First off, for those of you who know me, you’ll know I’m pretty lucky and a little spoilt when it comes to HF, as I have access to a rather decent station with multiple beams and a stack of Flex 6000 radios. To that end, I’ve become accustomed to the way they work, the flexibility (no, really) and the relative ease of configuration and first-time setup. As a result of this, I tend to use them as a frame of reference to compare other rigs to when I get my hands on them. I also work in IT, and have been doing so for 13 years now (at the time of writing), so I’d like to think I’m fairly computer-savvy to boot.
When I was handed the Anan 7000DLE for the first time, I was told to “watch out, they’re a bit tricky to set up”. What a massive understatement that was! I took it out of the box, applied power, and connected its ethernet port directly to a secondary port on my laptop. I tried a few standard tricks using the default OpenHPSDR Programmer software to try to detect the rig, but that revealed no joy. I then found the bootloader switch on the base of the radio (which is barely documented at all, and has no labelling to determine which position is which). I began booting it up with the switch in different positions, and still the programmer app found nothing. A few boot cycles in each position, along with a few wireshark sniffs, finally allowed me to determine which position on the switch was which. For reference, the position closest to the outside of the radio turned out to be the normal operation mode, and the position closer to the centre of the rig turned out to be the bootloader mode.
In bootloader mode, I was finally able to use the OpenHPSDR Bootloader app to detect the rig, and this then allowed me to view and change the IP address configuration. This particular rig had an IP address set already, so the first thing I tried was to set it to DHCP instead. This configuration change worked, but on rebooting into normal operation mode, the rig requested 4 different IP addresses, then ceased responding on all 4 of them. After a couple of attempts at getting DHCP to work, I gave up and rebooted in bootloader mode so I could give the rig a static IP on my network segment which was usable. Finally, I was able to connect to the rig using PowerSDR MRx. I’m not a huge fan of the interface, especially with the default skin (though that’s mostly because I’m so used to SmartSDR), but it’s functional and seems to work fairly well without using an obscene amount of resources. I’m not a fan of needing middleware to get what I consider to be basic functionality to work (eg CAT and audio I/O), so needing VSPE and VAC in order to do this was an irritation. That’s not entirely Anan’s fault (though they could have chosen to write their own software instead), so I won’t hold that against them too much.
The rig seems fairly capable, although it’s limited to 30W drive power on duty-cycle data modes, but the biggest attraction – diversity receive – didn’t seem to cancel noise so much as making everything quieter, signals included. That’s likely down to my not understanding the way it is designed to work though.
All things considered, I’m sure it’s a very capable rig. Would I spend a couple of thousand pounds on it having seen what a nuisance it was to get set up and working? Almost certainly not. For me, the unnecessary complexity and awkwardness is inexcusable. At the very least I expect to be able to detect and configure the rig without much trouble. There was also virtually no information online about how to successfully reflash the firmware, and precisely nothing at all about performing a factory reset procedure. Both important things to have available on a software-defined system.
All in all, I’m sure I’d get along with using it just fine. I can’t forgive its downfalls though, so it went back into its box and off back to the person who loaned it to me to set up and test.