Yes, Flex rigs use Firewire , not USB nor sound card interface.
Latop or desktop one would want one with a decent mid range or better dual core grade CPU with minimum
of 1 MB worth of cache (taken from Flex radio sites knowledge base)
Regarding PCMCIA cards aka PCM. PCMCIA is dead and had been for some years. I dont think a
laptop has been made with such slots recently (some years...like 5 plus years).
Express Cards is what they are called now. Same thing only newer and better and different pin out.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard
So, a new laptop buyer will want to look for that listed. From my recent research not all laptops come with such.
I too am interested in Flex rigs and am pondering what PC to build. I keep coming around to a laptop as a dedicated unit for
the SDR radio as a better option but i"ve yet to make up my mind.
From what I've read lately whilst researching is a couple tenets:
Built in firewire on desktop pc's mother boards can be problematic with SDR and the rule of thumb appears to be the best bet
is use a plug in Firewire ONLY card using the Texas Instruments chipset. One does not want a multi purpose plug in
firewire card. It has to do with interrupt latency and such... Multifunction cards have latency issues that can dork with the
SDR timing. Mobo based Firewire tends to have similar issues. It seems a shot in the dark if it will work. I base this on reading not on first hand experience with Flex rigs...
I'd post links but a quick Google search and some reading at the Flex radio site in the knowledge base would turn this info up.
As for laptops with built in firewire. I suppose the same rule may apply. I've not found much material from hams using
laptops and Flex rigs. Based on what little I've found it appears if the built in firewire on the laptop is not up to snuff
a dedicated Express Card firewire plug-in can work better.
In my recent search for laptops I've discovered a good many made these days do not have built in Firewire.
It sure would be nice to hear from Flex rig owners who are using a laptop to run the SDR software and give some solid
Myself, I'm looking hard at the Asus N61JQ-X1 NoteBook Intel Core i7 720QM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220696
It's a bit more than I need to spend but for the price it would be hard to beat. Has USB 3.0 included.
1 k buck for a rig of that caliber is 'cheap'.
I've calculated I'd spend about 350 dollars building a Mini ATX system including a new monitor and that is
if I supply a spare Core2 CPU I have laying around.
The more I think about it the more attractive a laptop sounds.
So, laptop and Flex runners. POST your results!
Maybe I'd discover I could get by with a 600 dollar cheapi laptop.