SPE Amp Control

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  • Updated 1 year ago
Hi all,

I recently decided to purchase an SPE 2K-FA and I wanted to share with the community my process in integrating it into my station.  As I progress I'll try to update this thread.

First my goal:

I do like the idea of operating fully remote.  For me remote means two things:  It can be local within my LAN like perhaps on a laptop upstairs away from the radio.  Or it can be truly remote like from a different city over the internet.

So I wanted my entire station to be remote controllable.   The recent release of 2.x SSDR solves a big set of problems in running the Flex remote.   

The Power Genius amp will probably work perfectly remote but I could not pass up the price I got on this 2K-FA and made that decision, so now I need to provide a way to fully control the amp remote.

Equipment and Software used for remote:

Raspberry Pi V3 running the Raspian Linux 
2 relay boards mounted on the Pi giving me 6 relays
This Pi is my "Control Pi"  I have another Pi that just acts as VPN server.
2 digital loggers Web Power switches (see https://dlidirect.com/products/web-power-switch-7)

Software on the Pi:

Apache web server - Use apt-get and follow common instructions
PHP installed - Use apt-get and follow common instructions
PIGPIO - IO controller software for the GPIO (http://abyz.me.uk/rpi/pigpio/)
CodeIgniter - PHP web framework (see https://codeigniter.com/)
VirtualHere - USB device server (see https://www.virtualhere.com/)

IQRouter for my primary internet router

I've opened unique ports for the SSH into the control Pi and ports for the VPN server Pi
The apache webserver is on a unique port as well and my webpage is password protected

So basically with this alone I have the following abilities:

VPN from anywhere allows control of all LAN devices
Webpage to control Pi - Allows control of station related devices including those on Web Power Switches
SSH - Terminal access to both Pi units

A new part of the setup is "VirtualHere".  This is software that allows the ability to remote connect USB devices.   I use this to route my SPE amp USB connection to various computers.  This works both on the LAN and over the internet.

VirtualHere works with Raspberry Pi (server) and various clients (I'm using Windows).  It supports the SPE USB terminal program perfectly.  This means I can be remote and run their control software which offers 100% control of the amp.

So with this rather complex setup I can do two basic types of operation:

1) Remote operation using a computer - With a laptop I can run SSDR and using the VirtualHere USB remote I can completely control the SPE amp.  My tuner is automatic so I just  let it tune then put the amp online. 

2) Remote operation with iPhone/iPad.  Since these devices at this point in time cannot run the SPE remote software I use my web page created on the Pi.  I have a relay closure that will turn on the amp.  I have the amp configured to come up in operate mode.   So when operating remote with the iPad or iPhone I usually leave the amp off, tune, then turn the amp on and just let it run.

In the works for mode two is software I'm writing on the Pi that will control the amp.  I would like to be able to change the power mode from low, mid, max and put links on my web page to do that.

Also on my webpage I have controls that allow me to control the Palstar tuner.  I can select antennas, bypass etc.

So this is an overview of my setup.  I will if people are interested provide a more detailed write up including connections and even code.

But this is slowly becoming the realization of a dream that started back in the 1970s.  To be able to run everything remote.

Mark - WS7M
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Mark - WS7M

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Posted 1 year ago

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Chris DL5NAM

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... have you visit b4 Yahoo group     B26-PA     :-)
or Facebook  B26-PA
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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I have not.  I will check it out!  Thanks!
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Jon, EA2OT

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Hi Mark,

Thank you for sharing your experience interfacing with your SPE Amp. I ́ve been using a SPE 1.3K remotely with the help of a Raspberry PI with Ser2Net and DDutil, and another PI for VPN.

However, I haven ́t been able to use the original SPE control software remotely. The software doesn ́t find the "FTDI device ID string" needed to connect to the virtual COM port.

I will be very gratefull if you could share how did you solve that part, because it would be much better to be able to use the SPE software control as well as it has all the controls of the AMP available.

Thank you!
Best regards,

Jon, EA2OT
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Mark WS7M

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Hi Jon,

Ok here is how I did it:

I have a Raspberry Pi V3 running Raspian Linux (standard distribution).  I strongly suggest the Raspberry Pi have a static IP on your LAN.

I plug the USB from the AMP into a USB port on the Raspberry Pi

Goto http://www.virtualhere.com/usb_server_software

Follow the instructions at the top to download a trial version.  Basically these:
  1. wget http://www.virtualhere.com/sites/default/files/usbserver/vhusbdx86_64 (e.g x86_64, see list below)
  2. chmod +x ./vhusbdx86_64 (to make that file executable)
  3. sudo ./vhusbdx86_64 -b (to run it in the background)

Now on your Windows computer download and install the client from: http://www.virtualhere.com/usb_client_software

After it is running it should see the server on your Raspberry pi.  There is a way to right click and manually point to your Raspberry pi.

It should recognize the USB server and show your device for the amp.  I right clicked on it and renamed it "SPE Amp".

I followed the SPE console process to remove all USB devices EXCEPT this one from the server and assign the USB ID.  

Repeat the client install on any other computers like perhaps a laptop.

Then to use the SPE console app you just load up the client software, select "Use device" on the USB port for the SPE amp.   

Then wait about 5 seconds.  Each time you use the device it has to basically register itself as a USB device in your computer.  This takes some time.  

Then run the SPE console and it should work.

To use this over WAN (internet) you will need to port forward in your router port 7575 to the IP address of the Raspberry Pi with the USB server.

I installed the client at work and manually pointed it at my home ip and it found the USB server right away.

This is where either having a static internet IP or using a service like DDNS helps.  In my case I use DDNS so when I manually added the USB server I specified my DDNS : 7575 and it worked right away.

Also you can set the client software to run with a -a flag.  Doing that runs it in "administrator mode" which allows you to force disconnect of another client if you forgot and left it connected.  Example:

My desk PC where I usually op from:  I might connect to the USB server and run the SPE console app.  Then I shutdown and forget to "unuse" the USB server and device.

Now I fire up my laptop and it will tell me the SPE amp device is in use.  Without the admin feature I'd have to remote login or even go downstairs and manually disconnect the device.  The admin feature solves this.

So far, (I have not tested extensively yet) this solution just works.  The price to buy a 3 USB device server is $39.  Well worth it in my opinion.

Hope this helps!

Mark
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Jon, EA2OT

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Thank you very much for the detailed information Mark. I ́m on a business trip this week, I will follow your instructions next week and I hope I will be able to be successfull without having to ask anything else :-)

Best regards,

Jon, EA2OT