Before I talk about my new radio I just want to say what a fantastic radio the Icom IC7600 has been. Excellent receive, superb audio, very easy to use, and of course the scope is really useful too. I bagged nearly 240 DXCC in 12 months with this radio just running 100w into my Hexbeam.
It dawned on me a long time ago that as I like to CAT control all my radio’s a black box radio without dials, knobs and buttons would actually suit me quite well, as apart from switching the Icom on and off and the occasional look at the scope, everything else was done using HamRadioDeluxe rig control and logbook. In fact as I had the Icom to the right of me and sat under a shelf (see pic above) it wasn’t actually very easy to see what I was doing anyway, and because I face a window in a shaded room I couldn’t read any buttons without a torch! Before our Lundy trip I was setting up the FT450 (my club’s radio) and had a QSO with someone who was using a Flex 5000. For starters it sounded lovely and as he described various things about his SDR software I was suddenly hooked on the idea! A search on the internet found the Flexradio 6300, good price point and very positive reviews, glowing reviews in fact. An email was sent to one of the UK stockist ML&Son with an enquiry about PX. In the end I decided to try and sell it privately to try and get a better price. Unfortunately at this time of year (run up to Christmas) things weren’t selling, it was sat on a used radio gear website for weeks, then just as I’d decided to give up on the idea the radio was sold!
With money in the bank I placed my order, the only decision left was whether to go for the internal tuner or not, and after more searching on the net I came to the conclusion that internal was the way to go.
On arrival everything was connected up so I could join the clubs Friday afternoon HF net on 40m and everything seemed to be working fine. Using the software was 99% common sense, and 1% reading the manual. No cable yet for my Heil 781 Pro (needs a Yaesu plug) so I used my Heil Elite Pro 6 headset. I have the cable now and audio reports using the 781 are very good.
One slight irritation, the speaker out is at line level, necessitating the use of a powered monitor speaker, more expense. Also I think it’s a shame the front isn’t left clean with all connections at the rear, although I would imagine some people prefer it this way. At the moment it sits in the space left by the Icom, but I might relocate it under the desk in the future. The fan is noisier than I would like but not distracting. On powering up there is nearly a minutes wait while it connects itself to the network..
On to HRD (HamRadioDeluxe). More expense here as the 6300 isn’t supported under the free version, so I’ll have to pay100 USD once this trial version runs out. The FlexRadio community website/board is full of useful information and has a few guides on setting up HRD to work with Flex radio. The main software for the Flex is smartSDR: This controls the radio, so HRD rig control is redundant. To get smartSDR to talk to HRD you need a piece of 3rd party software, either DDutil or minideluxe. To cut a long story short I wasted a few hours because I didn’t realise another software “app” (hate that term) needed to be running. The FlexRadio connects to your computers network (I have it plugged into a spare port on a network switch). smartSDR CAT is used to interface with third party applications using a com port and ip address:
So connecting to HRD would require Radio on > smartSDR CAT running > smartSDR running > DDutil (or minideluxe) running > HRD running. In fact smartSDR CAT is configured to run on windows startup, where things went wrong for me was closing the app down by mistake. Once running again everything suddenly worked! It was unfortunate that the guide I used to help me set up didn’t mention leaving smartSDR CAT running, so at some point I will add that to the setup guide and hopefully it’ll help the next person who has the same problem. As for the minideluxe vs DDutil, if you just want to connect to HRD then minideluxe will be fine, DDutil has more features for connecting to other things, rotators for instance. As it happens I tried minideluxe before I realised smartSDR CAT needed to be running, so it didn’t work for me whereas DDutil worked so I’ve left it alone.
Next I want to set up DM780, this will be a post for another day!