SmartCAT suggestion

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I've learned along with input from other users that SmartCAT doesn't always play nice with virtual serial port applications like Virtual Serial Port Emulator. If I turn SmartCAT off VSPE and the applications that require that I use a virtual connector work just fine. It seems to me that if SmartCAT offered a way to turn this service off and on the problem would be more easily managed. For example, I need to create a virtual comm port in order to use SatPC32 with another application. Once im done VSPE provides a simple stop button on the UI. It would be great if SmartCAT offered the same option. Of course I can quit SmartCAT, but I have to quit and restart smartsdr in order to restart SmartCAT which is a nusense. Just a suggestion...
Rick, W2JAZ
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Rick

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Posted 3 years ago

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Actually, you can just "pin" SmartCAT, DAX and SmartSDR to your taskbar and open any or all of them individually with a simple click of the mouse.  Or you can make a desktop shortcut.  

There is usually no need that I have found to close and restart SmartSDR after closing CAT or DAX.  I do it all the time, especially DAX, after it occasionally "glitches" and starts distorting.  A simple close and restart of the DAX application usually sorts it out.

Ken - NM9P
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Rick

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That's actually not quite right at my QTH. SmartCAT often freezes when it's in the task bar after using vspe. The only way I can do anything with it is to use Windows to force it to quit. When this happens I'm usually unable to reopen SmartCAT manually without restarting smartsdr. I'm not trying to be contrary, just explaining what happens here.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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No contrary-ness detected!  ha.  I haven't used both programs for a couple of years since I sold my Flex-1500.  

I used com0com with the 1500 for about 9 months and then added SmartCAT about 3 years ago when I got the 6500.  I ran both together for about a year, then Flex released a version of SmartSDR that had CAT able to assign both dedicated and "Shared" COM ports.  The "Shared" ports worked well with the 1500, so I deleted com0com.  Later, after I had already sold the 1500, SmartCAT was changed, eliminating the "Shared" Port option.  So users that had both rigs needed to reinstall com0com or VspManager in order to run their 1500/3000/5000 rigs.  


After I posted, I began to wonder if you were having a conflict between CAT and VSPE.  Are they trying to use some of the same port numbers?

If so, you will need to try realigning your port assignments used by each utility to make sure that there are no conflicts.

Perhaps you can obtain a copy of VSPManager or com0com and try them instead of vspe?  They might play better together?  both of them are free as far as I remember, so it might not hurt to try....

Good luck.

Ken - NM9P
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Rick

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I'm careful to make sure I'm not duplicating ports as I've made that mistake in the past hi hi! I too have used VSPManager in the past and found that it could leave behind ghost ports which we know can be a real pain to remove even using Tim's well outlined process. I never spent much time with Com0Com though I did try if for some reason or other a few years ago. Someone else suggested it was buggy so I don't know what the solution is. Since I did actually buy VSPManager for use with PowerSDR and my 5000 and 1500 I might just try that again as an alternative and see if it makes more nice :) 

Tnx!
Rick
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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When we were developing CAT, I did extensive testing with it and several other third-party virtual serial port drivers (VSPManager, Com0Com, and Eltima).  I never detected any driver level conflict using them.  If we had, there would have been a caveat in the Release Notes describing it.

What I did recognize is that Windows does a very crappy job of properly enumerating installed com ports if they are not physical UARTS or USB/Serial adapters.  This resulted in serial port collisions where one driver created new ports that were already existing.  I have also seen where a virtual com port driver will create a com port that is being used by the FlexControl causing both to stop working.  This is essentially the behavior Ken described above.  

This com port conflict behavior can cause all sorts of issues and if using multiple virtual serial port driver programs, you have to manually manage the ports so that there are no duplicate or overlapping com ports.

SmartSDR CAT has some built in intelligence to prevent certain types conflicts by maintain the com port state information of the ports it creates, but when it relies on the existing com port enumeration provided by Windows and the information is flawed, there isn't a lot the programmers can do to make it foolproof.
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Rick

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I hear you Tim and don't misunderstand. I'm not criticizing Flex or SmartSDR. I've been very very careful in managing serial ports, virtual and otherwise, after previously making some mistakes along these lines. I'm quite convinced this is something caused by Windows as you suggest but it is something we have to consider workarounds for. That's why I suggested putting some sort of stop button on SmartCAT that doesn't actually close the application but halts its activity, allowing one to use a virtual program required by some other activity. I'm no programmer, just a dumb user and I sse this as an advantage if it could be accomplished. 
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Tim, what are the recommended protocols for the order of using two different vsp programs (CAT and vspe)?

Would it be preferable to establish ports with vspe first, and then use SmartCAT for the rest, since it is so easy to define new ports with SmartCAT? Or does it make any difference as long as you don't duplicate port numbers?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Rick - the virtual serial port driver software we use for CAT is a Windows service.  To "stop" it, you have to close the CAT application and open the Windows Service Manager and stop the service.  This will make all of the FlexVSP port "disappear".  To start them back up, you start the service and then start CAT (or just reboot the PC).

Ken - I am not sure there is a proper sequence of events, as I am not sure why VSPE is failing.  In the previous testing I did, I just made certain that there was no port number collisions (overlap).  Granted, this was almost 3 years ago.
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Rick

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There are conflicts going on as ever 20 seconds or so I see the SmartCAT IP connect balloon in the lower right hand corner. In addition I will occasionally get error messages and things simply work erratically. If I close VSPE SmartCAT is fine and visa versa.
Rick
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Sounds like there is driver level conflict with FlexVSP since it is a dependency for CAT to operate. I think it might be more expedient to use a different 3rd party virtual serial port driver than Eterlogic.
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Rick

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Such as? VSPManager? I have used it in the past.
Rick
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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That is one.  There are several available.  Some are free, others not.  I referenced several in my previous post.

Eltima: http://www.eltima.com/products/vspdxp/
Com0com: http://com0com.sourceforge.net/
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Rick

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Thanks. I can tell you I believe with some confidence that VSPManager, distributed freely to ham operators, works fine with no issues so far with SmartCAT. That's not the case with VSPEmulator.
Rick, W2JAZ
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Carl Jón Denbow N8VZ

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Tim,

Thanks very much for this post about the virtual port drivers that you've tested, and the ones that you haven't.  I have Eltima and I'm glad to discover that the only thing I need to look out for are resolving conflicting port assignments, and not an underlying driver conflict, which I was afraid might be a possibility.  Your post was very helpful to my understanding, and also my peace of mind!  Thanks again! 

73,

Carl
N8VZ
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Richard Zalewski

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I think I have been running into this lately.  I will get everything I think up and ready only to find out that CAT is not functioning properly.  When I open the window I see nothing but garbage.  I think try to use task manager to close it.  Task manager says it is not responding but I can not stop the process.  So I have to reboot.  I am looking for a definitive sequence of CAT, DAX and the radio startup.  Very frustrating when I try to turn it all on to work someone and then spend 10-15 minutes to get everything talking nicely to each other.
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Bob G W1GLV

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I found that if you setup the emulator ports first and then the SmartCAT ports your problems are massively reduced. Like Tim said, Windows doesn't enumerate port assignment very well. FlexVSP is much smarter as long as it is used last to create ports.
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Richard Zalewski

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ok...DAX, CAT and then turn on radio?
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Richard Zalewski

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I tried per my last post.  Turned on the radio.  The started a logging program and noticed it was not talking to the 6600M.  Took a look at the CAT.  Same old problem.  Could not close it so will have to shut everything down and reboot.