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What is your backup plan when FLEX/SSDR crash?

That post in somehow to follow up on previous

Problem statement the same - cannot finish any contest without a freeze or crash. Maybe this is my luck with Flex eco system + Windows. As I said before, I am not pointing finger to Flexradio, I fully aware that "Radio" is combination of SW+HW, but as a whole package is not reliable (for me) and last weekend was another evidence that I need a backup plan in form of either another PC or/and another non Flex radio.

Last weekend story: it took me a long time to convince myself to work in 7QP Contest on May 1st. I won it before 4 times and set myself to try to beat my previous results. Previous week I made several hundred QSO on different bands with zero problem. Tested station evening before just fine - updated N1MM, set Macros and tested. Woke up at 5am, got my breakfast and got to the radio to listen what band to start. With Contest start at 6am, I got SSDR crashed at 5:55am. Quick PC and 6600 power cycle did not help, all I got was an empty screen

with following errors

I kept troubleshooting to 7:30am, research the forum, swap network switch to another one, Open ticket without any hope that Flex support on weekend, restored my PC to a week earlier date. No luck. Fully frustrated I left my station for a few hours. Came back around noon, connected Maestro to 6600 to confirm that this is not radio problem. Maestro and 6600 works together, that leaves me with SSDR crash. Also, PGXL and AGXL Windows application works fine. I did not have any Windows updates last week and have no idea how to resolve besides waiting for a Tim's magic next week.

7QP Contest is waisted for me this year.

Now, after I calm down, I started to think about future dealing with such cases. Do I need to get another radio and another PC as backup plan?

Please, do not respond with "everything works for you" - it does not help. I asked for the help many times and if it my PC (see attached post in the beginning, that is more than powerful for Flex) I would like to have a procedure to troubleshoot it and resolve.

I would like to hear if anyone has a backup plan and how fast you can reconfigure your station when crashes happen and there is no immediate support.

Thanks

Sergey, KN7K

P.S. Interesting note that my last year crashes while are different but also happened during 7QP Contest. Does N1MM kills SSDR with 7QP contest settings?

Comments

  • Ted S
    Ted S Member ✭✭

    Well I am a relatively new Flex user , 6400 (non-M version) arrived in January. I have to use SSDR, no Maestro and they are on back order to the end of the year, I could not get one, even if I wanted one.

    I think I would start by identifying what triggered the current problem you have with SSDR, was it related to the 3.2.32 upgrade, did a Windows update occur the night before the contest? Once you know what is causing the current issue you can make a more informed decision on how to resolve these issues.

    At the moment, I have two different laptops loaded with SSDR, if a problem occurs on one instance, I can always swap a few cables and have the other ready to go in 10 minutes. One laptop is from 2013, the other is new, purchased at the same time as the radio.

    I never install any new software applications on the primary laptop until after I have installed them first and tested them for some time on the backup laptop, only after I am convinced everything is running correctly, will I install the application on the primary. I followed this process for N1MM, FLDigi, WSJT-X, Morse Runner, RufzXP, etc.

    I generally avoid installing any upgrade, SSDR or anything else unless I know it is fixing a problem I have or has a feature I need, otherwise I will skip the upgrade for as long practical. I limit Win10 updates to only mandatory ones. I am currently on SSDR 3.1.12, I have only identified two minor problems on this load and they are easy to work around, so I am staying put until there is some certainty on whether an upgrade fixes these minor issues or has some new features I need. The current set up is very stable, I think I had to complete 1 warm reset since the radio arrived in January. The radio is turned on every morning, stays on all day until 11pm, and sometimes it stays on overnight.

    The Flex sits on it's own LAN with dedicated router, the primary laptop connects to the router with wired ethernet, the back up laptop is typically connected over WiFi. Only the Flex and the two laptops are on this LAN. Everything else in the house is on another router.

    So far this setup has been working well, very happy with the stability of the Flex and overall performance. I operate primarily CW, QSK, no amp. Occasionally, I will use an amp semi break-in.

    Eventually, I will have to upgrade SSDR and I will do that on the backup laptop first and run it for quite some time, until I know I won't have to downgrade the radio firmware, but for now I am staying put on 3.1.12. Unfortunately because of the poor stability of the Windows environment these are things I have learned to do for any critical Windows applications, it is not a Flex issue just the reality of running on Windows.

    Ted WR4T

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

    @Sergey KN7K

    Consider my idea ---

    When we have a code error with stuff crashing like you, lots of people see it. It happens in Alpha testing and it usually doesn't make it 2 hours before we decide we have a bad build.

    I have one suggestion and that would be to rebuild that computer from scratch. That would be the quick fix you can resolve in an evening. I feel your pain and I don't take what I said lightly. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do it.

    But, I have been there and it was for using Adobe Premier 2020. Same thing. It would explode a few times a day. I would lose all my video editing.

    I replaced the hard drive with a new one as I wanted to be able to have all the data on a drive in case I missed something on the backup. Reloaded Windows 10Pro from a USB key (3 minutes to do a full install on a USB3 port on a fast computer).

    I then reloaded the software I needed and it hasn't crashed, well, in forever now.

    It turned into a great time to clean things up and start fresh. It was much snappier after I did that and was glad that I did it.

    I've just learned after decades in the computer industry it is just sometimes faster and more reliable to start over from the beginning.

    I feel your pain, I have been there with a few other products at different times (don't get me started on the Icom RS232 drivers--apparently I am the only one in the world that can't get it to work to read the RS232 ports).

    73

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

    @Sergey KN7K

    One other thought. Are you sending spots to SmartSDR when this happens?

    73

  • Sergey KN7K
    Sergey KN7K Member ✭✭

    @Michael,

    Yes spots sent to SSDR.

    Ken sent procedure today to delete setting file and perform cold radio reset. It solved the problem , SSDR up and running. Nature of failure is unclear.

    I will do more thinking about my setup, thanks for suggestions.

    @Ted WR4T,

    As I pointed out in my post no Windows updates or other updates were perform besides N1MM. Radio was working whole week without any issue and tested night before contest after N1MM update and macro testing. SSDR ver 3.2.31.

    Sergey, KN7K

  • Ted S
    Ted S Member ✭✭

    One of the minor problems I had to work around was a profile that I created and exported had some corruption, every time I imported that profile back in, the problem I was dealing with returned. I had to delete that corrupted profile, recreate profile, and export it again to resolve the issue. Since doing that the problem has never returned.

    Just something to think about if your trouble returns after you import a profile.


    Ted WR4T

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

    @Sergey KN7K

    There might be something weird with sending spots to the radio during a contest when there are LOTS of spots. I think N1MM sends all spots to the radio and if you use SliceMaster it only sends spots to the radio for the band you are one. I vaguely remember a discussion like that from somewhere.

    See if it happens with Spots turned off.

    Mike

  • Sergey KN7K
    Sergey KN7K Member ✭✭

    Ted, I do not use profiles. I do not import them last few releases. So, that should not be an issue.

    Michael, i can try to turn spots off but I do not have a good way to test it as it may happen tomorrow or in 6 month...

    Going to install today's released SSDR version and see how can I test intermittent corruptions.

    Thanks

    Sergey, KN7K

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

    @Sergey KN7K

    Got it. I thought you seeing this all the time.

    The job that the support people have to do is attempt to recreate a problem that a customer is reporting. This is why they ask so many questions. 90% of the time it is related to something external to the software (called the environment) and we have to work to narrow that down. (not saying that is the case here, just more of a generalistic comment).

    When or if we can recreate it in a controlled or lab type environment then it is much easier to explain to engineering as they know the code and they may or may not be the best of debugging environments.

    For you, what I recommend is that the next time it crashes, get a bunch of screengrabs (like you did before) and get a support case open. I think the crash reports will help point us in a direction to narrow it down.

    And, we get it. It is a royal PITA when this happens in a contest. We do feel your pain.

    73

  • Sergey KN7K
    Sergey KN7K Member ✭✭

    OK, after open ticket on previous weekend and Flex Help desk support i was up and running. Next day Ver 3.2.34 was release. Installed OK and was running last week fine.

    Today I restarted my PC (have a practice to restart about once a week).

    SSDR did not start normal. CAT and DAX window were empty.

    Found Station name was "Desktop-...". In drop down Menu choose KN7K, on SSDR window changed "Desktop-..." to KN7K and was running again. All these names were changed last week after upgrade, no Profile imported.

    Reporting it as potential bug. I thought previous version had issue, but I am not out of the woods with weirdness.

    Sending this out in Flex want to investigate.

    Sergey, KN7K

  • James Del Principe
    James Del Principe Member ✭✭

    I also had a rather odd experience with 3.2.34 but not in loading it. That went fine. I followed the release notes carefully and saved my old profiles to another folder, not to be used again. Then I deleted all the old profiles in that folder and then on the radio itself.

    Next, I did a shut down with no power connected as described, factory reset and then loaded the new software. It went without a hitch. Spirits were flying. I created all new profiles for my favorite operating modes. I used to have 31 but pared that down to 24. All went well. Rebooted and tested the operation.

    This was Saturday. I did not operate on Sunday but when I tried to boot up this morning, it would not! First, with the Flex fully up and running, clicking on the SDR icon would not connect to the radio. No radio found. I tried about six more times. Shut everything down and rebooted computer, radio and network switch. No luck. Sometimes it would start to launch SSDR graphics but just disappear. Did that several times also. So I did a factory reset. I lost all of the profiles I had created. Oops.

    After yet another reset, it booted up. I spent some quality time reentering all 24 profiles. Saved them to profiles folder and another folder just in case. I'll see how it performs in a bit as it has been off for a few hours now.

  • James Del Principe
    James Del Principe Member ✭✭

    OK, it booted up just fine now and kept all profiles. One odd thing that could be me (or not). The transmit profiles I created are gone. I made a profile for full, 80% and 50 % power for barefoot, amplifier and digital modes. They seemed to work but now are simply gone. I had created them in transmit profile and saved. Selected the appropriate one for the mode and saved the global profile. Is this not correct? Was some other action required?

  • James Del Principe
    James Del Principe Member ✭✭

    A last odd experience...... I cannot exit SSDR gracefully. Clicking on the 'X' just freezes the screen and the app never closes.

    I have to use Task Manager to close it. Am I the only one to experience this?

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

    @James Del Principe Something is not good on your computer. You may want open a ticket.

    Not being able to shut down tells me that Windows has its hooks into something.

  • James Del Principe
    James Del Principe Member ✭✭

    Thank you, Mike. I also have a problem with port assignment. All disappeared after reset but in restoring, it won't allow me to use original port assignment. Says port already in use.

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