Getting read for SmartLink -- test your upload performance

  • 7
  • Idea
  • Updated 2 years ago
SmartLink is coming and a number of you are going to want to give a try from Starbucks, your Mother in Laws, etc.  :)

This is going to bring a new phase of 'how good is my internet'.  We have always focused on download numbers since we were streaming or downloading.  Now, your upload is going to be part that is going to affect just how good your Remote operating is going to be.  

It is more than speed and latency is just as important.  In fact, latency is going to be critical.

For over 11 years, I have been operating remote using the internet.  At my remote base, my best speed is still about 14mb/sec down and about 1200kb/sec upload.     For years, I used Remote Rig and a TS480, and that worked well enough.

Once the Maestro came out, it was a game changer for me.  For over the past year, I have been running Softether VPN and the Maestro that traveled with me.   But, that required more upload and instead of using about 110kb/sec, I was needed about 400kb/sec with Softether.  That continues through to today.

As more upload was required, I had to work to tune my upload.  I learned about QOS and Bufferbloat.  Not to go into details here, but Bufferbloat is bad for streaming.   Streaming is what we are going to want when remote operating your Flex 6000.   

At the moment, there is only one good website for testing your Bufferbloat, and that is www.dslreports.com/speedtest.   You can do it manually by doing the steps outlined here:  https://www.bufferbloat.net/projects/bloat/wiki/Tests_for_Bufferbloat/

This is my test on a Sunday night (I should have been focusing on the hockey game).  BTW, this is considered somewhat higher speed for rural Canada.  High speed internet is not found in places where you want to install an HF remote station.


In the diagram above, my Bufferbloat number is a C.  At times it is an A.  For the most part, I drop about 0.01% packets, which is almost non-noticeable.  

So, how do you fix your BufferBloat?  Your ISP can't/won't/doesn't care.  That leaves it up to you or your friends.  If you have a gamer in the house, he or she might have already fixed this for you.

First, you'll need a router that you can manually tune your network connections.  Usually, even doing some QOS work will help, but it will be trial and error.   You'll be making changes and then running a test to see if it gets better or worse.  Just like tuning an antenna.

Routers that you can load DD-WRT, OperWRT, pfSense, etc. are your best bet.  

There is a new commercial router that is plug and play, sold by Evanroute.  It takes a week have the IQrouter automatically tune your network.  Personally, I have had great success with them on the networks I have installed them on.  Your mileage may very.  Some of the Alpha Team members have been playing with the IQRouter for a few weeks.  They are available on Amazon.  They can be configured for use on DSL, Cable and even all in one modem/routers.  

The IQrouter website is worth the read if and only you want an easy to read description of the problem.   BTW, the reading above was done with a pfSense router I am testing and not an IQrouter.  When I tested the IQrouter, it was almost always an A or B for my bufferbloat, however, I had to take that router and install it at a customers site.
  
The internet (or pipe as it is called) is something that FRS can't fix or control.   In the diagram above, my Bufferbloat number is a C.  At times it is an A.  For the most part, I drop about 0.01% packets, which is almost non-noticeable.  

The next phase of your HF operating is going to make a huge change.  Have fun with it and brag when you got to do it differently.  After all, that is what Amateur Radio is all about.

Mike va3mw

p.s.  I will be in Dayton, so if you see me, feel free to say hi!  I look forward to meeting a bunch of you.
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes

Posted 2 years ago

  • 7
Photo of Tim VE6SH

Tim VE6SH

  • 271 Posts
  • 32 Reply Likes
Tnx Micheal. This is very helpful. Hope to see you at Dayton.

73

Tim VE6SH
Photo of Michael Coslo

Michael Coslo

  • 947 Posts
  • 257 Reply Likes
I'm very interested, however, there is speed, and there is congestion. I hope that Flex isn't inundated with angry people who are upset that they can't work  their Maestro from say, McDonald's at breakfast, or StarBucks when everyone is sitting at the tables surfing. 

There is basic speed, and there is congestion. I've been at Mickey D's when their normally decent speed is hammered by some folks checking out YouTube or Facebook and watching animations. 
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
I'm not sure about the US, but in Canada, McDonald's and Tim Horton's wifi is managed by Bell Canada.  In every case, it is non-usable and I resort to turning my phone into a hot spot.   I have even seen it non-usable when no one in place.   Even Starbucks is in the same boat, especially for streaming. 

There is only 1 thing worse than no internet and that is some internet.  :)
Photo of Michael Coslo

Michael Coslo

  • 947 Posts
  • 257 Reply Likes
Sorry I missed your reply. Here in Pennsylvania, the local McD's are on ATT wifi. Speed is mostly okay, until we get multiple people watching data hungry applications. What we'll have to remember is that when we try this, we'll be the data hungry users
Photo of Marc Lalonde

Marc Lalonde

  • 368 Posts
  • 91 Reply Likes
i ready , thank to fiber to home internet  
and i planning to put 3.4GHz long range Ubiquiti Ethernet link to my remote site ;-)


Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Marc, what is your bufferbloat number?  BTW, I live in Toronto, and Bell can't deliver Fiber to my street.  The best I get at home in the GTA is 15mb/s down and 4mb/sec up, yet I pay for 25/10.  I need to move.  LOL
Photo of Tim VE6SH

Tim VE6SH

  • 270 Posts
  • 32 Reply Likes
No Fibre as I live in an older part of Calgary, but Shaw gives me 50/6 with their mid high speed service. Only other option is Telus but it is not as fast.

Tim VE6SH
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
I love the A+ on the bufferbloat.  I have never been so lucky.  However, it is forcing me to learn about ACQ queues.
Photo of Michael Coslo

Michael Coslo

  • 947 Posts
  • 257 Reply Likes
Well, here's my home numbers. I used both with all my security software on, and with it off: They are close enough that it's within the normal difference between tests. Security software is the one with the Netflix logo
Photo of Mack McCormick

Mack McCormick, Elmer

  • 429 Posts
  • 148 Reply Likes
Mike,

This is an excellent post. Well done.

Mack
W4AX
Photo of Jay Spaulding

Jay Spaulding

  • 66 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I should be good.. 

Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Hi Jay ... make sure you run the bufferbloat test and ensure your rating is not an F.  Many people are an F even with a Fiber connection.

73
Photo of Jay Spaulding

Jay Spaulding

  • 66 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Hi Michael,
I did it shows it there. I rated a B grade. 

Thanks
73
Photo of K1UO - Larry

K1UO - Larry

  • 837 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
Strange..  Get "A" bloat results here on the home network but the UPLOAD side of the buffer bloat test always causes my remote Ethernet link to the 4O3A Antenna Genius located at the remote to drop out and then auto reconnects just as the uplink portion of the test is finishing.   The AG8X2 Control App is on the shack PC but testing the bloat on the Den PC also causes the AG dropout.  Must be something in the ASUS Router as that is only common unit.    Just an observation.
(Edited)
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
That would be to be expected I would think as you max out the network.  You might want to see if you can QOS some bandwidth for the 403A.

mike
Photo of KF4HR

KF4HR

  • 699 Posts
  • 237 Reply Likes
All these speed test results are interesting but does anyone know what the minimum required up/down load speeds requirements are for SmartLink?
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
I routinely run about 400kb/sec with 1 slice and minimum waterfall updates. I have contested with this but your bufferbloat has to be C or better.

Mike va3mw
Photo of David Orman

David Orman

  • 59 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes


 Little bit of buffer bloat, but it's only when at max download.
(Edited)
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Hi David

That is what I thought, but I had to make sure that happens when my skinny upload gets maxed.  There is where I had to do lots of investigation on my remote end using SoftEther.  It took some time, but I nailed it.  As Mack says below, there are plug and play solutions that work very well to help out.  Dave Bottom from Arlan communications had terrible internet at Dayton on the connection they provided him, and he then installed the IQRouter he brought with him and it was night and day.

Your mileage may vary.

73, Mike va3mw
Photo of David Orman

David Orman

  • 59 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
I'm using Ubiquiti UniFi gear, including a (USG-PRO-4) router. I'm not planning on downgrading to something like the IQRouter. The IQRouter only handles ~250Mbps, and my link speed is faster. ;) The USG has built in QoS if I want to enable it, but the bufferbloat isn't a problem until I'm saturating my link. I'd prefer not to enable QoS because I have to disable DPI in order to do so, and I lose HW acceleration. I don't anticipate any issues, but I'll cross that bridge if need be when it occurs.

tl;dr the solution to 'bufferbloat' for most people is enabling QoS and restricting the outgoing/incoming throughput to a level at which doesn't saturate the buffers of the routing device/forwarding devices (especially if prioritizing traffic re: Flex). You only need to do this if you're having bufferbloat (increased latency) issues at the throughput at which you intend to operate remotely, which is in my case a fraction of link speed and a non-issue. I suspect a lot of consumer hardware has a much lower threshold before there are problems with routing/forwarding latency, and an IQRouter/any device that has QoS capability is a potential solution. You may want to shop around if your link speed is above 200-250Mbps, since you'll artificially cap your connection otherwise.
Photo of Mack McCormick

Mack McCormick, Elmer

  • 429 Posts
  • 148 Reply Likes
In my experience running SmartLink the biggest issue is Bufferbloat. My old router was not up to the task. I switched to the IQRouter (many Alpha testers are using this router) and performance has been flawless. In fact lots of people are using my station from the Flex Booth as I type this. 

I'm sure there will be many people who are not experienced with real time internal communications who will try to blame Flex for poor performance when the issue is poor network performance. All of the Alpha testers are using it with no major issues from iPhones, iPads, Maestro's, and computers from every WiFi hot spot we can access. 

My advice, if you're unsure how to tune your internet connection, is to find a competent friend or the community here to help you. It will not be Flex's problem to fix. 

As always, I will help here as people experience issues. You're gonna love SmartLink. You can literally operate your radio anywhere with Internet access with a single click. I can't wait to go grocery shopping with my wife again and being able to entertain myself ;-)

Vy 73,

Mack
W4AX
Alpha Team
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3700 Posts
  • 1550 Reply Likes
Or better yet. Working DX while the XYL is trying on yet another pair of shoes in the shoe store
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3700 Posts
  • 1550 Reply Likes
Remote DX Challenge

I have run my Flex 6700mRemote FROM 28 COUNTRIES so far

Anyone want to try Remote DXCC. It just got a heck of a lot easier with SmartLink
Photo of Dave - WB5NHL

Dave - WB5NHL

  • 282 Posts
  • 63 Reply Likes
Sitting at Red Roof Inn south of Dayton. Obviously, WIFI

Photo of Mark WS7M

Mark WS7M

  • 505 Posts
  • 149 Reply Likes
Here is my home... Standard residential cable, 9:00am Colorado time



But like I've found with these tests, I ran it 2 minutes later again and got a bufferbloat of C.  So totally variable I think.
(Edited)
Photo of Dave - W6OVP

Dave - W6OVP

  • 277 Posts
  • 94 Reply Likes
It says here "To use the SmartLink feature ... you must be away from your home network".

QUESTION: How do you test your SmartLink installation from home if you have to be away from home??? Do you have to hijack your neighbors WiFi signal to test your system? <GGG>.
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9178 Posts
  • 3525 Reply Likes
That is one way to do it, however I'd ask for permission before hacking their wifi password. You can use the hotspot capabilities of your cell phone if you have that feature.Or have a coffee at your local Starbucks and use their WiFi.
(Edited)
Photo of Mack McCormick

Mack McCormick, Elmer

  • 429 Posts
  • 148 Reply Likes
I test by turning off Wi-Fi off on my mobile phone and turning on personal hotspot. Then I connect via my personal hotspot over smart link to the radio.

Easy.

Mack
W4AX
Alpha Team
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 322 Posts
  • 94 Reply Likes
I would just like to inject a few additional comments for those that might not have done much remote Flex operating.  I operate close to 100% of the time remotely using a VPN connection.  I have been doing so for more than a year.  I can echo the comments of others that if you have low bandwidth you can adjust the Spectrum FPS and Waterfall Rate to lower the bandwidth requirements.  Along with ensuring the only one slice is open and DAX is not turned on.

However, it is my experience and opinion that the actual bandwidth needed to make the remote operation experience useful and pain free is 1 MBs.  Yes you can operate with less using the above tweaks but you will find the spectrum display and waterfall as operating tools quickly become less useful as you make these tweaks.  This is especially a problem if you are working a DX pileup on CW.  Add in the issues with audio breakups and latency delays and soon the normally useful panadapter becomes a liability.

I would suggest if you plan to do a fair amount of remote operating and might have limited bandwidth that you prepare yourself for this potential frustrating remote experience.  I use a secondary remote tool called OCForb (remotehams.com) for just such times and if I want to simply listen or rag chew and do not need the functionality of the panadapter.

I would also suggest that Flex might want to investigate adding a user option to completely turn off the panadapter when logging into a remote radio.  There is nothing more frustrating then logging in and the bandwidth being so bad that it starts up the panadapter and either immediately disconnects or freezes before having time to go into the Display settings and adjusting them to use less bandwidth.
(Edited)
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4166 Posts
  • 1328 Reply Likes
..."There is nothing more frustrating then logging in and the bandwidth being so bad that it starts up the panadapter and either immediately disconnects or freezes before having time to go into the Display settings and adjusting them to use less bandwidth." ....

Yes.  I have had this very problem several times.  In order to combat it, I have a profile called "remote" that has the waterfall turned off, the waterfall rate turned to zero, and panadapter FPS at 7.  This way, If I can keep a connection long enough to load the profile, I can regain control of the rig.

Having a "Default Remote Connect" profile that the rig reverts to upon initial connect would be nice...

Here are some other options:

1) Could there be a function added to the initial Smartlink Window that would allow the user to preselect a global profile that would be used when connecting?  

2) Or perhaps a box could be adde4d that could be checked like:  
[ ] low bandwidth mode, or [ ] Use Default Remote Profile.

This would start up the remote session with the REMOTE profile or at least with the Waterfall turned off and rate turned down.

3) Could SSDR be set so that in SSDR-Win if the Waterfall is dragged down to nothing, that the Rate is also set to zero, or suspended?  (Or in SSDR-IOS, if the Waterfall OFF switch is activated, the Rate also is set to Zero?)

Any or all of these might prevent "low bandwidth lock-out" from the remote rig.

Ken - NM9P
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9178 Posts
  • 3525 Reply Likes
Ken - I have written up the content of your comment into a feature request, #4849
Photo of Don, VE2HJ

Don, VE2HJ

  • 38 Posts
  • 2 Reply Likes

Hi Michael, this is a helpful tool. Here is the test result at my QTH and probably the same at my planned remote site.

Some work to do to get better quality and bufferbloat.

73,

Donald, VE2HJ

Photo of Larry - WA7LZO

Larry - WA7LZO

  • 179 Posts
  • 44 Reply Likes
I have Comcast cable Internet at my residence in Snoqualmie Ridge, and my download speeds over my WiFi run 200+ MB/s, but Comcast throttles my upload speeds to only 30 MB/s. Via Ethernet, my download is 300 MB/s (Comcast "guarantees my download speed to be 250 MB/s). Latency is typically 12 msecs. A nice big Starbucks is 0.9 miles from my home, and I will check their WiFi speeds tomorrow when I am there, as always. However, my plans are to use my ATT iPhone for cellular data connectivity, which runs about 50+ MB/s down, but upload not sure. I will check that. too. It may be some time before we see Starbucks WiFi with decent speeds.

Br,
Larry
WA7LZO
Photo of Andy - KU7T

Andy - KU7T

  • 238 Posts
  • 23 Reply Likes
By the way, If you change the display settings FPS and Rate to a very low value, the bandwidth requirements go down. I tried out with both set to 1 and I only need a few hundreds of Kbps to remote. If I run with full force, I need 7Mbps.
Andy
Photo of Bob  KN4HH

Bob KN4HH

  • 97 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
I am on day 6 of my iqrouter. The network performance has increased greatly. My bufferbloat rating went from D to A and overall performance from D to B. The Maestro network quality indicator has stayed all green for the last 4 of the 6 days of the iqrouter analysis cycle. During the analysis cycle, high network demands were in place. (Video streaming, Skype, etc). As a result, I have not had to decrease frame rate or waterfall.
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Unfortunately, I did not. Mike
Photo of Don, VE2HJ

Don, VE2HJ

  • 38 Posts
  • 2 Reply Likes
OK, I'll try again.
Photo of Cal Spreitzer

Cal Spreitzer

  • 397 Posts
  • 92 Reply Likes
Bob,

I just picked up a IQ router and initial testing looks really great!   Thanks for the tip! 

Cal / N3CAL
Photo of Cal Spreitzer

Cal Spreitzer

  • 397 Posts
  • 92 Reply Likes
Bob,

I just picked up a IQ router and initial testing looks really great!   Thanks for the tip! 

Cal / N3CAL
Photo of Bob  KN4HH

Bob KN4HH

  • 97 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
Great, Cal.  I have never had such good performance with the Maestro since my iqrouter finished its six day analysis cycle.

Bob, KN4HH
Photo of K1UO - Larry

K1UO - Larry

  • 837 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
Does the IQ Router have ddns capability also?   Just thinking of the remote end of the link in case the commercial power is lost.
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
DynDNS?  Yes. 

Mike
Photo of K1UO - Larry

K1UO - Larry

  • 837 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
Thanks Mike...  ordered one!
Photo of k3Tim

k3Tim

  • 889 Posts
  • 180 Reply Likes
More like DieDNS ?   :-)

In checking the buffer bloat, with only PC connected direct to cable modem a bad score resulted. Can the aforementioned router help this problem or should the CM be changed out?
Photo of Cal Spreitzer

Cal Spreitzer

  • 401 Posts
  • 93 Reply Likes
I should be good to go:


Cal/N3CAL
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Hi Cal

Your BB is a C, which is OK.  Currently I am testing at a C Level on my remote station and it isn't perfect and I will get some dropouts.   I have configured my router to not be as a good so that I can relate C to what my ears would hear.   When it is an A, it is awesome as others have indicated.   Also, you may want to try your test about 8PM on a rainy night when the world is on NetFlix (Friday or Saturday nights are good).  See if you still get a C rating.  I know I don't and can drop to an F for a few hours.

In talking to my ISP, what that is is local routers (to your QTH) are getting maxed with streaming.  Fortunately, your focus is Up Stream and they are saturated Down Stream, but you will still see some variance.

73, Mike va3mw
Photo of Cal Spreitzer

Cal Spreitzer

  • 401 Posts
  • 93 Reply Likes
Hi Mike,

I've been using SoftEther VPN to remote to my home networked Flex for about a year now without  any issues.  it's worked very well!  I spend about two to three weeks a month away from home working so I enjoy running remote.  Most hotels I stay in provide enough speed to run SSDR but I do have to turn down the the waterfall rate most of the time.  The test above was while my wife was streaming a Netflix movie.

73 de Cal/N3CAL
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Good stuff.  You still want to do the Friday or Saturday night thing as your neighbours will have an impact on the pipe as well.  Welcome to the remote club.
Photo of Cal Spreitzer

Cal Spreitzer

  • 401 Posts
  • 93 Reply Likes
I decided to try out the IQ Router.  Just put it online and my bufferbloat went from C to A+




Cal / N3CAL
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
Cal

This is great news.  And, as you know, it will get much better over the next week as it continues to self tune.  

For my VE friends, I am bringing in a bunch next week.

Mike va3mw
Photo of Mike va3mw

Mike va3mw

  • 824 Posts
  • 198 Reply Likes
For my Canadian friends, I order a bunch of IQ Routers from Evanroute in order to make the available for all of us.  :)  I should have them early next week.  If you are interested in one, please email me directly at mike@portcredit.net.   

Once I know the brokerage charges, I will be able to quote the price + HST.   

73 all, Mike va3mw
Photo of David Decoons wo2x

David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

  • 1321 Posts
  • 279 Reply Likes
I jave an extra IQ Router V2 that I will not be using if anyone wants to save some money off the going price.

Contact me directly at wo2x AT arrl DOT net for more details.
I'm located in northern NJ and can also do a local meet.

Dave wo2x