazy boy.

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