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Experiences and Ideas - Building a small form PC for dedicated Flex use as part of a new shack desig



  • EA4GLIEA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Have you given some thought to the monitors? I think 1 4k or at least 2 hd monitors is almost a must. Good luck with the new radio and welcome aboard.
  • Rob FisselRob Fissel Member
    edited December 2015
    I thought I'd just chime in with my 2 cents, Peter.

    Images, and I mean full, complete, bootable images are quite valuable to me. Well, really, I clone the drive to an identical SSD, as well as image the primary drive to another server on the network.

    I wish that installing a fresh copy of Windows and accompanying software was just a matter of an hour or so. Between all the software, and especially the customization of that software, it would take hours, if not days, to get me back to where I was prior to a drive crash. 

    After experiencing an SSD failure a few months back, I can't begin to tell you how nice it was to have an identical, cloned SSD in the box, waiting to go. No downtime at all. Between my amateur radio ventures, audio editing, RTL-SDR software, work use, and more, it was a real time saver. Boot into BIOS, select the second drive, back in business in under a minute. 

    I also image externally on the network to an additional server that backs up everything on my network in the cloud. 

    Data backup is important. My log and important documents live permanently in the cloud (Dropbox). This also comes in handy as my log can be used in Log4OM on any of my computers. Handy for remote work. 

    For those who have heavy customization and time into configuring a computer the way they want it, having a cloned drive ready to go is a smart idea, IMHO. 

    All of this said, I cannot recommend Macrium Reflect enough for this purpose. Great piece of software. 
  • Phil - N6ERPPhil - N6ERP Member
    edited November 2016
    Thanks Salvador.. Still deciding on the monitor arrangement. In my case, space in the shack is limited, will probably just go for one 24 inch monitor for now. The 3 criteria are it must be RFI free, clear, and operate off of 12vdc to run from the battery bank. Still looking for something that meets the last two wants. Not sure how to know if its going to be noisy or not without trying it along with a good cable decorated with plenty of snap on ferrites. If anyone has any suggestions, im all ears.

    Anyways not wanting to hijack a thread here, just planning to share any significant findings to the group.. Tnx.

    Also, received the shipping tracking number today, so better get crackin'.
  • EA4GLIEA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I find that HDMI connection to the monitor is a great way to avoid RF.
    I have 2 AOC monitors which have worked great as their power supplies do not produce any noise and they withstand RF without issue. However, the one connected with VGA from the laptop gets a bit affected by RF on 80m while the HDMI one doesn't even blink.

    My particular model AOC E2461FWH needs a 12v 3A power source to work. I think a lot of the super thin LCD displays use external power sources.
    I got lucky with these monitor in Barbados as they were the only ones available when I went to the store. They end up being great monitors that have worked flawlessly.

    My ideal configuration would be a large 35+ inch 4k monitor in the middle. Those curved ones seem great, and a couple of 24s on the side. I would run the 4k off the main video card and the other monitors off the motherboard or even a USB3.0 video card add-on.

    I will keep my rotor control programs, propagation, sat monitoring, etc... on the side monitors, and run SmartSDR, Logging/Cluster and website on main 4k monitor.
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited December 2015

    I am using a dedicated fanless PC for all of my peripheral control and just love it. I have wondered if Flex has considered building on this idea to support their Flex radios with all the various third party programs loaded in firware or an SSD. Also using Softether so that the Flex 6500 is "WAN-able."

    Jim, K6QE

  • EA4GLIEA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Any update on these Fanless PCs? Did you guys get them setup? How are they working out in the radio shack? Any pictures?
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited February 2017

    Yes! I purchased the Hystou custom ordered with two 256 GB SATA drives. I modified it by drilling a hole in the side and adding a power jack to run two wires to the on/off switch. I remote a relay to remotely turn the computer on/off over the WAN. I added Smartether server, SmartSDR 1, Windows 10 (I bought a version with a USB drive from Microsoft) and now remote my 6500 100 miles away at my cabin in Big Bear. The computer just operates wonderfully and runs very cool. Very happy with it. I use the second SATA drive to make images of the drive C:/ operating system in the event of some problem cropping up with new version of Windows, etc. This summer I'll post pictures on QRZ.com.

    Jim, K6QE

  • VK7WH WinstonVK7WH Winston Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I also bought one - i5 16GB memory 250GB SATA 3 SSD. Excellent performance, it runs faster than my main shack computer. 4 Panadaptors, 8 slices without a hick up. I'm very happy with it. As I also operate a (Solar Powered) remote station my only problem was not being able to remotely switch the computer on and off, as I need to reduce the 24/7 load as much as I can. So far I have been a little reluctant to run external wires from the momentary contact on/off switch to a WEMO Maker I have because of warrantee concerns, but, hey, Jim's trail blazing post above has given me the confidence to get out the battery drill! Jim, if you have time, I would very much appreciate a close up photo or two, showing your modification in detail. I presume you didn't take the main board out and attached the wires to the tiny lugs at the top of the power switch, or did you find a better solution. I am a little concerned about the clearance issues between the lugs and the switch mount. Did you find that any rfi suppression was necessary other than using a twisted pair? You can email me if you prefer at [email protected] A very Happy New Year to everyone.
  • EA4GLIEA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I would like to see more info as well about the remote on off mod so I would love if it can be shared here.
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited December 2015

    Unfortunately, I have the computer 100 miles away. When the snow melts enough to get up to my cabin (I don't have a 4-wheeler), I'll take pictures. Basically, I drilled a hole in the side to mount a mini-jack. The mini-jack supplies 12 VDC to a relay mounted next to the ON/OFF switch. I tack soldered two small wires from that switch to the relay. The power leads to the relay are shielded, and there is only about 1 inch from the relay to the switch so I had no RFI problems. I remote the relay with a standard AC controller over the Internet. I just toggle the A/C power to a small power supply which energizes the relay. I manually toggle the relay on and off to switch the computer on and off. Sounds a little messy but it looks nice and works great.

    Jim, K6QE

  • Martin AA6EMartin AA6E Member ✭✭
    edited January 20
    @Simon: Sounds like you're enjoying the change to re-engineer everything.  My only comment is that it's easy to over-think the PC requirements.  Current SSDR, along with typical ham apps - fldigi, logging, and wsjt-x (for me) runs very well in fairly modest PCs.  Most any mid-level consumer PC you buy now will be fine for SSDR. (Except somewhat crippled by Win10, but that's not the hardware's fault!)

    I built up my DIY quad core i7 system with a significant graphics board (GeForce GT640) in order to run an older version of SSDR, but it's totally unnecessary for the current version.  In fact, I usually run BOINC scientific batch programs on all 8 hyperthreads + GPU in the background while running SSDR ham operations with no issues.  (And AFAIK, SSDR is mostly single threaded.)

    In our market, it's hard for a DIY PC to compete in price with consumer PCs.   It's just a question of what's more fun for you. Cheers!
  • VK7WH WinstonVK7WH Winston Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Thanks Jim. Yes I understand the access difficulties. My site is a 2 hour drive each way, but without the snow! Two further questions if I may. 1) The front panel on/off switch feels like a momentary contact switch (I may be wrong) Do you pulse the relay to switch the power on and off, or do you latch the relay for power on and release it for power off? 2) Am I right in assuming you are soldering the two connecting wires to the relay to the two tiny tabs on the top of the power switch? Thanks again for your help Jim, and a HNY Winston
  • DraxDrax Member
    edited January 2016
    Big house, big shack, big radios, just get the big case.     http://www.techspot.com/products/cases/corsair-obsidian-900d.89123/
  • K1UO - LarryK1UO - Larry Member ✭✭
    edited December 2017

    FOR SALE if anyone still interested:

    1. FMP05B-i5-5200U   Equipped with 8gb RAM 256gb SSD and 300MB WiFi     Purchased new Mid NOV 2015.

    - CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor (3M Cache, turbo up to 2.7 GHz, 2.2 GHz base speed)

    - Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500, support ultra 4K HD
    - RAM/ Storage: 2* channel DDR3L memory slot, 2* mSATA SSD slot and 1* 2.5" SATA3 HDD/SSD Bay
    - I/O: 2* HDMI; 2* RJ45 LAN ports (Gigaibit); 2* RS232 Serial ports(male DB9) ; 4* USB3.0; 2* USB 2.0; 1* Power switch; 1* DC IN; 1* SD Card Reader; 1*MIC; 1*SPK; 2* Wifi antennas

    - Win 7 installed.

    $300 shipped CONUS.     K1UO [at] arrl.net
  • WA2SQQWA2SQQ Member ✭✭
    edited June 23
    Does anyone have a current link for the company who sells these? Link included in the beginning of his discussion seems to be gone.
  • Peter K1PGVPeter K1PGV Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Try http://www.hystou.com/ Peter K1PGV

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