Remote operation with SmartSDR

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I am curious about remote operating of the Flex 6xxx series. I’m currently debating within myself on a 6300 vs 6500, but the main purpose I’m wanting to get one is for remote operations. I’m a “road warrior”, operating remote when away from home as much as I do physically sitting in my shack. My current setup is just for digital HF modes, it’s a Kenwood TS-590SG hooked to my shack computer via usb. I use a Remote Desktop app to get access to my local machine there in the shack and use software to power the TS-590SG off and on. Of course the power supply that it is hooked to stays on all the time.

My question is, will the SmartSDR software if loaded on my laptop, power on the Flex 6300 or 6500 & when finished power it off? Provided of course the power supply it is hooked to stays on 24/7? Or do you have to leave the radio powered on 24/7 also? I have zero experience with SSDR, but I’m researching and trying to learn. I previously had a Flex 3000 and PSDR and loved that radio, just wanted to upgrade to something that easier for remote ops.
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Chris Knight

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Posted 5 months ago

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Jim Gilliam

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Unfortunately, one needs a separate way of turning the Flex off remotely. It has a RCA female plug in the back and requires a closure (short) to turn it on and an open to turn it off. Your being a seasoned remote operator probably does not need any help in effecting such a closure over the Internet. I, personally, think this is a design error and the radio should have a means of remotely awakening and putting it to sleep. Also the radio has 4 fans which have a limited life. Leaving the radio on 24/7 will, of course, limit their life span.


Jim, K6QE

(Edited)
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Chris Knight

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Thanks I’ll check this out.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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If you use one of the available Internet controllable outlets such as the Belkin Wemo then you just need to switch the AC power to the 12 volt power supply. In SmartSDR setup enable Remote On and make an RCA male plug that shorts tip to ground and leave it plugged in the Remote On port.

http://www.belkin.com/us/p/P-F7C063;j...

There are apps for both Android and iPhone/iPad tocontrol it from outside your home.

When the radio sees 12 volts it will power up and then power down when 12 volts is removed.

Dave wo2x
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Jim, other than using the remote plug feature with remote Lan plugs, what other way would you suggest as you think they made a mistake in the design?
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Varistor

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Wake on LAN? A standard based solution.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Yea, I suppose they could have chosen that...
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Mark - WS7M

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Chris,

Unfortunately the thing that makes Flex great, DAX (digital audio exchange) and allows it to do all the digital stuff very easily does not work remote.  IE if you use the SmartLink remote, DAX does not transmit / receive over that link.

That being said you can still do remote desktop type operation perfectly fine.  I do that a lot when I want to work FT8.

I do believe there are plans to do Dax over Smartlink but I would not hold my breath on when it will be delivered.

That being said, you can sort of get around this in two ways:

1) Setup a VPN.  They are easy and cheap to do.  You can follow the directions here (search VPN) and setup a Raspberry Pi as your VPN server.  Connecting this way Dax works perfectly (assuming you have reasonable internet in both your shack and remote location).  The raspberry Pi can also be the same one that drives a relay if you choose to use remote on/off that way.

2) It is possible since the slice audio does come remote over SmartLink to use like a rigblaster for digital work. It gets complicated as keying remote using something like that gets tricky.

As far as turning it on/off, I leave my radio on 24/7.   I do have a Raspberry Pi that drives relay boards so I can reboot the flex by toggling the remote on/off input port on the Flex.
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Chris Knight

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When you say reasonable connection, is a cellular LTE connection st the remote site good enough?
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Mark - WS7M

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I cannot say yes or no on that.  The cellular connections can be really tweaky.  Some people have great luck.  Others have bad luck.

I have oped my Flex on voice from my iPhone which is LTE.  So it can work.  I just cannot say.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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The app that comes, or works with many of these switches are simply internet based, It just talks to the switch that is on your network, and very reliable.
If you hear Dave W2OX on air, he spends much of his time over his Iphone to hi Flex. Many are doing it every day with very good results.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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As far as remote goes there just is no other radio on the market that remotes as easy as the flex 6xxxs using V2. software. Remote power switches are easy to setup. Powering your power supply and radio with these switches by way of a smart phone is common. 
While there have been some fan failures, there are many on this community that have left their radios for years 24/7 without problems, but you just never know.
(Edited)
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Jeff-W7NEE

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Is the fan problems related mainly to the 6300 and 6500 radios so far?
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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i had a 6500 signature radio (one of the first to ship) and a 6700 which also was from the first shipment. Both never had fan failures. (6500 still in use at friend’s house).

I also have a 6500 which was purchased about two years ago and it had an fpga fan failure.

So it appears very early radios seems to fare better in fan life. Not all radios suffer from premature fan failure.

I will comment that I did change the fpga and cpu fans when the one failed on the 6500. Decided to void the remaining 1 1/2 months of warranty in order to get the radio up and running again as it is my remote base. If you are not patient and careful, you can damage the shield cage! Just a warning.

Dave wo2x
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WX7Y

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The FLEX makes a VERY superb and well working Remote base using a Laptop, Maestro, or IPad / IPhone.

Cell Phone hot-spots really work well and sometimes they don't  just depends on the local network, Don't even try it on Motel WiFI's they are junk and lock out most of the kind of ports and services you will need and is really frustrating.

I think the 6700 which I have, uses the same fan's as the 6500 does, just a couple more of them and Since the 6700 first came out I have changed the outside fan's one time and never on the FPU's yet which FLEX needs to do. 

I have left my radio on 98% of the time I have owned it.

I have heard a lot more 6300's having fan issues then the other two models but sometime you get a good fan that seems to run for ever and other times you don't, not a defect in the radio.

If you are going to purchase a used radio and plan on using it as a server Remotely I would send it to FLEX and have them change out ALL the Fan's to give you years of Remote Radio Server type service. 

One more thing I would suggest besides the Remote Power switching that others have suggested would be to set up a SoftEther VPN server at the station using a Raspberry Pi just in case FLEX SmartLINK disconnects from the radio and gives you a way to still login to the radio on your network at home or where ever you are.

To register SmartLink you must hit the LOCAL RADIO PTT to have the radio reconnect to the SmartLink server, so you may want to set up a 2nd MOMENTARY relay to hit the PTT remotely. 

73's
Bret 
WX7Y
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Yes the 6300, 6500, and the 5700 all use the same fans. flex has stated from their research that there have been some early failure in the fans, mostly they FPGA fans and the processor fan.

Since then Flex has found a replacement to the fans that should be better. But the new fans are part of a heat sink and fan unit. The new fans on their own can not directly replace the old fans. The heat sinks must be changed, and that is not field serviceable. 
But as there have been some early failures in fans, many have not had trouble as well.
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Chris Knight

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Thanks for all the replies guys. I’m either going to go with a 6300 or a 6500, still debating within myself on which, but either way I will be getting it from Flex on the certified used page.

So if I’m understanding correctly, I can get an internet controlled switch as mentioned above, make the rca switch cable to remote power on/off, and connect via a vpn and everything would work like my laptop was right on my home network? If you go the vpn route, there’s no need to do smartlink? Sorry for the dumb questions, just trying to figure it all out before I start dropping cash...which will be soon I hope
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Bill -VA3WTB

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There are two issues here, one is to turn things on and off The lan remote switches as Dave pointed out like the Memo switch is what you need, you can buy a few of them to do other things. Use one of them and connect 12V using a wall wart or 120v relay to  open and close to turn the radio on and off with the remote plug on the back of the radio. And you can use another one to control your power supply.
Most of these type remote switches work with an app that can work from your phone to work the switch from anywhere by internet and you home network.

2nd thing, the Flex with V2 software makes remote very easy, no need for vpn. Just log on to smart link an play.

And I would opt for the 6500 because of better options for mic connections and it has better band filtering.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Chris Knight

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I thought someone up above stated that DAX wouldn’t work over SmartLink, only VPN’s?
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Yes, if Dax is very important to you VPN is needed now. This is being planed for a future update.
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Chris Knight

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Ok gotcha. Yes DAX is important for digital modes
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Having run my 6700 remote for many years , over all sorts WIF, 3G, 4G connections from 28 different countries (so far) you need to be able to reboot far more than just the radio

Here is my remote control via 2 Digital Logger Web Switches.