1.10.8 problems updating, first impressions

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IT hasn't been 100% smooth sailing for me but I did get it working.

Initially after I hit the "update" button the radio just sat for a while, purple light on, updating software.. Eventually I got a "file transfer error." I restarted the process. After about half an hour, nothing, so I figured something was amiss. I did a reset and it came back up to 1.10.8 Beta.

The serial cables work. I use two UGreen USB to RS232 cables with FTDI chips along with an Anker USB hub and they work. I do like that you can assign CAT by antenna which is exactly what I needed for both SO2R contesting and casual rag chewing or DXing. 

For now I am keeping the SteppIR on DDUtil because it will allow me to select forward and 180 as well as retract and calibrate if needed. Maybe if SteppIR integration is eventually desired, SmartSDR can incorporate these controls. It should also incorporate a transmit lockout when SteppIR is tuning, although SteppIR has the $99 tuning relay option or you can buy the N8LP tuning relay. The tuning relay just bypasses the key line on your amp rather than disabling transmit. 

I am hoping SmartSDR for iOS will incorporate the new serial port feature. 

BTW with the SPE Expert in Flex mode it controls the drive power automatically as it did before when connected to SmartSDR CAT. 
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Posted 2 years ago

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k0eoo

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Ria, could you expand on the Expert comment just a bit.  I just received my 1.3k-FA and I'm in the process of hooking it up via DDUtil's via the USB to PC cable and the CAT1 via serial/USB adapter to the PC and passive listener.  Are you saying there may be a better way?

Ria, I just saw Larry's thread on the say question....

Dennis, k0eoo
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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For basic use where you just want to follow the TX slice and only use one antenna input on the amp, the DDUtil passive listener is fine. However if you want to do SO2R for contesting you want to use both ports on the amp so you can receive through the listening antenna (s) while transmitting. Previously I had to use the SmartSDR CAT program and assign slices A and B to the CAT ports on the amp.

However, 1.10 allows you to connect the amp directly to the radio and get CAT data from there via USB to serial converter.  You can either tie a slice to a USB to serial adapter, or tie an antenna to it, and it will follow the TX slice. There are other possibilities such as the active slice, active panadapter or RX antennas. 
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k0eoo

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Thanks Ria, I just found the Flex How-to-guide on using the USB ports, between that and your comments I should be good to go...

Thanks, Dennis, k0eoo
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k0eoo

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Ria, one more question.  so with your SPE 1.3k-FA setup using V1.10 the amp follows the TX band change and with the PTT TX1-3 you control keyup, but how do you control the amp power ON/OFF and Operate/Standby, (via the SPE software or how?).
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Hi Dennis,

I use either the Term software that SPE provides or DDUtil. SPE actually uses a different port for that. The CAT1 and CAT2 ports are for CAT and the USB or "PORT" ports are for remote control of the amp. 
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Larry - W8LLL

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If anyone is interested, on the SPE Yahoo Group you can download a mini console to control an SPE amp.


(Edited)
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Steve W6SDM

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Like almost all previous SmartSDR versions, this upgrade went in without any problems.  Now I need to read the book in order to understand the applications for the USB feature.

On my end, I did a clean install.  In the past when I have left previous versions intact, it has never caused a problem but I still like starting off fresh with a new version just to eliminate any potential problems.  Think of it as the digital version of an enema. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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While I was part of the Alpha test group and I did get the USB cables working as proof of concept for my SteppIR and 2K-FA , I quickly reverted back to DDUTIL

The USB connections only provide Band Data but do not provide the all important COMTROL I need for remote operation.

While Band Data is nice to have it just as important to be able to provide control for devices if you are going to operate remote without a computer. Right now I accomplish most of what I need to do using DDUTIL via Parallels Access Remote Desktop to control my devices. Ideally it would be great to eliminate the PC but only if I still have controls.

My 6700 is currently controlling a SteppIR MonstIR via SDA100, a Yaesu GX-2800 Rotor via their RS232B controller and a SPE 2K-FA. I have other devices such as tower raising and lower and cameras to watch what is happening but these are not a direct need for remoting.

As I said, Band Data is OK but by itself it is not anywhere near enough control to be able to run devices safely remotely

All the Following is currently done by DDUTIL

SteppIR Control Functions
In addition to band data one needs to be able to do the following:

1. Forward Direction
2. Reverse Direction
3. Bi-Direction. (3/4 for verticals)
4. Home Elements
5. Calibrate Elements
6. Restart
7. Indicate Element Direction - Forward, Reverse, Bidirectional
7. Inhibit transmit during element movement

Rotor Control Functions
1. Direction
2. Azimuth Adjustment (currently I use 180 degrees offset since my rotor centers North)
3. SteppIR 80M function - K5FR added the ability to have 90 degree offset for 80M dipoles along the boom)

SPE AMPS. 1.3K and 2K FA
Steve K5FR and I spent over a year working with SPE so that they would modify their firmware so that their amps could be remotely controlled.
The necessary remote control functions are:
1. Power On
2. Power OFF. (You don't want to leave the Amp running 24/7)
3. Standby/Operate
4. Power Level - Low, Med, High
5. Input. - 1 or 2
6. Antenna - 1, 2, 3, 4
7, Tune
8. Display
9. PA Temp Readout
10. SWR alarm

BTW....I totally agree with Stu that this is a slippery slope that opens up a huge can of worms. If Flex undertakes to do it

So I really hope some third party will do it.
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Mark Erbaugh

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Could operate/standby be simulated by enabling/disabling the TX Out line?
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k0eoo

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Thanks Howard & Ria, obviously I will need control as well as band data for my 1.3k-FA so I'll stick with DDUtil for the time being, as I do with the Alpha, Steppir, RC2800PX, LP-100A and modified DX engineering remote antenna switch...
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Jeffrey Kerber, N3VE

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Howard, I have a 6700 and 1.3, what is the issue with leaving the amp on 24/7

Thanks,

Jeff N3VE

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I am typically gone from the USA for periods in excess of a month. Or more.

While radio does not heat up the Shack leaving the amp on sure does.

Just don't like leaving it running all the time.

There are other controls equally as important such as setting power levels, selecting antennas etc. on my SteppIR being able. To reverse/forward is crucial
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I leave stuff on all the time. It's not a tube amp. It'll be fine.

The only concern would be the fans. 

However with the SPE Expert you can turn it off (soft power off) and it will still accept USB commands to turn on. So this can help provide some longevity to the fans if you want to turn it off. 
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Things go wrong when ur remote that would not be much of an issue if you are local

On this trip I worked some DX awhile changing planes at JFK. In rushing to catch the plane to LONDON, I invertently left my 6700 in tune mode. I did not catch it until I got on the air again from our apartment in Paris 3 days later.

It seems that the TX timeout did not persist so the radio kept on transmitting for at least 3 days

Imagine the mess if the2KW Amp had been running

Fotunately DDUTIL also has a standby /operate control so the Amp was not enabled if it had been turned on

BOTTOM LINE. There is a lot more control needed than simple Band data in order to operate remote SAFELY
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Understood. But if you remote you should have a master kill switch anyway just in case. A carrier at 100 watts is just as bad as one at 1.5kw. I have a Raspberry Pi and a relay box on the 12v side of my station and a web interface. This way I can kill the exciter in case of emergency. Eventually I want to put a master switch for 240v so I can kill the amp as well and a GSM control so I can override in case home internet goes down. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I already have a couple of Datalogger remote 8 port switches

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W1IMD

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You didn't have the three minute timer enabled in DDUtil?
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mikeatthebeach .

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Have had to replace the front right side mini-muffin fans on the 2K-FA a few times,
they get squeaky after awhile, for SSB, you can turn off fans, but for CW must have
these Fans on.

These Fans are cheap $5 to $6 on Ebay from China, usually after 
2  years one of the two fans will make a horrible noise

The Back Fans are Temperature Driven usually not a problem if 2K-FA is left on
all the time

73 Mike
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I have had the squeaky fans too

Yet another reason not to leave it running all the time

BTW. Totally forgot about the 3 minute timer in DDUTIL. Thanks for reminding me
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Tim Ellam

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Ria

Do you have a schematic of exactly how you hooked up the 6700 and the 1.3 for SO2R? Are you controlling one port with SSUTIL and the other from the Flex USB? or both ports from the Flex?

Thanks

73

Tim VE6SH
(Edited)
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Tim Ellam

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The other issue is the SPE does not change the input selection when I change Slices. I have Slice A on Flex antenna 1 (going to input 1 on the SPE) and Slice on Flex antenna 2 (going to input 2 on the SPE). The SPE does not follow when I change TX focus from Slice A to B.

Tim
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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There is no way for the amp to know you changed focus. You have to key up (PTT) even momentarily for that to happen. 

As for making the changes for Ant 1 vs ant 2, switch to ant 1, assign the antenna ports. Save. Switch to Ant 2, make the changes. Save. It will work that way. 
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Tim Ellam

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Got it. Thank you for your help. I will try to set the antennas again.

Tim
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Btw I may have confused you a little. What you need to do in setup is enable the antennas for that band. For example if 1 and 4 can work on 20, enable both on 20. Save. Switch to input 1, select the antenna you want to use. Switch to input 2, select antenna. Switch back to 1 and it will be the other antenna you selected, switch back to 2, same thing. Pretty versatile and not bad for builtin capability.
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Tim Ellam

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Hi Ria

Thank you much for your help. I got it worked out and the SPE works well in SO2R. Had some fun in the contest!

73

Tim
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Mike - W8MM

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My upgrade experience was different among my three 6700's.

I decided to upgrade all the radios from my Maestro.  The Maestro update went well.

The Signature model 6700 with the GPSDO running v1.8.4 upgraded smoothly, no problems.

The other two, more recent, 6700's (non-GPSDO, v1.8.4) both got perma-stuck showing "updating software" with the purple power light lit.  This flummoxed me a bit and I tried re-reading various information to see what I should do.  Finding nothing satisfying, I attempted pushing front panel buttons to no avail.  Then, I removed 12V power by pulling the PowerPole connector from the back of the radio.

I let the radios sit for 5 minutes unpowered, then plugged them back in to 12V.  They both immediately returned to saying "updating software", but began to click some relays after a few moments and finally went through "Calibrating" and now work just fine.

Just thought someone would like to know.
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Jay / NO5J

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Mike 

That hang happens sometimes, you handled it correctly.

  SDRgadgets

#FlexRadio IRC chat

  73, Jay - NO5J

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Mark WS7M

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Jay... still need my address for shipping that beam?   Perfect time to get it weather tested here in Colorado!  :-)

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