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Dan Smith, 04/13/2012 11:53 am

Frequently Asked Questions


What kind of cable do I need?

Usually the cable supplied by your radio manufacturer is the highest quality cable you can find. However, it's usually also the most expensive, and is often bundled with software which you may not want or need. There are many 3rd party cables available and they should all work just fine for the most part. Check eBay and KawaMall for cables. Also check the CableGuide page, which has details about potential pitfalls and some information about cables that are compatible with multiple radios.

When shopping on eBay, look for the sellers that are regular merchants, and that have fixed price items and full stores of merchandise. Here are some recommended common cables:

Check KawaMall and Valley Enterprises for other options. See the CableGuide for more information about which cable to use for your radio.

What if my computer does not have a serial port?

For the most part, USB-to-Serial adapters work without problems. These attach to a USB port and create a virtual serial port that software can use as if it was a regular port. Some adapters are very poor quality and can cause you issues, so if you are experiencing difficulty, you may want to try a different one.

Without a doubt, the highest quality (and most expensive) adapters come from KeySpan, but you may find that it is worth the money for quality.

On Windows, determine the COM port that is assigned to the adapter by going into Device Manager and looking under Ports.

Can I use a USB cable?

Typically, yes. These cables simply have a USB-to-Serial adapter integrated into the cable itself, and are easier to manage and hook up. Follow the same procedures as if you were using a separate adapter.

NOTE: Recently, RTSystems has been selling "Version 4" of their software with a "New USB Cable". It appears that they have specifically designed the cable to be incompatible with other software packages. Beware that if you bought this "new" cable from them you may be unable to use it with CHIRP!

What if I need to use a COM port other than what is in CHIRP's list?

You can type anything into the box you need, so if your adapter is assigned to (for example) port 15, simply type COM15 into the box and you should be off and running.

Transferring data between radios

I have two different radios, how do I transfer data between them?

CHIRP provides the ability to transfer data between incompatible radios by means of the Import and Export functions. For example, if you have opened a Yaesu VX-8 in CHIRP, you can use the Import function and specify an image from an Icom 2820. A dialog box will open asking you which of the memories from the Icom 2820 you want to import into your VX-8. When the import is complete, you can upload the result to your VX-8. See the Beginners_Guide for more details about this process.

Connecting with your radio

Should I put my Alinco, Icom, or Kenwood radio into clone mode first?

No, these radios are well-designed and allow the software to place them into clone mode automatically. This is far more reliable than manipulating the radio by hand and synchronizing the software. Simply plug in your programming cable, power on the radio, and instruct CHIRP to read it.

Should I put my Yaesu radio into clone mode first?

Yes, Yaesu radios do not respond to commands over the serial port and must be manually manipulated. Start CHIRP with the cable plugged in and the radio in the intermediate clone mode (usually entered by powering the radio on with one or more buttons pressed). When downloading from the radio, put CHIRP into download mode (where it is waiting on the radio) before initiating the clone out from the radio. When uploading, put the radio into clone receive (or clone wait) mode before initiating the upload from CHIRP.

What is a live radio?

Most of the radios supported by CHIRP are programmed by downloading an entire "image" or "snapshot" of the radio's memory, manipulating it, and then uploading it back to the radio. These are called "clone-mode radios". Live mode radios instead communicate with the computer by sending and receiving individual memories one at a time. That means that when you use CHIRP to program them, changes are sent to the radio immediately instead of held until an upload.

General use

How do I program split TX/RX configurations?

If your radio supports it, you can choose split in the Duplex column. This causes chirp to treat the Offset column as the transmit frequency. In such a configuration you could, for example, receive (Frequency column) on 146.52MHz and transmit (Offset column) on 446.00MHz.

What are "stock configurations"?

These are canned frequency plans, some of which are built into chirp. These include standard US calling frequencies, the channelized 60m frequencies, etc. They can easily be opened or imported into your radio from the File and Radio menus.

Can I add new stock configurations?

Yes! Adding your group's frequency plan to the stock configurations can make it very quick and easy to program new radios. Further, putting various configurations into the stock list can make switching your radio between multiple functions or geographical regions easy. Simply save a CSV file into the stock configurations directory and restart CHIRP to have it show up in the list. On windows, go to Start -> Run and type:


On MacOS or Linux, the path is:


Getting Help

For general usage questions, your best bet is to join the CHIRP mailing list

The mailing list has the latest discussion traffic and news about CHIRP.

If you need to contact the author for specific questions about getting your radios supported, helping out with development or donating, use the contact page. NOTE: Please do not report bugs or ask questions about how to use CHIRP via this form. Use the issue tracker or the mailing list for those types of questions!

Reporting issues

Have you found a bug? Please help out by reporting it! The issue tracker provides a way for users to report bugs, generic issues, and request features. Please read How to report issues first!