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When the Dog Bites – Losing the SDR Computer 26 - June - 2011

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Seems that I have a had a brief run of things to fit at the K9ZW shack.

The rotor issue turned out to be a broken wire. Repaired and waterproofed without bringing everything down.

The the computer glitches set in.

First it has been missing extension DLLs for the import accessory program for DXBase, the logging program I bought at Dayton. My guess is that the program was complied on a system with some extensions, and the compiler didn’t incorporate that optional 3rd-party code into the program. Waiting for Neal to fill me in on how to fix that.

Next it was a struggle to install the new FlexControl as I had obsolete virtual-com software running, and I have a USB based 8 serial port accessory. Thought I finally had that all sorted after a pair of long sessions. I’ve reason to think that I may have not got it right in the end.

Now it is the main SDR computer having “the flu” and refusing to boot. Checks run good, checks when booted from a Linux Live-CD look fine. Have the drives out and running in-depth full disk checks while in a mule test machine as I write, but the system simply won’t boot.

The class of error suggests some sort of I/O vs driver issues. Hmmm – did I get all those obsolete pesky v-com/v-usb things off the machine?

No matter what, the station as I usually run it is down.

Leaves me choices of “off the air” (which I picked for now) or tearing my station apart to put in a transceiver that isn’t computer dependent.

The Pegasus I had run for several years still needs a computer. I’ve sold most of the other conventional rigs, so I don’t have something “plug and play” ready to swap in. My error.

Guess I need to put that on the list of tasks, and I have to think through how I am backing up the main SDR machine – either a standby unit or a quickly repurposed unit with all the Firewire, USB and Serial ports ready to work.

Have to give this all some thought.

UPDATE – Turns out an easy fix for the tech – less than a 1/2 hour of time.  Hard to 100% diagnose what failed, though indications is that the Antivirus Program somehow did an update that failed leaving it in limbo between build/update versions.  After using the special “My Antivirus Software is broken Deinstaller Program” and doing a reinstall, all is well.  Did have to reinstall a few select drivers, which is OK and took only a few moments.  Does bring up a question – do all-in-one Transceivers which directly connect to the net have any Antivirus needs and are they vulnerable to remote manipulation or corruption?  Will have to explore that question….  73  Steve K9ZW

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Comments»

1. Jeff - 27 - June - 2011

Sorry to hear of computer woes in your shack. Computer problems of any kind are no fun but when they take you off the air that’s just adding insult to injury.

A non-computer dependent back may be a good idea though using that logic you will need a back up for the back up and where does it all end? :-)

The level of complexity that you have described leaves me much less interested in PC-based radios. The many late night fights I have had with a computer that just won’t print a report that one of the kids NEEDS for school the next day kept my blood pressure high for years.

I’d hate to think of that sort of frustration on top of poor band conditions…

Good luck getting it all humming again!

73, Jeff

k9zw - 27 - June - 2011

Thank you for your kind words.

The computer failure shows the need to pay attention to the overall radio. It truly is a Radio-Computer team.

One friend pointed out that despite my best efforts to break the computer with all sorts of uses, it had gone three years without issue, where his top shelf $10K+ transceiver had gone in for repairs three times plus one warranty upgrade trip to the repair depot.

Spending some time this weekend using a TS-570D the sharp point that I really like the extra capabilities of the Flex-5000 was driven home. From the sensitivity of the receiver, the filters, the Panadapter, to the equalizers (my DX transmissions settings on the Flex adjust my voice to a reshape that carriers & is understandable), to the Split with one in each ear…. the list goes on.

Most of all I come back to the receive ability – I’m thinking I’ll always be attracted to the best receiving radio first.

The SDR Box goes to our tech today for either fixing or to pull the freshest possible copy of my data off with an operating system reinstall.

Where I feel silly is there is another Dell XP Box in the shack that I just hadn’t bothered to keep configured to run PowerSDR. I had used it but wanted the added performance of the multi-processor box that just went south.

I guess stepping back the real system failure may be operator error!

Oh well – seems a goo time to pull all the cables and pieces off my operating desk and do a good clean.

Thank you for the kind words (BTW my kids usually would run out of ink just after the stores closed with only half of the project they needed for the morning printed…. )

73

Steve
K9ZW

2. Jeff - 27 - June - 2011

“One friend pointed out that despite my best efforts to break the computer with all sorts of uses, it had gone three years without issue”

The reliability and mean time between failures is noted and is a good point. I think what may happen is that when the FT-5000 won’t work we send it tight off for repair. When the computer is on the fritz we mess with it ourselves for long enough to become frustrated with it to the point of wanting to kick it!

:-)

73 de Jeff

k9zw - 27 - June - 2011

One of the pluses I have enjoyed with the Flex is the constant upgrades and ability to add features.

This machine has gone through perhaps a dozen PowerSDR upgrades, two which were very significant structure updates.

I also have enough other stuff on it (my other machines are most OS-X at home) to be significant. Music Arranging Software, Word/Office Suites, EZNEC Antenna Modeling, some of that “kid’s homework…”, the different Computer Managed Radio software to run a TenTec Pegasus, and who knows what else I’ve plumb forgot as I make the list.

The machine is back from repair – needed 30 minutes of XP-skilled attention and I’ve been admonished to uninstall things I don’t need. The tech’s guess is that I still had vestiges of several different virtual-com-port suites and registry records that were in conflict. He’s complained that the process he had to do messes the event logs, so unless it repeats we’ll never exactly know.

Listen at 1.895 about 01:00 UTC and if you hear me all is again well!

73

Steve
K9ZW


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