I recently upgraded to a Flex 5000 from the 3000. I wanted the second receiver. Anyway, couldn’t have been easier since I had all my settings documented here. I used these as the starting point and everything works great. I have updated the configuration article keeping the Flex 3000 settings and adding the Flex 5000 settings.
When you get a new radio there are always some accessories or add ons you need to really get everything working. With a Software Defined Radio (SDR) like the Flex 3000 or Flex 5000 it is the same only some of those add ons are software instead of hardware. I have had a Flex 3000 for a year or so but I work from home as a programmer and have been sharing my development PC with the Flex, not the best situation. While the PC is powerful enough by itself it does run out of power when I have all of my development programs plus the Flex 3000 working. Also, only having two monitors I run out of screen real estate between the radio and my work. (jump to configuration details)
Recently I decided to get a new PC that would be dedicated to the Flex 3000 when I want to use the radio. I wanted something very small so I bought an Apple Mac Mini with the core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 1 TB Fusion drive. This is more than enough to run the Flex plus I now have an extremely small and quiet and cool running PC at 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches high. It also has built in FireWire so I wouldn’t have worry about add on cards. I just don’t understand why a Windows PC manufacture can’t build a small quiet PC with decent processing power and memory.
After I got the Mac OS X up and running, a very simple proposition, one small update and no reboots, I went into the Bootcamp Assistant and created a Windows partition and installed Microsoft Windows 7 from a flash drive. After that I had to download almost 1 GB of updates for Windows and reboot several times. Once Windows was finally running it couldn’t be easier, just select which OS to boot up into. Right now I am in the Mac OS writing this article in Pages and when I am ready to run the radio I’ll boot into Windows and be ready to go.
Since I was essentially starting from scratch with a new PC I decided to spend some time installing just what I needed and documenting my settings. I tried to be logical about how I configured things but I am sure some will have different ideas and I would appreciate any comments.
While Power SDR will get the radio going you will need several more programs to get the most from it. This list is what I am currently using along with Power SDR:
DDUtil – Steve Nance K5FR. This is the traffic cop of the system. DDUtil routes CAT commands, antenna and rotor commands and much more. Basically, you use DDUtil because the Flex only has one serial CAT port and you will have a lot of accessories that want to talk to the radio at the same time. Route everything through DDUtil and let the program handle all the routing and congestion problems.
VSP Manager – Also by K5FR, Stve Nance. Everthing wants a com port to communicate with the radio so VSP Manager creates virtual come ports. These can then be managed by DDUtil to prevent conflicts.
VAC (Virtual Audio Cable) – Eugene Muzychenko. VAC creates virtual audio channels or cables for routing the in and out audio to peripherals. It also acts as a mixer so you can have multiple input or output streams.
K9DUR Voice Keyer – Ray Andrews, K9DUR. I’m surprised Flex Radio hasn’t built Ray’s program into PSDR yet but you need a voice memory keyer if you DX or Contest work.
HRD Logbook – I use the logbook from Ham Radio Deluxe but HRD itself isn’t needed with a Flex. The 5.xx versions are still free.
DM780 – This is the digital modes program from HRD and I am used to it so I still use it. You need to install HRD to get it but you will never launch HRD.
MiniDeluxe – David McKenzie, K1FSY. HRD Logbook and DM780 still need to communicate with the Flex so we use MiniDeluxe, a light weight replacement for HRD.
CWGet – My CW decoding program. I can pick out my call at up to about 40 wpm but CWGet gives me a little insurance. Plus I can be sure I hear the DX correctly if he says EU only or QSY or goes QRT.
CWType – While you can use the CWX program built into PSDR, CWType offers some other useful features.
JT65-HF – JT65 for use on HF by Joe Large W6CQZ.
CW Skimmer – I have added CW Skimmer to my suite of programs so my article on the Flex configuration has been updated. I have the second receiver in my Flex 5000 so I had to add two new Virtual Audio Cables in VAC. This had some minor effects on other programs. CWGet had to be reconfigured back to use the original virtual cables as it picked up the new ones for some reason. I also had to configure the VAC2 tab in the Flex 5000 configuration.
It was a little confusing at first but It did not take too long to get it all working. I am still using the trial version of CW Skimmer, waiting for a contest or maybe a bigger dxpedition with strong enough signals here to see what it will do for me. If I find it useful, I’ll buy it of course.
There will be more later I am sure. You can read about my configuration details if you are interested. I tend to keep my software up to date so the versions will change as time goes by and I’ll try to keep this post updated as well.