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Author Topic: Flex 5000A/3000 RFI?  (Read 7015 times)
WB4LCN
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« on: November 25, 2011, 07:36:19 PM »

I've been contemplating the Flex 3000, however, after reading several reviews of both the 3000 and the 5000, some have commented that these rigs -especially the computers connected to them, are very susceptible to RFI in the shack.

Can anyone reply about what experience you've had with the 3000 and/or the 5000, concerning RFI?

Thanks much!

Dave
WB4LCN  Smiley
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
WA2CWA
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 08:00:20 PM »

I've had my Flex 5000 set up for several years. It was to be a temporary location. Computer is an HP after Christmas special for $399 or $499 (don't remember). Flex 5000 is connected to an SB-200 amplifier with a 6 foot length of cable that's probably at least 40 years old. Flex is connected to a ground wire coming in from a ground rod with a clip lead. Amplifier is also connected to the ground wire with a clip lead. Computer is only "grounded" through the 3-wire AC cord. No other computer ground bonding. Never had any RFI to the computer or the Flex on any band from 80 through 6 meters. 6 meters only operated barefoot.  Modes include SSB and AM. Probably if I had great grounds, bonding, etc. I'd probably have RFI.

Pete, wa2cwa
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KG4LUQ
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2011, 08:25:33 PM »

My setup is: Alinco linear power supply, home built computer, flex 5000a, Tokyo Hy-Power HL2.5Kfx linear, LP100A watt meter, MFJ 998 auto tuner, Hy-Gain Hytower multi band vertical with a current choke at the antenna. I do have a rf ground installed around the house which is bonded to the house AC ground and the coax shield is also bonded to it. Nothing in the shack is grounded except the computer and the linear through the AC ground and I have no RFI. Smiley
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M6GOM
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 11:26:52 AM »

I've been contemplating the Flex 3000, however, after reading several reviews of both the 3000 and the 5000, some have commented that these rigs -especially the computers connected to them, are very susceptible to RFI in the shack.

Can anyone reply about what experience you've had with the 3000 and/or the 5000, concerning RFI?

Thanks much!

Dave
WB4LCN  Smiley

If you have RFI in your shack, you've not set your antennas up properly, particularly in regards to a RF ground. Verticals need a RF ground otherwise your co-ax becomes it. The ground lug on the back of radio equipment is to cater for the incompetent.

The only time I've had RF in my shack is when there's been a problem. I've used verticals and dipoles, both resonant and non-resonant.
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WB4LCN
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 01:18:33 PM »

Thanks much. I may have been loose with my terminology... I don't have a problem with RF in the shack, but was concerned that the Flex 3000/5000 might need unusually shielded cabling. But, you are more than correct. Smiley


Quote
If you have RFI in your shack, you've not set your antennas up properly, particularly in regards to a RF ground. Verticals need a RF ground otherwise your co-ax becomes it. The ground lug on the back of radio equipment is to cater for the incompetent.

The only time I've had RF in my shack is when there's been a problem. I've used verticals and dipoles, both resonant and non-resonant.
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
NI0Z
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 08:47:18 AM »

RFI can come from many sources.  Keep in mind that some kinds of RFI may not be that noticeable to some users as they contribute more to the noise floor level than any specific thing you may see.

For example, through better grounding I was able to lower my noise floor by about 7DB overall and as much as 12 DB on certain bands.  Your noise floor is really easy to see on a flex setup.

Some computers impact your radio more than others.  You can take a simple shortwave radio ( I use my Eton 100) and point the antenna around in your shack while your on certain bands and find RFI.  Keyboards for example have oscillators than can generate RFI on certain bands.  My keyboard for example generates RFI on 20M.

My wireless Internet card generated RFI and also noticeable spikes and running pulse on 15-40M.  Rerouting some of my cables helped.  What wiped it out completely was simply using a cheap access point to connect to my LAN and then running a land cable from the access point that is kept about 10 feet away from the computer and radio gear to the computer.  ie wireless card is off.

Believe it or not, I discoverd that when my wife runs on the treadmill she raised the noise floor significantly.  I have a file on the flex yahoo group that shows this.  Also not, this defeats the grounding benefits and some don't ham when she's on it nor when a vacuum cleaner is running in the house as you can see RFI waves on the scope.

Your RIG and amp can generate RFi itself so some beads and routing your cables neatly so they don't tough greatly mitigates those issues.

My daughters cell phone charger was a very nasty one across all bands.  Hunted that one down with the shortwave and got rid of it. 

Found a cheap lamp that I was using also caused issues, changed to a different bulb and it was gone.

So let's look at it this way, broadband noise won't really cause a new SDR users much concern because they'll already be used to it from their older radio.  If your noise floor on 15M for example was S5 or S7 it will likely be the same on an SDR.  I was able to get my noise floor down from S5-S6 on 15M.  Imagine how much easier it is to hear an S3-S4 signal with only an S2 noise floor verses and S5-S6 noise floor?

What I am saying is RFI can be a lot to do with what you make of it and what you do to curb it.

One other thing I did was use a separate receive antenna over my transmit antenna, there's a 1-2DB difference in reception there, but the one I Recieve with is horrible for transmit and causes RFi in my shack.

I still see some stray RFI signals occasionally run across my scope, however, overall life is much much better and I don't feel my story is a horror story as much as its a story about learning more about RFI.  Still feel like there is more to learn so now days I am trying to find more time to read the RFI Handbook.

Think about it though, we often talk about how important a great antenna is and yet, lowering your noise floor by 5 S units can accomplish a lot in the Reception department, that's a huge huge difference!

Hope this helps!
NI0Z

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WB4LCN
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 09:22:09 AM »

Thanks, Everstar, that's a very great help. Many of those ideas inspired me to investigate a little further. Smiley
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
NI0Z
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 09:55:47 AM »

You are welcome and sorry about all the typos, iPad likes to change what I write sometimes.

One other way to think about this, while an amplifier can help extend your transmit reach, improving your noise floor can improve your receive reach.

What I find now is that my Recieve reach very much matches my transmit reach.  The ole rule if you cant hear them well then don't transmit to them rule comes to mind.  I hear a lot more now and therefore can reach farther.  Running barefoot though shows how much more I can hear than I can reach on 100 watts.  Flipping on the amp gets me right there.

One other thing too about your noise floors, there are some variables that simply are atmospheric and propogation controlled that you can not overcome.  That's not really news to anyone, however, if you see that you reach a point where you can not lower it more it might be out of your control at that point and might also fluctuate depending on conditions.

I have a blast with my flex and integrating it with other software.  No, it's not a faultless radio, however, it's a whole lot of fun!

There are some articles on my site that may be of interest to you as well.  That site is still very much work in progress and the link can be found on my QRZ.com profile.

73's!
NI0Z

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WB4LCN
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 07:06:51 AM »

Great info on your site, Mark - and a very formidable setup too. I see that you use RocketTheme. I've been a member of RT going back to 2005, before Andy re-named his small company to RT. Sweet!

I also see that you use a Blue mic. I have the Yeti for recording. I like the Yeti Pro for the XLR connection. I bought mine before the Yeti Pro came out. Man! You have a great rack of mic equipment. I'd like a good mic sound but I'm not up on what would be my best bet. If could afford getting that much stuff, though. lol

dave Smiley
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
NI0Z
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 09:55:26 AM »

Tell you honestly, if I could do it over again I would.  The Enhanced audio is fun, however, it is expensive and a lot of work.  Since as a SDR user I have a computer hooked up anyways, I would likely just get a great special effects sound card and go that route.  Verdict is still out though as I really need to play with it all a lot more.

As far as my overall setup goes, I am a very happy camper right now.

Thanks for dropping by my site and lots of fun to you in exploring SDR!
NI0Z
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WB4LCN
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 06:42:49 PM »

...I would likely just get a great special effects sound card and go that route.  Verdict is still out though as I really need to play with it all a lot more.

NI0Z

Do you mean a better sound card for your computer or can you install a new one in the Flex hardware?

dave Smiley
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
NI0Z
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2011, 06:26:57 PM »

If I could find a used one these here is how I would go:

http://www.tcelectronic.com/Default.asp?Id=11349. Was about $500 new, used would be lest.  You could then go with a really nice high-end USB Mic or still front end it with a tube mic amp.

If you went for the rack version I think you could again front end it with a mic amp and go with whatever you wanted.

http://www.tcelectronic.com/powercorefamily.asp

There are some cool videos on you tube showing these bad boys off.  I call this the geeks way to go as some pro audio users might not think much of these.

In theory a Mac Mini Server running Windows 7 and a FireWire hub should be enough punter to handle the radio and the DSP.  I have read though some people have complained about crackling audio on the Mac Minis. 

I am guessing, might need testing that the Minis would have less RFI, however I could be dead wrong on that.

A mini, a Flex 3000, and the compact PowerCore with USB mic would make a slik small setup.

Hope this helps!
NI0Z

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WB4LCN
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 06:43:10 PM »

Is that the PowerCore 3? Also, I have a Blue Yeti USB mic. I assume that PowerCore outputs to a mic in? How would you hook it to Flex - or a standalone rig?
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First, make it work, then make it pretty.
Yaesu Rigs: Kenwood TS-480HX, FT-8900R, FTM-350AR (Bluetooth motorcycle mobile), VX-8DR, SB-102 boat anchor (built one as a kid)

Moderate Spock: "Live for a reasonable amount of time and scrape by."
NI0Z
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 09:09:28 PM »

It really all depends which unit you buy, mind you I have had none of these so the best thing to do is call them.

The Expeess PCI card version looks cool and I assume you just hook up the USB mic to the PC.  If you go the traditional mic route them out the mic amp to the mic in on PC and the in either scenario aux out on the sound card to an iBox to the balanced input on the back of the Flex 5KA radio.  IBox is worth it's price BTW, and he'll make you a nice quality cable if needed.

Then you adjust all your audio using the power core software in the PC.  I think you can play with the audio stuff at a guitar center or other high end music store.

The ibox will get rid of any hum and allow you to adjust the input level glinting into the radio.

Don't forget a ferrite bead as well on the input.

Mind you, this is all untested advice other than I have the ibox so make sure you can return it all if your risk adverse.

If you don't want to go USB mic then you can look at a bellari or behringer mic amp and the rac version of the power core.  Look up ESSB ham in google and read up on Johns site to learn more about front end audio processing and hookups.

What I am proposing is probably more futuristic than what most are doing.  Voodoo audio is another thing you can google.

Only one other caution, a Mac mini just may not have the balls to run a highly digital station full bore. I am running and 8 core dual Xeon box here and it works nice, but it also was a $4500 box when I built it for my father back in 08.

I will tell you, you can have a blast just designing all this!  I am half tempted to sell off my behringer EQ and FX boxes and get the power core myself.  I have the MiC 2200 for my Blue Spark and the mixer.  Mixer is not really needed unless you have other plans.  Remember the flex has an EQ in it to balance out your Xmit audio before it goes out.

You could also use audacity in your PC to convert your flex recordings to MP3.

Remember if you go the iMac route your going to load Win 7 64bit on it and just use it as a PeeC.

The yeti would probably work well.

Hope this helps!
NI0Z
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NI0Z
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 09:18:13 PM »

One other thing, there is a group of ESSBers that hang out on 14178 in the late afternoons, that will give you and idea of what front end audio can create sound wise.

ESSB gets a bad wrap a lot of times because people often take it to mean extend bandwidth use.  You'll notice these guys run legal and sound pretty decent.

There are some that run 6K wide on SSB, I am not into that and run about 2.4K most days.

NI0Z
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