CHIRP vs RT Systems

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N6WZQ, Feb 10, 2019.

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  1. N6WZQ

    N6WZQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I thought I might help other new Hams who are going to be using either CHIRP or the RT Systems programming software.
    (These prices are based on cables for my FT8900, other cables will vary in price)

    First let's compare price, because who wouldn't like to save a few dollars.
    CHIRP: Software-free Programming Cable-around $20 Total $20
    RT Systems: Software-$32 Programming cable-$30 Total $62
    The price difference will buy you an additional 25 feet of LMR400 Ultra, or 47 feet of RG213

    The CHIRP and RT Systems software works similarly and will pull repeater data from various sources. The one really nice thing about CHIRP (and why I will only use it in the future) is that it will also pull and compile frequencies for NOAA Weather beacons, the 5 - 60 meter channels, 186 - Railroad channels, all FRS, GMRS, MURS frequencies, 60 Marine VHF channels, along with over 100 European frequently used channels. It also seems a little easier to use (at least for me.)

    The CHIRP software can be a bit glitchy at times and you need to be careful what programming cable you purchase and that you have the correct drivers installed for the cable but overall I'd choose CHIRP for easy programming.
    N9CAV likes this.
  2. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    RT software is more complete in terms of functions and features for a particular radio.
    The RT cables are very good and use the better FTDI drivers.
    Some cheap cables use Prolific drivers that are not genuine and are problems.
    AI7PM, K4RKY and KF5RHI like this.
  3. N6WZQ

    N6WZQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with the cables being better out of the box but once you install the correct driver for the Prolific cable it seems to alleviate any issues.
    While I have only used each software several times, it seems that the CHIRP software has more features, at least as far as where the software pulls data from. RT only pulls data from Radio Reference, Repeater Book, and RF Finder. CHIRP pulls data from those same sources PLUS DMR-MARC Repeaters,, and the preloaded data for FRS, GMRS, MURS, NOAA and several other mentioned above.
  4. W7UUU

    W7UUU QRZ Lifetime Member #133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    HUGE difference.

    Chirp is a volunteer group who do a "reverse HEX dump" of the radio's memory map. Some features are easy to figure out, some not so much. Some brands are easy (Kenwood and all the Chinese clones using mostly the same memory map) - some are HARD - which is why there isn't much support for Yaesu radios in Chirp. Many radios have very complex memory schemes and it's just not possible to figure out how they're doing it by using trial and error, working essentially in the dark.

    Chirp engineers only do a reverse HEX dump if they are sent a radio from a user who sends it to them to work on. But even once they have it, there are no guarantees that EVERY FUNCTION can be programmed. Many models it's just memory channels, splits, and tones and very little else.

    RTS on the other hand pays the manufacturer a license fee for the complete memory map of the radio. So with RTS, every single feature of the radio from stem to stern is open in the software to program. But the price is that the license fee is factored into the cost of the software and cable specific to a certain model. RTS is a commercial business with paid employees. Chirp is a group of about 5 volunteers around the world.

    So if all you want are basic features such as channels, tones, and splits then Chrip is a great FREE resource. And for what they do, they do a great job for FREE. But if you want to program every single feature, you need to have the full memory map decoded and only RTS or the manufacturer offers that. And we all know that many times, manufacturer software is a total pain to use and often less featured than Chirp.

    [Edit to add: I've purchased five different RTS packages that I use on radios I own]

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    KJ4VTH, N4XRD, N0TZU and 5 others like this.
  5. N0NB

    N0NB Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the Alinco DR-635 that is not supported by CHIRP. I tried to hack it myself but it didn't respond as any other Alinco models are documented. I asked on the development list and among the replies received was a recommendation to buy the RTS software and then sniff the port, etc. Well, if I'm paying a license fee I'm not going to use it in a manner that doing so would deprive them of revenue. However, if I could have figured it out on my own, I figure that would be a fair deal.

    Apparently there was a program for the '635 available for download from Alinco once upon a time, but I've never been able to find it and it's not on their site any longer.

    OTOH, I've used CHIRP for a couple of Baefangs and it worked just fine.
  6. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just be aware that "free" can be worth every penny paid!
    I've found RTS programming software to be reliable and trouble free. And they have documentation and customer service. Two things I find worthwhile.
    Same thing applies to amateur logging programs. I've never found a free one that compares to the one I paid for.
    N3FJP works well, has excellent documentation and customer support. I've been ignored by so many free software suppliers out there that I no longer consider "free" ware.
    Is frustration with a product worth a few feet of co-ax? Not in my book.
    W4NNF likes this.
  7. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    So why pay for any software huh? That's all i'm getting out of this.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  8. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not my opinion.
    However, most hams are cheap. I don't know why the call us hams...we should be called baby chicks...cheep cheep cheep!
  9. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    MY Baofeng UV-82 came with the "added" cable and software. But a friend programmed it with CHIRP. Why would there be any other???
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    For big Yaesus, RT is the only game in town. CHIRP will 'work' for some basic functions, but that's about it. I've never tried CHIRP on my ICOM Dstar HT, either. But it is a wizard on the Chinese rigs, and easy to copy from my Kenwood rig to the HTs, too.

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