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Network cleanup -- and the results

Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

A few months ago, Anna was looking at a wireshark trace from my remote network. She told me it was 'a mess' and I needed to clean it up.

This was interesting since it seemed to work ok and the remote was working with the occasional click/packet drop. But, she is the expert here, so I gave it some thought.

Next, Tim looked at my Router which had RealTek NIC cards in it. He highly suggested I replace the router with a better one and different NIC cards.

With that in mind, I replaced the TP Link TL1024D with their TL-SG1024DE Managed switch. Being managed, it would allow me to actually log into it and see if there were port issues. There are 0 collisions on anything radio related.

While I was at it, I ordered new CAT8 cables for 6600, PGXL, TGXL, and Antenna Genius. As well as new cables between the switch, router and modem. 6 cables in total.

I replaced the router with a NetGate SG-1100 (pfSense) router as I was using pfSense before.

Like replacing an old dipole and coax with a new antenna and coax, the difference was actually hearable. The response is better. There are no 'lags' that show up at times. The audio is pretty flawless and my packet loss on SmartLink is about 0.09% after 24 million packets.

It now feels 'silky smooth'.

This worked for me. For you, you might want to consider upgrading some of your "Lan in the Hamshack". I am sure there are other excellent equipment choices as well.

73, Mike va3mw


  • AA0Z
    AA0Z Member ✭✭

    Very timely post here as we have outgrown our 8 port switch at the contest station and will be upgrading soon. I've had very bad experiences with RF getting into the shack with PoE switches, as this switch looks to be non-PoE which is great.

    How many devices, and what kind of devices did you have on your network before you upgraded to this managed switch?

    I'm assuming this is just a semi-managed switch giving you stats with no ability to create VLANs with no routing?

    At the contest station we use Cat6 cables, which I think that's the industry standard (BISCI) , or maybe it's CAT6a (I'm sure someone will chime in and correct me who's in the industry) but we use good Belden shielded cables which helps cut down on the RF getting into those long runs, but we try and keep them as short as possible.

    Now if we could only get that TP link switch to talk to Node Red!!!!!

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    GM Kyle

    I had a LOT of stuff on that switch. I was consuming over 17 ports since it was the 'hub' for the rest of the property. Here are some of the features:

    • 24 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 ports
    • Provides network monitoring, traffic prioritization and VLAN features
    • Innovative energy-efficient technology reduces power output by up to 18%
    • Simple network set-up on top of plug-and-play connectivity 
    • Web-based user interface and management utility simplify configuration
    • Includes an ear bracket for rack mounting

    Other than hooking it up, I did nothing with VLANs, etc. I just plugged it in.

    Tim, VE6SH said he flipped his station to CAT8 and mentioned that things just worked better as well. Should it? Not sure, but it might be worth a try.

    I just pulled the stats. You can see I have an issue with Ports 1 and 2 (nothing urgent--it is actually the KMTronic web switches on old cables).

    21-24 is the radio equipment and you can see they are flawless.

    For me, this information is gold!


  • VP9NI
    VP9NI Member ✭✭
    edited May 26
    Excellent article pointing out the necessity of reviewing your hardware once in awhile. A lot of us become complacent in our setups and while internet has doubled or sometimes made 5x speed increases, many are still on the gear that is "technically" GB speeds but in reality was meant to carry maybe 10's of Mb to maybe 200Mb as the hardware isn't really capable of any more traffic. That's when you get stuttering and out of sync packets which noone really wants.

    With time sensitive streaming like Flexradio and other demands in a household like wifi, video streaming and other demands, it's really important to have something up to spec and designed to handle the potential load smoothly (as Mike said).

    Similarly, I replaced a D-LINK DGS-1100-08P managed switch with a Fortinet FortiSwitch 108F for my core and the ISP supplied router which was a Hitron "tower" cable modem was changed to a Hitron cable modem in bridge mode with a Mikrotik Hex-S router/firewall. Moving forward I will be replacing that with a Fortigate F40, mainly because I work with them, and I find RouterOS a bit cumbersome to configure.

    Post upgrade there was a noticeable improvement in throughput and reliability. Also, many newer managed devices can also allow QOS and priority traffic which may improve matters as well.

    Great article Mike and greetings from the Bermuda Triangle!

    73 de VP9NI
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    Thanks John

    It was great to see you last weekend.

    We are just discussing this issue on our morning technical Scrum about the care and feeding of your "Lan in the Hamshack".

    Tim had a great line about this.

    "It is easy to make a network work, it takes some effort to make it work well".


  • bahillen
    bahillen Member ✭✭✭

    Do you have information on Ann’s software or process to evaluate the network performance and issues?

    When working on making improvements I like to measure a baseline and document the improvements. I have seen where some improvements hurt the network performance.

    With the nature of the Flex architecture being a server more tools need to be at our disposal.




  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin


    Yes, she used WireShark and about 10,000 hours of experience in the field to follow the communications messages.

    There are many tools available online and all I can say at this point would be to take some time and learn about network communications. Thanks to the information we have available today, it is much easier to do some self learning.

    Sorry, I know that isn't the answer you were looking for. :) But, it is the same as telling a brand new ham how propagation or RF in antennas work.

    I think the simple answer is to use a Switch that will show you some detailed hardware statistics. Armed with that, you can then focus in a specific direction.

    Also, a good network layout (the Star principle) is a big help. This means you are not stacking switches on switches.

    Others may have some ideas.


  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
  • bahillen
    bahillen Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks Mike.

    I have a Gs108 simple switch that only is used with Flex 6600, Tuner Genius PGXL and SmartSDR computer. That switch goes to the Comcast modem/router. My other 2 computers are WiFied to the Comcast router.

    TIm has contributed to solving many driver problems with LatencyMon that is a super tool. My computer at the time was radio only and an I7-7700, 16Gb RAM and 4 GHz CPU. It is now under powered for my 4 slices of FT8 with the bells and whistles so I run one computer with SmartSDR and the I7 with decoding using DAX between computers. That works to reduce decode CPU load pretty well. I plan on upgrading to current gen computer pretty soon for the Radio computer.

    Like others there is always a wish list and expanding my UPS to add the 6600 power reliability as well as power remote control switching via internet. All my network equipment on UPS was a big deal.




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