SDR settings for SPE 1.3K amplifier

  • 1
  • Question
  • Updated 5 months ago
  • Answered
  • (Edited)
I want to connect my new SPE expert 1.3K to my Flex 6500. I have already Dan's (KC5PCB) cable set. Can someone tell me what i have to change in the SDR 2.0 settings?



Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes

Posted 1 year ago

  • 1
Photo of Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

  • 199 Posts
  • 31 Reply Likes
Did you buy a usb to serial adapter for band data?
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
yes i have also the usb to serial cable with FTDI chipset.
(Edited)
Photo of Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

  • 199 Posts
  • 31 Reply Likes
You will need to go into settings and enable the USB adapter after you plug it it. It will provide band data to the Amp. You will need to configure the Amp for “Flex” under cat settings. Read the manual that came with the Amp. There are some special ways to set power levels for low medium and high power when using a flex radio (the amp actually sets the drive power on the radio once its configured.) Good luck
(Edited)
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
In the above radio settings from SDR i do not change anything?
(Edited)
Photo of David Decoons wo2x

David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

  • 1208 Posts
  • 249 Reply Likes
You will need to enable TX1 and connect an RCA cable from TX1 out to PTT in 1 on amp.

I have my 1.3k connected via DDUtil since I already have DDUtil for other peripherals. It allows adjustment of power from SmartSDR. If you connect direct to radio then you must adjust the power from the amp.

Either way works.

Dave wo2x
Photo of Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

  • 198 Posts
  • 31 Reply Likes
It depends if Dave made the keying line in the acc port or the rca port. Mine keys thru acc port
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
oke thanks, i give it a try.

People who want to order the cable set. Send a mail to Dan kc5pcb2@att.net and you get all the info.
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 280 Posts
  • 81 Reply Likes
What others have said but with some screen shots to help guide you.

1) Setup USB cable in SmartSDR ....Menu: Settings.....USB Cable.  The Serial number of your cable will be different.
2) Setup PTT in SmartSDR to key SPE.  I used RCA TX1 port with 50ms delay.  Yours might be different.
3.) Setup CAT on SPE.  With amp in Standby.
4.) Setup drive power control on SPE so that it reduces drive from Flex.  You will need to do this for each power level on SPE (LOW, MID, MAX) and on each band of operation.  My power drive level from the screen shot is 4 watts on 17M in LOW and also 4 watts in MAX.  See the PC: # above the BAND indication on the SPE.  You make this setting by having the SPE in Operate mode and pressing the LEFT/UP arrow button key.  This brings up the PC: reading and then you press the LEFT/UP arrow button key to decrease the set drive level or the RIGHT/DOWN arrow button to increase the set drive level until you get to the drive level you want.  These are the arrows on the right side of the SPE display not the LEFT side. Set the drive you want for the output you want and Stop pressing buttons. In a second or two the PC: display will disappear and your level will be set at the last value shown. 

You will need to repeat this process for every band and for each of the three SPE power levels on the band.

You can verify this by looking at the RF Power slider in SmartSDR.  Also when you put the SPE in Standby the RF Power Slider will change to 100 watts (or whatever max power out you have set in SmartSDR).  The SPE will set the Flex to these level everytime your return to that band in the future.

Regards, John K3MA



(Edited)
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Hi John,

I use only digital mode (wsjtx). I can use the same delay (50)?
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
If you want to make your own cable it’s pretty easy. K3MA’s guide is pretty much what you need for a pre made cable though. For SO2R it’s a bit different but 2 cables and 2 adapters and also two relay lines. You set a tx profile that activates each relay line.


The 50ms delay seems sufficient for everything. I’ve used it for WSJTX JT65 (sold the amp before FT8 was released) without issue. High power was mostly used on low bands 160 and 80.
(Edited)
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
This is what you need for a basic DIY cable

9 pin (Flex) --------> 15 pin (amp)
Pin 2 (RXD) ------------------> Pin 9 (TXD)
Pin 3 (TXD) ------------------> Pin 1 (RXD)
Pin 5 (Ground) ------------------> Pin 4 (Ground)

I also solder the drain wires to the shield of the connectors to guard against ground loops.
Photo of Ed N5DG

Ed N5DG

  • 63 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Hello Ria and the group , Picked up my Flex 6600 this past Wed. I'm reading this thread about the cables needed between flex 6600 and SPE amp . In my case SPE 2kfa !  I have everything needed to  wire the cable as Ria shows above . My question is , do I also need a USB to Serial adapter cable ?? I understand Amazon has the correct one ? Can someone send me a link please ? Do I need both the DIY Cable  and the USB to Serial adapter cable ?

Thn Ed
Photo of Rick Hadley - W0FG

Rick Hadley - W0FG

  • 579 Posts
  • 121 Reply Likes
I'll let those with more technical knowledge comment, but I believe if you have an old-fashioned 9-pin RS232 port on your computer, you won't need the converter.  If you want to hook up to a USB port, either on your computer or go directly to the Flex, you'll need a genuine FTDI USB-RS232 adapter.
 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MCZM6OM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 I'm using one of Dan's cables that came with my (used) SPE 1.3k and using the adapter, and have it going directly to the USB port on my 6400 instead of going through the PC.  My particular cable has the PTT wiring to the Flex accessory jack so it doesn't require the additional RCA cable that is usually required.  As you can see, there are multiple alternatives.  With my setup, using FRStacks, I can switch from standby to operate, and select the power level without touching the amp. I only need to use the SPE front panel if I'm resetting the antenna tuner or the drive levels.  I really love the Flex/SPE combo.

Rick, W0FG
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 280 Posts
  • 81 Reply Likes
I use delay of 50 ms on all modes including JT65, RTTY, FT8 without issue. 
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Everything works oke now. I have the output on LOW now. With 2 watt input i get 400 watt output.
What i notice is that everytime the amp is transmitting the Fans starting to blow. In digital (ft8) mode that is not annoying

Is this  behavior normal?  
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
When I had mine they would come on. The amp is small so it depends heavily on fans for cooling. Most solid state amps these days have fans that come on when you key or when temperature rises. Unlike tube amps they don't need to be continuously cooled to a high degree. 

PG XL also has fans that increase in speed with temperature increase. The aren't terribly loud but I would be lying if I said they were completely silent. When operating FT8 they will definitely spin up. It's not terrible, in fact it is quite manageable and with a good set of headphones it won't bother you.

The only way to get rid of fan noise is some other cooling method like water cooling.

Ria
Photo of EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

  • 1758 Posts
  • 536 Reply Likes
There is a newer SPE 1.3k firmware that takes care of the Fans spinning up too soon.
Photo of EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

  • 1758 Posts
  • 536 Reply Likes
From SPE 

11_10_17_C_15s

- Less noise: PA fans are always off if the temperature is lower than 35C
- Tunable antenna and RX antenna settings are saved for every memory bank
- LOW power level can be set per band by arrow keys down to approx 250 Watts
- The RX antenna can be momentary disabled by pressing the key ANT
- General code maintenance
Photo of David Decoons wo2x

David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

  • 1208 Posts
  • 249 Reply Likes
On newer 1.3k this is normal. During transmit an additional fan comes on. And if you are running 400 watt carrier it will be faster than if operating SSB

Dave wo2x
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I operate my flexradio remote. Because the amp has connections with my Flex is must be also operate remote.
I think i use the remote software to switch the amp on/off.

Anyone swich the amp never off?  It use 17W in standby.
My Flex is always on.



and my test setup
(Edited)
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
Yes. Amp is an antenna switch so it's always on.
(Edited)
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 280 Posts
  • 81 Reply Likes
My 1.3K and Flex 6500 have been on 24/7 for the past two years.  Aside from needed shutdowns.  I do have the power cycle both should I want to do that while I am remote.
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
John, the amp is in operate mode when it is on 24/7?
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
I always turn it to standby and SmartSDR power down to zero because of kids and cats. Not sure what John does.
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 280 Posts
  • 81 Reply Likes
No always in Standby.  Since I use a 80M Doublet fed with 450 ohm line for 80M/40M and 30M I have to tune it with my HFAuto.  I do that with the amp in standby and a few watts.  Then switch the amp to operate and once the DX contact is done back to standby.  I only drive the SPE 1.3K with 4-6 watts to get 1 kw out.  I only run it at 1 kw out to keep the IMD good.  Although it is capable of 1600 or so dirty watts.
Photo of Duane, AC5AA

Duane, AC5AA

  • 400 Posts
  • 86 Reply Likes
For the setups described above, I'm wondering if these will work for QSK CW operation?  I don't mean "semi-break-in" as some rigs do, but full break-in as supported by the Flex.  
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
It will work. You may have to tweak the delays but the SPE 1.3K-FA uses special relays and is capable of full QSK. 
Photo of Duane, AC5AA

Duane, AC5AA

  • 400 Posts
  • 86 Reply Likes
Thanks, Ria - I know both pieces of equipment are capable, just wanted to make sure this arrangement supported them working together.  Appreciate your help!
Photo of Steve Bunting

Steve Bunting

  • 15 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
I always switch my Expert amp and Flex radio off when not in use. The rig 13.8V PSU is on an IP switch and then I can boot my flex with a separate IP relay. Amp on/off is controlled by the 13.8V supply too, so when the main station PSU is switched on it automatically starts the amp.

I also run a serial server attached to the amp "Port" db9 and use the Expert RS232 control software to give me "live" data remotely. I must admit that DDUTIL doesn't work for me, but I havent tried that hard as AFAIK it doesn't add any more functionality when you are only using it to control an expert amp.

73, M0BPQ     

  
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 902 Reply Likes
I keep mine on because it takes a full minute to boot and in that time rare dx could qsy or go QRT... learned that the hard way with 3 minute amp warmup!
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 274 Posts
  • 78 Reply Likes
Steve, that is an alternative way to accomplish the same thing.  I tried it but used a MOXA IP to RS232 server.  After operating that way for a while I decided I like it better the other way and reverted back.  I also tried the HFAuto with the remote control software by W1TR both with and without DDUtil.  Worked fine but again found I like the way I was doing it before better.  I know other that prefer your method and the DDUtil integration.  It is nice to have options.
(Edited)
Photo of Geert Balsma PA3CPS

Geert Balsma PA3CPS

  • 34 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Because my flex+amp is in another room, i want control everything by remote. When i connect the SPE amp to a computer using a usb-cable everthing works perfect.

But when i connect a serial cable i cannot switch my SPE amp on. Everything else works perfect, only not switching it on.

Does anyone recognize this problem?
(Edited)
Photo of Steve Bunting

Steve Bunting

  • 15 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
See page 46 of the manual at http://www.expertlinears.com/pdfs/expert_1-3K_manual.pdf for the port connection if that is relevant.

73, M0BPQ
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
I was able to turn off/on from the app using the USB cable. I have never tried the 9 pin port connector. 
Photo of David Decoons wo2x

David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

  • 1208 Posts
  • 248 Reply Likes
Didn't Dan Tassell make a custom cable that includes powering on the amp when the Flex is powered up? You can email him at mailto:kc5pcb2@att.net? 

I personally use DDUtil to control and power the amp on & off.

Dave wo2x
Photo of John - K3MA

John - K3MA

  • 280 Posts
  • 81 Reply Likes
The power cannot be turned on and off thru the remote software if using the serial cable.
Photo of Doug - W3UB

Doug - W3UB

  • 43 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
You can use Dan's cable, which includes a dip switch to enable the remote on feature. With this enabled, anytime you remote enable the Flex, the amp also turns on, and off.

As a side note, when using this cable, anytime you turn on the Flex, using any method, the amp also turns on and off. Which is nice (assuming you want the amp on when the Flex is on).

/Doug