Flex 6700 CW issues during ARRL CW DX Test

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  • Updated 3 years ago
I operated the entire arrl dx cw contest this past weekend with the Flex 6700, Latest Release of Smart SDR, N1MM+, and CWX Enabled. 

During the contest I received many reports that my CW message exchanges were cutting out on the firsts few characters.....This was a problem sited by numerous stations. The bottom line is that something was causing a CW transmission anomaly.

In addition, there were about three occasions during the contest that the Flex 5700 would start to broadcast a series of CW characters in a random fashion and continue to transmit continuously..............These continuous messages would continue to transmit at the set rate of approximately 30 wpm and even when the Smart SDR was shut down the Flex 6700 would continue to transmit over the air. .................After all applications were closed, the only way that I could stop the random cw continuous transmissions was to physically remove power from the Flex 6700 system. 

Need some feedback on both problems............CW characters cutting out on the initial transmissions and secondly, the runaway random CW transmissions............Almost like an Ethernet Broadcast storm............Thanks for your help.......K4PV
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Jim

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Posted 3 years ago

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K1FR

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Jim, also ran the contest with 6700 and N1MM+ but had no similar issues. Rig was barefoot to external auto tuner. Have had such SSDR and CWX issues in past when had RF in shack due to tuner issues. 73, Tom K1FR
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I have also read that others were in the contest and the Flex performed great.
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Ned K1NJ

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Jim,
   Using "Live" for typing under CWX may have issues, although have not heard of anything that
severe.

Ned,  K1NJ
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Mark N1KM

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I ran my 6500, I would imagine the innards that matter here are the same, and N1MM+ in the contest as well and had no such issues. I too was running barefoot during the contest, although I've done plenty of CW with the amp and haven't experienced issues then either.
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Steve Gw0gei

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I posted about similar issues in a thread before xmas - 6300 no atu, and resonant antenna - no resolution but it has not happened in later contests. I have only had the random cw tx once but have had the missing first character of the cwx n1mmplus memory message happen a few times but no clues asvto why. I am pining my hopes on 1.4 ssdr coming out soon and resolving many of the ackd issues.
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Steve W6SDM

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I have had similar issues with my 6300 and N1MM - my issue was truncating the last part of the message, usually the exchange.  It truncated at various spots, usually just a few characters from the end of the message.  I chalked it up to N1MM settings or the programmable button pad that I use.  I haven't spent a lot of time researching because it didn't happen very frequently.

Steve
W6SDM
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SteveM

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Jim,

I'm hesitant to respond as I am not a CW operator.

However, I am wondering about your PC platform. Are you sure you're not underpowered with regard to SSDR, N1MM, et al.? The dropped characters remind me of my setup which is known to be underpowered and, thus, drops chunks of phone audio. In fact, I have to make sure the QRZ webpage is closed before tx; the ad-images on that page cycle quickly enough adding too much CPU load.

(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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But audio does not flow through the software. Are you referring to the known problem of a delay in presenting the fact you are transmitting? The lag is in the presentation of the rf power, swr, and bandscope indicating you are transmitting, but you are, really transmitting. That was an early 1.3.8 bug that, as I recall, Tim said they resolved.
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SteveM

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Walt,

That is why I was hesitant to say anything, I don't know the mechanism for tx in CW mode (ALERT!, no-code). How does CWX work?

As for my issue, it has nothing to do with delay. My audio intermittently drops (rx and tx, btw) and it is due to saturated CPU. I can usually prevent it by shutting down all unnecessary apps that consume cycles in the background.

(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Oh, tsk tsk, one of the no code folks ;-)

I am not trying to disagree with what you are seeing it is just that, well, in my case, the keyer is plugged directly into the radio, as is the headset, as is the external speaker through the back. It would seem odd to me that transmission or reception goes from the radio to the computer back to the radio. I acknowledge that with CWX (doesn't apply to you) that the transmission originates with the radio, but it seems odd that phone would. Try this,  as you transmit, presumably VOX?, watch the power button on the radio for when it turns red, that would be when the radio is actually transmitting. When it is visually reflected on the SSDR may or may not lag. Oh, wait, I have seen where when using phone the VOX seems to behave less than stellar but I've never associated that with the goings-on on the computer running SSDR.  hmmm. As I was suggesting when you transmit watch for the red light on the front panel next to the power button.
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SteveM

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Walt, we have a major difference in how we have our radios set up. I'm running in the kludged-up remote LAN configuration using DAX. All of my tx-audio originates at the PC. As proof, I offer that I use a BT-headset when operating my rig. I have nothing plugged into the radio except power, an antenna, and a network connection.

Thus, I know for certain that my issue is caused by the PC. When the CPU meter gets above 50-60% I start hearing dropped audio frames. If I were to tx during the same time, I could expect the QSO to begin diagnosing loose connections, water in a feed-line, etc.

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SteveM

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Walt,

Any idea how CWX works? Does the software just send the characters to a character buffer in the radio and a software-keyer in the radio pulls the characters out as they are needed? This seems like the obvious approach Flex would use rather than having SSDR remotely key the radio.

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Walt - KZ1F

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Jim, were you using a linear or running barefoot? If you were using a linear that second or two delay could be a result of the linear not being instantaneous. I've seen the random characters happen here but it's always been something bumped into the keyer.

Walt
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Jim

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All, 

Thanks for all the comments in terms of the Automated CW message operations with the Flex 6700 integrated with My Alpha 9500, Smart SDR and N1MM+ during CW Contest operations. 

My primary contest mode of operation was to use the N1MM+ macro key generated messages (F1 thru F9) for all cw contest exchanges as well as to be able to inject manual messages with the vibroplex key plugged into the front of the Flex 6700. 

I experimented with some delay settings using the delay control within the Smart SDR Control Panel (P/CW) Window. I found that a setting between 175 and 190 milliseconds was a reasonable delay setting with my Alpha 9500. This seems to be a value that reduces the amount of relay action (Transmit / Receive) clicking between a string of cw characters generated around 34 words per minute. 

If I reduce the delay too much I start to have much faster relay transmit / receive switching cycles which although may not hurt the amplifier, it does produce more noticeable relay clicking noise. 

The N1MM+ messages use the F1 CQ, {CAT1ASC KY cq test K4PV test; } message syntax as shown in bold for each of the F1 thru F9 messages. The only thing I don't like about this is that you cannot stop the automatic cw message with the ESC Message. You have to wait until the message is complete before you either send a new message or try to quickly interrupt the message with the Vibroplex. 

The Smart SDR CAT application is configured with three port pairs:

COM 4 - COM 14 is a dedicated CAT port pair between the Flex 6700 and Smart SDR. Smart SDR is assigned COM 4

COM 7 - COM 17 is as dedicated CAT port pair between the Smart SDR and N1MM+ for N1MM+ CAT Control of the Flex 6700. N1MM+ is assigned COM 7 for CAT. 

The third port pair is a PTT Port Pair, COM 5 - COM 15, which is the PTT pair. N1MM+ is assigned COM 5 with DTR = PTT and RTS = Always Off. N1MM+ has a PTT Delay setting of (30 Milliseconds).

Also, for testing purposes, I configured the Smart SDR CWX to also send automated messages using F1 thru F9 keyboard keys as well. The CWX delay setting was set to 175 milliseconds and seems to have similar characteristics to the N1MM+ automated messages generated using the {CATE1ASC KY strings that proceed the actual " cw text" message formats}.

So, in summary I have a few ideas that may be factors that could influence the "Start or beginning sequence of a cw message using N1MM+ cw messages to be truncated or cut off, at times"

Factors:

1. Having to use the N1MM+ required CAT1ASC KY messages formats from N1MM+, and that are either translated / reformatted or or otherwise passed through via the Smart SDR CWX CW generator and on their way.

2. Having to find a sweet spot time delay setting in the P/CW control panel. By the way, the CWX Speed setting controls the CW speed for the N1MM+ messages, however, the P/CW control panel CW speed controls the speed of the Vibroplex.

3. Finally, does the N1MM+ (Com 5 - Com 15) PTT dedicated port pair have any effect on the behavior with the N1MM+ PTT Configuration Delay setting set to 30 Milliseconds?  .........This is one of the delay settings that I did not attempt to change. 

All of these variables may be one of the reasons that an External WINKEYER is a more elegant way to operate with N1MM+....Just a thought........

Hopefully moving ahead there may be an improved and tightly coupled integration between Smart SDR, Flex 6700, and N1MM+, for CW Contesting..........Especially, the ESC key......

Any knowledgeable or otherwise feedback would be appreciated. 

Regards, 

Jim
K4PV
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km9r.mike

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FWIIW, the ARRL cw dx contest was the first cw contest that I utilized my 6300 and it performed flawlessly with n1mm+ , however, I was using a WK usb and it's output was connected to the 6300's front key input and I disabled the 6300's iambic keyer. I know this setup is completely different from the OP and I have heard that a lot of flex ops do not like peripherals but the WKusb do not bother me and I had a blast using my 6300 for it's first cw test. 

I had zero issues w/ using the n1mm+ cw macros interfacing w/ wkusb and my 6300 and the dx ops that could hear me ( approx. 80w into a multiband dipole @ 35ft resulted in  approx. 320 dx contacts in approx. 15 hrs ) had zero issues w/ my flex's transmitted cw as well. Like I said I had a blast.

I think cwx is a great feature and it is my goto memory keyer when not contesting, however, I just presently feel more comfortable utilizing wkusb w/ n1mm classic or n1mm+ while contesting. One day I may look into interfacing cwx w/ n1mm but that is on the backburner.



(Edited)