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SPE 1.3K-FA - How many cables should I need?

Roy Laufer
Roy Laufer Member ✭✭
I am contemplating the arrival of a shiny new SPE 1.3K-FA Expert Linear Amplifier some time in October-November of this year for my Flex 6700.

I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this type of set up. I understand that SPE will be releasing an API for the 1.3K-FA, which will make DDUtil even more useful for controlling a 1.3K-FA. I assume that it goes without saying that I will need to use the USB from the 1.3K-FA to my PC (which should come in the box). I assume that I will need to provide my own custom cable that will connect to a DB15 CAT port on the 1.3K-FA and eventually end in a USB connection with a serial emulation required on my PC.

Is this an accurate assessment? Have I made any false assumptions?

Thanks!

73,
Roy, AC2GS

Answers

  • K6TD
    K6TD Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    The Protocol spec has been release.  There isn't an "API".  Have to provide your own.  The protocol has a few problems.  To change bands, you have to read the current band, send an up/down command, then read the current band, repeat till it's where you want it.


    Till DDUtil works, you'll need a serial cable from the radio to the serial port (CAT) o the 1.3K.  

    Good amp, interfaces are so-so.


  • Roy Laufer
    Roy Laufer Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    See... Here's where I get confused:"you'll need a serial cable from the radio". The Flex 6700 doesn't have an operational "serial connector" its two USB connectors are not yet implemented in its firmware and its accessory connector has nothing other than an I2C interface that could be considered a "serial connector". The closest thing I can conceive of as a "serial connector from the radio" is in fact a serial connection from the PC using the SmartCAT to create a "virtual CAT connection".

    So, is it two cables from the PC to the 1.3K-FA, or one from the PC and another "from the radio"?

    Roy, AC2GS
  • Duane_AC5AA
    Duane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited May 2018
    Might want to take a look at this link:  https://db.tt/0LuOmYtr  It's a link from Howard's post on the same topic.  I've got my 1.3K-fa coming a month after yours, it looks like, so I'll be doing the same thing with my 6500.
  • Jay Nation
    Jay Nation Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Roy
    um... your radio which is SmartSDR, has as many serial ports as you need the back panel of SmartSDR is the back panel of your PC. There are relatively cheap pci-e serial port cards available for it, if your PC lacks one. Don't get discouraged over serial ports. 

    73, Jay - NO5J
  • Roy Laufer
    Roy Laufer Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    Thank you. I have already looked at Howard's explanation. It was for the 2K-FA and there was some problem that SPE had previously decided on not releasing what some people call an API and others do not, but which will allow better control by DDUtil and remove at least one cable from the equation (I am assuming). SPE has reversed themselves on this decision.

  • Roy Laufer
    Roy Laufer Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    Ah, the joys of semantics.

    As much as I love my Flex 6700 and SDR's in general. To me my "radio" is the Flex 6700, my PC is a thin client, a glorified surface control device, not the radio. Just a reflection of a radio if you feel poetic.

    I just wanted to nail down how many cables will be involved and where they will be coming from (the SPE 1.3K-FA) and where they will be going  to (both to my PC, not my Flex 6700).

    I'm not discouraged, as much as confused a bit by the imprecise use of some words.

    I have so many USB connections on my boutique Desktop PC, that I ended up installing an additional PC card with  even more USB ports (powered hubs just wouldn't accept more connections from the original internal ports after a while), the Tech guys found this strange yet amusing - I recall when I used to confuse tech guys with how many ethernet ports I needed for my home system before everything got networked together by everyone else.

    It's loads of fun out here, at the bleeding edge...

    Roy, AC2GS
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    To clarify my many earlier posts which apply both to the 2K AND 1.3K SPE, in spite of my numerous requests, has NOT released a true API but rather they have released a Protocol definition document to allow you to write your own API to control the AMP. It lacks many basic commands such as setting frequency and after numerous discussions with Gianfranco at Friedrichshafen and his tech guys in Rome, it is unlikely that they even understand the need for such basic commands let alone be willing to write a useful API. Steve K5FR has agreed to attempt to write an interface using DDUTIL. He needs to borrow a 2K or 1.3K to test the programs... If someone is in Texas who has one could lend it to Steve, it would definitely speed up the process. If not, I will ship him my 2K before I head back to Europe at the end of August. Because the 2k /1.3K totally lack a useable API we are stuck using 2 cables to control the Amp Cable 1. USB cable from PC to Amp Cable 2. Serial Cable from PC to AMP There is NO connection directly from 6000 to AMP Flex is currently working with 4O3A to build a full power Amp controlled via Ethernet cable that will have a real API and interface via Ethernet to the 6000 Assuming the Flex amp has similar power specs to my 2K (2300w Key Down so lots of linear headroom at 1500W) I plan to dump my SPE amps for a more easily interfaced amp.
  • iz7auh
    iz7auh Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    Hi, I using my expert 1.3k with DDUTIL for band change, i set in listener port a Com connection on db-15 to 1,3k for management so fiction I prefer use a original app USBterm.
  • Joe
    Joe Member
    edited January 2017
    Unlike Howard who holds Flex blameless in all instances, I believe the problem lies with the 6000 series radios lack of ability to output frequency data in a usable format such as RS232 serial. Flex has no motivation to accommodate SPE amplifiers since they are developing their own Ethernet controlled PA. As for an API that is another name for an interface control document (ICD). The SPE amp control interface is relatively simple and the documents are quite useable as is for any motivated and qualified engineer to follow. Lots of excuses ....no solutions. I wish Flex and SPE would make an honest effort to accommodate their many customers of these excellent products lots of hams own a Flex 6K and an Expert amp
  • Joe
    Joe Member
    edited August 2015
    Wow ...Read, up/down, Read again.....that's wicked complex. How many pages of API documentation do you figure that should require? Are you kidding me?
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    First. You need NO cables if all you want to control in a SPE Amp is Frequency Band Data because all SPE amps have built in frequency counters to follow frequency. However, if you want to be able to control band, antenna selection, power level, tuning and turn the amp on and off, you need a USB cable and a serial cable to use the SPE supplied 2K_Term_USB front panel emulator program. (1.3K_Term_USB). The SPE program is very limited and not easily usable in remote operations or with 3rd party applications, hence the desire for a functional API. After much urging SPE did release a programmers protocol not a true API but at least something useable. I really do not understand what Joe is referring to the Flex does not output serial RS232 data. Of course, Flex outputs RS232 serial data via SMARTCAT in a Kenwood CAT format from any computer connected to the radio. Last I looked you needed to have a computer connected to the radio over Ethernet to run SSDR. (K6TU iPad app is the exception) The good news is that much of this discussion will become moot shortly as Steve K5FR is working on a DDUTIL interface for SPE (he already has a good one for the 1K) so that you will be able to fully control your Amp via DDUTIL or other 3rd party programs via DDUTIL without having to use the awkward SPE front panel emulator.
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited August 2015
    @Joe I am a motivated and qualified engineer who has looked at the SPE documentation but found the programming effort to be outside of my skill set. If you think the SPE interface is so "usable as is for any motivated and qualified engineer could follow". Please write it and share it with everyone. It would be much appreciated
  • Kilroy
    Kilroy Member
    edited May 2018
    Anything new on this?  I ordered a 1.3k-FA which is not due to ship for several months but would like to keep ahead of the game.

    Thanks!
  • Duane_AC5AA
    Duane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Me too, Roger - last I heard was "end of April." A local friend, Bob, W9BF had custom cables made up, but they didn't work out for him. He ended up using DDUtil and a much simpler cable. Maybe he'll respond with specifics.
  • Larry _ NY8T
    Larry _ NY8T Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018

    You can get the cables you need here and you will still need DDUTIL.

    http://expertlinears.com/

    ORDER YOUR CABLES
    Contact Dan Tassel, KC5PCB
    [email protected]

    Dan Tassel, a Licensed Ham for over 20 years, is highly qualified to manufacture cables to be used with the SPE Linear Amplifiers. His experience spans a 33-year career involving many aspects of communication equipment. Dan will personally answer any questions to personalize your cable needs. — [email protected]

  • Duane_AC5AA
    Duane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited May 2018
    You might want to wait on the cables until Dan has a chance to actually try themout on a 1.3k-FA. The ones BF got didn't work correctly - at least, not in his setup. I ordered a set too, but I have no way of knowing whether they will work until my amp arrives.
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    There is a complete description of everything you need on

    https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/spe-expert-amp-support-ddutil-v32200-available

    You definitely need to use DDUTIL which also provides a much better alternative to the SPE 1.3_Term Program

    Details of the cables and everything else is at:

    http://k5fr.com/DDUtilV3wiki/index.php?title=SPE_1.3/2K

    It's very easy to make your own cable.

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