CW Skimmer to Commander

Dick Williams, W3OA

December 12, 2012

CW Skimmer to Commander (SkimCmdr) provides a bridge between CW Skimmer and Commander, the radio control component of AA6YQ's DXLab suite of programs. I started writing SkimCmdr so I could change my radio's frequency by clicking on Skimmer's waterfall display in a way that avoided sharing the serial connection from the computer to the radio. That worked well so I added the ability to have Skimmer track the radio's frequency while I was tuning around the bands.

You should be aware that two methods have been developed to allow Skimmer and Commander to work together. Two are needed because Skimmer works in two different ways depending on the "Hardware Type" you select in the Radio tab of Skimmer's Settings window. SkimCmdr is designed to work in cases where Skimmer's Hardware Type is SoftRock, SDR-IQ, QS1R, Mercury, or Perseus. If Skimmer's Hardware Type is 3-kHz Radio or SoftRock-IF the method described by AA6YQ at should be used.

SkimCmdr communicates with Skimmer via Skimmer's Telnet server and with Commander via Commander's DDE interface. Commander, in turn, controls the radio using the radio's serial port. I developed SkimCmdr using version 9.6.0 of Commander and version 1.71 of CW Skimmer running under Windows XP. Skimmer was connected to an SDR-IQ and Commander was connected to a FTDX5000. I believe SkimCmdr will work with any radios compatible with Skimmer and Commander, respectively, but I have only tested that one configuration. It does run on my XYL's Vista computer - Vista Home Premium. You need to turn on the Telnet client in Vista and have a copy of MSVBVM50.DLL in the same folder SkimCmdr is in. Others have reported success running SkimCmdr under Windows 7.

SkimCmdr has one window with four frames. You enter Skimmer's Telnet parameters in the top frame. Skimmer can be running on the same computer with SkimCmdr and Commander or it can be on a different computer. You use the other three frames to tell SkimCmdr what you want it to do. You can have the Main or Sub VFO change frequency when you click on Skimmer's waterfall display - new in this version is the capability to have different VFOs change frequency depending on if the radio is in split mode or not. You can have Skimmer track the Main or Sub VFO as you tune your receiver. Or you can tell Skimmer to QSY to the Main VFO or Sub VFO frequency by clicking the appropriate button.

SkimCmdr only makes one change to your computer. It stores an .ini file in the same folder SkimCmdr is running from.

I have to mention that AA6YQ, Dave, was a great help to me in writing SkimCmdr. He provided a copy of his DXLab Test program that showed me how to use Commander's DDE interface and much of the code in SkimCmdr was copied from DXLab Test. He also provided prompt answers to any question I asked.

One glitch I ran into early was every time Skimmer sent a frequency to the Sub VFO the radio went into Dual Receive. Dave pointed out I could cure this by unchecking the "Accept Dual Receive Directives" in the General Tab of Commander's Configuration Window.

Please send any question or comments to me, I'd also like to hear of your results using different hardware than I used, the FTDX5000 and SDR-IQ.

Use the link below to download a zip file containing SkimmerToCommander.exe and SkimmertoCommander.doc.


Last Updated: December 12, 2012
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