How to Connect your FLEX-6000 to a LAN

Setting up network devices on a LAN is supposed to be complicated and involved. Right? Not with the FLEX-6000 Signature Series SDR and SmartSDR™. Simply plugging in the FLEX-6000 into an available Ethernet port on the LAN at your QTH or directly connecting it to your PC should be all that is required to establish network connectivity and get you on the air. It really is that simple!

The FLEX-6000 Signature Series SDRs communicate with the client application or GUI, such as SmartSDR running on a Windows PC, over an Ethernet local area network (LAN) using the same IP protocol utilized on the Internet. Ethernet LANs have become ubiquitous in the shack due to the widespread use of broadband Internet connectivity. With an existing broadband Internet connection via cable or DSL at your QTH, there is a very good probability that your existing LAN is already capable of connecting a FLEX-6000 Signature series SDR to it and having it work without any manual configuration needed, making it truly a “plug-n-play” setup.

Physically Connecting the FLEX-6000 to the LAN

The simplest broadband Internet-connected LAN configuration is where a broadband modem/router has only one connection to the Internet, referred to as the wide area network (WAN) port and one LAN Ethernet port directly connected to a single PC. Refer to the diagram below.


Connecting a FLEX-6000 to an Existing Ethernet LAN

In this configuration, there are not any available or “open” Ethernet ports to connect the FLEX-6000 or any other network devices to the LAN, so additional port capacity should be added by inserting an Ethernet Switch in between the broadband modem/router and the PC.  The PC and FLEX-6000 on the local LAN receive an IP address automatically via the broadband modem/router by DHCP.  For this configuration to work properly, DHCP must be enabled.

Once an Ethernet switch has been installed in the network as shown below, the FLEX-6000 Signature Series SDR can be physically connected to the local LAN via one of the available open Ethernet switch ports. Refer to the diagram below.


Some broadband modem/routers have multiple LAN ports and wireless capabilities for connecting multiple network devices to the LAN eliminating the need for adding additional Ethernet ports to the LAN.  With this configuration, connecting the FLEX-6000 directly to one of the open LAN ports on the multi-port broadband modem/router will allow any directly connected PCs or wireless devices to communicate with the FLEX-6000 without adding an Ethernet switch.  Refer to the diagram below.


Connecting a FLEX-6000 Directly to your PC

But what about those who do not have an existing LAN, or want to use the FLEX-6000 Signature Series SDR directly connected to a PC. Can this be done? 

The answer is yes!. But again, the FLEX-6000 has been specifically engineered to make a potentially complex network configuration actually easier to set up than a LAN.

But, note that in this configuration, the radio does not have access to the Internet, so it will not be able to validate new software licenses or operate remotely using SmartLink.

A “directly connected” network configuration is fully supported by the FLEX-6000. When you connect a PC and a FLEX-6000 together with the supplied Ethernet cable, the FLEX-6000 will sense that it is directly connected to a PC and automatically configure its Ethernet port to properly communicate with it. No special Ethernet cables are needed. In this configuration both the PC and the FLEX-6000 will self-allocate a "link local" IP address automatically allowing for them to communicate properly. However, the PC must be configured to obtain an IP address via DHCP for link-local to work properly.  Refer to the diagram below.


One other frequently asked question regarding the FLEX-6000 and connecting it to a PC focuses on installing device drivers and are they needed.  The answer is there are no special third-party device drivers required for the PC to communicate with the FLEX-6000.  The FLEX-6000 uses a standard IP protocol stack that comes with all modern Windows operating systems and other network enabled devices that may host GUI client applications in the future.  So no more messing with pesky device drivers!

In conclusion, the network configurations described above are the more common ones that will be encountered when connecting your FLEX-6000 to a SmartSDR client.  The key point is FlexRadio Systems has specifically and intentionally engineered SmartSDR to eliminate the complexity of connecting a FLEX-6000 to the network, making the setup and operation of the FLEX-6000 easy and worry free.  We really have made it that simple!

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  • 0
    Jim Bryce (W5HFS)

    I'm using a Microsoft Surface Pro. It has a single USB3 port. The Plugable 7-Port Hub for USB 3.0 works perfectly with it. Plugable offers several devices to plug into the hub including video connections for both VGA and HDMI, and for the network question, an Ethernet CAT 5 cable adapter. I use all of this with my Flex 6700. The Ethernet device solves the network connection. Then I have two monitors I place side by side and feed one with HDMI and the other with VGA. Combined with screen already on the Surface this gives me three monitors. I use one for SmartSDR, one for DM780 and one for QRZ. Done. I will note that I've recently upgraded to 300 Mbps datarate from TimeWarner. Using the video options with the Plugable reduces my measured rate to about half that; there's a whole lot going on with both the video and data to get through that single USB 3.0 port. I've switched to using the small video port on the side of the Surface and my data rate to the Internet went right back up to 325 Mbps.

  • 0
    Robert J Bosnyak (AD7WU)

    Here is how I got it to work, at least temporarily. I connected the FLEX6500 Ethernet cable to my router 150 feet away. Yep, 150 feet of CAT5, on the ground and through the front door. XYL hasn't noticed yet. Not exactly ideal. I only have WIFI wireless to my shack. The radio is now updating. Next I have to figure out how to hook up my updated radio to the computer in my shack.

  • 0
    Mike Clark (km9r)

    Michael Clark km9r

    For whatever reason, I was unable to utilize the external Ethernet switch as depicted above. My flex 6300 was communicating poorly with smart sdr and was unable to get access to the initial update. The exact reason I am uncertain and it could have been operator error.

    However, I was able to resolve at least the first issue buy purchasing a StarTech usb 3.0 to gigabit Ethernet adapter (part# usb31000NDS). Their online price was cheaper than the price at the retail store that I purchased from.

    Internet is connected to the single Ethernet port on my computer and flex 6300 is connected to the usb 3.0 adapter. Driver for the adapter is provided on a disk and update for the driver was provided as soon as computer was connected to the interwebby.

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