CW Skimmer with Flex 6500 Remote DAX

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  • Updated 9 months ago
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Hi All,

I've seen loads of posts saying that to get CW Skimmer working with the Flex 6000 series rigs, SDR-Bridge is basically a requirement. However... And I can't believe I'm the only person who wants to do this... SDR-Bridge doesn't seem to understand SmartLink, and therefore doesn't seem to work in remote mode.

I could use 3KHz Radio, sure, but given that DAX can pipe the full 192K over the internet, has anyone got a reliable way to configure CW Skimmer so that it'll be able to decode the DAX IQ stream correctly? It'd be nice to actually be able to decode the full bandwidth since the rig is capable and the software should allow for it!

Any advice on how to configure this (without saying "grab SDR-Bridge, DDUtil or Slice Master" - none of these work with Smartlink at all!!!) would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks,
John (M5ET)
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John M5ET

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Posted 9 months ago

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Bob G W1GLV

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CW Skimmer was never meant for SDR radios. To get it to work locally requires a lot of kludges, never mind over the internet. After your frustration level climbs to 100% you finally give up, at least I do. There's got to be a better way.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Bob, Try using CW skimmer with SliceMaster. It works , but you do need computer horse power as Skimmer is cpu intensive. No kludges required.

John, yes those items are not smartlink aware, so you need to look down a different path. I would recommend to run it on a local pc and RDP to it.
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Bob Gerzoff, WK2Y

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This is exactly what you are not asking for and worse I don't use CW skimmer. However, I do use Slicemaster, and it works great and the support from K1DBO is also great.  Based on this thread it sounds pretty easy to get it working:
 
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/how-to-get-cw-skimmer-working

73, 
Bob, WK2Y
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John M5ET

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I'd love to use this method, I really would. But Slice Master doesn't understand SmartLink, so won't even tell me there's a radio available!
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K1DBO

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SmartLink has been on my to-do list since Flex added SmartLink support to DAX. Mostly, I’m curious to see how well it would work with the programs that Slice Master supports. Like Michael, though, I think a computer at the remote location is the right way to go..

If you have a VPN connection between your local computer and your remote radio, Slice Master should work for you now. SoftEther is one option I’ve heard mentioned before but others should work too. Slice Master also supports a start-up option to specify the IP address of the radio to connect to. If you are a firewall ninja, you might find this option useful.
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John M5ET

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Unfortunately the remote location is a network I cannot manage, nor install a VPN client on (it actively finds and blocks VPNs), and physical space is at a premium. Bandwidth, however, is not!

Fingers crossed that you're able to add SmartLink support - that'd be awesome, and you'd make a lot of people very happy, I imagine!
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John M5ET

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Bob, surely if it can read an IQ stream, it can read an IQ stream? It shouldn't matter the source of the stream if Skimmer is capable of decoding them?

Michael, thanks for the idea. I was hoping not to have to install an extra PC at the other end for this, especially since the SmartLink DAX works so well!

I'll keep looking, but if anyone else has a suggestion then I'm all ears!

John (M5ET)
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Let me expand on this  a bit, and hear me out.

I really started to look at the big picture.

After 15 years of remote operation, and 5 of those without a PC at the far end, I came to the conclusion that in today's world, having a PC at the far end was the best way to go.  

First, it only ensured that I move data on the internet that I really need.  Since we have no way to control the health of the pipe between the radio and the user, why send it.   

In my station, I only move the data I need.  The remote PC screen, the actual radio control and the audio that I need to hear.  Doing so limits my upload bandwidth to less than 1mb/sec upload and latency well under 100msec.  My station is over 140km's away.

I also don't actually get to me remote station for over months at a time.

I run Windows 10 PRO and an old I5 PC with 16G of ram.  

If you are serious about your remote operation, just about any computer you can buy at Costco or Walmart is more than powerful enough to be your remote PC.  The nice thing about this is you only have to set up 1 work station and you are not have to install an configure everything on multiple devices.

Then, if you want to share it with your friends, you only need to share the remote login info.  

That's how I do it and for the past 5 years, it has been by far the best and most stable of about 7 different configurations I have tried since 2005.  

Mike 
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi John,
Alex said he will be releasing an all new CW skimmer product, hopefully in 2019.  This would be a good opportunity to integrate his decoding server software with SSDR for the PFSkimmer idea. 

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/pfskimer_what_is_the_possibility_for_a_smartsdr_dis...

It would be nice to have an integrated product that works well and reliably and keeps complexity to a minimum.  And support remote PC operation. 

An integrated SSDR display with live cluster spots, CW skimmer spots and CW decoding would also eliminate the need to duplicate the waterfall in two places ( SSDR and CW Skimmer).  

Maybe the timing will be right for FRS to implement this in V3 or V4.

Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 & SSDR-W  V 2.4.9
Win10





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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Al that will be great if Alex does update CWskimmer to be more 6xxx friendly. I too use it with SliceMaster, I just have 8GB RAM and 16GB would be way better. Especially for me as I seem to have a bad habit of having keeping Firefox windows open. Yes, I'm a Firefox window hoarder. Just counted 15 instances each with multiple tab of at least 5 to 10 in each, a resource hog, but able to run SmartSDR, CWskimmer, HRD as well as a bunch of other programs like Excel running too.
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bahillen

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The fundamental problem with CW Skimmer that you are trying is that there is just too much data for DAX to pass. Maybe there could be some new process to compress the data but I doubt it. I have not tried reducing DAX IQ to 24,000 with CW Skimmer. I have with bandwidth tests and has major direct impact.

To learn the impact of the data, start you Windows Task Manager. Look at the performance tab then see the resources you are using. Especially the Ethernet, CPU, and Memory. The ethernet will show how much up and down network you are using. I have found that RAM Memory is important because if it isn’t large enough then the operating system starts swapping information to hard disk and slow your computer and cause interrupts. Measure your ISP up and down speeds at remote site, home site and public WiFi.

What is important for you is how much Bandwidth you use on the internet as you start SmartSDR, Slice Master and radio functions like panadapters, receivers, DAX channels and DAX IQ channels. Now you can change settings to reduce the bandwidth you need.

Getting to the specific issue, when I turn on CW Skimmer the ethernet bandwidth goes up to 20 Gb. UGH. Just turning on a DAX IQ Channel used 1.5 GB for each channel. My comcast performance is 80-100 Gb down and 15 to 20 GB up. Remember that with a remote station up is the down bandwidth at your home or laptop. It is not like downloading a movie. My maximum bandwidth using my iPhone as a hotspot is 5 GB. Some public WiFi s max is are 2 GB.

For a ham, I find loosing a link for a few seconds, it disrupts your contact and is demotivating, not fun. I was on a ship last month and only had 2 GB of bandwidth. When others using the same WiFi system were on I would loose my radio link. I just put my laptop away and went to the pool. Not happy.

Running DAX remotely it really a breakthrough. Now you need to learn to measure network performance and adjust settings for bandwidth conservation and what you can implement dependably. I love my new CW Skimmer and need to learn how to find ways to tune things to reduce needed bandwidth. Setting everything to 192,000 is not a good approach.

It seems we are on the bleeding edge of this technology and we will all make strides in remotely operating our stations. Must have patience.

73
Bill W9JJB
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John M5ET

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Hi Bill,

I think you're confusing gigabit with megabit. I'm not aware of any phones, or cellular networks, capable of a 5 gigabit link, and very few computers have anything faster than a gigabit NIC in them unless you specifically purchase a 10GigE card, a special switch, an accompanying router, and pay a small fortune for your internet.

Nonetheless that's irrelevant. If we assume your units (GB and Gb - the two are different by a magnitude of 8!) are supposed to be MB and Mb, which is far more reasonable, then the bandwidth required should be 20Mb or so. Given that my remote site runs a gigabit pipe (unused the majority of the time I'm on the radio) and my home internet sustains 220 megabit down without issues, I don't think bandwidth will be an issue.

My question was not "what's the feasibility?", it was "how do you configure the software to play nicely together?". There are a lot of people who have asked this, but every answer I've seen seems to hinge on a helper application, and as we discussed earlier, none of them seem SmartLink aware yet. Kudos to K1DBO for stepping up and saying he'll try to get SmartLink support added, and fingers crossed that the "all-new" CW Skimmer has better integration... But for here and now, does anyone have a workaround or set of settings that might get me started skimming more than 3KHz remotely please?

For what it's worth, I work in IT/networking/security and had already considered the bandwidth.

John (M5ET)
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bahillen

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John

I did misstate Gb and Mb. Was using my iPhone and didn’t check as it was in question while replying. I was focused on documenting my struggles with learning and using networking to get to a good place implementing a remote station.

The members of the Flex Community that are network professionals like yourself are helping the rest of us getting to a functional network implementation. I am seeing that the remoting of a station has some limiting characteristics on what can be expected from our radios, 3 rd party apps and the pipe hooking it together.

I was involved with cellular stations and saw the integration of a large scope of equipment, software, versions and architecture. Dependencies are massive. Users a not very considerate when system doesn’t meet their expectations even if technically not practical. I will give up features for operating stability every time. The old statement of you have to learn to walk before you can run is where we are.

Exciting times.

73 Bill W9JJB