New to Flex and SDR. Need help for complete setup for your Dream Station.

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My Flex 6700 is supposed to arrive next week.  I am looking to set up to be able to enjoy from my shack, LAN, and remotely from anywhere in the world.
I have been a Mac user for several years and I am trying to decide whether to stay with it or convert over to Windows for setup and operation.
I want to be able to control everything in the shack remotely as well. 
All modes of operation.
I will have Maestro (when available) as well as laptop.
If you could set up your DREAM Station what would you do?  Please tell me about any gadgets and/or programs that are helpful for shack and remote.
I am starting from nothing so I would like to learn from others experiences and do it right the first time.

Dream Big and have fun helping me design this station!

Best 73's, Hugh-N5IJY
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Hugh Sanderson

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Posted 3 years ago

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Mark - WS7M

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Hello Hugh,

Welcome to the 6700.  I am sure you will love it.

Here is my take.  I love Macs too.  I have to work in Windows.  Currently I believe that in the Mac world the options for controlling your 6700 fall into these areas:

Dogpark SDR - Very good but a little rough in places.  He is actively developing it
SmartSDR under either bootcamp or parallels/vmware fusion with a Windows Guest.

Dogpark is good but is still coming a long.  It does not currently have the features of SmartSDR but I think one day it will get there and be a wonderful program.

SmartSDR is still totally fun to use but yes it requires windows.

If you are not opposed to using Windows I think you will get the most out of your radio until such a time as the Mac clients come to the same level as SmartSDR.

The best way I've found is bootcamp because you can run Windows natively and use SmartSDR.   If you do decide upon bootcamp then both Parallels and VMWare fusion allow you to point a virtual machine at your boot camp partition and run it within MacOS. 

However in my experience the audio can be trouble some at times.

So my suggestion is have the option to run true windows at least for a while and experiment with the Dogpark option and if you have an iPad K6TU makes great control software for that.

Operating on your local LAN should not be a problem.  From outside your LAN with the current release of SmartSDR you have to get creative and use a VPN.  The VPN you choose needs to give your computer when remote an IP address that's on your LAN so the radio can be found.

This is due to change at some point, I think SSDR 2.0 will have remote or WAN ability but not 100% sure.

For now you can take several routes:

Software VPN 
or router and software VPN.

I chose the router method.  I bought a Netgear R7000 nighthawk router and used it as my main router.  It has VPN built right in and provides links and files that continue both non-windows and windows machines so they can connect.

Once you get it setup it works very well and SSDR simply finds your radio and you are good to go assuming you have the bandwidth.

Anyway I think there are many exciting things to come for the Flex radios and you will get to see them.  In some cases you might need to be patient for a bit.  But the people here on this forum are great to work with.

Enjoy and welcome!
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Bob- W5TX

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Good advice. I currently run an older MacMini (2010) duo core in bootcamp and it works great. I agree that bootcamp seems to function a little better but parallels works also. Currently run N1MM+ for contest logging and AC Log for general contact logging. You're gonna have fun. A GB LAN is probably preferred.
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Mark - WS7M

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Oh ya... One thing that I've not had great luck with is the digital modes on Mac.  Under windows it is very easy.  SSDR provides an audio system called DAX.  With DAX installed you just use one of the popular digital programs like FLDigi or Ham Radio Deluxe and set the right sound card (one of the DAX channels) and things start to work.

So a good router with VPN

For now I'd suggest bootcamp or a windows laptop to run SSDR.  Get Dogpark to support him and watch it become a very cool Mac client.

Another utility that is useful is DDUTIL which can monitor your radio and do lots of things like control rotors and amps.

K9DUR makes some great tools for the Flex6000 series.  A keyboard keyer, an SWR checker that can check the full band using your Flex radio.  A memory manager and others.

If you like CW then CWSkimmer can be used with Flex.  Use SDRBridge another great problem to link the two up.

Anyway it is all possible, once you know your preferences the groups here will help you make some cool choices.
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Mark - WS7M

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Howard, KY6LA will probably chime in.  He has been remoting his setup from Paris and other parts of the world for a while.  It is all possible just a matter of the right tools and utilities.

I'm not quite there yet.  I can login via VPN and control the Flex.  I cannot yet control my amp remotely, at least reliably.  I am working on that.

I don't have a tower and rotors but that an be done as well.  

One thing that is very easy is use on your LAN.  Without any special setup you can take a laptop, be anywhere your LAN works reliably and you can do CW, voice and digital modes.

I have sat and watched the football game up by my 42 inch TV while the laptop has been on my lap working CW with an earbud in place.  Digital modes are even easier as you often don't need to hear.

Just pipe DAX into your program.  Setup your CAT controls so your program can transmit (SmartCAT) and you can sit on your laptop and work rtty or PSK or just about anything.

I think it is this ability to hooked me into Flex.  I love the computer interface and the display and once I figured out how to work the radio on my LAN I can even sit in my backyard and run it.  A little cold for that right now but next summer I hope to enjoy that.

A while back I was thinking of a Kenwood TS2000.  I still like that radio for some reason but after using the Flex with the panadapter and software I don't think I'd enjoy the kenwood.  In fact there is a user here that unfortunately had to send his 6500 back for repair so he broke out his backup rig but found himself not enjoying it near as much.

So it grows on you.  Without even transmitting I find myself examining the display looking at various signals and their shapes.  I have even found one guy with horrible spurrious emissions.  See this movie:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7578983/spurious.mp4

So even beyond operating there is a ton of stuff the radios can do and I think you will find it very enjoyable.

Things are not perfect though.  I'll be the first to say that SSDR sometimes crashes and I've had issues with the DAX system but nothing that stops you cold.  I also have a fairly messed up system running Win10 with a bunch of junk installed.  I always find especially with Windows that getting back to clean makes a huge difference.
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Glenn Johnson

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For antenna switching, I just received a 4O3A Antenna Genius.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DEe8mB9DN0      I understand that FlexRadio will be selling these in conjuction with Force12, the U.S. outlet for 4O3A products.

It is LAN-based and worked right out of the box and VERY easy to set up.   LAN-based stations will be the future of station setups.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

73
Glenn W0GJ
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Elie Fabs

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