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Why is the FlexRadio Company in the middle of my Remote SmartSDR connection?

I can never sit in front of my radio. I'm 1400 miles from it.

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Why cant we connect directly to our radios without the 'gatekeeper'?

The current lockout from my system is dragging on longer than usual.

We pay for the radio and the software....but without their systems approval...I have no access to my gear.

What am I missing?

Mike

KC0YHM

Comments

  • Ha Gei
    Ha Gei Member ✭✭
    edited May 17

    Hello Mike,


    i see smartlink now as a "easy peasy" alternative for "non IT" Hams. Due to the current outage, we switched to an open source VPN Solution ( softethernet ) which does not depend on any 3rd party , except for Dynamic DNS , but this is beeing run by a japanese university and public domain . Even this can be replaced by other DDNS providers.

    There is a lot of informations an tutorials on setting that up, easy to find via search or on youtube . Best is to use a low cost Raspberry or the like as the VPN Server. We use 25$ orangepi , which in addition is the club log book server.


    We also found out it works better than smartlink , having less latency. And there is no one in between anymore. It´s as if you are in the same network segment.


    73

    Harry

    DL9NDW

  • Mike Webb KC0YHM
    Mike Webb KC0YHM Member ✭✭

    Hello Harry.

    Thanks for the reply.

    Interesting ideas.

    All the best.

    Mike

    KC0YHM

  • Mike Webb KC0YHM
    Mike Webb KC0YHM Member ✭✭

    Installing the SoftEther VPN was entertaining.

    The good news is that it works nicely.

    Funny thing...the connection quality bars on the bottom right indicate a Fair Connection...even thought the RTT is 70ms.

    Prior to instatlling the VPN RTT was 170ms and indicated GOOD.

    In the end... I'm better off than I was before...nice to have options.

    Thanks for the help Harry.

    Mike

    KC0YHM

  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭

    without some kind of validation, almost every flex would be open to every troll on the internet to abuse in anyway their creepy little minds can create. The smartlink server is only in the path to validate a legitimate user. Once that is complete, the smartlink server allows the user to connect directly to the radio, with no intermediary

    the weird thing about this situation is the authentication requirements apparently changed without flex knowledge how come this requires a change to the client (SmartSDR) I don’t understand unless the smartlink code is buried in there somewhere

    y

  • James Eastham Jr
    James Eastham Jr Member ✭✭

    Is there any step by step guide to hooking up a local VPN like Softethernet to run a Maestro Flex 6700 connection through my Windows 10 Machine? That would be so helpful. I use SmartLink all the time and it is very easy but this outage is a real bummer. Makes my Maestro useless from my vacation QTH and so far the postings Ive seen from Flex give no clue how long this outage is going to last.

    Thanks 73

    Jim NX3Z

  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    For this you will need to build two Pi's one for a server and one client side for the Maestro end, I can't remember if Ria's scripts has a client side available but the client is really pretty easy to build if I remember correctly.

    The Pi 3+ is a great choice and have both a CAT-5 and a Wi-Fi network connections so makes it easy to connect the Maestro to the Pi client and has plenty of power and Memory if you get a 8 Gig version.

    if you take this setup to say a motel you will need a monitor, keyboard-mouse to login with the WEB browser in the Pi's Linux desktop to the Motel internet so a bit of hardware is required OR if you have a laptop you could remote desktop into the client Pi to use it to log into the motels network.

    hope this helps you out

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited May 18

    @John KB4DU -- not really, it is a secure an industry standard TLS connection.

    @James Eastham Jr -- Yes. Well discussed in the community and Ria, N2RJ has scripts on GitHub https://github.com/MarkZither/SoftEther-VPN-config

    There is one significant different between the Audio Codec used on a VPN and the SmartLink Audio Codec and that is the VPN one will require more bandwidth as it is a different compression algorithm.

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    I have been playing with the Softether VPN, and while it does work pretty well, it is definitely not as fast as the SmartLink connection. I am experimenting with Softether trying to get my TeensyMaestro to work remotely (still struggling here...), but also have it on hand as a backup. My old laptop is the VPN server and my new one goes remote with me as the VPN client - works great!

    I looked at Ria's scripts, but have to assume that they are some form of Unix script, am I correct in that assumption?

  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    Hi Len, Yes Ria’s scripts are for Linux running on a raspberry pi

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Ah, thanks Bret. Maybe I will need to get a Pi and experiment a bit. In all my IT career, I only ever had one small team of Unix folks, so I never fooled with it personally.

  • Les Brown
    Les Brown Member ✭✭

    I did some initial reading about SoftEthernet. It seems that they recommend a separate Ethernet adaptor, i.e., 2 Ethernet adaptors, one for regular internet access and the other for the VPN. My understanding is that the Rasperry PI only has one Ethernet adaptor. Is that the case and if so, what is the performance hit for not having 2 Ethernet adaptors? I've been thinking about just using my remote shack PC for SoftEthernet since it already has 2 adaptors.

  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 18

    It also has wireless that can be used which is what most do but you could possibly use a Linux compatible USB to Ethernet RJ45 adapter if you wanted wired networks.

  • Joe Uhrich
    Joe Uhrich Member
    The recent events have inspired me to attempt (first time ever) to learn about VPNs. I was able to use SoftEther after about 45 minutes.

    My RTT latency when connected using SmartLink was around 125. It’s around 45 using SoftEther.
    Happy days are here again.

    Joe AI0Y
  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    congratulations for getting the VPN figured out and working SoftEther VPN is a slick VPN and with the capabilities of creating A security key for each user login for me is much more secure then SmartLink where you have to share the same Login credentials.

    Now when SmartLink comes back on line you have a secure backup back to your radio.

    Just a hint: if your going thru Firewalls make sure you create a 443 port connection it will make it through most firewall's that allow open WEB traffic through.

  • W7KHZ
    W7KHZ Member ✭✭

    I have had frequent problems with maintaining a reliable / quality connection using Smartlink because of the minimal bandwidth required for upload at the radio location. We use a remote location that is not urban and has a low noise floor and tall trees for antennas (and no HOA). But it also has minimal data services (as much as is available) from Frontier at this location.

    This radio location is served using a local computer on the same network as the radio, an auto tuner, and running RealVNC server along with an audio link using Mumble. We can live with the delay as the alternate using the less than 1.5MBPS upload speed at this location with Smartlink requires us minimize all screen refresh rates, for the radio to provide un-chopped audio at the remote user location. Sometimes even that doesn't work if the available upload bandwidth at the radio site is lower. But the remote VNC / Mumble session works great hosted by the local PC.

    If you have bandwidth and can use just a straight VPN network connection, your lucky. In our case, we have to do all the heavy lifting at the remote radio location and virtualize the session to use the radio. Its paid off especially since this Smartlink issue has raised its ugly head for our Windows PC access.

  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭

    So, reading the discussion in the announcement about smartlink updates, it appears the issue was buried in the code in the form of a .net version. Nowhere in any of the flex responses was there an indication that the authentication was actually tested against tls 1.3.

  • Mike Webb KC0YHM
    Mike Webb KC0YHM Member ✭✭

    The Smartlink issue is beyond ugly...and I havent read a satifactory...nor Official...explanation of why its blocking my access to my radio. Security? If I were worried about that I'd turn the radio off with my USB device and I'm sure most other remote operators have similar tools. I'm certainly not worried about ham radio hacking...you'd have to be pretty bored to take your talents down that path.

    With the eventual software mod comes the need to wait and see how it does before I dare install it into my remote station. From my point of view this outage could be a weeks long problem....a problem that seems to me...need not exist. The outsourced log-in serves no useful purpose to the Flex Radio customer / user. Why cant my radio handle the login all by its self?

  • ka9ees
    ka9ees Fithian IL USAMember ✭✭✭

    @Mike Webb KC0YHM

    Weeks long? There's a fix out. Try it or get an iPad or a MAC.

  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 23

    Or a PC

    The only thing that doesn't work yet is the Maestro, Or M head on the 6400M and 6600M these radios work with the Firmware update that was released Thursday afternoon.

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