Thursday 10 December 2020



There are so many times when you hesitate, trying to remember a keyboard shortcut or even a simple button-press and you end up running through all the menus and sub-menus. For me, most of these keyboard shortcuts are in Flight Simulators but there's also lots in other software, eg: Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT-X, Photoshop, Zoom, etc, etc.

There's now a fabulous solution to this problem and it's called StreamDeck by Elgato. Its core user base is actually Vloggers who do a lot of live streaming and want to launch programs, play a jingle, display a graphic, resize/relocate windows, etc, quickly and on the fly. StreamDeck allows this by allowing you to assign an event to a button press on the device. And these LCD buttons can have descriptive text, colours, icons and even animations on them to help you quickly identify them.

Well I figured that would be an extremely handy thing to have sat on my desk to aid me in many ways - so I got the 32 button model - the XL. It comes complete with a stand to hold the StreamDeck at a 45 degree angle for easy viewing and operation. The keyboard attaches to the stand magnetically, so it's extremely easy to connect/disconnect it. The device is powered by a single USB lead to your PC.

Each and every button can be programmed to do something or be an access point to a folder (another page of 32 buttons). I will use this feature to start out with a kind of Desktop (or Welcome Screen), showing all my main software packages. From there, I can either launch a piece of software such as Ham Radio Deluxe, or I can got to a new bank of switches which are relevant to what I'm doing such as a FlightSim page.

Let me give you an example - from the initial screen (I call it the desktop), you might have 2 options (buttons) displayed for Microsoft FlightSim - one called FS2020 Full and one called FS2020 Quick. If you press the quick button, you'll be presented with a screen full of buttons which contain 30 odd of the most common button presses in the sim, such as Gear Up, Gear Down, Flaps, Spoilers, etc, so that you can just quickly jump into the cockpit and have a fly around for a bit of R&R.


If you chose to press the full button instead, you could be presented with a screen containing a list of 30 odd categories such as Radio Options, Fuel Options, etc, which would in turn take you to a screen containing operational buttons related to that category. There are LOTS of keypresses in a complex study-level flightsim and having them all visually presented on a screen is amazingly helpful.

FULL FS2020 menus

Camera Options

Power Options

I'm new to all this, so I'm still very much learning, but it soon becomes clear that not only can you display lots of keypresses onscreen, but you can categorise them and even colour code them! You might also want to present them in a certain way, such as Up, Down, Left, Right, if that makes a certain operation seem more intuitive to the operator.

External Lights Menu
It's all fabulously flexible. And although I opted for the 32 button model, you could be equally happy with 16 buttons or even fewer (and cheaper), bearing in mind the ability to have sub-menus.

Elgato are constantly introducing new features and options to the StreamDeck and it's not just about programming in a simple keypress. You can do all sorts of things using the long list of built-in tools including Super Macros which will perform a long list of keypresses sequentially at the touch of a single button. Pretty cool!

Initially you will probably start off with a quite basic layout, but you soon learn to adapt a better workflow and start to use custom-made icons which actually make more sense to you visually instead of relying on the supplied icons.

As I get more comfortable with the StreamDeck, I hope to find more and more uses for it and will probably have a list of categories on the desktop to help me control FlightSims, General HAM Radio, Contesting, Photo, Audio & Video, Music Player, Writing, Cad, Zoom, etc, etc.

I'm guessing too, that the smarter people among us could find additional uses such as an interface for any experimental stuff they do on their computer. Perhaps even to have easy control over an antenna rotator, control a radio or some such thing, who knows?. Once you've justified the cost of purchase (as I have with FlightSim use), then everything else is a great bonus.

Prices start around £79.

Thanks for visiting - Don't forget to read through the comments below for more information.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.


I now use a new StreamDeck Profile with my FLEXRADIO 6300.


PE4BAS, Bas said...

Hello Tom, thanks for the article. This is really an interesting piece of equipment. You only give examples for your flightsim. Could you make a example for HAMradio? Like shortcuts in WSJT-X? 73, Bas

MadDogMcQ said...

Thanks for popping by Bas. Like I said in the post, I'm still new to this but basically, any keypresses that you can do in your software (say for example in WSJT-X Alt+R sets Tx4 message to RR73, Ctrl+R sets it to RRR) can be done on the StreamDeck.

Ham Radio Deluxe has a few keyboard shortcuts including...

F2 - View Menu - Selection Window.

F3 - View Menu - Advanced Options.

F4 - View Menu - Full Screen mode.

F5 - View Menu - Next Slider Layout.

F6 - View Menu - Slider Controls.

F7 - Logbook Menu - Add Logbook Entry.

F8 - Tools Menu - Program Options.

F9 - Macros Menu - Snapshot.

F11 - Soundcard Output.

Control Key Combinations

Ctrl+A - Favourites Menu - Add option.

Ctrl+B - Bands Menu - Manager option.

Ctrl+F - Edit Menu - Copy Frequency option.

Ctrl+M - Edit Menu - Copy Mode option.

Ctrl+N - File Menu - Connect option.

Ctrl+O - Favourites Menu - Manager option.

Ctrl+Q - Quick Save Menu - Add option.

Ctrl+V - Voice Menu - Enable option.

Ctrl+Y - Edit Menu - Redo option.

Ctrl+Z - Edit Menu - Undo option.

Ctrl+F8 - Tools Menu - Customise Layout option.

Alt Key Combinations

Alt+A - Tools Menu - DX Cluster option.

Alt+D - Bands Menu - Band Down option.

Alt+U - Bands Menu - Band Up option.

Shift Key Combinations

Sh+F9 - Voice Menu - Frequency option.

Sh+F10 - Voice Menu - Frequency and Mode Option.

Sh+F11 - Voice Menu - Mode option.

Sh+F12 - Voice Menu - S Meter option.

HRD apparently has many more shortcuts which could be programmed into the StreamDeck in a manner that makes access to all these commands, very simple and without having to resort to the mouse.

I'm sure that there's FAR more intelligent people than me who will manage to find even more uses for this handy device.

When I've finished configuring my device, I'll update (probably over the Xmas Break).

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

WK4T said...

Any more uses for ham operations?

de WK4T

Jason said...

Hi Tom,
I myself have just acquired a Stream Deck mk2 and wanted to control HRD with it among other things. I would LIKE to set up my own various hotkeys (HRD calls them keyboard accelerators for whatever reason). I am NOT able to figure out the accelerators at all, and the HRD documentation is dismal for that feature. Were you ever able to figure out this portion of it?
Thanks for the post, it is very informative.
73 de KE7BUA, Jason

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Jason,
I'll be totally honest and tell you that I've not progressed much further with the StreamDeck for HRD use because I no longer spend a great deal of time with HRD.

My main use for the StreamDeck is with FlightSims which have SO MANY keyboard inputs.

Sorry I can't help more.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

MadDogMcQ said...

Sorry David, Like I said to Jason (above), I spend most of my time using the StreamDeck for flighsim applications. I've just bought an EXPERT ELECTRONICS MB1 so I might revisit the StreamDeck to get the most out of that software and report back here.

But basically, if you have ANY SOFTWARE which uses keyboard-presses, you can assign them to buttons on this device.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

CW said...

Hello Tom,
I just found your article because I bought a stream deck XL for flight sims. I notice you have images of different flight sims on your buttons as well as an image for track IR. Could you go into a little detail about how you got the images. I can't seem to find anything about how to get a cover images for each flight you want to use stream deck on. Any help would be greatly appreciated thank.

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi CW,
You can use virtually ANY image you want simply by copying that image into a paint-package (I use PaintShop Pro) and reducing its size. In some cases, I simply brought up the images I wanted and paused the sim and did a Prt-Scrn, then cut out the buttons using the paint package.

And don't forget that GOOGLE IMAGES is your friend :-)