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Add an NCDXF Beacon monitor function into SmartSDR

Steve W4YHD
Steve W4YHD Member
edited May 2020 in New Ideas
The NCDXF runs a group of HF beacon transmitters strategically located around the world, transmitting at specific time slots at various power levels.
How about adding a native feature into SmartSDR where the operator could start this "NCDXF Monitor" mode when not in the shack and upon return to the shack, charts or graphs would be available to clearly plot the received signal levels verses time for the bands selected to monitor.
Now the operator would have real time NCDXF monitor history to know what bands are open to what areas of the world at their own home QTH.
Having the NCDXF monitor function available in SmartSDR to "switch ON" with a mouse click when not in the shack would be an easy and unique feature to have available.
The 6700 could run this NCDXF monitor mode continuously in the second receiver section.
The key here are display charts or graphs with signal level received per band verses time in GMT to see clearly what was heard.
An omni vertical antenna would be the preferred receive antenna to use for this monitor mode of course.
Yes, there is a 3rd party program called Faros to do this through a sound card/cat interface.
Flex could do this much better and more conveniently as a built-in native function in SmartSDR with preset filters and other internal receive optimizations.


Comments

  • Cliff
    Cliff Member
    edited February 2017
    Hi Steve,

    I for one like the idea, MacloggerDX has a function but just cycles through them.

    Now I have joined the Flex owners with my own 6500 would think this would be a useful addition.

    Cliff VK2NP

  • Bob N7ZO
    Bob N7ZO Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
    A lot of work went into Faros to make it work as well as it does.  Alex, VE3NEA, is a talented guy, as is demonstrated by his entire DXAtlas suite.  I think it would take FlexRadio a lot of time to match or improve upon Faros's performance.

    73, Bob, N7ZO
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020

    While I have not tried to do it yet, I would think it would be incredibly easy to interface FAROS to DAX and SMARTCAT.   Frankly I am sure someone has already tried this...


    The immediate benefit would be that you would have your beacons now and Flex would not have to waste time and effort programming something that already exists..

  • Bob N7ZO
    Bob N7ZO Member ✭✭
    edited August 2018
    Steve,

    I just realized one of the benefits of your idea.  The Flex 6000 series could monitor all five of the NCDXF bands at once!

    73, Bob, N7ZO
  • Lee - N2LEE
    Lee - N2LEE Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Steve while this is a great idea I am not sure this is something that would be part of Flex's core business. Their business is and should be about building a robust platform that software developers can build on. Plus they have their hands full with SmartSDR.
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited January 2020
    This would be an easy FlexLib API project for someone to do.  Create the panadapters and the slices on the beacon frequencies, use the PC clock for the timing requirement and monitor the slice signal level at the appointed time mark.  If you "hear" a beacon, you could e-mail a band open message to the operator.
  • Steve W6SDM
    Steve W6SDM Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I set this thing up just to see how it worked and I got division by zero errors and a message saying that an outgoing call cannot be made since the application is dispatching an input-synchronous call.

  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    Since this is an Idea post, if you need troubleshooting on a different program, it might be best to start a new question or problem topic for a third-party app.
  • Steve W4YHD
    Steve W4YHD Member
    edited October 2016
    I agree that the Flex radio could indeed use a single slice receiver to monitor all of the NCDXF beacon frequencies (14.1, 18.11, 21.15, 24.93, 28.2 MHz), even though each transmitter location transmits only during its assigned time slot. Flex could do some clever receiver preset that has all of the optimized receiver bandwidths, unique signal processing/averaging used to optimize s/n ratio used only for this application, and measure received power accurately for each Beacon signal.  Then display a chart/graph with rolling last hour GMT time on the X axis, and Beacon callsigns on Y axis, and a continuous color temp signal power plotted on the chart for each received beacon signal versus time.  This would be a "one click" operator mode to run briefly or leave running when not in the shack.  Just a cool idea, with Flex taking care of all the radio settings to optimize receiver performance and received signal power measurement. 

    I can see the contest op's loving this real time received propagation data to know when to concentrate on a particular part of the world, and what band to use, during a contest.


  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020

    This is clearly a 3rd Party Application rather than a function that needs to consume Flex's limited programming resources.  

    There are already excellent tools available in the Flexlib API to accomplish most of this.. it just takes a motivated programmer with a HECK of a lot of time on his hands to program it...

  •   VE6KWA
    VE6KWA Ken Member ✭✭
    edited May 2020
    Wonder if Darrin KE9NS would be interested in moving up a platform. Folks would likely pay for some of his PSDR magic added to the the 6000 series   Or maybe we could chip in and buy him a radio... B)     (sorry PSDR people) 
  • Rick - W5FCX
    Rick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    FAROS works perfectly via CAT and Omnirig. SmartSDR is instantly recognized and DAX audio works just fine.
  • W2ECK
    W2ECK Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019

    Rick - I have used FAROS with my former rig a K3, but now trying to get working with my 6600. Have it set up with DAX Audio and Omni Rig as you say. Faros has CAT control of rig and all indications in Faros are that the program is functioning properly. But when I clearly hear a beacon and see it in the SSDR panadapter- Faros is not recording it as a signal heard. Any ideas on what might be causing this?

    73
    Paul
    w2eck
  • marinesvcs at gmail dot com
    edited January 2020
    Steve - Did you ever get it working?

  • RFord
    RFord RFord - W4RJF Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Rick would you mind sharing your settings...I have used FAROS before on my Icom but I cannot get it to work with the Flex 6500 or the Flex 6600.  I keep getting the following error messages...

    1.  An outgoing call cannot be made since the application is dispatching an input-synchronous call.

    2.  Floating point division by zero.


    Thanks in advance for any assistance...
  • W2ECK
    W2ECK Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Agree- Rick - if you have it working, please share your setup. I still do not have it working properly with my 6600.

    73 
    Paul
  • RFord
    RFord RFord - W4RJF Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I received this reply from Richard Mogford today and wanted to add it to this thread for reference:

    ++++++++
    I too had problems with it until I used the sound out from my 6300 into the line in for the computer.  I found I could not get Faros to work with DAX.

    I used the audio out from the Flex that drives the powered speakers.  I just put Y connector in the line and took one branch to the audio in of the PC.  You then select that audio input in Faros, as I recall.
    ++++++++

    I took this information and connected a cable from my headphone jack on the Flex and connected the other line into the soundcard...made the necessary selection in FAROS and I have it working...Give it a try...

    Best Regards,
    Ronald



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