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SteppIR Transceiver Interface with 6500 - DDUtil Mandatory?

I'm a bit confused about how to interface a SteppIR controller to a Flex 6500.  SteppIR sells a "Transceiver Interface" and cable to connect the SDA-100 to the rig.  If I understand correctly, the 6500 is able to send data such as frequency info out the ports in the back, so it would seem that this would be an easy setup, rig to controller.
But, in searching through the forums for information, I note that they all seem to mention use of the DDUtil software, which appears to be a third-party add-on.
Wouldn't use of the DDUtil software just add an unnecessary intermediate step to the process?  It seems far more complicated to output data from the rig to a computer, then process it through a non-OEM software solution, then back out to the SteppIR controller.  Is the SteppIR controller's Transceiver Interface unable to directly work with data coming out of the rig itself?
Or, is it possible that DDUtil is being used an alternative solution, i.e. does it provide a way to send data into the controller without purchasing the Transceiver Interface?  This does not seem likely, as hams who spend the money for a Flex and SteppIR probably are not overwhelmed by a $99 option.
Thanks in advance for any comments - I am considering purchasing a SteppIR but want to make sure I know what is and is not possible with regards to automation.  I previously owned one but it had an older model controller and I never needed to automate it.

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Answers

  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited March 2017

    All this CAT stuff is confusing because there are thousands of words and no diagrams. One needs a USB to RS232 cable to connect between the computer and the serial input of the SDA100 interface.


    Jim, K6QE

  • Peter K1PGVPeter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited June 23
    The Flex 6000 series radios do not currently send band data from the radios. Thus, the only way to do band selection is using DDUTIL or so,e other, similar, software interface. Peter K1PGV
  • edited August 2016
    Thank you Peter, I guess I assumed that there must be a band data without carefully reading the purpose of the accessory port pin-outs in the hardware manual.  All other modern rigs I've used have band data outputs.
    So it's sounding like the SteppIR controller transceiver interface may still be a necessity but not the SteppIR S12 cable, but instead a cable to connect the computer to a serial port on the interface.
    This is relevant to another project I've been planning, to build an auto-tuner for a magnetic loop similar to one described last year in QEX.  It's good that I can obtain frequency info somehow, but I'd prefer to get it straight from the rig without being dependent on another piece of software.
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2019

    Kieth

    To amplify Peter's comments...

    I have been using a SteppIR with my Flex's for many years now.. You must use the SDA-100, a Serial Cable and DDUTIL

    DDUTIL is a SUPERIOR Computer Interface that just plain DUMB Band Data that you get from other radios.  It gives u a GUI interface to Home, 3/4, Reverse and Forward your antenna.. It also gives you a Transmit Inhibit function so that you do not accidentally transmit while your SteppIR is tuning.

  • km9r.mikekm9r.mike Member
    edited August 2016
    @ Howard, you touched on this awhile back but to get a little more info from you while you are on the subject of steppir, if I tuned say your steppir on 14.050 and enabled the stop auto tune feature, would the antenna's swr be reasonable from say 14.000 to 14.100 ?
  • W7NGAW7NGA Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I agree. Some hams enjoy the DIY aspect of the hobby and want to easily interface their Flex to an Arduino or other controller for home-brew projects or as an alternative to commercial equipment. The I2C bus is available. I would like to see a specification and data proffered. 

    W7NGA
    Aveiro, Portugal
  • Steve G1XOWSteve G1XOW Member
    edited May 16
    Keith,

    This functionality doesn't yet exist inside the Flex SSDR software. The basic band data for such devices should be assumed by default from such a high-end solution as the Flex 6k series, but alas it is missing.

    DDUTIL does add additional nice features such as amp and rotator control so it is worth installing, but if you only wanted simple antenna control from the Flex (plain easy setup) then this will not work the way people expect. The Flex 6k does have USB ports which at the moment do nothing more than power my desk fan.

  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Yes, most definitely ok. In contests, one tunes to the center of the band and always turns off auto tune.
  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Jim  Do you no longer need the 3 wire null modem cable instead of a standard rs232 cable?

  • Tim - W4TMETim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    While correct that the FLEX-6000 hardware does not currently provide band data via a hardware port, there are several methods to get this information via SmartSDR CAT and third-party software packages that provide greater functionality.  To make a general characterization that the functionality is missing from the product is incorrect.
  • Peter K1PGVPeter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited June 23
    Band data directly from a serial or proprietary port on the radio is "old school."  The fact that the I2C port on the back of the radio doesn't provide band data doesn't mean it's not readily available. Just get the data from the network!  That's what DDUTIL does.

    @Keith Here's a thought: For your mag loop auto-tuner project, why not get the band data from the radio via an Ethernet interface?  It's easy and super flexible.  

    In fact, I'm in the process of doing the same sort of thing right now: Building a little box that serves as a frequency-follower and integrated output power controller for the SPE 1K. One port plugs into the network and gets frequency info from the radio, the other port controls the amplifier.  The 7" color display will show band, power, SWR, etc.

    Peter
    K1PGV
  • Bob - W7KWS -Bob - W7KWS - Member ✭✭
    edited February 2018
    The SteppIR "Y" cable & controller doesn't look for "Band" data. It monitors frequency data between a radio and CAT control software that frequently polls the radio. Ham Radio Deluxe is a good example. The last FREE version of HRD works fine controlling a Flex 6xxx, for SteppIR and many other purposes, via two serial ports connected back to back. Add to this the SteppIR "Y" cable and the SteppIR controller will read the data and follow. One of the two serial ports is for SSDR CAT & the other for HRD.

    In the last free version of HRD, select PowerSDR since SSDR isn't listed in this version. This HRD version works fine for frequency data & PowerSDR/Kenwood CAT commands. Most of these commands remain the same for SSDRCAT.
  • k0eook0eoo Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    No, you still need the 3-wire null modem adapter/cable.  DDUtil use to have a diagram of the connection on his web page.  I also notice that Steppir says their "S12" cable will interface between the Flex-Radio and Steppir controller, I don't know if that includes the 6000 series or not... I use DDUtil to interface to all my station peripherals and love it....
  • km9r.mikekm9r.mike Member
    edited August 2016
    Thanks for the insight
  • YV5WZYV5WZ Member
    edited December 2016
    Howard...hello...You know I've been saving to go for 2 or 3 elements StepIr...I understand its " a must" to buy SDA -100  serial cable.....am I right?
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited August 2016

    yes... you need a serial NULL MODEM CABLE

    But you can easily build one yourself


    image
  • W4TEW4TE Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Howard,  

    Your summary is perfect.  It took me a while to figure this out when integrating my SteppIR SDA100 with my new Flex 6700.  I could not find the solution on the SteppIR site nor here.  I am a new user and now have all accessories, Elecraft KPA500, Elecraft KAT500, Green Heron rotor, and SDA100 working with Flex through DDUTIL.
  • YV5WZYV5WZ Member
    edited December 2016
    Thanks Howard!!!.....I appreciate your excellent comments ....Hope to hear you on bands...

    Greetings from Venezuela

    George, YV5WZ / PY3ZZZ 
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited August 2016

    Always glad to be of assistance..

    Hope to work all you guys on the bands...

  • JPPRITCHARDJPPRITCHARD Member, Unconfirmed
    I currently use the S12 cable between 6400 and SDA-100 and it successfully empowers autotrack. Works perfectly, but not when I go remote with my ipad there's no more Autotrack. Any thoughts on that?
    I am willing to go the DDUTIL route, but for the life of me I can't sort out all the different versions of how to implement it I've read on these forums. Serial cable connecting exactly where to where, null modem cable connecting what to what? Is the S12 cable useful in that setup? I am new to Flex, so some very direct help on these questions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    73, JP, K5JPP
  • AlanAlan Member ✭✭

    The S12 cable is for Transceiver CAT frequency in. Use the top "Data" in DB9 port on the SDA100 for transceiver CAT frequency in. The other end of the S12 connects to the Flex Server USB port via a Serial DB9 to FTDI USB cable. You will need a way to couple them together.

    The lower DB9 on the SDA100 is the "Data Out" port and is used for computer control of he SDA100/SteppIR.

    Computer control will work with the USB to Serial cable referenced above. You do not use the S12 for computer control.

    I use FR Stack for my computer control. If you go with FRStack, as an option, you can elect to not use the transceiver control cable directly from the Flex Server. FR Stack will provide the Flex Frequency to the SDA100 for automatic SteppIR operation.

    Alan. WA9WUD

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