PFSkimer - What is the possibility for a SmartSDR display that combines: - Panadapter - Waterfall - CW Skimmer

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PFSkimer - What is the possibility for a SmartSDR display that combines:

- Panadapter
- Waterfall
- CW Skimmer

It seems like it would a great feature for DX pileups and a combination I'd be happy to pay a little extra for. (assuming there could be a licensing consideration) Below is a crude mockup -- click to ENLARGE.

Thoughts?

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ

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Al / NN4ZZ

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Posted 5 years ago

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Al / NN4ZZ

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I probably should have included this in my original note. It addresses a key advantage (192KHZ bandwidth) over other methods, but is based on some assumptions that need to be verified.

Here is my understanding (and assumptions) about the bandwidth question. The panadapter processing is on the radio processor, and only the display is sent over to the client. The waterfall processing (when it is delivered) would follow this model with the processing on the radio. So my thought is that that CW skimmer code could also be licensed to run on the radio side. That would eliminate the concern of passing all of the data to the client. And would allow a very wide bandwith to be processed (e.g. 192 KHZ). It keeps the processing on the radio where there is a lot of horsepower. It also eliminates the need for procesing on the client, another key requirement for future internet access and the ability to use lightweight client display devices.

Does this make sense?

Regards, Al. / NN4ZZ
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Ed - W2RF

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I believe that except for the panadapter, internally the 6k series operates at a sample rate lower than 192khz.

At any rate the I/Q output is planned to be at 96khz. With a little processing between or around the 6k I/Q connection to Skimmer, the full bandwidth should be available for decoding. I'm working on that.

If the specification for I/Q output from the 6k is increased to 192khz, that full bandwidth should be available for decoding by Skimmer on the client.

Skimming directly on the radio has some advantages. The waterfall and band map (spot list) data would still need to be passed to the client. The main question is how much computing power is available to run decoders without impacting other aspects of radio performance.

The interesting version of the existing Skimmer to run directly on the radio would be Skimmer Server. However it's a Windows app, and might take a lot of work to adapt it to unix and other elements of the radio environment.

Ed w2rf
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Ed - W2RF

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Technically it is not a big problem to get Skimmer spots on a bandmap. Skimmer sends them out on a telnet server. So it would mean that SmartSDR+ or whatever version would need a telnet client, code for a bandmap window, and code linking the incoming telnet spots from Skimmer to the bandmap. That's all!

The above simulation shows some additional information from the Skimmer interface, such as when a station is sending, etc. This would be more difficult to implement in SmartSDR+. But possible!

What is also very desirable in this picture would be an integrated logger interface. Then all operations, whether normal or contesting, could be done in the single integrated app. Fantastic!

Instead, if you use all separate apps, you get the kind of screen I have posted in the attached image. Complex, but it works very well!

73 Ed W2RF
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W5UN_Dave

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To see how this is being done in the real world EME community already, take a look at the MAP65 decoding for the 144 mhz EME digital band
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Ed,
What do you think about the idea of running (i.e. licensing or duplicating) the skimmer code on the radio?

I think the big advantage is that the SmartSDR client application doesn't need to be any more of a burden on the client device than it is now. You wouldn't need to run more applications on the client, and wouldn't need to transfer a lot of data to the client. I think this would be a big benefit for future internet access. It also bodes well for using new small clients like pads or phones.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Ed - W2RF

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Al,

I mostly covered this in a comment on your original post. But to sum it up, I think its a great idea, and also (for somebody) a lot of work.

Ed w2rf
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Al / NN4ZZ

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5-Feb-2014 update

Hi Ed,
Alex/VE3NEA said he will be working on the SkimServer for integration with Flex in the coming months.  (summer time maybe?).  So it looks the idea of an integration of the panadapter, waterfall and skimmer could be feasible  It sure would be nice.

Any thoughts?

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com




  
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Greg

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I think it's on the roadmap for 2020.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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I'd gladly contribute some $$$ to move it up to 2014! I think this would really put the 6x000 head and shoulders above the rest.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ.
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Bill-W9OL

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Hope it planned for SOONER than that....as I'm not sure I'm on the roadmap for 2020! HI
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Bob G W1GLV

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Love the idea, but 2020 is to far out. 2014 is more like it. I'm sure the software Gurus at FRS could do that. 
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k0eoo

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Very funny Greg....
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Bill-W9OL

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I use CWS almost every day. Thanks to W2RF's help a few years ago.
How did you manage to make the panadapter in alignment with CWS?
I always have it vertical. I'm guessing you just 'cut & turned & pasted?

I don't think I ever saw a way to horizontalize (is that a word?) CWSkimmer.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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yes, just a cut, rotate, and paste to make a mockup....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Ed - W2RF

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Hi Bill,

It looks like there will be a new version of RigSync soon. One of the new features will enable use of a PowerSDR radio as a dedicated Skimmer, with up to 192khz bandwidth. (The current limit is 24khz.)

Stay tuned!

73 Ed w2rf
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Bill-W9OL

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That sounds great. And again, thanks for your help when I was starting with CWS.
73
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Ed - W2RF

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Tks, Bill. My pleasure!
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Ken W9IE

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I am not familiar with CW Skimmer (YET) but wonder about the COLOR Codes
attached to the Calls in the Waterfall window....
Do they or Could they indicate if that Call has been worked in the Current LOG ?

73's Ken W9IE
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Ed - W2RF

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There are two options for the call colors. Either they are checked and verified against the MASTER.DTA SuperCheckPartial database, or (with some loggers) checked against the log. My RigSync program enables call checks against WriteLog, which is especially useful in contests.

73 Ed w2rf
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Bill,
From your note above, the mockup was just a quick "copy and paste" to illustrate the idea. In the actual production version I think the call signs would easy to read if the letters are rotated. See the one call sign I pasted in below in RED to illustrate.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Bill-W9OL

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Just wondering, how many ACTIVE DXERS/CONTESTERS there are on the Flex Engineering Staff?
Just for info. I have....(including deleted)
365 Mixed
353 Phone
344 CW
334 Digi
and one the few Illinois ops to have North Korea confirmed on cw and rtty.

and CWSkimmer helped a lot. Finding the pattern the DX station is using is very useful
and....being around for a long time helps also. :-))

the rumor I started with SPARK is untrue....
modest antennas, small Chicago city lot, 1200 watt amp.
Which is why I went Flex....you can't work em if you can't hear em!
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Impressive -- it's not bragging when you can back it up!

FRS tends not to comment on ideas but I hope they look at this seriously. It would be a really top of the line interface.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Bill-W9OL

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I also had good teachers. You may recognize the call W9BRD...he wrote the QST How's DX column for many years. He and W9DY were radiotelegraph operators at a facility down the street from me. They coached me for the tests back when you had to go downtown to the FCC facility in Chicago.
W9DY was the person which inspired W9BRD to write the article about 'Elmering'. While everyone called him "Bud", his real given name was indeed 'Elmer'.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I am a casual DX-er, and occasional contester. But that may change when I get my 50 ft. Rohn 45G and T-11 Log Periodic up in the air. Perhaps by the next VHF contest??? I can't wait until that and the new release of SmartSDR come together in my shack! It is going to be fun!
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Frank, IZ7AUH/AK1CQ

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How-to inferface CWSkimmer with my Flex-6500?
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Frank,
I have some notes/pictures/video of my setup given the current 1.x limitations posted here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Fl...

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Bill-W9OL

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SCREEN Persistance of the CWSkimmer signal.

I use CWS with my 5K and WinWarbler.
PSDR on one monitor (left) and WW and below it CWS on the other monitor (right).
With CWS sending callsigns to SpotCollector.
Of course I can see/hear in one eye/ear the split frequency (right ear), while listening to the DX station in my left ear

Usually, I see the successful qso in the CWSkimmer window, but not always.
A quick glance at the cw scroll allows me to drop a cursor and click to qsy my vfo B on that just successful qso frequency.
But usually, I can detect the pattern of the DX Station and I jump ahead to see if I can be calling where he most likely will be listening.
I most certainly would 'try' the proposed CWSkimmer bandmap being superimposed on the SmartSDR screen.
But I think I'd be most likely to be trying to anticipate where he's going to be listening more than where he 'WAS' listening.
But that is important also. I found that most DX stations tend to get into a routine.
Because when he works out the subband he is listening to, most DX stations go back to where they started and use the same routine he/she, just used.
Screen Persistance would be important!
In this case, a feature of PERSITANCE of the CWSkimmer spots that he used in his last progression of split listening would be advantageous.
Before computer contest logging, I sent CW with a pen in my hand, so I could write the received exchange more quickly.
I also used to jot down on the scratch pad, the DX stations previous qso spots.
most of the time, I could actually read the chicken scratching. LOL
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Ed baker

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Missing  is being able to click on any of the skimmer displayed stations  and 
The Flex going there . 

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Al / NN4ZZ

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Ed,
Thanks, that is important.  There is another idea about automatically centering the active slice in the panadapter window as a solution when running the separate CW Skimmer program but I just assumed that in the new combined "panadapter, waterfall, skimmer" display click tuning will work.   But it's never good to assume....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

***** click tuning anywhere in the display should work including on the call sign ******


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Al / NN4ZZ

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Ed,
Thanks, that is important.  There is another idea about automatically centering the active slice in the panadapter window as a solution when running the separate CW Skimmer program but I just assumed that in the new combined "panadapter, waterfall, skimmer" display click tuning will work.   But it's never good to assume....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

***** click tuning anywhere in the display should work including on the call sign ******


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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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The potential problem I see with having the skimmer code run on the 6000 itself is latency and other performance interruptions.  Getting a high performance rig like this to perform at its peak requires strict attention to all of the various elements of timing within the processing chain.  It seems to me that every additional process we add will divert processing cycles away from the other important decoding and display functions and may create problems, delays, latency, etc.  Yes, there is a lot of horsepower under the hood, but do we want to siphon it away to do something that can be done "off platform?"

I would like to see Steve weigh in on this point.  But if it could be done without penalty, I would like to see it someday.

Ken - NM9P

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Al / NN4ZZ

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Ken,
Based on the comments from Ed / W2RF, if the new CW SkimServer is used the performance impact for the flex software is significantly reduced.   At least that is the impression I got but maybe he can elaborate.

Also the ability to turn the waterfall and skimmer on/off should allow you to have some control on the processing requirements based on the number of panadapters being displayed, etc.

I'd like to see comments from Steve and the other experts too. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com




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Al / NN4ZZ

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I've been using CW skimmer for a while with the 6700 but would still rather have an integrated GUI option.  With the "waterfall / panafall" feature on the horizon for V1.2, what is the possibly of  integrating CW skimmer? 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com


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Al / NN4ZZ

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Also see this idea submitted by Howard / KY6LA for adding LIVE SPOTS to the display.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/feature_request_spots_integrated_into_the_spectrum_...

Combining the ideas, it would be nice to have the Skimmer integration for CW mode and use the LIVE SPOTS for other modes.  

On a related note, with all of these options "display persistence" is really a necessity.   Users should be able to select what they want to see (and NOT see)  by mode.  And using persistence, the system should remember the setting.  Some examples:

- Panadapter only
- Panadapter and waterfall
- Panadapter, and live spots
- Panadapter, waterfall, and live spots
- Panadapter, waterfall, and Skimmer (for CW mode)
- Panadapter , waterfall, Skimmer, and live spots (for CW mode)

Regarding the last example, color coding could indicate when a call sign is from Skimmer or a Live Spot.

Options and Persistence should give everyone the display they want, for the mode they use.  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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The issue I keep on coming back to is that SERIOUS hams will never take Flex Seriously until Flex does something to improve Workflow so that someone can win a Major Contest like WRTC. Now that the competition has Live Spots integrated into the display, Flex will continue to be an also-ran in the contest world until it does something to catch up.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Neither!

This should be an acquire skill.

If you don't know Morse code... learn it!

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Ernest, it isn't about knowing the code or not, it is about leveraging the power of this awesome rig in order to display a panorama of the activity on the band.  This is especially useful in a crowded high-pressure contest or DXing situation.  Having a display of all the stations the rig actually HEARD, rather than what is posted on a DX cluster that may or may not represent the stations one is actually able to work, would be a giant advantage to the flex / skimmer user.  

Having only used SKimmer a short time during a 30 day trial, I can affirm that it is a great help when quickly scanning for one more multiplier, a new DX contact, or an old friend without needing to pause on every station, wait for him to ID, if he ever does, and then move on....

I only get a precious few hours to operate some weeks, and I don't want to waste it waiting form some DXer in a pileup to identify if there are other tools available.    Yes, I still need to know the code, because machine copy is never 100% accurate.  But it is nice to have the additional tools available to help me find the stations I am looking for.
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Ed - W2RF

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Ernest,

Most of us know Morse code very well and still find CW Skimmer to be very useful, if not essential. For those who aren't yet proficient, it is a great incentive and aid to learning.

But this is not just about CW. It is also about showing SSB and DIGI callsigns by the signal in the waterfall and spectrum.

It exciting to watch the band in action!

73 Ed W2RF


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Ernest - W4EG

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Ed and Ken,

 You have given me the incentive to see how Skimmer works. However!

I never seeing it in operation and what I've heard is that it is used by no code licensees; given them the  advantage. 

I suggest that those using Skimmer be deducted points, times the number of hours of operations. 

I am sure that there are many that are not using Skimmer, but still come up with decent score. 

I recently spoke to a no code operator that does not know a dit from a dat; that participates in many contest, including CW and does very well using the software. What a joke. No CW knowledge or skill being the winner. Period


(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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On the other hand, I hated the code for four years until I was able to get through the 13 wpm barrier.  Then I hated it for a few more until falling in love with it by contesting and working WAY over my head... barely getting a signal report and taking 4 times before and after a contact to get a callsign from stations working 35 WPM and refusing to slow down for the rookies.  Then finally getting the 20 WPM for Extra in 1986.

But CW is simply another digital mode.  Do we complain that RTTY operators don't copy BAUDOT  in their heads, ( I knew a guy who could!) or honor the tradition of clickety-clack by using an old Model 19?  No.  Technology has advanced to the point that we have a myrad of digital and analog modes that are decoded by computers and DSP.  
I think that this is something to be celebrated because it has brought a lot of new blood into our dying ranks and infused our hobby with new ideas (like SDR radio) that will benefit all of us for generations to come.

As a 55 year-old OM licensed for over 40 years I can gripe that the newbies don't do it like I did, and didn't pay the same "price" that I did for my ham ticket, or I can embrace the change and encourage the new talent.  And if I can learn something from the newbies and "no-coders" I am proud to expand my horizons.  I will be a better ham for the effort.

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Ernest - W4EG

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Ridiculous to compare Baudot and Code.  One was a machine  and the other requires having a set of ears and some gray matter in between.

I am respectfully older that you and I made my living working on shore CW radio stations and aboard ship.  I also hold a Telegraph license since 1966 beside an earned Extra Class almost as long.

I am embracing the change.  However, if you enjoy Skimmer ..GREAT... I am simply saying that for contesting there should be a penalty to pay for this privilege.  You are not playing the same game as those that are not using that software.

I hope that if FRS implements that software in the radio, that they should also give us the privilege of turn it off.  I hope for you sake they make it a pay as you go software.  

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I passed the equivalent of the extra with code. Over 55+ years ago I still HATE code. Mainly because it was a ridiculously useless barrier that keep all sorts of good technically competent people out of ham radio. Like Ken I struggled for years with code and in spite of the fact that I can copy 20+ WPM I still find it a very unpleasant stressful experience.

Ultimately it's just another digital mode that is no where near as effective as most other digital modes. Such as JT65 Which I find to be a lot of fun.

To prove a point about how mindless CW can be , a couple of years ago , I wrote some code to connect CWSkimmer with a CWX program and ran it unattended in a contest. Averaged close to 60 Q's per hour by holding a frequency on 40M for almost 4 hours. No one complained. My computer even got some kudos for CW operating skill.

CWSkimmer is a brilliant program. Instead of complaining about it, you should be thankful,it exists because it's one of the few things keeping CW alive in the modern age.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Howard,

That barrier is what I give thanks to. 

I struggle learning code in my teens.  However, my service in the U.S. Coast Guard (I did not run out of the country to avoid serving) thought me how to increase my 5 WPM copying ability: And made me a highly skill paid employee (earning more that doctors and other professionals.) 

A skillful CW operator is far better than digital mode.  Two professional CW operators can get across more information, faster and accurate than any mode.  Why and how?  Let me just tell you.  We operated duplex and any suspected inaccuracy was immediately question.

A simple three letter transmitted; you already new what type of emergency you were facing. 

I am not complaining, I am just stating the facts. I lived those days of Marconi and the likes, making easier for those that follow. However, not all countries have disable their CW commercial stations.  There are numerous countries ships still using it! 

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Lee, Elmer

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CW is just a mode (language) that requires a little discipline and dedication.  It's not really different than learning Spanish or math both of which are languages.  I learned code at age 7 listening to the Allied Radio 33 1/3 CW record using one of these :
   

I can still remember sitting in my room listening to: e i s h 5, t m o 0, n d b 6..... for hours on end.  Probably the worst learning technique ever, but I did learn because I was absolutely driven to get a ham license.  Probably drove my parents nuts.   I probably still drive my parents nuts. The learning techniques are much more efficient today. 

73  W9OY
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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We digress from the issue at hand. Which is including spots/skimmer in the spectrum display

For those of you who found learning CW easy...more power to you. I know u do not understand the issues people have with CW Just like sighted people do not understand the issues blind people have with color.

For many of us it is an extremely difficult and decidedly unpleasant and unrewarding experience At Army Signals School I seem to recall about 10% of the ROTC candidate, who were all highly motivated! just could not master 15wpm no matter how much effort and practice.

I do not want to debate the issues of CW For me it has always been an extremely difficult, painful and unpleasant mode which I personally avoid if possible.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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This thread has diverged from the original topic so I am closing it.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Is this idea still closed to new comments and votes?

Looks like it has been reopened.....so you can add your votes and comments again.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW V 1.5.0.65
SSDR V 1.5.0.145
Win10
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Here is some interesting feedback from Alex / VE3NEQ ( CWS author).    First, he agrees the idea of integrating live spots and CW Skimmer spots is SSDR is a good one.   So hopefully FRS will consider this at some point. 

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/pfskimer_what_is_the_possibility_for_a_smartsdr_dis...

He also mentioned that one way to display more spectrum in CWS is to use the monitor in portrait orientation.  

I don't have room to rotate my monitor for this setup but wonder if anyone has tried it....if so, how did it work for you?

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.21.77
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.21.159
Win10