Feedback for the latest FLEX Insider...

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  • Updated 5 years ago
I just read the latest "insider" and am very pleased at what I see, not only for the upcoming 1.4, but also looking forward to 1.5!

Not only FM,but FreeDV, enhanced DAC control panel, and LAN remote, I can hardly wait!

Then looking at 1.5, that will be even more desirable. ATU memories and DSP enhancements and experimental DSP routines will be awesome.

Keep up the good work, FRS.!
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Ken - NM9P

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Posted 5 years ago

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DK1EY

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I am able to wait some more for 1.4., no problem.

But what about Remote CW? I prefer to do CW with my key, and if I understand right, just audio can be handled remote.

For me, remote CW is even more exciting than remote voice. On the Friedrichshafen speech last year, Greg (K5GJ) said that FRS is working on remote possibilities for CW via real key as well.

I hope for at least a word about the current status of the development.

The lack of real remote CW makes the Remote-feature incomplete for me.

Just my two cents.

VY73
Tom
DK1EY
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Tom,
Agree, it would be good to know the status.  Sounds like it is not in V1.4 or V1.5 since there was no mention in the insider.   

Hopefully it will be listed on the updated road map for Version 2.x.  I'm waiting for the interface information (USB, bluetooth, etc) to determine what types of devices (windows tablet, iPad, etc)  would support it.   More in this idea post: 

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

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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DK1EY

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Hi Al,

If FRS delivers remote, I would have thoght that FRS will bring up all key/basic features in one Version number. I know that generating a sidetone at the remote device could be tricky but as I said, for me it feels incomplete.

As CW is a crucial mode of Ham Radio in my opinion, it is absolutely necessary to deliver a working option here. Remoting all the other modes as voice and digital are possible since many months with the help of 3rd party software. I hoped that FRS would have taken the challenge to deliver real remote CW as a first mover.

It is no problem that for now there is no solution for real remote CW. But reading not a single word about it is the point that makes me feel uncomfortable with it.

If I had to buy a nother interface to remote CW via key, I would buy it. So: Go for it, FRS.

VY73
Tom
DK1EY
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Tom,
I suspect the other issue may be the connection of a key/paddle to the remote device.  

- USB to serial to key?

- New version of the FlexControl with an input for a key / paddle?

- new device for Bluetooth?

- something else?

As noted in the earlier link, there are options.  Information about the direction, and approximate timing would be nice...... 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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We are still planning on doing the engineering to hopefully deliver remote CW via an external keying device, but it will not be in v1.4.  This feature is not a trivial undertaking because of the strict timing nature of CW and the inherent variable latencies of network communication. CW for Remote LAN will be accomplished with CWX.
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DK1EY

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Dear Tim,

Many thanks for the honest words.

Not what I hoped to hear but moderating my high hopes for real CW remote.

VY73 & keep up the good work
Thomas
DK1EY
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Thanks Tim,
Will look forward to seeing true paddle driven CW on the road map at some point.  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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Steve W6SDM

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This would be a great venue for keyboard-input "packet" CW.  That wouldn't help the straight key folks, but I can't visualize a J-38 plugged into an iPad either.
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Steve Gw0gei

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I am also happy to wait for 1.4 and I like what I read about 1.5. As a recent shifter to sdr I am still catching up on set up and contesting with my 6300 so by 1.4 I should be ready to learn some more new stuff. Some bug sorting 1.3.xyz updates in the meantime would be helpful whilst we wait. Ideally the linking of. N1mmplus cw key speed control to Cwx before cqww cw test please.

So far I a very impressed with my 6300 and with flex as a company - I especially like the approach to future integration as I am trying to get rid of my microham and other middleware and physical interfaces with wires etc.

73 gw0gei
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Mike - N8MSA

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There is a reference in the "Announcing SmartSDR v1.5 and an Update on SmartSDR v2.0 " article stating that [the] "theme of this release will be enhanced noise/interference mitigation techniques". I interpret this to mean that attention will be focused on DSP performance and, if that is correct, I wholeheartedly support this. The overall performance of the Signature Series is excellent, but there is room for improvement in its basic ability to retrieve listenable audio from demodulated signals and "signal enhancement" features, such as the noise blanker, are not functioning to the same level of performance as the rest of the system.

I know, from multiple conversations with several people at Flex, that most customers are clamoring for "more" - more features - but I appreciate the shift to improving the basics and increasing the stability of the Signature platform.

73,

Mike - N8MSA
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Burch - K4QXX

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Improvement on the NB would make this radio almost perfect.  Really looking forward to 1.5!
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Ken - NM9P

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Yes, they are getting very close to the almost perfect operating rig.  NB, NR & ANF improvements will be a major plus for me.  But I am also very excited to get FM, ATU Memories, and for them to "smooth and polish" some of the other features, especially Global Profiles and Transmit Profiles, which I will address in another post.
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Jon - KF2E

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I guess what we got with the new Flex Insider is the delay to the roadmap that was thoroughly discussed here.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/maybe-we-need-a-delay-on-the-roadmap

Jon...kf2e
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Tim K8XS

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Very pleased with the information provided by Gerald et al. I think they have done an admiral job of adding capabilities to the 6000 series. I have lived through all the crying and moaning and complaining people have been making over the past few years. The funny thing is, after a few more upgrades, someone will buy a new 6000 with all the features and wonder what all the bitching was about. I would like to know what the folks that advocated the continued use of PowerSDR vice a clean slate approach are thinking now? I wonder if they still think they were right? 

I've been reading the requests for remote CW. I have yet to read or understand a CONOP (concept of operation) for remote CW. How do people think remote CW with a hand key or paddle will work? Do they expect to hit the dah paddle and have that action transmitted over the internet and then hit the dit paddle and then that action is transmitted over the internet, just like they were sitting in front of a 6000. How are they going to mitigate the multi second variable latency of the internet? I could see the scenario analogous to streaming audio where a chunk of CW is sent to the remote in real time and buffered at the remote and then re-transmitted in a continuous smooth stream. However, there will be variable timing between the chunks of CW. The larger you make the chunk, the smoother the remote CW will sound, but also the larger the total latency will be. That is why I would like to hear a CW person's CONOP for operating remote CW. With tongue in cheek, I am still waiting to hear the request for full breaking-in remote CW. 

So can one of you CW guys (Al?) give me a simple CONOP for remote CW?

Thanks,
Tim K8XS
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DK1EY

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Hi Tim,

QSK (Full Break-in) already works via Internet. Test it with "CW over IP".

Dream-CONOP here would be: Sitting at the living room, abt. 80ft. away from my flex. Notebook on the knees. Key plugged into interface (enhanced) K6TU Flex-Control besides the Notebook. Do not need additional Spoftware.

Status-Quo-CONOP: Sitting at the living room, abt. 80ft. away from my flex. Notebook on the knees. Using TeamViewer to access my Flex PC and to push through the audio. Using CWX (without sidetone).

No moaning or crying here but still hoping for a "Flex-native" solution.

VY73
Tom
DK1EY
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Tim,
RE: remote CW, CONOP, and latency.  

I assume the sidetone will be generated in the remote PC or tablet. 

I expect latency could be a limiting factor.   Just as it can be a factor for voice modes it will be a factor for CW but may be more pronounced depending on your speed, internet connection speed, and whether you expect to run QSK.  It may be that QSK is not feasible but that semi-breakin up to a certain speed (30 WPM?) is reasonable.  
In the case of remote voice, the new codec addresses the issue of compressing the data and that is part of the solution.  Maybe something along those lines is planned for remote CW.

In the earlier thread, Steve Hicks suggested he has a good idea on how to do it.  See below.  I haven't seen any other details on how it would be accomplished or his thoughts on latency mitigation. At any rate, for those of us that operate primarily (on only) CW, taking a paddle along with us when operating remote is not a big deal, we do it now!

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com



 Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering


Actually I do have a pretty good idea for how to do it. The real block is a belief that few are going to carry just a tablet and a paddle but not a PC. In other words, I don't believe that the group that says they "will carry a paddle everywhere they go, but will not buy/have a laptop and instead demand using a tablet" is a large group. If I'm wrong about that I'd like to know. Under the current thinking, if you want a paddle to operate, you would need a Windows device of some kind. So here are the operating scenarios we would plan to support with today's thinking: 

- desktop PC with a CW paddle (great for the lake house, across the house, DXpedition, etc) 
- laptop PC with a CW paddle (great for the road warrior if you want to carry a 5# BY-1 or suitable replacement) 
- iPad with keyboard CW for the person that wants to do CW from anywhere and is willing to use a keyboard (incidentally, we are not planning to do the iPad implementation directly, but imagine that partners will do this) 
- Surface with a CW paddle for the person willing to sacrifice ergonomics of operation because they want a tablet and a CW paddle on the road (again we have no plans to support the surface directly, but imagine that SmartSDR will run on this platform as it does today -- it a less that ergonomic ally preferable way) 

Our thinking today is that this will cover 98% of our customers' needs. We have a plan for hooking a CW paddle to an iPad, but suspect that few will want it -- the iPad purchase says the individual wants a lightweight convenient device to carry and a CW paddle doesn't seem to fit into that. If you have to have a paddle, our thinking is that you will get/have a lightweight PC you will carry along with the paddle. . 

You are making the suggestion that the FlexControl be redesigned to allow connection of a CW paddle to it. It just seems easier to connect a paddle directly to the PC to me (using a serial port as someone pointed out earlier). This is what our plan is at this point. 

In general, if we have the option of sending an engineer down the path of developing a new piece of $200 hardware or using a software solution, we're going to invest in software so neither of us have to buy new hardware. We're all about "the most capability for our customers with the least investment from either of us" because it advances the art quicker and costs you less. If there are significant advantages to new hardware, we will of course build new hardware -- the FLEX-6000 is a perfect example. There's no deep-seated aversion to a FlexControl change, but if it can be done in software on the PC without obsoleting the existing FlexControls in the field, we're more likely to do it that way.
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Ken - NM9P

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I purchased my first iPad (an AIR) at Christmas and it has become my main travel computer because of its light weight versatility.  If I were going to plan on operating remote from my motel room, I would love to be able to hook a lightweight paddle or straight key to the iPad to pound a little brass.  Adding a small, lightweight paddle to my 'kit' would be a lot less to manage than adding another laptop to the mix.  

The iPad and tablet folks don't just use them because they are backpackers and don't want to carry anything.  We use them because having one means there are several other things we DON'T need to carry while still getting 90% of the stuff we want.  And when I am done remote operating with it i can take it to the beach and read a book on it!  (or let my 7 year-old son play a little Minecraft!)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Ken,
Agree about not wanting ton carry an iPad and Windows tablet for remote. That s why I keep asking for information about what the paddle connection is going to be for remote use. I've been delaying before getting a new tablet until I know the plans.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Tim K8XS

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I think these comments are really good. I sure am learning a lot. For example, what is the definition of Remote CW. I do not consider connecting from a laptop or tablet via WiFi to your own LAN that also has your 6000 connected as Remote CW. My reasoning is you are not using the World Wide Web as a data path. All of your data is flowing within your local area network (ie nothing leaves your house). The average latency on your LAN is probably less than 100 microseconds. For all practical purposes, you are directly connected to your radio. Clearly, that is nice functionality to have, but I would not classify it as Remote CW. My idea of Remote CW is when you are away from your LAN and using the Internet as your communication medium. Say you are traveling on vacation or business and you want to connect to your radio back at home. You might be 10 or 100 or 1000 miles away from your radio. Now, instead of the average latency being 100's of microseconds, it is any where from 1/10's of seconds to several seconds.  You push a button on your laptop in your hotel room and 2 seconds later, your 6000 at home responds. Not only is the delay a problem, but it is a variable delay. On time your radio might respond in milliseconds and the next time it might respond in seconds. Even worse. You push button A then button B and your 6000 receives the button B push before the button A push. This can happen because the data path between you and your 6000 is constantly changing. One packet might take a very fast route and the next packet make be routed through a much slower path. This is the reality of the Internet. Now, considering that, how is QSK going to work? Even semi-breakin is a problem. You may be thinking that your response is better than that. Well, it might be, on one path, at one point in time. But this thing has to work all the time, over any path and at any time. It is not a trivial problem. Remote CW can be made to work over the Internet; but, you night have to calibrate your expectations. 

Please tell me if I am wrong in my thinking.

73,
Tim K8XS
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Steve W6SDM

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About 80% of my operating is CW and my iPad follows me everywhere.  I can imagine an app that puts the dits and dahs on a little pad at the bottom center of my iPad screen.  I had to learn to type with my thumbs, so I am sure that I could adapt to sending Morse this way.  That solves the problem of carrying a key or paddle around.

For the purists among us, what about a Bluetooth device with a momentary button that could be used to tap out Morse and a jack that allowed you to plug in a paddle?  My guess is that this would be more of a novelty item but it would make an interesting kit for those who wanted to go to the trouble.
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WW1SS - Steve

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With me it is not about adding features. It is about getting what is there working 100%. I had to revert back to 1.30 due to the garble in the audio. Flex needs to get this stuff fixed, get the ANF,NB,NR working properly. This is what I paid $2400 for. Not a response that it has been added to bug tracker. Fix an issue . . . release an update. Get the core system 100 % then add. It's getting frustrating
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Charlie

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I would have to agree in part with Steven.  Getting the core features working and bugs fixed in prior releases should take priority. Instead of waiting for the next version to come out to provide these fixes a 'patch' should be available on something like a weekly basis like Microsoft does for Windows. I would have no problem downloading and patching the computer on a weekly or some other frequent basis.  New features can be rolled out with the next version but fixes should appear more frequently.
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Joe WD5Y

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I agree in that if a particular patch is delivered it would allow specific attention to be issued to the coded area of concern. This would prioritize the testing on a specific issue basis. When you have a large version or group of coded changes delivered it opens the door for much confusion with all of the comments flying back and forth. This brings to mind the old saying "you eat an elephant with one bite at a time" . My hat is off to The Flex team and thanks!

73's
Joe
WD5Y
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Steve your really funny. I'll tell you what. I would be glad to take you radio that you are so frustrated about off your hands anytime just the way it is.
Bill
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Jon - KF2E

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Quick, I think I saw the dead horse twitch...let's start beating it again.

This has been discussed Ad nauseam. Flex has decided to implement LAN remote access and then take a break to fix and improve. I don't pretend to understand everything that drives the development of SSDR and therefore...In Flex I Trust. I'm sure having some time for the LAN remote to be digested and for feedback to be provided will only make the WAN version better. In the mean time everyone gets a bunch of current features optimized. It's a win for all.

Jon...kf2e
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Asher - K0AU

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LAN remote is great way to operate!  Been doing it for a year with RemoteRig and look forward to LAN remote as an integrated feature.  I won't retire RR until Flex supports remote PTT and a paddle interface, but I am ready to get audio all the way to my headset on a digital channel.  Just got a USB adapter for my headset in preparation. 

FWIW I don't expect LAN remote to be a single box solution.  At a minimum I expect to still have a serial server to control all the peripherals - rotator, antenna, amps, etc.
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DrTeeth

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It is not clear from the Insider if v1.4 is going to be delayed a tad or will be released on time. Both situations are alluded to in a woolly way. I cannot wait for v1.4. I really want to see more modes incorporated into SSDR rather than having to rely on (often) old and unsupported abandonware.
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Jon - KF2E

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Guy,

You are the eternal optimist. I think if you re-read the insider you will realize the statement...

"We expect this process to take around a month."

...means that we will have to hold our excitement until the end of November.

Jon...kf2e
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Flex just wants to make sure we have something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. ;-)
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Steve W6SDM

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Rather than have something frightening on Halloween.  :)
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DrTeeth

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It is just that not so long ago (approx 2 weeks IIRC), 1.4 was officially on schedule for an end of October release.

@ Jon. I did read that statement about another month, but there was sufficient contradictory woolliness in the rest of the newsletter to make me doubt that.

I have to be an optimist, I live with a confirmed pessimist. To do otherwise would be to drive through life with the handbrake on, hi hi.
(Edited)
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G4YDO

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does having dv mode mean we will be able to run dstar?
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Ken - NM9P

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DV, i.e. FreeDV, and D-Star are two different digital formats.  FreeDV runs Codec2 which is open source.  D-Star is Icom's proprietary digital encoding format.  Technically i would think it was possible, but getting the D-Star software license might be expensive.

But the new waveform API will make all manner of different digital modes possible either on-board or out-board.  Time will tell.
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AE0MW

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No, FreeDV is a different digital system.

Having the Wave API available though does mean that it would be possible to add D-Star to the Flex using just software however the coder would need to be extremely talented to finish the software implementation (there is code out there that almost works) and remain anonymous (to avoid legal issues from DSVI).

Using the Wave API it may be possible to implement a D-Star mode using a DV-Dongle and should be much easier than an all software implementation.

The problem is, will it happen?

A lot of the coders who are capable of this kind of work aren't really enamored with Flex's closed architecture. The ones who would do it for the fun and notoriety would pick a different platform, and the ones who might do it for the money don't really see much to be gained since it would be an insanely small target audience and driving sales to a different product (DV-Dongle).
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DrTeeth

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Technically, D-Star is not Icom's proprietary format AIUI. Just the codec is proprietary and it is not owned by Icom. The only thing that Icom owns is the trade mark 'D-Star'.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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The issue is that the owners charge a $50 licensing fee for each install of the Codec

Just to add insult to injury... DSTAR was deliberately crippled by the Japanese Ministry of Industry and Technology because they were afraid people would use it to bypass paid Internet Services.. so it's deliberately very slow data rates make for less than optimum usability...

BTW... I made the first documented DSTAR Contact from the base of MontMartre in Paris France to K6BK San Diego way back on April 15, 2008....

So I have lots of experience with incredibly klunky mode.
(Edited)