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New station: 6700, PGXL, TGXL. Mac or PC?

I am building a new station at our new QTH. I have run the 6700 for the last several years and plan to add the PGXL and TGXL. I used to run the PC version of SSDR, but every time the OS updated, my DAX drivers were scrambled. The Help Desk was very helpful, but I didn't like messing with the drivers after every OS update, so I switched to SSDR for Mac and never looked back. I haven’t had to think about DAX drivers for the last few years.

Now that I am adding the PGXL and TGXL, I wonder how running an all Flex integrated station with a Mac compares to running it with a PC. I can run either, but prefer the Mac. Any advice or experience would be welcome.

Thanks, Frank, K5FB

Answers

  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭

    Frank

    Will the PG-XL and TG be remote from the Shack? If no, then you will have all of the controls on the front panel of the amp and tuner.

    If they are remote, then it will be nice, if not necessary to use the PG-XL and TG utilities. Unfortunately they are Windows apps.

    Several options.

    1) Run Windows on your Mac, using a virtual PC, such as using Parallels Desktop and a Windows OS. If you are using an Intel Mac, no problems. If you are using an M1 Mac, then you must run an ARM version of Windows, in which case the amp and tuner utilities shoud work. I say should, because we know for sure that Windows Smart SDR will not work.

    2) You sound like you already have a PC....so install the amp and tuner utilities on the PC. Enable "Microsoft Remote Desktop" on the PC (requires Windows Pro). On the Mac, download the Microsoft Remote Desktop Client from the App Store. You can run and control the windows machine from your Mac.

    3) Checkout the Node-Red based utilities for PG-XL and TG. This has a steep learning curve.

    4) I have seen others reference a Mac PG-XL utility on this forum. A quick search of this community should find it for you. That gets half of what you need.

    Alan. WA9WUD

  • David Decoons, wo2x
    David Decoons, wo2x Member, Super Elmer Moderator

    Alan,


    #3 - follow WiKi on Node Ted groups.io to load OS and Node Red on Pi. Follow WiKi to load additional nodes. Load PG XL and TG XL flows. Change IP addresses for amp and tuner in flows. Not that step of learning curve. Plus we are there if members need a hand.

    Good for those not wanting to run a PC.

    Dave wo2x

  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭

    Agree.....Dave, WO2X, has a great set of Node-Red flows for the PG-XL and TG. Also, Dave has a set of instructions for setting up Node-Red. Look in the files section for the WiKi help file and all of the flows published my members.


    By "steep learning curve", I mean it is not a "download and play" type of application.

    Here is a screenshot of my Mac Based Station. Mac on the left, Windows on the right. You can see the Node-Red based controls for steep IR, Power Genius, Antenna Genius, Tuner Genius in the top row:

    Alan. WA9WUD

  • K5FB
    K5FB Member
    Alan and Dave, Thanks for the advice and ideas. The PGXL and TGXL will be rack mounted in the shack, so using the controls on the fronts of these is an option. I'll look into the Node-Red flows. Do the DAX drivers still self-scramble with every Windows OS update? Frank K5FB
  • Mike VE3CKO
    Mike VE3CKO Member ✭✭✭

    As Dave and Alan have mentioned NodeRed adds a lot to a station but may not be for everyone. If you have multiple antennas on multiple bands then I strongly suggest you add the Antenna Genius to your plans. As per PC or MAC for me it was a very easy decision. I wanted to keep it simple and not have to worry about running windows on a mac. To configure the PGXL, TGXL and AG you will need to run the apps which are windows only apps. I would not consider using this lineup without using the apps. So then I think your decision is going be down to whether you want to setup a virtual PC as Dave pointed out. Are you willing to do that? If not just keep it simple and go with a PC. Oh and by the way, since the fix I haven't had to worry about DAX scrambling either and that has been a couple of years hasn't it guys?


  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    Hi have pretty much the same setup as you would like to do, I have the 6700, TGXL, PGXL and Antenna genius all remoted out in my shop and mounted in a Rack, Here is how I have my Node-RED setup using Dave's flows

    This works great remotely and give me control with SmartSDR and a WEB page from any device I can run SmartSDR on and of course a web browser.

    I also have power switch's integrated in each FLOW, green broken green circle at the bottom so I can reset the Power Remotely using assorted WEB switch's.

    I can also run my Rotator remotely, Key the PTT for re-registering SmartLink, various other Station remote control.

    I have to give Dave and Alan most of the credit for what I have built and Dave's FAQ really gives you a head start to easily get this setup and working on your Network and network.


  • David Decoons, wo2x
    David Decoons, wo2x Member, Super Elmer Moderator

    The DAX scramble has not been an issue with 3.2.39 and last several Windoze updates.

    Dave wo2x

  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭

    Also, if running Pro, turn off updates if it’s main role Is ham stuff.

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭

    I cannot recommend Mac high enough. SmartSDR Mac simply avoids all of those driver problems. FT8 is built in and everything else just plain works.

    As far as controlling PGXL, TGXL, you can run the utilities in a VM on the Mac. They work fine. I am in the process of providing Mac utilities for these so at some point you will have native controls.

    Here is my setup:

    Macbook Pro. M1Max 32 gb

    Flex 6600, PGXL, TGXL, and Antenna Genius - All mounted in a shed where my antenna feeds come in.

    In December I had knee surgery which completely prevents me from using stairs so I have been confined to my main floor. I've been successfully using FT8, CW and voice on my Macbook Pro over Wifi for the last month.

    Prior to this operation I spent a fair amount of time to setup remote power on/off stuff using Digital Loggers power and relay products. It allows me to reset, cycle power and even disconnect my antennas remotely.

    I didn't plan to be this confined but after my primary knee operation on the 13th of January I was at physical therapy for my knee when a table I was on basically let go and I fell. In catching my fall I ruptured the petella tendon in my knee that had been replaced. So another surgery and 6 weeks of a cast which all ****.

    But my ham station has been 100% functional and SmartSDR Mac is rock solid. For the PGXL, TGXL and AG utilities I run Parallels and Windows 11 ARM. The utilities work just fine in this and the VM boot time is about 8 seconds. So when I need them they are there pretty quickly.

    But as I said above I already offer a PGXL mac utility and I plan to offer other utilities on mac in time. But for now you can do everything you need even on the Apple Silicon macs.

    For me the beauty of the MacBookPro M1Max is that there is an HDMI port right on the side. Not need for a funky dongle. Plug your big monitor and go.

    Cannot recommend high enough.

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    Hey Mark.

    Am I right to think you are able to use SSDR for Mac on Mac and at the same time be able to run TGXL (which is currently Windows-based) that behaves exactly as it would if you were on a Windows PC? i.e. it will track the band changes and frequency, accept LAN PTT and auto select the tuned solutions that are placed on it. I am very interested to hear if you have success, and how you have it set out. I have so far found that I can get the tuner set up on parallels, but when I swing back to SSDR for Mac, the tuner fails to respond. The tuner works fine if I run SSDR for Windows on the Parallels VM, but of course lose the superb SSDR for Mac. The beauty of SSDR for Mac is that it JUST WORKS and is so user-friendly, and I want to continue to use it as my station develops.

    Thanks Mike. G4GWH