Flex 6500, question on panadapter/waterfall BAD SIGNALS??

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I have the 6500.

I have noticed quite a few signals show on the panadpter a wide spreading out signal...meaning if I let's say have 2.9 as my rcv bandwidth I see a very large spreading of the signal at the bottom (maybe 2 KC or more than the bandwidth image.

Also on the waterfall I see horizontal spikes going out each side of the signal. Reducing Pre-Amp or using ATTN does not change the display (Anytime??).

Is this a problem with the Flex design?? OR are these signals really that bad?

It seems only with very strong signals...but I have seen many +10-20 signals look OK.

Is the front end of this radio getting overloaded or are there that many bad TX's out there??


Thanks,

Lee




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Lee

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Posted 5 years ago

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Andrew Russell

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Official Response

G'day Lee,

The 6000 series sees all the warts on other signals. Phase noise and IMD.

The strong signal is actually not bad.

Running at 13.8V really does make a clean signal at 100W difficult. I suspect that many PSU and cable combinations just sag on low voice frequency peaks. 

The guys running 50V PAs look great.

I have seen many where a slight reduction in drive makes the emission a lot cleaner.

The Flex SDRs can also cut the level of low frequencies that can be dominant in male voices.

These add little to intelligibility and are likely outside the RX pass band as well as stressing the PSU and PA.

There is a boat anchor net in South Eastern VK, its fascinating to see the range of signals on the old gear. From almost perfect to horrible.

Andrew



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Lee

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Thanks for the input Andrew...

Any other input from other Flex 6000 owners??

Anyone else seeing this and determining it is just bad TX??

73,

Lee

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Jay / NO5J

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Yep it is not your Flex, Those wide signals are really wide. You just were unaware, you cant hear outside the pass-band, but now you can see what your not able to hear. Report violators to the band police, No, don't do that because then a different sort of pollution will move inside the pass-band, and you will hear that. I'd just fall back on reporting back that they are 599 no matter how they sound as is the custom. Your not broken, they are, unless you have your mic gain adjusted beyond a 0dB level. in which case your signal probably looks about the same. -0.1dB is ok, > 0.0 is always bad. Now that we can hear and see, lets call it good before someone develops a DSP method of displaying how a signal smells, It's bad enough that my boat anchor equipment has the delightful scent of ashtray/spitoon when ever I turn them on. I don't want my Flex smelling like most of the signals look. 
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Lee

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Andrew,

Not sure what you mean the strong signal is not that bad?

I could hear him way outside my 2.9 passband.

up 3 down 4-6.

I see so much of this I could swear it was the Flex being overloaded.

Why does the attn. and preamps not change the panadapter / waterfall??

On the 6500 I use a 200-3100 for my xmit BW. Get good reports.

I have also heard the Flex 6000 has some issues with XMIT??

Thanks,

Lee



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Andrew Russell

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Lee,

What I mean is that it is clean for about 40dB which is pretty good.

If it wasn't so strong you wouldn't see the crud at the base.

Andrew

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Jay / NO5J

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Andrew 
Sure, its clean enough. Could it be cleaner? Is that transmitter even set up to send clean signals? Is it that clean usually or is that screen cap a fluke? It might be the finest signal ever seen from right next door.  Or it could be, more like what it looks like in the screen cap,  a < S7 signal that stays clean and inside a @3k TX passband for about 25dB and then spreads out to a nearly 10k wide audible signal  for another 13dB. I guess a 7k wide preventable signal thats almost S4 in strength is acceptable to me and you. As long as it stays 7kHz away from me. But your right. If it wasn't so strong you wouldn't see the crud at the base. When did S6 get elevated to a strong signal? I still say, It can't be fixed on RX side, it requires attention on the TX side. To me it just demonstrate exactly that. Your 40dB of pretty good signal is a valid signal report its just a little generous, and possibly a tad too forgiving. The poster thought it looked a little funny, I thought it looked a little bad, and you think it looks pretty good. That's the great thing about opinions there's always plenty of them, pick out any one of them and you got pretty good truth. How did you measure that 40dB anyway? Me I just used my lying eyes. ;-)
73

Lee 

Your 6500 looks like it works fine to me. enjoy it!
73

Jay - NO5J
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Andrew Russell

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 Jay,

Yes, its with the eyeballometer that I use all day every day but then I have an on screen caliper if I want a more accurate number (feature request?).

Anyhow I think 40dB is not bad for most ham rigs in use today, plenty worse and few better. Should they all be better? Probably. Can they all be better? Probably not.

In the not so distant analogue past 30dB of dynamic range on magnetic tape was the state of the art. There is a transition here with wide dynamic range digital reception and excitation that is  followed by limited range analogue amplification.

This mostly a problem for the neighbours not the user. 

Andrew

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Jay / NO5J

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Andrew 
Even holding slightly different opinions about pretty, bad and ugly. WE do agree on the issue. The FCC standard is basically just  "as clean as you can make it" and not "as clean as I want it" or "as clean as i want them to make it" some signals just aren't that clean, Some ham's wait till after Dayton to take there annual spit bath, so you can't really expect much. Not sure another full bottle of cologne would improve their signals all that much. 

I use a tool called AutoIt Window Info that lets me click anywhere on the monitor and then displays any available info about what i clicked on, I reads cursor position in x and y pixels click the other end of whatever i want to measure take the difference and divide that by 96 to get inches, etc. for measuring signals i use the upper edge of a notepad window as a straightedge i keep both pinned to the taskbar, 

If you haven't found AutoIt yet its at;
https://www.autoitscript.com/site/ 

It's just mainly adds scripting feature to windows so you can automate opening groups of apps, write keyboard and mouse click macros etc but the windo info tool and the scite editor that are included in the package are priceless. whole package is free anyway and easy enough for me to learn and use. They're also run like Flexradio is run, User Friendly!
73
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Lee

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I do try to help some with a report telling them they are wide etc.

Most are concerned & try to fix it. Seems even the new Icoms have issues.

I just wanted to be sure I was not beating them up with no due cause....

73,

Lee

(Edited)
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Jay / NO5J

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Didn't mean to imply that IMD and wide signals were in any way "bad". How can any thing so popular and widely used be bad. And you will hear IMD in your passband, The IMD isn't diplayed, because the trace of whatever signal your intending to be listening to is louder than the IMD and therefore masking it. I believe the old school term was "splattering". You can't fix it in the receiver, the visible splatter outside your passband isn't being heard, the portion of the splatter that runs right thru your passband is heard as the distorted tinny or bassy noise you can't totally eliminate. They have to correct it on their side. Digital filters don't just reduce signals outside the passband they change them into zeros "silence". But, splatter is virtually, and literally modulating the noise floor of the radio spectrum, which includes the noise floor of your passband. Changing some of the 0's back into 1's and yes Flexradio's can also create IMD as can every other electronic device that radiates RF, clean "properly" modulated audio just cause's less, your Flex can do that too. Most of us want the radio spectrum house to be a clean house. We try to clean as we go, but some of us are sometimes a little bit messy, some of us are, well, messy and, some are really messy, some are the mess. who's turn is it to take out the trash? Not mine i vacuumed, it ain't my turn. I'm doing my part. "most of the time"
(Edited)
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Jay / NO5J

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Lee
The panadapter and waterfall show the signal as it is when it leaves the antenna. the ATTN and preamps  change the position of the noise floor according to the scale scale on the right hand side of the panadapter. an S9 -73dB signal will still read @S9 but the noise floor drops lower the more preamp you add or remove, you can move it up to 30 dB lower. and make a signal, and noise floor up to 30dB louder, and pull signals out of the noise sometimes. the DSP/AGC/AF sliders don't have any effect on the display, but they do change how signals sound, I started out on a portable SW receiver. It only had 2 knobs and an earphone jack, and didn't even light up when you turned it on. The 6500 has fewer knobs but it does light up, sounds a lot better, and seems to hear way more signals. Don't you miss the good old day's?
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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Andrew, you might check the picture again. The station in the picture is only clean for 20-25 dB before the skirts begin to flair out. The scale is only 5dB per division.

It would be even more instructive to see a video of a signal like this. I have watched otherwise clean signals begin to break up and flair out like this when an operator got more excited or animated in a conversation and you can see the breakup in linearity as he crosses the power threshold much the same as you can hear a guitar amp that is being played just on he edge of distortion whenever the player puts just a little bit of edge or "bite" on a note. While it sounds great on a guitar played skillfully, it is a sign of an amateur radio amp that is being overdriven!

Yes, I have seen worse than this guy in the picture. There are a couple of guys in Cuba and a KP4 that I hear on 20 & 40 for example that I don't even need to hear, only see on my scope, and I know that they are on the air.

And I once contacted a station on 75 meters who was running a misadjusted Hallicrafters phasing rig that was fully 30 KHz wide. He laughed when I told him how wide he was, as though he didn't care. Or perhaps he was laughing out of embarassment.
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np2g

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Way to go Ken
It's important to check the scale  HI !!!
And we truly have been gifted with the Pan display.. It is like having a piece of test gear .

As far as telling someone  . WELL  They first have to know what you are talking about .  
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Lee

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Thanks guys for the education and opinions.

But here is the bottom line....

This signal and lots of other suck big time in reality.

Why do I say that???...because (not necessarily this one only) when I see this on the Flex...these guys are wide/splattering call it what you want...and they interfere with station 4-8 kc away!  Both directions.

I see lots of +20 signals that are right in the passband at 2.9 setting...and they do not interfere.

One of my buddies on 7138 actually had big 3 element yagi, 1500 out and great propagation to me ....he is usually +20...and his signal looks worse than the example I show here. He is running a ICOM 7700 ($7,000 radio) He cares that he is wide...but so far we have not found a solution. We were on 7138, I could hear him pretty loud on 7133 and 7142...that's terrible,

The only way we really improved it was to go way low on Mic gain and then his audio was way to low and his signal was way down.

I see this all the time & THAT is why I have been wandering if it is my Flex. I only see this on very strong signals. But Plenty of +10 signals are beautiful clean...right down the RCV bandpass.

One thing for sure...lots of hams want to see all those meters move a lot...so they are loud??

Do all you guys see the same thing I am seeing??

73,

Lee


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Pat - WH6HI

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You have to remember that there are two levels that one has to account for in setting up a transceiver and amplifier.  First is the audio and second is the RF drive.  If one or both are setup badly the result will be splatter or IMD.  You said that the audio drive was reduced.  I sounds like to me you forgot to work with the RF drive level.  Remember that if you raise the audio level drive then you most likely have to lower the RF drive level in order to remain linear.  If you do not remain linear then one will distort the signal due to clipping and in the case of the depicted signal it is happening in the lower third of the BW of the transmitted signal.  To much low end with to much RF drive and there will be trouble. 

Pat
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Larry - W8LLL

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Lee,

  I see the same thing your speaking of and when I see it I adjust my center frequency to the outer edge of their splattered signal in the waterfall just to make sure what I am seeing is actually being heard. I was curious about this also and now I know, some signals are very very dirty.

Here is another question I was wondering about, if you have your radio setup to see your transmitted signal in the water fall, is this a true representation of what your signal looks like on the other end?

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Jay / NO5J

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Don't take my word on this, No it probably looks a lot tamer. 
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Ken - NM9P

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Your TX Pan is fairly accurate WITHIN the TX filter bandwidth, but it also shows some phantom crud OUTSIDE the TX filter stripe that isn't actually there.  This is because your transmitter is causing transients in your receiver.  You can observe this as it gets worse as your frequency increases.  Your actual SSB frequency components WITHIN the TX Filter stripe are fairly close, as far as I have been able to tell by comparing it to what I monitor and record in my FLEX1500.

Listening to yourself in you headphones via your monitor, however, is not a totally accurate picture of your audio because it is tapped Post EQ, but BEFORE your final compression routines.  
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np2g

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See if your buddy can reduce ,manipulate , or adjust frequencies around 200HZ 700HZ this usually encourages IMD .

It will not FIX it but it should help. And without altering that audio significantly .
You can choose to go quite wide on most of the radios out there today,
Around 3.0 or 3.2 there really is enough audio fidelity to be no larger .

And yes there is a load of mis adjusted cruddy sounding radios out there .
And then there are some that are phenomenal.
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Lee

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OK, thanks for the education....

I will see if I can work with by friend to see if we can change the quality of the signal.

Most think if they have a peak reading wattmeter(I do) and they are putting out max for that amp AND the Mic gain is not to a point of clipping they are good. He is using a OMPOWER -2500 and you have to wander how well it is tuned up as well??

Some people..(Not necessarily my friend here)... well you work with them, clean it up & next day there the same again..

They want to see all those meters moving a lot! They seem to have this thing about being the loudest, badest on the band...and their neighbors suffer. And I think some do it to keep neighbors from moving in close.


If I ever had a radio or amp that created that issue and I could not fix it...It would be history!

73,

Lee


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np2g

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The om Amplifier  being a tetrode is tuned differently  for sure. It is also sensitive to changes in drive levels.

The biggest parimiter of the tetrode  amps utilization is that one must keep the Grid current positive  say from 10 to 20 ma.
And as you could conclude changing the drive level also changes the tune load settings .

If the grid is driven negative or -ma. it impacts the tube characteristics dramatically
this - negative grid current ADDS to the bias and makes it harder for the tube to go positive.  His EBS acts on this accordingly  and you get distortion , Splatter  whatever you want to call it.

OM,s Video on tuning is very important to see exactly how it should be done.
It,s good you are willing to remind him  
  
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Jay / NO5J

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When the mic level peak indicator changes to red your probably already producing some IMD. that's supposed to indicate 0dB, but what about peaks it's might not be fast enough to display. Keep it yellow, it won't make any difference on anybody's S-meter. you can also adjust the loudness of your signal without causing any extra splatter by raising your antenna, not that anyone ever wants to do that. 
 
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Lee

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Jay,

You must be talking about using a 6500 on TX....

My issue is with what I see on RCV. I have been told by folks with Flex and others as well that my signal looks real clean on TX...(That's why I don't understand why some have said the Flex could use work in that area).

Tonight on 40 I am going to look around & see just how many Sigs are so bad they interfere with QSO's nearby....

73,

Lee


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Jay / NO5J

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Lee 

Yes,  I restated my point above because I've seen and heard people mention that their mic level was below 0dB and stayed mostly yellow, Red == IMD == BAD == LID. Again, I don't think your radio's at fault, unless you fault it for being too sensitive, accurate, detailed and Flexible. Radio is something done best with the ears and hunting something done best with the eyes, I have a scratch in the top cover of one radio, It annoyed me to no end that I had scratched it. Then I hit upon a workable solution, Since it's was electronic equipment, i selected something appropriate for the repair, a 3" length of  Scotch® Super 33+TM, since only the best would do. I applied the tape so that, the final repair would have a professional, appealing and innocent appearance by placing the strip of tape, directly above the scratch. I can't really say for sure mind you, since serious investigation might destroy the repair, tape, is valuable and hard to locate in the shack, but I really feel the scratch is gone now. I haven't seen it in over a year. An added bonus is that . Should I need a 3" length of tape and can't locate the roll, I know where to track down a 3" piece. Moral is, listen to your radio, look at your radio, but avoid looking at the signals on the band, just listen to them, or find some tape, or a blindfold. Your radio can hear, It can also see. Has it seen my roll of tape?
 
Jay - NO5J
   
(Edited)
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np2g

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All radios produce IMD  Lee the Flex is no different.  If there is a way to reduce it   this should be considered,  (ON ANY AND EVERY RADIO ) 

Audio adjustments will also impact the IMD  and you can find settings that will lessen this condition .
 I have tried to answer your question on your friends OM amp.  it is good you have this conversation with him. 
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Lee

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Jay,

There is the Lab perspective & the practical. From the practical standpoint I only see a problem when the offending signal (IMD, Splatter...what ever you want to call it) causes SIGNIFICANT interference to adjacent QSO's. I see it on the panafall...then I tune to either side and yep there it is several KC's away causing interference loud enough to cause issues. It is most obvious on the waterfall as horizontal spikes going left & right. Some very strong signals are very clean and stay pretty much in the transmit PB. Some are terrible. So if all radios have IMD (Lab tests) then who cares UNLESS it is bad enough to cause others problems.

I have had multiple QSO buddies look at my signal, on scopes, tuning side to side and they ALL say the 6500 is nice & clean. So this IMD complaint on the 6000 series must be from those that look at Lab tests, not real signal reports?? And I am talking my QSO's where I am 20 over, running 1500 watts...so it would be apparent.

The OM 2500 is Autotune, so as long as he has set up the pre-tune setups correctly the amp should be in pretty good tune.

Actually the other day running barefoot...I saw the same problem, so it's not just with the AMP.

I had him turn off the processor and turn the Mic gain down where the signal dropped strength a lot and while it was better most of it was still there. Not so good.

Since I see a lot of this...that is why I originally asks if it could be the Flex at fault.

A couple times I did use my Drake R-4C (before you laugh, this is the full Sherwood R-4C, with 2.4KC front in roofing filters, and is a super selective RX) to check out signals I saw on the Flex as bad and I did here the offenders several KC away, loud enough to cause issues with adjacent QSO's. But since I did not look at lots of signals I still wasn't sure if what I see on the Flex is what is there or not.

I guess the group here says it is.

An example is  on the same QSO another friend has +10 signal, uses a older Kenwood, a ALS 600 and his signal looks great. 

Oh, also, many times I have used my Drake C line with 1200 out of a Drake L-4B amp and asked for signal analysis with those with scopes & they say it looks clean as a whistle. I'm sure if I overdrove it, or the L-4B was mistuned I could cause Splatter...I was concerned it being an old radio about being a good neighbor, but maybe I should be more concerned about any modern radios.


When I transmit on the Flex 6500 ...the panafall display shows my signal as terrible...I guess that is not really showing the real deal??

73,

Lee





  

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np2g

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Please excuse me   I am not trying to revisit   "Pure signal"
When I said all have IMD  the other end of the coin is there are sum that have less.  

Like  spurious emissions ,splattering , or  Bandwidths larger than the band and conditions permit   .  We all should strive to operate  as clean as possible. 

Maybe we should be requiring some  HAMS to clean their act up rather than attaching devices to do that for them . 


The OM 2500 has 2  units with that namesake  One is Auto   and one is HF  or manual.
Both require accurate tuning  just one can memorize  that fact . (Auto) However even the auto tuner needs  a  consistent  drive level.  (Change that and the rest (Tune , Load)  also changes ) 

Our Flex  transmit display is pretty accurate . 

I keep saying  having the privilege of owning a Flex  is like also getting  test equipment   included.

 
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Jay / NO5J

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Lee

What your seeing in the panafall in RX on your panadapter is pretty close to reality,  depending on how you have averageing and FPS, and speed and gain and black level, set. What your seeing in TX on the panadapter probably has more to do with the maturity level of the SmartSDR code. I don't think that it will look like that once it leaves your antenna.

When I play wih EQ settings I frequently zoom in on the panadapter so that all I'm seeing is the passband and I zoom in the dB scale until peaks reaches close to the top of the panadapter window. I have old eyes and slow optic nerves that don't process small and fast changes in realtime. When zoomed in that much, the skirts on the passband do look pretty ominous. But thats what the signal looks like Raw in the DSP and I suspect the data is gathered ahead of the DSP filtering that creates the TX passband. Or, maybe it just hasn't been calibrated.

In PowerSDR developement there were versions released, that turned OFF the Panandapter display entirely, PowerSDR had other displays, you could watch the TX signal with, like spectrum, and scope. but the panadapter would show nothing.

Right now, during TX, SmartSDR shows nothing but a purple line across the entire waterfall. I don't think my antenna is spewing purple across the entire electromagnetic spectrum throughout the entireity of spacetime, but it could be. Might even be handy. :)

For now, I'm greatful for the TX panadapter even though I suspect it's just a DSP fantasy, It goes well with my fantasy of what my audio sounds like here on earth.

I wonder if anyone's got a Flex that is local to you that could screenshot your signal and email it to you. For ultimate proof maybe somone could create a video of "SmartSDR-Me sees", splitscreened with "SmartSDR-Me looks like there". maybe even show the changes as you change the mic level to  -10dB, -5dB, -1dB, -0.1dB, 0dB, +0.1dB, +1dB, +11dB. Possibly even do the same Barefoot and through SS, Triodes, and Tetrodes, properly driven and MaxSmoke mode. Might get a lot of views on Youtube. Might win you the Nobel Peace prize for Amateur Radio Physics. Wouldn't that look good hanging below your DXCC certificate. You could even exchange QSL cards as proof of the contact.   

Finally!
In Coloring books, as in Colored waterfalls your ability to stay inside the lines is what really counts the most. No one cares how loud you color, they just want you to stay off their paper. And, if your going to drool while you do it, go get a towel. 
(Edited)
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np2g

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Lee please lets look at your included screen shot.

the station on 14.160  is a little over 3khz wide 
The station on 14.188 is a lot wider  
And the station displayed on 14.204  is abt 4KHZ wide .

The 14.188 signal does show on the leading edge   opposite side band  which shows peak to that peak  -25 or so db.

Most likely this radio operator is running a power amplifier . So whatever is passed through the exciter   is also impacting the amplifier performance. 

I believe most amps are in the range of -35 or so  

Say for an example the exciter  can generate a signal that does have a -40DB  imd signature  the result of this drive into the amp and then amplified will produce  most likely little more than that  starting point of the amp.
Now use one that produces  even -25  this will also impact that amp  and increase the distortion . Possibly to that - dbm number your screen shot displays .

Again the Flex radio is a pretty good piece of hardware . 

Oh yes some people actually will send you screen shots   also wave recordings of your audio  some even  un solicited . These are information for you .  As seen,heard at  another station is pretty Unique . 

The first gentleman that responded to you was pretty right on . 

And for the record a flex driven with insufficient audio is just as bad as one with too much. Both will affect the results . 
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Jay / NO5J

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How I get loud and clean.
Before worrying about levels I listen in monitor and get the EQ the way I want it. which strangely enough happens to be the default PR781 EQ profile. How did they do that?

I must really be a good match for my Flex and my mic because the default mic level "73" with the 20dB preamp on and using the BAL selection on the TX Panel ends up being the perfect setting for me and my mic. How did they do that?

I verify my mic level in what might be a stupid fashion.

I make sure I'm switched to the dummy load to avoid looking stupid publicly. I Turn the TX level down to 1.  I pull the PR781 pop screen right into my lip. I then speak into the mic at a slightly louder level than I would in a regular QSO, while watching the Level meter on the TX panel. With my voice the problems show up mostly when I say the 5 in my call sign. That will ususally produce a maximum input with this mic. Two other words that I overdrive the mic element with are Tesseract, and Amsterdam, they don't usually come up in a QSO (never have) , but they will clip easily if the mic gain is too high. So in that loud voice with the mic screen on my lip I raise the level so the peak indicator flickers red occasionally on those three words. Then I reduce  the mic level 1 unit at a time until it doesn't flicker red at all just using those three problem words. I verify that raising the gain 1 unit flickers red and reducing the gain 1 unit stops the flickering red.  The gain level I determine stays yellow I think of as a maximum clean level. After I have that level figured out. I relax back in my chair the way I would in long ragchew and position the mic on the boom so that its on axis and pointed straight at my mouth, and space it the width of  my index and middle fingers away from my lips. I pull it right up to that distance tight. And speak as I normally do, at that distance to the mic screen. At that distance I hoping that I now have enough audio headroom to never clip no matter how excited the QSO gets. and also at that distance if I raise the mic level 2 units it will start to flicker red if I get loud. If I see red  at that distance I back it down another unit. If I'm not causing  the peak indicator to hit the 0 indicator while still yellow I'll either reposition the mic or bump the gain up 1 unit. 

See I told you it was Stupid!

With me and "73", the EQ defaults and 2 fingers worth of space. It's about as good. loud, and clean as Im going to be able to be.

I then Tune the Amp until it's tuned up putting out 50 watts shy of legal limit with the TX power set at 81.  I retune the amp with less TX from the exciter when I loaf the Amp at a kilowatt.
(Edited)