Does SmartSDR CAT replace vspMgr

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Is SmartCAT meant to replace vspMgr and other virtual com port creators? If so, we need a way to select and change virtual pairs to our preference. Example: com5-com6, verses com5-com15.
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W5UN_Dave

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Posted 5 years ago

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Once you get used to the schema that SmartSDR CAT uses, it is actually more convenient... you always know which pair you are using because the numbers match up -- only ten units higher. It also sets up shared pairs such that the lower number (i.e. COM%, COM6, COM7) is the end that is available to your third party software. This is handy because many legacy programs are limited to about COM 10 and lower.

I have found SmartSDR CAT to be simpler to use and configure, with some power detection features that make it easy to find "lost" ports.... as in... "Now, what port did I use to connect FlDigi?"

The only problem I have found is that SmartSDR CAT requires the presence of you 6500/6700 before it defines/opens the ports. If you want to use the ports without having the 6x00 rig attached, then you may have a problem and need to use VSPManager..
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BobT, Elmer

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Dave,

Yes, CAT for SmartSDR is meant to replace all other virtual com port systems.

Since CAT for SmartSDR automatically assigns the ports and builds the connections, the "plus 10" spacing was selected in a effort to preserve as many low-numbered ports as possible for those legacy programs that cannot enumerate above COM 8 or so.

I personally have always used adjacent numbers (5-6, 7-8) as you suggest but haven't found it a problem to switch to the wider pairing scheme.

I'm sure Tim would be glad to enter a User Story on this subject so it can be evaluated as a potential future enhancement.

73,

BobT, K5KDN
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I have already created a User Story (feature request) for changing SHARED virtual com port end-points.
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BobT, Elmer

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Ken,

Actually, that is close but not exactly the case. Once ports are created in CAT they continue to exist (in the Device Manager) until you physically delete them. They are still active regardless of whether a 6000 series radio is connected or not. The difference is that "dedicated" and "PTT" ports have one end hardwired to CAT (and that end is only talking to the radio) so they are of no value unless the radio is running.

On the other hand, "shared" ports are just virtual cable pairs and, once created, do not depend on CAT or the radio. You can use them, for instance, with DDUtil, to connect between programs. Not too useful but might come in handy for some situations.

73,

BobT, K5KDN
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Thanks, Bob. I hadn't noticed that.
So, for example, If I take my computer out portable with my Flex-1500 without the 6500 hooked up, I can use the shared port numbers with DDUtil to connect the 1500 to my logging & Digi programs? If that is so, it is another good reason to make the switch. (I had already deleted VSPManager, but haven't tried to use the 1500 stand-alone..... I am having too much fun with the 6500!)
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BobT, Elmer

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You have it right.

Actually, all the FlexRadio "ports" that you see in Device Manager are simply pairs of virtual cables. If CAT is running, one end of each "dedicated" (and "PTT") pair is tied to CAT. If CAT is not running, it is just another virtual pair so you can use them as you describe. (I think this is true of the "PTT" ports but I need to revisit that code to make sure, I've slept once since I wrote it :>).

The "shared" ports are always available, regardless if CAT is running or not.

73,

BobT
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Greg

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Extremely dumb question here and sorry for the ignorance in advance... :)

I thought SmartCAT only had one pair available for an external program to communicate with the radio. Has that changed? And does it have the capability to pass info to a hard-wired COM port (that goes to a stationmaster for antenna and amp control)?

Thanks
Greg
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Greg, That is what you use DDUtil for. It takes the info from SmartSDR CAT and sends it to multiple programs and other devices. Neat stuff!
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BobT, Elmer

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Not a dumb question at all.

You can set up as many ports as you desire (up to the limits of the operating system). Check out the CAT documentation at:

http://support.flex-radio.com/Downloa...

I'm a little behind in updating the docs but the basic information on the types of ports you can create, and how to create them, is accurate.

No, there is no capability at this time to connect to a hardware COM port for device control at this time but it is under consideration.

73,

BobT, K5KDN
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Greg

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Thanks for the info and support Bob.

Greg
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Paul RN3A

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I have posted this question some time ago, but there was no response... Anyhow, I have big concerns about current functionality provided by SSCAT VSP. Let's have a look at it this way:
- Most of the old Ham programs address Com ports from 1 to 8 only.
- Some newer programs can see Com ports up to 16.
- And only few can see ALL Com ports, which are created in the system.
As far as I am concerned the number of maximum available Com ports is limited by the software development platform.
Is it enough? Imagine the following situation - you have 8 or even more physical ports to control rotators, SteppIR antenna(s), PA(s) and other peripheral equipment. Then you need certain amount of Virtual port pairs (PAIRS, this is very important) to control SSDR CAT, PTT, FSK, CWX, etc... Given all that, you need at least 8 physical + 10 Virtual = 18 ports. What if you have Ethernet to Com servers for remote operation? In this case you will also need Com port splitters/combiners as well... So you may total up to 30 - 40 ports, both physical and Virtual. Easy.
If somebody has similar setup, it becomes a real challenge. And you have to reserve ports 1 to 8, and 9 to 16 for Applications, Rotor control etc. All virtual ports should be moved way up.
SSCAT defaults you to pair 4-14, which eats up your precious port in 1-16 range. If you keep adding ports, it eats up 5-15, 6-16, ...and counts... pairs.
Of course, you can plan ahead and keep the ports in 1-16 range assigned to something else, but then you end up with another problem - how to assign REQUIRED port pair to SSCAT?
Unfortunately, FRS did not use proven and reliable solutions, like provided by Steve Nance K5FR or Eltima, and decided to take different approach. Let it be. (Re-inventing the wheel?) But in the way it is developed now, it pretty much limits your options to a very basic setup. DDUtil offers a lot of fancy things you can do, but in a big picture it is incompatible with SSCAT VSP functionality.
I suggest the following enhancements to SSCAT VSP management and control:
- Make it fully compatible with K5FR and Eltima VSP system.
- Let user decide which VSP pair to create and assign to CAT, PTT, CWX, etc... Please DO NOT default anything!!! Or, at least, please introduce an Expert mode or something...
So far, I am absolutely not satisfied with both SSCAT design and performance. I consider it a major step back from PSDR. Having a GREAT radio, but with very limited and clumsy interface to rest of the World - this simply doesn't sound right...
FRS guys, can you PLEASE comment? This is my second attempt to get any attention to the subject.
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Eric - KE5DTO, Employee

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We looked at this early on in the design process for SmartCAT. We asked whether we wanted to try to put everything possible in the SmartSDR universe into the CAT interface. We quickly realized that the logical answer to this is a resounding NO! If any part of this seems unclear, ask Bob Tracy (and then quickly duck).

We know that we have to provide CAT functionality to integrate with existing programs. But the fact is that COM ports and the CAT language that goes with it are antiquated and are begging to replaced with something better. Something like an API direct to the radio over a modern interface like ethernet.

This is what we have built.
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Paul RN3A

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Thank you for reply. Indeed, COM ports design and logic - this is a legacy from computers stone age. Can't disagree with this. And modern computers very often do not have any serial ports at all.
Majority of Ham stuff, which is already in service still require good old Serial Com ports. We are talking about backwards compatibility. I would love to get rid of Com ports and replace them with something else. But with what? API direct or something like that - this is what will come tomorrow. I want to use my radio today!

I am asking for two things, which should provide more flexibility for entire system configuration.

- CAT and VSP system needs to be compatible with already existing technology. I've mentioned Eltima as an example. If a user can't avoid using additional ports, why creating a Zoo of different incompatible VSP systems?

- SSCAT needs to allow user to decide which port numbers to assign to a new VSP pair. This will allow for much more flexibility, and free up your options in the rest of your system configuration. Or at least move up increment for higher port number in VSP pair from 10 to 20 or 30.... Please do not block any ports in 1 to 16 range.

Is it possible?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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It is possible and we have a feature request added and it is under consideration for allowing the user to modify the shared vcom ports
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W5UN_Dave

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I second Tim's suggestion
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Ernest - W4EG

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I compiled the answers to this question; as provided by posters in this article.

Does SmartSDR CAT Replace VSPMgr

Yes, CAT for SmartSDR is meant to replace all other virtual com port systems.

1.SmartSDR CAT requires the presence of you 6500/6700 before it defines/opens the ports. If you want to use the ports without having the 6x00 rig attached, then you may have a problem and need to use VSPManager.

2.SmartSDR automatically assigns the ports and builds the connections, the "plus 10" spacing was selected in a effort to preserve as many low-numbered ports as possible for those legacy programs.

3.Once ports are created in CAT they continue to exist (in the Device Manager) until you physically delete them.

4.They are still active regardless of whether a 6000 series radio is connected or not.

5.The difference is that "DEDICATED" and "PTT" ports have one end hardwired to CAT (and that end is only talking to the radio) so they are of no value unless the radio is running

6.The "SHARED" ports are just virtual cable pairs and, once created, do not depend on CAT or the radio. You can use them, for instance, with DDUtil, to connect between programs. The "shared" ports are always available, regardless if CAT is running or not.

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