Monday, June 29, 2015

More Iview Results

Today I spent some time trying to optimize the system and see performance.   The first thing I tried was a ethernet connection via a cable through a USB to ethernet dongle.  I ran some speed tests and I got about 6 mbs.  I compared to the internal wifi and wifi was about 25 mbs.  This little stick has about the best wifi I have ever used.  I stuck a 64GB microSD in the slot and now have a 64gb D:\ drive for storage.  

I tried 4 open panadapters and that worked FB.  

I opened WriteLog and was able to connect the radio to 4 logging entries and I could change panadapters and TX focus with the up/down arrows. 

I decided to install CW Skimmer which I thought would work not at all, but I was wrong.

Worked fine.  I decided to try Log4OM

That worked too.   I tried 2 slices in one panadapter 

and set up SDR-Bridge to click tune slice B with CW Skimmer, the way I like to run pileups and that worked fine as well.  This little Atom computer is amazing, plus what Flex has done to optimize the code.  I'm listening to a QSO in the background, monitoring the cluster, and typing this blog post.  as well as running CW Skimmer SmartSDR, SmartCAT, DAX, Log4OM, and DDUTIL.  It's pushing the limit but it's not over the line.  Yowza

73  W9OY

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Popular Mechanics video

I watched the blastoff at 10:21 from my back yard, heard the noise from the rocket motors about a minute and a half later and then the above.   I kept saying to myself "where the hell is it, where the hell is it" as the normal course of events is to follow the contrail up from the tree line to the burning propellant escaping from the rocket motor.  Then I realized some of what I was hearing was the explosion.  There was no longer a spacecraft to visualize.  The space industry is a part of my everyday community life.  It's not just a spectacle on TV.  There is the thrill of watching a launch.  Elation at success and deep regret at failure.  These workers and their families are my patients and friends.  I go to church with them and shop with them and have pool parties and Christmas celebration with them.  Their spouses work in my surgery center.  Consider the immensity of the enterprise and those involved as you watch the smoke.  Science lives, in fact it thrives just down the road from my radio station. 

73  W9OY

Saturday, June 27, 2015

2015 FD on a Stick Computer

I recently bought a Iview stick computer which I described in a previous post.

The computer isom 1.3ghz quadcore Intel Atom computer in a 1.5 x 4 inch form factor that plugs into the HDMI port on a monitor or TV.  It is a re-branded version of the Intel stick computer

and runs a version of win 8.1 called win 8.1 with bing.  It is a full version of win 8.1 minus all the crapola generally included on the hard drive.  I chose the Iview version because it was cheapest, around $130.  I decided to give this little computer a whirl running SmartSDR remote/base for field day.  I fully updated window before proceeding.

The Setup

I was going to try to find a light weight contest logger but since I generally use WriteLog with SDR-Bridge so I decided to see how that combo with SSDR would work on this stick computer.  SDR-Bridge and WriteLog are well integrated into the Flex 6000 radios and use the DAX channel and IP to connect to the radio, no CAT necessary.  I wanted a very light foot print since this computer doesn't have tons of processing power basically logging and duping and band/mode data.  I opened WriteLog with only the logging aspect, no band map data or other modules, and SDR-Bridge and was pleasantly surprised the programs didn't use too many CPU clicks

so I connected to my 6500 

and saw this

This may just work!!

I hooked up a pair of Logictech USB headphones and my FlexControl to the USB port expander plus my logitech K400 wireless keyboard and a Logitech M185 wireless mouse and set things up.  Here was my final setup

I had turned on FocusHelper and set it to a very fast 100ms

and proceeded to work some field day using CWX.   To work a station I enter his call and hit F1 with the mouse the contents of F1 are sent while the logger comes back into focus automatically.  I enter the remaining data and hit F2 to send my data.  The rest are for fills and calling CQ.  Not perfect in terms of contest workflow, but much fun.  Once everything stabilized there was nothing to slow me down.  Wifi was typically <1 ms so the wifi in this stick computer runs pretty well.  

One could possibly use this for a fly-in dx-pedition.  The 6300 is about 8 pounds, a Samlex 1223 is about 3 lbs, this computer keyboard and headphones are probably a pound so you could easily stuff some coax and a antenna and the above in a backpack PLUS a code key and have a blast at probably less than 25 lbs.  All you need is a TV with a HDMI at your destination.  You should be able to run the radio from a USB to ethernet converter.  I have one of those on order to see how it plays.  I'm also going to check out some kind of blutooth headset to use with this setup

Aruba anybody?

73  W9OY


Just for grins I signed in on my windows 8.1 i3 box with the same setup, a much more robust experience.

The setup was identical

I made a quick video of remote ops.  

This is a QSO on 20M using my Flex 6500 remote base on my LAN. My setup is the 6500 connected to a little i3 wintel box with on board video. The transmit seems distorted but in reality it is not. The distortion is due to my video capture software In reality without the video capture operation is just the same as being next to the transmitter in the shack.  If you watch the title bar of writelog closely you can see the focus change to SSDR when I press F1 and F3 and nearly immediately switch focus back to writelog so I can enter the data.  A very nifty feature


Friday, June 26, 2015

Stick Computer

I bought a Iview cyber  pc stick computer to use as a printer and file server on my windows network.

The PC runs a quadcore intel Atom Z3735F (1.33GHz) with 2gb onboard ram and a 32gb eMMC SSD.  The computer has both Win 8.1 and Android installed.  It has a couple of USB 2.0 ports and a 5v 2 amp PS.  It comes with a dinky keyboard which I could not make work, but I had no use for it anyway.  The stick plugs into a HDMI port on a TV or monitor and uses the HDMI monitor speakers for audio.  It's the real deal win 8.1 and will be upgradable to win 10 in July.  It has built in wifi and bluetooth.  It also has a micro memory card port capable of accepting up to 128gb additional storage.  THE BEST PART: IT'S TOTALLY SILENT!!  There is no fan and it does not get hot.

I plugged it into one of ther HDMI ports my Toshiba TV which I use as my monitor in my office.  It has multiple HDMI a VGA cable input and speakers so I find it very useful to run various computers as I can simply choose the video input.  I like to fool around with android sticks and  upgrading them to linux.  Most of those are ARM processors and while they do work they don't work very well.  

Instead of the keyboard that came with the PC I plugged a wireless K400 Logitech into the USB and hit the ON button.  After the usual setup rigmarole, and installing a couple of browsers, I got this pretty desktop

I decided to see how youtube plays and its flawless 1080p video, as good as my satellite feed.  This is Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa  

OK OK time to try SSDR remote!!

I installed the latest alpha version 1.4.16 and the latest DDUTIL 

Utilization with only SmartCAT open was 

way throttled back.  I started Smart SDR and set it to remote

I sent some code from CWX and it was flawless at 35 wpm.  The usage was still very reasonable and throttled back.  I had a Logitech USB headset plugged in and set to default audio.  I could send keyboard code all day long with this setup.  

Next I tried  SSB

As you can see I plugged in my Flex control and it worked perfectly.  The audio was the same as on my i7 full blown computer I use with the radio every day.

I tried 2 panadapters and things still worked but there was some choppiness in the audio, not bad but I could tell I was pushing things.

I tried some SSB transmitting and again things were a little choppy.  I am using a USB headset and there is basically one USB 2.0 controller in this computer and I had headset, FlexControl keyboard and mouse all running through one hub, so I am thinking I am asking a lot from the usb for transmit audio.  The computer has a bluetooth transceiver so I may try that for tx/rx and see how does using something dedicated for audio I/O.

If you open a browser it does cause some issues with the wifi,  On its own SSDR exhibited these network results on wifi

Pretty darned good!!  But if you added email checks etc in a open browser you could hear that in the SSDR audio stream.  I'm going to look around for a really light weight contest logger and see how this setup does in the field day contest.  

This stick computer running windows 8.1 for light duty or single task duty is pretty hard to beat.  It's cost is around $125-$130 from places like Walmart or Amazon and I've seen it on special for $110 at NewEgg.  It plays youtube as well as anything, so I may get one and plug it into the TV in my gym to rock out when working out.  My wife uses a subscription video service for workout routines  workout so this computer with a real keyboard for navigation is hard to beat.  IT IS NOT A FIRE BREATHER but I'm pretty impressed that a Atom 4 core running windows 8.1 can make this happen.  Best part with NO FAN and no radio in the room all you hear is audio.  

73  W9OY

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FRS service

Today I needed service for my Flex setup.  I installed a new antivirus software and it wiped out SmatCAT.  Smart CAT has a module called VSPkit that autostarts on PC boot and brings the ports to the party and the AV software set the contingencies to manual.  It also hosed up CW skimmer starting correctly

I messed around for a while and uninstalled the antivirus software, which cured my Skimmer dilemma but I couldn't figure out how to make VSPkit auto again.  So I put out a smoke signal on the alpha group reflector and Tim W4TME suggested opening a Help Desk ticket.  I never used this service before.  Let me tell you the result was fantastic!

To open a ticket you go to the Flex website  and click on the menu at the upper right and go to support>HelpDesk

Once there click submit a request

You need to be registered with Flex.  If you aren't just go to sign in and run through the registration procedure.  Once logged in you will get a form that allows you to identify your system and state the problem.  Here was my statement and Tim's response:

Note the timestamps  My request 14:57, his response 15:10.

I didn't have teamviewer so I went to teamviewer website, and downloaded the latest version.

I installed under "basic"  There is a choice that will allow a remote station login unattended but I decided to not set that up.  I opened the program 

The program provides a password and ID but I edited those out for the purpose of the post.  Next I sent Tim my phone # and by 15:15 he was on the line.  He entered my ID & PW and we were on the air.   He was able to remotely control my computer.

He clicked up windows explorer and right clicked on my computer

and clicked manage 

and went to services and applications and clicked on services

and scrolled down to Virtual Serial Support Kit and clicked which brought up the window with the arrow.  He changed the drop down to automatic 

He then tabbed over from general to recovery and made recovery look like this

And there ya go by 15:20 I'm all fixed.   We exchanged pleasantries for a couple minutes and then he was GONE...who was that masked man?

Impressive!!  My thanks to Mr Tim!!

73  W9OY

Saturday, June 6, 2015

CW Remote LAN

This afternoon I decided to flesh out a little better how well remote works.  I set up the 6500 for remote and I was able to drive my ALS-1300 reliably,  I don't have a MIC on my remote computer so I decided to try some CW.  The computer I am using is a a very basic Intel i3 55 watt 3 GHZ chip with internal 2500 graphics to a HDTV monitor.  Here is the utilization graphic

I installed DDUTIL V3 and it readily connects to the radio from the remote computer

This gives me most of the functionality I rely upon from DDUTIL.  I can't run the relay board remotely, but the macros for the most part work just as they should, including the MacroButtons

I simply copied my macro.xml file from my shack computer to the remote computer and all of my familiar functions were there!

In addition I added a spare FlexControl I had around to the remote machine, turned it on in SSDR, and the flexControl fired right up as well.  

I normally run FlexControl through DDUTIL but I decided to give the native SSDR interface a whirl.  I have Slice Tuning on the knob, and AGC-T, and Slice Volume on the first 2 buttons and MOX on the third.  If I ever get a good MIC connected I can use that button as a PTT.  I also added a PTT toggle to my MacButtons macros.  

I worked half a dozen EU and North African stations on 17M  My antenna is a W5GI dipole tuned with the internal Flex tuner.  I like this antenna for this application since it's basically all band and readily tune-able with the flex tuner 160-6M.  The setup worked flawlessly.  I was having a little lag problem with my wifi on this computer, so I plugged a CAT5 cable from the LAN into the computer

zero packets dropped.  The wifi is entirely usable but I like this best!  When I can I prefer a wire.  I was able to even crack a couple split pileups including PZ5RA.

Included is a quick video of a DX QSO with Dan US7WW 

This remote feature has tremendous and well polished functionality.  Download, start SSDR, hit the remote button, make a QSO.

73  W9OY