Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pimp My Ride

Here some features that are kind of fluffy but useful. They add to the usability of the program in a working radio station. One real advantage of the PowerSDR system is the ability to act as the nerve center of your radio station. Through DDUTIL you have multiple avenues of access in and out of the system both physically and through other software, but with all these lines of data you need to be able to sort things out. Here are some examples of how you can change appearance or organize data to make your radio more responsive to your particular needs.

You can customize the way PowerSDR looks. Here is an example

This is one ugly console. Why would you ever bother? I have both a Flex 5000 and an SDR-1000. On occasion I start up both consoles. It is VERY useful to have for example the panadapter background color different in the 2 consoles. If you are color blind there might be certain contrasts that make the console more readable as another example. As the interface advances we expect to be able to "skin" the console. That means you could devise a custom console that has the controls laid out in a way that suits your operation and show only the controls you need to control, for example in a contest situation you could have a custom contest console. Or you might want to script a button on your radio that does multiple things. We are not there yet with this concept, but the ease of modify-ability is shown in the following screens. The way the console is coded now, each control has associated with it a whole bunch of code. In the new architecture the console will basically be more like a browser that has hooks or links to the parts of the program that need to be addressed when that button is pushed. This will make it MUCH easier to modify the look and functionality of the program.

Here are the screen shots of the setup screens

Pretty much everything is customizable, INCLUDING how the meter is displayed. The meter can have the edge meter that is shown or there is another meter that is like a bar graph.

I used to customize my consoles all the time, but with the beta testing every time I reset the database I have to go and poke new data into the DB, so I pretty much run stock.

There is a feature that was written by K9DUR to migrate data between data bases, so its easier than just sitting there poking in new values, but I'm lazy.

Control variables for PowerSDR reside in an Access database. Here is a copy of a page from the Flex Knowledge Center regarding how the database is setup and how it affects the radio's behavior

PowerSDR 1.x Access Database Table Descriptions

PowerSDR 1.x Access Database Table Descriptions

System Dependencies
Minimum PowerSDR Version:
1.8.0 (later versions have different table structures)
Applicable Hardware: N/A

Content provided by: FlexRadio Systems Engineering

PowerSDR 1.x maintains all configuration information in an Access database. This database has a series of tables that organize system parameters, radio state and other configuration information for your hardware and software preferences. Normally, this database never needs to be manually modified, but on occasion, you may want to transfer a table from an old database to a new database using the Database Table Migration Tool.

NOTICE: the Database Table Migration Utility has been discontinued and is no longer supported by the author. It has been superseded by the PowerSDR Data Transfer Utility. It has improved logic that only migrates database tables and records that are safe to move.

PowerSDR version: pre 1.10.0

Figure 1. Table Display of PowerSDR.mdb

Below is a description of the tables found in powersdr.mdb

1.) BandStack - BandStack Register Settings
This table contains all of the data contained to operate the bandstack registers. such as Frequency, mode and filter settings.

Table Migration Potential: High

2.) BandText - Band Plan Frequency Descriptions
The data in this table is used to display the VFO text display that defines frequency band plans. A frequency range is defined and a name is associated with the frequency range. Frequency ranges cannot overlap in the band text table. If they do, they will not display properly under the VFO.

Table Migration Potential: High

3.) CWX - CW Keyer Parameters
The CWX table contains all of the keyer parameters and the predefined text strings that are converted into CW

Table Migration Potential: Very High

4.) EQForm - EQ Parameter Settings
This table contains the EQ settings for transmit and receive equalizers.

Table Migration Potential: Very High

5.) FWCAnt - Firewire Controller Antenna Switching Data
This is a FLEX-5000 specific table to control the Firewire based antenna port switching.

Table Migration Potential: Medium High

6.) FWCATU - Firewire Controller ATU Data
This is a FLEX-5000 specific table to control the Firewire based automatic antenna tuning unit (ATU).

Table Migration Potential: Medium High

7.) FWCMixer - Firewire Controller Audio Mixer Data
This is a FLEX-5000 specific table to control the Firewire based audio mixer.

Table Migration Potential: Medium High

8.) FWCTest - Firewire Controller Test
This is a FLEX-5000 specific table to test the Firewire controller. This table is used for development only.

Table Migration Potential: Low

9.) GroupList - Group Definitions
Defines the Groups Used with the Memory Channels by storing the group ID and the name associated with the ID.

Table Migration Potential: Very High

10.) HLFWC (Not Used, for Firewire system test only)
This is a table used by development only and contains no user or radio specific information.

Table Migration Potential: Very Low to none

11.) Memory - Memory Channel Data
The Memory table contains all of the information to store a frequency memory channel such as frequency, group ID, mode, filter settings and text information to identify what the channel is used for.

Table Migration Potential: Very High

12.) Options - PowerSDR Internal Configuration Options
USE CAUTION modifying this table! It could result in damage to your radio. Modify this table or import it into another database only if explicitly directed to by FlexRadio Systems support.

This table contains all of the internal configuration information for the sound card, DSP settings, radio alignment data and other version and radio specific information. This is the table that you want PowerSDR to manage so that the most optimal and proper default settings are configured for the specific version of PowerSDR you are running.

Table Migration Potential: Very low to none

13.) ProdTest (Not Used)
The ProdTest table used by development only and contains no user or radio specific information.

Table Migration Potential: Very low to none

14.) State - System State Data
Information in this table saves the current operating settings (or radio state) from PowerSDR. This is an extensive table of information and should not be manually manipulated.

Table Migration Potential: Low to Medium

15.) TXProfiles - Transmit Profile Parameters
The TXProfiles is a popular table to migrate. This table contain all of the information used to define your different TX profiles.

Table Migration Potential: Very High

16.) UCB - Universal Controller Board Options
This table contains all of the setup information for using the Universial Controller board.

Table Migration Potential: High

17.) WaveOptions - PowerSDR Audio Recorder Settings
The WaveOptions table contains the parameters for Recording and playing back wave files in PowerSDR using the Wave option in the menu bar.

Table Migration Potential: High

18.) XVTR - Transverter Parameter Settings
This table contains all of the transverter setup parameters.

Table Migration Potential: High

So there you have it, to pimp your ride you need to pimp your database. A lot of this can be done from the setup panel, but you can also customize the behavior depending on your desire to adventure into changing the radio. For example lets say you want to have 6 band stack registers instead of 3. You can simply modify the database to 6.

You can for example edit the Memory categories to organize your memories around different modes or groups or comments:

Lets say you want to add a catagory called DRM for digital radio monodale radio stations to the Group field, you can do that in the database.

The memory screen looks like this

You can change the way the data is listed for these station according to any of the parameters like mode or freq or group etc. I considered adding a group called NASA, since I live ten miles from Kennedy Space Center that would include all the NASA launch and range safety freq, but I haven't gotten there yet. It would be fun to be able to scroll through the NASA freqs (there are over 100) and see if I could pick up some of the launch and range safety communications.

There are more pimp features to talk about, but this is enough to give you a flavor of the customization of the radio, and the ease with which that can be accomplished.