SmartSDR 1.6 CAT Changes - a sneak peek

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Why stop with just a Profile sneak peek now that the "cat" is out of the bag ;-)

As with Profiles, SmartSDR CAT has also been completely refactored as well.  Introduced with SmartSDR v1.6, CAT now includes the following improvements:
  1. A new streamlined the user configuration interface,
  2. Added debug logging at the port level,
  3. Added the ability to send CAT commands over a TCP/IP connection,
  4. Added the  ability to use hardware comports (UART) for connecting hardware devices
  5. Removed the restriction on having CAT ports only associated with Slice A and Slice B
These new features provide the ability to fully utilize logging and digital mode applications with all of your available slice receivers, which is significant when used with the FLEX-6500 and FLEX-6700.  As I mentioned earlier on the Community, I have successfully tested a SO8R digital mode setup using 8 instances of Fldigi, each connected to it's own CAT port / Slice.  This would not be possible without the recent changes to SmartSDR CAT.

If you would like to get additional information on the new SmartSDR CAT application, the updated SmartSDR CAT User Guide is now available for download from our web site.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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  • CATty

Posted 4 years ago

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Lee, Elmer

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Man Tim,  You know how to build suspense!   Lemme see it's the 7th... week of 10th...  Did u add any extra server capacity?  Seriously, this product continues to blow me away

73  W9OY
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Actually I worked for two days over the holidays optimizing web site performance.  I hope it pays off.
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Duane, AC5AA

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Yep, web site is working a lot better than before the holidays.  Thanks!
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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You could also put the site behind a CDN like Cloudflare.  They cache static content to reduce traffic/load to your server(s). 
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Drax

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What about the most important feature?  A different colored icon than DAX.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Yes, DAX is a different color, Drax  ;-)
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Drax

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I don't know. The screenshots show them both as blue.
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Bob Wright, N7ZO

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Hi Tim,

After reading through the new CAT manual (thank you for the early release), I have two initial Winkeyer questions.

  1. Which prosigns are supported?  (see page 14 of Winkey10.pdf)
  2. Is the 1/2 dit gap insertion character (hex 0x7C, the pipe character, also on page 14) supported?
Thank you, Bob, N7ZO

PS.  The Section 6 WINKEYER intro paragraph incorrectly refers to "http://www.k1xm.org/OTRSP/".
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I fixed the doc where we had the wrong URL. Thanks. I'll have to ask about the other questions tomorrow morning and get back to you.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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"Which prosigns are supported?"

The same ones supported by CWX

"s the 1/2 dit gap insertion character (hex 0x7C, the pipe character, also on page 14) supported?"

No.  Not for now.
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NX6D Dave

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Unless I mis-understand the CAT documentation, the CAT protocol defines a VFO A and VFO B.  We provide a means for a COM port to map to any slice to answer VFO A.  Why not repeat the logic to answer VFO B and have a complete implementation?  Just wondering.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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CAT commands historically only communicate with VFO A and VFO B for split mode. In the new SmartSDR CAT you can assign any slice (A-H) to the CAT port, making that slice appear to the CAT connected program as it is communicating with VFO A. When the CAT connected program issues a command intended to interact with VFO B, we assume it is operating in a split configuration and will spawn a new slice to be VFO B if a slice resource is available..
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Bob Wright, N7ZO

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Hi Tim,

What does this newly spawned slice look like in SSDR?  Does it have a special name?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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No name.  Just the next available slice resource; it could be any slice letter.
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NX6D Dave

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Ah, yes.  I remember now about split mode.  It was hard for me to believe something like that would have been overlooked. 
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Dave Dave

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all I want is the basics... clean Xmit and Squelch.
one less click for memories would be nice...... must be to simple to do.
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Steven Catani

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Tim,

I would like to use VFO B but not for split. On nets that operate Voice and digital i use two slices on the same frequency so i can use USB and have EQ on voice and digu and not have it on the digital. When I send digital it switches, but without vfo B defined I does not switch back (and I don't want to spawn slices.

Steve
N2TAO
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Simon Lewis

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awesome stuff Tim!

now please tell me we have CAT via hardware and I'll be extremely happy!

:)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Yes, See #4 in my post.  "Added the  ability to use hardware comports (UART) for connecting hardware devices"
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Simon Lewis

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that is very cool thanks Tim!
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DrTeeth

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@ Tim

>>Why stop with just a Profile sneak peek now that the "cat" is out of the bag ;-)<<

Groan! Keep up the day job, hi hi.
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Barry N1EU

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If I'm reading the documentation correctly, Flex has implemented PTT support via a virtual port but will not be supporting WinKeyer PTT in the v1.6 virtual WinKeyer implementation.  Can anyone verify?  I believe this may prove problematic for anyone using WinKeyer CW PTT under N1MM Logger+ and may force them to stay with their physical WinKeyer instead of the new v1.6 virtual WinKeyer.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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You are not reading it correctly.  The Winkeyer emulation has been extensively tested with N1MM+.  It works very well.
(Edited)
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Barry N1EU

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Thanks Tim, that's reassuring, assuming they tested WinKey PTT.  I didn't see mention of WinKey PTT in the text of the guide nor listing of commands <0x04> and <0x18> in section 6.1
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Barry N1EU

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Just to close the loop on this thread after actually testing the release, the v1.6 Winkeyer emulation apparently does not maintain PTT for the duration of a keyed cw message, which is how the hardware Winkeyer works.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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This particular feature of WinKeyer is not supported (see the CAT doc for the functions that are supported)  We emulate Winkeyer functionality by using CWX as the CW generation engine.  CWX has no PTT interface, as the keying is handled in the CWX sending logic.

If you can describe how the radio is not kept in transmit while sending, I would like to know because we have had several alpha team members use the WK emulation in contests with N1MM+ and it if did not key the radio when sending, we would have heard about it.
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Barry N1EU

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Tim, with all due respect, 5 days ago I said that it didn't appear that PTT was supported after reading the doc and you told me I wasn't reading it properly.

Evidently your alpha team is not using Winkey PTT.

Not only isn't Winkey PTT implemented, but the Flex 6K isn't supporting PTT as MOX with Breakin enabled.  The K3, Ten-Tec Orion (two top cw contesting radios) as well as the ANAN-100D all support this.

How this is used is simple - you want to use breakin for paddle keying and you want the rx to be muted while the computer keyer is sending a message.  When you're cq'ing thousands and thousands of times over a 48-hour period, the rx muting is highly desired relief.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I'll add your use case as a feature request.
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Lee, Elmer

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I didn't realize Ten Tec, Elecraft, or Anan had any kind of Winkey emulation.  When I owned an Orion it just had a keyer.  When I owned an Anan 100D it just had a kind of standard format generic keyer. 

73  W9OY
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Barry N1EU

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Ten Tec, Elecraft, and  Anan  support PTT as MOX with Breakin enabled (and Flex does not), which is what I thought I said.
(Edited)
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Simon Lewis

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Tim - any details of HW connections for the CAT - I read the user manual and CAT manual - didn't see any specific info ??
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David Scobie

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I'm with Simon, I couldn't find anything in the docs about <Added the  ability to use hardware comports (UART) for connecting hardware devices>, although the docs do look great Tim.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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There is not a lot to it.  If you have a hardware comport on your PC you select it as the client side port.
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David Scobie

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Okay, if I understand correctly this is not a UART on the 6x00 but the RS-232/USB-RS232 port on the PC.  This allows the PC to provide a virtual serial tunnel to the radio? I'm thinking a serial keyer or similar?
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DrTeeth

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Now we have a time paradox, supporting software before it is released. Is there no end to what FRS (+Tim natch) can do?

There was a young lady called Bright,
Who travelled much faster than light.
She left home one day,
and in a relative way,
arrived home the previous night.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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David - the hardware com port, be it a hardware UART (com port) or a USB dongle that emulates a UART is connected to the CAT application.  CAT acts a a "Rosetta Stone" to translate serial CAT commands into the FlexLib API commands and sends them over the network connection via TCP/IP to the radio.  This will allow you to connect an amp that speaks CAT to your PC running SmartSDR CAT to facilitate the amp getting band data.
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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These docs just keep getting better!
Quick Q: If I create an IP CAT port, could I control the 6000 from FLDigi or another app remotely (same LAN) even if SmartCAT isn't loaded on it?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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The short answer is no.  The third-party application will need to have TCP/IP CAT capability.  The third-party app will have to open a TCP socket to the SmartSDR CAT application and CAT will be responsible for translating CAT into FlexLib and communicating that with the radio hardware.

I am in discussions with Dave (aka "Mr. Fldigi") on this capability (CAT over TCP/IP), but no ETA as of yet.
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Roger that. Thanks for the info.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I agree with George, the doc is really good. Put Dave in for a raise
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Simon Lewis

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Without wishing to sound ungrateful Tim this is no better than ddutil now. The point is to not use a PC when Maestro comes but to drive the CAT cmds out the flex hardware ie no pc... This still ties you to a pc..sigh :(

Will the Flex 6000 ever support CAT out of the hardware .. NOT via a PC?
(Edited)
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Simon, CAT commands - and the COM ports you have to use them with - make only sense if you use external programs, as fldigi or HRD for digimodes.
As you can't run external programs on a Maestro, you always will have to
run a pc in parallel with it, if you want digimodes or logging.
(Edited)
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Simon Lewis

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Sorry but that is utterly ridiculous maestro will act as a control panel the thing missing is CAT out of the hardware ..there should be no reason to rely on the pc for CAT ports ...try telling a kenwood icom yaesu or elecraft owner that ... my amp needs band data for auto switching ... as does my station controllers etc ... CAT out via the hardware is about a basic function as you can get ...why rely on 3rd party interfaces ...this is a huge gap ...and I am pretty miffed that this CAT implementation  is a fudge of some PC SSDR driven approach and does not fix the real need for CAT on a hardware port ON RADIO
(Edited)
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Sorry Simon, maybe I misunderstood your question, as I have no amplifier at home, using QRP. But I have succesfully connected a friend's Expert 1K-FA
http://www.reimesch.de/expert.html using these recommendations https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/expert_2k_fa.

As you can find here http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/maestro-datasheet-pdf/ and in the Maestro specifications there will be no CAT connection possible to the Maestro itself (which IS a CAT machiche).
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Simon,
Here is a post from 2 years back that discusses getting CAT / Band data from the radio without a local PC.   One option noted is a dedicated micro-controller that would basically be "ddutil in a box" connected directly to the radio.  The connection could be via the accessory connector or IP. 

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/band_data-3xef1?topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bfi...

One of the newer station peripherals that has been discussed here and connects to the radio via IP may provide the capability.  So I think you will see some of what you are looking for but it may be a while still. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW......... V 1.5.1.70
SSDR / DAX...... V 1.5.1.152
CAT................... V 1.5.1.0
Win10
(Edited)
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Hi Tim, love the way you publish the docs first ;-)
One question: Will the new CAT, DAX and profile progs work with the old settings or
will we have to set up all again? I ask, because I have quite a lot of profiles and
my CAT ports will have to take the old port numbers...
73, Alex DH2ID
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Good question.  When converting to a higher version of SmartSDR, we have a database conversion process that will convert the existing profiles to the 1.6.17 format.  However, the reverse is not true.  SmartSDR 1.5.1 is unaware of the 1.6.17 database schema, so reverting back is not automatic.  You should make a backup (export) of your current profiles before upgrading to 1.6.17 that can be used if you need to revert.  This will be covered in detail in the release notes.
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Ok, Tim, thank you for your fast and precise answer. I always backup everything in case I need it again ;-) But a reminder is very welcome.
I'm looking forward to the new CAT program, as it gives us a lot of
new possibilities to experiment with external programs.