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V3.x and 100% remote use and my $0.02 on the upgrade.

David Hickman
David Hickman Member ✭✭
edited June 2020 in SmartSDR for Windows
This is my opinion of V3 from a 100% remote use case.  

Like many, I am not a fan of the paid major releases, but that is what it is. Like Microsoft and Apple, once the competition gets good enough, the market will demand something different.

However I want to discuss v3.x from a 100% remote road warrior use case.

While this release is a little on the buggy side ( imagine that!) overall it is pretty impressive.

My flexradio 6300 is installed in a server rack at home in Norman Oklahoma. About 80% of the time my use of the radio is remote from a hotel and the remaining 20% is remote from my kitchen table or my ham shack ( about 1000 feet from the radio.)

My concerns for use was that the audio streaming improvements and initially I saw no use at all for the new multihead use of the radio. I thought it was a contest thing that I could care less about. I just want to play radio at night in a hotel room.

Last week end I was in a hotel in Charlotte NC on a LTE connection when I saw that 3.x was available on my maestro. I initially tried to upgrade via smartlink and got the message that smartlink upgrades are not supported.  I understand why and decided to use my old OpenVPN tap setup that I used for remote 1.x access from my laptop.  The upgrade worked flawlessly.

For the rest of the weekend, I enjoyed a much improved smartlink streaming quality over my lte modem to my Maestro.  One of my main beefs with the SMARTSDR streaming (local or remote/smartlink) was the bug that has been present since the 1.x series that the audio stream will either die or a hiss will come out after 10-30 minutes from the first startup of the radio.  This bug is annoying but workable by switching radios in the Maestro or smartsdr.  That bug is gone in 3.x and it makes me really happy. There also has been dramatic inmprovements in the audio quality and the amount of data used. Good Job Flex.

Once I got to my home QTH I decided to try out some digital modes which I usually avoid when remote because running the dual slices slows things down, and my laptop runs windows in a VM and I hate running smartsdr in it. I also hate running digital modes from my shiny xmas present of a Maestro. I like it for rag chewing.

So I pulled out my old iPad from its dusty grave on the shelf, and got it running again. I used the lte connection on the ipad and the lte connection on my laptop and did several JS8Call QSOs. This was impressive since this mode does not like to work over remote due to the latency. Also it just worked. I did not have to make changes from last nights rag chew session on the maestro.

I then moved operations to my shack and spun up my maestro as set it up for only ragchewing on 75m and my shack computer as digital only.  It worked at the same time and the smart sdr on the windoze computer is now set up for only digital modes and I can ragchew from my Maestro.

There are some weird bugs like when I press the tuner on the maestro and it tunes to whatever the smartsdr is on, or the opposite.  I have to flip the TX button on either the maestro or ssdr on and off and it works again.  

Next week I will be spending a month in Florida hotels and am looking forward to running the ipad to control digital modes with my road laptop and running maestro for rag chewing.

As I am writing this, I am listening to 3.916 and having a JS8call QSO.  I plan on doing the same thing in the hotels starting Sat night.

I like where this is going.  

 As I said earlier, the update costs are an issue since we are used to free updates in even the highest of end of consumer products ( yes the flexradio is a high end consumer product.)  I will pay the update since I can afford it at present.  People are using the argument that this is no different than Microsoft or Apple charging for updates. Here is the thing, market forces demanded that to stop. Apple and Microsoft charges for the full price of the OS  during the first purchase and then updates are either free or minimal cost.  Apple has not charged for a point update in a decade and Microsoft is now four years of windows 10 with no charges for updates. From the looks of it Microsoft will probably never charge for a major update again unless you are purchasing an OEM release or the calls.  It is more likely that if MS does charge it will be for some kind of minimal subscription that adds alot of other services. 

As more players come out with SDRs and competition increases, Flex may change their model. 

They also may not and focus on the higher end ham radio users. Lets face it a Flex 6300 is comparable to a mid range icom to this day. Once you add a Maestro, there is no real comparison. I was seriously considering a 7610 but their remote software is **** and I really like having knobs to turn and a real mike in my hotel room.   Now that the 6400 is even better than the 6300, I imagine that it is probably better than a IC7610 with the maestro added.  

73's and I figure I will get hundreds of hate mail over this.


  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    ****, I typed point release when I meant major release..... To be honest, anymore in the OS world it is all point releases. Debian started that trend and to be honest that is the norm in the unix world for twenty years.

  • VK7WH Winston
    VK7WH Winston Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    Dave, thanks for sharing your experience using V3. I have no home station and operate 100% remotely. Your post has given me some ideas to explore. Once again, thank you for your post. Winston VK7WH
  • John - K3MA
    John - K3MA Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    David, TU for the specifics.  I like it when people post from 1st hand experience rather than "I have a reliable friend whom told me".
  • KI4P
    KI4P Member ✭✭
    edited May 2020
    Thanks for the non raving post, great observation, I don't have a maestro, only iPad and iPhone, looking forward to learn more about different ways to operate, thanks again
  • Craig Williams
    Craig Williams Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    That would be great if V3 fixes the stuttering audio on my I devices. Looking forward to more input from V3 users on the subject.
  • W2ECK
    W2ECK Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    David = could you provide us some more details on how you did FT8 using the iPad and a laptop, I'd like to try that. Thanks for a great write up.

    73 Paul w2eck
  • kv5v
    kv5v Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    Craig, since you're having audio problems, I'm curious about the computer you're using to control the radio and which OS you're running.  (You haven't mentioned having a Maestro.)  FWIW, I'm using a 6400 which is optically isolated from the router.  The computer is a Gigabyte Brix with an Intel J1900 processor.  This 4" x 4" x 2" system delivers modest computing power and serves the radio very well.  Pauses occur rarely and only at startup, while the computer is loading the last pieces of W10.  The connection to the router (an ASUS RT-ACRH13) is by 11n WiFi.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2020
    Nice post David, it sounds like performance has increased a lot in V3.
  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    ping me for pointers.  It takes a bit of hardware in the backend to make it work. However, once done, it works well.  

    I can even turn my radio, power, backup tuner through alexa :)  It will also auto turn things off after 8 hours, or an immediate system shutdown if there is a thunderstorm  in the area.

  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    Start saving for a Maestro. That solved my lust problem for a new radio.  When I rag chew, I like to have a formal mike and buttons. When I do digital, computer only.

  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    I solved my studdering problems by never running SSDR. I use an iPad or maestro when running digital.

    Alot of the studdering problems are due to processing power. My remote use case involves an i5 running Kubuntu with a windoze 10 vm in vmware.

  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    I am impressed. :) It made the upgrade cost tolerable for me.
  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    Look for it tommorow. I will write it up tonight.
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    I am now able to run two slices remote at the office with my borderline upload speeds at the shack (700kbps or less)  I need to turn the Waterfall rates to zero, and turn display FPS to 5-10, but I get clear signals on both slices and panadapters from my 6500.  BIG IMPROVEMENT!

    I have even done one slice on the office desktop and one slice on the iPad, both using SmartLink just for testing.  

    It does deteriorate a little when my son starts a major match on Fortnite on his xBox!  Sometimes I need to drop down to only one slice/pan!

    I can only imagine how it will play in my new house with +60Mbps cable modem!

    Ken - NM9P
  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    I put something up.

  • David Hickman
    David Hickman Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    So far ( only a couple of days on LTE) it seems to be improved.  I will know more starting sat when I get back on the road.

  • Steve
    Steve Member
    edited April 2019
    Thanks for the info, it was great.
  • Neal Pollack, N6YFM
    Neal Pollack, N6YFM Member ✭✭
    edited April 2019
    David:  Where did you put it up?   What URL or location?
    I would love to read about using FT8 on ipad or remote laptop also, just
    like Paul W2CEK.


    Neal    N6YFM

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