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Thursday, 11 December 2014

It's all in the Software!


I've finally decided to have a proper play with Software Defined Radio. I've bought myself a FLEX-6300, which looks dull and boring like this:

The software end of the radio is spectacularly impressive:

The box itself connects to the network I have in the shack, that means I can run the control software from either of the two PC's here, my laptop anywhere in the house and also from just about any remote location where I have internet access. I haven't yet figured out how to get the audio to and from the radio over IP but it is certainly possible.

I can run the control software on one of the PCs in the shack and (for example) connect to the radio using Ham Radio Deluxe from the other PC which can then also run the DM780 application for digital modes. I have got logger32 working successfully with the FLEX-6300 as it offers a standard "CAT" type of interface, I have also got the CW Machine to work but have had to build a simple interface between a COM port on the PC and the accessory connector on the back of the FLEX. I was rather hoping this would be all done in software and "virtual" com ports; but it seems not. This is the interface; the FLEX uses a standard VGA connector for it's accessory port so it was simple to interface against.

The control software includes a feature called "DAX" which is Digital Audio eXchange - it's a means to connect audio to and from the radio to other applications without going from digital to analogue and then back to digital again. That seems to work really well as I have managed to get a number of application (WSJT for example) working easily. There is also a separate piece of software to monitor and control the DAX channels; plus another piece of software for COM port management. You seem to be able to create "virtual" ports as "shared", "dedicated" or "PTT". I have only tried the PTT port so far, ans as expected it creates a virtual com port you can connect with using 3rd party applications and key the PTT line using the RTS line of the virtual port.

I haven't done much experimentation yet, but I understand there are a number of alternative software applications I can use to control the radio - so there is much to play with and find out!

So far my first impressions are excellent although there doesn't seem to be a way to run FSK based RTTY.

All good so far - agree?

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