Flex 3000 - RX and TX audio distorting / Power SDR crashing

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Dear All, I bought a used Flex 3000 two weeks ago. It was working fine until yesterday when the RX and TX audio started becoming distorted. Initially the problem was intermittent but eventually became  permanent and so bad that Power SDR started crashing. Many times I battled to reload it. I reinstalled the factory settings - but no help. I uninstalled all software, reinstalled and recalibrated - but no help either. I'm operating Windows 7 and have found the device manager icons for the Flex/Firewire sometimes disappear and reappear. Everytime they disappear, Power SDR crashes. I am therefore suspecting a problem with my Firewire communications. I have a short, double screened Firewire cable which tests fine. I'm worried there might be a problem either with my ST Lab 1394a Firewire card or perhaps my Flex 3000. Has anyone experienced the same problem please? If so please can you offer some advice? Thank you very much. 73's Kevin ZS6KAT
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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Posted 5 years ago

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Jon W1JDB

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It is more likely your Firewire card or the actual cable at the connection ends. I can't tell if you have laptop or a desktop. If this is a desktop, I would open it up and re-seat the card and/or move it to another slot.

Another item to check (in either type of PC) would be for any conflicts with the Firewire card in Device Manager under the View Menu/Resources by connection/Interrupts(IRQ).

I have also found on some cards that the cable can be connected but not pushed in completely which would cause the intermittent issues you are having.

Lastly, check that the power supply if it is a desktop to ensure that none of the bus voltages are low.

Just my 2 cents...the value may vary.

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Donald Poisson

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Kevin the one thing you have not told us is what is your CPU speed when you are having the problem if you are getting speeds over 60 percent the radio is buffering and will cause the TX and Rec audio to crumble and the Power SDR will shut down the cure is faster computer if that is the case also you can use a lower profile  good luck  if no luck there send me an email and I  will help 73 Don N5DOA
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Donald Poisson

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Kevin the thing you might try is reset the data base to factory default on the setup window you will have to copy down all your settings audio Ect as they will be lost as the data base may be crpt again 73 Don
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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Hi Guys,

Thank you all for your awesome, fast responses. I have subsequently re-seated the Firewire card into a different slot within my desktop computer, connected everything back up and am now listening trouble free as I type. The CPU load is averaging 8%. It's a bit too early to tell, but I think the fact my Flex has been working okay for about 30 minutes is a good sign. Last night it wouldn't last 5 minutes.

For your information I am using a Fujitsu Esprimo PH300 mini tower computer. Specifications are as follows: Intel® CoreTM i7-2600 processor (4 Cores / 8 Threads, 3.40 GHz, 8 MB, Intel® HD Graphics 2000)

I have owned it for about 2,5 years but think it should still be fast enough to run my SDR. I don't run many other apps at the same time, so there isn't much else to slow it down.

Thanks again for your valuable assistance. If it fails again, I will look into the device manager for any IRQ conflicts etc and take it from there. Either way I shall keep you posted.

Have a great weekend, Regards Kevin (ZS6KAT)

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Kevin ZS6KAT

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:-(  I'm afraid after just 35 minutes the problem resurfaced - intermittently to start with and eventually almost all the time. What a shame... It starts off with a buzzing noise just like electrical interference, increasing in intensity until the audio sounds quite garbled. Eventually Power SDR crashes. I wonder if the problem isn't temperature related perhaps?

I have just tried reloading the factory settings again, but unfortunately no luck. I'm now going to follow the rest of your suggestions and see what happens.

Will keep you posted... Regards Kev

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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Just been away for about 40 minutes. Have turned my Flex back on and it is currently running trouble free. I'm going to leave it switched on and see how long it takes before the problem comes back... Regards Kev
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Check this out for the best kind of fire wire cards to use on Flex 3000
KnowledgebaseArticle50179.aspx  if you put that in the Google search you will see it.
(Edited)
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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Thank you Bill. Is it possible for an incompatible Firewire card to work for a couple of weeks before playing up though? Shouldn't the problem have come to light immediately? Regards Kev
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Probably not.  You are most likely experiencing excessive latency from DPCs (deferred procedure calls).  This is always due to software or hardware updates that were done to your computer.  Did you do a Windows update, configure new services or load a new program lately?  If so, that is probably what is causing the excessive latency which is shutting down the data stream between the radio and the PC.  I suspect if you immediately reboot after a freeze, that will allow the radio to work for a while, eliminating the suspect thermal failure.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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No if it is not compatible, it can work sometimes and not other times, Also even though your fire wire cable seemed to test ok it may be bad. I had trouble here with my Flex 3000 crashing, so I got the fire wire cable from Flex. It is an granit cable, it cost a little more but it never crashed again.
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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Hi Tim, Thank you for your advice. The last time Power SDR crashed I switched off my Flex 3000 and performed a complete reboot of my computer. 10 seconds after loading Power SDR and starting my Flex 3000 the problem was there. Within 20 seconds Power SDR had crashed again. CPU loading was 24% - up from 8%. I quickly reloaded Power SDR (not the PC) and since then the problem has been coming and going by itself. I have not experienced another crash though. I cannot recall loading any new programs recently but do you think I might be able to see what is happening if I look at the Windows Task Manager? Maybe there is a process that is interfering with the Firewire communications. I followed Jon's advice earlier but could not see any conflicts.  By the way, I have recorded the distorted audio using Power SDR. I have also taken some screen shots of the various waveforms and error messages. Is there any way I can email them through to the group? I'm not sure whether it is possible or not.

Hi Bill, thank you for your advice too. I will have to find a fellow ham or colleague at work who also has a Firewire card installed on his computer with a view to seeing if the problem still appears or not.. Unfortunately my card does not appear on the list you recommended - neither good nor bad news. I'll let you know what I find out. Thanks again.

FYI - 45 minutes and the distortion is still coming and going by itself. No more crashes though...

73's Kevin.


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Bill -VA3WTB

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Make sure you NR ANF NB are off
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Jon W1JDB

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Sounds like DPC issues still...have you tried shutting down you antivirus/anti malware programs to test? Are you using some form of online or offline back-up that is automatic like Mozy, Acronis or something else?

Try going into MSCONFIG and turning off the majority of start-up (all if you can) and then restart, accept the change and see what happens. If the system is then problem free you can work on determining what item in Start-up might be causing the problem.

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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Hi Guys,

For anyone who has been following this post, over the past couple of days I have slowly managed to completely get rid of the distorted audio by removing all unwanted software from my computer - especially the stuff that repeatedly searches for new updates over the Internet. I also removed everything possible from MSCONFIG - Start-up. No use in having programs running in the background and taking up unnecessary CPU time..  

The only issue I have now is that sometimes Power SDR crashes out of the blue. For the most part, this is only during transmit and not during receive. RF feedback perhaps? Your comments would be much appreciated please. 

Thank you for all your advice thus far  - I would never have been able to manage without it.

73's Kevin ZS6KAT

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I would suspect RF in this instance.  
Check your station grounds and make sure you have a good RF ground, not just a DC/safety ground, especially if you are running much power.

THen make sure your cables into and out of the rig and computer are protected from common mode RF.....31-mix RF beads are your friends! Buy a bunch and use them all over.
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Kevin ZS6KAT

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Thank you for the advice Ken, I have subsequently made up a brand new RF fly-lead using RG 213 and placed clamp-on ferrite chokes at each end. I have also placed ferrite chokes on either end of my double screened Firewire cable from Flex. The good news is that I can no longer hear any trace of RF on my external speaker system whilst transmitting. Sadly though, Power SDR crashed several times whilst I was simply listening to some shortwave stations this evening, leading me to believe that there is still a hidden application butting in somehow. I wonder if there is a way that I can give my Firewire card a different interrupt request number? For your info, CPU usage at the time of the crashes was around 11% - not particularly high. I can hear the MS Windows sound effect for the connection and disconnection of a link every time Power SDR crashes - so I assume the Firewire link is still dropping out for some reason or other. Please would you let me know if you can think of anything else I can possibly try? I'm beginning to think this Firewire interface is a fussy little so and so... I wonder if everyone else has had to go through an episode like this before getting everything up and running?... Regards Kev


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WW1SS - Steve

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Do you possibly have something going into sleep mode on your computer causing it. like the computer putting the fire wire card into sleep or standby mode in your power settings
(Edited)
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Jon W1JDB

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I haven't seen you mention trying a new Firewire card (unless I missed that). That would be the best way to rule out another possibility.

Also, how old is your power supply in the computer. I have seen them take dips when they get older when a hard drive spins up or some other power transient happens.

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Bill Roberts

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Have you tried a program like Latency Checker? It will advise you of programs or devices (like a graphics card or driver) is causing spikes in DPCs.
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Steve Walker

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Hello Kevin,

I had the exact same issue you are describing and spent ages trying this and trying that and in the end I changed the FW card and cable to completely eliminate them.

That was better but not cured - in the end I sent the Flex 3K to FRS for service and they replaced the FW IO chip and all was well.

The FW IO probably died at some time and all the unplugging and plugging in probably killed it with ESD. There is a warning to have everything off when plugging in that lead to avoid ESD issues.

Mine was 3 weeks old brought second hard - but about 12months old from new so it was not an expensive repair. My clue was that it came and went from the device manager with the Windows "ping pong" PSDR would stop or hang and then it would appear back moments later.

Performed perfect after FRS serviced it.

Hope that helps.

Steve
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Ricky

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I had the same type of problems..You need to turn off any Bluetooth and any WiFi as this will cause the CPU to spike and it will crash. I did this and the Problem never reared it ugly head again.