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Author Topic: Flex-5000A CW Impressions  (Read 36601 times)
AB0Z
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Posts: 72




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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2011, 03:30:19 AM »

Jerry:

I've only very recently got on a Flex 3000, but I'm a mostly CW / RTTY op so maybe my observations will help -

I immediately noticed that any "RF in the shack" is pretty fatal.  With my original analog radio (an FT-1000MP, which I love…) it makes little difference to operating, although I often noticed that the PC I used for logging and digital modes would stumble a bit. With the Flex, the PC *is* the radio so it becomes critical. I often wonder if this is why folks report "stuttering and timing issues" - I certainly had them too, until I finally did the right thing and cleaned up my antenna chain, grounding, choking, etc.

Right now, CW sending works just fine for me - I use both the built-in CWX and a Logikey keyer plugged into the key socket.  I work up to about 30 wpm max but I do the opposite to you and switch off the keyer sidetone / listen to the PSDR tones.  I don't use the QSK, so I can't comment there...

Let me add that a major advantage (for me…) is that the shape of the CW that you send is specially crafted by the software.  It sounds very sweet to a receiver.  A notorious flaw of the FT-1000MP are the terrible keyclicks.  This actually makes the Flex my *preferred* CW sending radio!

Mni 73 de David, AB0Z
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 11:22:45 AM »

I immediately noticed that any "RF in the shack" is pretty fatal. 

You can always tell a Flex owner at a hamfest. He is the Ham carrying 2 or 3 bags of ferrites.... Wink

That's one problem I don't have. Probably because my antenna is 450 feet from the shack.
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2011, 11:01:30 AM »

Update: Several people on the Flex reflector suggested a set of sample size/buffer size settings that should fix the side tone lag issue.

I tried these settings, and they do help, but not enough. There is still noticeable lag between my keyer's side tone and the rig's side tone. Enough to still cause errors in my sending (even at 20 WPM). I'm back to disabling the rig's side tone and listening only to the keyer.

On a related note, Bob McGwier said on the reflector that 2.0.17 will make "CW as it should be." I hope so, because it certainly isn't now.
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2011, 12:22:28 PM »

As far as I know Bob McG does not get any $$ from Flexradio.

Interesting. If this is true, then I wonder what Bob's motivation is for working on the code? I wonder even more why Flex is relying on volunteers to fix critical functions of their own product...
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W9OY
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Posts: 1357


WWW

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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2011, 03:01:43 PM »

I did the super secret handshake and elbow bump and  loaded the new 2.0.18 beta release and as best I can tell using the internal keyer CW is the best I have ever heard from a Flex radio.  I can do QSK down to 6ms delay (the relays are rated at 4ms) there is no popping or variability or clipped characters.  I can hear stations between dits at 60wpm   I listened to my transmitted signal on one of the websdr.org receivers about 700 miles from my qth and running 100W to my vertical it was flawless up to 60 wpm   This is my first check but so far excellent.   

73  W9OY
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K0OD
Member

Posts: 2590




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« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2011, 10:42:01 AM »

FWIW from FlexEdge yesterday about the latest pre-beta:

Quote
"The improvement in CW in this test code is so remarkable that again, you are
reminded,  the radio gets better with each new software release and
sometimes in revolutionary ways.   Some of our harshest CW critics are the
friends doing the testing and are using the internal keyer in this new code
and calling it "perfect".
Let the CW team work out the last gotchas or
settings, modes, etc. misunderstandings and you too will get a new radio...
AGAIN.

Bob
N4HY"

I presume this refers to the PSDR version that W9OY has. 
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2011, 09:57:39 AM »

So when will the unwashed masses see this bit of CW magic?
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K0OD
Member

Posts: 2590




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« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2011, 12:49:17 PM »

Well, the ARRL CW DX test is this weekend. You know you won't see the "CW Magic" release in time for a major contest like that. Smiley

I've discovered that my Flex works pretty well on CW if I disconnect additional antennas from the back. I saw where someone else suggested that on the internet. With my 15 meter inverted V plugged in, keying is terrible on 40 CW with my vertical unless I reduce power to QRP levels.

It would be quite exciting for Flex if they could really get the CW working well at high speed and with some degree of break-in. I think many of us had given up on that ever happening. 

 
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2011, 11:00:47 AM »

Not to take away from the fun of flex-bashing here, this thread is supposed to be about Flex's CW performance. Flex has put out a new version, 2.0.19 RC1, and the guys trying it out and then posting on the Flex reflector say that CW performance is dramatically improved. Have any of you (Stan!) tried the new version? Do you think it is an improvement? I know I do.

As for ferrite beads and RF-in-the-shack, I have found that it can be a problem and that proper treatment, e.g. grounding and choking off RF current on the outside of the coax, solves the problem. What's wrong with that? That comes under the heading of, "best engineering practice."

Oh, and there is a side effect that many seem to miss. Remember that those RF currents on the shield go both ways. The outside of the coax can conduct noise picked up from inside the shack to the antenna where it raises the noise floor. Those chokes on the coax help with that too. Lower noise floor means you can work the weak ones. Think about it.

Ferrite cores on the dog's tail? Roll Eyes

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2011, 04:08:06 PM »


Yes I have tried 2.0.19 and my early views are in another thread here on eham.

I missed them I think. I'd like to read them. Which thread did you put them in?

Quote
Somehow you do not seem to have the correct personality to own a dog, so put those ferrites on your cat's tail.   Wink Cheesy

I have two rescued greyhounds Stan. Lovely dogs. I recommend them to anyone who likes dogs with a calm, friendly demeanor.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2011, 04:30:04 PM »

I have been listening to all the complaints about CW on the Flex radios I thought I would try out the capabilities of 2.0.19 in this area. I have both a Flex 5000a (RX2 and ATU, no VU5K) and a Flex 1500 at home. (The Flex 3000 is at the school where the kids use it.) I used the regular computer, a home-built AMD machine using parts recommended by Neal, for the 5000 and a MacBook Pro (an older one, about 3 years old now) for the 1500.

So far I have been pleased with the performance of all the other features of 2.0.19 but hadn't tried CW. I am not a CW op so I don't use the mode but I can certainly tell when something isn't working. Anyway, I thought I would try it out.

Basically I plugged my bencher paddles into one radio or the other and started sending. I didn't touch anything. I run 96kHz sampling with 1024 audio buffers on the 5000. I run 48kHz sampling on the 1500 with 512 audio buffers.

First impressions: I am impressed as heck. Both the 5000 and 1500 sent at 25 WPM right off the bat. No muss, no fuss, no tweaks, no nothing. Just start sending.

I did play with the break-in value. I cranked it down to 50ms and it was working with break-in between elements. I could clearly hear the RX between dits. Even though it was working at full QSK I did find the TR relay chatter annoying so I played with the break in value to get it to keep the TR relay closed between elements but to open between letters and words. It just worked.

I did keep cranking the speed up hoping to detect where it started to lose the first dit. I was beyond my ability to make characters when I gave up. As far as I could hear, there was no problem with truncated first elements, either dits or dahs.

So as far as I can tell, 2.0.19 is working 100% for all modes. If you have a Flex radio I would say it is time to upgrade to the latest version of PowerSDR.

I will be happy to answer questions about my setup or to help others get theirs going. (Even you Stan! Wink )

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2011, 05:51:56 PM »

I will be happy to answer questions about my setup or to help others get theirs going. (Even you Stan! Wink )

Brian,

I hope you don't think us all idiots who can't get our Flex rigs operating properly without your help. Many of us have been dealing with various issues for a long time, and it's not due to lack of know how or lack of experience. Some things just haven't been right with the software and/or hardware, and the fixes have been very slow in arriving (just ask Stan about the 160m spur issue for an example).

CW has been a particular sore point because sending CW manually using a key is all about timing and the Flex hardware/software has worked against us to make it nearly unusable without workarounds (such as using an external keyer and disabling the rig's side tone). I have yet to try using the internal keyer, so I'll withhold judgement until I do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this new release really does address all issues with CW and that the glitches I've been experiencing go away with some magic combination of settings.
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2011, 06:22:00 PM »


I hope you don't think us all idiots who can't get our Flex rigs operating properly without your help. Many of us have been dealing with various issues for a long time, and it's not due to lack of know how or lack of experience. Some things just haven't been right with the software and/or hardware, and the fixes have been very slow in arriving (just ask Stan about the 160m spur issue for an example).

I don't think you or anyone else here is an idiot. But I really was just offering to come help or to give you help if you want to come to my place. I am not trying to prove anything. I am just offering to help if you want it. No strings, no agenda. Just one ham offering to help another. Hey, I could use some help getting some antennas up in my back yard.

Quote
CW has been a particular sore point because sending CW manually using a key is all about timing and the Flex hardware/software has worked against us to make it nearly unusable without workarounds (such as using an external keyer and disabling the rig's side tone). I have yet to try using the internal keyer, so I'll withhold judgement until I do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this new release really does address all issues with CW and that the glitches I've been experiencing go away with some magic combination of settings.

Look, it is really simple. Until 2.0.19 CW in PowerSDR was *broken*. Period. Flex tried to do the band-aid thing and patch the old software. That didn't work. Now they have thrown all the old CW stuff away and rewritten it from scratch. It really does work now.

I just plugged in my key and I was amazed at just how good it was on both my 5000 and my 1500, using two different computers. It just worked. So, if you are still having problems and want another set of eyes and a spare brain to look and see what you might have missed (it happens to me too -- I regularly suffer from CRS) I was just offering.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2011, 08:02:31 PM »


As Brian has demonstrated here, he thinks his opinion of Flexradio is so much better (and he is smart, just ask him) than others. Him and his Flex reflector buddies look down upon anyone who thinks Flexradios are not great. We are stupid, do not know how to read a manual, set up a firewire card, build a computer etc. etc. etc.

You amaze me Stan. All I did was offer to help Jerry. 

And, yes, I am smart. I have demonstrated that with what I have created and accomplished in my life. I like being smart and using my head to create new things and to teach people new things. You know, being smart is a GOOD thing Stan. I'm glad I am. (And I am waiting for you to make some crack about how this means I don't think you are. FYI, this isn't a zero-sum game.)


73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2011, 08:15:14 PM »

Look, it is really simple. Until 2.0.19 CW in PowerSDR was *broken*. Period. Flex tried to do the band-aid thing and patch the old software. That didn't work.

Where you been?

I've been around Stan. Teaching new hams, operating, helping others.

Quote
I have been saying that for a year here on eham. All I got for my troubles was W9OY calling me nasty names and proclaiming I was stupid. Cw worked great said W9OY, he even did a hilarious column about it (and called me nasty names) on his website.

That is too bad. Probably didn't do anything for his credibility did it.

Quote
You know W9OY right?

Can't say that I do. If he is on the flex lists then I have probably seen his postings but, frankly, his call doesn't ring a bell.

Quote
There is a link to his website on the Flexradio website. Flex is proud of him, he even has the secret handshake for pre-betas.

Is there something wrong with having the secret handshake for the pre-betas? I did. I did a lot of testing. Lots of times my radio stopped working. Stuff happens. OTOH, because of trying things and having my radio not work, Flex got good feedback and now they have released 2.0.19. I feel good about having helped.

Quote
He has been telling us for a year there was nothing wrong with cw on a 5K.

Can't help you there. He is not me. I am not him. Why don't you deal with me and stop worrying about him.

Quote
Beginning to see why Flexradio ehamers do not necessarily believe the company line???

I don't know Stan. I don't work for Flex Radio Systems. It certainly seems to me that the party line is that they are trying to improve things. I think that the release of 2.0.19 bears that out. I am pleased to have been able to contribute through testing and working on the Wiki. I see those as creative and helpful. I am willing to help you or anyone else who needs it. Maybe you can help me become a good CW op.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 11:00:09 PM by WB6RQN » Logged
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