EME with Flex 6500 + Transverter; Rig Control Error using doppler shift in WSJT-X V1.80

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Running Flex 6500 with V1.11.12 + 70 cm Transverter +WSJT-X V10.0

Just wanted to test the EME capabilities.

WSJT-X has an EME Echo Mode - Doppler Tracking included.
It requires Flex6500 Split Operations.
 
All configured as of the manual but receive a Rig Control Error:



I guess I'm not allone with this challenge . . .
Any idea . . . ?

Thank you !
Wolf - DF7KB
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Posted 2 years ago

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Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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How do you have the "Radio" section configured in WSJT-X?
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Wolf - DF7KB

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I configured it as Kennwood TS-2000.
It works fine on the HF Bands.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Also, I'd upgrade to WSJT-X v1.8.0 the final release version and not use any of the previous RC versions.
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Same for me - I have a "clean" Win 10 PC.
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Jim Gilliam

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One very confusing aspect of setting up WSJT-X is the radio settings offers the Flex 6xxx as a radio to choose and will not work. It is necessary to choose Kenwood TS-2000.


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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Only for a serial CAT.  Selecting Flex 6xxx as the radio and using a TCP connections works fine.
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Jerzy Najda

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Tim, I have new WSJTX and Flex 6xxx in settings (via TCPiP) not work. Any idea?
73, Jerry HF1D
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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What frequency is WSJT-X trying to send to the radio?
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Jerzy Najda

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None. "Rig control error"
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I did a little Googling and found that this Hamlib error had been reported against 1.8.0-RC2 by G4WJS for the IC-7410.  It was determined to be a bug in Hamlib and was fixed and patched.  There is no indication if this was a global fix (for all radios) or specific to the IC-7410.  I am suspecting it is the later.

I think that this may be a Hamlib defect and will need to be reported to the WSJT-X development team.
(Edited)
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Jerzy Najda

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Thanks Tim, I think also it is hamlib error not WSJTX
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Wolf - DF7KB

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It want's to change the Rx frequency by 800 Hz - that' the actual doppler shift on 70cm.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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What is the absolute frequency, not the delta.
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Wolf - DF7KB

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It's 432.050 MHz Transverter and 28.050 MHz Flex 6500
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I suspect that the Hamlib driver is not properly handling a frequency that large.  I have verified that SmartSDR CAT will properly send and receive frequency data up to 99 GHz
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Wolf - DF7KB

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OK . . .
Does that mean I need help from WSJT . . . ?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I'd start there.  The issue really is with Hamlib which is used in WSJT-X.

You can try reporting the issue directly to Hamlib too (https://sourceforge.net/p/hamlib/support-requests/)
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Official Response
Hi Tim, I found an easy fix. WSJT has a "fake" mode and that does what I wanted.

But . . . another challenge arrived.
It looks like that WSJT doesn't decode signals > 20db with the Flex6500. With my old analog Rig it decodes -28 without any issue. 
And I tried on 70cm and 2m with different transverters - just to check if the HF part is causing it.
After all my test it looks like that the 6500 "absorbs" the small signals.
Any idea  . . . ?
73, Wolf - DF7KB
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Are you using a split or common connection for the XVTR?
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Sergey, R5AU

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Wolf, what is noise floor line of your 6500 and noise level with connected transverter (dB on SSDR)?
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Wolf - DF7KB

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It's -135 (6500 only) and -131 / -132 with the 70cm Transverter.
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Wolf - DF7KB

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I use a split connection for the transverter.
Rx A for transverter 28 MHz receive and XVTR for 28 MHz send.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Make sure that the AGC-T is set for optimal SNR.

I have not used a XVTR on WSJT, but I find that I can get better decodes on HF if I have the AGC-T set to just below the knee.

From the SmartSDR Software Users Guide, section 13.1

To adjust the AGC Threshold, tune to a quiet spot between stations. Starting with the AGC-T at a high value adjust the AGC-T slider to the left (lower gain values) until the background noise just begins to decrease.  This is the AGC-T "sweet spot" or the "knee" of the AGC algorithm.  Depending on band conditions, if the AGC-T is set below 50, you may have to compensate for the loss in audio gain (volume) by increasing the Slice or master AF volume to a higher value.  When you get the knee and AF volume adjustment correct for the band conditions, it will keep the volume of strong signals constant which will allow weaker signals to be heard even with AGC in FAST mode.
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Hi Tim,

I did all of that without any improvement.

Meanwhile I cleaned the PC completely - did a new install of all components - did a factory reset of the 6500.

So everything is fresh. Anyway - no change . . .

 . . . ?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Unless you have calibrated test equipment to measure the MDS, I would try using a different weak signal mode program like WSPR on 10m and use the RX-A as the receive antenna, bypassing the XVTR to validate the receiver.  If you get similar results, then there may be a hardware issue that needs to be addressed.
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Wolf - DF7KB

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OK - I will try all of that. 
The below attached recommendations as well .

Let me say thank you for all your contributions !
And hopefully see you on the moon very soon.

73 - Wolf
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Just to give a quick feedback and to say thank you again !
Today I saw NC1I on 70cm EME with WSJT -13 dB. Thin spoors had been visible on the Flex. Strong on WSJT.  Looks like I'm getting close . . .

What did I do ?
Flex6500: AGC = off and full amplification - no other changes.

Power supply of transverter: The linear voltage regulator produced noice - pretty strange . . .  Has been replaced.

And the last one was the most disturbing: I run 2 high definition monitor screens driven from a high resolution graphic card in the PC (something that came from my kids old gaming PC).
The monitors produce a spectrum on 70 cm and even stronger on 144 MHz. Depending on the frequency even broadband 60 Hz modulation is visible on the WSJT waterfall - nothing visible on the Flex.
That was the sensitivity limiting factor !
Now I use a MacBook Pro with Parallels and this issue is gone.

So - my Flex is fine . . . !

Again -thank you !
Wolf - DF7KB
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Bill - ND0B

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Good luck using your Flex for EME.   When I first got my 6700 it was actually better then the 5k which was excellent.   Then a software upgrade about 2 years ago stopped EME in its tracks, it is my opinion, supported by quite a few observations that at least part of the issue is a problem with DAX.    WSJT now has artifacts there were not there before and rarely decodes anything, CW Skimmer (terrestial) and MAP65 rarely get decodes, CW Skimmer locks up every few days and without careful monitoring digital transmit audio often is garbled requiring a DAX stop and restart.    

With the 5K I had over 250 EME contacts with a single 12 element yagi, for the first few months I had dozens of contacts with the 6700 using the same setup, in the over two years since that fateful software upgrade I have had 4.  I am heard all over the world but rarely hear anything.  

I am in the process of switching over receive to a $20 RTL dongle and SDR Console.   I have found that this combination is both more sensitive and substantially more noise immune that the Flex on 6 meters.  I am in the process of setting this up on 2m am hoping it will translate and I will be able to get back on EME again.  I miss it. 

I am in the process of writing a paper on this if you would be interested in reading it. 

Do not bother telling Flex about this issue like I made the mistake of doing.   You will arrogantly be told you need to learn how to run your radio.

73 de Bill ND0B
Annoyed owner of a not so good $8000 transmitter     
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Javi LU5FF

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HI Bill very interesting your commentsfrom a while ago I have been doing something of EME in 50Mhz
but they listen to me more than I decode
I attribute it to my noise floor, but I will try to do some listening with another team
thank you very much and I hope your article

Javi LU5FF
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John - K3MA

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Bill while I do not dispute that you are having issues as it seems you are a much more experienced EME operator than I am.  However, I can tell you that the operation of the Flex 6700 here on 2M EME has not had the same issues as yours.  For example I operated 2M EME JT65B this past weekend in the ARRL EME contest using WSJT v10 and worked 43 stations over a 4 1/2 hour period.  Most in Europe.  A couple were even single yagi stations running less that 1 kw.  Even a contact was made with DX7EME a DXpedition in the Philippines that was running two 8 element antennas and under 1 kw.

I can however say that the DAX issues continue to be a issue that needs to be resolved.  I see it much more often on HF Digital since I operate that mode much more than 2M EME.

I wish you the best in resolving your issue and I am sorry to hear how Flex responded to your concerns.
(Edited)
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Wolf - DF7KB

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Hi John,

We both tried some time ago to get my station run.
By the way thank you for your time !

But until today no luck here. I meanwhile checked all components at least twice. Moved from 2m to 70cm - just to make sure that the HF part doesn't cause the problem. And both setup worked well with my old analog rig.

So I'm getting baffled . . .

73, Wolf - DF7KB
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Sergey, R5AU

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Wolf, could you increase on  >10db signal from  transverter to radio , i hope you will reach success
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Marc Lalonde

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HI that my 2 cent

until my radio hardware die , was very successfully on 144 EME  whit my 6700
that some tip lean hard way , and by the way never got DAX issue 
issue i have was cause to Radio hardware failure  

AGG-T set to max 
AGC to Fast 
absolutely no DSP function enable
Pre-amp +40db

but the most critical that take me long time to understand 6700 is a really bad VHF radio !!   noise figure is 9db !!!!  ,so you absolutely need a good pre-amp whit at least 
20db gain  and naturally under 1db NF  , usually that is overcome by the 2MLDPA
so no one notice the lack of sensibility  ,but on my setup i not use it since my linear take 8dbm for 800W output 

next critical step is control  out of band signal , i notice that local FM radio 102MHZ
combined whit local pager  make intermod but also increase noise floor up to S5-6 
after put very sharp helical resonator filter in front of the WA2ODO pre-amp  (that is also very narrow bandwidth) noise floor drop to S3 ,so increase of noise floor was due to mixing of strong signal inside the radio !!   naturally i need very low NF pre-amp for
compensate insertion loss of the Filter  ( 1db loss + 0.5db coax loss + 0.2 NF pre-amp  = ~2db NF ! )

but one you got good external pre-amp whit very selective input  it good performer
on first week of ARRL EME Contest , i do 49 station  ,actually i able to work almost
any station whit 2 x 10 whit 800W and more  , i do 94 grid in less that 10 day of operation ,before radio Hardware failure 

hope to see you on the moon soon 

Best regard  Marc  VE2PN
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Marc Lalonde

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also WSJT-X setting is critical   , this is what i use on my side 

Sync - 1 
F Tol 20 
Decode DEEP
Enable averaging 

that my gain and 0 setting of wide graph whit my "usual" signal decode threshold

also for finish you use a flex so use it ;-)  , here i operate whit WSJT-X 
and monitor whit WSJT10  and sometime MAP65  each have it own CAT port
personally  X version decode 95% of the time ,and back up to 10 for segnod signal 

finally forgot the SmartSDR panadapter WSJT is much more sensitive you will probably only see I2FAK signal ;-) 



 
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Bill - ND0B

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I have been busy with work so just getting a chance to look over the responses here.   Two comments...

John - K3MA.    I did not elaborate on how I am working EME.   I use a single 12 element fixed elevation Yagi during my moonrise and moonset taking advantage of the flat terrain and low noise around here (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIQqZL_3xR0 for a presentation I did on this at Dayton 2012.)    As a consequence I have NO margin between my station working on EME and it not.   If you are running a 2x or 4x station the issues I am seeing are likely being hidden but the 3dB or 6dB of gain you have over my setup.    I have spent a lot of time trying to chase down what happened and keep coming  back to it was likely in conjunction with a software update.   Since that time WSJT (NOT x) waterfall when adjusted to the noise floor here has regular vertical artifacts that do not move with frequency. I have come to believe these are introducing a couple of dB of additional noise I need to overcome.   I would contend whatever the issue is could possibly be affecting how low level of station you are able to work.  You can work most of them but what are you leaving behind?  

The assertion that AGC adjustment can solve the issue:    I find this not very likely.   I have always ran with AGC off and am looking for signals that RARELY, even for strong signals, are audible or visible in any way on the radio panadapter or waterfall.   WSJT makes a loose calculation of the relative strength of the signal it is decoding (singular for EME operators using WSJT) compared to the noise and other signals in the rest of the passband.   With no signal present the attempted decode by WSJT shows -33.   A decodable signal is usually around -27 dB although when I first had the 6700 this had moved up to -28dB.   A signal you can hear in the speaker or in any way manner or form detect the presence of without WSJT, VERY rare, starts kicking in around -18 db... this is a VERY strong signal for single antenna EME.   So... what would AGC act on and to what purpose for the vast majority of the EME signals that are neither audible nor visible on the radio?   

On a whole another, but likely related issue, I was flagrantly reminded yesterday of just how flawed DAX is in both directions is while operating 30m FT8.    I received the following along with a couple of nasty emails (which I have gotten used to and have a fairly standard thank you I send)
   
221200   3  0.3 2336 ~  ND0B OVERDRVN    

This is not the first or these I have seen nor will is it likely to be the last
   
085115  -3 -0.4 1016 ~  YOUR OVERDRIV 

Except this is not operator error, it is a DAX issue as stopping and restarting DAX instantly fixes the issue.   One kind soul even sent me an email yesterday thanking me for correcting my overdrive issue after I stopped and restarted DAX.  

I do a lot of 6m meteor scatter and generally use an RTL dongle and SDR Console for RX there.  As a consequence I can self monitor.   When this issue happens I immediately know it as I start self decoding for a sequence or two (indicating some kind of extra delay) as well as audibly note that that transmit audio is distorted.  

I joke about having an $8k transmitter but seems even with that there are issues.

73 de Bill ND0B