SmartSDR for Mac


SmartSDR™ for Mac – Software user guide


1.General

SmartSDR for Mac is based on SmartSDR for Windows and SmartSDR for iOS. This Manual does not cover or repeat things that are almost identical to SmartSDR for Windows. Also terms like Panadapter, Slice etc. are not explained.

For this, please consult the excellent FlexRadio SmartSDR for Windows SmartSDR Users Guide which can be found here:

https://www.flexradio.com/category/documentation

This Manual mainly covers things that are different or new to SmartSDR for Windows as well as general usage hints that only applies to this App.

For those who already read the Manual and just like to read what’s new in the most recent update, all sections covering changes are marked as follows: UPDATE V2.9

If you prefer a printed version of this Manual, just click on the small PDF Icon on the first page top right corner to download a PDF file.

PLEASE NOTE: In case of issues with the App, you will find a lot of possible reasons and solutions in the last chapter “Common issues” of this Manual.

2.Requirements

You need to have a FlexRadio Signature Series Rig such as the Flex-6300, 6400, 6400M, 6500, 6600, 6600M, 6700 or 6700R device.
To run the App, you need a Mac running at least macOS 10.15 (Catalina). There is no relevant RAM or Hard drive requirement, but a fast CPU would be an advantage if you like to use multiple windows at the same time.

Your Radio needs to be connected with a LAN cable to your local Network. Your Mac can be connected to your local Network using a LAN Cable or WiFi.

Remote access

To use this App from outside your home Network, the App supports SmartLink™ which is a technology and feature introduced by FlexRadio exactly for this purpose.

For further details about SmartLink™ please read the corresponding chapter further below.

3.Using the App

After starting the App, you will see the main window. To connect to your Radio, just click inside this window or at the “Connect” button at the top. Next you should see the Radio chooser where the Demo Device and your Radio should be listed.

To connect, just click on the Radio in the list. If another client (somebody else) is already connected to your Radio or if you have a M-Model where the front panel is already or still connected to the Radio, you will get a message like this:

In this case, you can select “Connect” which will connect you to the Radio in addition to the other client. Or you can force disconnecting the other client from that Radio by hitting the “Disconnect” button. In case the maximum number of clients are already connected to the Radio, you can not connect in addition and will only see the option to disconnect either of these clients.

3.1.Main Window

Once connected to your Radio, you should see a screen like this:

In the upper half, you can see the so called panadapter (1) which visually represents the radio frequency spectrum. Below you see the waterfall (2) which turns the panadapter into a time-based visual representation of the spectrum.

The slice flag (3) represents a so-called slice which can be seen as an individual Receiver on a certain frequency range of the whole spectrum. You can have as many slices as your Radio permits.

How to maintain slices and the various possibilities for tuning frequencies is described further below in a separate chapter.

3.2.Settings and preferences

Your Radio and this App are very powerful and feature rich but that also means there are a lot of settings available.

Sometimes, you may feel lost in all the available options, especially if something is not working as expected. The following should give you a better idea on where to look for a certain setting.

There are basically the following sections for Settings:

1.The top Audio Menu (gear Icon)

This section deals with everything regarding local audio on your Mac. The gear Icon will show a screen where you can change the Input and Output device and change additional audio settings.

2. The SmartSDR → Preferences… Menu

These settings are without exception App related (and not Radio related) settings. From here, you can decide how to connect to your Radio, assign CW keys, check for App Data updates and so on.

3. The Radio → FLEX-6xxx settings Menu


This menu only appears after you are connected to your Radio because the settings here are solely related to your Radio and they are even stored inside the Radio. From here, you can obtain information about your Radio or amend things like max transmit power, digital filters, backup the configuration of your Radio or even perform firmware updates.

4. The Radio Controls panel


From this Radio control panel you can control the most frequently used settings of your Radio. You can also see and monitor the most important parameters such as RF Power or SWR. This panel is almost identical throughout all SmartSDR Apps on different platforms. Most of the controls here are just shortcuts and the same settings, sometimes with additional options, can be found under the slice settings (see below).

5. Slice Flag and Slice Control panel


From here, you can control everything which is related to a single Slice (receiver). You can either clock on parts of the slice flag. Or you can click on the Frequency to open the Slice control panel.

6. Left panadapter menu

This menu is attached to each panadapter and can be opened and closed using the arrow button at the top. Some buttons are convenient shortcuts but especially the Disp menu is important for maintaining the pandapater display such as waterfall speed or colors.

7. Additional Radio Menus


For more comprehensive and dedicated settings like Memories, CW Macros, USB Cable settings and so on, there are individual menus under the Main Radio menu. These settings are also Radio related, so these menus also only appear if you are connected to the Radio.

Details of these menus and setting screens are described further below in individual chapters.

In case you got lost or messed up any of these settings, you have the following possibilities:

  1. For App related settings, go to SmartSDR → Settings → Extended tab and hit “Restore default settings”. This will revert most of the App settings back to their default values. Only things like SmartLink or HamQTH or QRZ.com credentials are kept. After this, it is recommended to restart the App.
  2. For all settings which are stored inside your Radio, you can Restore the settings using the Radio → FLEX-6xxx → Radio menu and the “Restore Configuration” button. Of course, this requires that you would previously backed up your configuration.

3.3.What to do first

When you are starting the App and connect to your Radio first time, it is recommended to go through a few settings so you won’t get annoyed about missing or wrong settings later on when you don’t need it.

  • First, go to the SmartSDR → Preferences Menu and select the HAM-Radio Tab and enter your IARU Region, your Callsign, location and maintain your HamQTH and QRZ.com credentials, if available
  • Next, after connecting to your Radio, open the Radio → FLEX-6xxx Settings menu and also enter (or double check) your Callsign and the Nickname you like to use for your Radio.
  • Finally, backup your Radio settings using the Radio → FLEX-6xxx → Radio menu and the “Backup Configuration” button which will help if you would later on mess up some Radio settings.

You may also want to browse through the App Settings and Radio preferences to familiarize with the various options.

3.4.Audio Controls at the top

Clicking the speaker icon will mute/un-mute all slices. The volume slider next to this icon will control the global volume of all slices.

Clicking the gear icon at the top will open the Audio settings. From here, you can select which Audio device should be used as output (speaker) or input (microphone) device.

If you are experiencing dropouts (either while receiving or transmitting) you can increase the buffer size but that will also add some latency.

If you select the “Use Radio output” checkbox, only the Speaker or Headphone physically connected to your Radio will be used instead of your Mac.

3.5.SmartSDR → Preferences... Menu

As mentioned earlier, these preferences are solely related to the App and not the Radio.

Most of the options here are self-explanatory. However, the following options are worth to be explained:

Communication

If you only connect to your Radio from inside your home network (either by LAN or Wifi) you can leave the Connection type setting to Local. If you want to connect to your Radio from another network, you need to setup SmartLink as described further below and can set your Connection type either to “SmartLink” or “both”. Leaving the Connection type to “local” will speed up the connection process for local Radios.

For local connections, the LAN/WiFi Mode should normally be set to “Discover”. Only in very special network situations where your Radio can not be discovered, you may want to change this setting either to Scan or Fixed IP.

Enable iCloud

Enable iCloud under the General Tab will enable sharing some settings as well as the logbook with other SmartSDR for iOS or Mac Apps. The shared settings are the settings under the “HAM-Radio” tab so you don’t have to enter these settings again if you already did so with SmartSDR for iOS for instance.

Extended Settings

Some of the “Extended Settings” are useful in case of connection issues. The last chapter Common issues is therefore referencing to some of these settings.

Spots

Spots are callsigns or information displayed inside the panadapter. From here, you can select which information you want to see. Using the Spot location slider you can control the vertical position of these spots so that they remain visible depending on your panadapter settings.

Information & Support

Data updates are updates for databases such as the included callsign prefix database for instance. Such databases are updated from time to time by so called data updates which are easier to distribute than complete App updates. From time to time you will see a message informing about the availability of such a data update where you can either perform the update or postpone the download. The “Check for Data Update” button under “Information & Support” can be used if you previously postponed an update or want to check for an immediate update.

3.6.The Radio → FLEX-6xxx settings Menu

 

This menu only appears after you are connected to your Radio and the settings here are solely related to your Radio and they are even stored inside the Radio.

Most of the settings are self-explanatory and also explained in the main manual for the Radio.

On the last tab “Radio” of this settings screen, there are some special features.

Firmware Update

From here, you can check and update (or even downgrade) your Radio firmware. By clicking on the “Check for Firmware update” button, you will get screen like this:

This list contains all available Firmware versions, even older. The Column “Downloaded” indicates if the Firmware file has already been downloaded to your Mac. This is necessary before updating that version to your Radio. The column “Installed” indicates the currently installed version. After selecting a version in the list, you can use the buttons below to either download a firmware version, remove the download from your Mac or install the version to your Radio.

Backup / Restore Configuration and Memories

Using the corresponding buttons, you can Backup or Restore the whole configuration of your Radio or only Memories. The whole configuration includes all settings, Memories, Macros and Profiles of your Radio.

Install TURF File

“Current Region” indicates the country for which the Radios transmit capabilities are based. The button “Install TURF file” can be used to upload a so called TURF file changing the region. A TURF file is supplied by FlexRadio Systems or the international distributor where the radio was purchased.

3.7.Slices

A slice represents a part of the spectrum for receiving and also for transmitting.

The light blue area is called filter because this is basically what the slice is receiving. The yellow or red line indicates the center frequency of the slice whereas yellow indicates that this slice is the currently active slice.

Only one slice can be active. The controls of the “Radio controls” panel will always apply to the active slice. To change the active slice, just click on the slice flag.

Slice flag

The slice flag displays all important information about a single slice such as S-Meter reading, Mode, Antenna, Filter settings, Lock or Mute status. A red TX indicator at the top indicates that this slice is the current transmit slice which means that this frequency will be used when transmitting. The letter at the top right indicates the slice letter. Each slice is named A, B, C etc.

Clicking on any of these indicators will either toggle the option or show a separate menu for altering the options.

 

For instance, you can click on the TX indicator to make a slice the current transmit slice or click on the Antenna indicators to get the Antenna selection screen.

Clicking on the Frequency itself will open a separate Slice panel.

The button on the right side of the panel can be used to extend the panel in three different steps which will show more options but cover more screen. Clicking this button again will cycle through the three different sizes.

The left crossed circle here will also close a Slice.

From here, you can alter some slice parameters more comfortable and some parameters in more details as from the “Radio control” panel.

The tuning controls will be explained further down in the separate Tuning chapter details.

Slice filter

The slice filter (light blue area) can be adjusted by clicking in the lower part of the filter area of the slice or the Filter value in the slice flag.

From here, you can enter the low- and high-filter cut values manually or select one of the predefined filter settings.

Creating a new slice

A new slice can be created in different ways:

  • Click on RC+ in the left panadapter menu
  • Right-Click on the Waterfall where you want to create a slice
  • Use the top Slice menu and select “Create new Slice…”

The top Slice menu can also be just to “jump” to a particular slice and make it the active slice.

3.8.Panadapters

It is possible to use more than one panadapter which means that you can receive simultaneously on a different band even using a different antenna.

In that case, the Radio is using a different so called SCU (Spectral Capture Unit). The number of supported SCUs depends on your Radio.

To open another panadapter, use the Panadapter menu and select “Create new Panadapter…”. This will open a new window which looks similar to the first, main Window. You can now create and use slices here in the same way as before.

Each additional panadapter will get its own window. At the top of each window, you can see the panadapter number, the center frequency of the pandadapter and the slice letters of the slices contained in the panadapter as well as an TX indicator.

Only the first, main panadapter window displays the Audio controls like the mute and volume slider and the Disconnect button.

PLEASE NOTE: A panadapter uses a lot of CPU power. On slower Macs you may experience slower response times or higher CPU usage when using many panadapter windows. You can improve the situation by lowering the FPS and Rate sliders in the left Disp menu for better performance.

3.9.Frequency Tuning

Frequency tuning is probably one of the main activities when using the App. For this reason, there are several possibilities for frequency tuning:

  • Double-click somewhere on the panadapter to move the currently active slice to that frequency
  • Click-hold-and-move on the filter (light blue area) to move the slice around and thus change it’s frequency
  • Use the Mouse Scroll wheel to adjust the frequency
  • Use two fingers on a Touchpad and move up and down to adjust the frequency
Tuning from the Slice Panel:

Click on << , < , > or >> to adjust the frequency in smaller or larger steps. If you keep the buttons pressed, the speed will increase.

You can also use the circle knob for tuning.

PLEASE NOTE: For this and the other aforementioned frequency adjustment options, the Step value is regarded. You may want to alter the Step value according your requirements.

Finally, when clicking on the frequency you will be able to enter the frequency manually. The same is also possible with the frequency field in the Radio controls panel.

Use the TAB or Enter key to exit this field.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: Under SmartSDR → Preferences → General you can decide if you want to enter frequencies in MHz or kHz.

3.10.Additional Panadapter Controls

There are the following addition Mouse or Track-pad functions, to control the panadapter:

To zoom the displayed bandwidth in or out, click on the frequency scale and move the mouse either in the direction of the center – which will squeeze the bandwidth – or move it out of the center to expand it.

To change the waterfall rate, click and move the right waterfall scale up or down.

To move the panadapter db-range, just click on the panadapter range scale and move it up or down. To increase or decrease the db-range, just hold the option button, while moving the scale.

3.11.PTT and phone mode

When in phone mode (which is either SSB or any AM or FM Mode) you can use the View → PTT menu to display (or hide) a virtual PTT button on the screen.

Hitting the PTT Button will control your transmission.

PLEASE NOTE: Under the SmartSDR → Preferences → General menu, you can use the “PTT push once mode setting”, to decide whether this button should behave as toggle or push once button.

 

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: You can also assign a keyboard key to trigger the PTT under SmartSDR → Preferences → Phone / CW keys.

3.12.CWX and CW Macros

When in CW mode, instead of the virtual PTT button, you can use the View → CWX menu to show or hide a CWX panel.

From here, you can enter your CW text, that you like to send. You can either enter everything you like to send and then press the “Send” button or you can check the “Live” checkbox and everything will be sent immediately once entered.

Click the cancel button to abort the submission of CW. It is also possible to assign a keyboard key for this Cancel button under SmartLink → Preferences → Phone / CW Key.

You can also maintain CW Macros using the Radio → CW Macros menu.

In the “Name” column, you can enter a name for a Macro which will be displayed as title in the Macro window. You can assign a key for each macro for the activation of the Macro.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Function keys, keys of the right number pad and some additional special keys can be used for assignment.

In the last column, you can enter the desired text which should be sent for the macro.

The following keywords can be used as placeholders:

{MYCALL} will be replaced by your own callsign

{NOW} will be replaced by the current time

You can also leave the Logging window open for logging calls while doing CW and use the following placeholders which will use information you already entered in the logging window:

{CALL} will be replaced by the Callsign you entered in the logging window

{SENTRST} will be replaced by the RST Sent text you entered in the logging window

{COMMENT} will be replaced by the Comment text you entered in the logging window

{TXFREQ} or {RXFREQ} will be replaced by the current RX or TX Frequency

{TXBAND} or {RXBAND) will be replaced by the current RX or TX Band

{TIME} will be replaced by the Time you entered in the logging window

{LOG} will cause the log to be saved and cleared for the next entry

It is possible to maintain up to 11 Macros. Macros are stored inside the Radio but Macro Names and Key assignments are stored locally inside the App.

Using View → Macros you can display the CW Macro Panel:

3.13.Memories

You can maintain an unlimited number of Memories. Use the Radio → Memories menu to open the Manual maintenance screen. Memories are stored inside the Radio, so you need to be connected to your Radio to maintain memories.

A Memory does not only store a frequency. It will also store the Mode, Filter settings and several additional parameters which will be recalled when selecting a Memory in the list.

To add a new Memory, click on the (+) Add Memory button or you can use the +MEM Button in the left panadapter menu.

To alter memories, just edit the values inside the list.

To recall a memory, either click on an entry in the list or use the MEM→ button in the left panadapter menu.

The list can be sorted by clicking on the column in the header.

3.14.TNF

TNF is the abbreviation for Tracking Notch Filter. TNFs can be used to filter out unwanted signals and can be created in an unlimited number for any frequency.

Creating and maintaining TNFs is similar to slices. You can right click on the panadapter and select Create TNF to create a TNF right at the mouse location.

A TNF will be displayed as green or yellow shape. You can move the TNF by clicking and moving this shape or you can click the lower part of the TNF for entering the TNF parameters manually. From here, you can also delete the TNF.

All TNFs can also be maintained using the Radio → TNF menu.

PLEASE NOTE: You can turn on or off TNFs globally. For this, use the Audio menu (gear Icon) at the top of the main screen.

3.15.Transverter

If you are using Transverters to receive and transmit on different bands, outside the bands already supported by your radio, you can maintain the parameters of your transverters my using the Radio → Transverters menu.

Every transverter, added to this list will be available from the Band selection menu in the left panadapter menu. Once switched to the desired band, it will look as if your radio would natively support the transverter band.

PLEASE NOTE: If you switch to a transverter band, you may need to change your antenna selection to XVTR depending on how you connected the transverter to your radio. You may also want to limit power in the Radio → TX Band Settings for the transverter.

3.16.USB Cables

FlaxRadio supports USB Cables for controlling external devices such as PAs, tuners or antenna switches. For details and the cable types, please refer to the main Radio manual.
Once a cable is connected to your Radio, it will automatically appear in the USB Cable list which can be opened from the Radio → USB Cables menu.

From here, you can set all parameters for the cable by hitting the “Details” button. Depending on the cable type and setting, you can drill down to additional setting pages.

3.17.TX Band Settings

Using the Radio → TX Band Settings menu, you can maintain a list of TX parameters per band.

From here, you can limit the maximum transmit or tune power or define states for the RCA sockets at the backside of your Radio.
Whenever you switch to a band, these parameters will be used automatically.

3.18.Profiles

Profiles allow you to name and save the state of the radio and recall it later.
There are three types of profiles: GLOBAL, TRANSMIT and MIC.

Global profiles store the state of the radio including the panadapters and Slices that are open, the mode associated with each slice and all the settings for noise blankers, AGC, filters, etc. This can be thought of as a snapshot in time.

Transmit profiles save the transmitter power level, tune power level, transverter power level and the various transmitter delay parameters.

MIC profiles save a configuration for a specific microphone or audio source, including the TX filter settings, the MIC selection and level and the DEXP, PROC, DAX, VOX and EQ settings. Both Transmit and MIC profiles are automatically saved when the related controls are changed.

Using the Radio → Profiles menu → Global / Transmit or / Microphone will display all profiles stored in the currently connected Radio.

From here, you can switch to a certain profile (the “Use” button), save your current settings to the currently selected profile (“Save” button).
Global profiles can be copied (“Copy” button) whereas for Transmit and Microphone profiles you can use the “New” button to create a new Profile using a new name.

Profiles that are no longer needed can be deleted using the trash-can Icon.

3.19.Multiflex

MultiFLEX allows more than one operating position for each radio. In SmartSDR v3.0+, up to two operating positions may connect to a single radio. The operators may be in the same vicinity, or they may be accessing the radio via SmartLink from anywhere in the world (with internet access).

Each operating position is considered a Station and can have its own independent Slices, Panadapters, transmit settings and active profiles. This allows the sharing of a radio with two users at the same time as if they each had their own radio although there can only be one active transmitter at a time and receive resources must be shared.

Using the Radio → Multiflex menu will open a list of the currently connected stations (clients) and which one is set as the local PTT Station.

The Local PTT Station is the chosen Station to use when using a hardware PTT such as a footswitch or CW paddles. The Local PTT Station is identified with the checkmark in the “Has PTT” column.
This setting is a conflict resolver and is necessary since multiple Stations can be connected to the radio at once.

Click the “Set local PTT” button to select Local PTT for your Station.

4.External Software - CAT and DAX

This App can be used along with other external software. To interface with such software, the App uses a virtual CAT interface and a DAX interface.

CAT

CAT Cables were and are still being used with legacy hardware Radios.

A CAT cable will be used to exchange information like the current frequency between a Radio and a Software or control the Mode and even the PTT.

This App can emulate such a CAT cable as network interface which means that CAT commands are to be transmitted over the network. That also means that the other Application to send or receive CAT commands can either be on the same Mac or even another PC or Mac.

To maintain these virtual CAT interfaces, open the Radio → CAT Interfaces menu.

The App supports the following three CAT “Languages”:

  • FlexRadio CAT
  • Kenwood TS-2000 and
  • RigCtrl / Hamlib.

It depends on the other Application, which of these “Languages” you have to choose. You may need to experiment and try different settings and see which one works best.

You can use up to two virtual CAT Cable interfaces at the same time. Each one needs to be assigned to one or two Slices.

For each interface you need to enter a Port. The value you have to enter here depends on the other Software which sometimes allows also to enter a Port number manually or it may use a certain fixed and predefined port number. That port number needs to be identical to the port number to be entered here.

The other Software will also require you to enter an IP Address for the destination. If the Software is running on the same Mac, you can enter 127.0.0.1 which always stands for the local device regardless which individual IP address your Mac would have. Alternatively, and for Software running on other devices, you will need to enter the IP Address of your Mac. For your convenience, this IP Address is displayed at the bottom of the CAT Cable settings screen.

Once you enabled one of the two interfaces you will either see a red warning next to the “Status:” line telling you that a certain setting is wrong or missing otherwise you will see “Waiting”.

Now you can start your external software to establish the CAT connection to this App. In case it was successful, you should see “Connected” here.

DAX

Whereas the CAT interface is being used to exchange Radio information and settings between an Application and a radio, the so-called DAX interface, provided by this App, can be used to exchange receive and transmit audio between your external software.

How you have to use this DAX feature depends on the Software you want to use. In general, such software is using the built-in audio interface of your Mac like this App does as well. As long as the software allows to select different audio input and output sources or offers its own Audio interfaces, it is possible to connect the Software with this App.

The DAX feature of this App can be used to connect to additional audio interfaces but for the connection between your external software and this App you will need a so called audio-pass-through driver which simply bridges audio between two audio interfaces.

There are several solutions available for this. There is, for instance, the free of charge Blackhole driver from Existential audio: existential.audio or the AudioHijack driver rogueamoeba.com/audiohijack but there are many others as well.

If you already have the MMAudio driver installed, you can also use this driver.

You can check and maintain your installed audio drivers by starting the Audio Midi Setup App which belongs to macOS.

By using the Radio → DAX Streaming menu you will be able to assign a TX audio input device as well as a RX audio output device.

For the RX input device, you will also need to select a DAX channel.

The same channel needs to be selected for the Slice you want to use for DAX receiving.

Based on the Blackhole pass-through driver, your setup can be as follows:

External App Output → Blackhole Driver → DAX Input Device

External App Input → Blackhole Driver → DAX Output

PTT

The best way to trigger PTT from your external software would be to use CAT commands. However, some programs don’t support this. In this case, you can use the VOX option of the CAT driver. This VOX option is independent from the VOX for SSB mode and solely activates the PTT in case of an audio signal on the DAX TX audio device.

6.Tools

Under the Tools menu, you will find several helpful features which are extending this App.

Some Tools like the Network Stats Tool are for informational and debugging purposes. Some Tools like the Midi Controller will add additional controlling capabilities to the App. Other Tools like the Logbook can even be used separately, without being connected to the Radio but all Tools are fully integrated and work seamlessly together with the App and your Radio.

6.1.CW Keyer

UPDATE V1.3.5
Under Tools → CW Keyer you can change various settings for local CW Keying.

PLEASE NOTE: If your CW Key is directly connected to your Radio. This CW Keyer will not be used. The Settings for such a directly connected Key can be found under Radio → Flex 6xxx Settings → CW.

The App integrated CW Keyer generates it’s own local Side-tone because the Radio can’t send a Side-tone back to the App. For the best experience, the local Side-tone needs to be as close as possible to the physical keying of the Radio. For this, you can adjust the delay of the Side-tone her in this setting.

The Side-tone can be enabled in the Radio Control panel.

The Keyer Type selection offers four different key types:

  • Straight Key
  • Iambic Mode A
  • Iambic Mode B
  • Iambic Mode B Strict

The Straight Key is a regular single switch Key or Bug. The others are two key paddles offered in different modes.

For keying you have three different options:

  • Use the Keyboard (or a separate, additional, even PC Keyboard). The keys that should trigger Cw can be configure under Settings → Preferences → Phone / CW Keys
  • Use MIDI commands from a MIDI Controller
  • Use a Key or Paddle connected via USB Serial cable

Each of these options can be individually enabled or disabled to prevent accidental CW keying.

In addition, you can connect a foot switch (or any other switch) using the same cable as being used for the CW for PTT activation in phone mode.

The USB Serial Cable type and wiring is described further below in the Attachment of this manual.

Once that cable is connected, the Cable’s serial number should appear in the Cable selection and needs to be selected, before Enabling using this cable.

 

6.2.Midi Controller

Under Tools → Controller → MIDI Controller, you can configure so called MIDI Controllers such as the “Behringer CMD Micro MIDI Controller” for use with the Radio.

In addition to the CMD Micro, the following controller will be supported:

  • Behringer CMD PL-1
  • Hercules DJ Controller Compact
  • Numark DJ2GO2

Other controllers may work as well but they are not tested.

The Midi Controller needs to be connected to your Mac using a USB Cable. Once connected, you can assign functions to Keys, Knobs and LEDs by using the Midi Controller Tool.

Use the Device selection to select the Midi Controller you would like to use. Select the type of Controller using the Compatibility selection. If the list doesn’t contain the type of controller you are using, try the different types and see which one works best.

You can use the Standard / Default CMD Micro Key mapping or you assign your own keys by clicking “Edit Mapping”.

Ensure that you have checked the “Enabled” checkbox and the Status shows “Connected” before editing your mapping.

You can assign Functions on Buttons, Controls (or Wheels and Sliders) and LEDs.

For assigning functions to Buttons or Controls, just hit the corresponding Button or turn the knob or slider on your Midi controller. A line with the corresponding code of the Control will be added, if necessary and highlighted.

Now, double-click this line or click Edit.

Next, click on “Assign” to get a list of possible assignments. There are different assignments for Buttons and Controls. Buttons can trigger or toggle a setting whereas Controls can change values.

Select the desired Radio action and click on done.

LEDs need to be added in a slightly different way. First click on the (+) Icon at the top and select LED.

Now, you either need to enter the code for the LED on your Midi Controller manually or you can try to hit a button which has an LED included. For some controllers, the code for the LED is identical to the code for the button but that’s not the case for all Controllers so you might have to experiment with different code numbers or get the codes from the manual. Once a code has been entered, you can hit Test so see if the desired LED turns on and off. Finally, you can click on Assign to decide when the LED should be turned on by the Radio.

6.3.FlexControl

UPDATE V1.3.5
The FlexRadio FlexControl™ tuning and control knob is supported by this App.

To configure FlexControl, just plug it into one of the USB sockets of your Mac. Next open the Tools → Controller → FlexControl menu.

Under Device: select the correct entry for the FlexControl. It will show up with names similar as shown above.

Use the Edit Mapping button to assign functions to the wheel and the three knobs.

The first time, the Mapping editor is empty.

To assign a function to a Button or Wheel, just click the button for which you want to assign a function or spin the Wheel.

The Button or Wheel will now show up in the Mapping Editor.

Next select the entry (if not already selected) and click on Edit at the top.

From here, you can use the Assign button for possible function assignments. Depending on the assignment, you can also select a Slice or other additional parameters.

You can repeat these steps for all Controls of the FlexControl individually.

Please note: You can assign three different functions for each button:

  1. For s single, regular click
  2. For a long press of the button
  3. For a double click of the button

This is also possible for the wheel, which can also be pressed.

The three LEDs of the FlexControl can also be assigned (e.g. to light when MOX is on). For this, just use the + Icon at the top of the Mapping Editor and select LED.

Do remove (unassign) a Mapping, just select the Control you wish to delete and click the top trashcan Icon.

6.4.Network Stats

This Tool can help to analyze network issues.

It displays information about the network traffic from and to your Radio.

Also the IP Addresses of your Radio and your Mac will be displayed.

Internet RTT is the Rount-Trip-Time (the time to the server and back) to a server on the Internet. This value should be lower than 30 – 50ms. Higher values indicate general issues with your network connection. However, this value is only important for Call Lookups over the internet and in case you are using SmartLink.

Radio RTT is the Round-Trip-Time to your Radio. These should be below 20ms on local networks. However, this value should always be lower or at least equal than the Internet RTT. If this value is significantly higher (e.g. 1.5 or twice as high as your Internet RTT) there are issues with your local network (e.g. wrong LAN Cables or wrong FullDuplex/HalfDuplex network settings etc.)

The Radio Latency is the time your Radio answers to Commands. This value should be similar to the Radio RTT. If this value is significantly higher (e.g. 1.5 or twice as high as your Radio RTT) your Radio is responding very slow and you may want to try to Power Cycle your Radio.

The Radio Packets section shows the number of packets received for certain packet types along with the Error count and percentage.

If the number of Packets remains zero even after you are connected (and even when there are reasonable RTT and Latency values), there will be issues with the Radio UDP communication.

A certain Error percentage (1-5%) is normal and usually covered by the automatic error correction and often not even noticeable. Errors may even temporary happen if the device is too busy (e.g. while temporary switching to another App). However, continuous Errors might be an indication of network issues.

You may also want to monitor the Error rate while you are transmitting. If the rate goes up while transmitting, you likely have an EMC problem.

The Reset button at the top can be used to set the error counter to zero which is useful to see if there are any changes after changing some settings.

6.5.Band Plan

The Band Plan tool provides a frequency overview of all HF HAM Bands for your particular region as well as the modes and maximum bandwidth as suggested by the IARU.

PLEASE NOTE: You need to select your particular IARU region under SmartSDR → Preferences in order to see the correct Band Plan for your region.

Inside the Band Plan tool, you can click on a box for details about this section of the band.

The Setting menu at the top allows you to select, whether or not, the Band limits and modes should be visible within the Panadapter as seen below:

band-limits

The “10 Meter >” information represents the Band limits information and the colored line represent the various modes like CW (green), Digimodes (blue), Narrow modes (Cyan), All modes (red), Satellite (yellow), others such as Beacons or guard channels (gray).

 

6.6.Call lookup

The Call lookup Tool can be used to learn more about a certain callsign.

After entering the Callsign in the top entry field, Basic information like Country, DXCC, CQ- and ITU-Zone will be displayed immediately. This information comes from an internal Database of the App which will be updated from time to time.

For more detailed information like the name, exact location or even Email address, you can use one of the integrated call lookup services like HamQTH or QRZ.com. If you have an account on one or both of these services, please enter your account information under SmartSDR → Preference → Ham. In that case, you can use the HamQTH or QRZ.com lookup buttons for best results and most convenient display. If you don’t have accounts for these services, you can at least use the View on QRZ.com button which will show the QRZ.com website for the particular callsign.

6.7.DX Cluster

The DX-Cluster Tool connects to any of several pre-defined worldwide DX-Cluster Databases or even your local CW-Skimmer and displays results (Spots) directly on the Panadapter or let’s you directly jump to the frequency of a particular Spot by just tapping on an entry in the list.

After starting the DX-Cluster Tool, you need to click on Start to start querying the selected DX-Cluster server.

If you double-click on a line in this list, the panadapter and currently selected slice will be tuned to the frequency of this spot.

If you select a line and click on Details (or right click and select Show Details), you will see more details about the Spotter and Call.

Clicking on the Filter Icon at the top will show the various Filter options:

As stated at the bottom of the screen, you can not only enter a single but multiple values in the fields, separated by comma.

At the top of this screen, you can either enable or disable these filters.

The Settings (gear) Icon will let you alter several options of the DX-Cluster Tool. From here, you can select a one of the predefined servers or add your own by clicking the Add button.

Map

You can either see all current DX-Cluster entries on a Map by clicking the icon at the top.

You can also click on “Show on Map” on the details view of a DX-Cluster Spot line. From here, you can also see your distance and bearing to the Spot.

6.8.PSK Reporter

UPDATE V1.4.6

PSK Reporter is a great automatic propagation reporter for digital modes, including FT8 / FT4.

You can use PSK Reporter to get an almost instant idea about the current DX conditions and who is able to copy you around the world.

This App integrates PSK Reporter in two ways.

Submitting PSK Reporter spots

PSK Reporter lives from the fact that many HAMs are contributing their reception reports to PSK Reporter. This App can automatically send FT8 reports to PSK reporter when enabled (under Settings inside the FT8 Tool or the PSK Reporter Tool).

If enabled, a list of received FT8/FT4 signals will be submitted to PSK Reporter every five minutes. Except for the information about your antenna (which is optional), nothing else has to be configured.

Viewing PSK Reporter results

The opposite side of PSK Reporter is to view a list of all stations who received your signal. This is, what the PSK Reporter Tool is for.

To get a report of stations that are able to copy you, first have a QSO or a test transmission on a band you are interested in. Next open this Tool and enter your callsign at the top of the window (it not already per-filled) and click on the start button.

It may take up to 10 minutes after your transmission until you will see your results. This is because every contributing listener will update their reports every five minutes and it is not possible to download reports from PSK Reporter sooner than every 5 minutes as well. If you would request an update sooner than after five minutes, you will see an according message at the bottom of this window.

You can narrow down the results by selecting a Mode and Time at the top.

You can also get more details about a spot by right clicking the line or selecting a line and clicking on details at the top.

You can also visualize all locations on a map by switching to the map mode using the Icon at the top.

 

6.9.Logbook

The included Logbook was implemented with the idea in mind to offer a quick and easy logging feature to this App which should already provide all basic requirements for day to day logging.

If you are running SmartSDR for Mac or SmartSDR for iOS on different devices, the logbook can be automatically synchronized between all devices.

In addition, you can Export (and import) ADIF files to exchange logbook contents to (or from) other logbook software.

After starting the Logbook tool you will see your last logs in reverse order (last at top).

You can click on the column headers to change the sorting of the list. Clicking again will reverse sorting.

To edit an already logged QSO, just select the line and click on edit or double-click the line.

From here, you can alter all fields of the log manually or let them be filled using the HamQTH or QRZ.com lookup feature.

There are several settings for customizing the logbook.

Under Contest, you can let the logging Tool automatically generate text for the RST entries.

UPDATE V1.4.1

If you are using another Logging Program simultaneously which supports UDP log broadcast such as N1MM or Log4OM, you can enable UDP Broadcast submission.

If enabled, whenever you are adding a new Log entry, this log entry will be submitted simultaneously to the other Logging program. In addition, there is a “UDP Broadcast” button on the Log detail screen which can be used to submit any older or amended log entry as well.

For UDP Log transmission, you need to enter the IP Address of the PC/Mac where your other Logging program is running and the required UDP Port. If the program is running on the same Mac, just enter 127.0.0.1 as IP Address.

Unfortunately, there are different standards for submitting Lug entries via UDP. This App supports two different standards:

  1. For N1MM or Log4OM

This standard is understood by N1MM or Log4OM and others, mainly PC based logging programs.

  1. WSJT-X format

This standard is used by WSJT-X. Every logging software that can receive WSJT-X UDP logging information can be used.

The ports that need to be used for each standard depends on the Logging program. Some will let you enter an individual port number, some have a fixed port number. In any case, the port number used by the logging software needs to be identical to the port entered here.

When clicking the Test button, a sample log entry will be submitted so you can verify if the log entry will be received in your logging program.

The Utilities button will allow to Import or Export your logbook.

The Update logbook data feature will go through each single logbook entry and add missing data automatically based on the following settings:

This way, you can populate Names, QTHs Country etc. of your QSO partner automatically after you have finished several QSOs.

Logging a QSO

For logging a new QSO, you have a couple of options:

  • From the Logging Tool, click on (+) Add
  • From the left Panadapter Menu, click on “Log”
  • At any Panadapter, press Option-Command-L
  • The FT8 Tool will open the logging Window after finishing a QSO

The displayed logging Windows will be pre-populated with values based on the current TX Slice:

You just need to enter the Callsign of your QSO partner and hit enter (or Tab to add or alter other fields).

 

 

6.10.FT8

This tool allows to use and operate the popular FT8 and FT4 mode, invented by Nobel prize winner Joe Taylor, K1JT.

The screen above shows a typical FT8 QSO.

Foreword (please read)

I met Joe at the Dayton FlexRadio Banquet in 2019. His speech inspired me to add this feature first to my iOS App. It took me some time to understand his way of encoding and decoding the FT8 messages and I learned a lot about FFT (fast Fourier transformation). Now, this Mac App also contains a full featured FT8/FT4 Tool.

Thanks  to all testers who provided valuable feedback and who helped to make this feature possible. But a special thanks to Joe Taylor who brought us this wonderful mode.

Requirements / Features

FlexRadio firmware Version 2.5 is a minimum requirement to run this FT8 tool.

So far, the App only supports FT4 and FT8. Also, no Contest or DX-Pedition mode is supported. It just supports standard QSO’s which are about 95% of all FT4 and FT8 QSOs.

The App supports AUTO mode to automatically generate answer messages based on received messages. It also supports Auto Logging and prompts to log a QSO with all entries pre-filled based on the recent QSO. Worked before Calls will be marked to prevent working them again. CQ Calls will also be displayed on the Panadapter just like DX-Cluster Spots.

How to use

My approach was to offer FT8 with minimal or no configuration and operation effort. If you are already familiar with WSJT-X, you will immediately know how to operate in FT8 with my App. If you have never worked FT8 before or found it too complicated, just read the following basics and you should be set.

My hope is, to encourage more HAMs to join this fantastic new way to get in contact with each other by providing a simple and easy to use FT8 tool. Even if you found FT8 too complicated in the past, just give it a try with this tool. No cable fiddling, audio interfaces, strange settings or CAT commands.

Just open this tool and start your first FT8 QSO.

A few FT8 Basics

A typical FT8 QSO starts by somebody (say K1CQ) calling CQ, next somebody like you (say DC1ME) is answering. Both will then exchange their signal reports and optionally end the QSO by saying 73.

Here is how it typically looks like:

Caller You Meaning
CQ K1CQ EN61 K1CQ is Calling CQ. His Grid locator is EN61
K1CQ DC1ME JO12 You are replying to him with your Grid locator
DC1ME K1CQ -11 K1CQ responds to you with a signal report
K1CQ DC1ME R-10 You, confirming his report and send your own report

Now, there are two typical options:

Option 1 (the fastest and more common):

DC1ME K1CQ RR73 K1CQ confirmed the reception of your report and says best regards. The QSO is done now. No need to respond again.

Option 2 (more polite option which takes longer):

DC1ME K1CQ RRR K1CQ confirmed the reception of your report.
K1CQ DC1ME 73 You say best regards.
DC1ME K1CQ 73 K1CQ send his best regards and the QSO is done.

If you would like to call CQ yourself instead, the procedure is the same. Just swap the Callsigns in the above table.

These so-called FT8 messages cannot be longer than 13 Characters. It takes 13 seconds to transfer these messages and they will be exchanged every 15 seconds. Thus, there can be 4 messages per minute. When sending at second zero or 30 it is called “even” or “first”. When sending at second 15 or 45, it is called “odd”.

Besides these aforementioned typical QSO messages, there is additional information that will be added to messages in Contests Mode or DXpedition mode. These modes are not supported by this FT8 tool.

CQ Callers may also add either DX or the desired destination to their CQ message if they just want to get an answer from certain stations.

For example:

CQ DX K1CQ EN61 K1CQ just wants to have DX QSOs
CQ JA K1CQ EN61 K1CQ just want to have contact with Japan

And that’s pretty much it. That’s all you need to know to operate in FT8 with this App.

If you want to learn more, just head to G4IFBs website which includes a fantastic FT8 Operating guide, written by Gary Hinson, ZL2IFB : www.g4ifb.com which is also available in other languages.

Using the FT8 tool

You can start the FT8 Tool from the menu as usual.

At the top of the Tool screen, you can select the DAX Channel which should be used for FT8 and you can show a Map which shows the locations of the received stations.

There are two window parts, the Receive Windows with the blue header and the Transmit Windows with the red header. Both are explained more in details below.

Quick start

If you can’t wait and have no time to read further, the following sequence will perform a quick FT8 qso:

  • Select a Frequency (next of the RX Button)
  • Click on RX and wait until the list fills
  • Double-click on any of the entries of the list
  • .. and wait, the whole QSO will be completed automatically and ending with the logging window as shown below:

… if all goes well of course. But there can be situations where something goes wrong or you want to call CQ yourself. The following chapters will describe everything more  in detail.

The Receive Window

On the left side (or the top half, if you switched to the flip view under settings) you will see the RX window with the blue header.

All received Messages are displayed on this part of the screen. The following colors are being used:

  • Green background: Somebody is calling CQ
  • Gray background: You already worked that station
  • Red background: your callsign appears in that message
The RX Button

To start the FT8 mode, you will need to be connected to your Radio and to click on the RX button in the upper left corner.

The Frequency selection

If you click on the Frequency selection next to the RX button, you can select the Band or Frequency you want to operate. These Frequencies are fixed and you should only operate on these predefined frequencies.

PLEASE NOTE: The frequencies may differ depending on your location so please ensure that you set the correct IARU Region in the Preferences for the location from where you want to operate.

Please also ensure that you did set your Callsign and your Grid (QTH) locator under SmartSDR → Preferences.

Once you hit RX, the Radio will not just tune to the right frequency. Also, all necessary parameters such as Mode, DAX, DAX Channel, Bandwidth etc.) will be set automatically.

After at least 15 seconds, you may see the first FT8 conversations in the upper receiving part of the screen.

FT8 / FT4

Use these buttons to switch between FT8 and FT4

AUTO

Because QSOs are standardized in FT8 (except for the two options to finish a QSO either by RRR or RR73), FT8 QSOs can be automated.

Whenever a message has been received, it the App knows which message needs to be sent next.

If you turn on the AUTO button at the top (make it blue), the App will automatically select the next message to be sent depending on the received message (even in case of an RRR or RR73) and sent the appropriate message automatically in the next transmission phase.

If you need more flexibility or want to finish a broken QSO, just turn off AUTO and select the message you like to be send.

If you select Message 9 {Individual}, you can even enter anything else as message which you would like to send.

Filter

On a busy frequency, the receive list can quickly get full and you may easily miss some interesting calls. The App provides a filter, described more in details later, to limit the number of calls in the list. Clicking the Filter Icon will toggle activation of the filter with immediate effect to the list below.

Panadapter

The Panadapter button will bring the corresponding panadapter window to the front.

On the panadapter, you can watch the band activity and can easily select a free Frequency if you like to call CQ or answer somebody on a different frequency (Split). For this, just right click on the waterfall at the desired location (frequency) and select Set FT8 TX Frequency or RX Frequency.

Erase

Clicking the Erase button once, will clear the TX Window (described below) and all QSO fields like DX and Report. A double-click will also clear the RX Window.

You may want to use this Button, once you have finished a QSO for example.

Clicking on an entry of the list

If you click on an entry of the receiving list, Frequency, the odd/even setting, the Callsign and dB report will be transferred to the TX Window (see below).

If you would double-click on the line, in addition, the TX button will be enabled so you will automatically start your transmission at the next odd or even slot.

The Transmit Window

The list in this window contains all your sent messages in yellow and marked with “TX” instead of a dB value.

In addition, it contains all messages that have been received on your RX frequency or messages that are containing your callsign.

This way, you can better focus on your QSO partner and will also see if somebody else is transmitting on the same frequency so you can interrupt your QSO or transmission.

TX

If you click on this button, transmission will start at the next odd- or even- time slot. If active, the button has a blue background, if you are currently transmitting, the button is red, otherwise it is gray, indicating a listen only mode.

Odd/Even

FT8/FT4 messages can either be sent at an even- or odd time slot. The other station is receiving and transmitting at the opposite time slot. This button indicates your transmission time slot. You can hit the button to change from even to odd or vice verse. If you are not in CQ mode and answering somebody from the receiving list by clicking (or double clicking) on an entry from the receiving list, this button will be set automatically (to the opposite of the calling station you clicked). So normally, you will only need this button if you are calling CQ yourself and want to start calling either in the even- or odd time slot. If the frequency is free, it is common to start in the even slot but that’s up to you.

The colors for odd (green) and even (blue) are corresponding with the colors of the UTC time in the lists.

RX: TX: Frequencies

The two entry fields are used to enter your RX and TX frequency in Hz relative to the Slice frequency. The values usually ranges from 100 to 2900 Hz.

If you click on a line in the receive list, the frequencies will be taken over from the line you have clicked.

However, you can manually enter different values or use the buttons =TX which will use the current TX Frequency as TX Frequency or the =RX button which will do the opposite.

If the blue Lock button shows a closed lock, TX and RX frequencies will always be equal, which is the regular operating mode.

However, if the receiving station can’t hear you, you can switch to a different TX frequency. For this, just hit the lock Icon to change it to the unlocked state. You can then either enter another frequency or more conveniently select the TX frequency from the Panadapter as explained before under Panadapter.

DX

This field is for the Callsign of the other station and will be pre-filled when clicking on an entry of the receiving list.

Report

This field is the dB report of the other station which will also be pre-filled.

CQ

Using this button, you can switch between CQ mode or answering mode. A blue button indicates the activated CQ mode.

Message selection

Right from the CQ button, you can select a message which will be sent in the next odd or even slot.

If you are in AUTO mode, you usually don’t need to change this message, only if you are in manual mode or want to correct / repeat a previously wrong interpreted or received message.

The “Short Messages (no grid) will no longer start with the message which includes your QTH locator (grid) and instead starts with the report message.

LOG

Hitting the LOG button will open the logging window with all fields already pre-filled.

This button is not needed if you have enabled “Auto log after QSO” in the Settings of this FT8 Tool.

General Settings

Most of these settings are self explanatory or you can just try them and will see what they do.

Using a higher decoding level may decode more stations but will also require more CPU time and is usually not necessary.

When TXing either while answering somebody else’s CQ or calling CQ yourself, the Max. TX retries value defines the number of tries so that you will not end up in an endless loop.

Filter Settings

The filter settings help to reduce the number of lines in the receiving list. The filter can be enabled or disabled by clicking on the Filter Icon of the Receiving window.

 

7.Attachment

7.1.USB Serial Cable

You can use a USB Serial cable to connect a CW Key or Paddles to the Mac. The same cable can also be used to connect a foot switch for PTT activation.

The supported cable is the same cable supported by FlexRadio as USB CAT cable for the Radio and is called

FTDI USB to Serial Cable DB9M (UT232R-200)

Unfortunately, the driver installation under macOS is a bit cumbersome and requires using the terminal.

IMPORTANT: There are two type of drivers. Don’t install the VCP drivers.The D2XX Drivers are the correct drivers. SO PLEASE SKIP THE FIRST SECTION OF THE INSTALLATION GUIDE AND START WITH SECTION 3.3.

For driver installation, please follow this Mac OS X Installation Guide – FTDI Chip which can be found on the official FTDI website.

The drivers can be downloaded from here:

D2XX Drivers

There is also a video explaining how to install the drivers:

Video install guide (you don’t need to install the samples described in the video)

After the driver is installed, it should appear in Apples System Information App under USB:

The UT232R entry here indicates that the driver is installed correct.

Once that’s the case, you will be able to select this Cable from the Tools → CW Keyer menu.

Wiring

The FTDI USB Serial cable uses a DB9 male plug.

Connecting a Paddle:

The common cable of the paddle needs to be connected to pin 7 which is the RTS pin.

The left (dit) paddle needs to be connected to pin 8 which is the CTS pin.

The right (dah) paddle needs to be connected to pin 1 which is DCD

Connecting a Straight key or foot switch:

A Straight key or foot switch needs to be connected to pin 7 (RTS) and either pin 8 (CTS) or pin 1 (DCD). Both ways will work.

 

 

8.Common issues

Clicking noise while receiving

If you are on WiFi or have a slow network connection then you may hear clicking noise. This can be fixed by increasing the buffer settings in the top audio menu (gear icon at the top).

If that doesn’t cure your problem, try (at least temporary) a LAN connection for your Mac to see if that makes a difference. If that’s the case, you may want to look for improvements of your WiFi network.

Chances are, that you can improve the WiFi experience by limiting your WiFi to 5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz because 2.4GHz shares it’s frequency with bluetooth.

Not possible to create Slices or Panadapters at all

If you can’t create any Slice or any Panadapter, you may upgrade your Radio License. You can only run a Firmware version for which your Radio has been licensed. For example, if your Radio is only licensed for Firmware Version 2, you can not run Firmware Version 3. If you would install Firmware Version 3 in that case, you won’t be able to create Slices. Re-installing Firmware Version 2 (or Version 1) will allow you to create Slices again.

You can find out the License of your Radio by looking at the Radio Info screen which can be opened from the “Available Radios” screen and clicking on the Info button. The line “Max Licensed Version” will tell you about the license level.

If you wish to upgrade to a higher Version, please contact FlexRadio directly for assistance.

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