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Author Topic: Flex-5000A CW Impressions  (Read 35545 times)
WB6RQN
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Posts: 484




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« Reply #60 on: February 25, 2011, 08:34:12 PM »

Since I have been called many very nasty names by your Flexer friends the last few days here on eham, perhaps you should direct your comments towards them. Perhaps you have tunnel vision and did not see the nasty Flexer diatribe right above the post you quoted. Selective vision perhaps?

Here is a nice Flexer remark directed to me:
"I cheered when Flex kicked him off the their forum!  What a mean spirited, disruptive, degenerative SOB!"

I never call anyone nasty names. I can not get passionate enough with any radio to show that kind of rage.

You know, you are right. Neither the post calling you an SOB nor the post calling me an ass was called for. They devalue our hobby.

Every day I teach ham radio to kids. I try to find ways to make it relevant and interesting. Do you know how hard it is to find other hams to be role models from a technical and operational point of view? I sure as heck wouldn't want them to come here and read the postings. Spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance? Yeah, right.

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It just is not personal with me..

I would even answer a CQ by you Brian..  Smiley

Well, when someone calls me an ass then that is getting pretty personal. I would probably take exception to being called an SOB too.

This has been a long, hard week. Our school had Science Fair today. This year there were no ham radio projects.

I hope everyone on this list has a good weekend and comes back looking to be friendly and helpful.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W7SMJ
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Posts: 126




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« Reply #61 on: February 25, 2011, 11:32:01 PM »

Wow Pierce, you're right, that was quite a rant!  You claim to be recently disillusioned with Amateur Radio after reviewing this forum and then you proceed to make reference to  "old tired out goats", and then reference a "mean spirited, disruptive, degenerative SOB!"  No, that's not mean spirited in any way, is it?

Your assessment is not only very unfair and inaccurate, it's very hypocritical too!   Bravo and kudos to you!

While you may think the material in this forum is a "waste", I have found it to be very informative and valuable and I appreciate the contributors taking the time with their posts.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I don't own a Flex and have never owned and SDR transceiver so I can't interject an informed opinion on a Flex one way or the other.  Having said that, I can make observations and it is interesting to me that any negative comment regarding Flex in this forum usually results in an almost maniacal and fanatical response.  Why is that?  Nevermind, that was a rhetorical question and I have been able to figure out the answer myself.

Also, FWIW, if I had spent approximately $3,500.00 on ANYTHING and it didn't work as advertised over a year later I probably would be pretty upset too.  Who wouldn't?

73,
Scott
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #62 on: February 26, 2011, 08:35:40 AM »

There is nothing worth replying to. We have the Flex Bashers. We have the Flex Basher Bashers. We have the Flex Basher Basher Bashers. Everyone on all sides is Holier Than Thou and oh-so-justified.

"Flex didn't fix the problems in MY time frame." (bash bash)

"That Flex Basher is a mean spirited SOB." (bash bash)

"That Flex Fanboi is an ass." (bash bash)

So, who is going to break the chain? Who is going to decide to sink to the level of courtesy and respect first? Oh, it is going to be hard because it will be open-season on the people going for respect. It will be oh-so-much-fun to bash them when they don't respond because, after all, we are *right* and we have God on our side.

Actually, I have to deal with this sort of thing regularly but I have to deal with it from 11-year-olds. And eventually they get the message and find that mutual respect and cooperation in the pursuit of solving problems goes a lot further than laying blame and poking fun at others. And I sure as heck don't expect this kind of behavior from adults.

So, does anyone actually want to talk about Flex-5000A CW Impressions? That is the subject line on this thread. As I have said several times, CW on the Flex-5000 sucked (past tense). I just tried the new version. QSK seemed to work quite well to me. So what is YOUR experience now? Has it improved? Is it usable NOW? Can you change it from unacceptable to acceptable through configuration changes? Now that discussion would be on-topic, germane, and useful.

I like the Flex radios. I am not apologetic for that. But I am no slavish adherent. God knows I have complained to Flex many times about things I didn't and don't like. My experience is that Flex has been responsive. They have solicited my input and then acted upon it. I cannot complain about that.

So, is anyone here interested in a productive discussion?

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
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Posts: 484




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« Reply #63 on: February 26, 2011, 11:00:53 AM »

CW on the Flex-5000 sucked (past tense).

So, is anyone here interested in a productive discussion?

I have been proclaiming that CW on the Flex was crap for the last Year. And for a Year Flexers like W9OY have been proclaiming CW was great. I have been ridiculed and abused verbally by your Flexer friends. W9OY's website link is prominently displayed on the Flexradio Website Homepage and on his website W9OY ridicules me and calls me a very nasty name, all because I had the nerve to say Flex CW was crap. He consistently promoted the great Flex CW on this website for a very long time. I have to assume that Flexradio agreed with W9OY's insights.

Now you Brian, as a well known Flexer, say that  "CW on the Flex-5000 sucked".

Where were you for the last year when I was getting beat up on this cw subject? Why were you not defending me??

Then you should feel vindicated. OK, you have also said, "I TOLD YOU SO," and I certainly have acknowledged that.

As for you question, I don't know where I was but I know I wasn't here. I did see a fair number of "CW sucked" messages over the past year or so and I did see acknowledgement from Flex. CW did work (for some values of "work" > 0 Smiley ) and for some it was usable. For some it was unusable and Flex said they were working on it. I took it for granted that everyone pretty much agreed that CW on the Flex radios was not good. Personally I didn't care because I don't run CW. (If I have a computer present there are better, more power efficient modes than CW so I am going to use them for weak-signal work. Since the Flex radios must have a computer present, QED ...)

As for you, frankly, I didn't know you had been kicked off the list. I did sort-of notice that you stopped posting, kind of like when the furnace turns off and suddenly you realize that you can hear the TV better without the fan noise. Smiley Sorry to say it but I did find your unceasing complaining to be annoying. You had gotten your message across but then you continued to beat the dead horse.

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Sorry Brian, too little, too late.

You want productive feely good discussions? Go back to your beloved Flex reflectors..

Stan K9IUQ

So, as far as you are concerned, it is "too little and too late," so we can never have a productive, positive discussion here? That certainly isn't my first choice for an attitude. But it is interesting that you think that productive, positive discussions go on over on the Flex reflectors but it is "too little and too late" for them here.

No Stan, I am going to hang out here and answer real questions people have. Hopefully we can eventually put the negative attitudes aside. And I am not going to bash you either. I agree with you that the CW was not good (sucked) on the Flex-5000. I no longer believe that to be true. Apparently you don't either according to your posting on the Flex 5000 side-tone. Good. Flex is making progress on fixing things. Let's see if we can too.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W9OY
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Posts: 1348


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« Reply #64 on: February 26, 2011, 12:38:24 PM »

You know flex has a 30 day trial period  if its not your cup of tea send it back.  Pretty simple and more than fair.  As far as changing the way the radio works, there are those of us who rolled up our sleves and set about improving the radio's performance and there are those that get on eham and bitch and bitch and bitch  that's also fair because this is a free country.  If you are sitting on the fence wondering about the radio why would you possibly take the advice of a self appointed expert and bitch meister instead of taking the radio for a 30 day test drive?

Personally I have worked on this radio since its drawing board days as a volunteer, and on the sdr-1000 before that, slowly grinding through the issues toward solutions.  We have seen many solutions and improvements over the course of the last ten years.  I reset my dxcc total the day i got my sdr-1000.  since that time i've worked 300 countries on 40 80  and 160 all on cw and all very part time many on the first or second call, all using simple vertical antennas.  i've worked thousands of hams in regular qso i've worked contests including using the radio as a so2r  digital modes as an IF for transverters, i use it as the control hub for my fully automated antenna switching and automated amplifier switching and on and on. I have never owned such a versatile piece of radio gear.  How therefore can this device be such a piece of crap as some would have us believe?

Now i'm sure i will get labeled with the pejorative fan boy from the peanut gallery. I am a fan boy because this amazing radio is deserving of a fan

if you don't like it in the 30 day window send it back  if you don't like it after that sell it.  Only a moron would spend years on eham bitching

An honest man may have an opinion but in the end he would state the opinion as an opinion and not as some kind of immutable fact and invite the reader to give the product a whirl  if he doesn't like it SEND IT BACK  every radio has things you can point to that you don't like kenwood icom yaesu ten tec collins drake   thing is this radio you can do something about it, and every owner can benefit the very next day by simply downloading an update without ever firing up the soldering iron

its a fascinating aspect of the hobby

73  W9OY
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #65 on: February 26, 2011, 12:50:38 PM »


All email clients have message filters. Anyone (including you) on the Flex reflector could have put K9IUQ in their message filter. Voila, no more annoying posts by K9IUQ.

I agree. I find the delete key to be useful in cases like that. I don't like to put anyone in a kill-list because, proverbially speaking, even the blind hog finds the occasional acorn. For some people, 90% of what they post is useful. For some people, 90% of what they post is not useful. But I have never found anyone for whom 100% of their posts were not useful.

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Instead, Censorship (by banning me) means everyone only gets information that the moderator wants you to see on the Flex Reflectors.

I don't run any of the Flex lists. I can't help you there. I don't even know what to suggest.

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If you do not like reading my opinions here on eham.net - then don't.. There is no need to rebut my every word. I will not apologize for annoying you.

I wouldn't expect you too. Smiley

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My "unceasing complaining" helped get the 160mtr xmit spur mod implemented. My public "unceasing complaining" about the CW inadequacy probably did not hurt getting the cw software code completely re-written.

Maybe. Would it make you feel better to get credit for it? Several people complained about both things. Didn't Flex fix the 160m spur on your rig? I thought they announced a fix for that.

As for CW, it looked like Flex went through several iterations trying to fix QSK on CW. They tried several things and then they finally gave up on fixing what was there, threw it out, and rewrote it. But you certainly weren't the only one complaining and it appeared to me that others were more productive in their criticism. But that doesn't take away from your input.

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We have had many productive positive discussions here on  (the SDR Forums) eham the last year. So far, Non of them have included your input.....

Nope, I didn't know about the SDR forum here. Looks interesting. I think I'll stay and see what goes on.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #66 on: February 26, 2011, 08:07:48 PM »

self appointed expert and bitch meister

 How therefore can this device be such a piece of crap as some would have us believe?

 Only a moron

 W9OY

Ah, more nasty names, true to form. We expect nothing less from Flexers.

Perhaps "Flexers" could be something other than a derogatory name as well?

But, yeah, name-calling sure as heck doesn't help people get along.



Quote
Did not Brian just ask all of us to be more civil and not call names? Guess he did not send that message to Flexers.  Cheesy

Actually, I thought I had. Some people don't listen.


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This device, a Flex 5K is neither crap or as you believe Gods' Greatest Gift To (CW) Ham Radio Operators. It is somewhere in between.

Stan, in this I agree with you 100%.

Here is my take on the Flex radios. From just a raw receive and transmit basis, they are excellent transceivers. The receiver has excellent dynamic range and signal quality, better than anything else I have ever used. (I can listen to this radio for house without fatigue.) The transmitter is one of the cleanest I have ever used, primarily because it does not need to push the signal through a crystal filter that introduces passband ripple and non-linear group delay. Also, they provide a pure digital path from immediately after the first mixer all the way to the digital mode program. This eliminates a plethora of potential problems.

That having been said, it doesn't come without a down side:

1. CW performance has been not very good but appears to be much better. Personally, since my interests do not run to CW operation this was not a show-stopper for me.

2. Other DSP functions, e.g. noise-blanker, noise reduction, and notch filter, have been spotty in terms of performance. Since I run primarily digital modes, I can't use NR or ANF anyway so their performance faults have also been a non-issue for me. OTOH, the NBs do work and seem to work adequately for a number of different types of impulse noise, just not all. I can live with this.

3. There is no digital path from RX2 to any other digital mode program. This to me IS serious. But I also know that Flex can't fix this until they to a complete rewrite of the software.

4. I think that the user-interface for PowerSDR is "clunky" and imposes too many restrictions on screen real-estate as well as functional behavior (like the no-digital-path-to-RX2 problem.

5. PowerSDR is not modular so you cannot easily move functions around or replace them.

Much of what is there is there because Flex is trying to make their products still look like a traditional radio. I understand that because if it was done correctly (by my measure) then it might not be recognizable as a ham transceiver.

Now here is the best part of the Flex radios: they can change just by changing the software. If a function doesn't work then I know it can still be fixed without having to purchase a new radio. This is a form of protection against built-in obsolescence. When you buy a traditional radio you are stuck with what it does now. Sure you can get software upgrades that make small changes but you can't get big changes. Flex provides first-class RF design that is leading-edge. It couples that to a high-bitrate path to the computer. It leaves ALL the key functionality in the computer where we can change and add to it. As far as I can tell no other ham transceiver offers me this. Also, if I want to add a feature, I can. The source code to the software is available to me to work on. Again, no other ham transceiver offers me this.

So, I think I am a realist. The Flex radios have a long way to go but the PATH to get there is clear for all to see. I don't have the option of a path to change anything Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Elecraft, or Ten-Tec makes. So, is the Flex radio perfect? Heck no. Is it good? Much of it is excellent. Is it possible to make it better and/or different? Absolutely. This makes the Flex the only game in town for me right now.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2011, 11:54:34 AM »


 But you certainly weren't the only one complaining and it appeared to me that others were more productive in their criticism.

 I think I'll stay and see what goes on.

Really. I had a couple of months of emails with Steve Hicks, Flex Engineer concerning the 160 mtr spur. Are you privy to what he and I said? Still got those emails too, but I will not post private email..

I have no idea what exchange went on between you and Steve. You reported (here) that your exchange with him was professional. That is what my comment was based on.

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I need people like you and W9OY and all the nasty Flex name callers to bring out the best in me. We need to show prospective Radio buyers what Flexradio is really all about.

Boy, you can be annoying at times. <sigh>

Have I called you a name Stan? I think you are right about some things and I think that, many times, the way you say things is intended to annoy rather than convey constructive criticism. But that is not name calling. Sure you annoy me sometimes but I still try to treat you with respect. OK, I get the mild dig in once in awhile when I think you are being over-the-top but that is it. I am not a nasty name-caller and I resent being categorized that way.

Let's try to be productive here.

73 de WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W6UV
Member

Posts: 540




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« Reply #68 on: February 27, 2011, 03:19:54 PM »

As I made clear, CW is not my preferred mode of operation. I like new things. I like seeing how much data I can send with the least amount of energy.

Brian,

I'm curious, what modes do you operate, what bands, and what call sign do you use?

I checked PSK Reporter and it shows that WB6RQN was last heard 92 days ago on any band/mode.
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WB6RQN
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Posts: 484




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« Reply #69 on: February 27, 2011, 04:15:25 PM »

As I made clear, CW is not my preferred mode of operation. I like new things. I like seeing how much data I can send with the least amount of energy.

Brian,

I'm curious, what modes do you operate, what bands, and what call sign do you use?

I checked PSK Reporter and it shows that WB6RQN was last heard 92 days ago on any band/mode.

Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home. I have 500W at school but the 5000 and 1500 at home both run barefoot. Someone just donated a Heathkit SB-200 to the school so after we overhaul that I will probably set that up to operate at the school and borrow the IC-2KL amplifier to use at home.

Once in a awhile I will come up on PSK31, mostly at school when explaining that mode and helping the kids get on. In that case I will operate using the school's club call, K6GBM. When I am on 'live' I tend to be a rag-chewer and don't really care to have yet another Call-RST-QTH-brag-WX-73-sk QSO, which seems to be the norm on PSK31. That is just a matter of pressing some macro buttons which, to me, is not too interesting. I want to talk about antennas, propagation, SDR, frequency measurement, switch modems to see which ones are working better under the current conditions, etc. Weather? Prostate? Those idiots over there? Not so much.

When I was down in Dominica this past summer I operated using my Dominican call, J79BPL. I was using the 3000 from the school barefoot with a loop antenna tuned by an SGC-231. I operated phone, PSK31, Olivia, and Contestia. I stumbled onto an opening on 6m and ended up being at the small end of a pile-up. It was fun but I was NOT set up to run. Trying to handle a hand mic and type into the log on fldigi turned out to be a challenge. Smiley

But the rest of the time, I use my call, WB6RQN.

As for bands, right now WSPR is hopping between 40m, 30m, and 20m. At night I usually have it hopping between 80m, 40, and 30m. My preferred bands are 30m and 17m. They are quiet. 40m here is just too noisy. Right now my noise floor on 40m in a 300Hz filter is -100dBm. But choice of band is primarily determined by propagation and staying away from RTTY contests. Wink

And sometimes I do crazy things like watch the phase rotation of the WWV carrier due to doppler. Plotting that with fldigi's frequency measurement tool is just really interesting. You'd think that it would be random but if you sample for awhile you begin to perceive two apparent intervals of periodicity, probably having to do with some consistency in the shapes and motions of the ion clouds.

BTW, if you want to come up to Sacramento on Tuesday night I am giving a talk to the River City Amateur Radio Communication Society (RCARCS) about digital modes in general but WSPR specifically. The meeting is at 1930 PST. I plan to set up a WSPR demo using my 1500 and laptop.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W6UV
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Posts: 540




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« Reply #70 on: February 28, 2011, 01:10:05 PM »

Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home.

I've tried WSPR, and find it useful to see where my signal is reaching. It's not something that I'd consider a primary mode, nor something I'd dedicate something like a Flex-5000A to. This is something that a small, dedicated, QRP rig would excel at--start it up and let it run in the background. As a sit-in-front-of-the-rig-and-operate mode, WSPR is about as interesting as watching grass grow.

Olivia is probably my favorite digital mode. I find it much more likely to find someone on this mode who's actually interested in conversing rather than sending a bunch of canned macros (macros are the main reason I dislike PSK31, except for chasing DX). I have a weekly Olivia sked with a friend in Ohio and I'm usually running 4 watts out with 100% copy on his end.
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WB6RQN
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Posts: 484




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« Reply #71 on: February 28, 2011, 04:38:18 PM »

Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home.

I've tried WSPR, and find it useful to see where my signal is reaching. It's not something that I'd consider a primary mode, nor something I'd dedicate something like a Flex-5000A to. This is something that a small, dedicated, QRP rig would excel at--start it up and let it run in the background. As a sit-in-front-of-the-rig-and-operate mode, WSPR is about as interesting as watching grass grow.

I agree. I am usually working on something else and that just becomes background operation. I certainly don't dedicate my 5000 to that function. I mostly use my 1500 for WSPR. But when I am in the shack I have WSPR on if I am not doing something else with the radio(s). OTOH, when I am not using the radio for a QSO, why not use it for WSPR?

Quote
Olivia is probably my favorite digital mode. I find it much more likely to find someone on this mode who's actually interested in conversing rather than sending a bunch of canned macros (macros are the main reason I dislike PSK31, except for chasing DX). I have a weekly Olivia sked with a friend in Ohio and I'm usually running 4 watts out with 100% copy on his end.

Olivia is also my favorite digital mode. I think that in some ways it could stand to be improved but I haven't found any other mode that will allow for a keyboard QSO with less signal arriving at the receiver. DominoEX is interesting but its FEC implementation is not particularly good. THOR is DominoEX with proper FEC but it is not popular. I would love to do on-air comparisons of THOR and Olivia. Contestia is nice in some ways but the short interleave makes it too susceptible to QSB. If contestia just would allow the 7-block interleave used with Olivia I think it would be a killer keyboard mode.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of testing of different modes over an NVIS path. Would you like to make a sched and try various modes on NVIS? That is something I am *very* interested in for another project I am working on.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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W6UV
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« Reply #72 on: March 01, 2011, 03:25:48 PM »

There doesn't seem to be a lot of testing of different modes over an NVIS path. Would you like to make a sched and try various modes on NVIS? That is something I am *very* interested in for another project I am working on.

Sure. What band? The only antenna I have up right now is a vertical on 20m, which isn't much of a NVIS antenna. I could probably throw up a low dipole on 40m pretty quickly, however.
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WB6RQN
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« Reply #73 on: March 01, 2011, 03:45:08 PM »

For NVIS I would opt for 40m or 80m. 40m is definitely the NVIS band during the day and 80m at night. When I moved my GAP antenna the 80m tuning changed and now it resonates below 80m. The SWR is about 3:1 at the lower end of 80m so I can use it with the tuner.

Why not try using 40m for now.

Right this instant I am finishing up a reference and explanation of the PDP8 instruction set. I am using the -8 to teach the kids how computers work inside. They will be writing very simple programs and entering them into memory through the front panel of the -8 I have built already. We are going to build a 2nd one in class and use PDP-8 emulators on our Macs.

Bottom line, I can do it on Thursday during the day or evening. Friday I can do it in the evening. Not sure when you like to operate.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 04:00:54 PM by WB6RQN » Logged
WB6RQN
Member

Posts: 484




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« Reply #74 on: March 04, 2011, 09:36:39 AM »

Jerry, I would still like to do that NVIS digital mode testing between you and me.

I am thinking of putting up a horizontal loop. Carol, KP4MD, and I just did a talk on WSPR at the RCARCS club meeting and she has been getting great results with her full-wave 80m horizontal loop on 40m. I was thinking of trying to get up a full-wave vertical loop for 40m but horizontal would be easier to do and would probably work better for NVIS.

Let me know if you want me to come over and help you get that dipole up.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL
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