A new chapter:
For years I have wanted to make a remote work that would allow me to see the spectrum scope and waterfall of the remote radio.
I have tried using a Flex 1500 and other SDR receivers and viewing them just using a remote desktop program such as Team Viewer, VNC or Remote Desktop.
Nothing really worked well. For one thing it’s like going back 50 years to having a separate receiver and transmitter. I would tune off (with the transceiver) to follow a station ...say on 20M ....I would then have to separately tune the SDR receiver to match the new transmit freq.
Also, bandwidth was an issue.
I had a Flex 5000 a few years ago and really liked it as a base station rig, but it did not remote well. The older Flex series of radios had the display but no way to remote the entire experience.
First...turning it on and off remotely is difficult. I think some hams have solved this but its not an easy fix.
I sold the 5000 and for years just used my Kenwood 480's .(still the easiest rig to remote).
When saw the new Flex 6000 series at a hamfext....and talked with the Flex company reps....who said....this is going to be the rig for remoting...."When we come out with our ver 2.x op system."
Ok, so I will buy one .....when will the new op system be available..."oh, just a few months". Well, that was probably two years ago.
Some hams were doing remotes with the 6k series Flex by setting up their own VPN.
I tried this.....this is a technique that is beyond my pay grade. I worked for hours and hours and never made it work. I know it does work but for a person uneducated in computer networks....this will not be easy. If you have access to a good network friend....it’s not hard to do....but for a newbie it can be tough.
The good news is that Flex finally did deliver their Smart SDR ver 2.x operating system.
I was able to see this in operation at Seaside Hamfest in the spring of 2017. The Flex booth had everything working. They were connected to their HQ in Texas.
BTW the ver. 2.x op syst does cost an extra $200....but I think it is worth the cost.
Looked really good.....ok, it will be available in 30 days.....well, in late Aug they released it.
I had ordered a Maestro (a remote front panel) and it arrived in late Sept.
Not too hard to set up.....just read the included instructions carefully.
How does it work? Well...the first Maestro died in about three weeks.....however they sent me a new one and it has worked almost perfectly. It stumbles occasionally when trying to connect to my home station in the Portland OR area. (I am now on Maui)
I do have fast internet connections on each end....100Meg + download and >7Meg upload speeds.
The good news is that when connected....it is just like sitting in front of the radio in Portland.
The spectrum display and the waterfall are beautiful.
Flex is still working out bugs....so its not perfect.
What they have done is provide software that acts as a VPN server for all connections.
This takes all of the programming out of the setup. You create an account on their server and log in.
There is a slight delay in tuning at the remote site. Changing the frequency is not instant. I have about a third of a second delay.....the frequency display moves but the received signal moves a bit later....perhaps a third of a second. I 'm sure this will vary based on your connections. I am about 2,500 miles from my actual radio.
Overall I am very happy with the system. We have come a long way in 20+ years.....since the first Skype and VNC clunky connections.
At my new QTH in the Portland OR area I put up a new 72 ft tower with a 4 element SteppIr with the 40M dipole. Very happy with the system.....it was a lot of work....and $$$$ but very happy.
At the OR location I have both the 480 and the Flex radios (remotes) operational…....depending on which radio I turn on .....the SPE 1.3 linear turns on and switches the input to the active radio.
So, Its like having a 1 KW transceiver that I can run from anywhere.
BTW.....the entire Flex system will operate from a laptop/desktop or even an Ipad.
So, while traveling you do not need to take any hardware except a computer/Ipad....it may even operate from a phone.....I draw the line there.....too small.
I still have the two remotes set up using the 480s.....and the Remote Rig boxes.....they are great. One in Eureka CA and the other at my Oregon City home.
Additionally I still have access to the OR 480 remote via Team Viewer/RDT and Skype.
I keep this operational for times when I am at a distant location with very poor internet service....such as a cruise ship at sea....which I have done several times. I have also used this method from Burma, Vietnam and other third world countries. I will be in Cuba in early Jan. of 2018....I will try to find a connection and make contacts "from" Cuba.
Who knows what the future will bring.....but for now I think we have crossed a milestone with the Flex system.
If I can be of any help.....drop me an email.
73 n Aloha