Welcome to the new FlexRadio Community! Please review the new Community Rules and other important new Community information on the Message Board.
If you are having a problem, please check the Help Center for known solutions.
Need technical support from FlexRadio? It's as simple as Creating a HelpDesk ticket.

No direct connect for Amplifiers and other devices

Dennis Daniel KM6DF
Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
edited April 2019 in FLEX-6000 Signature Series
I have one of the first 6500s and have enjoyed it everyday it is an outstanding radio. I have not had any of the issues I see posted. I am some what old fashion have enjoyed using all of the digital mods with a signalink USB with no problems. I tried the dax setups and fine them unstable and unreliable as they interface with other sofware platforms. I also have used DDU to interface with my ALS1306 and KPA500 again it works but not reliable. My question is why is there not a hard wire connection for amplafiers and other devices the other radio manufactures offer I would think this would be somthing standard. Again I have enjoyed all of my Flex Radios from the 1500 through the 5000 and now the 6500.  I don't understand the reasoning why this feature is not offered and you must use 3 party interfacing software.  
«1

Answers

  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Hi Dennis,
    See this post below for some of the background and discussion on options and plans

    https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/band_data-3xef1?topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bfi...

    I think the short answer on why it hasn't been done yet is that DDUtil does such a good job it is not high on the list of priorities.   There are some new SO2R and amplifier options coming for the 6xxx radios which could be another reason.  Not much detail on them yet but expect it will be coming this year. 

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
    6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.21.77
    SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.21.159
    Win10.  

  • Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB
    Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    OK  How about this scenario....Maestro Flex 6000 and Amp only.  This could be possible real soon.  I would really like to be able to control my amp straight from the radio and not have to add another piece of hardware.  I also do not want to have to buy another amp just to be able to talk over the network to get band data.
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Hi Lawrence, Does your amp support auto frequency sensing from the RF? If so, that may be an option for you. Many of us prefer the amp to be sent frequency data prior to transmitting or have other peripheral devices (like antenna switches, etc) that need the frequency data. In that case we need to use a PC and a tool like DDUtil. As noted above there is not currently a solution to get the band data from the radio and send it directly to an amp, antenna switch, SteppIR antenna, etc. Maybe some day..... Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
  • Dennis Daniel KM6DF
    Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    I also ordered the Maestro and so far it looks like if i what to use the amp I need to stay in the shack. That is another reason I asked the question. I wish they would rethink the priorities. To have band switching capability and Amp control would be a huge marking item.  
  • Dennis Daniel KM6DF
    Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    Al thanks for the comment and you listed all the reasons way it should have been a standard feature with a higher priority. DDU is great software but not a solution for most.
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Dennis,
    You can still roam with Maestro and the PC in the shack would just be used to control the peripherals.   Assumes you need DDUtil to control your peripherals.   You could initially use Maestro anywhere you can access your LAN.  And eventually when V2.x is out, anywhere with WAN access.    

    Here is a diagram I made a while back to illustrate how you would still need to use DDUtil in the shack to control the peripherals when V2.x is out.   It also points out the if you want to run CW Skimmer you also need a laptop along side your Maestro.   I was trying to see if this was an accurate representation and it was confirmed. 

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
    6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.21.77
    SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.21.159
    Win10


    V2.x WAN access using Maestro and a PC in the shack to control the peripherals.
    V1.x would be similar but Maestro would access the LAN side.   
    image




  • W9OY
    W9OY Alpha Team Member ✭✭
    edited March 2016
    So what is standard?  Is Icom standard?  Is Elecraft standard?  Is Yaesu standard?  Is Acom standard?  What about Amps no longer manufactured like some Alphas?  If you look at DDUTIL it interfaces 7 amps and there are others out there beside those 7.  Do Icom radios give any band data except for Icom amps?  Does Elecraft radios give any band data except for Elecraft?  Does the ALS1306 use different data I/O than the ALS1300?  Does Ameritron sell a 1306 cable for Flex?  So why should Flex waste its time on this project when no other manufacturer does?  Maybe you could go around and force all of those manufacturers to standardize and then maybe Flex would be interested in creating your universal interface.   It could be done using an Arduino as a networked client to the radio and have the arduino output customized data for each amp, so maybe you want to take on that project.   

    73  W9OY
  • Steve (N9SKM)
    Steve (N9SKM) Member
    edited May 2016
    Am I the only one that fires up my amp for big pileups hihi? I can understand the want for the band data but a lot of us still have amps that require band selection and tuning so I suppose I can understand why it isn't at the top of the list considering FRS figures its hooked up to a networked computer that can do that stuff with DDUtil
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Hi Lee, Agree, a solution I called "DDUTil in a box" is one that has been discussed in the thread posted above. It would avoid coding all of the legacy protocols in the radio. It could be an FRS effort, a third party effort, or a joint effort. Again, DDUtil works so well that there has not been a lot of interest in taking this on. At least not for a commercially available product. As far as I know. Maybe there is something in the works that has not been announced....... Eventually I think network connected peripherals will be more common, so it makes sense to keep the legacy support separate from the core FRS code. Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
  • W9OY
    W9OY Alpha Team Member ✭✭
    edited March 2016
    Al

    I tend to be against including things in the radio that can better be done outside the radio.  It seems a very nice and tidy solution, but there is only so much processor power and memory in the radio and I want my radio doing radio things like QSK and noise blanking and not a lot of things like trying to parse which friggin amp protocol is needed.  You can tell from all of the work that went into "profiles" setting up an interface between large numbers of customer based uses and the radio is not trivial.  Even for profiles I tend to use FRStack because I can have a custom set of FRStack profiles for each remote site I use as well as a custom set of DDUTIL macros at each remote site, and I can back those up to the cloud for easy reload anywhere in the world.  I'm on the alpha team and sometimes have to do a complete factory reset in testing the new software and I think I'd rather shoot myself in the head than have to set up new profiles for every thing when I do a reset.

    The Arduino solution would allow an interface custom to what ever amp you own and would connect to the radio through the API so its performance hit would be virtually zero and its ability to be expanded to other aspects of station control like antenna switches rotor and tower control would be better.  You can buy an Arduino and ethernet adapter for like 10 bux and I think Enzo IW7DMH already has the libraries to pick up the band data and talk to the API over ethernet so a lot of the work is already done.   

    73  W9OY
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Lee, I think we are both saying the same thing.... Rather than building a dedicated controller, I'd prefer to buy a supported device. And I suspect that anyone considering the effort would want to clearly understand the FRS position and strategy. In the past Steve indicated they had a plan to provide band data but I haven't seen any further updates. It would be great to be able to buy a supported "ddutil in a box" controller. For a few hundred dollars. Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
  • Randy Diddel
    Randy Diddel Member
    edited March 2017
    I too am for data directly out of the radio.  There are two USB ports.  Send Kenwood (or any other) protocol out of one to a FTDI chipset equipped USB to serial. I use DDUtil and I admire the loyalty to it by the users of it. As a Systems/IT guy, I view DDUtil as another point of failure.  The only purpose DDUtil serves me is to control my SteppIR BigIR.  I really only need Kenwood data out and SSDR and it would be rock solid. I like the KISS (Keep It Simple ****) method in IT-more software equals more points of failure. If my wish were true, it could be me and my Maestro (if it ever comes) anywhere I want to be without having a computer running 100% of the time in the shack only performing DDUtil functions.
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Hi Randy, I also think the requirement to have a Windows PC running DDUtil just to interface to the various peripherals is overkill and a point of failure. On the other hand embedding all of the protocols in the radio and providing the various hardware interfaces needed is not the best solution. DDUtil does support both today and if you are using a PC anyway, it is a good solution. A dedicated controller that communicate s with the radio via the api and ethernet would be the better solution in my opinion. It could have a web based interface for setup and still avoid the complexities of a Windows based platform. It should be reliable and not need attention once set up for your shack. It should have the flexibility to support many of the amps, antenna switches, antennas like SteppIRs, etc. It should have a number of hardware interfaces (serial, civ, usb, bcd, etc). It should be a commercially supported product. The big question is can someone produce this product at a price point that is reasonable and still profitable. Good thoughts and discussion.....hopefully we'll see something to address this need some day. Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
  • NJDXA ORG
    NJDXA ORG Member
    edited March 2016

    I personally like the DDUtil solution since it incorporates the Auto Drive control which can limit drive power into the amp when the amp is in operate and then set radio back to 100 watts when amp is in standby. It also integrates to my PalStar AT-Auto tuner, Power Master II wattmeter, Genovation keypad, and Flex Control knob. DDUtil also has a Ham Radio Deluxe IP server built in so I can run HRD logbook and DM 780 without having to run the main HRD program.

    If you only want basic Kenwood CAT protocol out to the amp then a small Windows based PC on the network can have SmartSDR CAT installed and be dedicated to interfacing to your amp or other peripherals directly without the need of DDUtil. In the CMOS setup of the small PC you can set it to power up after loss of power in case you have power failues when away from home. This small PC can be done fairly inexpensive. SmartSDR Cat 1.6 now allows connection direct to external COM ports.



  • IW7DMH, Enzo
    IW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited January 2017
    Best solution would be a "DDUTIL in the BOX" (we already talked about this issue, some weeks ago).
    I have already developed a small pc-less band decoder that deploy two physical CAT ports. It works very well but you have great limitations if your plan to use your power amplifier from remote lan. At the moment my device can't sent back the amplifiers data so you can't see what is happening inside it.
    Btw, I am confident that Flex designers will address this issue like they have done with the Maestro. Let's give them the time to do it

    73' Enzo
    iw7dmh

    Edit: "DDUtil in A box" could be a Raspberry PI 3 running Windows IoT. It seems it is available in the Microsoft store. In Italy we would have said "Se Maometto non va alla montagna, la mantagna va da Maometto" :)


  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Enzo, have you ordered your Pine64?
  • IW7DMH, Enzo
    IW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Still haven't, Walt
    I would like to give a chance to Raspberry PI 3 and QT programming.
    Converting my Arduino code to Standard ANSI C++ should be a two weekend matter. But I am not really convinced. Windows is there and the official libraries should be the far better choice.

    73' Enzo
    iw7dmh

  • W9OY
    W9OY Alpha Team Member ✭✭
    edited March 2016
    I have a als1300 and use yaesu bcd. If you tie up all the pins with bcd where are you going to send pre-distortion i/o? 73 W9OY
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I'm not even sure how that works anyways,,would it need it the pin?
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Correct me if I'm wrong but the USB port is currently unused.
  • Steve K9ZW
    Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017

    Wondering with the report of reliability issues with DAX and DDUTIL, and difficulties with other software issues also get mentioned, if Dennis could be suffering from PC based hardware/software grief?

    Wondering if Dennis would be able to give a bit more detail on his setup, operating system, SmartSDR/DDUTIL versions and software? And maybe share a couple screen shots of what happens when it breaks down on his system?

    Could help the community members to be more helpful knowing a bit more.

    73

    Steve K9ZW


  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited April 2017
    I personally have not had a burp with ddutil driving my hardware.  Its a rather remarkable application.
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    @Dennis

    I run remote a great deal of the time and have been doing so for years

    DDUTIL and DAX are both reliable and very stable I have complete remote control of my SPE 2K-FA amp, SteppIR MonstIR, Yaesu GS2800 rotor, 2 Wavenode Wattmeters, Genovation keypad, LP-100A wattmeter , remote power switches, antenna switches, etc.

    Yes I have a dedicated PC but it also doubles as a SoftEther VPN server

    Yes the PC could be a potential point of failure but with remote reboot I've had hundreds if not thousands of hours of reliable operations while Remoting from 27 different countries

    SO PERHAPS YOU HAVE SOME SETUP ISSUES IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING UNRELIABILITY/

    We would be happy to help fix them
  • W9OY
    W9OY Alpha Team Member ✭✭
    edited March 2016
    Howard's experience mirrors mine.  DDUTIL is totally reliable.  I have a $100 Atom quad core with windows 10, running headless to run DDUTIL in the shack, to control amps, antenna switching etc.  If the power goes down the thing automatically reboots itself.  I also run a couple of terabytes of storage off the Atom as a backup/file server.  Once I had a failure of my main shack computer so I just plugged in a monitor and my logitech wireless dongle to the Atom, downloaded SSDR and never missed a beat until I could rebuild my shack computer.  Rather than a point of failure it provides a layer of robustness and versatility to my station.   I bought a generic version from Ali-express which has a few more ports, but here is an example of what I am talking about:

    http://www.neweggbusiness.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9B-83-798-517&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleBiz-PC&...

    DDUTIL also can be run on a remote computer along side the version running on the Atom.  The Atom's DDUTIL does the switching and the remote runs my macros.  Since each DDUTIL has its own IP the radio cares less which version is addressing it.  The Atom uses about 3 watts and is fanless so the power hit is virtually nothing and the resource hit to the radio is also nothing.

    73  W9OY
  • W9OY
    W9OY Alpha Team Member ✭✭
    edited March 2016
    I think eventually it will be implemented but it may look different from the HPSDR implementation.  My experience is it makes the most difference when trying to copy really weak near the noise level ssb signals.  I heard one guy using it and "off" was completely uncopiable with it "on" he was Q5 and he was at best 3 dB out of the noise on 75M.  I was pretty impressed.  It was a result I was not expecting.  I'm not sure USB and the associated hardware overhead would be fast enough for this. 

    I ordered a RPi 3 to give win 10 IoT a whirl and see if its stable enough create a cheap I/O dongle

    73  W9OY
  • Dennis Daniel KM6DF
    Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    This has been a great conversation. and we learn a lot from each others comments. To be clear I don't have any problem with DDU it has worked fine for my needs and it's a great add on to SmartSDR. But not everyone has the same level of computer knowledge or need. In the conversation there is both hardware and software needed solutions for different levels of operators. I see the Flex staff working on making a SDR radio that is becoming more and more plug and play as more and more people see the value in the system. Adding the basic Cat Protocols makes it more plug and play it would become more marketable to a larger group. Those of us who like to work through layers of software to make their systems do what they want, have DDU. Those who have a simple setup and would like the convenience of their peripheral equipment follow their radio don't really have anything and it is very frustrating. There should be no need to buy a dedicated computers setup VPNs and other high end systems to get what they need. We are losing large numbers of possible SDR people because of the unnecessary complexity.  I would like us to continue the dialogue but to remember your level of expertise may be much higher then others.  But some of us would like the simpler way of doing some not all of the same things. I would like to hear from the Flex Staff on this issue.

    Please again keep this conversation going and thank you, this is a great group.
    Dennis KM6DF               
  • IW7DMH, Enzo
    IW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    .... But not everyone has the same level of computer knowledge or need ...

    Yes! I agree 100%.
    The key point actually is how "dumb" should be the additional device (where devices is SW+HW togheter).
    After Maestro we could use our Flex without SSDR installation and without the PC (probably none will do it, but it'll be possible).
    It is desiderable it'll happen the same for rig integration features.

    73'
    Enzo
  • Steve K9ZW
    Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited November 2016

    @Dennis KM6DF  - It is the nature of the beast to face the woes of the partner-in-the-shack -- the Computer. 

    If that partner is a mess, underspec, overtasked with other things, or just has a bad case of Window's foibles it is an issue.

    Resolution options are:


    • a dedicated computer, perhaps even one of the FlexReady preconfigured computers

    • using a Mac/OSX machine with DogparkSDR (or with Windows emulated)

    • using an iOS iPad with K6TU's software

    • or as Enzo mentions soon you will be able to front your Flex-6x00 with a Maestro


    A very large part of what gets all of us messed up is the part of the infrastructure dictated to us by the Computer. 

    FRS might consider a configuration wizard that only takes care of FRS's needs, but how many of us have other things  hanging off or loaded into our shack computers that would be adversely impacted?

    @FRS - Perhaps a future plan to empower/endorsed helpful hams with known skills to help out hams struggling with the machine/operating system aspects of the ecology of a modern SDR would be helpful?  These volunteers might successfully complete a basic online class after an interview (phone?) before being added to a list?

    All best and 73,

    Steve K9ZW

  • Dennis Daniel KM6DF
    Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
    I am sorry but I cant let this go. We have not heard from any flex staff on this question. This is very frustrating that they don't see this as a need to their customers or respond to the question. Again I do not see any reason to use layers of software to get the simple things to work. Is their a plan in the future if not it would be good to know for the community. I have spent the last several weeks working with DDU and Steve has done a great job but it is not the answer to what many would like. Flex is advertised as the state of the art however it can't control peripheral equipment like the other manufacture can. Again Flex staff please respond to this question.

    73's Dennis KM6DF
  • Dennis Daniel KM6DF
    Dennis Daniel KM6DF Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Please un-post as answered it as not been answered !!!
    Dennis KM6DF 

Leave a Comment

Rich Text Editor. To edit a paragraph's style, hit tab to get to the paragraph menu. From there you will be able to pick one style. Nothing defaults to paragraph. An inline formatting menu will show up when you select text. Hit tab to get into that menu. Some elements, such as rich link embeds, images, loading indicators, and error messages may get inserted into the editor. You may navigate to these using the arrow keys inside of the editor and delete them with the delete or backspace key.