CQ100 Virtual Ham Radio

This "virtual ham radio" system has to be seen to be believed. Created by Canadian software developer Doug, VE3EFC, this is a highly realistic simulation of HF communications. The user interface presented on downloading the software is of an attractive HF transceiver complete with knobs, display and switches as shown above. All controls work from the mouse or keyboard: the rotary controls spin, the PTT activates, the analogue meter flicks on speech and on received signals. There are 6 simulated HF bands available and more may be added later. This is a much better interface than, for example, Echolink.

To make QSOs you can call CQ on the calling "frequency" which is a simulation of 14.2MHz. Then one QSYs to a clear frequency as shown on the panoramic spectrum analyser display. Tuning involves spinning the tuning knob to readh the desired final frequency. On the way you will hear white noise and pass over other stations already occupying frequencies (shown as a spike on the bottom of the "LCD"). Not only can you hold voice QSOs but also CW (in the right parts of each band) and even PSK31 digital modes! When working a station its callsign and main details appear on screen. If required a click on the callsign will bring up any QRZ.com details about the station being worked.

Certain frequencies are being used for nets e.g. 3.685MHz on Thursdays at 7pm GMT for an ISWL net. On the simulated 29MHz band there are a number of gateways operational allowing access to real RF stations, for example live repeaters.

It is hard to remember that this isn't HF radio at all but an internet TCP connected system using no radio at all unless via a gateway occasionally or if you use a 2.4GHz WiFi link for your PC! It works brilliantly and is useful if you want to talk to someone reliably and not via the ionosphere. It is also a friendly and effective way for hams unable to erect antennas to keep in touch.

Access to the system is limited to licenced radio amateurs and proof of licence is a requirement before the software can be downloaded. Free access is available for a 3 months trial period after which the service is available for $32 per year, about the same as the old UK ham licence which is now free.

This is NOT something that will appeal to all and many will say it is just another internet chat room: it is not ham radio, but is the nearest you will find without buying or making an HF or VHF rig! It is a pretty brilliant piece of software.


There is a very good website at
http://qsonet.com/index.html which provides more information, software download and discussion groups related to the QSONET system.

For more details, download the complete CQ100 Manual.  

Features and Specs
(from the QSONET website)
  • Just works right "out of the box" with no need to configure router ports.
    This means it can be used from hotel rooms, airports, public libraries, internet cafes, etc.
  • Covers 5 HF radio bands - 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands.
  • Computer microphone provides voice modulation.
  • Includes built in CW keyer. Simply type on the keyboard to send perfect CW.
  • Spectrum graph shows radio activity within a settable sweep range of 50, 100, 200 and 500 kHz.
  • Call sign, handle, QTH, etc are automatically displayed for current transmitting station.
  • Keyboard "Hot Keys" provide a simple interface for vision impaired operators.
  • "Round-Table" QSO's are possible because any frequency may have a large number of listeners.
System Requirements
CQ100 requires Windows 2000 or XP with sound card, microphone and speakers (or headset).
A reliable internet connection is required with a speed of at least 33.6k dialup.
The CQ100 transceiver is free to all licensed stations who register for QsoNet.
A $32 USD annual subsription to QsoNet is required after a 90 day trial period.