Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anan-10 first impressions

My initial bottom line impression: very capable!

I've been up and running for a few days with my new QRP radio and I have favorable impressions.  If I were to describe it, it's kind of a cross between the old style flex like a Flex 3000 and the new style flex like a 6300, BUT it is a radio with a character and design philosophy unto itself.  I've been doing SDR of one kind or another since about 2004.  I started with the old SDR-1000 and progressed through the F5K the F3K several Soft Rock variations and various other stand alone SDR's.  I consider a SDR to be a wide band affair with the heavy lifting of signal processing done in software.  Usually I would consider a direct conversion to a base band like the SDR-1000 or something that directly converts off the antenna like the Flex 6000 to be what I consider a SDR.  I do not consider radios that are narrow band that is radios that do the majority of their signal processing in analogue hardware to be SDR's.  The K3 is an example of that kind of radio.  In my opinion narrow radios represent a completely different kind of architecture because they literally throw away 99.999% of the available information, information that can be used to great advantage.  I consider this kind of radio architecture not much different than a HW-100 with a W9GR DSP hooked to the headphone jack.  Just my opinion.

The SDR-1000 had a signal presented to the antenna, and it was directly converted to a wide audio baseband capable of being processed by a high end sound card.  The sound card was the means through which the analogue baseband signal was converted into a digital format to be handled by the computer for processing.  Radio control was accomplished by bit banging the hell out of a LPT printer port.

Most of the other SDR's like the softrock radios followed something like this format perhaps substituting a USB port for the LPT.  The 5K/3K substituted a true A/D converter for the "sound card" which improved performance.  They also moved to firewire for radio control.  Flex had adopted an opensource license for its software and every body and their was using Flex's software to run their "SDR".  Along this time there came into existence several intrepid experimenters who were very interested in pushing the envelop of SDR design.  The firewire/soundcard/direct conversion technique gave band widths up to a few hundred khz.  There was a promise that as better ADC's were developed of being able to receive dozens and dozens of MHZ directly on the antenna directly converting it into the digital format needed for processing.

What was born was HPSDR and some providers came together to sell kits of various hardware.  The kits were created to be modular.  There was a backplane called atlas and a USB interface called OZY and a receiver called Mercury etc.  The firmware was written and over time you could piece together a pretty impressive radio.  I built some of these kits and had the receiver going but business and family interests in my life intervened and that project got put in a drawer.  Mercury was pretty impressive.  It could receive and decode up to 55 MHZ bandwidth directly.  The connection was over USB 2 and some form of PowerSDR was the primary software though there were other programs written to do the control and analysis chores.

I got back to ham radio a few months ago with the advent of the 6300.  The 6300 architecture is quite a bit different.  In the case of the SDR-1000 you could view the SDR-1000 as a modem and the actual "radio" was PowerSDR inside the computer.  As the band width between the modem and the computer grew and as the processing power of computers grew the power of the radio also grew.  The radio in the case of the 6300 resides in the 6300 not in the computer.  The 6300 had a ADC to convert RF into data, and the data is manipulated directly inside the 6300 by programming a FPGA.  The radio therefore behaves more like a server/client in fact exactly like a server/client as opposed to modem/computer.  The 6300's functions are accessed by a API programming language.  This radio therefore is much more stand alone.  I am on the alpha team and in fact in some instances of buggy code you could shut down SmartSDR and if you still had CW skimmer connected through SDR-Bridge (another client) you could easily click tune around the band using Skimmer to drive the radio.  You had freq readout and the skimmer waterfall to see what was coming by.  Radio connection is via Ethernet

The Anan-10 is somewhere in between.  It is basically the logical extension of the HPSDR hardware schemata all rolled into one nice box

.  It's is still closer to the modem/computer model since the "radio" is still largely in the computer but its hardware is now so well integrated into the computer because of the Ethernet connection much if the problems with lag etc have been eliminated

This is a shot of the data stream between the Anan-10 and my computer.  Compared to the old days the throughput is HUGE.  This is the reason the radio behaves so nicely, and it does behave nicely.  It doesn't matter to me what the bandwidth is as long as the job gets done.

Here in contrast is a shot of the 6300's bandwidth

Much much smaller because all the processing is being done inside the radio not on the computer.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  One disadvantage is the 6300 has a fixed amount of resources and once used up they are pretty much used up.  The Anan on the other hand being half in the computer has the advantage of being expandable to some extent.  It also has the advantage that other software can be written for it's hardware.  I guess there is something called cuSDR which is being written for Anan but it seems to be more vapor than real. This is a real difference and can not be understated:  

Flex provides a complete radio software, hardware, and customer service.  The program that primarily runs the Anan is a much modified free edition of PowerSDR.  There are a lot of people that will probably loose their minds over that statement but I grew up with the progression of PowerSDR and even though advances have been made in the product, very significant advances, it is still in considerable part a Flex product.  I was involved in the design of the 5000 and I know the countless hours and iterations that went into that product, and I think that is in part why there are no other competing programs of consequence.  IT'S A HELL OF A LOT OF WORK!  Apache Labs on the other hand is a hardware company.  You buy hardware from them not software so when you see the big price difference between the products understand why the difference occurs.  Writing software that is bug free and functional for such a small market as well as providing customer support is not cheap.  

Since this is open source in the back of my mind I worry what would happen if development ceases since the initial energy hump in getting software off the ground (as in Gibbs free energy) is not trivial.  This isn't like linux where there are thousands of kids (and kids at heart) out there banging out code.  It's kind of like trading penny stocks.  The price may rocket, but then who are you going to sell your rocketed shares too once you decide to unload.  If the market is small and thinly traded the risk goes up dramatically.

My experience of this little radio is that it is a well polished very functional product.  So much so that I wish I would have held out for a 100 w radio.  It is not a QSK radio.  Flex has completely solved the QSK problem at least to 100 wpm.  That radio is as good as any Ten Tec ever conceived. Turn around is in the 6 ms range.  My Anan-10 is more like a 15-20 ms radio which belies the nature of how the hardware works with the program.  Even with 100mbit Ethernet it's not going to beat FPGA.  Does that matter?  To me it really doesn't.  I don't care about hear between dits except maybe in the highest performance contest situation.  The Anan-10 has a GREAT RECEIVER!!!  It is quiet and has plenty of functional noise  abatement.  It has great transmitted audio even with a cheap $10 big lot skype headset.  You have the ability to tinker with the radio in both software and hardware.  PowerSDR was always great in this.  SmartSDR by its nature since it is written in FPGA code is less flexible to tinkering.  It has user configurable inputs and outputs which lends itself to expansion and control.  One example is the predistortion setup.  It allows for data to be captured and applied to the transmitted audio signal BEFORE the sideband signal is generated therefore greatly decreasing distortion products.  I haven't figured it out yet but it looks to me like I can get band related BCD out of this radio to run my auto band switching amplifier and antenna switches.  You can access radio control via CAT and programs like DDUTIL and loggers like Log4OM work flawlessly.  I even dug an old shuttle pro-2 knob out of the drawer and hooked it up so I can use it to tune the radio

Ham radio has become rich and varied in its offerings and technology.  Each SDR format offers something different as well.  None of it has everything, at least not yet.  I'm just having a gas (anesthesiologist joke) sitting back and enjoying the ride

I would pick this sucker over a KX3 any day of the week!  Far more fun potential.

73  W9OY

Monday, July 28, 2014

Listening to Anan-10 at the University of Twente

Just for kicks I tuned up the 43ft vertical on 40M and listened with the WebSDR receiver at University of Twente in the Netherlands.  I was right at the noise -105 dBm but I was definitely copy-able.  Not bad for 10W to a piece of wire up on a tree.  I plugged in my 1/2 wave end fed 40M vertical over several thousand feet of wire and became 559 at -98 dBm.  I even saw a -92 dBm but wasn't quick enough on the capture to record that.

73  W9OY

How do I manage all these programs????

I decided to pair my new Anan-10 with some old favorites for external control.  Here is a shot of how I have things running presently

I wrote Steve K5FR of DDUTIL fame to see if I could run 2 instances of DDUTIL.  His response since PowerSDR is purely CAT driven I could use DDUTIL version 2, which is stored in its own folder and will not have any contrary interaction.

I've had some input into the design of DDUTIL especially the SO2R aspect and some of the external macros and how the Flex Control works with DDUTIL.  I also had some input in how the Quick memory works.  Steve of course did all the real work but I have become dependent on many of its features like Auto Drive and Macros.  It is an exquisitely useful tool for station automation and operation. NOTE version 2 works with PSDR.  Version 3 uses the SmartSDR API interface and is connected to the radio by Ethernet not CAT or serial ports.  

One big difference between PowerSDR/Anan and SmartSDR/6xxx is SmartSDR/6xxx is written on a server/client model.  The server is in the radio itself and not on the computer.  The radio can be placed on a router and addressed from several computers across the network.  The server can pretty much be accessed by anything with a IP address that also can communicate in SmartSDR API language, aka cell phones- tablets- probably raspberry pi etc from anywhere whether in the house or down at the Starbucks.  This is a little way off but its already being done at some level by a few intrepid souls.  DDUTIL version 3 is an example of a program accessing the server through API language to control the radios behavior.

I installed DDUTIL and used a serial pair provided by Flex's SmartCAT to connect the radio and DDUTIL.  It lit right up and I could memorize frequencies to my hearts content.  With the 6300 I use the DXLab suite of software.  I figured it was folly to try and engineer 2 instances of DXLab at once.  Another really useful logger/world map/cluster program is Log4OM  

This is a richly featured program that comes from Italy.   It shares many features with DXLab and is quite useful.  Log4OM connects to DDUTIL through Omni-Rig from the DX Atlas suite of software and was written by Alex VE3NEA of CW Skimmer fame.  I also used a serial pair from SmartCAT to intertwine Omni-Rig and DDUTIL.  The setup was trivial, and before I knew it I was able to click spots or click dots on the band map and drive my PSDR/Anan right to the DX, while automatically entering QSO data into the logger exactly like I do with DXlab suite.  

The problem is HOW DO I GET ALL THESE PROGRAMS ONTO 2 MONITORS?  I recently upgraded my monitors to 2 x 24" HD 1980 monitors run by Display Port and I'm not ready to upgrade yet again to true display port monitors.  I also have read there are resolution issues with true display port and some ham radio programs.  So what I did was to place all the PSDR related programs UNDER SmartSDR  

This way when I have The 6300 in focus when all of the connected DXLab suite- DDUTIL- CWskimmer- SDRmemory6K- and SDR-Bridge programs are also in focus

But if I pound down SmartSDR the PowerSDR/Anan- DDUTIL- Log4OM station takes over the focus and I can still monitor Spot Collector and the DXLab band map.

One click and SmartSDR is back in focus

I love this stuff so much more than roofing filter radio!  :)

73  W9OY

How we got the Anan-10 running in Windows 8.1

I want to document my experience getting the Anan-10 running in Windows 8.1.  It was anything but plug and play.  I installed PowewrSDR_mRX and plugged nthe Anan-10 into one of my ethernet ports.  I have 2 nics and a wifi connection on this computer.  The computer assigned the IP address of 169.254,242.43 to the Anan. is what is called a private network sub-net, meaning it is a network used for intranet or computers within a building for example.  Other private networks include and  Most home networks are on the sub-net.

I could see the Anan's assigned address by looking in the Windows Task Manager

I would plug in the cable to the Anan, the adapter would light up with a solid green light on the left and a blinking green light on the right indicating activity.  I could see the Ethernet 2 icon in task manager also light up, indicating a connection and I would see some send activity march across the screen but never receive activity.  I could ping and get a nice ping

I thought HOT DAWG I'm almost home!  LOL on me!.  I next started PowerSDR_mRX and saw this screen

This screen indicates the IP of the Anan-10 is ???  I tried to ping and got nowhere

In addition there was still no activity in the Ethernet 2 task manager performance screen.  I kept being told your connected...your connected...  But no way Jorge' was I connected.  This was my PSDR screen

No panadapter activity, no audio, no TX.  In fact if you tried the mox or the tune you got this

 AKA I was hosed!

So I spent several days sending messages and being perplexed all the while being assure I was connected.  I WAS NOT CONNECTED!!  I knew I was close and it would only take some right settings and this thing would fly.  I was contacted by Mukesh KE3VG.  He had an idea of what might be wrong.  He thought I was on the wrong sub net which in fact I was, but how the hell can you get on the right subnet?  Here is what we did.

First reset PowerSWDR database.  This is done by pressing a button on the setup screen 

This is how the hardware config screen should look.  Next you have to understand some internal settings in windows networking.  Open a command prompt (in the programs under windows system) and next to the prompt type ipconfig /all, and a bunch of networking data will scroll by.

Find the data for the Ethernet port to which your Anan is connected.  Mine is ethernet 2

Originally under IPv4 adapter my address was the dreaded  I needed to change this.  I also noted my default gateway was

Next we open up the adapter.  Go to network > properties and you will see something like this

I have three active networks but I am interested in Ethernet 2 so Iclick Ethernet 2 and see this 

Click properties to see this

OOOO Baby this is getting good!!!

next highlight Internet Protocol version 4 TCP/IPv4 and click properties 

The suspense is building we are almost home!!

Click use the following IP address in this screen and type in a address that is not the same as the address in PowerSDR_mRX 's setup screen (in my case it `was but the first three numbers need to be identical to whatever PSDR reports.  In my case we typed  We also entered which was the default gateway we obtained when we did the ipconfig.  We also chose Use the following DNS server and typed in the gateway address as preferred.  We typed in a place holder as alternate and we clicked OK.  There was a warning that popped up and we clicked yes.  As soon as we did that we got this 

PowerSDR came alive and we were truly communicating!  Task manager now looked like this 

A steady stream of data marching across the screen!  Ping looked like this 

The radio behaved exactly like it should.  

I think this is an important document.  I have heard a lot of disparagement of windows 8 in favor of windows 7 for the Anan.  I was also told I need routers and switches in the line to make this work.  Correctly setup I needed none of that.   Personally I have found to windows 8.1 to be the best behaved in terms of networking of all the windows O/S's.  I was told no way I would be able to run three networks at once on different subnets but I am doing just that.  

My wifi is on 192.168.0.x my Anan is on 192.168.1.x and my Flex 6300 is on 169.254.53.x  All of them co-exist perfectly and all of them are persistent.  When I reboot from a cold start it all just works.  I am extremely grateful for the help I received especially from KE3VG He truIy is Very Good, in fact excellent! I hope this post advances the knowledge base for set-up problem solving for the Anan-10 and Windows 8.1

73  W9OY

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I had a Flex 3000 sitting on the shelf.  I no longer have computers with firewire.  I saw an add on from a college student at Purdue who wanted a Flex 3K.  Since I went to Purdue in 1970, I made him a good deal, and sent the Flex on its way to its new home.  On the same day as I made the Flex deal, a Anan-10 showed up on,  I have been considering giving this style of SDR a try.  The way it works is kind of a cross between the Flex 5K/3K and the Signature series.  The deal was reasonable so I made the buy.

Apache Labs is the company that makes the Anan series.  The Anan-10 is a single SCU (spectral capture unit) radio with a 10W nominal transmitter,  You can read more here   The hardware design is from the HPSDR (high performance SDR) group.  OpenSDR means the hardware is open similar to open software.  The radio is run by a version of PowerSDR called PowerSDR_mrx.  Again open source.  

The radio arrived and I paired it with a LDG- Z-11pro tuner I had sitting on the shelf.  

I downloaded PowerSDR_mrx and installed it, and I thought I was all set.  I was wrong.  I hooked up the Anan-10 to one of the ethernet ports of my computer and was stopped dead.  I could not get my computer to talk to to the Anan.  I tried all manner of tricks to get the computer and radio to talk.  Apache Labs sells hardware, and this is important, once you buy the hardware getting the radio running is your responsibility.  There is no help desk ticket support staff to hold your hand.  However there are a couple of Yahoo Groups devoted to Anan.  I checked into one of the groups run by KC9XG and we proceeded to try and get this radio running.  I spent 30 hours trying this and that, no luck.  I was contacted by Mukesh KE3VG who happens to also be a friend of Don K7MX who is well embedded in the Flex organization for testing purposes.  He also mans the Orlando Hamfest so if you ever go to Orlando you will get a chance to talk to Don.  SDR is a small world!  Any way Makesh had me download teamviewer which is a remote desktop program and skype and we proceeded to solve the problem.  So even though there is not official support, hams being who they are went above and beyond to get the job done!  I had to massage the subnet in one of my ehternet ports and make the address static to get things peculating.  

Here is a shot of PowerSDR_mrx all connected to the Anan-10.   I connercted my 43 ft vertical to the LDG tuner and memorized setting for each band 80-6.  My first contact was a V44 in St. Kitts & Nevis on 30M with a blistering 10W.  I need to spend a LOT more time with this radio.  I am able to run both the Flex 6300 and the Anan-10 at the same time on different antennas.

And yes I can watch the Anan transmit while viewing on the Flex

Very clean signal 

and as well I can watch the Flex transmit to the Anan.

Also beautifully clean.  So over all it should be interesting to see how these 2 radios stack up.

73  W9OY

Monday, July 21, 2014

DDUTIL saves the Day

I use a MFJ 998 tuner almost constantly in conjunction with my ALS-1300 amp

The MFJ auto tunes.  There are several ways to generate a tune event.  First there is a jack on the back that will connect the tuner to a radio that sends tuning data but there needs a cable between the tuner and the radio to do so.  

If it is presented with RF and the SWR is above a given level it will also automatically tune.  This is my preferred method since the 6300 does not have a cable interface.  Finally you can manually initiate a tuning event by pressing the upper right button on the front.  

You notice in the above station picture I have a RCS-4 antenna switch.  I have 4 antennas which I make work on 10 bands (160-6) using the tuner.   Band changing and keeping track of DX was something of an annoying process until DXLab and DDUTIL automated it.

 A spot of a needed band/country comes up on Spot Collector

I double click and the 6300 comes up on freq

This is VU2MV on 14.016.  I enter this freq into DDUTIL'S scratch pad memory for easy recall

DDUTIL can store up to 5 memories so I can track up to 5 DX spots if I am interested.

I also see BY4IB on 21.023 spotted so I open up a slice and write 21.023 into the flag.

So now I can watch both stations.  I enter this freq into DDUTIL by clicking save with slice B high lighted.

VU2MV has been moved up the que into memory 2.  Note how slice B is memorized.  You see it is slice B because the label on the Load button is Load B.  Slice A memories are labeled Load A.  If you hit Load B button, the memorized freq is loaded into slice B.  But wait a minute old VE3VTG is tearing it up on 160.  Its just gray line here so I might be interested if he is working anyone.

So I click on VE3VTG and slice A switches to his freq

And I memorize him by high lighting slice A and hitting save.

So now I have three DX stations on three bands memorized for different reasons.  The first two are for logging and the third is to see who he if anybody is being  logged by him.

I can switch back and forth between VE3VTG on 160 and VU2MV on 20 simply by loading the correct memory into slice A.  All the while I am monitoring China on 15M.  I almost always use 50hz filters which give me the best signal to noise.  The problem with 50hz filters is if you tune just a little bit and the QSB gets you, or you want to tune up a bit and see when the joker he is talking to stops transmitting, you can totally be off freq and missing your shot.  It's simple to just re-load the memory by hitting the load button and be right back on freq ready for the call.

So my next problem was tuning up.  Once I decided to transmit I needed to choose the correct transmitting antenna on the RCS-4, set the amp to standby, hit tune on the 6300, let the tuner do its thing, turn off tune, and turn the amp back on, make sure the amp is on the right band.... for the chip shot into the cup.  WHEW!!

DDUTIL to the rescue.  DDUTIL has a macro function which allows you to command the station do several steps at once.

Here you can see I have button 1 called Tune On which also corresponds to keyboard F1.  What happens when I hit F1 is the TX jack on the back of the radio turns off, thus disabling the amp from transmitting.  I then turns on tune.  The tuner responds and tunes the antenna.   Once completed I hit F2 which just reverses the process.  Tune gets shut off and the amp gets turned back on ready for action.  While all of this is going on automatically I can change the amp to the correct band.  It is the advantage of a transistor no tune amp like the ALS-1300.  It is also virtually instant on so I can leave the amp off until I decide to transmit.  Here is what the macro code looks like

It's very simple and very powerful and makes my life SOOO much easier.  Eventually I will have the amp and antenna switch band follow the radio when I find an adequate interface and all of this will be a matter of clicking on the station I want to work, F1, F2, hit the paddle.  It's easy as pie to work 3 stations nearly simultaneously.  If one DX station is a bit chatty, you can work another one or two who are 599TU types before the first one gets to ditdit.

So how'd I do?  Got India, missed China, and too much noise on 160 to do any good.

dit dit

73  W9OY

Friday, July 18, 2014


I check Space Weather pretty much every day mostly because it's interesting.  I have noticed a fall off in 10 12 15 and 17 in the past couple weeks.  I can hear stations but with difficulty.   Yesterday the sun presented this picture:

Recorded sunspot number = 0.  Today its the same story, 0.  This is the first zero day in 3 years.  This cycle is also very quiet, perhaps the quietest in 100 years and it seems to be trending down.

So the question is has the sunspot max been reached for this cycle?  Usually when the spots are bad 160, 80 and 40 get good but they have been off also.  I've only been able to work 25 countries on 80 in the past 5 weeks, mostly the old timers who have been lurking on 80 for years.  40 is a little better but not much.   20M and 30M has been the best of the bunch.  I hope the trend does not continue since I have at best only a couple more cycles left in me... but then if the trend does continue I'll just need more power and better antennas.  

My other favorite website for wx related info is the lightning strike tracker at Intellicast.  I check this quite often since I live in lightning central USA.

73  W9OY

Saturday, July 12, 2014

IARS test

15M & 20M at high noon at my QTH.  It's like a CW Orgy!  Eventually 40M came to life

Then 80M started hitting on all 8.  Unfortunately I didn't get a screen shot of 80M.  My goal for this contest was to simply increase band/country totals which I did.  I set up spot collector in DXLab to filter bands

First 15 and 20.  I had things setup to changing bands required no tuning and only 2 switch clicks.  As 15 started to fade I added 40 to the mix and finally I added 80 and turned off 15 since it was pretty much dead.  Spot collector has a color coded database display

The legend is down in the right corner and here in config

This is really cool if you are working a contest for band/countries and not points/mults.  If you work a station for example W100AW (what's with these stupid callsigns?) on say 20 CW it will display in black.  This is important since in a contest it will tell you if the station is already worked a.k.a. a dupe.  If you then switch to 40 and W100AW is on 40 it will either display in red or blue.  It will display in red of you need the band/country.   It will display blue if you already have that country on that band.  The yellow and pink background describes LOTW or EQSL participation.  So once I had this all set up I just sat back and did other things while waiting for new red ones to emerge.  Initially it was fast and furious but after about 8 hours the red ones had dwindled to a trickle, meaning I had worked most of the band/countries that appeared on 15, 20, 40, and 80. I missed a few.  What was amazing was I was able to hear virtually every red station that popped up but I was not always able to make the return trip.  Because they were on the bands for so long I was able to capitalize on propagation.  This was especially true for all time new ones.  If I couldn't crack them on 15 or 20 pretty soon they would show up on 40 and get bagged or some other combination.  I increased my band/ country total by 30 on every band and my over all countries worked by 19.

Now all I have to do is figure out the band following issue so I can get my antenna switch and amp to automatically follow the radio.  I had this working with the F5K but since I now run win 8.1 there are no drivers for the device I was using to communicate with the amp and ant. switch.

Finally I was pleased to see this

Steve K5FR added S meter and dBm reading, peak and avg for 2 slices.  This is incredibly useful.  He da Man!

73  W9OY