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An Open Letter to the JTAlert Community

: Ham Radio Deluxe Customers Who Use JTAlert

This is an open letter to the JTAlert user community. My goal is not to drive wedges or to continue a rift. But some things were said in a post in the JTAlert groups.io forum recently that I feel deserves to have further explanation to "set the record straight."

Let me start by saying this...

I began trying Ham Radio Deluxe sometime in 2010. I had been a beta tester for another logging program called "Log Windows" (which was in the process of being abandoned).

During 2010 and 2011, I was in-contract with the original author of Ham Radio Deluxe - Simon Brown (a fantastic guy; I enjoy him greatly). But Simon wanted to move on from Ham Radio Deluxe to begin his SDR project. As a result, he was discontinuing his efforts with Ham Radio Deluxe. With a list of a few hundred defects and requests in the development backlog, that would have been "The End" of Ham Radio Deluxe. Various online forums posted "HRD R.I.P." posts in 2010 and 2011.

I thought that was a shame. It's good software. Thousands of people use it. I didn't want to see work stop on such a good product. But I'm not a developer... and I have a very demanding full-time job (I still do). Even if I could talk Simon into selling me the rights, brand, and intellectual property for the software... THEN what will I do with it? If I'm not a developer... we'll need (at least) one. They don't work for free. We'll have to charge money for the software to cover the expenses. Once you start selling something, you've got to support it. We'll need technical support people. They don't work for free. We'll need a platform to sell it from. We'll need sales people who can help sell it to cover the expenses of all of this. So...

I partnered with two hams. We gathered up money, and we eventually purchased the rights to Ham Radio Deluxe "past, present, and future." On Jan 1, 2012, we incorporated as "HRD Software, LLC" and we started working on the software.

Initially, it was my idea that we could gains some "good will" with the user community by fixing some of the existing things on the list and distribute them for free. As a result, we had several versions released in 2012 that we released for free. We began selling the software prior to the end of 2012.

As a business - neither my current partner (Randy, K0CBH; President of Timewave) nor I had the time away from our regular jobs to operate this business. As a result, the business was operated by a 3rd partner who was with the company until December 31, 2016. Randy and I were essentially treated as "silent investors" in the company. Neither of us were permitted to have a view into the operations of the company or the financials of the company (except at tax time).

I will not disparage anyone by what I'm about to say. But by the middle of 2016, the company's expenses had been exceeding its income since the company's creation. The company had a significant debt burden. Employees hadn't been paid regularly; some were still owed considerable sums of money. The relationships with technology partners and suppliers was so bad that most of them had stopped working with HRD Software at all. Events became public about how customers were being treated. I had to go in-front-of our dealers and begin apologizing for what had happened... largely without a complete understanding of what actually HAD happened.

As a result of all this - Randy and I became the sole partners in the company on Jan 1, 2017. Once we got into the detail, my assessment was that we were probably about 6-months from "HRD Software, LLC R.I.P." notices.

From Jan 1, 2017, we continued with only one primary objective. We will treat our customers and partners with respect.

Today, I consider many of our technology partners my friends. Ray Novak at ICOM... great guy. David Shoaf at Elecraft... tragic loss to the ham radio community. The folks at Yaesu (thanks for your support, Tim)... FlexRadio (Gerald, Michael, JP)... HRO... GigaParts... RadioWavz (Emmett)... I enjoy all these folks very much. Friendships... and I miss seeing them at hamfests. All our employees are now on a payroll system and we don't miss a paycheck to them. We don't owe anyone any money. The company is no longer losing money. That's enabled us to buy new radios so that we can get them added more quickly... and to have three or four developers working simutaneously in the software.

But there's one relationship I've never been able to heal. It's not for a "lack-of-effort." But unlike all the great examples above, the author of JTAlert - Laurie, VK3AMA - will not respond to any of my attempts to work together.

This brings my to the following post in the Hamapps user group on Jan 13, 2021 (https://hamapps.groups.io/g/Support/topic/79641298):

JTAlert forum reference to HRD

At the very least, much of what is said in the area I boxed in red refers to events that happened many years ago - prior to Jan 1, 2017.

So let's set the record straight...

The reason why Laurie doesn't "know what they are referring" to is because he refuses to respond to the dozens of emails I've sent him offering collaboration in the years since Jan 1, 2017. As far as I know, the last email response I received was from back in 2017... when I was visiting Melbourne (30 mins from his house) and offered to buy him dinner at a fantastic restaurant of his choice so we could get to know each other a bit and sort out how we will collaborate in the future. He simply responded with a comment like "I am not interested."

That's fine. But we've tried to let him know when we are making changes to Ham Radio Deluxe that could affect his software over the past 3 years. No response.

In some cases, there's no impact. In a couple cases, we made changes that caused something to break in JTAlert. This was entirely avoidable. We have plans to abandon Microsoft Access as the default database. I'm rather certain that this could affect JTAlert. I've mentioned this in emails I've sent to Laurie - no acknowledgement or reply.

On the topic of "hatred for JTAlert and Laurie", let me say this.

Despite having all my attempts to mend the relationship with Laurie, I hold no grudge. I have no ill feelings towards JTAlert or Laurie. But to Laurie's point here - this was "a long time ago."

I do know why Laurie feels this way.

When Randy and I were able to take control of this company on Jan 1, 2017, I learned some things over the first few months related to what had been done to Laurie. Specifically, he had been banned from the Ham Radio Deluxe community forums and unable to post there... and code had been written that forced JTAlert to shutdown on a PC when Ham Radio Deluxe was running. I don't blame Laurie for being upset. But I had nothing to do with it. There's no one left here at HRD Software that did have anything to do with it.

I personally "unbanned" Laurie's account from our forums (though it took me two attempts, because I had no idea what I was doing). We obviously don't try to close JTAlert anymore when HRD is launched.

Frankly, I'm glad Laurie "publicly called HRD Software out" (several years ago now) about these things.

On a related note - the old forums are gone. And frankly, every single system that was in-place on Jan 1, 2017 has been replaced.

With some assistance of JTAlert users - but no support from Laurie - we have solved the problem that was at the core of the posted message thread. I tried to reply to the thread in the Hamapps group, but I am banned/moderated and none of my posts are ever approved.

We do not disregard support requests for our customers who are having trouble with the integration between JTAlert and Ham Radio Deluxe. Quite the contrary - we've been improving it. I've sent such updates to Laurie and attempted to post information abut these fixes... no reply.

So... no one at HRD Software "hates" JTAlert or Laurie. I'd love to have him as a collaborative partner in support of our mutual stakeholders. I welcome the opportunity to have a direct dialog with him and being able to help support JTAlert users on the Hamapps forums.

But as Laurie points out, he "really doesn't care about HRDLLC or their software." That's a shame... given that HRD Software DOES care about JTAlert and our customers who use it.

I can't respond to Laurie's "rant" on the Hamapps forum. I would "chime in", if it were possible. But I felt like - without setting the record straight - all of what's said in the thread on the Hamapps forum goes into the record as a current day reflection of HRD Software. It is not.

So Laurie... no one here at HRD Software harbors any ill will or hatred for you or JTAlert. I'm looking for a time when we can have a meaningful dialog and put the things that happened "many years ago" in the past. You and I would both agree that these things that were done to you and/or JTAlert were despicable. While no one here was involved in these things, I apologize to you... we're sorry. I can't express it in any more direct terms.

You have my email address. You have my direct Aussie phone number. I'm happy to take your messages or calls at any time.

Cheers mate!

73 de Mike, WA9PIE, VK4EIE

Additional Information

Subsequent to this letter, a member of our support team responded to one of our customers (via our support site) with the following:

"We only Support UDP Logging from N1MM and WSJTX not JTAlert, it has its own defects. Since QSO Forward works perfect for the 1st 2 there is an issue in JTALert."

This statement is absolutely incorrect. I'll discuss it with the support team.

Ham Radio Deluxe is meant to accept UDP logging messages from ANY software that is capable of sending them. It is THE preferred method of sending QSOs from 3rd party software packages.

As I am banned from responding in the JTAlert forum, my only option is to add this to the open letter.


The prognosis seems to be bleak for patching this up. Comments like this aren't really in the spirit of putting things in the past:

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