Radio Programming: CHIRP vs. RT Systems


Two of the big names in radio programming are CHIRP and RT Systems. But which one should you choose?

CHIRP is free, open source software that’s used with a third-party programming cable. RT Systems makes commercial programming kits which include both  software and a radio-specific cable.

CHIRP supports a large number of radios including:

  • Anytone
  • Baofeng/Pofung
    F-11, UV-3R, UV-5R and variants, UV-6, UV-82/82L/82X, GT-5, UV-82C, UV-B5/B6, BF-666S/777S/888S, GT-1, BF-F8HP
  • Icom
    IC-80AD, IC-2820H, ID-800H, ID-880H, IC-208H, IC-2200H, IC-91/92AD, IC-V/U82, ID-RPx000V/RP2x, IC-2100H, IC-2720H, IC-T70, IC-T7H, IC-T8A, IC-Q7A, IC-W32A, IC-746, IC-7200, IC-7000, ID-31A, ID-51A
  • Kenwood
    TH-D7A/G, TH-D72, TH-F6A, TH-F7E, TH-G71A, TH-K2, TK-7102/8102/7108/8108, TM-271A, TM-281A, TM-D700, TM-D710, TM-G707, TM-V7A, TM-V71A
  • Yaesu
    FT-1D, FT-60R, FT-90R, FT-817/ND, FT-857/D, FT-897, FT-1802M, FT-2800M, FT-1900R/2900M, FT-7800R/7900R, FT-8800R, FT-8900R, FTM-350R, VX-170, VX-2R, VX-3R, VX-5R, VX-6R, VX-7R, VX-8R
  • Wouxun

The RT Systems software supports a much larger array of radios:

  • Alinco
    DJ-A10, DJ-A40, DJ-100, DJ-175, DJ-G7, DJ-G29, DJ-V17, DJ-V27, DJ-V47, DJ-V57, DR-03, DR-06, DR-135, DR-138, DR-235, DR-435, DR-635, DR-638, DX-SR8
  • Anytone
    AT-398, AT-518UV, AT-588, AT-3208, AT-3318UV-A, AT-3318UV-C, AT-3318UV-D, AT-3318UV-E, AT-5189, AT-5888UV, ANILE-8R, NSTIG-8R, OBLTR-8R, TERMN-8R
  • Baofeng/Pofung
    997-S, BF-F8, BF-F9, BF-388A, BF-530, BF-888, GT-1, GT-3, GT-5, UV-B5/B6, UV-5R, UV-E5, UV-8HX, UV-F11, UV-66, UV-82, UV-89, UV-920, UV-TEN4
  • Icom
    IC-R2, IC-T2, IC-R6, IC-Q7, IC-T7, IC-T8, IC-V8, IC-R10, IC-R20, IC-W32, IC-T70, IC-80, IC-V80, IC-T81, IC-U82, IC-V82, IC-V85, IC-T90, IC-91, IC-92, IC-208, IC-746, IC-756 PRO, IC-2100, IC-2200, IC-2300, IC-2720, IC-2730, IC-2820, IC-7000, IC-7100, IC-7200, IC-7410, IC-V8000, IC-9100, ID-31, ID-51, ID-51+, ID-800, ID-880, ID-5100
  • Kenwood
    TH-K2, TH-F6/F7, TH-D7G, TH-K20, TH-D72, TM-V7A, TM-V71, TM-271/281, TM-471, TM-D700, TM-G707, TM-D710, TM-D710G, TS-480, TS-590, TS-590G, TS-2000
  • TYT
    TH-UVF1, TH-UV3R, TH-UV6R, TH-UV8R, TH-UVF9, TH-UVF9D, TH-UVF8000D, TH-9000,  TH-9800
  • Wouxun
    KG-UV23, KG-UV1DP, KG-UV5D, KG-UV6, KG-UV8D, KG-UV899, KG-UV920P, KG-UV950P
  • Yaesu
    FT-1D, FT-50, FT-60, FT-90, FT-250, FT-270, FT-277, FT-450, FT-817/D, FT-847, FT-857/897/D, FT-950, FT-991, FT-1500, FT-1802, FT-1807, FT-1900, FT-1907, FT-2600, FT-2800, FT-2900, FT-3000, FT-7100, FT-7800, FT-7900, FT-8000, FT-8100, FT-8500, FT-8800, FT-8900, FT-DX3000, FT-DX1200, FTM-350, FTM-400, VR-160, VR-500, VX-1, VX-2, VX-3, VX-5, VX-6, VX-7, VX-8/D, VX-8G, VX-110/150, VX-120/170, VX-127/177

Both CHIRP and RT Systems support several other less popular radios not listed above.

Here are my questions:

Have you used CHIRP or RT Systems programming software? What are your thoughts?

If you’ve used both, is it worth spending $49 on the RT Systems programming kit if your radio is supported by CHIRP?

Leave your answer as a comment!

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of Contact him at [email protected].

59 Responses to “Radio Programming: CHIRP vs. RT Systems”

  • Art ki4gyz:

    While I am generally in favor of open source software I have found the end to end solution of RT Systems to be helpful. I am using their cable and software solution on two of my radios and will be adding more at some point.

    Art ki4gyz

  • Jeff , K3JRZ:

    Best thing about CHIRP is they make a version for multiple OS’. I have a Mac and use CHIRP. It’s a shame they don’t support more radios… RTS’ software is Windows only. LAME!

  • William, KF5WNY:

    I’ve used both and haven’t had problems with either. I do wish chirp offered the ico
    2200H. When I asked about it, I was sent a pretty short email with no answer. I mean can you offer it or not, that’s all I wanted to know. Would be super helpful of chirp would add the icom 2200H to its list of radios

  • Jacek KW4EP:

    RT Systems is a Windows only solution. Never heard of them before, probably will forget in less than 10 minutes.

  • Jason KF5OUD:

    I have never heard of RT Systems before now. I have used CHIRP several times. I have a Kenwood D7, D72, D710, and UV5R. CHIRP allows me to copy the same programming to all of them. Thats an improvement over Kenwoods software which did not allow that.

  • PA3DM:

    I run both Mac and Windows in my shack. So the supported platforms are to me a non issue. I tried CHIRP once and it is like most open source stuff, unstable and tacky. So RT Systems is my choice. For all of my radios. It always works without a hassle as a result of the right combination of hard and software.

  • Ed W5TUT:

    I have used RT systems software for years and have found it very useful. I like the inclusion of using Travel Plus files to aet up the memory on the radios in my vehicles and their technical support is excellent.

  • Paul, KE5WMA:

    I’m running Chirp on several Linux systems. My USB cable for my TYT HT works well, and my Kenwood serial cable also works on my Baofeng.

  • Jeff n1kdo:

    There is not even a question about this for me.

    $49 gets you ONE type of radio programmed with RT Systems. ONE.

    With Chirp and a $11 cable from Ebay, I can program my Yaesu VX-5R and FT-60R. So I’m already ahead $87. That’s enough to take the XYL to dinner!

    I also have another $16 Ebay cable for my FT-8900. That same cable will also program at least two other models of Yaesu mobiles. So there’s another $33 saved.

    I’ll grant that Chirp is maybe not the easiest to use. But I can also say that some versions of RT Systems software I had for some older Yaesu HTs had some miserable copy protection on it and that was not a good user experience either.

    I used Chirp on my Linux laptop and it works well enough.

    As far as the unsupported radios go, from what I’ve seen, the Chirp developers need access to a radio to build support for it. Since they are not getting paid, they can’t go out and buy every radio. If you want your radio supported, maybe you need to loan it to the developers, or else learn enough Python to build support for it yourself. It’s not that hard.

    As far as PA3DM’s comment about open source software goes, well, I must disagree. This very site is built on open source software, I can see that is it using PHP, JavaScript, WordPress, jQuery, the nginx web server — all open source, none of it “unstable”. How about the Firefox web browser? Is that “tacky”? Sheesh.

    What’s nice about Chirp and other open-source software is that you can look inside, you can make changes, you can fix it and you can contribute your changes.

  • Danny PA3DM:

    “What’s nice about Chirp and other open-source software is that you can look inside, you can make changes, you can fix it and you can contribute your changes.”

    That is exactly what makes open source software tacky. And unstable. Too many know-it-all guys poking in other peoples code. Pretending they know better. In the end a project is unmaintainable and ready for the trash bin. Look at Joomla for example. Throw V2.5 away and start all over in V3 leaving no decent migration path for millions of users.

    But the topic was about CHIRP vs RTS. And RTS beats CHIRP. For a price that is.

  • Rich K7RFH:

    I do use both for my radios. I have found that for the newer radios, RT Systems usually has the software ready before Chirp which is not surprising since they make a profit. However, as Chirp comes online with the matching software it seems to me that it has fewer holes or missing parts for a particular radio. So, I eventually move to Chirp as my old reliable solution.

    Of course, if Chirp or RT Systems don’t have the radio listed, I end up using the one which has it. I have only used one other programming software from ICOM, because they gave it away free for the ID-880H. However, later switched to Chirp for that one as well.

    So bottom line I prefer the one that works the best for the particular radio I am using at time. Kind of the amateur radio philosophy, use what works best at the moment.

  • KC9LOC:

    I have been using CHIRP for at least 3 years now, and it is my primary software of choice. As for the list of radios supported in this article, it is not complete. This right from the CHIRP wiki has a complete list of radios supported and the process to get a radio supported if it is not currently and requested.

    The developers are very professional, and are not just shoot by the hip type. All changes, additions, and updates are gone though a fine comb before getting out in the daily builds. For a free service provided by radio operators for radio operators, I will support them all the way instead of sending money to RTS that locks down program cords to be unuseable without buying through them the software/cord.

  • You’re right — I didn’t include less popular radios supported by CHIRP or RT Systems. I just featured the more popular radios in the interest of saving space.

  • Eddy KK6EKF:

    Maybe it’s just me but I find CHIRP, clunky and hard to figure out. I do like free though. I have RTSystems for 3 of my radios and love it. Had obe cable issue and the tech dept sent a new one immediately. RTSystems works awesone.

  • Matt W1MST:

    So you can’t use a generic USB-to-radio interface with RT Systems software — you have to use their cable? I wonder why they do it that way.

  • John - KZ4KY:

    I have been using CHIRP’s Latest Daily Build for about a year and there is nothing shabby or clunky about it. It works flawlessly on all three of my Boafengs. The major issues arising from its use are people not reading the tutorials before trying to program with it.

    When I bought an ICOM IC2300H earlier this year, I bought the RT Systems package because CHIRP didn’t support that model. I had more problems with that package than I care to remember. The cables kept going bad. I had conversations with their tech person on several occasions and they couldn’t figure out the problem either. I even tried using two different computers in case something in my main one was causing the problem. I even replaced the radio with another new one in case the radio was the culprit. No matter what was tried, the cables kept going bad. RT’s customer tech support was outstanding, but no one there could solve the problem. Finally, we all gave up and I returned everything and they, without a hassle, refunded my money.

    All that being said, CHIRP is my favorite, all else being equal.

  • John 'Miklor' - K3NXU:

    As I understand, RT makes an absolutely excellent product.
    However, I currently own 21 handhelds and 4 mobiles; Baofeng, Wouxun, Leixen, Anytone, etc. Every one of them is supported by CHIRP so I have no reason to invest in specialty software at this time.

    The advantage is that I can keep one Master List, and cut/paste it to any other template.

    My one recommendation is to purchase a cable with an FTDI programming chip, which is Plug-N-Play. Software drivers for generic cables cause too much heart burn and less time enjoying the radios.

    CHIRP is available at no cost, but accepts donations. Their volunteer developers do an excellent job.

    CHIRP Examples and Guides are available

  • The amateur radio community owes John a big THANK YOU for the guides he linked to (above). They’ve saved many people from countless headaches!

  • Craig - N7LB:

    Many folks on the Miklor website spend hour upon hour supporting the same Chirp programming issues and illegal (fake) USB cable driver issues ad nauseum.

    If you don’t mind having to jump through a lot of hoops (from time to time) to get Chirp to work correctly (with every new Chinese radio firmware change) and also sometimes spending hours getting your fake illegal cable to work (or work again), then Chirp will “work”, but by the Chirp software development team’s own admissions, many of the higher end features on particular Chinese radios (like the Wouxun KG-UV8D) are still only partially supported – even months after the radio’s introduction date. RT Systems may cost more, but they deal with the hassle of the ever changing Chinese and Japanese firmware so I don’t have to wait for months. I can buy the new TYT TH-UV8000D, the Wouxun KG-UV9D or a Yaesu FT-2D and all of them are already supported by RT Systems.

    I’ve used VIP, Chirp and RT Systems to program various Chinese radios, and RT Systems is by far the easiest to use. Of course it helps considerably that they use an FTDI cable (and not a cloned or fake Prolific cable), but different radio firmware versions are a zero issue (or at least have been to date). I simply do a read from radio and then upload the new file. The software takes care of the issue(s) involved with mixed firmware on different radios.

    Some folks have complained that RT Systems doesn’t allow them to use any FTDI cable, which is true. Being in the computer industry and knowing how much software is copied, shared, and given away (illegally), I’m guessing that the folks at RT Systems had a difficult development choice to make.

    Either allow any FTDI cable to be used and copy protect the heck out of their software, or check for some code in the chip of “their cable” and when their software sees it, everything works just fine.

    Others have complained that each radio’s software/cable kit costs $49, which is somewhat misleading. If all of your radios in question use a Kenwood 2-Pin plug for programming, your first “kit” will require a RT Systems cable and software, but from that point on, all you need to purchase is the RT Systems software for your other Kenwood style radios (be they AnyTone, Baofeng, Kenwood, TYT or Wouxun), which normally costs $25 (or half of what you think it costs). Of course, if you only have one Kenwood style radio and another is Icom, then yes you’ll need to purchase at least one complete Icom kit, but after that you may be back to the $25 software only option again.

    I’ve never meet a ham who’s seen both programs (Chirp and RT Systems) side by side that didn’t think the RT Systems product was far superior (if you removed price from the equation), unless they only wanted to use some version of Linux or Mac (neither of which RT Systems currently suppports). So RT Systems supports 85 to 90% of the world’s computer users and you’ll still find folks that complain they don’t support their computer’s OS. I suppose if they suddenly did, somebody would complain about them not offering support for 80386 DOS systems as well.

    Each radio owner is free (no pun intended) to pick whatever version of radio programming software that they prefer, but if you seriously think you really “save” money by using freeware (be it VIP, Chirp or anything else), consider this example (and yes, I realize that I’m making some basic assumptions, so modify the model below to fit your individual situation):

    365 days per year – 104 days off (52 weekends per year) – 10 more holiday/vacation days leaves 251 “work” days. Figuring most folks take an hour for lunch (or just mess around during the work day for at least 60 minutes per day) leaves a 7 hour work day. So 251 work days x 7 hours per day equals 1,757 work hours per year.

    Now here’s where it gets tricky, divide your total income by 1,757 hours and you’ll arrive at a number that tells you what you make (or did make if you are now retired) per hour while at work. My ROI for RT Systems software is less than an hour, your numbers may be different.

    I would also argue that older folks “should” value what time they have left on earth even more than the young guns, but I realize that not everyone would agree. I prefer to spend my free time on hobbies, family, etc. – not tweaking drivers to make fake illegal cables work, or trying to figure out why my new radio won’t take an older template without many more additional steps, or when some new feature or option will finally be supported in Chirp.

    In the most basic manner possible, I equate time to money, so spending another 15 to 30 minutes one day getting Chirp or VIP working again (on top of the many other times I needed to tweak it) was quickly costing me too much time and effort. So I paid somebody else $48.95 (RT Systems products are available on Amazon and elsewhere) to do the “work” and they handle the various radio issues that crop up, they support me with an 800 toll-free number, plus all of RT Systems Tech Support is based in Denver, CO. I also get lifetime software updates by simply clicking “Update” on their software tab.

    Plus, if a new radio comes out (like the new 10 watt TYT TH-8000D dual-band, the Wouxun KG-UV9D dual-band, or the Yaesu FT-2D), I don’t have to wait weeks (or even months) for somebody else to buy one and send it off to the Chirp development team for goodness knows how long (which I agree does a thankless job). Since RT Systems charges for their product (which I obviously think is worth every penny), they can afford to actually purchase radios in advance and be working on software development long before the Chirp development team has normally even seen their first loaner radio.

    So I agree that if you value the worth of your hobby time at zero cost, Chirp or VIP will always appear less costly (up front), but once you realize that your time is still worth “something”, RT Systems has a very quick ROI for most people (that take the time to analyze the true cost of freeware).

  • Craig - N7LB:

    To William, KF5WNY:

    I also own an Icom IC-2200H, and yes, RT Systems does support your radio (see for more details.

  • Tony - KC4MI:

    I have used RT Systems for my Yaesu FT-60. Also like open source for SW.
    RT Systems is a true mom&pop operation. I knew them (Rod & Theresa) when they were in Huntsville, AL 20 years ago. I say support small business when you can.

  • Paul, W3FIS:

    Free is good. Free and delivered is even better…

  • Craig - N7LB:

    Normally most folks learn that “free” is rarely truly free. Freeware tends to fall within the same rule of procurement as well.

    “If” you have already invested in a considerable amount of time (and effort) to become proficient in a particular software operating system, “if” your computer knowledge includes the ability to make fake Prolific chips work on your computer’s O/S (or you were smart enough to at least buy a real $20 to $25 Prolific, Silicon Labs, or FTDI cable in the first place and avoid most of the programming hassles), and “if” you don’t mind waiting months for a particular radio you own (or want to purchase) to be FULLY supported on Chirp (with all of that radio’s features supported), then your definition of free is different than mine.

    To me, investment in time is costly, for I can never get it back. Time after time (no pun intended), I see folks walk into the shop with Baofeng radios that they are ready to smash into the wall because they can’t get them programmed, or can’t get one Baofeng template copied and programmed into another Baofeng radio using their “free” VIP or Chirp software.

    Sure, if you are one of the folks that’s already computer literate, you can work around the illegal USB cable driver issues, and if you own a radio that’s really supported in VIP or Chirp, you can even get the radio programmed.

    Of course for every computer literate radio owner there’s at least 3 that aren’t, unless you count hitting “Play” when you put the DVD into the drive as “computer literate”. Those are the folks that RT Systems programming software/cable kits were designed for. The folks that value their time, or don’t want to wait months for Chirp to support their new radio, or just those folks that have little (to none) actual computer knowledge of how things work within their computer.

  • KI6KQW William Patterson:

    I’ve tried to use CHIRP but each time my virus software (PANDA) terminates the installation and tells me there’s a virus. It’s in the .exe file. RT products have worked great and no worries.

  • Jim NZ4J:

    Unless in the future it runs on Linux, I will not be paying for any more RT Systems software. I am moving to Linux to get unleashed from Microsoft at home.

    I use RT Systems software for multiple radios. It works reliably for me. CHIRP has support limitations based on what radio you have at the time…

    Since only Windows 7 and 8 are being pushed to WinX, I may bring back my Windows XP box and load RT Systems on it. So long as ESET supports the Antivirus function for XP. It isn’t on the WEB much…


  • Don Tinc / N7DJT:

    I’ve used Chirp for my Baofeng UV-5RA radio and the RT-systems software for my Yaesu FT-7800. Both are well made and easy to use. To me it was worth the $49 to be able to store multiple repeater lists for the mobile radio and program it based on locations. Much easier than doing it manually. I just wish Chirp supported a larger array of radios, but I can see the challenge for open source software. It works well for the radios it does support.

  • Fred KM4QLB:

    KI6KQW William Patterson wrote: “I’ve tried to use CHIRP but each time my virus software (PANDA) terminates the installation and tells me there’s a virus. It’s in the .exe file.”

    If your (free?) anti-virus software repeatedly false alarms on a trusted, open source application, ditch the antivirus software, not the application that it has been e-slandering. How did Panda Security respond when you told them about the false alarms? Didn’t they fix their virus signature files?

    Let’s not forget that Panda is the same anti-virus that identified itself as malware last year:

  • Fred KM4QLB:

    Craig – N7LB wrote: “Many folks on the Miklor website spend hour upon hour supporting the same Chirp programming issues and illegal (fake) USB cable driver issues ad nauseum.

    Of course for every computer literate radio owner there’s at least 3 that aren’t…” “Those are the folks that RT Systems programming software/cable kits were designed for.”
    as well as:
    “(that take the time to analyze the true cost of freeware).”

    It’s not the “true cost of freeware.” It’s the true cost of computer illiteracy. Someone has a simple problem (they bought a cable with a counterfeit chip) and is totally perplexed by it. So they pay $50 to RT Systems. Then they can’t get some free DVD burning software to run, so they pay $30 to Roxio. Then they want more RAM in their computer and have to pay the Geek Squad $40 for five minutes of work to snap a stick of RAM into their computer. It goes on and on.

    How would you feel about someone who was “radio illiterate” and had to pay a ham shop every time they wanted a new repeater programmed into their rig? Would you buy the argument that their time is too valuable to justify learning how to use their radio?

  • Ted NA7C:

    Fred KM4QLB wrote: “It’s not the “true cost of freeware.” It’s the true cost of computer illiteracy. Someone has a simple problem (they bought a cable with a counterfeit chip) and is totally perplexed by it. So they pay $50 to RT Systems. Then they can’t get some free DVD burning software to run, so they pay $30 to Roxio. Then they want more RAM in their computer and have to pay the Geek Squad $40 for five minutes of work to snap a stick of RAM into their computer. It goes on and on.”

    I wrote code for most of my career before becoming a CS instructor at my alma mater. I think Fred is right. Ignorance is an expensive luxury in every walk of life. However, even the most experienced ham can get caught buying the wrong cable or have trouble burning a DVD. Perhaps the technology is simply too complex for the average user?

    I have an open request for manufacturers of amateur radio gear: publish a simple way to program it. Include software inside the radio that speaks to humans and is easily interfaced to existing programs. Publish the API so that companies cannot create a monopoly or that well-meaning developers do not have to waste time reverse-engineering it.

    Imagine the riot that would ensue if a new radio came out with a proprietary CAT interface and logging programs had to pay a royalty to find out how it worked. Or for that matter, only licensed the technology to one company?

    I commend the CHiRP for their efforts but I am disappointed that CHiRP doesn’t support my older radios. I am annoyed that my manufacturer felt it necessary to keep the programming of their radios proprietary and force me to buy my solution from only one company and that one solution runs on only one platform.

    This is the 21st century. Gone are the days when I could program every memory on my HT in 5 minutes from the keypad. Computers require computers to manage them. And today’s software is hardware and platform-agnostic. I should be able to do it from my smart phone and I am willing to pay good developers to write it.

    I just request a choice.

  • KD7JB:

    I have been using RT Systems software for sometime now and found it to be instantly usable without a lot of fiddling and fussing around with operating system, comports, etc.
    I just last night gave CHIRP a try with a co-workers radio that I had no software for.
    First issue was the USB programming cable that came with the radio would not work with CHIRP. Luckily I had a similar cable from RT Systems which worked immediately.
    After that just pulling the data from the radio, adding, and changing a few things that needed correcting and then loading it back to the radio I had the unit up and running.
    It seemed as seamless as the RT Systems I have and certainly it was cheaper.
    I’ll give it a try with some other radios I have and report back, but as far as I am concerned, if it doesn’t take a lot of screwing around with operating system parameters, com ports, etc it may be worth serious consideration.

  • Dave - N4DWM:

    I used CHIRP for my Baofeng UV-5R, and RT Systems for my ICOM 2820H. Chirp took a little bit of work to setup the way I wanted it and I had to buy the cable. RT Systems was a breeze and came with a cable. The D-Star radio is a little more complicated so I really appreciated the ease at which I could do my programming. The cost is not really a factor when compared to the benefits. I would go with the RT Systems product again since it fits my budget, but if I couldn’t afford it then I’m glad there is a free software that will get people on the air.

  • Jim-AG6IF:

    I dont/wont use Windows, so it’s Chirp for me…unfortunately my Alinco DJ-G7 HT doesn’t work yet with Chirp, but I can wait. 73

  • Mark, KE5DUY:

    I believe in saving money where I can too but after researching the track records of programming software and cables I had to go ahead and spring for the RT. Some cable suppliers don’t tell you their cables are clones and can cause damage not only to the radio but also the computer you probably spent more on than the radio you want to program faster and easier than you can manually. Also certain software discs or downloaded do not provide all the drivers necessary for full compatability. Also when I did need tech support RTSystems was always there a very helpful, during their business hours of course!

  • Dave KJ6YZD:

    I have found that for me anyway most of the problems comes from the fake chips/cables and not understanding what to do to get the prolific drivers loaded properly when they fail load correctly. As a new ham at the time it did take me some time to figure things out. I use RT as well as Chirp, It doesn’t make sense to pay $50 plus for software to program a $50 radio, of which I’m responsible for the programming 15 Baofengs uv5r, uv5ra, uv5rav2+ a couple wouxuns, and the chirp works flawlessly. On the Yaesu’s, kenwood, and TYT I use RT system, not because I prefer it, it came as a package deal with the yaesu’s

  • Jim AG6IF:

    CHIRP is my solution. I have rejected Windows completely, and RT systems has not yet honored those of us in this category with a solution.
    To this end, I only buy radios that are supported by Chirp, with one exception, I have my FT991 installed, and I program it by hand until CHIRP gets up to speed on it. 73

  • Bill K7WXW:

    I am big fan of Chirp, in particular, and open source software in particular. One piece of software covers multiple radios, runs on multiple platforms, and is consistently reliable. The graphical interface is a little clunky (try changing the size of the main window or getting rid of the nag screens) and certainly not flashy, but it gets the job done every time. What’s not to like?

    The failures that people typically blame on Chirp usually arise from not reading the directions, trying to use a knockoff interface cable, or bugs in the radio being programmed.

    RT builds a fine piece of commercial software but if you own more than one radio, the dollars required add up quickly, especially if you need to also own more than one interface cable. What RT has going for it is the safety factor: when someone is getting paid, there’s someone to complain to when something goes wrong.

  • Larry K4WLO:

    Craig N7LB sure likes to talk (a lot) and seems to have a chirp on his shoulder…

  • Chalmers WQYT283:

    I contacted RT tech support and was told that if you are programing multiple vendor radios IE: ICOM or Kenwood Yeasu you would have to but a separate disk for each:(

  • Ian G0BKN:

    Hi, I have been using CHIRP for several months now to programme Baofeng UV-5Rs. I think it’s great – simple, quick and reliable.
    Can anyone tell me if CHIRP will talk to an old Yaesu FT 8500, please?
    Best regards, ian

  • Rob WQQN999:

    Aside from the respective manufacturers limitations,
    what excuse does CHIRP have, for not releasing a(Maybe Paid-for) version that simply Reads ANY radio and displays what you can make changes to?

    I have found that earlier builds allowed some more changes than later newer releases, so i have back-dated and used earlier versions only.

    The Original Manufacturer Software was lousy and CHIRP went well beyond and made better and easier (and more versatile) versions, SO….

    If your intelligent enough to program your radio, (and the manufacturers hard-coded certain ranges) WHO CARES WHAT YOU CHANGE ON YOUR OWN RADIO?

    I would like to connect to ANY RADIO, Have it read the Template inside and LET ME PLAY WITH IT! That is what we all like to do.

    I would pay good money for a program that does exactly that!

    Thank you for listening! I am a NOOB, Learning Everyday.

    Acton, CA

  • wb4m:

    I’ve only used CHIRP, and only with one radio, the FT-817ND. It worked like a charm. You can download & import from online sources, some require a paid sub.

  • Paul ws7sar:

    I use both Chirp and RT. If you can tolerate troubleshooting, then Chirp is tolerable. If you just want to get on the air, RT achieves that. Yes, Chirp costs less, but after all the troubleshooting, I saved only about about a dollar an hour. One big reason is that using Chirp gets you neck deep in Prolific driver issues. Sure, Chirp has workarounds, but RT doesn’t need them in the first place.

    Money is important but so is low TTFC (time to first contact). Chirp saves you money but costs you time. RT Systems costs more but gets you on the air quickly.

  • Bernie KD2JYU:

    While chirp is open source and free. The RTSystems is the programming software that I used. While a bit pricey the RTSystems software makes programing a radio. In my case the TYT TH-9800+ which has the same features as the Yaesu 8900 plus a few more. I had a problem with the RTSystems software. Something I didn’t understand. So I called their technical service. They gave me the answer I needed and they told me if I had any other problems call back. They are staffed by Amateur Radio Operators so they know what they are well versed with the use of the software.

  • N7ZZF:

    I have used RT-SYS and Chirps and the only reason I used RT-SYS is because chirps does NOT make a HF software. RT-systems is a good software but NOT $50.00 worth. If I programed 10 different types of radio’s with RT-Systems that is 10X50=$500. Chirps is cable cost only.
    Sorry but Chirps wins

  • KM3D:

    I have a Yaesu FT-7900R and a Baofeng UV82. RT Systems program and cable does a nice job with the Yaesu and Chirp does a nice job with the Baofeng (purchased on Amazon with programming cable). Instead of booting my Windows 10 laptop I used my Linux Mint 18.3 tower and Chirp with the RT cable to program the Yaesu. Although it did load the memories and did not hurt the radio, Chirp had no provision to choose frequency or label for the display. If there was a label it automatically displayed it instead of the frequency. Has anyone been able to run the RT Systems software in Linux under Wine? I would definitely prefer to run RT Systems on my Yaesu!

  • Michael OK7SE:

    I like CHIRP, I use it whenever possible. Unfortunately, it does not support all radios I need to program. RT offers me a paid software for ONE radio (as someone already mentioned), which isn’t a good deal. I think that if I pay for a radio, then I have to buy a cable, which costs like half of the radio (!!), since the radio needs its own special cable, then I should get the ******* (put your favourite swearwords here) software for free! I live in Linux Open Source Free Software World and I am really not used to this!! Really got annoyed today.

  • Jandre Pieterse:

    I am looking for a software to program my Anytone AT18plus.

  • Jandre Pieterse:

    I am looking for a software to program my Anytone AT518plus

  • Mike, M0ITI:

    I have tried both Chirp and RT Systems to program the Yaesu FT8800 in my car.

    Chirp almost did the job, but was flaky with the memory banks. The ALLMEM settings were fine however.

    RT systems did the job perfectly, It has more comprehensive features for memory and setup management and the upload time was also faster – from the same computer and cable.

    I did have a non technical query that I emailed to RT Systems, and I received a full reply in minutes. Excellent customer support.

    I don’t mind paying a few bucks for a system that is reliable so I prefer the RT Systems software. Chirp has improved a lot over recent years however and it’s worth a try if it supports all the features of your radio.

  • Bill, KDØGPS:

    I am running 2 Yaesu’s FT-8800 and the FT-60 and I program them both with an old Windows XP laptop that I still have around.
    The cable I use the old Serial to USB converter attached to a comm cable. Can I use this on my Windows 10 box? Not sure how long the old laptop will survive.
    Hate to spend $50 if I don’t have to.

  • casimir ON3AQC:


    Where to buy in europe on cd ore CD ?

  • Danny KE4OZD:

    I buy every RT systems package for each and every one of my radios…but I wind up using Chirp as I run Linux…
    Just imagine what Amateur Radio would be like if every single operator wanted money for everything and kept all his/her projects to themselves.

    The only thing RT systems offers over Chirp that I use is the ability to sort….

    If RT were to offer Linux versions I would buy them…but like most “windoze only” vendors I guess they make enough Money to only offer their products for one and only one system….

    I make up the difference by donating money to Chirp…..

  • w9wqa, tom:

    didnt get your emailo, when i subscribed…

  • KE4OZD, Danny:

    I have 6 radios and 6 RTS packages for them and when I want to do something fancy like put spaces between groups and sort them within their groups or copy and paste from one radio to another I use the RTS software, “BUT” once the radio is programmed I find I revert to the Linux version of Chirp since I run Linux Debian every second of the day year round. I hate the “LIVE MODE” in Chirp for my IC-7100, maybe If I donate some nice money the programmers can get it to Load and Save (I know it’s possible because the RTS package does just that). And I have yet to figure out how to respond and use “Live Mode”


    OK finally got Chirp and IC-7100 figured out

    Chirp Issue numbers

    8707 & 8771

    Explain everything if you are having problems using Chirp with an Icom 7100

    It is fixed, closed out, and works just fine now

  • Zack W9SZ:

    I’ve been using CHIRP for about 6 months with my Yaesu FT817ND, FT857D and FT897D. I found it easy to learn and use and have had good success programming into the memories and menu settings on all three radios. An inexpensive cable I purchased on eBay works great with all three radios.

  • W4JDY:

    Sorry, but I have full control of my Mobile and HF radios using RT Systems.

    If Chirp would provide a full .csv file for all of the fields needed to program the radios, then I would reconsider going back to it. But using a SDC Card, the cables are no longer needed with RT Systems software.

  • David KC1MGL:

    I use chirp. I have never used rt systems so I can not comment on that. I have read many comments here that have mentioned driver issues and wasting time trying to get chirp to work. This is not my experience. My experience is including the first time, run chirp, plug in programming cable, download from radio, make changes, upload to radio, all without errors or problems. I am not saying chirp is better, because I have only used chirp so I have any experience with other programming software to compare, I am saying that in my experience chirp work well so I see no point in paying money for software that would for me be harder to run.

  • Aubrey Mason WA6DMI:

    I run Linux and the latest version of chirp is very easy to use, intuitive and free.
    Most folks already possess the data cables for their radio, and if they do not, they are always fairly cheap.

    I use chirp on all my radio’s and seldom have an issue.
    Why spend $50 for software that can only run under the windows operating system (which is very easy to hack) instead of open source software (that costs nothing) on an operating system (that also costs nothing) that is extremely difficult to hack?

    Shouldn’t we be investing our money in radio gear instead of software programs and operating systems?

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