No Computer Required

  • 1
  • Idea
  • Updated 3 years ago
While looking at the info. on the Maestro I saw the phrase "no computer required". I was thrilled, until I quickly realized that's great, but I still need a 6000 and a 6000 series radio requires a computer. I love my 6500 computer and to borrow Gerald's expression it is a game changer. The only heart burn I have had relates to the computer interface. Will it work with the new change to Windows or the next Windows upgrade. Or are some of my random port problems because Windows changed my port assignments and did not tell me. Or I would like to switch to a different computer but is it worth the risk of more hassles. What computer should I buy that will best work with my 6000.

For Father's Day, I would like a Flex 6000 that includes a screen (at least 14inches), mouse, and a Flex Control. No Computer Required it is part of the radio. You could call it The Flex 6000(NCR).
Photo of Tom--W4FAS

Tom--W4FAS

  • 44 Posts
  • 10 Reply Likes

Posted 3 years ago

  • 1
Photo of Larry - W8LLL

Larry - W8LLL

  • 406 Posts
  • 78 Reply Likes
Maestro will indeed run your your flex 6000 series radio without a computer.

PLUG-AND-PLAY CONTROL CONSOLE FOR THE FLEX-6000 SERIES

Introducing

MaestroTM - an intuitive, plug-and-play control console that directs operation of any FLEX-6000 Signature Series transceiver without need of a traditional PC. Connect Maestro directly or through your local area network (LAN) to any FLEX-6300, FLEX-6500 or FLEX-6700 transceiver and you are ready to operate.

Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3002 Posts
  • 661 Reply Likes
Yes, if all you wanted to do is run your Flex on the Maestro, a computer is not needed.
Photo of Simon Lewis

Simon Lewis

  • 495 Posts
  • 117 Reply Likes
It is if you want to connect to anything else .. like an amp .. its the missing link
Photo of Alex - DH2ID

Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

  • 931 Posts
  • 172 Reply Likes
Larry, I concur - being at the Ham Radio fair at the FlexRadio lecture at this very moment. . Only if you want to work digital modes you need a computer and monitor working in parallel with the Maestro.
73 from Friedrichshafen ,
Alex DH2ID
Photo of Larry - W8LLL

Larry - W8LLL

  • 406 Posts
  • 78 Reply Likes

Will we be able to run Maestro parallel with a pc?

Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9152 Posts
  • 3478 Reply Likes
Yes, that is a planned feature
Photo of Tom--W4FAS

Tom--W4FAS

  • 44 Posts
  • 10 Reply Likes
Tim,
If a year from now I want to replace my old computer with one that will be used strictly to support my Flex 6500, and were willing to give up logging and digital modes, could I replace my old computer with a Maestro?
Tom
W4FAS
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
I'm not Tim but the answer is yes. You could put the radio in your basement and just have Maestro in your shack.
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9152 Posts
  • 3478 Reply Likes
I confirm this answer is correct.
Photo of SteveJ

SteveJ

  • 83 Posts
  • 25 Reply Likes
But don't you still need a computer to be able to control a linear amplifier using DDUtil?  What about DAX?  Doesn't it need a computer?  If Flex could develop the radio so it doesn't need a computer at all they would have a winner.  Having to use a computerl is the weak link.
(Edited)
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
No Rob, SDR does not imply anything about an external computer. It simply means the main functions of the radio are accomplished in software. As it appears, Maestro is an application specific 'tablet' running some version of embedded Windows in order to run an embedded SmartSDR. I do not believe one could 'boot' it to Windows. An external computer is required to run logging and ddutil .
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3002 Posts
  • 661 Reply Likes
Walt do you think the Maestro could be Linux?
Photo of Rob Fissel

Rob Fissel

  • 270 Posts
  • 48 Reply Likes
Walt, 

I guess I could have phrased it a little better. I broadly defined a "computer" in the sense that it runs on a platform that involves computing power. ASICs, FPGAs, and general use CPU's in PC's all fall into this category for me. 

Regarding Flex's platform, pre-Maestro, a computer was essential to the use of the radio. It still is, considering your point that Maestro will run around an application specific tablet or computer encased inside Maestro. 

As far as I believe many to be concerned, an external computer is part of the package when it comes to most understand SDR to be. Flex, Anan, Perseus, HackRF, RTL-SDR's... they all pretty much need a PC to be functional to the end user. At least as of right now. 

I guess I just didn't understand Steve's comment about how a computer in the Flex equation is a weak link. 
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
At the risk of being boo'd again. Here is where I think Elecraft is going. (I pay no more attention to Anan than I do Alinco). Elecraft is currently making hybrid radios, part of it is software and part of it is tuned circuits and coils and etc etc. Over time, more of it will migrate to software controlled. Note: no computer mentioned, just components of the radio that are microprocessor controlled. Is the Alpha 9500 a computer? Of course not but it has, I believe 5 internal microprocessors each managing a separate subsystem of the linear.  Is the 6500 itself a computer? Yes, it is an embedded Linux OS running the flashed SDR software. SSDR isn't the radio, it is only the interface to the radio. Going back to the K(X)3S, you can attach a linear and external ATU that will seamlessly interface with the radio, and the 3 will 'talk' to each other, but it still isn't a computer. I am running the KPA-500 and KAT-500 here, they work fine with DDUtil, just not quite as fine as it would directly connected to the K(X)3S with no computer required.  So when people say Maestro won't require a computer, the sole reason for that is, it IS the computer, but rather than being able to also run Firefox or Bing or Angry Birds, it can only run SSDR.

In the context of 'the other announcement" made in Dayton, will that amp run with other radios or will it be a single product linear? When you buy Maestro, you will get a Windows tablet with some hardware attached but it will be a dedicated tablet (+ switches knobs and dials) that only runs SSDR, at, what, 3-4  times the price? As for the switches, knobs and dials, are they all plastic or metal? The dials extend, what, 2" or so from the chassis? How much torque is required before they snap right off?  Hopefully they are metal, it just looks like plastic to me.
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
Bill, sry, didn't see your question. To my knowledge I am the only person one the planet with a control surface running on Linux. There are other reasons I 'know' its Windows.
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3002 Posts
  • 661 Reply Likes
They do have a winner. What would you see the panadaptor with if there is no computer?
Photo of SteveJ

SteveJ

  • 83 Posts
  • 25 Reply Likes
You would see the panadapter with the Maestro.
(Edited)
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3002 Posts
  • 661 Reply Likes
Yes that is our point,,with that, you don't need a computer to run the Flex. You said the computer is the weak link. but without it we can't see the panadaptor. Unless we use the Maestro.
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3002 Posts
  • 661 Reply Likes
Steve,,As i understand the latest news letter, Flex is working with a company to bring along new products to seamlessly automate the Flex line. I call it the SMART SHACK. So all the things you mention should take on a roll over the next few years.
Photo of k0eoo

k0eoo

  • 604 Posts
  • 83 Reply Likes
Tom, I have had ZERO computer interface problems with my 6500 since I got it 2 years ago...  The Ethernet connection works extremely well and eliminates the port assignment problem you mentioned, as there is none with SSDR!
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
It seems to me that a Webster's Dictionary review of the word Computer is in order.

"an electronic machine that can store and work with large amounts of information."

Pretty much every tranceiver made in the last twenty years has at least one circuit that meets this definition and almost all of them require a "PC" to run most of the digital modes or for logging. So will a Maestro as it is currently being presented by Flex.

Maybe what is actually being expressed here is a desire for "No PC Required", especially a Windows PC, although I find them to be wonderful & mostly trouble free.

I was expressly told by Flex management at Dayton that Maestro was running on embedded Linnux. This would be just like all of the 6000 series radios, many cash registers, data terminals & millions of other dedicated devices.

There is NO radio in the Maestro. It is just a very adanced control head. Despite its obvious power and capabilities, its fundimental structure is not a lot different than the control head for an Icom IC-7100 or for that matter an IC-706. 

From everything I have been told & read, the Maestro will run a Flex 6000 series radio without need of a PC unless you want to do logging, run a mode that isn't in the radio such as digital modes. Flex just added FreeDV as a mode in the radio so I suspect others will follow such as RTTY and PSK-31.  And just think, it's only software, no new radio purchase required.

73
(Edited)
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3594 Posts
  • 1446 Reply Likes
G
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Walt,

Thanks for last,  It is a good basis for discussion of interesting Flex items.

By the way, I run an IC-706 control head in my pickup which operates its companion radio at home remotely over TCP/IP.  Both the radio and control panel are hooked to translation processors which convert the 56-kb/Sec. duplex control data and encode/decode the analog audio for transmission over TCP/IP.  At home the data is received/transmitted via Ethernet to/from the system where the asynchronous 56-kbp/Sec. control data is restored/encoded and the audio is decoded/encoded for the radio.

I could use a more modern radio than the 706 but the control panel fits my dashboard better than any of the others.

I have my Arduino Ethernet LC-068 board with plans to interface these control functions to the Flex via Ethernet but I just haven't been able to bring myself to go back to work.  I retired from cellular & Telephony engineering in 1998.

73
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
Bob, NP. Just so you'll know. I try very hard not to say stupid sh?t. I have been working with all types of computers and software for about a half century. The Webster definition is hideously incomplete. You could look at Oxford's def with is much more complete or, ironically, wikipedia which is quite good. At any rate, I decided to look up the Icom 7100 as,in my mind's eye I envisioned the decade's old remote head found on many 2 mtr mobile rigs. I thought, rather than talk about something I wasn't familiar with I'd do some research. To be sure, the 7100 is internet accessible or it appears to be. Icom does not do the software running the radio, that would be rfsystemsinc.com. The cable from the head to the radio is not a standard internet cat-x cable. This sort of implies to me that there is not a client / server internet connection between the two. For instance, the FRS 1500 has what looks to be an  RJ-45 cable to the mic but that doesn't make the mic a computer. On the back of the 7100 there is an RJ-45 to connect the radio to the outside internet world and another similarly looking female connector (RJ45-like) to connect the control head to. So one can conclude from that the control head is not a stand-in for an internet connection and if the radio can be controlled from the internet, but that isn't how the head connects, then the head isn't where the software is running.

Definition of computer: Just because something is software controlled, that doesn't make it a computer. The Alpha 9500 is software controlled, 5 separate microprocessors to govern 5 separate functional areas of the linear. In the 6000 there are two software pieces running, one is Linux to control the SDR itself, the other is Windows to control input and output to the software running the SDR, like freq, band, volume, mode, meters, output, swr, compression et al. Here is what wiki says,
"A computer is a general-purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a set of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Since a sequence of operations can be readily changed, the computer can solve more than one kind of problem."

Clearly, by virtue of the fact this thread has gone on as long as it has, we are talking about a fine distinction lost on most people. While I am sure there are some people on here who had or are spending a career in Information Technology or Software development (the two are not identical) the vast majority haven't. So when you said 'this is (or isn't) a computer', um, no, which at best is differentiating something software controlled and a computer, at worst, comparing apples with oranges.

I have a flexlib equivalent that will run on Linux, Windows, Mac, Raspberry Pi, etc. I am well into a SSDR equivalent that, IMHO, will provide better functionality and also run on Linux, Windows, Mac, Raspberry Pi etc. SSDR can not talk to my XPFlexLib as SSDR is married to the Windows OS version of FlexLib. So for Maestro to be anything other than Windows running SSDR, or a variant,for a variety of reasons, that doesn't make sense, when a Windows, SSDR solution is the fastest and least expensive path to providing the Maestro functionality as that technology not only already exists, it has been in the field of over a year now.  So, as I said in the post, I think I deleted, yes, there could be a hardware/firmware control head that was simply a dedicated control head, what Maestro appears to be reusing all the previously developed FRS technology and adds knobs and dials. 

Having said all that I am pretty much talked out. Again, for the vast majority of readers, the distinction we are discussing would be lost on them. Computer controlled implies software controlled, software controlled does NOT imply computer controlled. The two are not transitive.
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Walt,

The 7100 & 706 have the same control panel to radio interface. Only the cable is different & of course it is not Ethernet.  See my above post & I'll be more detailed later.  My kids just showed up for the day.
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Walt,

The only thing that I have to add is that my project for controlling a Flex with another brand control head envisions a CAT interface over Ethernet. Audio will be handled separately via SIP using the audio interfaces on the Flex. I have no interest in reinventing the wheel as you have done.  All I want it to do is work reliably and fit in my truck while it controls my 6300 at home instead of an IC- 706.

N4PY does a similar thing with Pegasus using a TMate2 to control the Flex 6000 radios. The real difference between his project and what I want is that his translations to Flex cat are done on a Windows PC and I'm looking to do it more simply on a single board computer. I'm prepared to also run the Maestro in parallel at home to keep radio alive unless I can figure a way around it.

The photo is of my current remote mobile. It works very well over Verizon 3G or 4G.  The dual bander below is using a local radio in the truck.

(Edited)
Photo of Bob G   W1GLV

Bob G W1GLV

  • 679 Posts
  • 114 Reply Likes
Tom, I live in Gainesville, FL. I've owned a 6500 for 2 years now and never had a single issue between it and the computer. At present I'm running it on Windows 10 Beta, no issues. All digital programs work as advertised. No I'm not employed by Flex, just enjoy a fine piece of engineering above and beyond what the Japanese boxes can do.
Photo of Bob G   W1GLV

Bob G W1GLV

  • 679 Posts
  • 114 Reply Likes
I'm sure the Maestro will be equally as good as the Flex radios are. I trust FRS because they never let you down no matter what the problem is.
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Right on Bob!
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3594 Posts
  • 1446 Reply Likes
The Maestro is a DEDICATED WINDOWS COMPUTER running SSDR under embedded Windows

In the first instance it is intended to replace the client computer running SSDR under windows and add knobs

In a future instance it is planned to run in parallel as a second client on SSDR

The QST diagram is not totally accurate as the remote audio is not DAX
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Howard,

Your input is appreciated.  Can you direct me to a correct block diagram I could study?  I'd like to get beyond the "he said, she said" information I currently have as some of it, although from seemingly credible sources, is in conflict.

The reason that I'm trying to pin this down follows: 

I run SSDR under Windows on three different tablets with varying degrees of success. Two are very sluggish & one is OK but runs at the margin.  All three use different Bay Trail processors. The two poor performers use a Z3735 & a Z3740 CPU.  The one that runs OK but at the margin is a Z3775.  Of course, I have ended as many unneeded Windows services as I've been able to identify.

At Dayton, a Flex engineer told me that Maestro will run a Bay Trail CPU. When I expressed my experience running SSDR under Windows with Bay Trail, he suggested that I not worry since Maestro would run Linux.

Of course I agree that Maestro is a computer just as I believe the microprocessor  coupled with memory & I/O in an Icom control panel is a computer, just not a PC.

Thanks for any additional documentation you might suggest I look at.

73
(Edited)
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3594 Posts
  • 1446 Reply Likes
I am currently on a post Friedrichshafen Dxpedtion to OK1 Contest stations helping set up 6700.

I have limited access to docs until I get back to the USA in July. I have already stated the known facts about Maestro above. There is no conflicting information. It is not a dumb box with dedicated hardware/firmware such as the various favors of Icom control head but a dedicated computer running embedded windows and SSDR.

Frankly Flex is still designing and debugging the product so some things will change. it would be premature for you to be asking your questions until everything is finalized by Flex and they publish Official Documentation

If you need more information I suggest that you study FlexLib so you can get a better idea as to what SSDR does.
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Howard,

The only information conflict is what you &  Walt have stated in no uncertain terms, without backup,  versus what I was told by a Flex Maestro designer.  Who has is right? Either you are or the Flex guy has it right.  As you suggest, it could change.  It appears that there is no way for me to know right now.

Maybe I won't know anything until I get my Maestro. I'm kind of sorry I asked the question as I'm used to getting information with some references or sources, not just statements presented as fact.  I'm sorry I can't be more definitive as to my source.  I can't remember his name.  Maybe that will  come back to me.  If it does I will let you know.

When you get back & have your docs at hand, I would appreciate hearing what you have.  Until then, best regards.
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 643 Reply Likes
I suspect what happened, as I wasn't in the conversation, the flex guy was talking about SDR (in the radio) and you were talking about SSDR (in the control surface). Or the flex guy thought you were talking about the radio itself.
Photo of Bob - W7KWS -

Bob - W7KWS -

  • 294 Posts
  • 47 Reply Likes
Walt,

That's certainly a possibility.
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3594 Posts
  • 1446 Reply Likes
Walt is correct. The 6000 is a Linux box. The Flex client SSDR is windows. Maestro runs the Flex client I'munfderembedded windows. There is no point in wasting anymore time on this discussion until,Flex finishes Maestro and releases Docuemnaion. My source is Steve Hicks
(Edited)
Photo of Dennis Terry

Dennis Terry

  • 31 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I see all of the discussion about running a Flex 6x00 without a computer and using the Elecraft KAT500 & KPA500 cabled properly will work just fine without DDUtil and another computer.  My question is what does Flex Radio have in mind for powering up the Flex 6300 in my case?  I saw all of the discussion about the WOL (Wake-On-Lan) protocol in another thread and came away thinking that it was not implemented in the 6000 series. I guess a separate computer, however small (Beaglebone, Arduino, Raspberry PI) might be required "to light the fires".  Also, any ideas about rotor control in the remote environment?

73, W4SG Dennis