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connecting 6000 series to Alpha 9500

Walt - KZ1F
Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
OK, I am officially confused now. I've now come across 2 threads now, both started by Ken, NM9P, asking about interfacing the 6000 to other hardware. Steve responded in both threads. I suppose I could drop a dime and talk to Steve but he is a busy guy and a thread response is asynchronous whereas a phone call is synchronous.

My understanding from Steve's response in one of those threads is FRS has programmed for two other hardware devices, the SteppIR controller and the Alpha 9500 amp. The SteppIR antennas would be rather useless if the controller didn't have band/frequency information from the radio when band/frequency changes were made. Isn't that the point of the SteppIR. Don't be confused, I am not currently in the market for a SteppIR. I am merely referencing that one device, their controller.

What I am interested in is the Alpha (RFConcepts) 9500 amp. In the block diagram of the N6V special event station Stu showed two connections from the 6700 to the amp, one RF and the other USB. He made no indication of a ddutil in that picture.  I assume from that there is a hardware interface between those two pieces of hardware although the information shared was not elaborated on. The 6000 hardware reference makes no reference to the usb port beyond supporting a hardware interface, presumably CI-V. I believe that is the second thread as Ken made reference to 'or is that a cpu cycles issue which I believe is part of the first thread.

In the other thread Steve responded, and I'll put words in his mouth, that the decision was made such interfaces were out of scope with the current hardware/roadmap schedule.

It just feels like to interface the 6000 to pretty much anything (and that may be an unfair assessment) you need at least some other Windows software in addition to SmartSDR for Windows.

So has anyone had experience interconnecting the 6000 to an Alpha 9500, without ddutils, such that the Alpha knew what band/freq the exciter was on?
I only call out the Alpha as Steve specifically mentioned that. Auto band switching with a KPA500 or ALS-1300 would be equally welcome. 

Thanks,

Walt - kz1f

Answers

  • pa0bie
    pa0bie Member
    edited September 2014

    There is no band data output on the FLEX as this moment.  I have made a simple interface with DDutil for my PA's through a LPT port on my PC.  Works perfect.  I have not seen any information from FRS when and how a band data output will be available.

    Jan, pa0bie

  • Jon_KF2E
    Jon_KF2E Member ✭✭
    edited July 2018
    Walt,

    I don't own an Alpha but it is my understanding that the Alpha communicates via an RS232 port. Since the Flex doesn't have a port supporting RS232 I would assume that an application like DDUtil would be required to provide an interface from the Flex API to the Alpha RS232. It's a great little app with lots of other functionality. Steve Nance does a great service for the amateur community writing/maintaining it.

    Jon...kf2e

  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Here is the quote from Steve I referenced earlier.

    "You are correct. It does take time to write the interface for each
    device so we want to pick the ones that many customers use as opposed to ones that only one or two customers might use. We have already written software to do this with the Alpha 9500 amplifier and SteppIR antenna controllers."

    Here is the block diagram drawn by Stu K6TU..

    image

    You can see there is a USB connection from the 6000 to the 9500.

    There is a central theme connecting almost all my posts on here. I don't want to require a whole slew of other Microsoft Windows software in order to enjoy my 6000.  I am certain ddutils is an outstanding program and Steve is an outstanding Windows developer. With deference to Steve, I don't want to 'have to' use his software to run an amp with the 6000.
  • Jon_KF2E
    Jon_KF2E Member ✭✭
    edited July 2018
    >I don't want to 'have to' use his software to run an amp with the 6000.

    Then you might 'have to' push the band button with your finger.

    Jon...kf2e
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    If people don't have a 9500 and/or aren't familiar with it please don't respond to this thread. Where Steve Hicks said they've already written software in the radio for the 9500, I am going to go with that statement.
  • Stu Phillips
    Stu Phillips Member
    edited January 2017
    Walt,

    There is currently no direct connection available from the 6000 series to the Alpha 9500.  Indeed as you saw in the N6V diagram, there was an early development version that supported this but it was not incorporated in the production release.  A decision, BTW, that I strongly supported because of the endless integration work it would have placed on FlexRadio.

    As a very active contester, I use a 9500 with my 6700 and I'm very happy with it.  There are two options...

    1. Run the amp in Auto tune mode and the amp will auto select band and tuning parameters when you transmit.

    2. Use DDUtil to feed band data to the amp.  This is my preferred configuration and works very well.

    The 9500 can be plugged into the PC directly via a USB port (you will need the FTDI drivers for Windows but those should be auto detected by Windows when you first plug in the amp).  Alternatively, you can plug in via a serial port.

    I use the PTT enable output from the amp fed back in the RCA TX Inhibit on the Flex - you will need to configure that for active HIGH - that way, the 6000 is held off transmit until the amp says its ok.

    Works like a charm!
    Stu K6TU
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Thanks Stu. Per your last sentence re: PTT enable output, that is especially good to know. Does ddutils also toggle 6000 rf output on standby vs operate?

    Walt
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    This was special proof of concept code for the N6V SE station and it is not available in the current versions of SmartSDR.  We do not have a time frame for offering this capability with the FLEX-6000.  In the mean time, DDUtil's is the way to interface third-party hardware to the FLEX-6000. 
  • KY6LA_Howard
    KY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited December 2014
    Yes. DDUTIL will also give you different power levels needed for each band and for Sandby (100W) vs Operate

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