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SmartSDR 101

Welcome to SmartSDR and using it for the first time. This video will show you around some of the basic controls and get you on the air quickly.

Video Transcript

This video’s full transcript has been provided below for your convenience.

Hey, good day. It’s Mike from FlexRadio, and I wanted to do a simple, SmartSDR 101. You’ve gotten your new radio and you don’t really sure where to go, it’s a whole new world. I wanted to touch on some key elements, the software, where to download the software, where the manuals are, and some basic functions within SmartSDR. As an example here, we’d like you to go to the webpage after you first get your radio,, and on the webpage, you can see this support, and under support we have two areas. Help desk, which is one that you can always look at for the future, and how to submit a technical support request, we’d like you to use the form and something we call the support portal to help log you in and get your problems resolved and to ensure we also track any problems you have.

Going back to the main page under the support dropdown, very key area is the downloads area, and in the downloads area, we have a fair bit of information available. For the 6000 series, if you click a little plus box it will open up, and you can see documentation in there, and the installation guide for the GPSDO, hardware reference manual is incredibly helpful. To give you an example, if you click on that, that will open a new page that essentially gives you the download link, and if you click download, the hardware reference manual will download. It actually has the date that it was published.

Back into the 6000 series as well, under documentation, we have pretty much anything you’d want, older radios, how to install the ATU, a couple of different languages, how to install the rack mount kit, the data sheet, some quick start guides. If we go to the SmartSDR for Windows, which is where most of this discussion will be about, we have the installers and the installers are, where do you find the current version of our software. From version 132, which is as of today’s date, you can roll back to any of these versions and install them and use them and upgrade and downgrade your radio as much as you’d like with no impact your operations. You can even leave multiple versions of SmartSDR on your computer. No problem doing that. If you want to try something out or see if something is different, or maybe there’s something you didn’t like, you can downgrade to a previous version.

Under the documentation tab, you will find the release notes, some product frequently asked questions, and the quick start guide for SmartSDR is one of them. I’m actually, the different release notes for all the different versions and the SmartSDR user guide. This doesn’t say a version on it, but you want to look for the one that’s the largest in size at 6.7 megabits, and that will, again, take you to a window that will show you the download link and the day that this was published. Although this says July 25th, 2007, it is still the most current for SmartSDR, new ones will come out. Also, this is why you want to look at the frequently asked questions in the “read me’s” for various radios.

Once you have smart link installed and you have done that because you’ve gone in here to the installer, you’ve downloaded it under software, and that will run. I won’t go through it now because I don’t want to pause the recording and reinstall, but the installer will update the software in your computer, it will then look at the radio, and then install the right version on the radio. If you see a message that says downgrade on your radio, that’s okay, it just means that you’re going to downgrade your radio to a previous version. If that’s not what you wanted to do, please make sure you’re starting the wrong version of SmartSDR, or sorry, the right version of SmartSDR and that shortcuts do have version names on them. What I do when I install a new version is I go delete these shortcuts off my desktop, it doesn’t uninstall it, but it just prevents me from starting an older version.


Today we’re going to discuss some of the highlights about SmartSDR version 132. This is very generic stuff, and it will help you out moving forward. We see here my 6600 in my shack, if you do hover the mouse over the radio, you’ll see a little black box will pop up. That little black box has a fair bit of information that support may ask you about from the serial number, your maximum licensed version, your radio ID, your IP address of the radio, and other things. If you could do a screenshot of this, if you’re having a problem, it does help the support people.

Up here at the top is the SmartSDR SmartLink login. We’re going to ignore that for now. Let’s call that an advanced feature, because you’re going to use it remotely. The login is not required for day to day operation and smart link login is unique to any other smart link, or rather, any other FlexRadio login you may have had, whether it’s for sales, there’s a unique login, for support, is another unique login. The systems do not talk to each other and that’s why you can have multiple unique logins to FlexRadio. If we double click on this, you’ll see, that’ll bring my radio up, and we’re online. I happen to be here on 80 meters, but we’ll jump up to 40 where there might be just a little bit more activity on the band.

So, what’s the first thing you want to do. We’re now worried about, these are our volume controls, there’s a speaker volume for the back panel speaker on the radio, and there’s a headset volume for your headset if you’re plugged into it, also on the radio. They’re independent volume controls. If you’re using your radio on your landing and you’re connected to it 100% by the SmartSDR application, then clicking PC audio will turn that audio on so that it comes out of your computer speakers. It will play back on your default sound devices, so if you’re not hearing anything, you’ll want to go into your Windows sound devices and make sure that your computer speakers are still the default ones you thought they were. Windows, when we install DAX or when we install SmartSDR, is not uncommon for that to be changed from what was your default. That’s sort of a Windows feature, something that’s a bit of a pain in the butt, but easy enough to fix.

The playback devices, or if you click on your speaker in your bottom right, will bring up a window like this, and these are the, here’s my playback devices and you’ll scroll down through here and you’ll see that my speakers are my default device. That’s really key. Also, later on, if you’re actually trying to run the radio or use sideband through the radio, it will play back through the default recording device. In my case, I have a USB Behringer, little sound mixer, and that’s my default inbound. Although on your computer, if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see many things, but eventually you’ll see maybe a microphone for your laptop, and we can see here’s the two microphones I’m talking on, is this sound blaster one and then of course I have a Logitech camera that has a built in mic and we can see that my audios moving up and down for that.

With that gone, the volume can slide up and down here. We also have another volume control here on the floating indicator for your VFO. You’ll see that this speaker here will control the volume just for this slice and when I move that, you’ll find it’s very similar to over here at the right, it moves up and down as well. If you decide that you want to maybe move that all the way to the left speaker or to the right speaker, you can do that, so that’s your volume. By now, you’ve probably been able to hear some noise, assuming you connected an antenna, we can adjust the antenna in a few place, but let’s work from a slice perspective. If we drop down this antenna, one, in blue, this is your receiving antenna, those are all the ports on the back of your radio, you may have more or less. The red is your transmit antenna, so antenna one, antenna two, I happen to have a 6600, so I have a transverter A and B. That’s your antenna that will get you on the air.

Let’s say you’re using a Generic, or Windom, or G5 Type RV antenna, and you have a tuner installed. These are your tuner buttons, clicking that off and on will cause the radio to tune. If you were noticing down here, when I did that, you’ll see this went red, and the radio did go into transmit when I did that. We’ll do that again, and down here, we’re back into transmit while the antenna did its tuning function. That gets you on the air, the band, which we quickly went over before.


Drop down the band button, we can pick any band we wish, I’ll flip over to 20. I have pretty good noise here on 20, but there are some signals today and then we’ll go back to 40, and that’s simply how you change your bands around.

One thing you also might want to do is calibrate your radio to frequency, if you haven’t done that yet. Up here in the radio setup, we’ll drag that in so you can see it. There’s a fair bit of information from the IP address of the radio, which you may not need right away, under the network tab. If you have a GPS installed, this will be populated accordingly, some transmit items, if you have an amplifier, you’ll have to identify where you’ve plugged in your amplifier, to which transmit, which relay port, in phone or CW. You can pick whether you need your bias on or off, from a receiver perspective. This is the calibration I was talking about and if I wanted to calibrate my radio, I’ll start that now, the radio will go off. It’s going to go to 10 megs, like I had it set for, it’s going to see if it can hear WWV and it will do its calibration routine. When it’s done, it will come back to where I was, and now the radio’s now calibrated. I’ll have some number here, it happens to be minus 566.

You can adjust your filters. I would leave them for auto now until you read a bit more about who you want and what you would like it to do. Back to the radio tab, we have the serial number, the hardware version, the remote on, is an item you might want to look at later, if you’re getting into remote operation and you want to turn the radio on or off, that’s a soft on or off, into a standby mode or not standby mode, and if you’re using an external relay. So, that’s what the settings do. There’s a number of other things you can look in, they’re more advanced, not needed right now. The USB cable thing is pretty cool, I don’t have any connected to this radio, but the USB stuff is used to connect external devices like a stepper, amplifiers, track bands, et cetera. We have a whole document about that.

We want to get you on the air, but the next thing, I’m going to turn all my little boxes here, is we want to identify the radio, or sorry, the microphone that you’re using. I’m using a RadioSport headset, but maybe you’re using the hand mic that came with it, that you have plugged in, that’s the FMH2, you can select that. Beside that you want to identify where your mic input is, because in this case, you can see there’s a number of areas for the transmitter to receive audio. You can have it in the mic port, the balance port on the back of the 6600, the line import, there’s an accessory port, or directly from the PC if you are using this locally on your home network.

Processor, enables a processor and then there’s this slider here for normal ALC control. Putting this in DX produces controlled envelope, single side band, which essentially gives you another couple of DB of RF power out. You can look at those and those are well described in the manual as well. Scrolling down, you have an EQ which you can use on both tune, for both transmit or receive, if you need to boost the highs on your microphone or, the very powerful one that people don’t use very often is the EQ un-receive. If you’re listening to somebody, and sometimes boosting the highs, a couple of DB, makes all the difference in clarity when you’re trying to pull somebody out of the mud and maybe even killing the bottom end a bit and you can play with that, and you can turn that on or off, to your heart’s content and see what works for you.

One of the more powerful tools. Oh, let’s pick modes, modes are important first. Here under, lower side band, you can pick what mode you want. We’re going to be lower sideband, upper sideband, AM, CW, you get the idea. Then your filter widths 2.9, 2.1, 2.4k. I’ll allow you to change those filters that are oh, so powerful. I wanted to go back to the speaker icon here, you’ll see left and right, and then you see the medium fast, medium slow, and off, that’s your automatic gain control. Then there’s this unlabeled slider beside it, called the automatic gain control threshold. This one you want to play with a lot, you’ll want to slide up and down so that you reduce the noise on a signal you’re hearing, but not reduce the signal you are hearing, the information you want to hear. It is probably one of the most powerful tools on the radio and I urge you to play with it and you’ll hear the difference quickly.


We looked at, the band control antennas are for dealing with your receive antenna, RF gains or preamps. You can slide those up and down and play with those. Wide noise blanker is used to get rid of certain types of noise. Here in, where I live, I often get this noise in 80 meters that wipes everything right out, pretty pleased with how it works. Today is no example on how to do that, but it has been very powerful for me. I’ve used the wide noise blanker many times here at my home, QTH. Going to jump around a bit, and this is probably the last thing I want to show is, DAX is the ability to send the audio from the radio, the channel you’re receiving, out to this DAX channel. If you have a 6300, 6400 series, you’ll have two of these, and in a 6400, 6500 series, you’ll have four, and in a 6700, you’ll see eight of these. They’re all assigned and you’ll send the audio out of here.

This is where you want your program like FLgigi, WSJT, or any of your digital sound card modes to listen to on that application. To decode the audio from RTTY, or something to the effect, that’s the key part. I’ll touch on one more thing. If I wanted to bring up the sound window again from Windows, when you’re transmitting, you’ll have to tell that sound program where to send the transmitted audio from the program like, WSJT, or RTTY, or whatever, and you’ll see this as a fair number of devices.

Now, I’m looking for one that says it’s in the recording line, actually it’s in the playback line, maybe I’ve got it wrong here. There’ll be one called transmit, and that’s the key one, and of course it’s not easily visible. We’ll line in, we’ll pause here for a second while I find it, I’ll just pause. On your sound recording device, you’ll see that there is a DAX reserved audio transmit, right here, that would be the inbound audio from your sound record program, so where is that? In the DAX window that auto starts with your computer, you’ll see that this is this transmit stream and it shows where the audio’s coming from. If you are running a digital mode, you’ll have to turn this DAX button on and off, and it says, so this ties the whole audio path back in the radio. That’s probably a bit overwhelming at the moment, but you may want to come back to that. This DAX here is used for IQ streams, those are specialized streams, and we’re not going to worry about that right now.

Lastly, I’ll touch on profiles, there’s global profiles, transmit profiles, and mic profiles. You may want to look at those profiles in the manual, because they’ll do a lot better job of explaining it than I can in a very short time. However, you’ll see that the mic profile is probably one of the ones you’ll use fairly often, if you change mics to different types of mics. That’s all, that’s it for now, and if you have any questions, you can certainly check out the community at FlexRadio, and if you are not aware of the community, you can reach the community right here, and in the Flex Community is a fair bit of conversations. You can ask questions, there’s a lot of notes there of some excellent people in the community, they can help you out. Thanks very much for listening, my name is Mike, VA3MW from FlexRadio.

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