Thursday, March 14, 2013

Multiple Receivers One Aggregator by WZ7I

We're indebted once again to Wes, WZ7I, for the following post.  If you've ever wondered how to easily send spots from two or more receivers through a single Aggregator to the RBN, this is for you

Using WinTelnetX to Funnel Spots from Two Receivers to Aggregator

With the introduction of RCKskimmer, the RTTY skimmer software from Walter, DL4RCK, RBN contributors have asked for directions about how to send RTTY skimmer spots as well as their CW spots to the Aggregator and then to the RBN.  One way to do this is to use WintenetX software from Dave, K1TTT.  For those of us who are not computer cognoscenti, Dave's software at first may appear complex so this brief guide is designed to help get it working.  I wish to thank Dave for his gracious help in preparing this blog post and for Dick, W3OA, for optimizing the configuration.

I have this working on both 32 bit Windows XP and 64 bit Windows 7 so you should not run into operating system issues. 

As a demonstration of how to set up the software, let's take the example of one computer running CW Skimmer Server on a QS1R receiver and a second computer fed by another radio, running a copy of RCKskimmer, WinTelnetX and Aggregator.  Your station will almost certainly be different but the modifications to the configuration will not be difficult. This approach becomes increasingly useful when you have multiple spot sources - if you really are using just two, you may choose simply to use two instances of Aggregator to feed the RBN server.

How should WinTelnetX be configured?  It will have one "input" port to obtain CW spots from Skimmer Server, an almost identical "input" port to obtain RTTY spots from RCKskimmer, and an "output" port to send the combined data stream to Aggregator.  Then we need to add plumbing between the three ports.

Install WinTelnetX
First, download the latest version of WinTelnetX from Dave's web site

Expand the zipfile into a new folder, typically, Program Files\WinTelnetX or Program Files (x86) for 64 bit OS.  (If you install somewhere other than under Program Files then you won't have to deal with the administrator permission prompts.)  Now start the program and choose "Run" if you get a security warning that the publisher is unknown.  This is what you will see: 

Before we begin, let's give our configuration (an ini file) a name.  Using the top menu click File>Save As, navigate to the directory where you installed WinTelnetX and save it as 2_rx_to_aggregator.ini

CW Skimmer Server Port
Now let's set up an "input" port to receive CW spots.  Using the menu navigate to Setup / Add New / Network Connect and you should see:

First, let's edit the Name to "CW Skimmer".  The QS1R is running on another computer so I went to that machine, obtained a command prompt, ran the command "ipconfig", and learned that its local ip address was which I entered in the "Host Name or IP" box of the Net Connection Setup window.  I have Skimmer Server set to to the default telnet port number of 7300 so that must be entered here to replace the default "Port Number" of 23.  Change the Port Data Type to "Direct".  Now click "OK" and up pops the "Connect Script Setup" window.  

For the Prompt type "callsign:" and for the Response enter  your call, as in "WZ7I".  Select "Enable automatic reconnect" and enter something like 90 seconds. Now click "OK".  Note that at the bottom of the newly labeled CW Skimmer port window there are five icons which give Help information as you run your mouse over them, if this is the currently active window. 

RTTY RCKskimmer Port
Now we need to duplicate this process to configure a port to obtain RTTY Spots from RCKskimmer.  On the Program Setup window of RCKskimmer click on "Enable Telnet Server" and leave the default port at 7300 since that port is not in use already on this machine.   If Skimmer Server were running on the same computer I might change RCKskimmer's telnet port to 7200. 

Returning to WinTelnetX click on Setup / Add New / Network Connect.  Let's name this port RCKskim.  Since my copy of RCKskimmer is running on the same computer as WinTelnetX we can use "localhost" as the ip address and then enter "7300" as the "Port Number".  Again, change the Port Data Type to Direct.

 Once again set up the Connect Script:
Prompt: "callsign:"
Response: "WZ7I"
Select "Enable autoconnect in 80 seconds" and press OK

Aggregator Port
OK, one more port to go -- the port to send the combined spots to the Aggregator.  To figure out how to set up this port, let's first take a look at Aggregator.   

On the "Combine Skimmers" tab, fill out the information and click on the box to enable this function.  Now go to the "Connections" tab where the Skimmer Connection information tells Aggregator where to look for the incoming data.  If you have been using CW Skimmer Server this should be the address of your QS1R but now you want to change it to be the "output" port you are going to set up in WinTelnetX.  In my case Aggregator sits on the same computer as WinTelnetX so I will leave the "IP Address" as "" or "localhost" and set the "Port:" as "23" since I already have RCKskimmer set to use port 7300 on this machine.  Enter your call and delete any password

Now let's return to WinTelnetX to set up an outgoing port.  

 So go to Setup / Add New / RX Network Connect.  Note that this is a different type of port than the incoming ports from the radios that we have previously used.  Let's name this "To Aggregator", set the "Host Name or IP"  to "localhost" and the "Port Number" to "23".  Change "Port Data Type" from "Cluster User" to "Direct".  
Click "OK" and in the empty Connect Script Setup window click "Enable autoconnect in 5 seconds".  Now click "OK".

We now have all the ports configured and all the windows that we will need.  So click on Window>Tile to see the four windows: the three port windows plus the Main console window.  Let's try out the incoming radio ports.  Click just to the right of the little white box in the upper left corner that says "All" and select the menu item "CW Skimmer".  Now click just to the right of this down arrow on the blue and red Connect icon.  If we have things correct the port should log into your QS1R and start CW spots rolling through the window.  Repeat the process choosing RCKskim and clicking on the Connect icon.  You should get a similar login message from your RCKskimmer software. 

 Configuring the Piping
 So far these spots don't know where to go.  So let's install some pipes to get them from the input ports to the output port. In WinTelnetX go to Setup / Routes.  Make certain "2 Way" is selected.  Select "Route From" "CW Skimmer" and "Route To" "To Aggregator" and then click "Add Route"

Now Select "Route From" "RCKskim" and "Route To" "To Aggregator" and then click "Add Route".  Now click "Done"

Start Aggregator, on the "Combine Skimmers" tab make certain the enabling check mark is in place, then go to the "Connections" tab. 

Move to the WinTelnetX application, select "All" in the white window in the upper left corner, and click on the blue and red connect icon.  Now return to the Aggregator / Connections tab and click on "Connect".  It may take 30 seconds or so but you should get the green message, "Connected to the Skimmer Combiner ...". 

Now you should be able to go to the Status tab and see the spots that are being sent to the RBN server.  Go to WinTelnetX and save the setup again with File/Save.
Create a Shortcut
You can start WinTelnetX automatically by creating a shortcut for it and putting that shortcut in the Startup Menu or by creating a Scheduled Task in Windows.  To create the shortcut right click on WinTelnetX.exe and select Create Shortcut.  Then right click on the shortcut and select Properties.  Change the Target box for the shortcut to look like:

C:\Program Files\WINTELNETX\WinTelnetX.exe 2_rx_to_aggregator.ini –start

One warning… if you have spaces in your ini file you will have to put quotes around it.  There should also be a space between the ini file name and the “-start” flag, it may not look like that in certain fonts.

When you use that shortcut it will load the ini file and then start all the ports at once.

If you have more than two skimmer spot sources, you can always add another "input" port to your configuration. 

Good luck.  Enjoy.