Maestro & SmartLink Freeze-on-Receive Question

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  • Updated 7 months ago
I am experiencing an odd problem and wonder if anyone else has had the same experience and may have found the cause.

When I connect to a radio using the Maestro over SmartLink, everything works FB for some amount of time until the receive audio quits and the spectrum display and waterfall either freezes or is replaced by a blank screen.  It may take only 3 or 10 minutes when using a WiFi LTE hotspot built into my Porsche Panamera or as much as an hour when connected to my office network via ethernet RJ45.  The length-of-time-to-failure can vary quite a bit, but it ALWAYS fails in the same way.  Transmit does not seem to be affected, only receive.

Conversely, when I am connected by ethernet via a local connection at my QTH, the Maestro continues to operate perfectly for periods exceeding a week.

The issue seems to have SmartLink as an item of interest, however, using an iPad or iPhone and SmartSDR for iOS does NOT have this problem.

Why would the Maestro over SmartLink have issues when the iOS app over SmartLink does not?
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Mike - W8MM

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Posted 8 months ago

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Mack McCormick, Elmer

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Mike,

SmartLink ONLY makes the initial handshake connection and then is completely removed from the equation once the client and radio are communicating.

The issue is 100% related to your network(s). Something is going into sleep mode or timing out. One way to test this since iOS app works is to use your phone as an Internet hotspot and connect the Maestro via the hotspot. It should behave exactly like the iOS app.

73,

Mack
W4AX
Alpha Team
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Hi Mike

On top of what Mack said, when you see the screen drop away and the data disappear it is due to a network interruption of some sort.

Mike
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Mike - W8MM

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Let's see if I have the situation understood.

The problem of internet interruption is the likely cause.  Does this mean the problem could be anywhere starting with the upload of the router/firewall at my home QTH through any internet transport facilities and even in the modems/hotspots receiving the internet traffic?  Seems likely.

As a logical progression, if the iOS app does not exhibit the problem, does that mean that the upload portion is not the problem?  Or, does it mean that the Maestro firmware may not have keep-alive functionality to maintain the internet stream that the iOS app contains?

Just trying to narrow down the possibilities.
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Mack McCormick, Elmer

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Mike,

As I suggested you should try using the Maestro connected to your phone as a hotspot. That eliminates the Maestro as a problem and narrows it down to networking between your client and radio.

Mack
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WX7Y

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OR try the Maestro on a friend or neighbor's home WiFi and see how it works, this will answer your question about SmartSDR or  " Does this mean the problem could be anywhere starting with the upload of the router/firewall at my home QTH". 

It's probably your cell phone service switch's to another cell site or changes IP's or just plane data drop out's from excessive traffic on it. 
The IPAD will do the same thing if your Network is what is dropping out just seems not to be as serious with the IPAD as it is with Maestro probably do to network buffering or something.

73
Bret
WX7Y


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Mike - W8MM

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Well, here's another data point:

When I use SmartSDR for iOS on my iPhone XS and connect to the internet via the WiFi hotspot (AT&T LTE) in my car, the iPhone experiences more data "QSB" than when I use the Verizon LTE built-in to the iPhone.  The native iPhone LTE by Verizon seems better from a data consistency aspect than AT&T. 

However, even though there are occasional data interruptions with blank spots in the waterfall and "hiccuping" audio episodes when using AT&T via the WiFi hotspot, the SmartSDR for iOS app NEVER freezes nor does it halt audio output the way the Maestro does.  I sincerely believe that there is an unfortunate difference in the way the Maestro firmware handles data drop-outs compared to SmartSDR for iOS.

So, to comply with requests, I will try using the Maestro with my iPhone as a WiFi hotspot to check for differences.  Logically, I don't expect to see a meaningful difference.  I'll let you all know what I find out.
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Mike - W8MM

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OK, I tried out using my iPhone XS as a WiFi hotspot and used its Verizon LTE service.

The Maestro still freezes just like using the AT&T LTE WiFi hotspot built-in to the the car.

There is something very different in how the Maestro behaves vs. SmartSDR for iOS using the iPhone XS. 
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km8am

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This is ironic.  I've been discussing Mike's issue with him on the local repeater for a while since I also have an early Maestro and a 6700.

Until last night, I always used it on my LAN.  However, I took the Maestro to a local club meeting and experienced the exact same issue when connected through Smartlink over a robust wifi  (10 ft)internet connection to my 6700, again on a good ethernet (wired) connection.

It froze multiple times over two hours of reboots.  I tried the regular and "slow connection" options.

I'd love to get to the bottom of this issue.

Ken, KM8AM  

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Michael Walker, Employee

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Ken

These situations are difficult to diagnose as we, the user, have no idea on what is happening between the 2 routers.  Your home one and the system you are on.

Since WiFi is a party line, there are many tools those that install them use to ensure everyone gets a fair shake.  There are traffic shaping tools, deep packet inspection tools, etc. 

You mention it was a robust WiFi.  Do you know whose make it is and how it is administered?   Can you tell if you were connected to the 5Ghz side or the 2.4Ghz side?  Do they have QOS turned on for each user connection?

I know a lot of this due to a previous career in the WiFi business.  Then, we used Meru for all our WiFi installs since it successfully sliced the RF network so everyone got a share of bandwidth.  If I was the admin, I could watch each connection in the control panel.  Cisco does similar things.

If I had this to debug, here is what I do.  (I went through this about 3 years ago and wrote it all up here in the community).

On the Maestro display, I would dial down the frame rates on the Display (Rate and FPS) all the way to the left.  This will reduce the upload from the Radio.  If you have this too high, you can max the upload data stream from the radio and your router will choke, stopping the required Vita49 packets.  (You don't mention what sort of upload bandwidth you are using or what you have available).  Since my remote HF station only has 1mb/sec of upload I have to watch this very closely.   If I bring up 2 slices and full panadapter/waterfall, my Maestro will freeze.

You might want to do a test with someone remote site while someone else actually watches the upload traffic bandwidth.  You may need a better router for this that can actually report data stream usage. 

While I use a pfSense router (as many do), the IQRouter, available on Amazon, is a great router and very plug and play.  Lots use this as well.

This is what I see on a SL connection with 1 Slice open and the FPS set to about 1/4 (measured from the left) and the rate in about the same place.  This is my pfSense router at my remote station.



You can see the 6600 is moving about 3-400kbit/sec.   

Managing the upload data stream is one of the most critical steps.  

If you aren't maxing your upload, I would then try to use a SoftEther VPN on the Maestro (there are many threads on how to do this) and see if that is better.  While it might not give you the answer, it might help solve the problem.  The VPN will help to mask any traffic shaping and deep packet inspection that does go one in our ISPs and may improve your performance.

Unfortunately, ISPs do throttle our bandwidth and we have no control on it.

I hope that helps some.

Mike va3mw
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Mike - W8MM

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In my first post I mentioned that Maestro does the same freeze/no-audio thing when hard-wire-connected to my office network via RJ-45, just less frequently than when mobile using LTE.

My shack internet upload speed is 100 Mbps using 1gbps fiber between the radio and main switch.  My router is a Draytek Vigor 3900 that was sufficient for 1gig down and 250 meg up.

Makes me think that WiFi is not the primary culprit, but the data-drop-out handling algorithm in Maestro.  It's quite possible that my office network data path gets congested once in a while because my connection is shared with many other ports.

Yet, Smart SDR for iOS on an iPhone or iPad doesn't choke on minor data drop outs.  It might buck and snort when in medium distress, but never freezes requiring a restart.

FWIW 
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Thanks for the details.

In your 3900, can you monitor the packet stream at all?  It looks like a higher end router?  Does it show any packet drops or loss while you are connected for the stream coming from the radio?

Does it do any automatic traffic shaping?   

I would set up some QoS rules for the outbound packets from the radio if you can.  You should be able to do that for either of the 2 ports SmartLink is using or from the source IP address (the radio).



Mike
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Mike - W8MM

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One more comparison might be interesting:  SmartSDR for iOS even handles switching between LTE and my office WiFi as I park my car without dropping the connection.  Something is quite different compared to Maestro.  

It would seem that Marcus' app is much more tolerant of data flow imperfections than the Maestro code, even though Maestro may not actually drop the entire connection (still transmits just fine).  Dropping the connection and freezing receive audio are not the same thing. 

If Maestro would restart audio (or keep on chugging) instead of freezing up on data glitches, the user experience would be so much better.   As it is, it's a reason for me not to use Maestro in anything but wired-ethernet same-network configurations.  It would be super frustrating to have to reboot Maestro every so often while trying to contest or chase DX, or even rag-chew, from a remote location.

I appreciate that perfecting data delivery to Maestro has obvious benefits demonstrated by the weeks/months of continuous fault-free operation over my home LAN.  But when the iOS solution doesn't present problems with less-than-perfect data flow, questions about the necessity of perfect data naturally arise.
(Edited)