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The Comtech 550 and 570 modems are being replaced by Teledyne Q-Flex modems in 2015. They are being shipped out now to vessels, largely preconfigured for drop in replacement use initially. At some point, they will need to have some more considerable changes made to their configuration so as to make use of their IP interfaces for data. However, that change will need to be coordinated across an individual beam. For now, initial installation will involve the serial interface between the modem and Cisco router.

Receiving a new modem

Upon receiving a new modem, please do the following:

  • Apply power to it and inspect the configuration
    • For L-band systems, adjust the LNB settings to match Comtech
      • LNB type (Main, 2, 3, 8) should be None (Sikuliaq may be different...)
    • Check the Rx parameters to confirm that they match the Comtech modem
      • Interface (Main, 2, 3, 1) should be RS422
      • Service (Main, 2, 3, 2) should be Closed
      • Rate (Main, 2, 3, 3) should match Comtech, but in Mbps (ie 512kbps is .512 Mbps)
      • Clocks (Main, 2, 3, 5) should be Internal
      • ModCod (Main, 2, 3, 6) should be TPC, modulation (enter) should be QPSK, FEC code rate (enter) should be 0.75 (3/4)
      • Carrier frequency band (Main, 2, 3, 7, 1) should be IF for CDM-550 replacement, L-band for CDM-570 replacement
      • Frequency (Main, 2, 3, 7, 2) should be your Comtech's frequency
    • For L-band systems, adjust the BUC settings to match Comtech
      • BUC type (Main, 2, 2, 8, 1) should be #2, BUC no comms
      • 10 MHz Reference (Main, 2, 2, 8, 4) should be #2, on
      • LO (Main, 2, 2, 8, 2) should be set to -15.450000 GHz (Sikuliaq should use -7.375 GHz and Point Sur should use 12.800 GHz)
    • Check the Tx parameters to confirm that they match the Comtech modem
      • Interface (Main, 2, 2, 1) should be RS422
      • Service (Main, 2, 2, 2) should be Closed
      • Rate (Main, 2, 2, 3) should match Comtech, but in Mbps (ie 512kbps is .512 Mbps)
      • Clocks (Main, 2, 2, 5) should be Internal
      • ModCod (Main, 2, 2, 6) should be TPC, modulation (enter) should be QPSK, FEC code rate (enter) should be 0.75 (3/4)
      • Carrier frequency band (Main, 2, 2, 7, 1) should be IF for CDM-550 replacement, L-band for CDM-570 replacement
      • Frequency (Main, 2, 2, 7, 2) should be your Comtech's frequency, but in GHz instead of MHz (move the decimal) 
      • Transmit mode (Main, 2, 2, 7, 6) should be Rx Enabled (the equivalent of RTI mode)
      • Spectrum Inversion (Main, 2, 2, 7, 4)  should match the Comtech modem Tx Spectral Inversion. For L-band ships, this is likely On.
    • Adjust the Tx power level (Main, 2, 2, 7, 5) to match the Comtech modem's Tx power level
    • Set the M&C port IP address (Main, 2, 5, 2), subnet mask (enter), and gateway (enter)
    • Give the modem a name (Main, 2, 4, 1, 4) like "R/V shipname"
    • Store the config for safe keeping (Main, 2, 7, 1) – Give it a name
  • Rack the modem in place of the old Comtech modem
  • Connect the modem
    • M&C port can go into a network spot for control
    • Tx and Rx connectors go to your Tx and Rx coax cables respectively. If you are pulling out an CDM-570L modem, use the large N-type coax ports. If you are pulling out a CDM-550 modem, use the smaller BNC connectors.
    • Connect the serial cable to the DB-25 serial port (labeled EIA-530), remove any grey cabled DB-25/DB-25 adapters you may have in line.
    • Do NOT connect a cable between the DAC and the "Alarms" port on the modem. The new modems arent ready to talk to the DAC yet.
  • If your DAC's System Type setting is 0007, set it to 0005. If it is 0071, set it to 0069. Save the settings in the DAC if you made a change.
  • Power up the modem.
  • Obtain a receive lock on the shore-to-ship signal.
  • When the Rx light is green, contact HSN staff via IM or phone to transmit. Please dont transmit the first time without having someone watch your signal come up.
  • Login via the web interface (default user is admin, password is "paradise"), export the saved settings, and send them to HiSeasNet staff (

Integration with SeaTel antennas

DAC/modem cable

The techs on the Sikuliaq report that the old DAC/modem cables have been shown to work well given the following modifications on the alarms (modem) end of the cable. On the DB-15 side, 

  1. The wire in pin 15 should go to pin 10
  2. The wire in pin 1 should go to pin 15 (ground)
  3. The wire in pin 7 should go to pin 2 (fault common)
  4. The wire in pin 9 should go to pin 7 (Tx off)
  5. Set the DAC system type to have the 2 bit in it
    1. If the DAC system type parameter is set to 0005, set it to 0007.
    2. If the DAC system type parameter is set to 0069, set it to 0071.
    3. If it isnt either of those values, contact the HiSeasNet admins.

The pinout for the alarm port is located on page 189 of the attached manual.

MXP/modem cable

The MXP controller is a little different than the DAC, so the cable is different. The Endeavor techs are working on getting the right pinout setup for this cable. 

Configuration fetch and reload

According to the Teledyne support folks, it is possible to download a configuration from the modem in a format that can be added back to the modem. Using pup, one can:

  • Use the 'gc' command fetch the current config and use the 'add' command to upload a config.
  • The 'add' command creates a config file (if it doesn't exist) and adds settings to it, it has the syntax:
    • add <config name> <mcp=value>  <mcp=value>  ...
  • The mcp can be specified as either a name or number and the command is designed to allow the output of the gc command to be fed back to it to re-upload a config.
  • The 'list' command displays all the configs stored on the modem.
  • The 'delete <config name>' command is used to delete configs.
  • The 'show <config name>' command is used to display a config memory in the same format as the gc command.

If one wants to upload/download config files in XML, one can use root access and have to use FTP. It is also possible to get the complete config through pup as a zip file, then extract out the XML config file. The auto fetching script does just this. 


The modems have a few quirks. The most confusing bits related to settings that are only available when in other modes. Be sure to put the modem in the right mode to enable the settings for those modes. While the web interface greys these values out, the front panel interface may never present them, so it may be difficult to know what is going on.

BUC and LNA local oscillator frequencies are assumed to be low-side. If you wish to enter a high-side LO, put a negative sign in front of the LO when you enter it. This should get the correct calculation to show up. When entering an LO, the Tx or Rx frequency will go from L-band MHz to C- or Ku-band GHz values. If you wish to enable a BUC or LNB (because you need to have a 10 MHz reference or power going to it), you can still enter the L-band frequency for Tx or Rx. To do so, you need to set the applicable LO to 0 MHZ.

Do take note of spectral inversion. When the LO frequency is high-side, you will need to turn on spectral inversion in order to properly lock up a signal and pass data. The Teledyne modems may show a valid EbNo, but not pass traffic when the inversion is incorrect.

The Java- based graphs in the View menu of the web interface are a little tricky to get working. As of Jan 2015, they seem to require Firefox (or at least not Safari), and a recent enough version of Java (8 is fine), along with site security exceptions in the Java control panel for the specific host, plus a bunch of acceptance of expired or unsigned security certificates. 

WARNING WARNING - installing Software Activated Features (SAF) such as a Data Rate License will over write some of the configuration parameters in the modem.  In particular, applying a SAF code will over write the Point to Multipoint setting, and the BridgeMode setting.  If you apply a SAF code, pre-audit all modem parameters, and post audit after applying the SAF code.   Do not recommend applying a SAF code to a ship at sea in case you need ssh access into the modem using a non-HSN path.

Point-to-Multipoint mode

The HSN operations rely on the modem's Point-to-Multipoint mode that is implemented through interface bridging on the Q-flex modems. In order to get the one-shore-to-ship-carrier-and-many-ship-to-shore-carriers configuration, we need to have the modems in P2MP mode (a sub mode off the Bridged mode). 

Our initial firmware supported the configuration of Hub and Remote modems. In later releases, Teledyne changed this option to support its new Q-MultiFlex hub product, making it incompatible with the older Q-Flex without a little workaround. The description from Ian is listed below:

I am sorry that the change we put into the menus has been a little confusing. The new menu settings are used when the Q-Flex is a remote to a Q-MultiFlex hub. This requires slightly different settings under the hood which are not compatible with those needed when Q-Flex modems are used at the hub.

In your system, the original style menus and settings have to be used and this is achieved by using the PUP command. It is a one-time change that will be persistent across reboots, power-cycles and upgrades.  (COMMENT BY HSN STAFF - IT APPEARS THAT A NEW SAF CODE WILL WILL UNDUE THIS CHANGE AS DESCRIBED.  YOU HAVE TO REDO AFTER APPLYING A SAF CODE.)

To do this, Telnet to the modem M&C IP address and login with user/passwd pup/TEST, then issue the commands below:

login: pup



         Paradise Universal Protocol (PUP) client


$login paradise

$save showBridgeMode

File saved OK



The new menus only come into force on the front panel after a reboot, so please either reset the modem or power-cycle it. When the modem comes back up, you can select the Point-to-multipoint mode that you are used to. They should interwork with the previous version, except that data/symbol rate limits are different.




Below are various releases of Q-flex firmware HiSeasNet has tested, or is testing.

Please consult with HiSeasNet staff before changing your modem's firmware. This needs to be done in coordination with HiSeasNet staff to reliably assure your modem will function.


In order to get the web-based/remote upgrade feature working, Internet Explorer needs to be used. Firefox with Java 7 or 8 doesnt seem to do anything. Safari doesnt load the classes correctly. IE with Java 8 and the above mentioned security exceptions seem to do the job, while Chrome on Windows 7 doesnt. Even so, it is safest, fastest, and easiest to do a firmware upgrade by putting the firmware files (cf.img.gz, fpga.bin.gz, and uImage) in a directory named "UPGRADE" on a flash drive, and trigger the upgrade via the front panel (Main->Edit->Unit->Upgrade).

In general, for the upgrade to be successful it is worth saving your configuration, loading factory defaults (Main, edit, memories, recall, [LOAD_DEFAULTS]), then performing a modem reboot to clear the RAM. Once complete, perform the upgrade. 

There are some detailed factory instructions, and some for-best-results-do-this notes from the Teledyne folks regarding upgrades:

Software Upgrades

  • Traffic is interrupted during a software upgrade
  • To perform an upgrade, connect the modem to a PC using an Ethernet patch cable.
  • Ensure the modem and PC are configured for the same network address, but with different IP addresses
  • Please read the software upgrade application note prior to upgrading, ensuring all preliminary steps are complied with
  • The modem should be in Bridge mode, with advanced features such as ACM, routing & acceleration switched off
  • From the browser, connect to the modem’s M&C IP address and log in
  • Navigate to: Edit > Unit > Upgrade > Open
  • Then browse to the zip file containing the new software
  • Q-Flex upgrades complete within 2 minutes
  • If upgrading from a USB stick, The USB needs the standard "UPGRADE" directory with the files unzipped for the software download.  The modem will check for a USB device with the upgrade directory during the recovery process.

Version 3.80.80 Software

  • Fixes bugs and has new features (See Release Notes)
  • Adds sFlow support
  • Release Notes

Firmware Recovery

  • Sometimes the firmware upgrade can fail if the connection is dropped mid-transfer.
  • When the firmware transfers slowly, the modem upgrade will sometimes complete, but the front panel interface might timeout and not show that it is complete. A reboot should bring this back.
  • When an upgrade fails or seems to fail, it may come up with the TX muted. This is part of the reason a remote over-the-satellite upgrade can be iffy. Be prepared to have someone near the modem re-enable the Tx.
  • If an upgrade fails then power cycle the modem with the MAIN key held on during power up and then select RESCUE to connect to a basic web server on that can be used to repeat the upgrade
  • In addition, the Q-Flex always retains the software version that it originally shipped with, so if the upgrade fails then you can always revert to this version by holding down the MAIN key during power up and entering 5 (this is a hidden option) to boot using the backup software version

Serial ports

There is a remote serial port on the modem that can be used to ingest GPS data in the form of a GPGGA or GPGLL NMEA string at 4800 baud for the purpose of updating PCMA round trip times. Should one need this feature, the following notes apply to the GPS feed:

  • A serial cable is required to connect the external GPS device to the Modem - connections are...
    • RS232 data from the GPS device to the Modem REMOTE (D9 connector) female connector pin 9 on the Modem.  If the GPS provides RS422 only then RS422 data 'A' line out may be used instead.
    • Ground from the GPS device to the Modem REMOTE connector pin 1 or 5 (either may be used).
  • Once the GPS device is connected, the Modem GPS input function may be enabled via the front panel controls as follows:
    • MAIN, 2:Edit, 6:PCMA, select Enter (chained menu) to push into the config menus without turning PCMA on, select 3:Use GPS and enter the Satellite longitude.
  • The Modem position will read from an external GPS device via a RS-232 GPS NMEA-183 interface.  No further configuration of the Modem REMOTE port is necessary as this will be configured automatically.  
  • Of course, being RS232, the Modem REMOTE port cannot be connected or configured for other operation when the GPS device is connected.  The Modem only listens to the NMEA sentences from the external GPS device at 4800 baud and there is no data sent back to the GPS. 

Here is the full DB-9 modem connector pin assignment for the modem (see manual for RS485 and more details):

PinRS-232 NameRS-422 NameDirection
3-Master Bpos to modem
4-Slave Bpos from modem
6Tx DataSlave Aneg from modem
9Rx DataMaster A

neg to modem