Alternative to DAX and CAT implementation

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OK, this is likely really worth pursuing. I think Burt said it best a year or so ago. It was words to this effect, Microsoft will not lose any sleep, sales, revenue because SSDR goes south with every update of Microsoft Windows 10 but the reverse isn't true.  Sorry Burt, that isn't quite what you actually said but I think it captures the sentiment of it.

I am not sure it even matters if Flex somehow zigged when they should have zagged as far as the current implementation of DAX and/or CAT or whether they hit every note in the song. There is some 'cost' to having the constant surfacing of people every time there is an update complaining that their SSDR 'ecosystem' got hosed. The technical term for that is 'brittle'. It doesn't matter if it's even a single user, it has to be a marketing 'oh crap'. OK, that was the setup.

I've often'd wondered what a client program would have to do to natively process the UDP packets forming DAX. Rather than all the gyrations of virtual audio devices or whatever other OS specific magic currently happens ditto for CAT, is there a more straight-forward approach? In software an adaptor is a small piece of code to allow two incompatible surfaces to mate, to allow two interfaces that are incompatible become compatible. 

While I don't use Fldigi RigCat, I've also never heard of it being brittle. I suspect if FRS altered the implementation of DAX and CAT to be less dependent upon a Microsoft-ism and wrote the shim piece for developers to incorporate into their code, giving it to N1MM, HRD, et al, they'd implement it. The net result is a more stable user experience.

I just don't think people should have to 'take one for the team' every time Microsoft updates their software. Another alternative, if running concurrently with an update is the issue, is rather than DAX and CAT starting at boot which, by the way, means they are running during an update, they can start with and terminate with the start and termination of SSDRfW. 
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Walt - KZ1F

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Posted 2 years ago

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DrTeeth

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This is where the next or even current generation of SDRs with an embedded OS will have an advantage, viz not barfing with each windows update. That is what Flex is now up against.
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Steven G1XOW

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"I just don't think people should have to 'take one for the team"  ...I entirely agree Walt.

In fact the testing I've done recently suggests that the root cause (the trigger if you will) is probably pre-existing ghosted com ports for SSDR/CAT. they were there long before the M/S upgrade, but removing the ghost ports first solves the trigger that W10 then trips on (that being only the symptom).

So, I am not sure it is appropriate to accuse MS without proper evidence in this case. It would not be fair to expect Windows to figure out a whole mucking fuddle of comports, some of which are not registered correctly and end up getting the wrong driver association too. The problem is only with FRS virtual ports, real comports work fine without issue afterwards.

At the end of the day MS won't care about this piffle of a problem, so FRS needs to find a better way 'cos this issue is certainly not going away any time soon.

Tim has said FRS has little evidence to work from, but there is certainly plenty of user examples on this forum going back over 12 months, and I suspect many more to come over the next few weeks.
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Michael Coslo

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Sort of agreed - If FlexRadio was the only group that had the problems. People using fldig and log40OM have had problems, and the Anniversary edition is reportedly borking some folks Linux partitions. 

As for whether or not it is fair, I dunno. I use both Windows and Unix systems, I do expect the Windows end to have issues. This is based on experience dating way back, to XP and Vista days. This is just how it is. 

RIght now, I'm doing the Anniversary update on my home W10 machine. We shall see if Ubuntu Mate survives. 

Initial thoughts are that if you do not sit with the machine to make certain that the boot loader doesn't try to boot to Linux, you might do okay, I suspect that if you don't select Windows to boot from, the boring begins. 

I'm at about the 76 percent level now. I'll report on whether SmartSDR, DAX, CAT and Linux survive upon final reboot. 
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Michael Coslo

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First boot upon using W10 Anniversary edition. I get a DAX driver error. Going to reboot to see id Linux survived....

Linux Partition is okay.....


Rebooting - changed background screen on me. Bluetooth not working. 

Dax stream Driver error. No connection with fldigi or other programs

Serial Slice A COM4 reports Error.

Gonna go troubleshoot now. Only have com1, used for APRS radio, Com4 for flexRadio serial port, and Com104 FlexRadio serial port.

This is why I have DogPark on my Mac and a W7 install in bootcamp. I don't make these mistakes when using them. I need 100 percent uptime. 8^)
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Michael Coslo

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I switched over to the W7 partition on my Mac, and everything works perfectly. fldigi and the other programs all work FB. My initial reaction is I will probably  revert my Windows 10 machine to W7. I'll do a help desk ticket, but I have no doubts that this will happen over and over again on Windows 10.
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Walt - KZ1F

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And that, certainly is at the heart of it Mike. Something was changed between win7 and Win10 that is causing some degree of heartburn for users. Even if there was but onee incident with a given user that user is likely driven to a defensive crouch every time there is a indication or announced windows update. That, minimally has the potential effect of lowering user experience.

This is why I was suggesting if there was an alternative that would circumvent the brittle areas. Likely one of the first conversations Howard and I ever had was on why were vendors so stuck in using forty year old technology. Where Tim said FRS was trying to encourage developers to natively use the interfaces FRS provides but they haven't been largely successful, perhaps publish detailed instructions. I think convincing developers set in their ways to use wireshark and decipher an esoteric structure to pull out the relevant information is, predictably, likely to be met with disinterest.

I think I may be able to facilitate this by enlisting others in the effort to natively process DAX data, through a separate conversation on hear complete with source code.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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As far as creating a batch file to open all the files instead of having then start automatically when the PC starts....., this is my batch file

@echo off
cd "C:\Program Files\FlexRadio Systems\SmartSDR v1.8.4\SmartSDR CAT"
start Cat.exe
@echo off
cd "C:\Program Files\FlexRadio Systems\SmartSDR v1.8.4\DAX"
start DAX.exe
@echo off
cd "C:\DDUtil_V3"
start DDUtil_V3.exe
@echo off
cd "C:\Program Files\FlexRadio Systems\SmartSDR v1.8.4"
start SmartSDR.exe
All you need to do is create text file with that text inside and save it as a FLEX.bat file. 

Just Right Click on an empty space of the Desktop and create a New Text Document



Inside the text document type or copy/paste the text I have above



Save As "Flex.bat" or whatever name you like but make sure it is .bat and you are done.

Remember to remove CAT and DAX from the Startup programs.
Probably the easiest way is to


1. click Windows Sign + R to open a Run window
2. Type MSCONFIG and hit enter



3. This will open the System Configuration app. In there Unselect DAX and CAT from the Startup Tab



4. Hit Apply and you are all done.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Do you modify the registry to take cat and dax out of the autostart on boot?
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DrTeeth

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Walt, shortcuts are placed in the startup group  and not the registry.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Based on our support data, what breaks are the kernel mode drivers that emulate hardware (UARTS and sound cards), not the CAT and DAX applications themselves.

And RigCAT has no kernel mode drivers, so it is not a fair comparison.  It just opens a com port (UART), be it physical or virtual.

The ideal thing would be for third-party app developers to start transitioning from serial ports and start using TCP/IP as the inter-app communication protocol.  For audio, dump the klutzy Windows sound card interface and stream the audio via a UDP port for low-latency audio processing.  This would be a transitional change as you would have to support the legacy way of interfacing apps to the radio along with offering the new network based communication methods.

We have asked several of these app developers to consider this proposal and offered technical assistance in making the transition.  To date, unfortunately, we have not seen any significant progress, but we still hold out hope.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Tim, being a software developer, I would like technical assistance doing that. I don't mean acquiring the UDP port, rather what to do with the packets once received.. As far as CAT, my logger already directly controls / monitors the radio.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Just contact Steve.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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This is by no means a Flex-only problem.  Although the big 'upgrade' hasn't hit either of my shack computers yet, I've already received 2 emails from Brother, warning that I will probably have to uninstall and reinstall the software for my DCP-L2540W Laser Printer after the upgrade.  The upgrade did show up on my wife's laptop and I installed it yesterday with no problems there, except for the fact that it took over 5 hours to do!
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G8ZPX

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If it took over 5 hours then you have bigger problems than a Windows update. It is typically finished in under a hour on a decent spec machine. You may have a failing (or completely full) hard drive, bad sectors, or other issues making it so slow.

In other words if the PC was not fully A1 condition beforehand (a full health check is always wise) then expect the update to go south too.