two windows machines have trouble sharing DAX, CAT 1.6.17

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As many know, I run remotely.  So, I have decided to install a second PC (an i3 2100) for backup.

A lot is working.  Put on the 1.6.17 at home with no radio.  Installs OK.  Fired it up at the shack and it mostly works.

1.  Smart SDR does fine.  If I halt it on my main machine (an i7 running Windows 7) and fire it up on my i3 backup, it seems to work fine as a thing in itself.

2.  However, since the i7 runs first (and must here as it "owns" the display -- the i3 runs "headless") I find that both CAT and DAX are still "owned" by the i7 machine even if I "take them down" (that is, close the "panels").

3.  For DAX, the i3 machine reports "driver error".

4.  For CAT, the i3 reports a nebulous "error" and then greys out everything so I can't even try a workaround like establishing a separate, redundant port.

I have verified that the DAX is still running on the i7 using MixW2.  I'm pretty sure CAT is also.

So, is this a bug or a feature?

If it is a feature, is there a workaround?  In an "actual emergency", I would presumably be OK; I would be running either machine "headless" from home and the i7 would presumably not be operational.  But, what do people do who want to run their Flex from their office sometimes and from their living room at others?  And, what do I do for testing at the shack?
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Posted 2 years ago

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David

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What happens if you shutdown everything leave the i7 off and turn the radio and i3 back on? Does the i3 connect to everything as expected to confirm SSDR is installed and working on it. This may be an issue with the installation on the i3 and not completely a conflict of running two systems.
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Ali - 9K2WA

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If you are operating remote using a VPN connection, then the best bet is to leave the i7 station PC owning CAT and DAX and close SmartSDR, then after starting your i3 remote PC and before connecting to your station network via VPN close CAT & DAX on i3, connect your VPN client then start SmartSDR only on i3, all should be working fine.
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Ali, that's exactly what I have running.  But, to test it all properly, I would really like to have both PCs running, but have the i7 "gracefully" give up DAX and CAT.  I want to rehearse the scenario where the i7 is offline and it is only the i3 but with both machines actually operating.  Except I haven't figured out how to run with the i7 turned off (obnoxious details about my setup -- the i7 runs all the time normally because my setup does not allow it, yet, to be remotely powered on.  I also have no display for the i3, normally).

David, as you can see (at least for now and for the last year) I haven't figured out how, in normal operation, to have the i7 off.  1) can't remotely power it on (I can for the i3),  2) it is the display for the i3.   I suppose I could shut off the i7 while at the shack, and hook up a display to the i3, but it's kind of disruptive to do all that.  Make a mistake and it's a twenty minute drive to fix it.  And, it really shouldn't be necessary.

Again, how do more ordinary scenarios work?  How does one share the Flex 6x00 between one's living room and den?  Do others who do this really shut off one of the computers?  Doesn't seem like an obviously reasonable approach.  Should be able to tell CAT and DAX to "shutup" or "suspend" or something.  Maybe disable the drivers?  That's pretty drastic, but beats powering the machine down.
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David

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What isn't clear to me is if you have confirmed that the i3 will work when the i7 is not on. Just a temporary debugging step put a monitor on the i3 and confirm it works  without the i7 not to be long set up just to test. If it doesn't work and the i7 is off and you have restarted the radio to confirm nothing is connected to it and the i3 still doesn't work then you know there is an issue on the i3 and may a simple uninstall of all Flex software on it and reinstall will fix it.
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Larry Loen WO7R

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I have "confirmed" Ali's scenario.  It's true I probably should go through the extra trouble to do it with the i7 off.  But, I'm short a cable for that one, I think (so a lot of drive time to come for that), and in any case, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to test with both Windows machines up and operational.

Specifically, I have worked a QSO from the i3's SmartSDR and monitored the audio on the i7 DAX.  I think that's reasonably good proof that I have it diagnosed well enough.  And, I don't see why I can't have both PCs on and switch between them.  That's an utterly normal scenario for a networked device.

It should arise for more normal folks and I would also like to test (e.g.) the next Smart SDR upgrade and have a backup machine all ready to go.  I also can, for now, do A/B testing between Win 7 and Win 10.  If, that is, I could do the normal thing and connect to the PC of my choice with all three pieces of software.
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Larry Loen WO7R

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OK, I did manage to figure out (after over a year!) how to power on my original PC remotely.  So now, I can test from home at least, running both headless.

Symptoms have changed slightly with the i7 off and the i3 on:

1.  Driver errors remain constant on the i3.

2.  Smart SDR never comes up.  I can't find it in the Task Manager display.  Nothing.  It dies (presumably) some sort of early and horrible death and silently disappears.

WIth the i3 off and the i7 on, it seems to be operating normally.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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You are trying to run multiple instances of SmartCAT and DAX

However, flex currently does not support multiple instances o fSmartSDR, SmartCAT and DAX running in the radio. Nor does Flex support a remote disconnect feature.

So you will have to use Ali's work around Until Flex gets around to programming in multiple instance system and a remote disconnect system
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Larry Loen WO7R

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I don't really need "multiple instances" for my needs anyway.  I just need a way to disconnect DAX and CAT when I stop SmartSDR on one of the machines.  That would be enough.

Meanwhile, it looks like the drivers are just plain failing on the i3 machine because I did run it, earlier this evening, with the i7 machine off and when I do that, nothing works.  As in "completely powered down".  Maybe I didn't make that clear.

--------

SmartSDR and its cousins really have a lot of non-standard TCP/IP connection strategies with this software.  It is, to a greater or lesser degree, causing me heartburn from time to time.  I don't understand the benefits, as I haven't seen the implementation and what drove them to it. 

I just see the pain points.  We really should be able to connect or disconnect from this stuff in a relatively standard manner.  Being on the same subnet to connect, having one machine "capture" DAX and CAT are just. . .strange.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I agree that disconnect is needed and it will come.
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Ali - 9K2WA

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One must look farther than just disconnect. It would be better if CAT & DAX can be shared across the same network, some COM ports are needed at the station PC while others are needed in the remote PC, i.e. my GHE server is running in the station PC where all the switch boxes & rotor's controllers are and can be controlled by its client at the remote PC, however in the case of a logging program or CWSkimmer which relay on OmniRig you'v got no chance other than using Parallels Access or Teamviewer, windows real estate is very limited on a notebook or an iPad.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I now use the iPad Pro just to get bigger real estate.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Ali just described some of the challenges Flex will face in construction V2.0 WAN
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Dudley - WA5QPZ, Official Rep

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Larry,

If you close the DAX console,  and confirm with "Yes"  to close,  this will close DAX, confirm that in Task manager, the DAX exe process should be gone..   Then do the same for CAT,  then you open Task manager and end task on the Virtual Serial Port Service.. 

If you do not want DAX and SmartCAT to not start at computer boot up , but you can still start them manually ,  open Task manager and Disable DAX and SmartCAT in the Startup tab.. 

This should stop you conflict,  but as was suggested before, make sure that your secondary computer can run DAX and SmartCAT to the radio on it's own directly..  

Dudley
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Thanks Dudley.  I will look into that.  Should be quite helpful.

However, I am suspicious that there is something wrong with the drivers on the new (i3) box.  I will try reinstalling SmartSDR 1.6.17 (even though old) on the i3 box and see if that clears anything up.  When I stop getting buried by  a suddenly full plate anyhow.
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Larry Loen WO7R

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I think that Flex has to think that all devices will be internet addressable. This includes rotors, Amps, antenna switches. I am working to put my own shack on this footing. Raspberry Pi machines make it easy to "redirect" USB or RS232 devices as standalone net appliances with web servers as long as the interface is well-defined. A little more work consolidates many to one modest web page.

Flex itself could advance the ball with a product that exported its Flexwire to the Pi.
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Ali - 9K2WA

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Howard & Larry,

I certainly agree with both of you guys, with over 6000 remote QSOs , I have to say that there is still many challenges to overcome, I am thinking about using the Pi for VPN & RS-232 to NET to access every device in the base station from the remote notebook, I am hoping 2.0 will properly address these shrot comings.

FRS listened and addressed the needs of contest stations with the Maestro relatively in a short time, we too should get more attention and get our Maestro addressing our vital needs just the same.