Contour ShuttleXpress SDR tuning works well with SDRplay, but not so well with other radio control software. Routing keystrokes properly is tricky.
I received the Contour ShuttleXpress SDR Tuning device for Christmas, with a view of using it with some of my software defined radios. Previously. I have used a MIDI controller for radio control and that worked fine.
In looking at the various plugins available for SDRuno, I found one designed to mate with the Contour Shuttle devices for SDRplay radio control. You will find some of these plugins are included, while others can be downloaded from the community. Contour Shuttle Plugin is from the community.
Downloading and installing these is easy, as is installing the driver for the ShuttleXpress, shown above. An excellent instruction manual is provided. As you will see, Contours driver can automatically detect your application and use custom settings. I mainly use this for frequency and volume, as well as changing filter widths.
Now, to be fair, I am very comfortable using an SDR without knobs. Typically, using the mouse wheel to tune the receiver and clicking the mouse for other controls works fine for me.
But, if you want a knob for your SDRplay, the ShuttleXpress is relatively cheap and works well. Also, it is very easy to customize the two wheels (tune and jog) as well as the five buttons for a variety of control tasks. It is also relatively straightforward to scroll through various control options on the fly. This tuning device is quite heavy and stays in play on the desk when used.
Contour ShuttleXpress SDR with Other Gear
Building customized settings for ShuttleXpress is simple, but that’s where the easy stops. You do not need a plugin for most application control. These Contour devices work by sending keystrokes to an open application on your PC. I was able to do some limited control of SDR Console V3, but the device would not work at all with PowerSDR.
Sending keystrokes to an application can be tricky. Since PC applications have a variety of controls and windows, getting keystrokes to arrive at the right destination often depends on which part of your program “has the focus”. For example, in SDR Console, if the spectrum display window has the focus, the knob changes frequency. On the other hand, if the volume control has the focused, the same knob will instead change volume.
This approach using Contour or MIDID devices really requires a complex application to have a specific command processor built in to route the keystrokes to the correct destination. The SDRplay plugin does this. Simon has promised better keystroke handling for a future version of SDR Console, and I look forward to that.