HRD DM780 Macros: Curse or Blessing?

The Ham Radio Deluxe DM780 software is unquestionably a wonderful product - large number of digital modes, powerful features, and easy to use.  Up to now the price has been right too - FREE!  There is no mystery as to why DM780 has such a strong following among hams.
Monitoring 40m PSK31 activity with DM780
One of the convenient features of DM780 is automation of the QSO with macros.  You can think of macros as an automated form letter.  This allows for quick exchanges of routine information.  There are several very good reasons for using macros in DM780 or any other similarly enabled ham radio software:
  • Macros relieve the burden of typing the same information over-and-over again.  No fun typing CQ CQ CQ .... over and over again.
  • Speed up the QSO and allow the operator to multitask.
  • Provides an assistant to people with physical disabilities which limit their use of a keyboard.
  • Provides a structure to the QSO.
  • Macros are very useful with the hyper-fast modes like PSK-125.  Most people simply can't type fast and accurately enough to keep up with the mode.
  • Macros are a great way to make an exchange in a language you don't speak (see our article, "HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro").
Some hams are put off by macros.  Some even to the point that they avoid using digital modes like PSK31 due to what they perceive as inappropriate overuse of macros.
  • Some hams feel that macro driven QSO are like form letters lacking the human touch.
  • Some hams prefer a short efficient QSO.  They don't enjoy receiving macro-driven unsolicited extensive information about the contact's station, detailed accounts of the weather, long lists of awards, ...
We really enjoy using digital modes and macros definitely have a place in our operation.  We enjoy using digital modes for rag chewing and award hunting.  Sometimes we use macros, other times we don't and sometimes we combine both macros and typing.  It all depends on the context of what we are doing and who we are communicating with.  Here are a few tips for macro use:
  • Don't send station details, weather conditions, or award information unless asked for this information.
  • Keep macros lean and efficient.  Avoid loading them up with unneeded information.
  • Consider combining both macro and typed information together to give the exchange a human touch.
  • Don't use macros for very simple exchanges.  For example, the minimum exchange for a SKED is often call sign and report.  We typically choose to simply type the exchange during a PSK31 sked QSO.
  • Avoid the use of macros during a rag chew QSO and give your communication the human touch.
  • As an alternative to providing unsolicited details, consider sending a simple Internet link to your information.  This allows people to decide for themselves if they want to learn more about your station, awards, etc. by following the link.
We don't agree with those that abandon digital modes because of a few well-intentioned hams who overuse macros.  The art of amateur radio is communication.  We are in the glass-is-half-full camp thus we believe the art will continue to improve as we all gain experience with digital modes and grow with the hobby.  Also, operating digital modes are simply too much fun to just stand on sidelines.  It is much more fun to fire up the rig and get into the middle of the game.

See our related articles:
HRD DM780 Calling Macro
HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro



© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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