6600M Connection to N1MM

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Our local DX and Contest club had the pleasure of working my 6600M on the CQ WPX SSB Contest this weekend.  However we were not able to figure out how to connect the 6600M to our club computer for band changing.  I understand that N1MM wants a serial port to connect to, and I understand that SmartSDR V2 will create a virtual serial port but what the manual fails to tell is if the Smart SDR in the radio via the Link Local network creates this virtual Serial port or if I have to load a copy of SmartSDR on the computer to do this.  HELP!!
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Gary Johnson

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Posted 1 year ago

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Robert Lonn

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That a very interesting question, that I cant answer,, but will see what the EXPERTS have to say!
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Gary Johnson

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I can't be the only person to ever want to connect a 6600M to N1MM+
(Edited)
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Jim KJ7S

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     My experience with that is with the 6300 but I don't know why that wouldn't work similarly with the 64/6600m's.
     If you run a computer to do the logging, which is a no brainer these days hihi. I installed a copy on each of the computers I am running here IE: 2.1.33 SmartSDR on the 'main' machine I am running normally with four com ports created for SmartCat so when I wanted to run the radio with that set up (you may not have to do that specifically for the 64/6600).
     With the Laptop, or other machine, I also have 2.1.33 SmartSDR installed with the requisite com ports created and Dax configured to match the capabilities of the radio (two slice or more, depending on the rig). On the 'Logging' computer, I do NOT run SMARTSDR but I DO run SmartSDR Cat and Dax, which then sees (within the same network Lan) when you start, or have the Radio running and connected to the LAN. Then I have N1MM+ running, which in my case sees both the A and B slices (as long as you have N1mm+ configured for SO2R operation). Now I may be missing a big part of your specific question because I do not know for sure how, or whether the 64/6600M's are connected to the LAN.  YMMV.  Good Luck.   
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Gary Johnson

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Supposedly, the 6600M has a full load of SmartSDR aboard.  If a Link-local connection or whatever its called is formed when an Ethernet cable is attached, one would think the SmartSDR on the radio would establish the virtual port on the computer.  As I said, the 6600M manual doesn't talk about hooking up the radio to do logging - your guess is as good as mine why not.
(Edited)
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Craig - KØCF

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I do not have one of the "M" models (I have a 6500), but you will have to run SmartSDR CAT and DAX on the computer running N1MM+. These provide virtual COM ports for rig control and PTT; and virtual audio cables for sending and receiving digital modes or SSB sound files. It's all in the SmartSDR Software User Guide.

73,
Craig, KØCF
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Jim K4JAF

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Any software packages such as DAX, CAT, Logging programs, Rtty Programs must be run on the computer and of course linked to the M models.  Just run a copy of SmartSDR on the computer to get DAX and CAT.  Then use the DAX and CAT to control your logging programs such as N1MM.
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Gary Johnson

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Then what you all are saying is that I either have to bring my computer with SmartSDR on it to the contest site OR LOAD SMARTSDR ON A COMPUTER THAT I DON'T OWN.  Interesting!!  Sort of defeats the "Stand Alone Radio theory".
(Edited)
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Craig - KØCF

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Not at all! Like any radio that is used with logging software, connection has to be made between the radio and the computer. This is, in the non-Flex world, done by com and audio cables. In the Flex, it is done by "virtual" cables via CAT and DAX. The cable connection is with an Ethernet cable in this case. There is no problem installing SmartSDR on any computer, as it is freely available and of no use without the radio. You do not have to run SmartSDR on the logging computer, only the CAT and DAX auxiliary programs, which are totally non-obtrusive. The radio is, in your scenario, still running "Stand Alone", but with connections to the logging software so that it can provide frequency and  mode information and respond to spots. It is as much stand-alone as any radio connected to the logging software. And, if the computer is not yours, the SmartSDR package can be quickly and easily uninstalled after the contest.

73,
Craig, KØCF
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Gary Johnson

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Thank you for the explanation.  I am still waiting for Flex to confirm this and explain what a "link local network" is.    It would be nice to have clear concise instructions in the manual to cover these COMMON actions/connections that almost every user will want to make..  It is beyond my understanding why I just can't utilize the USB ports on the 6600M to connect directly to the computer and then assign it a port number.  However, the manual warns you not to use these USB ports for connecting to a computer saying they are: "for SMARTSDR specific functions only".  Chapter 23.XXX says they are to be used to control tuner, amps, rotators, etc,  and then only with USB Cables purchased from Flex.
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Craig - KØCF

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Gary, the Flex 6000-series radios were designed from the beginning to be Ethernet-connected radios. The “M” series is a very recent addition to the line-up. The most powerful way of controlling the Flex is and will remain through SmartSDR. As to the local network, the recommended practice is to connect your PC to your internet router with an Ethernet cable, and to connect the Flex to the same router, or to an Ethernet switch connected to that router. This gives the radio connection to the internet for upgrades and remote operation, as well as the normal user interface functions. Connecting the radio direct to the PC via Ethernet will isolate the radio from the internet unless you “bridge” the connection in Windows.

There are very concise instructions on these “common connections” in the SmartSDR Software Users Guide, and the separate SmartSDR CAT manual (which contains full information about the CAT interface). It will be worthwhile to download copies from Flex and spend some time studying them. DAX operation is described in Chapter 29 of the SmartSDR manual. In SmartSDR CAT, you can define virtual Com ports for Rig control (CAT), Push-to-talk, Ethernet ports, WinKeyer interface, etc. All these ports, and no hardware required!

As Flex says, the USB ports on the radio are for connection to smart peripherals, such as linear amplifiers and antenna decoders. I have my Elecraft KPA500 connected to one for automatic band selection. I have a new Elecraft KPA1500 on the way and it will connect the same way but with an Elecraft-supplied cable. The USB cables do not have be purchased from Flex – they must, however, be FTDI chip-set cables. Others will not work. My USB-serial cable that connects to my KPA500 came from Amazon. And you can find the FTDI bit cables there as well. The new BandMaster V will connect with an ordinary USB A-B cable to these connectors for automatic antenna selection. Using the USB ports to connect to your computer would be redundant and unnecessary.

The Flex way of connecting to logging software through the Ethernet connection using SmartSDR CAT and DAX is a powerful and elegant way of doing it. Connecting to the PC via Ethernet is simple and very efficient. No external interface boxes (often EXPENSIVE interface boxes) are required. It is simple and clean, and once set up, happens behind-the-scenes.

The Flex 6000-series radios are a whole new paradigm, which requires leaving behind the old 20th century ways of doing things. I have been a ham for 59 years, and there is no way I would ever go back to the old ways! Welcome aboard!

73,
Craig, KØCF

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Jim K4JAF

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What is the number of the FTDI bit cable on Amazon?  Thanks..  
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Craig - KØCF

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They are apparently no longer available on Amazon. I should have checked before I posted that.
73,
Craig, KØCF
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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To be honest, if you really want to go the cable route, you can use a USB to serial adapter, configure it as a CAT port and then hook that to a computer. But that really is a pain in the neck. Installing SmartSDR is better and allows other things besides CAT - DAX for sound card devices, OTRSP and Winkeyer for CW keying. 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Gary-  Flex is a different architecture and it avoids most confusion if you look at it as such.  The 6600-M is a stand alone radio in the aspect that a control interface or user interface, in this case the M panel and SSDR-M Is integrated with the SDR radio.  So you can turn 6600-M and operate it without a computer.  but the computer/radio interface piece of this is a bit different than traditional rigs.. in fact its better.  All of the audio interface cables are virtual, and the CAT interfaces are virtual.  because of this, a copy of smartSDR for windows needs to be installed on the computer that will host the N1MM and interface with the 6600M.  As log as the virtual audio interface (SSDR-DAX) and the virtual serial (SSDR-CAT) portions are running and interfaced with your radio, you can setup the appropriate interfaces for N1MM based on the setup instructions in the online documents and flexradio.com. http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/using_n1mm_logger_with_smartsdr-pdf/

 The only thing that need connect your logging computer with the Flex are 2 network cables, and a network switch or even better a router that can hand out ip addresses automatically.  This is extensively more simple than cat RS232 cables, audio cables, sound cards etc etc. to make a superhet radio interface work.

I hope that makes sense?  its really quite easy once you have the concept of the interface understood.

 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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its also a lot simpler than trying to get an n1mm interface setup via the USB cat cables.  and will provide MUCH more functionality and many more options.
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Gary Johnson

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Amazing.  I haven't digested ALL of the SMARTSDR MANUAL, but I have read and tabbed the 6600M manual and the Flex 6600M manual does  not address the SmartSDR MANUAL but does also does not address the SMARTSDR CAT MANUAL, and I suppose a SMARTSDR DAX MANUAL.  Wouldn't it be nice if up front in the 6600M manual that it told you to also download and consult the SMARTSDR MANUAL, and the SMARTSDR CAT MANUAL, etc etc etc.  Maybe also add the "COMMON CONNECTIONS" Paragraph. 

Our radio club does not have the luxury of having an internet connection (a casualty of being in a remote quiet location) so a direct connection of the radio to the computer is needed.  When my new enlarged and more extensive shack is built at my QTH, we will be able to have all of te bells and whistles.  In the meantime we have what we bring to the site.

I guess I am dense, but if my radio (is a computer I'm told) has a full suite of SMARTSDR onboard, then why isn't it able to control the computer interface through the "LINK-LOCAL NETWORK".  Why does it have to talk to another version of SMARTSDR??  I understand it with a 6600 (non-M) radio because some of the SmartSDR is in the computer and some in the radio box.  This isn't supposed to be true of the 6600M.  And when the BORG decides to update my computer how will that affect my working settings.  My goal is to divorce myself as much as possible from the BORG and just play radio, not also play computer IT technician to boot.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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You actually have brought up some good points on the manual references, and I am sure conversations like this will be observed by the team that writes them.  They have a lot on their plate right now.(4 rigs and an Amp! in addition to SSDR updates). 

Do note that I left the internet out of the equation on purpose as it is not required.  I assume then that you either loaded your logging computer with N1MM offsite, or you brought the software in to load on the pc.  You can bring in a copy of SmartSDR (that loads the cat and dax applications) on a usb key, just like N1MM, or you can load it up offsite.  keep in mind that N1MM logger is updated almost weekly with fixes as well, so you should have a plan on bringing the latest versions for future contests.  As far as the "wiring"  the cables are just "different" (like the old apple slogan.. "think different").  no internet required, you just need 2 ethernet cables, one for the pc and one for the 6600-M.. and a simple router in between to make it more practical.  armed with that knowledge you should be able to get all needed interfaces up sans internet, with a lot less complexity than via RS232, wires and soundcards, and a lot more functionality, including the winkey emulator and even SO2R support that is provided with SSDR CAT.  SSDR CAT and DAX are full blown windows apps that require a PC to run at this time, they are not components of SSDR-M.  a feature request for this is on file  to add them to SSDR-M however.  We will need to see what the future brings, Another powerful benefit of the architecture is the ability to add new features and get a "new radio" via software periodically.
(Edited)
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Gary Johnson

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Section 5.5.0 on page 25 of 165 says:  The Flex 6400M / 6600M are FULLY self-contained radio systems, that provide ALL radio features when not connected to ANY computer network.  The network connection is optional and required only when upgrading or downgrading the installed version of SMARTSDR........

Section 5.5.1 talks about Ethernet cabling requirements

Section 5.5.2 is Direct PC Connection (Link-Local)

"The simplest method to connect your PC to your Felx-6400M/6600M is using a Link-Local connection.  Simply plug the included Ethernet cable into the Flex 6400M/6600M and then directly into the network connection on your PC.  Microsoft Windows will recognize your radio and establish a local only connection.  When the radio is activated it will begin to broadcast its presence on the link-local connection.  Note that in Link-local mode, your radio will not be connected to or available to other network connections on your PC.

In Gray ittalics underneath is:  "It is not necessary to use a "crossover" Ethernet Cable to establish a link-local connection with the Flex 6400M/6600M.  The Ethernet interface on the radio has a smart sensing feature that will detect a link-local connection and make proper adjustments internally.

WHAT AM I MISSING HERRE??  NOWHERE does it indicate the computer has to have SmartSDR on it.  OR WHAT IS A LINK-LOCAL CONNECTION GOOD FOR??  Maybe for operating the radio from a computer just like a standard non-M radio, which then begs the question of why I spent an extra $1000.00 to eliminate the need for the computer attachment.  I'd have fewer connections to make running a standard non-M radio with a Maestro.  We have established with another club members Flex that "PORTABILITY" is not one of Flex's strong points.  The set up time gets too cumbersome - hence the desire to go stand alone with the 6600M.

And I guess all of  this begs the question - does the version of  SMARTSDR installed on my computer have to match the version on the radio??  Otherwise I have to ensure that I have downloaded the same version on each platform.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Well since you already have a computer with N1MM on it I dont see why you would need to spend another $1000 on another computer you would need to run the N1MM on anyway,  just install SSDR on it to establish the cat and audio interface with the logging PC..  you can put it on a usb key.  The radio will run fine without a logging app,  in all its glory so it is stand-alone.   You can run the logging app, as you probably did, stand alone without an interface as well.   SSDR does need to be the same version on the transceiver.  and you dont need to run the full SmartSDR application, just SmartSDR CAT and dax. 
(Edited)
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Wayne

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If the version on your computer does not match the version on your radio it will not connect it will show you the version screen or tell you it needs to upgrade.
(Edited)
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Wayne

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Chris it has been stated before clearly here that if your running ssdr on a computer via connection to the rig it MUST be the same version. Why are you saying otherwise you are confusing those of us who already purchased an M model to try to appease someone who has not and most likely will not purchase one by the way it sounds.
(Edited)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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You obviously mis read.  once again, the version on the computer DOES need to match the one running on the 6600-M.   "SDR does need to be the same version on the transceiver."  yes they need to match.  I am not trying to appease anyone, what I  I am trying to do is help you interface your contest logger with your rig.    
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Mike, W8BE

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I would think running the 6400/6600 M models would be no different than running a Maestro.   

From reading your post I get the impression that you think you need to run SmartSDR to make N1MM communicate to the radio.   You will be only using the CAT / DAX programs on the pc that is running  N1MM. Your pc will need to be connected via Ethernet to a switch or router as well as your radio.  

You will need to set a port in SmartSDR CAT  for CAT control.  I also have another one set up as a WinKeyer port . 

As I type this I am running SmartSDR on my Maestro and DXLabs , N1MM, and FRStack CWX  on my pc.   My pc only has SmartSDR CAT and SmartSDR DAX running.  


Here is my N1MM setup 




Here is my SmartSDR CAT setup.  Notice Com 6 is CAT for N1MM and Com 8 is Winkeyer




Hope this helps...Many more folks are more knowledgeable than me and may have a better way to do it.