I have a 6400 on order, so the answer has to work for both a 6300 and the new 6400. I know, nobody outside of Flex has seen it, but still...
The manual for the Expert amp emphasizes, in a way that the Alpha manual does not, that while it cant detect RF and do an automatic band switch, it really, really doesn't want to do that. The Alpha doesn't care (probably because it's tubes and tubes don't care as much). I've run it for years without issue; when I forget to change bands, it does it for me, no fuss that I can detect.
Now, when I check around the forum, the obvious response is to simply deploy DDUTIL. I have never done so. I have no inherent objection, but I have a VNC display, so screen real estate is at a premium as is bandwidth. I am not on version 2 and am unsure, in any event, whether a true remote will offer me any significant relief on the bandwidth issue. I'm running fine with remoterig and VNC today and expect to do so at least some of the time tomorrow.
Is there a way to do this without DDUTIL? If I run it, what do I have to monitor there, or should I be monitoring somethign else? The Alpha's little program is very nice, doesn't take up too much screen real estate, and enables complete remote control and status. I need the Expert, with or without DDUTIL, to do the same.
It appears, also, that the necessary control cable isn't quite right. If I have to make my own after all, what, exactly, is the schematic for it? I am able to barely do soldering, so a vague reference to so-and-so a pin isn't quite enough for me. I want to know what pin from what interface goes where.
9 pin (Radio via FTDI) --------> 15P (Amp)
Pin 2 (RXD) ------------------> Pin 9 (TXD)
Pin 3 (TXD) ------------------> Pin 1 (RXD)
Pin 5 (Ground) ------------------> Pin 4 (Ground)
I also solder the drain wire to the shield for additional RF immunity and to prevent ground loops.
Note that CAT control is exclusively through the 15 pin interface on the amp.
You need a genuine FTDI USB to serial adapter for the radio.
The USB cable from the amp should be connected to a Windows PC which allows you to use the control panel software, and it does NOT provide any CAT control.
I use an SPE 2K-FA with Flex 6500 without DDUTIL.
Here is how:
I use a USB to serial cable between the amp and 6500. In the 6500 I set the cable up for the SPE. The SPE is setup for Flex CAT control.
This achieves the band switching automatically. It also sets your power level based on what you configure the amp to want for drive level.
Now for remote on/off and control you have two choices:
1) Use a USB over network thing like virtual here (see www.virtualhere.com) to make the USB port available over the internet. If you set that up correctly then you can use the SPE console USB program from anywhere and have 100% control over the amp. This is what I do.
2) You can use a remote relay switch like: https://dlidirect.com/products/din-relay-iv Configure one of the relays to supply +12V to the SPE amp remote on (its in the cat connector). Then configure your SPE amp to come up in the enabled state.
In mode #2 you will only have on/off control of the amp using the web relay. But if you configure things right that might be enough. When I use an iPad I use this mode. With the iPad I do the following:
1) Turn off the amp
2) On the iPad SSDR I tune - This lets my antenna tuner tune with low power
3) I turn on the amp. It comes up enabled and ready to run.
Since the USB-serial cat connection is handling band switching you are simply good to go but if you change bands and need to tune you should turn the amp back off again so your tuner can tune under lower power.
If you want to use the tuner in the SPE amp itself then you will most likely need to operate using option 1.
Option 1 works well with a remote computer but does not work well on an iPad since the SPE console software will not run on an iPad.
These options work very well. Very reliable as long as you know how to setup your firewall to allow the signals and devices to work over the internet.
In fact as I type this I am at work, I have SSDR on my radio at home running on my work computer. I have the SPE amp turned on and was trying to work some DX.
This is by no means as integrated as the Power Genius will be but it is workable.
Mark - WS7M
Since I seem to be the outlier in the group, I use DDUTIL because it gives me not only Band Switching and full control of power levels but it also allows me to remotely turn my 2K_FA on and off. I also use DDUTIL for my SteppIR and to control my Rotor.
Been running it this way remotely for years. DDUTIL is mostly set it and forget it as it really does not consume any screen real estate except when you are setting it up.
I have a good friend helping (a qualified electronics tech) and we carefully put this together.
The DB9->DB15 is failing. The USB pathway is failing. My intent was to have the USB->RS232-DB15 out of the Flex and the USB wired up to the PC. Nothing worked and as you will see, after things failed, I tried to hook everything up in various ways to just the PC just to see what is going on. Nothing works.
1. We verified that we had a 'real' FTDI chip and used the actual FTDI USB-to-RS232 that Ria recommended. It works perfectly with the Green Heron Controller when plugged into the PC, so we know it isn't some sort of brain dead manufacturing failure. That is to say, the FTDI chip shows up, the PC sees it, and it can carry communications, albeit on someone else's device.
2. We "rung out" the wiring carefully. The male plug of the DB9 is numbered left to right (so pin 1 is the upper left of the row of five). We indeed have pin 2, which should be RXD, going to pin 9 (TXD on the Expert side). Pin 3 (TXD) on the DB9 is going to pin 1 (RXD) of the 15 pin. Pin 5 of the DB9 (bottom left pin on the DB9 male) to pin 4 of the DB 15. I just "re-rung" that out as I type this and even validated that the little helpful guide numbers on the connectors matched.
3. The USB interface to the PC worked, momentarily. It did not work at all with the USB code (I could not unplug all of the USB interfaces, turning SmartCAT off changed nothing, and it would not let me put in an ID string by hand). But, when I configured the COM port for the straight-up USB cable, it briefly worked the first time with the RS232 version of the code. It didn't do much or allow us to change much, but it at least showed us the SPE display.
4 When hooked up to the Flex (as far as I know, accurately) nothing worked.
5. Just to see if we could get it to work, we tried to connect the USB-to-RS232 interface to CAT 1 out the back of the SPE amp directly from the PC. It would connect, but no data flowed.
Ria's note does not discuss setting up the CAT functionality in the SPE. I assume it must be set to Flex Radio? I think it was set to Elecraft at first. Changing that had no visible effect.
Another oddity: The original cable had RXD->RXD and TXD->TXD. As I read the Expert manual, that (rather than what is traditionally done, by connecting RXD to TXD and TXD to RXD) is what the manual seems to say. Yet, everyone here says hook it up "normally". I did try, briefly, wiring them in reverse but if anything, it was worse. It looks like if I do what is recommended in Ria's site, and by the community generally, the PC *thinks* it is hooking up, though nothing happens.
I also read the manual and set the baud rate to 115K, which had no effect either.
I am leaving the site where this all is and may not get back for a day or two. Suggestions on how to proceed?
BTW, to clarify the preceding note. I actually spent almost all the time with Ria's wiring. So it is RXD to TXD and TXD to RXD. But, as I said, the actual cable someone else made and the manual seem to want TXD to TXD, RXD to RXD. Except for a brief experiment, which did no better and maybe worse, I did not do that.
Did you have to uninstall Smart SDR to get this stupid USB utility to work?
Or, do you all figure out how to make the RS232 utility work over the USB wire? On that path, the only one I made briefly work, at least I could tell it what COM port to use and it sorta seemed to work. For a little while. This is all USB cable to USB port, for this discussion anyway.
1. There is no successful communication between _anything_ and the SPE Amp. It doesn't matter what path I tried. To solve this (which precedes even getting Flex in the picture), I need, I think, to get a reliable pathway from the PC to the Amp. In other words, this problem is so significant, I could not hook up this amp to ANY rig whatever. I need to hook up the USB from the PC to the USB port on the SPE amp.
A. I need to either make the USB version of the utility work or
B. the RS232 version work (by describing the COM port??).
The USB utility seems to think I haven't unplugged everything and refuses to find the device. I need to unplug, even if this includes uninstalling Flex (do I really have to do that?).
The RS232 version worked, briefly, once, but did not have full function even when it did. It seems to "connect" but I am very suspicious that all this means now is that it "connects" with the FTDI chip but the data flows no farther.
I do not get the SPE display no matter what path I take. I get a blank screen.
2. The DB9->DB15 cable. I am glad Ria herself has chipped in and confirmed it should be TXD->RXD and RXD->TXD. That's what I thought and what I was using most of the day. It is how the cable is configured right now. I do not know why it is failing. I need to get this understood so I can get the path where the Flex talks to the amp working. Maybe DDUTIL can help, maybe the regular utility can, temporarily. But, ultimately, I see no reason why I shouldn't expect the Flex to actually control this as of March 2018. Right now, until #1 resolves, it is not clear what my options are and whether the cable I have is good or bad. In other words, it is just possible that fixing #1 fixes this or unmasks what is going on or something. Or not. But, straight USB is not working, either and I need to find a way to get that going and maybe it is easier to figure this one out.
3. The remote power on pin thing. If I can get the software working to where it turns the rig on and off, I may not care about this problem. I have worked the Alpha by using its utility to turn the amp on and off (soft on, soft off, just as it should be here) for years. If there is a reason to do the "auto" power that I don't now get, I can wander off and find an answer. This one, at least, seems independent of the rest.
I went out to the shack and repeated things, paying close attention to the instructions as amended by this thread.
Here's what happened:
1. I got the USB version of the program to accept the product ID and begin working. Once this took place, a lot seemed to improve in a hurry.
2. I am doing the replace-the-ALC tuning right now. The cable I made (to Mia's specifications) simply started working. Don't know why. Just did.
So. thanks to one and all. As far as I can tell, the situation is resolved. I don't know if I will bother with the Power on/off business as (as I have said before) powering on and off with the utility is what I am used to.