SDRUno software enigma is about the challenges of learning and using an otherwise excellent piece of software to control the SDRPlay radios.
Dictionaries define an enigma as someone or something that is “hard to understand”. An enigma puzzles and perplexes. And that pretty well describes my reaction to SDRUno, the software that comes bundled with SDRPlay.
But let’s start positively. SDRUno software has a lot going for it in two respects. First, it is very functional. It works and does a lot of things well. Second, it is beautiful. It’s appearance is pleasing. So how can you be critical of software that works and looks good?
Let’s start with the learning curve. I have used tons of radio software over the past twenty years, and even written some. My SDRUno software enigma begins with the fact that I could not figure out how to run it without reading the manual first. And even then. It’s almost as if the GUI designer was operating under a completely different mental model than we have become accustomed to over the years.
Now I accept that a lot of software these days is adopting a “touch” or “tablet” GUI mind set and leaving the old Windows GUI model behind. Fair enough. But SDRUno is in a world of its own.
Unwrapping the SDRUno Software Enigma
FlexRadio SmartSDR is an example of good control software that has largely abandoned the Windows GUI model. Yes it still uses a few menus for configurations. But mostly it is a “touch” interface that works with a mouse and has great graphics.
SDR-Console V2 and V3 is an example of good control software that has largely stayed with the Windows GUI model. It makes extensive use of docked windows and the Ribbon interface used in Microsoft Office.
Both SDR-Console and SmartSDR have pretty easy and intuitive learning curves that can get you 70-80% along your way without digging deep into the manual. With SDRUno I can almost guarantee that you will get stuck reaching for the manual within the first ten minutes. My advise is to read the manual and cookbook before you start! These are well written and will provide you with a fighting chance and a less frustrating experience.
Hopefully future versions of SDRUno will also address some functional shortcomings. The first of these would be the ability to remember mode-specific tuning step settings. You should not need to set up mode-specific workspaces to achieve this simple functionality.
Finally, SDRUno was not developed from scratch by SDRPlay. It arrived as a derivative from the purchase of the Italian Studio 1 SDR software in 2016. During 2015, the most popular open SDR app of the day – SDR Sharp – stopped supporting the RSP products. Around that time, SDR# also went closed source, and the developers branched into a competing hardware product Airspy. SDRPlay acted to bundle their own software with their increasingly popular hardware. Good for them. Hopefully they will apply some of their demonstrated creative juices in taking SDRUno to the next level.