Omni VII - Suggestions for Improving TRIP Audio on Your Computer

From the Omni VII Yahoo! Group - August 17, 2008

Here are some things to try to make sure your PC is not the issue.

  • Disable your anti-virus program.
  • Make sure your hard disk is not using disk compression. If it is, you will have issues.
  • Turn off your system restore. Windows is constantly indexing any changes you make.
  • From the command command line, type msconfig. It will list things that you can turn off at start up.
  • Make sure you uninstall ANY browser helpers, Google Toolbar, Weather Channel updater, Weatherbug, etc.
  • Run ADAWAR to make sure you don't have any spyware banging your browser. Spyware can bog down the whole system.
  • Sharing any peripherals? That will also slow things down. Are you using internet sharing? That's a real big one to slow your system down.
  • Check your NIC advanced properties. Disable QS protocol (Quality of Service). Disable Wake on LAN. Disable power saving on any ports. Yep, it's another process that is running to see if a USB port or anything else is idle or being used.
  • Go to control panel and see what software is installed that you may not need.
  • Make sure you have the latest driver for your NIC (that's why they keep making new versions…)
  • Don't use Vista unless your computer was designed for it and you have MORE than the minimum memory requirements.
  • Disable Updater software. HP has one that sits in the system tray. Java, Active-x, even Adobe Reader has one. These are always checking for updates at random times while you are online.

It's like driving a car. They just build them, it's up to yo to maintain and drive it. Having said that, my money is on computer issues and not the rig.

73, N8DNG

August 17, 2008

These are terrific ideas. And these issues can all arise on a system that does NOT have defects.

To these I would add, and reiterate, that if you have a defect, like a damaged LAN interface that is chattering (only one of several possible issues) you will have additional, spurious traffic on the wire that can virtually use up your whole ethernet bandwidth.

The only good way to see this stuff is with a packet sniffer. These can be got online as shareware, and run on another computer of course.

Without the tools, you can't see the problem.

Another thing to look for is if your lan is running on outdated 10 Mbit hardware, instead of the newer 100 Mbit (or faster) hardware.

It is not generally understood that if you load a lan to about 10% (sometimes less) that it will begin to develop excessive packet collisions that will bog it down terribly. Obviously moving to modern 100 Mbit hardware moves this problem way out.

Another thing is the use of old, inappropriate HUBS, instead of modern routers or switches.

Not only does a Hub repeat everything on every port (which the others do not) but the older hubs had very limited backplane speeds compared to modern hardware. And some had pathetic firmware in them.

Switches are really cheap now. Get a modern Linksys, 100Mbit switch instead of an old 10 meg, hamfest junker.

73 de Gary, AA2IZ

August 18, 2008

This was an excellent list.

I have used a few of these when customers called in and got their remote site up and running. Having worked at TenTec, all in all, I would say that of the 100 or so that called me up directly to get their network interface working, there were less than 10 that I could not get going with just a few tweaks to settings on their computer or settings in the rig. Most of the time, the resolution was in cleaning up the computer setup.

  • Getting rid of eternally leaching update programs. These even affect other Voip applications. One Plug is a little more susceptible to their leaching effects of network and computer resources, mainly due to the fact that One Plug requires higher bandwidth due to better compression algorithms in the other Voip apps.
  • Cleaning up the desktop. Trust me, people will argue with you until you are blue in the face saying it has nothing to do with it, but it does. Especially if indexing is on. If something does something to scan a registry for anything, it also scans the desktop, and if you have files on the desktop, it scans the entire desktop, thus blocking directx events and/or winsock socket call backs, meaning audio doesn't go where it is suppose to and turns into continued gurgles and stutters. I hate to say it, but this was always the first thing I had them do, and in about 20% of the people that called me for help, this was the one thing that cleared up the audio the most. What does "cleaning up the desktop" mean? For me, I created a folder in "my documents" called "virus stuff", put into it all of the shortcuts to my virus programs into "Virus Stuff". I then put a shortcut to Virus Stuff on my desktop. (More on why I have multi virus programs later) I then created a folder in "My Documents" called…. I hope you get the drift, consoldiate shortcuts into a folder that is meaningful, and then have no more than 10 shortcuts on your desktop. Keep recycle bin there, and iternet explorer (sorry mac guys), and your shortcut to My Documents, and your shortcuts to your shortcuts folders in My Documents.
  • Antivirus, antispyware, antirootkit, etc. I have had instances where I had people download the free adaware program (even though they claimed their McAfee or Norton or AVG cleaned everything), they downloaded adaware, and ran it and it cleaned out from 10 to 300 items, and then they started getting good audio. Me? I ran Spybot, adaware, avg spyware, avg antivirus, avg antirootkit, and each one would find things the other didn't. I had a vigil where every friday I would run this on every computer I had. Cleaning up things and making my weekend use of my OMNI-VII at TenTec very clean. (I miss using it, since now I'm no longer there, but oh well, that is life)
  • Defragment your hard drive religiously. Yes, it was one of the things I did every friday, on every computer I had whether WIndows said it needed it or not. I actually ran AOL defrag because it did a better job than MS defrag did. (yep, still have AOL as a backup dial up account for when my cable goes out, and it does).

Now on to the radio side.

  • Compression.
    • I always compress RIP, never heard it work better when it wasn't compressed. Opinions may vary, results may vary.
    • I never had to compress TRIP, but I could get it working, BUT, VERY VERY important thing to remember, the settings that you use for rig gain A and pc mic gain will change drastically when you switch from compressed trip to uncompressed trip. I've posted ad nauseum on here how to adjust the rig gain and pc mic gain, so I won't post it again, but for normal uncompressed trip, I almost always had my rig gain at around 35 - 40% and my pc mic gain set to 100%. If you remember two things, then you should be able to get the best audio you can. (At least this worked for me, others may have other ways) I used PC MIC Gain to get rid of the background hash noise that is added in by the laptop microphone, then the rig gain to get ALC. Set rig gain to 50, and adjust pc mic gain until you get what sounds like good audio, tweak rig gain then to get good alc, but start at 50 rig gain and 100 pc mic gain. If your mic sounds way way to strong at 50/100, then adjust pc mic gain down until it sounds decent, and if you aren't at alc then adjust rig gain to get there. A lot of customers had issues where the audio from the microphone was just too hot and they couldn't find a sweet spot until they tried the above steps. I never liked any of the results from built in microphones. I always suggested going to a USB mic, such as the logitech 250, or 350. For several customers this was a big key in getting it working properly for them. However, on several laptops I found that you could not turn off the computers internal microphone, even though you told winows to turn it off. This means that someone using a USB headset with its own microphone would add the audio into the microphone buffer of the sound card. So would the internal built-in microphone, thus having two audio streams summed together causing a very poor audio for transmit. So we had to disable the mic on the USB headset for them to transmit. They could then use the usb headset for receive and the laptops mic for transmit. Two people opened up their laptop and put a switch on the laptops internal microphone so that they could run trip through the usb headset, then they were happy. As others have said, system issues do cause problems in ways that you would never have thought until you do a lot of digging.
  • I have seen instances where people had digital noise that made the transmit audio illegible. It is kind of easy to pick out since it sounds like a constant tick or hash or background noise. They put the router on the other side of the OMNI-VII and it went away, away from the antenna.
  • I always ran with lock trip to rig. The only reason that this is there in the first place is due to people that may have routers or connections that may drop some packets, and if you have lock trip to rig, then what you are doing is sending out trip packets as rip packets are received. If your router drops incoming rip packets at a rate greater than 2-3% or so, then you may want to uncheck this option, and One Plug will try to time sending out the packets on its own. What this also does though is set up just one more timer event. Unfortunatley, having multiple timers is not a good thing in VB, it can drop timed events if they occur at exactly the same millisecond. I've seen and proven this in testing.
  • Before you ever go remote, use the laptop you want to use with a cross-over cable right next to the rig. But don't expect it to work 100% the instance you hook it up with a cross over. I have had two customers who were having poor transmit, and hooked cross over and still couldn't get it to work right. They went and got a second cross over and then it worked fine. I had others who hooked a cross over, poor transmit, bought a second cross over, poor again. Then hooked the rig to a Linksys router, and the router to the laptop, and it was clear. Now I have no earthly idea why there was a difference, but there was. I have customers who swear by Linksys, and I also have one of the longest running good audio customers who says Linksys failed for him and bought a Belkin and has been happy ever since. Go figure. Situations vary, and I have no earthly knowledge of why???? I've got a customer that used a gaming adapter with great success, yet a direct line to a router or a cross over gave less than desirable effects.

There are a lot more things that have been stated in the past that have gotten people up and running.

I would think that someone who has the time could look through the archives, and consolidate them into a single file and post it here for others to see and update as they find things that help. That is what the original FAQ document file was for on the TenTec website, but it may not get updated again. It also has things to check for and how to handle certain error codes.

Disabling Vista's UAC helps, seen it cause a 1% decrease in RIP that was dropped.

As a point of information, One Plug was written in VB, and VB is not as nice a real time operating program as C or C++ is on Windows. If Carls N4PY is handling the network activities through his C/C++ program, then his should give better results than One Plug. I do know that other people are working on their own programs in different languages and even for mac/linux, and hopefully, they will make them available for others as time goes by.

All of the above shouldn't be taken as "well, it can work, and if you can't get it to work, you're doing something wrong"…. No, Just trying to point out things that I have done with customers to help get them running. Honestly, I know of three people that returned their rigs because no matter what we did we could not get them running cleanly. I know of two customers that switched over to using a computer next to the rig and running VNC and Skype or IPSound. (may be more that have done this, but I can't remember).

73, de KI4JPL
John Henry

August 18, 2008

Do I dare suggest another important clean up protocol?

Clean out the TRAY down in the right hand corner!! This is something I learned as a beta tester for speech recognition programs. Those little utility applets consume a lot of processor bandwidth and steal valuable processing time from your really important applications. For example, the speech recognizer is programmed to spend x clock cycles deciding on what it thinks you said… and then types it. If Norton Utilities (I hate Norton stuff) is running and waiting to tell me that my hard drive is full, or my printer driver is monitoring the amount of ink on hand, … well… those programs are stealing valuable clock type from your productivity applications.

I believe this is another place you can clean up your computer. So, clean up the tray, also.

Just MY take.
Richards - K8JHR

August 18, 2008

The problems may all be related to excessive computer resource use. I recently had a similar problem with a non Ham situation and resolved it by doubling the RAM.

One thing to check is the CPU usage and memory usage using the Task Manager in Windows. This can give you an idea of what software is tying up the computer resources at any moment. If ther CPU usage is stuck on 100% then some programmes won't get a look in.

The other thing to remember if you are using Firefox is that the longer Firefox remains open the more resources it eats up. It's advisable to shut it down and restart it every now and again if it's being heavily used (particularly where there might be a RAM issue).


August 15, 2008

I am not an Omni VII owner (I own a K3), but I have followed this group with interest since its inception. I am surprised that during this discussion nobody has mentioned this little gem of a program:

It is used to check a computer's "deferred procedure call latency", which is a critical factor for good real time audio and video streaming performance. The author also suggests using the device manager to search for offending device drivers while monitoring. Folks with TRIP problems would also be wise to join the LP-PAN group as there is plenty of advice there on how to clean up computers for good audio performance.

Knut - AB2TC

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