I spent some time with the new SO2R setup on 160m this weekend. You may ask how can you runs SO2R on the same band? The answer is two receivers. With DDUTIL set up like this:
Note the 160M entries
I'm using the same amp and the same antenna for both VFO's. In order to get this to work I needed to parallel the AmpKey outputs from the F5K into my amp. All of AmpKey ports come out to a patch panel, and all the Key ports from my amps come out to the same panel, so it was a simple matter to parallel a 2 into 1 cable made with 1/4" phone jacks to get the amp to key on either VFO. As you can see the way I have it set up I have the "RUN" station set up on VFO B (the upper N1MM screen) and I have the Search and Pounce station set up on VFO A. VFO A is controlled by Skimmer and N1MM and is the lower N1MM screen. This way I can be calling CQ and click either the band map or Skimmer and the radio switches to VFO A.
Presently the N1MM band map data is being fed from data decoded by Skimmer over the local host telnet connection 127.0.0.1:7300
I can also feed the band map in N1MM from the telnet connection I have to the W9AZ DX cluster connection, but I wanted to see how well the Skimmer:N1MM pair would work. The advantage is if you click the band map in N1MM, what ever call sign you click is cued up and that call is entered into a precontact area on the N1MM data entry port (in this case LZ2UZ)
once you grab the contact you simply click the call sign:
and you are ready to plug the data into the log book and immediately click back to the RUN VFO to continue CQ-ing
I have the audio for both VFO's in the head phones
Running this mode is not quite second nature yet, but I can nearly do two things at once. THe disadvantage of Skimmer is that it is not 100% perfect in its deciphering of CW so you can't just blindly click the button You have to make sure what you are logging is accurate, but you have to do that anyway in a contest. It's a very slick little interface even when looking for multipliers while running the CQ machine, and you can get 1500W on the wire all over the band. The rules for single op assisted class state:
Only one transmitted signal is allowed at any moment in time. Maximum power is 1500 watts total output or the output power allowed by your country, whichever is less.
Passive spotting is allowed. Passive Spotting is defined as (but not limited to): DX spotting nets or QSO alerting assistance of any kind. Over-the-air nets or stations that provide frequency and station information. Any device or person that provides frequency and callsign information of any station during the contest period. This includes band skimmers or similar devices. Passive spotting does NOT include band scopes, SDR receivers, or the like, which provide no information about the signal other than its presence, which is allowed in all categories.
I'm just playing with this contest to see how the SO2R system works in real contest conditions. For this contest you do NOT need a freq agile amp of freq agile band switches since everything is taking place on the same band. You don't even need 2 amps. What you get are more contacts and more multipliers in the log since you can effectively be 2 places at once
Tonight I have a completed Flex 5000 SO2R radio on the air!!! To run SO2R requires the second receiver installed in the F5K
Here is a screen shot of my screen real estate:
What you see is PowerSDR, CW SKimmer, DX Lab, DDUTIL, and N1MM all interconnected.
I am running 5 antennas. The CQ (run) station is on 40M and is controlled by VFO B. When VFO B is active power is directed out of Antenna port 1, into my AL80B and then into my Johnson Matchbox to a 130Ft flat top at 55ft.
VFO A controls the Search and Pounce station. When VFO A is active power is directed out Ant port 2 on the F5K to my Ameritron ALS-1300 amp which then goes to an Ameritron RCS-4 antenna switch. To this antenna switch is connected 4 antennas that cover 5 bands 160, 80, 40, 30, and 20. I modified the controller for this switch such that it band follows to whatever band VFO A is on. The ALS-1300 also band follows via Ameritrons ARI-500. BCD data is taken off a LPT printer port to control the band following feature.
For a contest interface I am using the formidible N1MM contest software. N1MM allows VFO focus to be shifted between VFO A or VFO B either by clicking on the band map, or by a keyboard combination (CTL <--- or--->) Which makes it very convenient to change from CQing on 40M to search and pounce on any of the other 5 bands. I am able to CQ and Search and Pounce on 40M using both antennas on that band, but I can't transmit simultaneously, but then contest rules usually forbid simultaneous transmission in a single OP station anyway to this set up by its definition complies with the rules.
To get this to work I needed to add one $19 BCD decoder board from Unified Microsystems, and add some hardware to my RCD-4 to make it auto switching, using s few micro relays I had in the junk box, and a couple trips to Radio Shack to get a 25 pin and a 9 pin sub D. Basically the cost of building this therefore is the cost of the F5K plus receiver, plus $19 bux.
All of the programs interact via the magic of DDUTIL. Steve K5FR the author of DDUTIL and I have spent the past 4 weeks wringing this out. It has been an enjoyable collaboration. Here is a screen shot of the DDUTIL SO2R screen
The program allows up to two banks of 10 antennas to be independently addressed by VFO A and VFO B. In addition if you had 2 frequency agile amps, for example if you had 2 ALS-1300's and 2 freq agile antenna switches (like my modified RCS-4) both amps and antennas would be automatically and fully controlled by the setting of VFO A or VFO B.
My ALS-1300 will make 1200W with far less than the 100W of drive available from the F5K so DDUTIL will set the power automatically to what ever you want. As you can see I have variable drive levels set up under VFO A. 20M has a high SWR probably due to the cold snap so I have the drive reduced to keep the amp within its operating characteristic. I can turn on what ever bands I want for each VFO, using the check box. Bands not used even if they are accidently chosen form the radio have their power setting set to zero output if the box is not checked. I have the 3's and 4's in the boxes so I can watch the numbers change as I run through the band settings for testing. But even if I tried to transmit the radio would put out zero watts as a safety feature.
You can see that two LPT ports can be addressed and two band data cards can be addressed. In addition Steve has added a Foot Switch, that operates over a serial port. If you short pins 4 and 8 together with a switch on a DB9 the VFO's will switch focus no matter what windows program you have in focus.
The R1-TX R2-TX fields allow you to choose the antenna ports on the F5K you wish to use. In my case VFO A is connected to port 2 for both TX and RX and VFO B is connected to port 1. If I wanted to use a specific 160M RX antenna that was connected to antenna port 3 for example I would just substitute a 3 for the 2 in the VFO A 160 line of the program and my R1 antenna would then be port 3 and I would TX on port 2. All antenna ports on the F5K that are normally accessible (123 RX1 RX2 RXtap etc) are accessible from this matrix. There is also an AmpKey line choice available. The F5K allows for up to 3 amps to be independently switched via 3 jacks on the back of the radio. This field allows you to choose which amp keys with a given VFO.
We had to kludge the interface a bit to make N1MM work. We are using the K3 interface in N1MM which is sub optimal but it is the only one that we could get to work without doing a ton of programming gymnastics. I hope we can get a Flex specific interface for that program, which would cut down on the overhead and improve on the functionality.
Freq can be chosen in the following manner from PSDR You will note that when the red TX box is chosen below VFO A the correct antennas are chosen in R1 and TX
Switching to VFO B the correct antannas are once again chosen for R2 and TX
In N1MM you can chose the CQ freq in VFO B and be working a run on VFO B by choosing the little green RU icon on the far left upper data entry screen of N1MM
In this shot I am working K5FR on the 40M CQ freq and ready to log him. Note the log is visible just above the top data entry screen. The VFO focus is VFO B (note the red TX box under VFO B in PSDR) and I notice that VQ0LA is in the VFO A band map.
I log K5FR (note he is in the log for 40M) and I click VQ0LA in the VFO A band map. The VFO focus automatically changes the antennas change to the correct path and I am ready to work VQ0LA
Once he is in the log I switch back to the 40M run freq for the next contact. (Check the log and check the red TX box under VFO B, once again I am on 40M ready to rock and roll)
I can monitor SpotCollector and see there is one on 160 UY0ZG I could use
I double click that line in SpotCollector
and VFO A is changed to 160, my amp changes to 160, my 160M antenna is chosen, and UY0ZG is loaded into the data collector for VFO A in N1MM
I work him and he's in the log and I switch back to 40 M to continue the run
I notice WA3CKA on Skimmer and decide to work him Search and Pounce so I click skimmer and my VFO A switches to 40M my amp follows to 40M and my antenna switch selects my 40M vertical. Note my 40M run station has not changed I now have both the SnP AND the run station on 40M, but on different freqs
I enter WA3CKA in the data box for VFO A, work him and log him and switch back to VFO B ready to CQ once again
So there you have it!! This is not a robot. It is very skill driven. But instead of spending your time switching antennas and such you spend your time searching out QSO and multipliers.
The F5K has built in the requisite audio management so you can listen to R1 and R2 across the stereo spectrum Using PAN and the two RX volume controls you can make thing show up in your ears the way you like it. There is also a mute control that will allow you to mute RX2 when working a SnP with RX1 if you find that aids in reducing confusion. The keyer and Mic automatically follows VFO focus as does any voice keyer you might be using.
So that's where we stand today. Of course this is the first iteration and like any system it bears honing. There are some things to add like better communication between N1MM and DDUTIL and perhaps some additional controls. For example N1MM allows XIT and RIT and some variation in filter selection, which we presently can not access given the way we have the interface set up. The K3 interface is a highly modified dialect of Kenwood, and Flex also has a highly modified dialect. The Kenwood CAT command set was developed 15 years ago and contains not that many commands where as PSDR has close to 150 CAT commands available, so it would be nice to integrate more completely with a native interface instead of a kludey hack.
There will be more to follow. We need to document better how to set these features up in DDUTIL, but if I can do it, it's not that difficult. We will try to get all that out there before the ARRL tests in Feb
Note you do NOT need to have frequency agile amps to run this setup. You can set this up for example for 2 bands lets say 40M run and 20M SnP with regular amps and it will work fine. You do not even need two amps, but you do need at least 2 antennas. The point is you can start small and this interface will allow you to grow your station over the years a little at a time, and allow you to hone your contest skills and make yourself into the best op you can be. Above all its all about radio fun. The interface is very versitile, and can be set up multiple ways. This is the way I decided to set it up for the equipment I own and my skill level.
I basically wrote this piece to show off the interface. I don't mean to get into the politics of contest purity at all. If you think a contest is all about a 75A4, a pair of 4-1000's and a Bug then have at it
Steve K5FR and I are working on developing a full fledged SO2R interface for the F5K. It's not quite ready for beta release but we are working through the bugs and its really taking shape
This is a screen shot of the DDUTIL interface. It will allow 2 separate paths of RF with 2 separate amps to be controlled and up to 20 antennas
Here is a logic diagram of the system
The system will allow very complicated stations to be constructed or very uncomplicated stations to be devised. It also can use a foot switch to change from the Run station to the Search and Pounce station. We are presently trying to interface N1MM as the contest interface
N1MM is nice because it has a lot of the SO2R logic already built in.
My present station consists of a F5K, an Ameritron ALS-1300 with a ARI-500 which allows me to change bands automatically using BCD data from DDUTIL, and a modified Ameritron antenna switch that can switch my antennas by BCD data from DDUTIL I call the ability to band follow antennas and amps "frequency agility" Presently that is working with the new interface. This half of the station will be the Search and Pounce "station". For the RUN station I can use one of my other amps. Since the run station doesn't change bands very often, there is no pressing need for that amp or even that antenna to be freq agile. To change bands you just hit the foot switch or hit a keyboard key combo and you toggle between search and pounce on one band and run on another band. N1MM allows you to import data from the cluster into the program and automatically stores the correct band mode call time date and exchange data for each band and does the dupe for you. You don't need freq agile equipment to use this interface. This interface is designed so that you can build a contest station over time, adding functionality.. You can start small but the sky (and your budget) is the limit.
We are also woring on including the ability to control other relays that will be able for example to add inductance to the base of a short 80M or 160M vertical thereby making that antenna broad banded, kind of a poor man's Steppir. Those relays would be controlled by freq so you would not have to manually choose the relays, the computer would do it
Further info will become available as we continue. There is a mountain of stuff to document, but we hope to be ready to go by the ARRL contest coming up on Feb 22. NO GUARANTEE we will get there but so far it looks promising but there are still challenges.
I have published extensively about the components needed. This mostly consists of one or two $19 decoder boards and the LPT port on the computer and a foot switch or push button switch. There is no requirement however to make everything automatic to use this set up. A couple of SB-220's and a few antennas like an 80, 40 and a tribander could be made to work, which was our goal. As time goes on you can add components and without a lot of rewiring keep honing the functionality of the station.
I thought I would put this out a little early so people could be thinking about how to set up their stations, and get their ham radio juices flowing, if they are interested. I think we can get this to the point where the F5K and a couple of decoder boards can replace a couple transceivers and the entire station management hardware that most SO2R operations require.
Steve Nance has written the code for this and I've added in some design and direction in terms of the system design. Steve has done a masterful job on this software. We have tried to make this all at once simple yet extremely powerful and expandable. This project points out the true power of SDR, SO2R for half the money
The Flex 5K was designed to operate as a virtual SO2R radio. SO2R stands for single operator twoi radios. Typically how a SO2R station works is you have 2 rigs that are joined together by some sequencing hardware and software. Usually the sequencing hardware switches the RX audio between rigs as well as telling the Key or the PTT which radio to transmit from. Most SO2R stations have multiple amps and multiple antennas as well. You set up radio A with Amp A and antenna A and radio B with Amp B and antenna B. Today there are frequency agile amps and freqency agile antenna switches, so you can technically just push the band switch to lets say 40M and your amp will switch to 40M and your antenna's coax switch will switch to 40M automatically. If you have 2 frequency agile amps and switches, you can technically have every thing set up automatically for the 2 radios in a SO2R station. Of course if you can push the band switch then you can have a program (like N1MM) push the band switch for you while you are logging contacts.
Here is a diagram of a typical SO2R setup:
The purpose of SO2R is to increase QSO rate in a contest You can be lining up a multiplier or a search and pounce QSO on one band while sending CQ on another. Here are the rules from the ARRL CW DX contest for single operator entries. 1 2.1.Single Operator: One person performs all transmitting, receiving, and logging functions as well as equipment and antenna adjustments.
2.1.1.Use of spotting assistance or nets (operating arrangements involving other individuals, DX-alerting nets, packet, Internet, multi-channel decoders such as CW Skimmer, etc) is not permitted.
2.1.2.Single-Operator stations are allowed only one transmitted signal at any given time.
2.1.3.Single Operators may be divided into subcategories based on power output:
184.108.40.206.QRP: 5-W PEP output or less.
220.127.116.11.Low Power: 150-W PEP output or less.
18.104.22.168.High Power: More than 150-W PEP output (see rule 1.3).
2.2.Single Operator Unlimited: One person performs all transmitting, receiving, and logging functions as well as equipment and antenna adjustments. (Note: See rule 22.214.171.124)
2.2.1.Use of spotting assistance or nets (operating arrangements involving other individuals, DX-alerting nets, packet, multi-channel decoders such as CW Skimmer, etc) not physically located at the station is permitted. (Exception: spotting information obtained from any source outside the station boundary via a closed or dedicated communication link may not be used.)
2.2.2.Single Operator Assisted stations are allowed only one transmitted signal at any given time, not including transmissions on a spotting net.
Notice I emboldened a relevant rule, only one transmitted signal at a time, so you can not be CQing on 2 bands at once, but you can alternately CQ on 2 bands. The F5K was designed to do exactly this as long as you have the second receiver installed. The F5K has 3 VFO's. One for receiver 1 (VFO A) one for receiver 2 (VFO B) and one for the transmitter (VFO TX). The F5K is unique since it has all three processes RX1, RX2, and TX running all the time. What this allows us to do is pair the VFO's.
You can pair the RX 1 like this (VFO A/VFO TX) or you can pair RX2 like this (VFO B/VFO TX). In PowerSDR there is a little box at the bottom of each VFO that is called TX. When TX is red in VFO A you are operating the (VFO A/VFO TX) pair. Note at the top of this shot you can see the antenna selector displayed. The antennas associated with this VFO pair R1-TX is 2,2. R2 is connected to antenna port 1
If you click the red box under VFO B you will be transmitting on the VFO B/VFO TX pair. If you click split, all three VFO's become independent and you can technically receive on two separate bands and transmit on a third.
Since the Flex has 2 VFO pairs but it is not truly 2 radios. Following the N1MM convention we will call this kind of operation SO2V for single op 2 VFO pairs. I chose this moniker because it is the convention used in the N1MM contesting software, and I think therefore its less confusing to maintain a consistent vocabulary. SO2V requires only one serial port connection to the radio whereas SO2R requires 2 serial ports so I think this is the best terminology. Because of the way Flex has implemented its radio, you can do everything you need to do on one serial port.
The second aspect of the Flex radio that allows SO2V operation is in the power of the antenna switch in the F5K. All three VFO's can address the antenna switch independently, or in pairs. That is you can have VFO A/TX pair set up for RX1=1,TX=1 and have VFO B/TX pair Set RX2=2/TX=2. This is the second thing needed to emulate SO2R, 2 virtually independent RF paths. When VFO A is chosen (click the little red box under VFO A) and RX1=1, TX=1 RF will flow out antenna port 1 to amp 1 and ant 1. When VFO B is chosen (click the little red box under VFO B) RF will flow out ant port 2 to AMP 2 and ANT 2. This allows you to operate 2 bands at once and is the second thing necessary to do SO2R type operation.
Here is a shot displaying some of the choices available in the antenna selector
Finally the Flex 5K automatically routes the audio into the headphones or speakers such that RX1 and RX2 mix in the stereo panorama. This allows you to hear RX1 in one ear and RX2 in the other or to place these signals across the stereo panorama.
The Fk5 also automatically switches on the correct amp depending on what antenna port has been chosen. The F5K also automatically shifts the focus of the keyer and other peripherals like the mic or digital input etc between the 2 VFO's These are the requisite components necessary to accomplish SO2V.
Here is a shot of the back of the F5K. From this shot you can see the complexity and possibilities of the antenna switching in the F5K and its AmpKeying (AMPRLY). I don't really include this in the write up but you can also include such things as pre-amps and band pass filters in the setup. There is a loop in the R1 line that can be broken for these items to be inserted (RX1 in RX1 out). If you had for example a bandpass filter that was controlled by BCD data the hardware design below will accommodate that addition.
One more thing is necessary, a program to tie all this together.
K5FR has a program called DDUTIL. This program acts kind of like the swiss army knife for PowerSDR. It allows multiple external programs to connect to the F5K's single serial port, and it also has provision to automatically control frequency agile amps and frequency agile coax antenna switches. Steve also included a means to to switch VFO's using a foot switch.
This is a copy of how I have DDUTIL configured at my station
The form is set up so that each VFO controls peripheral connections and how the Flex's antenna switch and AmpKey line behave. The first thing you notice is from this form DDUTIL can control 2 LPT ports. On a LPT port there are 8 pins available for parallel control signals. The pins are 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. These signals are returned on pins 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25) This makes an 8 bit word. an 8 bit word can control a huge number of things (256) one at a time. There is little use to control so many things from a ham radio point of view, so we divided the 8 bit word into 2 four bit words. This allows us to control up to 15 things but you can control 2 things at a time. For example you can control an amp and an antenna switch using these 2 four bit words. So you see the headings Da, and Aa in the table above under VFO A, and Db and Ab under VFO B. We went with this format for maximum flexibility. This way if your amp uses a different code than "Yaesu BCD" you can just plug it in the matrix and make it work.
Yaesu BCD is the format that Yaesu uses in its Quadra amp, and is kind of a Ham radio standard. Yaesu BCD states the table below
band 1=160M=0001, band 2=80M=0010, band 3=40M=0011 band 4=30M=0100 band 5=20M=0101 band 6=17M=0110 band 7=15M=0111 band 8=12M=1000 and band 9=10M=1001. There is a slot for 6M as well.
The Yaesu format is this format that is read by our Unified Microsystems decoder board, as well as the Yaesu Quadra and the ALS-1300 and others. If your station conforms entirely to the Yaesu protocol then there are some hardwiring shortcuts you can use, but if you want max flexibility then using both the pin 2345 and pin 6789 data words give you that. I will show a couple different hardware set ups, one for each possibility
The zero's and ones are what show up on the LPT pins when a given band is chosen. Da (decoder VFO A) is defined as pins 2345, and Aa (Amp VFO A) are pins 6789.
You simply run 4 wires and a return to the decoder board, and run 4 wires and a return to the amp and fill in the blanks in the above matrix and you are in business.
Da, Aa, Db, Ab, are all in hex not decimal Hex has 16 characters instead of the 10 we are used to. In other words decimal is 0123456789. Hex is 0123456789abcdef. An equivalency table is below
So the values you enter into Da, Aa, Db, Ab are hex 123456789abcdef. This is important if you want to turn on all pins you enter F in the column not 15.
The next columns are the antenna selector columns R1TX and R2TX
The possibilities are
0 = No Connection
1 = Ant 1
2 = Ant 2
3 = Ant 3
4 = Rx1 In
0 = No Connection
1 = Ant 1
5 = Rx2 In
6 = Rx1 Tap
1 = Ant 1
2 = Ant 2
3 = Ant 3
Under RX 1 and TX you set up your choice under VFO A, and under RX2 and TX you set up under VFO B.
The way the F5K antenna switch is designed we have to use a little trick to make RX2 follow correctly. Under R2 (VFO B) we insert a 6, and this will choose "RX1Tap" in the R2 selection. R2 will then follow what ever choice you have made for the TX under VFO B. This is due to the way the antenna switch is wired in the F5K, and it gives max flexibility to R2 (VFO B) Confusing ain't it? A couple pictures may help
In this shot you will notice under VFO B the R2,TX choice is 6 1, and the antenna choice in the antenna selector is 1 RX1tap 1. This means I will receive on port 1 and through the RX1 tap that signal will go to RX2, and I will transmit on port 1 when VFO B is chosen.
In this shot TX has been switched to port 3, and when I switch to VFO B the antenna selector sets the R port to three and delivers the signal to R2 via the RX1 tap, and transmits on port 3 when VFO B is chosen. In this case port 2 in TX has been chosen only on 40M, so the antenna on 40M is now the 2 port under VFO B. This gives a lot of flexibility in how you set up your station but for the most part the 6,1 combo works for me. If you have a couple antennas you can play around with this in a pair of ports and see how it works. The adapter allows 2 LPT ports to be accessed, one for VFO A and one for VFO B. VFO A in my example is connected to LPT port 888. VFO B is connected to LPT port 632. So fill in the address for the port you intend to use. You can get that information from the device manager in windows.
We went with this format so that if you had only one agile amp and one agile antenna switch you would need only one decoder board to get your station up and running. A more complicated station topology would require the second port and a second decoder board. You can see how things are wired in the example below.
The foot switch (called TX switch) goes in on a com port of your choice. I use com 3. To use this you can have a momentary pedal or you can have a push on push off arrangement. When pins 8 and 4 of a 9 pin serial port are shorted VFO B is chosen and if they are open VFO A is chosen.
The AmpKey is one of the three ports that control the AmpKey line coming out of the back of the F5K. You can assign any amp key line to either VFO, so if one goes out on you in the middle of a contest you can change them on the fly. The other two check boxes turn SO2R off and on, and there is a choice for a single amp and antenna switch to be controlled off both VFO's. In other words you can run both the CQ portion of the station and the Search and Pounce part of the station off one amp/switch combo.
To wire this up I decided to use a prototype board from Radio Shack. The reason I chose this board is that it gives one an easy way to add things and make changes as time goes on and as your station grows. Here is a shot of how things can be wired NOTE the wires actually reside on the other side of this board, and are fed through the holes and are soldered on this side of the board
As you can see you can easily parallel additional devices (like a BCD switched band pass filter or pre-amp) off of the prototype board simply by soldering to the empty holes. This is the reason I went to the extra work of using this board, because it allows for very clean expansion in the future, as well as a strait forward way to trouble shoot and analyze signal path, plus its easily reproducible for the average ham. In addition I added 12V distribution from this board. The band decoder boards require a 12V input. I added a phono connector and a DB9 connector to use as a foot switch. The wires on the right side of the screen connect to the DB25 connectors that plug into the LPT ports on the computer. Note that the "Common" on the DB25 side of the board goes to pins 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25 on the DB25. I just laid a wire across these pins and soldered them all together to create the common. Overall this makes a nice central way to add modules to this project without disturbing what is already there if you don't want to build the full blown interface from the start.
If you use only the Yaesu protocol in your station you can just parallel the amps and the decoders off the lines connected to pins 2345 of the LPT. I presently am doing that with my antenna switch and ALS-1300. I wired that up to make sure it would work and it works fine. If you elect for this design you do give up some flexibility, for example with the full interface you can make the program choose the same relay if you happen to run a tri-bander off one coax, while choosing different bands on the amp with the separate connection of the full blown interface. In fact I implemented both full blown and modified on the same board to test out how the modified board would work.
The decoder boards and this board all go in the same box. For I/O, between the amps and the antenna switches I use CAT5 cable I just cut a male-male piece with RJ45's on each end in half in half and wire that to the coax switch or what ever. I use RJ45 F to F inline couplers , and this allows me to use what ever length of CAT5 cable I need between switches amps etc. If I move things around and need a longer cable I just grab another longer CAT5 cable, plug it in and I'm on the air.
Below is a typical usage of the Unified Microsystems board for a typical ham station. This example has a 80M and 40M antenna and a tribander. Note the tribander requires only one position on the antenna switch box. The same position is chosen for 20,15 and 10 using diode steering. Using the DDUTIL matrix you can accomplish the same thing by just using a "5" in the 20, 15 and 10 slots on the matrix. This will turn on the 20M relay for each of band of the triband beam. If you had a Steppir for example you would just use a "5" under the Da column for 20,17,15,12,10,6.
I use this feature with my antenna switch since I use the 80M vertical as my 30M antenna as well
This is a shot of my "ports" screen on the hardware manager of my computer
As you can see I have 3 real serial ports, I have 2 LPT ports and a whole slew of virtual serial ports. The virtual ports are provided by VSP. VSP or virtual serial port can be downloaded from the DDUTIL web site. Install according to the directions and then make some ports
Here is a shot of my VSP manager
I use port pair 13:23 between DDUTIL:PowerSDR (called Radio Cat in DDUTIL), 10:20 between Commander:DDUTIL (the first RCP in DDUTIL), 11:21 between Skimmer:DDUTIL and 8:18 between N1MM:DDUTIL (both in the second RCP screen). N1MM only has 8 serial ports available so you have to put that in your plan when you configure ports. Here are a few shots of how I have DDUTIL confgured
There is a hidden window in DDUTIL called "sleep". This window has some effect on traffic flow in the CAT pipe. To acces double click the background in the "Other" tab in DDUTIL and set the value to zero and double click the background again
Here is a shot of the overall control and RF flow of the integrated system. Finally DDUTIL has to connect to other programs. Here are some screen shots of config screens of the various programs I have connected to DDUTIL
DX lab commander
This should be more than enough information for you to set up your own SO2R/V contest station using a Flex based radio system. Some of this could be used to set up a Flex 3K in SO1V as a contest station. DDUTIL has the capability and will easily allow for the F3K to run in a frequency agile mode.
Here is a shot of one of the interfaces wired with 2 Band decoder cards ready to mount in a box
There is work to be done for sure. Due to the limitations of VAC at the present it would be difficult to implement SO2R in the digital arena. The F5K works fine as a SO1V digital entrant so there is radio fun to be had in that arena.
If you're interested in writing something interesting for this blog regarding your SDR experience let me know. I would like to include things like how your SDR contest station is set up, or your VHF station that uses SDR as the system center, feats of weak signal work or how well the SDR works in various challenging situations. If you are a foreign ham and would like to comment on the growth of SDR in your particular part of the world. Bring it on!
I reserve the right to publish or not, but I'm pretty open to documenting a wide variety of honest experiences from users, for readers to explore. The understanding of SDR in our hobby is so nascent, that I want the reader to be able to see the value of SDR through the eyes of YOUR experience and enthusiasm.