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Demoing the wonderful new SmartControl feature in v3.1.7

ctate243
ctate243 Amateur radio contesterMember ✭✭
edited March 2020 in SmartSDR for Windows
On sunday the Radio Oakley - N6RO superstation hosted an annual picnic for the Northern California Contest Club.  Here is a photo of me demoing SmartControl from my operating position at the station.   As you can see, it attracted a lot of attention, particularly with current flex radio owners.    My operating position consists of a Flex 6600-M, and a Power Genius XL amplifier along with a 4O3A antenna genius switch matrix to give me local and remote access to all bands. The Tranceiver running v3.1.7 and the Power Genius XL combine to provide a full SO2R operating position capability. The new SmartControl feature has enabled me to leverage the large computer display provided by SmartSDR for Windows, while using the tactile knobs and buttons of the M panel of my 6600-M to help up my contest game.  It works GREAT!  This is a feature that has been in great demand by our entire community, and has very real environment improvements by contesters as well. 

So I wanted to throw out a big thank you to the flex programming team for a great job implementing this and look forward to any additional future developments to SSDR v3!

Thanks!

Chris
N6WM
Flex Alpha Team member

Comments

  • Jim Gilliam
    Jim Gilliam Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019

    Thank you for sharing your Flex adventure. It's always warming to read of people enjoying this wonderful radio.


    Jim, K6QE
  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    The flex programming team is continually pushing the envelope on cutting edge features. the program is the radio.. and its amazing to get completely new features periodically...  and equally amazing for me to have the opportunity to test them.  The folks at flex have become good friends over the years and I am grateful for my involvement with them.
  • Rick- K2RB
    Rick- K2RB Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    I want to thank the team for a great upgrade.  The installation went smooth, but what counts is the many ramifications of this upgrade.  Great to be able to use the controls on the m version, but what really takes it to the next level is with a separate Maestro.  Now with my IPAD pro I can use my Maestro to control many functions.  For example, I now can use my keyer to send cw.  Then a really cool function is the benefit of the digital voice recorder on the ipad works flawlessly,  plus this gives the opportunity to use a larger screen and extra features while traveling or even on my deck or relaxing in the kitchen.   With a laptop and the maestro controls keying is now possible.   I find the extra maestro to be a real winner.  At home the ability to control the pandapter also just adds to flexibility and the ability to decide what ergonomics are import to the individual operator.  Great upgrade and thanks again for all the effort to get it done.  Rick, K2RB
  • Rick Hadley - W0FG
    edited November 2019
    SmartControl is wonderful, and I've been surprised about the relative lack of excitement shown here on the community.  To me, it's the greatest thing since remote control was added in V2...more important to me than MultiFlex.  The Maestro is now getting regular useage and I've been able to retire my 2nd Flex Control knob.  I just keep the first one as a volume control when the Maestro is connected to the 2nd radio as a primary control surface.
  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    I totally agree.. its the killer v3 app for me..
  • Gene Duprey
    Gene Duprey Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    I agree, one of the big additions. I can now run 2 slices on the Maestro and a 3rd or 4th on my iPad. Gene, K1GD
  • Brian Denley  KB1VBF
    Brian Denley KB1VBF Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    Same here! Upgrade of my Flex 6400 was smooth and using my Maestro and SmartControl is a very nice feature.
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited March 2020
    Is there any documentation for the SmartControl feature? If I'm running SmartSDR for Windows and connect a Maestro do all the buttons just work? What does the Maestro screen do? Local iambic keying works? Is CW sidetone conveyed for local keying, CWX keying, remote Winkeying, keying at the radio's key port? I've been waiting for this feature for a couple years, but would like a bit of documentation to understand if the Maestro can replace my RemoteRig LAN setup that I use to carry audio, PTT and keying. Or should I just think of it as a bigger control surface to replace my FlexControl?
  • Rick- K2RB
    Rick- K2RB Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    New Maestro PDF as of September 16 2019.   I found info there.  Rick, K2RB
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited March 2020
    Thanks! Found the link. Note at the bottom of the chapter is

    "What you Cannot Do in SmartControl
    The Maestro Mic input is not available while in SmartControl Mode.
    The Maestro internal speaker is disabled when in SmartControl mode."

    Didn't see anything specific about remote keying through the Maestro. My takeaway is Maestro is a super-duper control surface in SmartControl mode and not an audio/ptt/keying interface. DAX audio is not an option because of well-known sidetone limitations.

    Can anyone confirm if this understanding is right?

    My goal is someday to retire the RemoteRig boxes, but maybe won't happen this Fall.

  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    Asher I current think your understanding is correct.  but it is a pretty robust control surface with buttons, tuning and function knobs all operational. Remote side tone remains an issue.
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    Chris - thanks. Still hopeful for a release someday that combines the Maestro audio/ptt/keying capabilities with the remote control surface. And resolves the remote sidetone issues.

    You're on the Alpha team. Does anyone in product management look at config block diagrams? I have a whole rack worth of stuff wrapping around a 6700 and a PGXL to support LAN remote control for little pistol contesting and DXing.
  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    We have several team members on alpha, myself included who have pretty extensive specialized contest stations and diagrams thereof and some have been shared with the team. I cant talk about future product enhancements, but the remote cw/dig sidetone issue is well documented with the team.   I would love to take a look at yours if you have something to share.
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    sure. Will send some diagrams to your QRZ email
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    image



    Here's a simplified block diagram. RF connections are only in the garage. Only connections to the rest of house are power and a MM fiber. I'd like to eliminate the RemoteRig (been my goal since I started this journey in August 2013). The serial converter (Moxa) is there because the RemoteRig serial support was way too fragile. The K1EL Winkeyer was originally there because of bugs in the V1 Flex Winkey support. Now it's there so I get contest sidetone. The various DLI boxes give me positive reset control over the radios and amps.

    Ideally I'd eliminate the RemoteRig boxes in favor of a Maestro. I'd eliminate the Winkeyer in favor of native support. I'd eliminate the serial converters in favor of a "CAT serial pass-through mode" that I could fan out of the Flex using USB to EIA-232 adapters.

    I'm also strongly anti-shim software on the client side. I find the shims like DDUtil, AG client, even the serial client for the Alpha Amp are unstable and unpredictable in contests.

    Anyway, slightly off topic. Glad that Flex released the SmartControl feature and always looking for guidance if I'm missing a best-practice on LAN remote station-building. 
  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    I also am nervous about shim software.  I am not a fan of the AG client, and further not a fan that if its shut down, it shorts all the ports.  The contest station is sophisticated enough with 6 op positions that the software is necessary.. so Im kind of stuck using it.
  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    why do you need the K1EL for contest sidetone with the RRC?  why not just use the cw keyer with RRC?
  • Asher - K0AU
    Asher - K0AU Member ✭✭
    edited September 2019
    I ran into some K1EL problems when I first set up the RRC . Possible they've fixed the bugs. I just never went back and can't remember whether it was lockups or lost characters.

    Surprising how much stuff just blows up in a contest. Is it LAN packet loss? RFI? Peak CPU load? Memory leaks? Even after all the good grooming of low noise power supplies, single point grounds, shielded cables, ferrites. There's always more to do.

    You raise a good point: maybe it's time to retry a few things. 

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