SteppIR and Ultrabeam from Flex 6/smartsdr v2
I have always driven my SteppIR via the interface on Logger32. Now I have v2 I thought I would try remote. So, I connected the antenna controller directly to the radio USB port using a standard FTDI cable.
Now, whilst I can get it to work for simple frequency following, it appears that there is not facility in SSDR to show what antenna is currently selected, nor is there any control for functions such as Home, Calibrate, Reverse etc.
This means that presently the SmartSDR+SteppIR (or ultrabeam) combo is not safe for remote operation because we have no visibility whatsoever of the antenna behaviour. Anyone who uses either a stepper or an ultrabeam will know that the elements can and do get out of sync with the CAT control data sometimes. Its therefore very important to know what is presently going on with the antenna and be able to home/calibrate back to a known-good state.
It’s important when working remote as our assumptions cannot be verified by simply looking at the LCD of the controller. It’s doubly important if using an amp remote too.
Presently with SmartSDR driving the antenna it is entirely possible to be TXing full QRO in to a badly mismatched antenna, yet with no clue of a problem or status/visibility. I don’t want to risk wrecking expensive antenna and amplifiers due to this problem so I am switching back to logger32, and will abandon v2 remote operation until this can be fully implemented.
The SteppIR and Ultrabeam are very popular, so hopefully someone at Flex will come back to say this is scheduled to be fully implemented soon. :)