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Suggestion for Contest Focused SmartSDR v1.6

Steve K9ZW
Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
edited June 2020 in New Ideas

Have some suggestions for the upcoming Contest Focused SmartSDR v1.6

It is pretty apparent there are varying levels of personal ability to perform well in contests, the various contest types require differing resources at the station & operator level and many of us hope to learn to be better contesters.

Could the upcoming v1.6 Contest SmartSDR be configurable with a separate Contesting Profile?

Basically a way to store sets of present for only the contest specific configuration selections in SmartSDR, perhaps ranging from "No Contest" to typical configurations for various modes/contests. 

Second suggestion is could those contest modes include a notes field that would display until release when the mode is selected?  Idea being is that the particular operator/station's checklist of shack configuration changes to go to a specific contest mode would be displayed until released as a reminder to do the steps the operator had recorded. 

I had some further thoughts on how to reflect Maestro presence for contest modes, and ditto with the SO2R Board. 


73

Steve

K9ZW


«1

Comments

  • Peter K1PGV
    Peter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited June 2020
    I know this is tangential to this thread, but I'm wondering why Contesting gets so much attention recently from our friends at Flex. A V1.6 "contest-focused" release;  Maestro with a "contest optimized flow".

    It can't be that it's that big a market.  Or IS it?  Or is it so Flex can say in their ads "<station-xyz> won <major-contest> using the Flex-6700... so if it's good enough for THAT, it'll be great for your weekly 40M sched."

    Really... I'm curious.

    Peter
    K1PGV
  • AE0MW
    AE0MW Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    ^^ This. Clicking Like just wasn't enough.

    Using the last version of NaP3 with this feature was one of those revolutionary moments in what SDR could become. It's too bad the author threw a temper tantrum and deleted everything. He really did quite a nice job of implementing the feature.

    I don't personally see it as a hardcore contester function, but for my operating style it would be fantastic.

  • Peter K1PGV
    Peter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016

    Though it *would* probably be a killer feature for Flex to implement... regardless of whether it's related to contesting.  It would certainly be a nice point of differentiation.

    There's more effort in identifying spot source(s) and filtering them for the content of interest, than there is to drawing the callsign on the display.  And if you don't get the front-end stuff right, you're not going to make people happy.  None of it's hard, it's just fussy work.

    And, since the vast majority of the work (the retrieval of spots and filtering as described above) would want to be done off-radio, it probably makes more sense for somebody just to write an add-on that adds spots to the panadapter display... as opposed to having Flex build it into the radio.

    Peter
    K1PGV

  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    Winning Contests is like winning car races. It stresses the technology to the ultimate ELECRAFT's entir business model focused their K3 boxes around winning contests and their sales refect the fact. For Flex to be taken seriously they need to win major contests. Until,they do, Flex SDR's will be considered to be a nice experimenters and hobbyists toy but not ready for prime time. Our Contest Station has a number of K3S but only my 6700... My partners let me use it for S&P but are too traditional to let me use such an unproven radio as the major run radios. If FLex wins some major contests. There is no doubt we will dump the K3 for the BEST radio. hEnce the contest focus of Flex.
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited September 2015
    NaP3's Integrated Spots display was brilliant. It much increased the S&P rate of the K3. Much easier to use than a separate band map.
  • Bob N7ZO
    Bob N7ZO Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    A spot dedicated product such as DXLab's SpotCollector does all the hard work.  It collects spots from many sources and has an extensive set of filters that can applied to the incoming data.  If SSDR could take a feed from a product such as SpotCollector, then the remaining work is mostly display related.

    73, Bob, N7ZO
  • AE0MW
    AE0MW Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I see it as the next logical step. I think this will be an unpopular opinion but the number of features that Flex hasn't yet implemented that matter to rag chewers and casual operators is (finally!) dwindling quickly; they are really close to the 90% market rule where they have everything that 90% of that market segment will want.

    It's important to note that a lot of the things that these top DXers want are really good for us more casual operators too. I attended, for the first time, Contest University before Dayton this year and I took a lot back from that even though I'm very unlikely to ever be a top contest station. For instance their near rabid focus on ergonomics has lessons for us all.

    It may be time for Flex to open up new market segments, both for prestige and because the amount of casuals willing to spend $4300/7500 on a radio is a very small part of an already small market.

    Also there are some really fantastic marketing opportunities, Yaesu rode their "Choice of the Worlds Top DXers" campaign for a very long time, and Elecraft has, imo, done fantastic with their "The radio at both ends of the DXpedition" campaign. I don't personally ever see Flex radios going on DXPeditions (please don't point out how wrong I am) due to the added complexity, but they could easily carve out a huge portion of the Superstation and Top DXer market if they start racking up contest wins.
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited September 2015
    Peter What you are talking about already exists as SEPARATE band map spot displays in N1MM+ and Writelog. The issue is that they are SEPARATED. So you need to Mouse over to them which slows down rate. With NaP3 they were integrated into the pan adapter and waterfall so you could not only SEE the call but also get a very good idea as to how strong they were and when they were transmitting. Bottom Line. Integrated results in a much faster rate.
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Integrated spots would be great for Contesters and DXers.  Done right it could also utilize CW skimmer for the CW OPs when in CW mode.   

    Here are two of the "ideas" that have been suggested.   It looks like these ideas are still open for new comments, suggestions and votes.  

    https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/pfskimer_what_is_the_possibility_for_a_smartsdr_dis...

    https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/feature_request_spots_integrated_into_the_spectrum_...

    Given how SSDR works, it would not be feasible for a third party to add the spots so if it's going to happen FRS will have to do it.

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
    6700 - HW V 1.5.0.65
    SSDR V 1.5.0.145
    Win10


  • Sergey R5AU
    Sergey R5AU Sergey Member ✭✭
    edited September 2015
    Al , this is most wanted feature, however callsigns better place in horizontal position somehow 
  • Peter K1PGV
    Peter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Yes, I totally get that Howard, but thanks for taking the time to clarify. 

    What I'm saying is that you can write a separate program today that puts the spots at the right place on the panadapter so that they appear to be integrated on the display. The separate program simply tracks the size, location, and parameters of the panadapter display. The program locates a transparent window over part of the PSDR display, and uses this for displaying its spots.  If done sufficiently well, you wouldn't even be able to tell that there were two programs running.

    I'm not saying it's trivial to do this, but I'm saying it's very much within the realm of possibility in software.  Even I, with my poor GUI software development capabilities, have done similar things.

    Peter
    K1PGV

  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited September 2015
    @Peter I posed your approach to the development team a while ago. The issue was that the display is inside the radio and there is no API to allow you to insert external data such as spots into the display. Hence Flex needs to do It.
  • Peter K1PGV
    Peter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    If you read my previous reply carefully, you'll note that I'm not talking about inserting external data into the display.

    Rather, a separate program creates a transparent overlay on a higher Z-Axis than the existing PSDR panadapter, and draws the spots on this display. If done well, this will be indistinguishable from the data that's drawn within PSDR,  So, the result is it LOOKS like the spots are on the pandapter display, but they're drawn by a separate program.

    Trust me on this one, Howard...  I write software for a living.  I *assure* you this is possible.  As I said previously, it is not trivially possible.  But it is definitely possible with no changes to the PSDR interface and no changes to PSDR itself.

    Peter
    K1PGV

  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    @Peter, I think it's all about positioning against your perceived competition. Personally I think this is a bad approach as,in the universe of Amateur Radio operators, serious contesters are in an incredibly small minority. So I am guessing it's strictly bragging rights. Someone with an antenna at 15, 30, even 60 feet is never going to win,show,or place. Of course the people that do compete with each other for win or place honors likely have the seed money to help fund the effort. As Howard so often says, 'win at all costs', and those select free have the money to invest in the effort. If you're into sailing, think America's Cup.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I disagree Howard. Elecraft K-line does well in that segment as they are outstanding radio's. They popularity is well beyond those idle rich contesters. Howard your ham radio world (,contesting) revolves around a hand full of people. Elecraft is positioning itself to appeal to the 2 million operators rather than the couple hundred. Stresses the technology? Me thinks you are given to hyperbole. It stress the operator.
  • IW7DMH, Enzo
    IW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited January 2017
    My #1 Contest Request

    SPOTS INTEGRATED DIRECTLY INTO SPECTRUM DISPLAY

    Yes!!! it could be the best improvement in SSDR gui.
    I use the small DUO on vacancy and mobile and I think that spots integrated into spectrum display are a great help also in expeditions and field day activities.
    Horizontal position is the best pattern, as you can see in this picture.

    image
     
    I hope, also, that Flex one day would consider the idea to open a part of SSDR gui and give opportunity to develop components inside SSDR.
    At the moment it doesn't make sense, for me, developing an external program that print the same SSDR spectrum and just adds spots to it.

    73' Enzo
    iw7dmh

  • Greg
    Greg Member ✭✭
    edited September 2015
    But its not always about winning on a national or world level.  I mostly enjoyed competing at a regional level (keeping up with K7RL is tough), or club members with similar station configurations.  Never had delusions of keeping up with rich contesters with multiple 100 ft towers each with stacked arrays.  Its just not going to happen.  That does not mean there are not other "levels" of competing.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Greg, I don't disagree with you but is that why you bought the radio you did, or do you enter contests to unwind on a weekend. And maybe do better than 'the other guy'?
  • Charles - K5UA
    Charles - K5UA Member ✭✭
    edited July 2018
    Technoogical advances from competitive events, like racing, the space race, war, all trickle down to the less competitive world. Don't dismiss competitive contesting, it is the crucible from which so many of the great advances in our wonderful hobby are forged.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    @Howard, why not just 'dump the K3', after all, you claim the K3 is deaf and the inferior rig. Just do it.
  • Greg
    Greg Member ✭✭
    edited September 2015
    Actually...right now I don't have any radio... :)  But.....thinking about getting back into it.  When I had the 6700 it was because I thought it would help be as competitive as I could afford within my available resources.  But at the time I could not push the envelope with it because of the noise blanker and all the horse fencing around me (including mine). :) 

    Considering looking for a deal on a 6300 and will get he Maestro to go along with it.



  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Like what? I know IBM's SDLC ultimately came out of Amateur Radio. I know of nothing that came out of CQWW or November Sweepstakes. I am not being sarcastic. In the world of sailboat racing much comes out of that which isbput back into sailboat design. But, while I agree on wars and auto racing, and things mechanical, I am at a loss for to understand the radiosport comparison.
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Hi Sergey,
    The integrated spots idea has 19 votes (so far) and the number 1 idea has 56 votes so it would take another 38 votes to move the integrated spots idea to number 1 on the list.   Voting was disabled on this idea for a while but it is now active again so maybe the numbers will grow.   

    https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/pfskimer_what_is_the_possibility_for_a_smartsdr_dis...

    Here are two example of spot display options - one is horizontal and the other vertical.  In a crowded pileup or band the horizontal display is hard (maybe impossible) to read.  The vertical format remains readable.  

    Horizontal - spots overwrite
    image

    Vertical - spots spread out with lines pointing to the dots and remain readable
    image 

    Maybe there are other options for horizontal that would be more readable and could be mocked up.....

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
    6700 - HW V 1.5.0.65
    SSDR V 1.5.0.145
    Win10

  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited January 2017
    It wasn't until I reread what Peter said that it hit me. Don't add contesting functionality to ssdr, write a separate 'contest specific' app. If that isn't what he meant, consider it my suggestion. SSDR is already too monolithic.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2018
    Tim mentioned the DX version is under way already. I think Flex already has a clear idea about what they plan on doing for the next release. And they are talking to some of the world DX heavy weights for input. It will be interesting. I have been wondering the same thing as Peter. Flex has sure been working hard to make the Flex tops in contesting. As for the casual ham, I can't think of anything missing that most every one needs. It seems to be a complete radio.
  • George KF2T
    George KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Just my two cents...

    As with most things, it's not really the technology. The 6000 platform has already shown great ability, and helps folks win contests, work DX, and shoot the breeze on a score of modes and bands.

    It's the user experience, the ergonomics and the interface that sets the truly great ideas apart. Optimizing SSDR for enhanced rate and flexibility, by whatever means, will be of great value to a lot of non-contest users, too. 

    Consider that skills for contesting & DX also play well in public safety communications. Optimized workflows will help all of those operators. A streamlined application will also help visually challenged hams and those that just don't need every function "right there."

    UI work would no doubt be a great benefit for version 2.0's introduction of WAN connectivity, too. Faster response, less clutter, more intuitive operation on multiple fronts.

    Bring it!


  • IW7DMH, Enzo
    IW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Hello Walt,

    can you clarify your thought about "SSDR is already too monolithic."?
    I appreciate a lot your judgement.

    73' Enzo



  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    @Walt Most of the things hams now take for granted came from the contesting world Automated logging,, Keyers. Spots. Automatic everything such as rotors, antenna. Switches my etcm etc. Basically anything you think of that makes your life easier started with contesters so that they could,increase their rates. Perhaps they needed to include a label "Invented by Contesting" so that you,would not forget where it came from. BTW. When I don't work as part of the NX6T contest station it's just a lot of fun to win #1 in San Diego ARR L Section where I have to just compete against others in the San Diego DX Club. It can be quite a challenge for me because my location while I usually win Win ASIA Pacific does not favor the East or Europe.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    thank you for that Enzo, sure, be happy to. There was an old saying here that isn't heard to much anymore. I've forgotten the first part but it ends with "including the kitchen sink", "10 pounds of whatever, stuffed into a 5 pound bag". In software the goal of a class is to do one thing and do it very well. Often, with inexperienced programmers, while they understand using a class someone else provided, they tend to mix multiple objects into one class. spoiler alert, I am about to switch metaphors. Another example is Microsoft Word, which is the poster child for this syndrome, "20% of the features are used 80% of the time. And the corollary is "80% of the functionality is only used 20% of the time". The danger of adding more and more functionality into any given program is that it makes the program unwielding.  In other words, it becomes too difficult for 80% of the users to use it. When I say too difficult I mean too unpleasant. From many conversations I've had with Howard, the things that might appeal to a contester just get in the way of the guy who wants to work dx or ragchew. I don't want to put words in Stu's mouth but I believe the use case of his first app was for contesting not ragchewing. That was the correct approach. There was talk here comparing a formula one race car, not specifically formula one, but a car designed to win road races or track races (which are two different use cases) to street cars. A suspension designed for a race car does not work well on a street car. A car engine designed to run between 150 and 250 mph for hours on end is not the same as a car to commute to / from work with. For a 'contesting' radio control surface, make it a different application. One of the other things I had in mind when I said monolithic was SSDR is a single window. That, IMHO, is ludicrous in this day and age. But it is sort of knee **** as that is how 'most apps are'. IMHO every Panadapter should be it's own window. It's not hard to do. I tried using CW Skimmer for awhile. The experience was awful. It was a completely TOO busy UI and most all of the dechiphered callsigns were garbled and nonsensical. I don't think the state of the art dechipering CW is very far along. My point is it is way too busy. I'd hate to see FRS try to put 10lbs into the proverbial 5lb bag. A lot of the information pro/con I get about SSDR doesn't come from this site, for obvious reasons...may some are less obvious. But there seems to be a recurring theme, the control surface is WAY too busy and WAY too unintuitive. I'd really like to see FRS address that not pile on more controls into an already overcrowded window.

    Some will attack as "well that's just your opinion". Yep, it is, But I did this professionally for over 40 years and, well, some of it stuck. What I did with XPSSDR is most of the controls are not visible. And those things you use all the time are visible all the time..The goal is to reduce operator fatigue.

    For contesting there should be a contest specific control surface. Absolutely add more classes that reside in flexlib. Just don't stuff all that new stuff into the same appllication 'everyone else' has to use.  That was my point. For those that don't agree...yeah, whatever.

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