CTR2-Mini is an evolving radio controller. As such, new features are being added and old features refined to make them easier to use. Users are intimately involved in CTR2-Mini’s evolution and they’re helping to make CTR2-Mini into a great radio controller that does what they want it to.
To track these changes I’ve decided to add a new page to the blog detailing the user interface changes as they come with each firmware revision. Items on this page will be in chronological order with the latest updates on top. I’ll add some of the older updates to this blog post as time permits.
v1.03.02 – June 16, 2022 – Active Zero Low Digits option
The Zero Low Digits option in the Frequency menu allows you to zero the frequency digits below the step digit. This is handy when you want to turn to an exact frequency, say 7.074.000 MHz for FT8.
This version allows you to enable this option so that the lower digits are always zeroed out. For instance, if the step digit is set to 1 kHz, and your Mini (and radio) are tuned to 7.074.400 MHz, when you enable Zero Low Digits the Mini and the radio would automatically change to exactly 7.074.000 MHz. Any tuning changes on the Mini or the radio would be in exact 1 kHz steps.
The frequency display will indicate when this mode is enable by displaying the zeroed digits as small gray zeros as shown below.
To change the step digit press and hold the encoder then turn the encoder knob. While Zero Low Digits is enabled, moving the step digit to the right will move the red digit to the next small zero and tuning will increment by that digit’s weighted value.
Moving the step digit to the left will round the frequency up to the closest value. For example, if the step digit was 100 Hz and the frequency was 24.916.5oo, moving the step digit to 1 kHz would change the frequency to 24.917.ooo. Tuning the Mini or the radio would keep the frequency on exact 1 kHz boundaries.
NOTE: If the step frequency is greater than 100 Hz you may notice that tuning the radio dial causes ‘choppy’ frequency changes. This is because the radio is trying to tune to its step (usually 10 or 100 Hz) and the Mini keeps pulling it back to the exact frequency of it’s step. To eliminate this interaction, either reduce the step frequency on the Mini or disable the Zero Low Digit option.
v1.03.00 – June 2, 2022 – New Link Mode
In this update a new Link menu has been added that allows you to enable and disable a virtual link between two Minis and the antenna switch controller (referred to as the ASC). This link allows two Minis to function as one controller while controlling two different radios. When used in conjunction with the SO2R controller and the ASC either Mini can control both radios and selected from multiple antennas for each radio. This is great for contesters but also fun for just casual operating.
Link communications can be setup to use either WiFi UDP or Bluetooth LE depending on your preference. However, the ASC only supports WiFi UDP at this time so if you want to use two Minis and the ASC you’ll need a WiFi network.
In Link mode one Mini is assigned as the server (Mini-A) and the other as the client (Mini-B). There are four operating modes in Link mode:
In Basic mode, the basic settings of each Mini are shared. These include the Tx Enable setting and the keyer settings. In this mode, when one Mini has it’s transmitter enabled the other Mini automatically disables it’s transmitter.
Basic + Frequency Mode
In this mode the basic link features are supported along with frequency synchronization. You can lock both radios on the same frequency and tune them together with either Mini or either radio. This allows you to have true receive diversity because you can listen on two receivers on two different antennas on the same frequency. With the SO2R controller you can listen to both transceivers and instantly select one to transmit with. When you enable the transmitter on one radio the frequency of the other radio is automatically tuned 10 MHz away from the transmit frequency.
This mode also includes a fine-tuning feature for the radio on Mini-B. This allows you to zero-beat both receivers.
Basic + Tracking Mode
In this mode the basic link features are supported along with frequency tracking. This allows you to have each Mini controlling its radio on a different band but have them locked together so that as you tune one Mini or its radio the other Mini and its radio follow, but in a different band. The net result is that you can tune and work two bands simultaneously.
This last mode simply makes Mini-A a remote controller for Mini-B and its radio. Mini-B would be located in your shack, connected to your radio. Mini-A can be located anywhere. It is connected to Mini-B through the Internet. Audio can be sent from your shack to your cell phone using any of the available audio streaming servers. I like Sonobus for its flexibility and low latency. Others like Mumble.
As mentioned above, this firmware update also supports the new ASC. More information on this interface can be found here.
v1.02.03 – March 11, 2022 – GUI Support for Flex Radios
Added GUI support for the Flex radio. Normally SmartSDR provides the GUI (Graphical User Interface) to operate the radio. This allows you to connect to, and control your Flex radio without having SmartSDR running. This comes in handy if you just want to operate your Flex radio like a normal radio, you know, without running your PC.
If SmartSDR is running when you connect the Mini the Mini will connect as a Non-GUI client meaning that it will rely on SmartSDR for many of the services it needs. If SmartSDR is not running the Mini connects as a GUI client.
NOTE: If you’re running SmartSDR v2.xx.xx your Flex will not support multiple GUI clients. In this case, if you connect the Mini before you start SmartSDR (i.e. it connects as a GUI client), SmartSDR will not be able to connect to your radio. Simply disconnect Mini from WiFi, connect SmartSDR to your radio, then reconnect the Mini to WiFi.
v1.02.01 – March 10, 2022 – IP Network Keying for Flex Radios
This version includes many enhancements for FlexRadio control on CTR2-Mini.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is providing real CW keying over an IP network. Those of you that are familiar with the Flex radio know that this has been a problem for a long time which is one of the reasons they provide CWX. While CWX has many advantages it’s a compromise if you prefer sending CW the old fashioned way.
Len, KD0RC pioneered getting real CW keying over IP working. He was kind enough to share his knowledge with me so I could include it in CTR2-Mini.
To enable IP keying do the following:
- Go to the Flex 6000 menu on the main menu (it’s only available when you have the Flex radio CAT protocol selected) and change the Key: HW (key via hardware) to Key: Net (key via IP network).
- Adjust the CW Delay parameter on the Flex 6000 menu to around 250 milliseconds. You can experiment with this value to see what works best for your network. Networks with high latency may required more delay.
- Open the Keyer menu and make sure Sidetone is ON. The radio doesn’t generate sidetone in this mode so you’ll need this to properly key your radio.
- Set your Flex to CW mode.
- Enable Tx on the Mini by pressing the [A] button. The Delay and Breakin buttons should light up on SmartSDR indicating the radio is ready to transmit.
- Operate your paddles to key the radio.
- To disable Tx, press the [A] button on the Mini again.