Running remote

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  • Question
  • Updated 3 months ago
  • (Edited)
Hi there folks.
Im trying to find deep detail technical specifications on the technology used for running a 6x00_series radio.

Specifically Im interested in:
1. How it is set up
2. What protocols are used
3. Typical total bw usage when running spectrum scope and per slice
4. How is the security / login /usage of radio handeled
4.1 How can I set up access for others then myself running my radio? 
5. What technical requirements are there for the WAN-access at radio side / Client side
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Tilman D Thulesius

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Posted 3 months ago

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Mark WS7M

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Hello,

I will answer what I think as some of these details are not readily available:

1) SmartLink is the name of the product from Flex.  You create a SmartLink account which uses Auth0 to provide authorization into your radio for remote use.  Hence if the SmartLlink server is down, your remote access could also be down.  The smartlink server is what provides the list of radios you can connect to based on your account.

2) Protocols:  UPNP is used by the radio to establish ports out your router.  Beyond that the radio uses the same protocols it does locally:  TCP for control,  UDP for data broadcasts

3) Bandwidth.  I have not measured so I cannot give an exact example.  I do know people are using this successfully on cell phone hot spots.  I am able to use it at my office which has a 20 mbps total connection for 38 people.

4) Security:  Auth0.  See auth0.com

5) Access:  Currently you would have to give out your login/password to those you want to use your radio.   There have been many requests to provide a method for guest access without sharing your login/password. This is not implemented yet.

6) Tech requirements:   I can't speak to this.  For many SmartLink remote plugs in and works.  Some have issues with various routers in their home and ISPs that block things.   I think in general if you are willing to use "common" components that others use here you will not have issues.
(Edited)
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Tilman D Thulesius

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Thank you so very much. Im based back in Sweden. 
Im considering a 6600. I understand that they are about to get ready for shipment. 

But one very important feature for the is to be able to run the radio remotely also. 

/ Tilman SM0JZT
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Mark WS7M

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Tilman,

I will be glad to let you play with my radio remote.  Please email me at:

ws7m@arrl.net

And we will set it up.

I have a 6600 on a 280 foot loop.  You can op: 40m, 20m, 15m, 10m.   I don't have good tuning on other bands.
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John Cooper

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Tilman,

I have the Flex 6500 and have been running it over a VPN for the past couple of years.  I've ungraded to SmartSDR 2.0 but don't use the SmartLink service.  I'm still using my VPN configuration.  My station is in Virginia. I've been successful operating it from Central America and Europe.  

I created a presentation for my radio club about remote Amateur Radio in general of which my FlexRadio was a part.  Some of the slides used information from my FlexRadio VPN station.  The SmartSDR program takes very little network data.  I show 80 kbps on the Windows 10 resource monitor.  That's probably the reason why I can run remotely with my iPhone hotspot.  Also, the SmartSDR and DAX programs together only take 3% of my processor with four panadapters and slices working with the DAX.  Not very much at all.  The presentation has 32 slides.  My email is good in QRZ.  Contact me and I'll send you a copy. 

I've enjoyed the radio and especially the remote operation.  Best of luck.

 John / WB3AYG
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Bill -VA3WTB

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To bad you didn't show off Smart Link,,that is what sets Flex apart from all others.
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Paul

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Bill, I have been using VPN remote for many years and before that an SSH connection. The VPN is simpler than the SSH solution but I'm afraid for me, Smartlink offers no advantage over a VPN if one has the ability to set it up. In fact, the VPN has the advantage of not being dependent on a third party and does not suffer breaks in service that are beyond the control of the user. I do have a Smartlink account but seldom use it. I cannot see that this "sets Flex apart from all others".
(Edited)
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Larry Loen WO7R

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And older solution (that I still use) is detailed in the post cited below.  If you follow the whole conversation, you will see it progress from "almost working" to "actually working".  I still have it deployed more or less as shown in the diagram.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/my-proposed-remote-smart-sdr-setup-will-it-work-obv...

Even with the new SmartLink, you may want to consider this kind of solution.  My solution works especially well for CW.  It also is a champ for RTTY, because all of the audio for RTTY is done at the "shack" PC, which really matters for modes like FT8.

You may also want to check this out setup out because Flex can only supply a solution for the Flex itself.  The problem, and the solution, is a larger set of problems than just remoting the rig.

The big issue for remote, no matter how you do it, is latency.  If you are strictly within your own physical household, just about anything works.  Once you use the actual internet, sooner or later you face the issue of latency.  You can have plenty of bandwidth, but if the performance of the various packets you send over the internet is inconsistent enough and lags enough, your solution will be unworkable.  This may happen anywhere from "once in a while" to "all the time" depending.

This solution can be kept to about 270 kilobits per second, which is decent enough in a setup where the limiting bandwidth is about 2 megabits.  For technical reasons, you should have about 10 times the bandwidth as you actually consume (this is an old networking solution rule of thumb for ethernet and it definitely applies here).

Another critical item for running truly remote is power management.  You need a solution that comes up "no matter what" after a power failure.  My solution is built around this:

https://www.amazon.com/Web-Power-Switch-Supply-Cord/dp/B01FWORL1Y/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1534782...

. . .which used to run about 140 dollars but may be more now.  Worth every penny.  You can run a setup up to 500 watts on HF from this.  You do not need a UPS.

I run the "full gallon" amp separately (and it comes up just fine after a power failure).  I use the USB support on the Flex to control the amp and it is just an extension of the rig, run that way.  Only a couple of full power amps are serious candidates for remote operation.  Beyond the one Flex promotes, I have actually used the Alpha 9500 and the Expert 2000.  You need one that is well-instrumented and protects the heck out of itself as well as having auto-bandswitching of some kind.  This is also necessary even if you run a smaller 500 watt amp.

The networking solution I have also automatically generates a VPN for me.  It is secure and the shack is essentially "always on".  It required me to flash a commercial router with OpenWRT and buy a domain name from namecheap.com.  The cost is not great; the barrier here is expertise. But, there are other ways to deploy and "always on" VPN.  The overhead for VPN is very low in a modern setup and adds immeasurably to your security.

A total solution to this problem goes far beyond SmartLink because it is about more than the Flex itself.


(Edited)
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Lasse Moell

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Tilman, we are a few SM hams active with Flex, just let me know and we can work out something....
My e-mail ok @ SSA
/Lasse SM5GLC
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Geoff AB6BT

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I have set up and used a ZeroTier peer-to peer network successfully. It works well, is free, and is "always on"

For those interested:
https://www.zerotier.com/
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Dudley - WA5QPZ, Elmer

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There is a SmartLink Quick Start Guide also ..

https://www.flexradio.com/downloads/smartlink-quick-start-guide-for-smartsdr-pdf/

or you can search SmartSDR Documents    This also has a link for helping to setup port forwarding on various routers.  

Dudley -  WA5QPZ

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Ernest - W4EG

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Thanks Dudley,
That SmartLink Quick Start Guide, should be a mandatory reading for all.
And the Maestro video link: Needs to be seeing by most; how the Maestro links to  SmartSDR radios, amplifier etc...
Very well done!