Friday, August 16, 2013

SmartSDR V0.13.10

My first weekend with the 6700 is here and Flex Radio have rather handily released an update to the software: V0.13.10.

This version has a number of optimisations and fixes, but nothing radically new in the way of features.  The consolidation is good.  While Flex Radio have quite a few more promised features to make available yet in the wider preview software ahead of a V1 release, I'm glad that they are continuing to make the bread and butter work well before branching off into new features.

General preview customers are effectively being given fairly stable software.  I'm sure Flex Radio have other alpha and beta cycles that the general preview testers are not seeing yet and these builds invariably are starting to see some of the missing V1 features.  Flex Radio are starting to converge the V1 feature set at this point, according to the company, and they have also indicated an end-of-September release date for V1.  Personally, I'd expect a little more slippage - so maybe into October - but we'll see.

So far, with only a few workday evenings of Rx under my belt, I'm very much liking what I see.  The user experience is very clean and although it's obvious that there are features missing, you can see the design philosophy in the user interface and where various controls are likely to end up.  Although I never used PowerSDR in anger, that UI always looked extremely busy.  Of course, hardware radio control panels are often pretty busy, but that's no excuse for a software interface.  It's nice that controls 'get out of the way' when you're not actually using them and for there to be a well thought out "progressive disclosure" or priority hierarchy with regard to the prominence and permanence of displays and controls.  The 6x00 with SmartSDR has the added need to allow for a vast amount of spectral information to be displayed concurrently.  With (eventually) 8 receiver slices over multiple panadapters, most of the screen needs to be available for displaying spectrum, rather than showing static controls.

On return home from work this evening (Friday), I was quickly able to download the new preview software and install it in my Parallels Windows 8 VM.  Whole upgrade process to the radio is super-slick - well done Flex.  The computer software upgrade however was just a little bit more involved this time as this release needs to remove and replace some driver-level components.  We were asked to uninstall, reboot, then reinstall the CAT software in order for things to work right.  Nevertheless, everything was nice and easy... and rebooting is rightly or wrong something I strongly associate with Windows ;-)

I'm not sure how stable this link will be, but details of the V0.13.10 preview release can be found here.

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