Has V3 fixed the 4 year old PTT in CW bug?

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  • Question
  • Updated 8 months ago
  • (Edited)
Can anyone with V3 installed please simply press PTT or MOX (not the key) in CW mode and tell me if they can still hear background receiver hiss?
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Douglas Maxwell

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Posted 8 months ago

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Lawrence Gray

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I tuned to a unused area of 20M,  changed to CW mode and pressed PTT.  The background RX noise was lower, but still there with PTT depressed.  In RX, the signal level was -102 dBm and with PTT depressed it was -116 dBm.

I'm running a 6500 with V3 on a Win7 core i5 laptop.  Antenna is a 4 element beam.  Nothing running on the PC except SSDR.

Larry, W1IZZ
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Larry,
Thank you for the test. The only way I can decide whether to upgrade or not is to ask users that require V3 functionality whether or not old bugs have been fixed. As a CW contester, I've made the decision not to upgrade until this bug is fixed. I've already paid $200 for V2 which has this bug and enough is enough. Thanks again for your help.
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Lawrence Gray

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I am a little surprised by the number of "bugs" being reported.  It doesn't seem like the Alpha/Beta test protocol is very thorough.  Like many folks I was hoping for a few of the long standing requests, band edge markers, better NR/NB/ANF....., to be incorporated.  

The noise during PTT (key down) would be seriously distracting.  I'm surprised fixing this isn't near the top of the contestor's wish list?

I do like the multi-op feature.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Agreed, unfortunately Flex decide the importance of bugs and they will not let users sway their fix ordering. I can only conclude they don’t have any serious CW contesting experience within the company and they don’t have any serious CW contester alphas. The result is that they have made a mistake in the importance of this bug. The new multi-client v3 is for contesting, but most serious CW contesters have packed away their Flex radios and returned to Elecraft. I cannot imagine the data users putting up with a tx/rx turnabout time of 300ms as a bug work around. Hopefully Flex can overcome their arrogance and listen to the user base from time to time or increase their alpha testers diversity before it’s too late. I had a conversation about this bug with Bob Sherwood 2 years ago, and he agreed it was a deal breaker for him also. A real pity.
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Winston VK7WH

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Respectfully Douglas, I don’t think it’s fair to use the word arrogance in relation to Flex.

It’s not the feeling I get from my dealings with the Company over the past five years, howeverI do hope a solution can be found for the difficulty you are experiencing.

GL Winston VK7WH
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Winston, I understand your point, but don't agree. PTT is a prerequisite function for any transceiver and having to wait for 4 years and counting for such a simple fix is disgraceful. I can only conclude it is sheer arrogance from Flex, that they think the user base can wait for such an important function whilst they concentrate on developing new features, what's more they think they are right. The facts are there and irrefutable, Flex have made the decision that Multi Flex is more important than getting PTT right. I think we can all agree that this is a big mistake and user base loyalty will only stretch so far. The only thing I can do now is to voice my concerns (difficult on this forum) and then take a pass on the $200 dollar option for developing more new features, until I get PTT in CW. This hurts the company and my hobby which makes me angry.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Ok Doug,,so what's next for you as we have all seen your anger, over and over. Sure you are disapointed, but the rage? where does this leave you?
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Bill, I don't see the relevance in your post to this subject matter. Please allow users to communicate on this forum without personal attacks.
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Winston VK7WH

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Again Douglas, I respectfully disagree that Flex are an arrogant Company. Far from it. Let us agree to disagree.

I will now Unfollow this thread and get back to enjoying my 6700.

Good luck and 73,

Winston.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Winston, I suppose it depends on your own personal experience. Let us agree that yours seems to have been a million times better than mine so far. You may even have had a flex radio that worked properly for your usage for the last 4 years. I’m glad if this is the case for you.
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Al K0VM, Elmer

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Here CW seems to be properly muted when External PTT is activated.  But I may not have the same conditions as you..  What radio do you have? how exactly are you activating PTT ?( mic other connection )..  Does the problem occurs following a factory reset ? Do you have more that one slice active ?

AL, K0VM
(6600, V3.0.19/W )

.....

OK I see it now.. Not muted in V3..
AL, K0VM

(Edited)
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Al,
Thanks for the test. My ears are tired of listening to receiver hiss racket in between cw keying, even although PTT is applied. Introducing any break-in delay to reduce the racket is not an option for me as I don't want the delay applied at the end of the sent message. Break-in delay causes me to miss the first CW element of fast returned callsigns. A deal breaker for serious CW contesting. 

Doug GM0ELP (MM3T)
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Scott N8UMW

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No. And there has been no noise blanker improvements either.
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Roger, W6VZV

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Yes, it is very odd that Flex cannot do something as simple as have complete MOX on CW without hiss in between the dots and dashes.
de Roger W6VZV
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Ken - NM9P

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I just posted to a new thread an adjustment-based solution that many users might find helpful for this situation.  I hope it helps...

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/noise-on-cw-rx-with-ptt-a-solution.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Ken, I am grateful for your suggestion, but AGC-T is a receiver tool and is not a viable work around for a transmit problem. To use the word "solution" for your suggestion is unhelpful in this regard. I hope you can understand that this is not personal and I respect the time and effort you have put in, for that I thank you. However, the point of this post is to highlight the gravitas of the bug and in so doing limit the damage to Flex in avoidable lost revenues. If Flex thinks there is a credible work-around or "solution" to this bug (especially when suggested by a trusted Elmer such as yourself), Flex may decide to lower the importance of this bug and I personally think this would be counter productive YMMV.
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Ken - NM9P

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@Douglas, I don't take it personally at all.  It is a helpful discussion.

But I do I beg, respectfully, to differ just a bit.  (just a difference, not an argument) 
The problem is indeed a receiver problem, not a transmit problem, in that the receiver is not properly muting when the transmitter is engaged with PTT (when in CW mode).  The AGC-T control should not have that much affect upon the background noise. 
But whatever we call it, I agree that it needs attention.

My workaround is not intended to replace a more effective solution, but to give people a tool to assist them while they wait for what I hope is a more complete solution.  And to help share with the engineers at Flex where I think the hang-up is located in the TX/RX switching.

Perhaps I would have been more accurate to label it a "workaround" rather than a solution.  But for some, it may be a good one, depending upon how they learn to control the AGC-T.  

On the other hand.  My other purpose is to address the continuing misunderstandings of the proper use of the AGC-T control, which makes the noise problem worse while not gaining the user one whit of additional receiver performance.

Once the AGC-T gain control is advanced to the right beyond the point where the background noise stops increasing (I'll call that the right edge of the sweet zone) there is absolutely no advantage whatsoever in advancing it further.  In fact, it keeps the AGC from reducing the background noise on signals that are just at the edge of AGC control.  And it adds to the overall receiver noise, user fatigue, etc.  

It also adds dramatically to the unmuted noise with PTT problem.  Running it "full-bore" to the right, or even anything at all higher than needed, adds to the noise.  The further to the right, the louder the noise with PTT, without improving receiver performance at all.

We are in general agreement that this is not an optimal solution.

But I think that it is workable for some ops until a better solution is implemented. 
I cannot "un-recommend" advice that may be helpful to some operators because of fear that a better solution would be delayed.  That would be like refusing a splint today because I am hoping for a cast to be put on next week.

However I am also aware from other discussions in other venues that this is a very difficult nut to crack and not as easy as many people seem to think, since we are dealing with multiple audio sources, multiple slices, with differing levels of AGC-T, Volume, etc, which sometimes may be operating in Full Duplex Mode.  Getting all of that to play nicely on the Flex is very complicated.

Cheers,

Ken - NM9P
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Ken, for me PTT should mean PTT and MOX should mean MOX. When I press it, I expect the receiver to be muted, this is the bug. AGC-T is an interesting receiver subject and there are plenty of other more relevant posts on this forum to discuss it. However, I'm sure your helpful suggestion will be of use to some users though, so well done.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Doug, I really hope this gets done. What I think may have happened,  I'm sure Flex has not ignored your asking of this. I think as Ken mentioned that the fix may be more complicated then any of us understand, so they considered what was involved and how long would it take, and the bad thing...the fix for the noise lost out.

This must happen to a lot of things that could be fixed.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Bill, In my opinion we are now past the stage of complexity excuses and are losing credibility due to bugs affecting simple functionality that we all take for granted with other brands. Hopefully if Flex can get the basics right, we can then move on to new functionality. I want multi-flex, but I want basic functionality more. Just my two cents.
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TF4M

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I just checked for this on my 6600M running v3 and the radio mutes properly when the ATU is on. When the ATU is set to Bypass it does not mute.
Thor, TF4M
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Douglas Maxwell

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Hi Thor, thanks for the suggestion. I've just tried this on a 6500/Maestro combo and I still have receiver hiss in CW mode with PTT applied (with and without the ATU enagaged). Is there something I'm missing?
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Douglas Maxwell

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I've just re-read you post, I'm using v2 so maybe this is the difference?
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TF4M

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I never noticed this issue while using V2, but granted have not been active much. Others with V3 should be able to confirm this.
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Ken - NM9P

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I'll test some more tonight after my meetings...
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Ken - NM9P

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I have done some more initial testing using multiple slices and different bands. I am not done digesting it all yet, and want to test on the noisy lower bands later tonight before I am ready to make detailed comments yet.

Suffice it to say that it is getting more complicated the more complex I make the testing scenarios..

I will report back more completely when I am finished.
Please be patient, though. It is Holy Week, and is my busiest week for my day job!
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Ken - NM9P

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OK, Here is what I have found.  (in order to save space I will refer to the condition of keying PTT with the rig in CW mode as "CWPTT")

The relative level of background noise with CWPTT is dependent upon the level of the AGC-T control, pure and simple.  The higher the AGC-T level, the more noise remains in the speaker/headphones with CWPTT. 

Lower AGC-T control levels bring a greater difference between keyed and unkeyed PTT.  i.e. when the PTT is keyed, the noise level goes DOWN.  

The relative difference between Normal receive noise and the noise with CWPTT varies greatly with different level settings of the AGC-T control.  You can test this yourself simply by listening to the noise changing as you press and release PTT (I used a footswitch, but it is the same with MOX)  As you do this, vary the AGC-T control between 50 and 100, notice that the closer you get to 100 the less difference there is between normal and CWPTT.  At 100 there is NO difference.  At 50 there is a GREAT difference.  The problem is that sometimes AGC-T requires a setting higher than 50 to be on one side or the other of what I call the "Sweet spot envelope."  

The problem seems to be worse on higher frequency bands (17, 15, 12, 10) which baffled me until I considered that at the present time they are much quieter and require a higher setting of the AGC-T (more to the right) in order to be set at the proper "Sweet Spot." On some bands I found the residual noise with CWPTT very objectionable, (and I think all would agree that I am pretty adept at controlling the AGC-T).

I have not found it as objectionable on the noisy nighttime bands (160-30) because at my location, with the antennas I have, the noise floor is relatively high and requires a lower setting of AGC-T to be in the "Sweet Spot."  This may be different if the operator is using a low noise receiving antenna that requires a higher setting for AGC-T to be in the sweet spot.

I was not able to find any direct correlation between ATU Inline or Bypass and the level of background noise with CWPTT.  EXCEPT for when bypassing the ATU  changes the antenna sensitivity and requires the AGC-T level to be adjusted.

***Things got more complicated when I decided to test with multiple slices on the same or different bands.....

Now the relative noise with CWPTT is dependent not only upon the AGC-T setting and noise floor of the main slice, but upon the same settings of any and all additional slices that are providing audio to the speaker/headphones.  ESPECIALLY if the rig is in Full Duplex Mode.  

Example...if I have everything set so that slice A is perking along with the noise not TOO bad (but perhaps still objectionable to some) But then open slice B, either on another band or as a SPLIT operation, then the noise from Slice B will be added to the noise from Slice A with CWPTT.  I must then carefully readjust slice B's AGC-T, preamp, etc carefully as well to keep that noise from joining the noise from Slice A with CWPTT.

If Slice B is on a quieter band than Slice A, or add a third slice on a quieter band than the first two, and it's AGC-T will need to be higher than for Slice A (or B) then BOOM, the background noise with CWPTT is now more objectionable as noted in paragraphs above.  At times, VERY objectionable.

THE BOTTOM LINE......

I have come to the conclusion that even though my previous proposal CAN be a temporary and effective workound in certain circumstances, It cannot be a final solution for those who desire to use PTT with CW in order to have more complete control of TX/RX timing and turnaround.

It is now clear to me that another solution needs to be engineered.  In my limited understanding of the way things work in this very complicated machine, I think the problem lies in where the data for setting the residual gain of the receiver while CWPTT is activated.  The linkage between AGC-T control setting and the residual noise in the system with CWPTT seems to be the weak point.

I think there needs to be a better way of muting the receiver with CWPTT.  

BUT, lest anyone start to jump on an "I told you so" bandwagon.  There remains a real, and difficult problem a to how to treat other slices, and Full Duplex situations so that slices that we WANT to hear with CWPTT are not muted unnecessarily or in ways that will reduce the ability of other operators to enjoy THEIR use cases.

I will be filing this report through other venues (alpha team, etc) so that others can test and verify/dispute my results.

I believe that I have been thorough and fair.  And I hope it will be helpful to the engineering team.  Now I make a request of everyone who has been arguing BOTH sides of this issue:

PLEASE....Let's not start another round of arguing about this with more recriminations and name calling and hysteria, or saying "even KEN said it needs to be changed."  (I have no illusion that I or my opinions are that important.)

I have found the folks at FRS and the Alpha team to be great, caring, smart, individuals who work very hard to produce the best product they can.  They must balance a tremendous amount of ideas and workloads to bring about a very difficult software product.  When one thing is changed in one subsystem, it often changes five others in different subsystems.

If or when they decide that they are going to take this issue on, it will take a while to accomplish, because I don't think this is going to be just a simple timing change in the programming.  It may require reworking multiple sections of the audio and TX/RX chain, (and multiple alpha versions as part of OTHER updates, additions, changes, etc.)   So please be patient and courteous.

I have done my best.  Now let's do our best to make this the best radio system it can be, and the best radio system on the market for ALL users.

73.

Ken - NM9P
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John - WA7UAR

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Thanks Ken! I appreciate your very understandable explanation.  
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Ken - NM9P

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Caveat re: my testing.  It was on a 6500, which has only one SCU.  I have not tested on a 6600 or 6700 which have two SCU's.  They may differ....yet another complication!
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Lasse Moell

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Just made a quick test with my 6500 and V2 s/w....  I switched to TX and could hear strong signals breaking through, increasing the gain (AGC-T) could bring the signals up. So it's not just hiss, it is the receiver running, but antenna is switched to TX. One can simulate this by switching in a dummy load (or use the loopA antenna feature), you still hear the receiver noise! Guess one way of muting would be to have s/w to set AGC-T to 0 on transmit. Should be an easy fix :D