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SmartSDR 3.0.19 - No-Go over VPN

Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
edited March 2020 in Remote Operation (SmartLink)
I have been running SmartSDR 3.0.19 locally at both home and my remote station site for weeks without incident. Today, I decided to do some remote SSB from home to the remote station...

The 3.0.19 SmartSDR client with Multi-flex absolutely craters my VPN connection (similar to how DAX does). My VPN connection has just 540Kb of (DSL) upload bandwidth available. Something in 3.0.19 is abusing upload bandwidth, making this version unusable over the VPN.

As a result, I have dropped back to 2.4.9, which works perfectly across the VPN and has for years.

I suspect it may have something to do with Multi-flex, but unable to determine for sure what's chewing up so much bandwidth.
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Comments

  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    Hi Rick I have a question for you. Are you running the same frame for second and rate settings as you were on version two? Please let me know Mike
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Yes. 3 FPS and 45 rate.


    It appears the uplink from remote station is saturated, as link latency goes from 30 ms (no load) to more than 3,000 then SmartSDR disconnects. Normal operation with v2 bounces between 30 and 120 ms.


    Using iperf, I see 540 Kbps from remote site and 1.5 Mbps to radio at remote site. It’s DSL, which isn’t great, but it’s always worked well for SSB on v2 and v1.
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    I have had this happen to be when some other laptop I had forgotten about also had a DAX stream running. Is there any chance another client might be connected?

    You got me thinking, so I went to measure mine, and this is what I see with 1 slice, FPS about 25% and Rate about the same on my Maestro.

    Is there anyway you can dig deeper and see if it is all going to the same client?

    This is on V3.

     image
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    I only have the single client running on Windows 7 at home, with the 6700 remote through the VPN connection. V2 works perfectly, V3 does not.
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    I talked to Engineering

    The audio is set to compressed only when using SmartLink.  It is uncompressed when operating on a LAN (which VPN simulates).  This is a change between v2 and v3.

    Mike
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Is there a way to configure and control this? It's making v3 unusable.
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    Not that I am aware of.  Are you able to run SmartLink at all?
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    Rick, assuming you are using SmartEther, in the client settings, there is a flag for compression.  Can you give that a try?

    image


  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Yes, compression is on. I have noted that in V2 compression is already required to minimize the data transfers and avoid excess latency due to overrunning the 540 Kbps limited upload bandwidth. Thanks for the idea - it's a good one.

    image

  • Doug HallDoug Hall Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Mike,

    Why did Flex make this change? I also use a VPN from time to time. There are situations where it is preferable to SmartLink. I have not upgraded to 3.0, and I am concerned that doing so would hamper my ability to operate from some of the places I currently do.
    73,
    Doug K4DSP

  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    Hi Doug

    They removed the compression for a standard LAN connections since there was no requirement to have it compressed.  For none LAN and remote connections we have SmartLink, so that remains compressed.

    Mike

  • Doug HallDoug Hall Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Disappointing.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Agreed. We need an option to configure Compressed or not for LAN (VPN) operation; otherwise, all of us (many) VPN users are stuck on 2.x. We have other reasons for using the VPN beyond SmartSDR (rotators, amplifiers, remote desktops, etc.) and one cannot use both SmartLink and VPN at same time (due to routing conflicts in /16 CIDR block).

    Please provide a way to configure compress/decompress.
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    I will pass on your comments to engineering.  

    That being said, having run remote for about 15 years, I did find that leaving all the controls on a local PC less painful.  :)  There was years that I remoted everything back to my home qth, it worked but I found it really limiting.  I did this long before starting to work for FRS.


    About 6 years ago, I went back to a local PC with all the antenna, amp and everything else control on a Local PC and then I RDP'd to that computer for normal computer work and then I use my Maestro to do all the audio work on SmartLink.  In fact, my SoftEther PI that was on the Maestro died about November last year and I never rebuilt it as I went to SmartLink for 100% of my usage.  

    The benefit was that I only had 1 computer to keep updated and it was very very easy to use my remote from anywhere in the world from a PC, MAC or even an iPad.   Just RDP to the local PC using what ever RDP solution you like. 

    A side benefit was that it was also easy to lend my station to a few friends and they didn't have to worry about configuring anything.  This is how I contest as well.  N1MM runs on the local PC and this keeps more streaming data off the internet.

    I also run WSJTx for 6M work on the local PC and no chance of any audio stream corruption or latency due to the internet part, something I can't control (bad internet).  

    What drove me down this path was my 1mb/sec upload and everything that got streamed out got measured.  Internet upstream had to go on a diet.  :)  Rick, you may want to seriously consider this solution with your 500kb/sec upload.

    It was by far the best remote setup ever and I physically don't see my remote station for months at a time.  

    Is it 100% perfect?  No.  But, given the tools we have available, I am very happy with it.  

    Mike 
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    I have been watching this thread carefully. At the rate of your upload speed, using the VPN is going to be difficult with V3 as it stands currently..  N6NU did some tests while I sat back and observed, we measured bandwidth and latency. in almost every respect we were exceeding your .5 mbit..  a big question is can you utilize smartlink to achieve what you are trying to do? as it does employ compression.  If on the other hand you are able to get an improved upload speed on your circuit, the good news is we were able to still use VPN, but it was running at least a couple of mbits on average.  typically broadband uploads are around 5 mbit (xfinity/uverse) but distance from the local CO etc. can affect dsl rates in particular.  There are other 3rd party options available if you cannot improve your circuit or leverage smartlink.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Unfortunately, my remote station is in the country and only DSL is available.

    I don't think SmarkLink will route properly because my home and remote station network are on the same /16 network (mask 255.255.0.0). I may be able to change that and use NAT at the remote site instead of bridging as I am now with the VPN.

    Sure would be easier/better if V3 was compatible with V2 in this regard.
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Ya it sounds like you may need to do some net slinging to get yourself an environment where V3 will work for you given the local dsl capability..  probably split those networks up.  sorry.. wish I had a better answer..
  • Doug HallDoug Hall Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    In my case it's not *my* upload speed I am worried about. It's the quality of the connection at the hotel or convention center or wifi hotspot that I might be using to VPN back to my hamshack. Having compression off when not using SmartLink simply reduces the number of places where my VPN connection will work properly.

    I have web interfaces for my rotator, my antenna switch, and my amplifier. I do not wish to expose these devices to the Internet. Using a VPN they simply appear as web interfaces on my LAN, and only on my LAN. So does the Flex. There is only one port to forward (to the RasPi running the VPN) and no PC to worry about.

    I think it was a poor decision on the part of Flex to quietly make a change that could allow existing connections on 2.4.9 to fail (or perform poorly) on 3.x. I don't need MultiFlex capability, but it's generally nice to be on the latest code base, and my plan was to upgrade to 3.x after it had been out for a while. That is no longer my plan.
    73,
    Doug K4DSP

  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited March 2020
    I need an answer and commitment on IF and WHEN my paid upgrade to 3.x will support my existing VPN connection and use cases on my existing network. I'm not going to redesign my network to support 3.x.

    If the Official Response and final answer is tough luck, I'm supposed to be using SmartLink instead of my own VPN and engineering knows best by permanently disabling compression on LAN users, and what used to work in 2.x will not be properly resolved in 3.x, that's fine. Consider this my refund request for the $400 worth of upgrade fees on my two 6000-series radios.


  • Eric-KE5DTOEric-KE5DTO Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited May 2019
    First, I want to be clear -- VPN has NEVER been an officially supported configuration for operating a FLEX-6x00 radio.  This doesn't mean that it isn't a good idea.  It just means that it isn't something we are going to handle from a support perspective.  It also means that as a use case, it represents a much smaller percentage of our users (case in point that this came up 4 weeks after v3 launch with thousands of users now on v3).

    Having said all of that, we do recognize that there are a number of situations where it would be preferable to have control of whether the audio is compressed or not.  Even some Wifi setups will perform better with the lower bandwidth of our compressed audio.  As such, we will likely go back to defaulting to compressed audio even when on LAN with perhaps an option to make it uncompressed for those that prefer the full bandwidth.  For tracking purposes, this is #7472.

    I feel compelled to mention that the recommended way to connect to a FLEX-6x00 remotely for most customers is via SmartLink.  If you have the technical chops for running a VPN or the ability to manage a more complex network, more power to you.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Thank you
  • Cedric HB9HFNCedric HB9HFN Member
    edited July 2019
    Hello. Now that's SmartSDR v2.5 is almost here. What about audio compression over a VPN tunnel or in a LAN. Is it like 2.4.9 (compressed) or like 3.0 (uncompressed)?
    73, Cédric HB9HFN
  • Tom - N3VMTom - N3VM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Hi Eric - I'd like to encourage Flex engineering to expose controls in the UI to enable or disable audio compression. Yes, I know it's a continuous goal to keep the user experience pleasant (and uncluttered). This one option has such an important impact on guys that operate using remote stations, which Flex Radio IS the defacto market leader.  Thanks and 73, tom
  • Cal  N3CALCal N3CAL Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Will this  issue also happen if a user updates from SSDR V2.4.9 to V2.5 ?? 

    Cal/N3CAL
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    I did ask engineering about this.  Yes, 2.5 will have the compression turned off on so this will affect VPNs at this time as discussed earlier.

    The VPN and compression is still on engineering's radar as Eric  mentioned above.
  • Cedric HB9HFNCedric HB9HFN Member
    edited May 2019
    Ok. Then 2.5 is a no go for me as I must have a VPN as my mobile provider is using double NAT at the transceiver site :-(
  • Cedric HB9HFNCedric HB9HFN Member
    edited May 2019
    I can confirm this. I'm behind a double NAT and the bandwidth is not that much...
  • Cal  N3CALCal N3CAL Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    2.5 is also a no go for me! 

    Cal/N3CAL
  • Asher - K0AUAsher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Eric,

    Is there a supported SmartLink approach to control a Green Heron rotator, an AntennaGenius switch or an Alpha amp? Asking for a friend... A serial pass-through CAT mode would be a big help along with a local agent for the AG.
  • Mike-VA3MWMike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited May 2019
    Hi Asher

    Short story, no.  

    The story that I presented at Dayton Forum on Sunday was to have a small Windows PC local to the radio that you do an RDP session to to run all those applications.   

    Personally I think this is about the easiest idea today as you are not then dependent on a vendor at all and you then have full control of your station.  Once I get caught up on sleep, I'll record my presentation on why I think this works so well and allows the operator to easily scale their remote operation.

    Mike 

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