Poor network quality reported during local CW operation?

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  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Acknowledged
This is related to the Network Health Indicator at the bottom right of the screen on SmartSDR 1.4. I'm running a 6300 and performance has been excellent on all modes. I have used LAN Remote successfully from my notebook computer on SSB and have not had any problems. This doesn't really have anything to do with LAN Remote, but while I was on 40m CW tonight I noticed that when I start transmitting (I was in a QSO and sending 25 wpm, QSK) the Network Health Indicator (which is usually all green bars) slowly dropped in quality until only the last segment was lit, and it was red. (Network Heath: Poor) Again, I was not running remotely, but was on the locally connected computer. No issues reported with my transmitted CW, and receive is fine. Looking at the network diagnostics I see a small fraction of a percent dropped packets, and network latency is always <1mS. When I stop sending the "Excellent" status returns in a few seconds.

So does this matter, or is it an indication of a problem with my network/connection? I see no evidence of a problem, but my slight OCD causes the indicator to bother me :-) I might put some tape over it.

73,
Doug K4DSP
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Doug Hall

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Posted 4 years ago

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Doug Hall

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As a follow up to my own question, I have observed that this happens with rapid TX/RX transitions, apparently regardless of mode. If I go to SSB and repeatedly key/unkey the mic for a few seconds the same thing happens. So of course operating QSK makes for a lot of rapid TX/RX transitions...
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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The short answer is "no".  The network monitor is specifically designed to be aggressive in identifying network state, both good and bad.  The network monitor determines the instantaneous state of the streamed VITA-49 data.  This data is primarily audio, metering and display data using the UDP protocol.  The the radio is doing certain operations, it may miss or drop a packet occasionally that is not network related.  This will result in fraction of a second where a meter does not get updated.  In the case of the spectrum display, that lost frame of data is nut not displayed and in most cases you probably were not aware of it.

On a wired network with a good Ethernet switch, in most cases, you may see only a few missed packets out of tens of thousands.

Where the network monitor is most useful is when the client is on a network that is by its nature unreliable and prone to packet loss, variable  and latency, such as a wireless connection.  When used in this context, it will provide the user useful feedback if their network connection quality will not provide a satisfactory operating experience.

Since this is the first appearance of this feature, we will be tweaking on it as it gets more mileage on it, so we expect it to improve in providing a more accurate network quality state as time goes on. 
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Bill Roberts

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I appreciate this report/response and will look forward to future updates as mentioned.  I ran into and reported a similar problem.  Right after installing 1.4, my network (wired to 3 month old D-Link gigabit router) quality indicator would intermittently drop to zero/poor connectivity for perhaps 2 seconds and then restore itself.  This happened during both RX and TX.  I loaded up my Ethernet cables with more split beads, thinking RF may have gotten in and disrupted network coms.  The "problem" went away (I took off most of the beads) and hasn't reappeared since.  As Tim said, the radio did not seem to suffer from the reported drop in network connectivity.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Doug, my guess is that you have RF getting into your router or switch.  I would attempt to correlate any packet loss by band.  If it is band specific, you should RF-proof your Ethernet network.  

Loss of packets will cause lost frames of panadapter and waterfall as well as loss of DAX data if you are doing digital modes.  It will also cause issues in your general network usage in the house/shack.  I would try and track/fix the issue.
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Doug Hall

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Steve, the above behavior is observed even with zero RF output. Furthermore I believe it has nothing to do with transmitting RF, as I don't see it when operating SSB (even at legal limit power levels) nor when operating RTTY. As I said, it seems to manifest itself with rapid TX/RX switching such as one would have when operating QSK CW. If I rapidly switch the 6300 between transmit and receive for a period of time the network health indicator turns red. When I stop it recovers. I've been using this PC and switch and router for three years with two previous SDRs with no issues, and I'm not having any issues with the 6300 or with my network. Well, other than the network health indicator showing "poor" network health under the conditions mentioned above.

It would be easy (and helpful) if someone else could confirm this behavior. Sending CW in QSK mode (where the rig cycles between TX and RX in between code elements) or rapidly pressing/releasing the PTT switch in SSB for a period of 5 to 10 seconds causes it on my system. 
73,
Doug K4DSP
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Doug Hall

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UPDATE: The problem goes away if I have "Show TX in Waterfall" enabled, regardless of how fast/often I cycle between TX/RX. 

To recap: if I rapidly cycle between TX/RX (such as with QSK CW) and "Show TX in Waterfall" is disabled I see the network health reported as Poor after a few seconds. But if I enable the waterfall display for TX the Network Health Indicator stays green on all bars regardless of TX/RX rate, power level, etc. So I have a fix for it even if I don't know why it fixed it.

Can anyone confirm that on their 6300?

73,
Doug K4DSP
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Looks like you may have found a defect.  I have change this post from a question into a problem and entered this report into our bug tracker for further investigation.  

A confirming report from another 6300 user is requested.

Please report any additional information related to this specific issue in this community topic.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Try this trick.  Open a command window with the Run as Administrator option.

Issue the command netsh winsock reset

Then reboot your PC

This will reset winsock catalog back to default setting or clean state
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Doug Hall

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Please note my post above from 3 months ago - the problem I was seeing was caused by rapid TX/RX transitions such as would be seen in QSK CW. I could also cause it to happen if I just keyed and unkeyed my mic in rapid succession in SSB. What I found is that the problem went away if I had "Show TX in Waterfall" selected in setup. Once I did that I never saw the problem again.
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Brian - W9HLQ

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Tim, I decided to delay issuing the command to see if indeed the Green status indicator acted up.   I was on the radio all morning and kept forgetting to watch the indicator.   It may take several days for me to catch it.   I am running the Flex on Field Day, so it will get a lot of action this weekend.  Hopefully I can verify we still have a problem.   I will get back to you in a few days.  -Brian, W9HLQ-
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Brian - W9HLQ

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Follow up info:  Thursday I ran the rig for an hour on wired ethernet connection with no problems with the Status indicator.   I then switched to WiFI with wireless router in the same room (strong signal, of course).  Within 5 minutes I saw the green status drop (I forgot to note the latency values).  This continued on a regular 5 minute cycle. I then applied the NETSH  WINSOCK RESET and re-booted.  The problem did not re-occur for another 30 minutes.  So that command did make a change.  I have the station disassembled for Field Day.  Will get more time next week to fuss with the WiFi connection. -Brian, W9HLQ-
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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So here is the inconvenient truth - not all wifi connections are the same and some are not going to be usable.  This isn't an issue of signal strength or bandwidth, but one of data throughput deficiencies on the wifi link (the radios / drivers that make up the router and pc connection) to stream realtime data.

The fact that things got better for a while after the Winsock reset points to inefficient drivers.  For example, Intel wifi drivers for Win8 have a notorious reputation for doing stupid things like dropping the connection for seconds at a time when it rescans for SSIDs. When you are streaming data in realtime, this messes up your day.

You have done the correct troubleshooting technique; you validated that the problem changed for the better on a wired link, narrowing down the issue to the wifi link.

I'd try updating the wifi drivers and PC BIOS to see if that makes a difference.  And I'd also try Googling the adapter and see if gamers are having issues with it as their network requirements are very similar to those needed with the FLEX-6000s.
(Edited)
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Bill Roberts

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My latest incarnation of intermittent LAN quality comes up (has ben coming up) right after I start my computer (I7, 12 GB, Windows 8.1).  The indicator in the bottom right would start green, drop to "poor/nothing" and within a minute or so, return to green. For the most part, the radio would operate properly and network latency was < 1 ms.  Dropped packets showed 0 out of thousands.  It finally dawned on me...  what I was probably seeing was temporary latency caused by programs that Windows runs right after starting up (like the anti-virus programs, etc.).  Guess I need to wait a minute or two.  Took me long enough :-) !