Suggestion for Contest Focused SmartSDR v1.6

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Have some suggestions for the upcoming Contest Focused SmartSDR v1.6

It is pretty apparent there are varying levels of personal ability to perform well in contests, the various contest types require differing resources at the station & operator level and many of us hope to learn to be better contesters.

Could the upcoming v1.6 Contest SmartSDR be configurable with a separate Contesting Profile?

Basically a way to store sets of present for only the contest specific configuration selections in SmartSDR, perhaps ranging from "No Contest" to typical configurations for various modes/contests. 

Second suggestion is could those contest modes include a notes field that would display until release when the mode is selected?  Idea being is that the particular operator/station's checklist of shack configuration changes to go to a specific contest mode would be displayed until released as a reminder to do the steps the operator had recorded. 

I had some further thoughts on how to reflect Maestro presence for contest modes, and ditto with the SO2R Board. 


73

Steve

K9ZW


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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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My #1 Contest Request

SPOTS INTEGRATED DIRECTLY INTO SPECTRUM DISPLAY
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Barry N1EU

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NaP3 horizontal spots look fine on a crowded band: http://www.tentecwiki.org/lib/exe/fetch.php?cache=&media=orionpan3.jpg
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Barry N1EU

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The only way that integrated spots display is going to be REALLY useful in a contest is if it's tightly integrated with the contest logging program (i.e. N1MM Logger+).  That's the only way you can tag spots as worked or unworked etc.  Without that tagging, the spot display loses much of its value.
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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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Maybe N1MM will license his source to Flex so that the logger is integrated into v1.6.  Surely, this is a trivial matter.
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Barry N1EU

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That would be cool but N1MM Logger+ is updated constantly.  They need to add an API or some kind of dynamic interface that will expose N1MM bandmap info for other programs (SSDR) to use.  That's the way to go IMHO.
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Walt - KZ1F

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If I am not mistaken, 1.6 will arrive before Maestro, se I would put good money it is already out of the oven. Also, I believe n1mm is VB. The radio is Linux, Linux doesn't do VB.
I've already asked about licensing the source. Nope.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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I know this is tangential to this thread, but I'm wondering why Contesting gets so much attention recently from our friends at Flex. A V1.6 "contest-focused" release;  Maestro with a "contest optimized flow".

It can't be that it's that big a market.  Or IS it?  Or is it so Flex can say in their ads "<station-xyz> won <major-contest> using the Flex-6700... so if it's good enough for THAT, it'll be great for your weekly 40M sched."

Really... I'm curious.

Peter
K1PGV
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Greg

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Actually...right now I don't have any radio... :)  But.....thinking about getting back into it.  When I had the 6700 it was because I thought it would help be as competitive as I could afford within my available resources.  But at the time I could not push the envelope with it because of the noise blanker and all the horse fencing around me (including mine). :) 

Considering looking for a deal on a 6300 and will get he Maestro to go along with it.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Peter.

I used to write software for a living 50 years ago so,I understand where you are coming from.

An overlay program could be made to work but it would be better ians I suspect easier to correlate if SSDR had API hoocks to allow direct input to the display.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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@Howard

There was software 50 years ago??

I'm kidding, I'm kidding!!! Really! :-)

Peter
K1PGV
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I started programming patch panels. Then we got paper tape. Then punch cards. Mostly machine language then assembler and finally fortran.

By the time we got to more sophisticated stuff I was already running the company so I hired programmers.

lIke CW guys I still prefer Machine Language.
(Edited)
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James Whiteway

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Since SSDR is a WPF based GUI, a transparent overlay with the spots on it , in sync with the panadapter, wouldn't be too hard for someone with WPF experience.( not me....yet) :-)
Gathering the spot info and keeping it updated would be tougher. It would be nice if Flexlib supported mirroring a panafall from a second gui app while SSDR is running. That would make for some interesting add-on's for SSDR. Imagine a panafall running on a second display with spots that not only gave the DX station's callsign, but changed color according to signal strength at your QTH. And hovering the mouse over the DX's call, showed freq and split(if any). Clicking on the spot would tune the main panafall to that freq and set the split for you.
That's what has been running thru my head about this subject.
Back to trucking!
James
WD5GWY
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Winning Contests is like winning car races. It stresses the technology to the ultimate

ELECRAFT's entir business model focused their K3 boxes around winning contests and their sales refect the fact.

For Flex to be taken seriously they need to win major contests. Until,they do, Flex SDR's will be considered to be a nice experimenters and hobbyists toy but not ready for prime time. Our Contest Station has a number of K3S but only my 6700... My partners let me use it for S&P but are too traditional to let me use such an unproven radio as the major run radios.

If FLex wins some major contests. There is no doubt we will dump the K3 for the BEST radio.

hEnce the contest focus of Flex.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I disagree Howard. Elecraft K-line does well in that segment as they are outstanding radio's. They popularity is well beyond those idle rich contesters. Howard your ham radio world (,contesting) revolves around a hand full of people. Elecraft is positioning itself to appeal to the 2 million operators rather than the couple hundred.

Stresses the technology? Me thinks you are given to hyperbole. It stress the operator.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Howard, why not just 'dump the K3', after all, you claim the K3 is deaf and the inferior rig. Just do it.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Walt

Would that life were so simple. Until,the Maestro actually delivers, the K3 has rhe superior contest ergonomics.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I'll take that bet.
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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My #1 Contest Request

SPOTS INTEGRATED DIRECTLY INTO SPECTRUM DISPLAY

Yes!!! it could be the best improvement in SSDR gui.
I use the small DUO on vacancy and mobile and I think that spots integrated into spectrum display are a great help also in expeditions and field day activities.
Horizontal position is the best pattern, as you can see in this picture.


 
I hope, also, that Flex one day would consider the idea to open a part of SSDR gui and give opportunity to develop components inside SSDR.
At the moment it doesn't make sense, for me, developing an external program that print the same SSDR spectrum and just adds spots to it.

73' Enzo
iw7dmh
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Charles - K5UA

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Technoogical advances from competitive events, like racing, the space race, war, all trickle down to the less competitive world. Don't dismiss competitive contesting, it is the crucible from which so many of the great advances in our wonderful hobby are forged.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Like what? I know IBM's SDLC ultimately came out of Amateur Radio. I know of nothing that came out of CQWW or November Sweepstakes. I am not being sarcastic. In the world of sailboat racing much comes out of that which isbput back into sailboat design. But, while I agree on wars and auto racing, and things mechanical, I am at a loss for to understand the radiosport comparison.
(Edited)
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Charles - K5UA

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The competitive nature of contesting drives contesters to invest heavily in high end radios with marginal advantages over mid-range radios. These marginal advantages are not cost-effective to the average amateur radio operator, but to the contester they ARE cost-effective because of the competitive edge they provide. This willingness of contesters to continually upgrade their equipment for marginal competitive advantages is not lost on the manufacturers of amateur radio equipment. They incrementally engineer better and better high end radios, and the engineering advances made in the high end radio market ultimately trickle down to the low and mid-range radios, which enhances the hobby for the other 99% of the non-contesting amateur amateurs. There is no specific contest that can be identified as advancing amateur radio technology, it is the sum total of the demand for competitive advantage that drives technological innovation.

So let us not bemoan the attention given to enhancing SSDR for contest operators. Everyone will benefit from these enhancements. If non-contesters object to being the beneficiary of these enhancements, then ask contesters to pay extra for enhanced versions of SSDR with features and specs not available to the standard versions of SSDR. Who do you think would be screaming the loudest that this would be unfair? NOT the contesters.....this is the first radio investment we've ever had that did not require buying a new radio to get new features. This 6000 series radio has dramatically reduced our costs for acquiring additional performance. No, it would be the non-contesting community that would complain that they would have to pay for the enhancements they would have otherwise gotten for free.

So let me make this modest proposal. How about a simple "Thank you" to all the contesters over the years that have driven (funded) innovation in the amateur radio market?
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Walt - KZ1F

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It wasn't until I reread what Peter said that it hit me. Don't add contesting functionality to ssdr, write a separate 'contest specific' app. If that isn't what he meant, consider it my suggestion. SSDR is already too monolithic.
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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Hello Walt,

can you clarify your thought about "SSDR is already too monolithic."?
I appreciate a lot your judgement.

73' Enzo
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Walt - KZ1F

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thank you for that Enzo, sure, be happy to. There was an old saying here that isn't heard to much anymore. I've forgotten the first part but it ends with "including the kitchen sink", "10 pounds of whatever, stuffed into a 5 pound bag". In software the goal of a class is to do one thing and do it very well. Often, with inexperienced programmers, while they understand using a class someone else provided, they tend to mix multiple objects into one class. spoiler alert, I am about to switch metaphors. Another example is Microsoft Word, which is the poster child for this syndrome, "20% of the features are used 80% of the time. And the corollary is "80% of the functionality is only used 20% of the time". The danger of adding more and more functionality into any given program is that it makes the program unwielding.  In other words, it becomes too difficult for 80% of the users to use it. When I say too difficult I mean too unpleasant. From many conversations I've had with Howard, the things that might appeal to a contester just get in the way of the guy who wants to work dx or ragchew. I don't want to put words in Stu's mouth but I believe the use case of his first app was for contesting not ragchewing. That was the correct approach. There was talk here comparing a formula one race car, not specifically formula one, but a car designed to win road races or track races (which are two different use cases) to street cars. A suspension designed for a race car does not work well on a street car. A car engine designed to run between 150 and 250 mph for hours on end is not the same as a car to commute to / from work with. For a 'contesting' radio control surface, make it a different application. One of the other things I had in mind when I said monolithic was SSDR is a single window. That, IMHO, is ludicrous in this day and age. But it is sort of knee jerk as that is how 'most apps are'. IMHO every Panadapter should be it's own window. It's not hard to do. I tried using CW Skimmer for awhile. The experience was awful. It was a completely TOO busy UI and most all of the dechiphered callsigns were garbled and nonsensical. I don't think the state of the art dechipering CW is very far along. My point is it is way too busy. I'd hate to see FRS try to put 10lbs into the proverbial 5lb bag. A lot of the information pro/con I get about SSDR doesn't come from this site, for obvious reasons...may some are less obvious. But there seems to be a recurring theme, the control surface is WAY too busy and WAY too unintuitive. I'd really like to see FRS address that not pile on more controls into an already overcrowded window.

Some will attack as "well that's just your opinion". Yep, it is, But I did this professionally for over 40 years and, well, some of it stuck. What I did with XPSSDR is most of the controls are not visible. And those things you use all the time are visible all the time..The goal is to reduce operator fatigue.

For contesting there should be a contest specific control surface. Absolutely add more classes that reside in flexlib. Just don't stuff all that new stuff into the same appllication 'everyone else' has to use.  That was my point. For those that don't agree...yeah, whatever.
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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Ok Walt,

your idea is clear.
It is not correct to put "10 pounds of whatever, stuffed into a 5-pound bag" but I would like to imagine, and design, the bag in a different way.
I do not like to debate about SSDR development strategies, I just like to point out that today technologies offers tools that allow pluggable and customizable interfaces.
I'm thinking about systems that implement the pattern "decorator" (just to clarify my idea) granting components atomicity, reliability customizable interfaces for each kind of user. The problem of customizable interfaces has already been solved, you can not argue about that.
I just imagine a version of SSDR which allows each users to use the same components but in a different way. As it is today, a CW contester has to use: SSDR, SSDR-DAX, SSDR-CAT, SDR-BRIDGE, CW-Skimmer, a log program and probably a control rotator program. Things are even worse if he is contesting for digital modes.

Probably another strategy could be extending the Flex Libraries into graphical components to be dropped on Windows forms. This would make it easier and faster developing from scratch applications that implement feature not provided with SSDR.

73'
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Tim mentioned the DX version is under way already. I think Flex already has a clear idea about what they plan on doing for the next release. And they are talking to some of the world DX heavy weights for input. It will be interesting. I have been wondering the same thing as Peter. Flex has sure been working hard to make the Flex tops in contesting. As for the casual ham, I can't think of anything missing that most every one needs. It seems to be a complete radio.
(Edited)
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Just my two cents...

As with most things, it's not really the technology. The 6000 platform has already shown great ability, and helps folks win contests, work DX, and shoot the breeze on a score of modes and bands.

It's the user experience, the ergonomics and the interface that sets the truly great ideas apart. Optimizing SSDR for enhanced rate and flexibility, by whatever means, will be of great value to a lot of non-contest users, too. 

Consider that skills for contesting & DX also play well in public safety communications. Optimized workflows will help all of those operators. A streamlined application will also help visually challenged hams and those that just don't need every function "right there."

UI work would no doubt be a great benefit for version 2.0's introduction of WAN connectivity, too. Faster response, less clutter, more intuitive operation on multiple fronts.

Bring it!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Walt

Most of the things hams now take for granted came from the contesting world

Automated logging,, Keyers. Spots. Automatic everything such as rotors, antenna. Switches my etcm etc.

Basically anything you think of that makes your life easier started with contesters so that they could,increase their rates.

Perhaps they needed to include a label "Invented by Contesting" so that you,would not forget where it came from.

BTW. When I don't work as part of the NX6T contest station it's just a lot of fun to win #1 in San Diego ARR L Section where I have to just compete against others in the San Diego DX Club. It can be quite a challenge for me because my location while I usually win Win ASIA Pacific does not favor the East or Europe.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Respectfully disagree. I don't mean if its not 100% it has to be 0%. I think you're reading too much into it. I would think, for one, constantly taking your antenna off axis, whether manually or via a button push is antithetical to 'rate'. Was HRD originally written by a contester? I've never read anything to indicate that. Ditto CQR. I'll concede N1MM perhaps was. As you, yourself, have said, anything that is a distraction kills 'rate'. I am not arguing against  contesting features. I am arguing SSDR is too 'busy' already. Don't turn it into the FRS version of uSoft Word. That would likely have a detrimental effect. This, btw, is a unique issue with the flex as a program, be it Microsoft Windows or Linux or iPad, is REQUIRED. One doesn't need a computer to run a K3. With Maestro, now you'll need two computers. So what FRS puts into that SSDR is critically important to everyone not interested in using it.

I think the idea behind N1MM logger is your focus is 100% on your logging program which, oh by the way, controls your headless radio. Is FRS turning SSDR into a logging program as well? I would hope not.

BTW, thank you and thank your son for me.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Hope you enjoy the wine
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km9r.mike

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Contesting request.

 With traditional so2r (two separate radios) I can set unique cw sidetones for each radio (i.e. 500 hz for the left radio and 700 hz for the right ). I found this to be a useful and possibly essential technique especially wrt instantly recognizing which radio information is coming from w/o the need for visual confirmation.

 If I open two pan adapters for two separate bands in my 6300, I have found that the same cw sidetone selected in SSDR is applied to each pan adapter with no ability to retain a separate unique sidetone for the other band. 

In short , I would like my SS flex to have the ability to select and retain a unique cw sidetone for two separate bands being displayed.
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km9r.mike

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Contesting request.

Another nice so2r feature w/o having to go into SSDR menus would be an automatic selection of audio dependent upon operator focus. There are times while employing so2r, it makes more sense to direct all focus on the run frequency ( i.e. high rate of qsos per hour ) vice listening to the separate search and pounce band for multipliers. During these times, it would be nice to have audio from the run freq in both the left and right channel w/o having to change settings in SSDR. Vice versa, if the run freq slows down ( subjective and dependent upon each operator) and I now decide to start searching for multipliers on a different band while continuing to call cq on the run band, I now need audio from one band in one channel and audio from the other band in the other channel. Again this would be nice if I did not have to go into SSDR menu to accomplish this. Perhaps it could be incorporated in both maestro and flex control. If I remember correctly, I can change vfo focus for two separate bands via my flex control. Now if separate audio settings could be retained dependent upon which band has vfo focus then that would be great because it would mirror operator focus.
(Edited)
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Sergey, R5AU

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Hi All, I see one more feature / solution on stage most wanted - easy realization of the QSO recording (TX and RX parts of course) I suggest into separate DAX channel as well.
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Gary Wise

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It's been talked about before, but as a phone contester, an integrated Voice Keyer that could be activated from Contest Software would be nice.

73,

Gary - W4EEY (new 4-land call)
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Peter Driessen

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Contesting request for SO2R:  a wideband signal strength meter that measures the aggregate signal input into each SCU so that we can be sure that when we transmit FDX, the other SCU is receiving  within the +9dBm safe limit.  This will be helpful for the 6700 running FDX and probably also for the 6500/6300 with the future SO2R box.
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Mark - WS7M

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I have not done that much contesting but the little I have done has shown me that #1 is the op.  You have a great skilled op with talent and give that op a crummy radio he/she will still probably beat you.

#2 assistants.  These could be spots, others calling out freqs and calls (like we used to do in the old days), etc.   N1MM attempts to do much of this for you.

#3 Seemless automation - This also is in N1MM.  Once you get it setup you can run an entire contest with very minimal interaction.

Normally I am all for technology and I think the idea of spots labeled by calls probably set in colors so you know instantly if you've worked them or not is very cool indeed, doesn't it take a little out of the spirit of the contest? 

I mean with this feature the op is almost becoming useless.  I mean why not write an app that connects to a spot looks for all reported calls you have not worked, tunes to the freq, begins to analyze the incoming signals, looks for a break, transmits your call, upon hearing your call back transmits the exchange and moves on to the next one.  

I mean you as the op sit back and watch the points rack up!  The only time you'd be needed is if the automated routine was stuck and could not decode well enough to work.  Then you just lean forward, put your coffee down and press a few buttons and then it continues on automatically.

While this is a very cool idea it seems that it sort of removes the op from the contest and would not labeled spots in the display almost do the same?

Don't get me wrong... If I could do I I would and I'd enjoy it but wonder if the progress we are making is taking the op out of the loop.  I mean with a reasonable antenna, amp, and software like I described above I think even I could place very high in a contest since my software would nail every contact I had not made in S&P mode.

Without any doubt still a very skilled op would top me because they can use the one thing software can never provide, the power of the human brain to make intuitive decisions like changing bands or antennas or whatever.

Anyway it would still be fun to see something like this!
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Barry N1EU

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Sorry Mark, but that's not how I would use the overlaid bandmap during a contest.  I'm not talking about using the spotting network to find stations for me to work.  I'm talking about UNassisted operation, using the panadapter signal traces to find stations for me to work.  But in unassisted contesting, a bandmap is crucial for marking stations you have/haven't worked yet.  YOU do the marking/spotting.  So if I work DL1ABC on 14.035, then "DL1ABC" will overlay the panadapter at 14.035 and its font color will denote that I've worked it and I will know that I can skip over it as I tune the band repeatedly looking for new signals.  If I find YB1AB at 14.040 with a huge pileup, I can add "YB1AB" to the overlaid bandmap and its font color will show I still need to work him.  etc etc

73, Barry N1EU
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Mark - WS7M

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Makes sense Barry.  As I said I'm not contest experienced and my imagination can run wild at times.
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Steve Jones

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Agree - spot integration from n1mm is a number 1 priority for me - the lack of it is the only thing that has been tempting me to buy a k3s and run it with lp pan and nap3. Whether I am assisted or unassisted, the ability to see spots or self spots on the bandscope and to see from their colour whether I have worked them or not would be a major step forward and icing on the cake.
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Barry N1EU

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NaP3 is not going to show a spot any differently if you work it or not.  The NaP3 spot overlay is a pretty toy but virtually useless in a contest IMHO.  The spot integration needs to be tightly coupled with N1MM.  Flex would need to put a programmer on the project who would work with the N1MM guys and get it done.  The payoff for Flex would be a big bump in sales, every contester would want this feature.  Well almost every  ;-)