My First Contest with SO2R/V on the 6500

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I ran about 10:15 hours of the 2016 ARRL DX SSB this weekend.  Most of the work was on Friday with a few hours on Sunday afternoon.  If I had had as many os 2-4 more hours, I would have bested my score for the past two years, but alas, other work, family, and health issues kept me off the rig all day Saturday.

First...Thanks to Eric - KE5DTO - for the excellent SO2R tutorial.
 http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/so2r-mode-with-n1mm-for-the-flex-6700-how-to-guide-pdf/   

I followed it exactly and everything worked beautifully!  Don't skip any of the steps, even if you think you know what you are doing.  For example, it requires setting up 2 COM ports for radio control, one liked to slice A and another linked to slice B.  Then you need to set up a third port for the SO2R switching.  I used COM Ports 30, 31 & 32 just for convenience.  For CW contests, you can set up a fourth port for the Winkeyer emulator.   

I set things up for SO2R on my 6500 and N1MM+ without Full Duplex, which made it, as someone else has said, "SO2V on steroids."  I got two panadapters with a slice in each one, two bandmaps, two data entry windows, and was able to switch readily between slice A and B using either the "pause/break" key or the CTRL+Left/Right Arrow keys.  I used both methods, depending upon my activity.  For quick switches between two stations, waiting on my shot at the pileup, I used the break key.  For normal running, when tuning via FlexControl or N1MM CTRL+UP/DN keys then the arrow key method was faster.

I could run a frequency on one slice and tune around looking for mults on the other.  Though with only 100 watts, I didn't get many runs....

The only snags, which were mentioned on the forums in the Community, is that 1) you cannot use the N1MM band buttons or direct frequency entry in the log data entry window in order to put both slices on the same band.  to do this, you must change slice 'A' with a band button, and then enter the frequency manually with SSDR for slice 'B.'  The buck for this stops at N1MM+ because they haven't caught on to the capabilities of the Flex 6000 series.  The program prevents putting both rigs on the same band in SO2R mode in order to protect the second rig, I assume.  2) once I  entered the proper frequencies on both slices, I needed to manually select each one of them manually the first time with a mouse click in the data entry windows for each slice.  Then things worked as they should.

Once I had both slices on the same band, it was easy to use the CTRL+UP/DN to move through the different spots and the CTRL+LT/RT Arrow key combo to switch between active slices.  I could work a station on A and bump it to the next station, while waiting to identify him/her, I could switch to B and throw in my call for that station.  When I worked them, I hit Enter and logged them and bumped them to the next station, and on and on.  I could see my S&P rate rising above my usual rate for previous years.  (Albeit my new antenna probably helped, too, but this was speed induced mostly by ergonomics ).

I was able to toggle easily between Stereo audio with Slice A on Left and Slice B on Right  or Mono mode with the active slice in both ears with a simple push of the ` or ~ button.  On my keyboard, it is right under the 'Esc' key.  No shift necessary.  This was handy when the station I was working was weak or covered by interference.  A simple touch of the button brought him front and center and I could easily copy, when it was tough in Stereo mode.  Once I worked him, another touch and it was back to assaulting my ears with stereo contesting.  Once I got into a rhythm, it was a lot easier to manage this style of operating than I had thought it would be.  It actually got to be pretty fun!  If my brain or ears got tires, I could just toggle to mono mode and pretend that I was operating in Single Op One VFO mode until my ears or brain were rested.....Then one toush and I was back to Stereo SO2R/V mode.

Neat feature...I worked 10, 15, & 20 until it was time to shift to 40.  After working the higher parts of the bands, I decided to venture down below to the section where splits are the rule.  Much to my pleasant surprise, when I clicked on a spot that included the split QSX information, the program automatically opened slice 'C' in the 'A' panadaptor and set me up for the proper split.....I didn't even need to think about it!  But I DID check to see that I was going to transmit on the correct Slice...and I did!  This was VERY NICE.  I hadn't experienced this piece of the N1MM+ contest program before. I am hooked!  

I am even more glad I have the 6500 now!  Someone once asked "what could you possibly need more than 2 slices for?"  Well there's your answer.  With 4 slices I could be running two split contacts at the same time in SO2R mode!

Another neat surprise occurred when I began to move back up the band and got out of the US "CW Section."  I was concerned that I might need to manually close Slice 'C' to avoid confusion.  But the program closed it automatically once I clicked on a spot that was simplex.  How cool is that!  This is getting to be a very productive contest combo.  

My scores....well....I only worked 10:15 hours the whole contest.  My rate for all of that time was 30.15 contacts per hour.  Not overwhelming, but not bad for 100 watts.  And it was better than previous contests.

Nits.....

1) I have come to believe that we really need to be able to have VOX active for the live mike even when DAX is active for the DAC TX Audio for voice keyer in N1MM and other contesting software.  My foot was really starting to ache after mashing the footswitch even for only 10 hours in the contest.

2) I really wish that all of this COM port interfacing in N1MM+ could be via the ethernet TCP port. 

3) It would be nice if it I was able to change bands on both slices via N1MM+ without needing to enter things in SSDR.  it only took a few seconds, but then I needed to select the data entry screens manually before getting back to operation.  It took about a minute to change bands.  That might be two to four multipliers on a good day!  for each band change..... 

BUT the nits are much overshadowed by the pleasure and excitement of learning a new contesting method that I had avoided for a long time!

All in all, I found it easy to set up, easy to learn, and fun to operate.

I will not do another contest without it!  It was that much more fun.

Now.... all I need is a more comfortable chair, a new desk layout, and a small fridge in the shack to store bottles of water.......oh, and a, auto-tuning amp/antenna tuner combo......

Ken - NM9P
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Ken - NM9P

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  • Vary happy and satisfied.

Posted 4 years ago

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Ken - NM9P

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I forgot to post a picture of my two-monitor setup...

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km9r.mike

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Hi Ken,

For #3 couldn't you do that by selecting the band icon for each instance of the n1mm entry screen  ? The vertical band selections on the far left side for each entry window. In your supplied picture they are both currently selected to 10m with vfo A on top and vfo B on bottom. If you selected a different band via these icons on n1mm the respective flex slice should follow and you would maintain focus on n1mm. which you know is bonus : )

I like your #1 and it should override / cease voice keyer operations. This is already incorporated for cw operations with n1mm.

I am not computer savoy enough to understand #2. Are you saying that n1mm should recognize the flex's ip address and interface via that instead of via com ports ?

(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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Re: #3: Currently, in SO2R mode, if you try to select the same band for slice B via N1MM's band buttons you get an error message. So you must select it via SSDR. You can select a different band with these buttons, but not the same band. N1MM doesn't allow it. At least I haven't found a way yet.

Re: #2: yes. As Gerald, Tim and others have said, it is time to move into the 21st Century and use the TCP IP addressing via the API instead of virtual serial ports. The virtual serial ports is a good step between physical serial port interfacing and something more flexible. But it is still a software recreation of an old style interface.

I am no great software engineer either, but the way I understand it, instead of defining two ends of a virtual serial cable, you would simply define that the 6500 named NM9P is on ip 192.168.3.200 and that slice A is on port 4501, Slice B is on port 4502, Slice C is on port 4503, etc. and the Winkeyer emulator is on port 4510. Etc.

I am sure this is over simplified, but you get the gist. If another flex is also online, the same definitions could be made for it on IP address 192.168.3.201 with its own set of ports.

Ken - NM9P
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Im glad it worked out for you Ken.  With the Maestro the N1MM band stuff gets even less bothersome in a contest environment, just a tap of the screen.  I have 3 contests under the belt with it now.  Winkeyer emulator is still problematic with a number of pending fixes still, so if your not remote for the time being I would plug a hardware one in for cw tests.