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Old 09-24-2011, 7:36 PM
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Default WinRadio Excalibur hardware and software use Hints and Basics (picture heavy)

This started as a question in another thread, on how to use specifically the waterfalls in the WinRadio Excalibur software as applied to using the WinRadio G31DDC Excalibur. While not an expert by any means I had at that point been using my Excalibur for over a year and waterfall displays for over 30 years. So I provided a basic answer on what the Excalibur waterfalls could be used for, and what they were.

I could see that the answer was not going to be one post, but probably several post, and might expand even more as questions were asked. So, I decided to make a new thread, beyond just the Waterfalls but into a Hints and Basics kind of thread on using the Excalibur and its WinRadio software. Many of the basics will apply to other SDRs and SDR software, although details may be different.

This is not “my” thread, I think it will only work if many people comment, ask questions, and contribute solutions. Just because I am starting the thread does not mean I think I know everything about the subject, in fact I know I do not, and I think if there are participants both asking questions and answering them the thread might be able to turn into a tool or asset for WinRadio Excalibur users, both new and not so new.

If it appears people are getting some benefit from the thread I will add things as I get a chance. If someone has a suggestion on what to be covered but not enough time to do a detailed response I will be glad to give it a try. Of course, real life, work, and grandkids means it might take me a while to get around to any one item.

Who knows, maybe it will end up being something stickied that new Excalibur users can find informative.


T!
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Old 09-24-2011, 7:42 PM
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WinRadio G31DDC Excalibur software, Waterfall Basics

There are two windows that can be displayed as waterfalls, the upper left window is the “DDC” window and the bottom window is the “Wideband Display” window. The upper right window cannot be used as a waterfall, it is the Demodulator window and can show either post filtered RF spectrum or Audio spectrum. Sometimes in audio mode it would be most helpful if this one would do a waterfall also, it would help to shape filters skirts and notch filter tuning. All three displays can be shown as Spectrum, but only the DDC and WB can be shown as Waterfalls. All three of the display size’s can be adjusted but they can not be repositioned, you cannot, for example, move the Demodulator Spectrum to the left side, in place of the DDC Display.



The waterfall shows data on three axis of data at one time, this is where it is superior to the spectrum display, which only shows two axis of data. In the Waterfall the vertical axis, up and down, is time, the newest data at the bottom and the oldest data at the top. The horizontal axis is frequency, in this case displayed bandwidth (displayed does not necessarily mean demodulated or detected), with low frequency to the left and high frequency to the right. The Z axis is intensity of the signal, with the stronger signal being either a brighter color or a different color, depending on what palette you have selected. I really like the “Default” palette, but I also use the Gray sometimes, which Palette you use is going to be personal preference.

The below picture shows three Palettes, Default, Gray, and Blue. If you don’t find one you like there is even a way to edit them to your liking.



Clicking with the mouse anyplace inside any of the three windows, be they in waterfall or spectrum mode, will cause the currently selected receiver channel to tune to that frequency. So, if you see a signal pop up you can click on it and instantly jump to it, you might have to fine tune a bit after that to get it in clearly.

The DDC window shows the instantaneous bandwidth of whatever you have selected for the DDC, selectable steps between 20 kHz and 2 MHz for the G31DDC and between 20 kHz and 4 MHz for the G33DDC Excalibur Pro. You toggle between Spectrum and Waterfall using the button near the upper left hand corner of the DDC window.

The Wideband Display on the bottom shows you an instantaneously sampled picture of either 9 kHz to 30 MHz or 9 kHz to 50 MHz. The width of this display is selected under the “Options” menu in the tool bar, Options/Frequency Range, and select the one you want, for most SWL/Ute listeners 30 MHz is probably fine. This display is toggled from Spectrum to Waterfall using the button near the upper left corner of the Wideband Display window.

Both the DDC and the Wideband waterfall flow up the screen, the newest data is at the bottom of the waterfall. In my opinion this is backwards, waterfalls should flow down, but so far WinRadio has not changed the software, even though I have been a verbal pain in their butt about this and a few other issues.

The speed of the DDC waterfall flow is not adjustable, but the speed of the Wideband waterfall has 10 settings, from 1 to 10, 1 being slowest and 10 being fastest. Typically I find it most useful at a setting of 1, the slowest. This allows 600 seconds of visual memory of past signals to be kept on the waterfall. Think of sliding up the waterfall as looking back in time at the signals, up to 10 minutes in the past. The DDC waterfall has a history of 50 seconds.

You can slide up and down (the vertical axis, or time) either or both of the waterfalls individually by using the slider bar on the right hand side of each. This is very useful to some listeners (such as utility listeners) to see and tune to short duration transmissions that happened in the “past”. Most displays do not have enough room for you to resize the window big enough to show the full 50 seconds on the DDC and 600 seconds on the Wideband.

You can “zoom in” and “zoom out” on either or both the DDC and Wideband waterfalls by using the magnifying glass ( + and - ) in the upper right of each window. Zooming in changes the displayed frequency width, but does nothing to the vertical time axis. Zooming in and out does NOT remove any data, so you can zoom in to your hearts content and then zoom back out and see other things you might want to look at more closely.

The below picture is of the Wideband display, on the top is the full 30 MHz wideband and the bottom is a “zoomed in” look, using the Magnifiers in the upper right corner of the Wideband area, in this case looking at a bit over 400 kHz centered on the US 27 MHz CB band.



You can slew back and forth across either waterfall when you are zoomed in. This way, for example, you can have the Wideband zoomed in enough to make out individual signals, but still slide it around throughout the frequency range. Most of the time I am zoomed in on the Wideband, but seldom zoomed in on the DDC. Normally for the DDC I just set the width I want with the “DDC BW” menu.

That is the basics of the waterfall displays, what they show, and how it can be of use. In the next post I will hit some high points on how to make the waterfall display what you want to see.

T!

Last edited by Token; 09-24-2011 at 9:09 PM.. Reason: Spelling and typos
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Old 09-24-2011, 7:55 PM
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WinRadio G31DDC Excalibur software; How to adjust your waterfall displays.

In “WinRadio G31DDC Excalibur software, Waterfall Basics” I talked about what the waterfalls in the Excalibur software are, and how to basically manipulate them. The goal of this thread is to talk about how to adjust the waterfalls to get the most out of the data they can show you.

The first thing that many users notice when they push the “Waterfall” button for either the DDC or the Wideband display is that the waterfall might be all washed out and bright, or maybe all dark and not showing very much. This is because the default setting might not be optimal for your antenna or location.

The following image is of the Excalibur GUI with all settings at “Factory Default” and Waterfall selected for the first time. It works, but can be better. Note in particular that the DDC Waterfall is not showing a lot of detail but actually neither is the Wideband Display. Yours may look substantially different depending on your specific noise levels.



The first thing I recommend to be adjusted is the “Min. Level”. The Min. Level is an adjustment that only affects the Wideband Display, the DDC Display always shows from –150 to 0 dBm and, as far as I know, cannot be adjusted. The Min. Level can only be adjusted when the Wideband Display is in the Spectrum mode, not when in the Waterfall mode. This is expressed in negative numbers, so something like –90 dBm will be “higher” than –150 dBm. The factory default is –110 dBm, I find that to high for my location and antennas, a person in a noisy environment might find it too low.

The following picture has the “Min. Level” adjustment circled. It also displays why –110 is too low high a setting for my location, note that on the right side some of the noise is below the bottom of the window. When this is the case you cannot set later adjustments to the correct level to show you those kinds of signals. Remember, although I am talking about Waterfall displays in this post you must go into Spectrum Display on the Wideband Display for this control/setting to show up. After you see it and set it as needed you can select waterfall and the setting will hold.



There is no “right” number for the Min. Level, every location and antenna may need a different setting. I recommend that the level be adjust so that the bottom of the noise at the far right of the Wideband Display is just at or slightly above the bottom of the Wideband Display window but you might find a different setting better for you.

My picture above showed you what I felt was too high a setting. The two pictures below show first a setting that is too low, needlessly low and compressing display range, and the bottom picture is what I like to use, what I consider just about right. Keep in mind there is no real right or wrong, just what works for you. The bottom image is what works best for me.





You might find that you occasionally need to adjust this Min. Level setting, maybe from winter to summer when band noise conditions shift so much. In particular you do not want to be cutting signals off below the bottom of the display.

Now that the Min Level is set we can adjust the dynamic range of each waterfall. To tell you the truth WinRadio uses a term I do not understand, and that is Palette Gravity. But I have found how to adjust it for best performance in my case.

The following adjustments are done individually on both the DDC and Wideband waterfalls. Any adjustment to one does not affect the other, so each must be adjusted individually to your taste. If you get everything too far out of whack you can go back to default easily.

On the left side of each waterfall is a color chart and scale. The color chart itself will depend on the Palette you selected, but together the chart and scale tells you what signal level will make what color on the waterfall.



If you right click the mouse with the curser on this scale you will bring up a menu that has four entries: “Set palette bottom here”, “Set palette gravity here”, “Reset palette bottom”, and “Reset palette gravity”. The location of the mouse on the scale sets whichever level you point the mouse at and left click.



Combinations of the Bottom adjustment and the Gravity adjustment can be used to bring out far more detail in the Waterfall displays. The Bottom adjustment basically sets the lowest level signal that will be displays on the Waterfall, the Gravity adjustment sets some kind of curve that affects response rate. Personally I seldom adjust the Bottom level, I normally leave it at default, but I adjust Gravity regularly. Looking at different bands might require different gravity settings to yield the same visual results.

The following two images of the DDC Dispaly are the exact same signal and the exact same time (achieved by pausing the display and adjusting it with the Waterfall stopped), so the details are exactly the same in the source signal, the left is with default Gravity and Bottom settings, the right is with the Gravity only adjusted. Notice the color chart along the left side of each Waterfall, notice that the one on the right is much more compressed at the blue end. The image on the right is showing much more detail in the signal.



After you adjust both DDC and Wideband Displays you should be able to see much more detail in the Waterfalls, making them more useful.

I can see that soon I will have to get into display bandwidths and resolution bandwidths. I will also need to explain what a person is seeing in different mode signals when looking at a waterfall.

T!

Last edited by Token; 09-24-2011 at 9:12 PM.. Reason: Spelling and typos
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Old 09-24-2011, 8:13 PM
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Awesome job Token Thank you!!
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Old 09-24-2011, 11:02 PM
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great start..already learnt stuff i didnt realise was user definable.

looking forward to the next installment

apgman
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:07 PM
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Excellent tips Token, the tip on waterfall display speed really helps for utility HF.

Keep'em coming

Thanks Mike
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:40 PM
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Thanks Token! Your patient explanations and very helpful graphics are extremely useful in helping me to get the most out of my new radio. Here's hoping you'll keep adding to this useful resource. Once again, thank you for your time and efforts!
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:07 PM
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Anybody have any tweaks to null out noise, my G31 is a bit noiser then my ICOM 8500, I am playing with filters,gain & the noise blanker. I am wondering if a dedicated power supply or MFJ 1026 would help, I am using a stridesberg active splitter for both radios with a 66ft Par longwire.

Thanks
Mike
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Old 10-30-2011, 5:55 AM
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New software out for G31DDC its 1.55 as of 10-27
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Old 11-08-2011, 9:24 AM
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There is now a third party .dll ( g33ddcapi.dll ) that allows a user to run the G33DDC Excalibur Pro software with the G31DDC Excalibur hardware. This brings some of the functionality of the Pro to the regular Excalibur. I have tried it, and it does seem to work, but I have been much too busy with work to look at it in detail or to add to this thread. I have a couple of ideas of guide/help things to throw in this thread, but have not had the time to do them.

What I know so far, running the G33DDC software with the G31DDC hardware does not activate hardware features, such as 4 MHz DDC record, RF front end BPF, or the preamplifier, this should be clear and obvious to anyone, software does not add hardware . A couple of features I thought would be software based appear to be hardware instead, and so also do not work with the Pro Software/G31DDC hardware combination, and that is the dual notch filter and the selectable SSB on ISB and DSB modes.

But, what does appear to work is the enhanced measurements capabilities, clock based time tags on waterfall displays, clock playback during DDC record, longer filter sample rates (improved filter performance), selectable RX to specific sound card outputs (VAC functionality), and several other more polished features.

Keep in mind that this is a 3rd party DLL. One can think of it as a “hack”. As such there might be issues that could void any warrantee if you decide to use the software/hardware combination. Look at it as you would any other 3rd party software, use it with caution and at your own risk.

T!
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Old 11-08-2011, 9:29 AM
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Thanks Token
Where can someone download this .dll file and how do you install it?

Sal
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Old 11-09-2011, 5:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woebbers View Post
Thanks Token
Where can someone download this .dll file and how do you install it?

Sal
Let me re-iterate I have nothing to do with this file or DLL. Use it at your own risk. I have no idea how this may impact any warrantee you have with WinRadio on your equipment. As it was developed using the publicly released WinRadio SDK it is probably legally above board, but I am sure WinRadio might take a dim view on people activating “Pro” features on their none-Pro receivers.

However, my hardware is long out of warrantee, so I have been using the DLL for a few days now, and it seems stable and correct to me.

The file can be found here http://italy.comoj.com/g33ddcapi.dll

You will need to have the G33DDC software loaded on your machine, it can be downloaded from the WinRadio web site at WiNRADiO Software Download for Windows

You will need to have the G31DDC software installed (I assume an owner of the G31DDC already has this) and the latest version can be found here WiNRADiO Software Download for Windows

I am currently running V1.55 of the G31DDC software and V1.58 of the G33DDC software. Today a new version of the G33DDC software was released, V1.66, but I have not yet tried it.

You download the DLL mentioned above and place a copy of it in your G33DDC software folder. In my case it is in C/My Documents/WinRadio/G33DDC. Why it (The WinRadio G33DDC software) auto installed into My Docs I have no idea, but it did.

After that you just light off the G33DDC GUI and you are in control of your G31DDC. The GUI says Excalibur Pro in the lower right corner, but you are running the G31DDC. I had no startup troubles at all, and most of the Pro features in the software seem to work with the G31DDC hardware just fine.

All regular G31DDC features work under the G33DDC software, as far as I can tell nothing is lost.

G33DDC features that do work when running a G31DDC with DLL adjusted G33DDC software

- Activity Logger
- Scheduled Recordings that include DDC recording
- Demodulator Filter Length to 20000 vs 5000
- Audio buffering with adjustable range
- AMS Capture range and settings Audio output mapper (VAC functionality)
- Fully adjustable tuning step size, from 1 to 50 kHz
- Measurement data
- Show Data rates (local PC data rates with RX)
- Waterfall time stamps
- Auto insert frequency, date, and time in file record names for both DDC and Audio recs
- Received signal pause feature

- In AM mode, AFC added
- In AMS mode, AFC added
- In FM mode, AFC added
- ISB mode added, may not be 100% functional
- DSB mode added, may not be 100% functional
- In UDM mode AFC added to AM and FM modes

- The Demodulator window is wider spanned, from 25 kHz under G31DDC to 64 kHz under G33DDC




G33DDC features that do not work

- Preamp selection does nothing (hardware)
- RF Filter appears to do something on the display, but actually does nothing
(hardware)
- DDC record or display width only up to 2 MHz, not the 4 MHz of the G33DDC Pro
- Second Notch filter does nothing

The only performance that might be questionable is the AMS lock, I am not
sure but it looks like the AMS lock is not occurring on weaker signals. And DSB and ISB seem to be “odd”, hard to define, but I am not quite convinced they are working right.

That is about it. When running the G33DDC software with the G31DDC hardware you basically gain all of the features I have said were missing from the G31DDC. It is a complete package that competes with anything else on the market in every way at that point. It was good before, it is top shelf with this software, the ONLY thing lacking is remote access, and that is not that big a deal to me.

T!

Last edited by Token; 11-09-2011 at 6:18 PM..
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Old 11-09-2011, 7:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
You download the DLL mentioned above and place a copy of it in your G33DDC software folder. In my case it is in C/My Documents/WinRadio/G33DDC. Why it (The WinRadio G33DDC software) auto installed into My Docs I have no idea, but it did.
Ooops, not. The file location for my application is in C:/Program FIles (x86)/WINRADIO/G33DDC, this is the file I installed the DLL in.

T!
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Old 11-11-2011, 1:50 PM
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Thanks T!

works for me as well

Sal
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:15 AM
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Thanks Token works great

Ohioscan
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Old 11-14-2011, 7:09 PM
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There seems to be some controversy about running this DLL. From what the originator says the DLL was developed from the published SDK and did not involve any reverse engineering. It also apparently does not involve any modification to WinRadio software. However, it appears WinRadio has a clause about "activating features from another WinRadio product", or something like that. No word has come down from WinRadio that I know of but it would appear that some people are saying using this DLL is not legal.

I have no idea myself, but will talk in the future about such possibilities only as hypothetical, I do believe in intellectual property rights to a certain extent.

T!
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:37 PM
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Default Works OK, But

The pro software seems to work as Token has described, how ever I found the Noise Blanker doesn't operate either. I've been doing some reception tests on some known and reliable stations and comparing the two packages. Audio wise and signal wise I can't tell any difference between them, so for some one like myself who isn't concerned with the extra features may as well stay with the standard Excalibur package.

As for the demod filter settings, again I can't tell the difference between 5000 and 20000 when listening or tuning. Am I missing something or is it a case of 5000 is steep and everything after this only makes very tiny changes to an already sharp filter?

I think the Excalibur Pro must be a pretty cool radio with all other options working but the price IMO put's it outside of the average listeners reach. The standard Excalibur version with a few extras in the software would make it a killer, which Winradio probably wouldn't want as it may drive sales down on the pro.

What do you guys think?


Sol
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Old 07-26-2012, 7:04 PM
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Default Shortwave receivers.

Hello All.

Im a radio hobbyist in London, Ontario Canada and I am really curious about the WiNRADiO Excalibur and Excelsior external receivers. Are they prone to noise and interference from other nearby electronics? How good is decoding WEFAX with either receiver? I used to own a G303i and it seemed to pick up a fair bit of noise.

Thanks Sheldon.
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Old 11-05-2012, 4:02 AM
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Good day to All! help to download the file g33ddcapi.dll.... the link above doesn't work...would very much like to try it on your receiver
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by se View Post
Hello All.

Im a radio hobbyist in London, Ontario Canada and I am really curious about the WiNRADiO Excalibur and Excelsior external receivers. Are they prone to noise and interference from other nearby electronics? How good is decoding WEFAX with either receiver? I used to own a G303i and it seemed to pick up a fair bit of noise.

Thanks Sheldon.
In this day and age RFI noise is everywhere. I live in a gated community where I own a small house and lot.
With all the plasma TVs in the area I can't believe how it affects my 2 shortwave receivers. JRC 535D and a
Kenwood R5000.

Seems like everyone in here has gone wireless for Internet and cordless phones. Not sure what harmonics
work their way down to HF levels but I'm sure there are plenty.

I do have a Wellbrook 330S loop that has helped as long as you get it away from the house.

Ken
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