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Author Topic: Flex 6000 Series  (Read 28508 times)
KC4MOP
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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2012, 07:59:39 AM »

We'll hope for the best for Flex. Too bad we are not a very big number of consumers that would make someone else consider an SDR product. Well, I see that there are a couple others, but not as entrenched as Flex Radio.
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NI0Z
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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2012, 08:54:35 AM »

I would really like for Flex to fix the issues in Power SDR and bring the 6K series successfully to market.  I think that's a win win for both Flex users and non flex users.

I hope they continue to support the 5000 and don't abandon us owners.

Owning a Flex is interesting to say the least for me as I have built my station around my 5K.  It's not a perfect setup, nor is the 5K a perfect radio with perfect software.  Power SDR is quirky and the more time I spend on it, the more little quirks I see.  The most annoying is random setting changes or loss of random settings.

That said though, if you get it all setup right, when all is working its a nice operating experience for those who don't mind a computer being at the heart of their setup.

I think I mentioned here I was redoing my website and updating some of the articles ect.  That's up and going now and your welcome to read about my setup if you want.

I was ragchewing with a radio engineer yesterday who actually designs SDRs and ironically he uses a manual rig.  We chatted about specs a bit and again, even if the specs turn out to be what is being hyped, I still believe few people have a shack that can really leverage some of them.  

For example, if your shack has a S5/S6 noise floor, a radio that can support a S3 noise floor won't be of much value.  There are hams out there though who have made the significant investments in antennas, grounding, ect that will likely enjoy these new radios if they pan out.

Today on a good day my shack sees an S2/S3 noise floor on the new antenna.  The grounding I am doing has helped the noise floors, but on my wire antenna and my vertical dipole the noise dynamics are very different as compared to the hex.  

Let me explain a little bit.  Imagine your noise floor on a Panadaptor and the sawtooth visual that you see on a Panadaptor.  The teeth emerge from some bottom level of your floor.  The teeth on two of the antennas are very tall and they are mainly representative of noise.  Those antennas are only grounded at the panel where as the hex on the roof is grounded both at the tower and at the entry to the shack.  The hex teeth are tiny and clean.  

One of the cool things about a radio like the flex 5k is being able to run, see and listen to 2 antennas at once.  The flex even acts like a mixer letting you independently adjust the volume levels of each Reciever/Antenna.  The hex is so clean and crisp sounding where as the inverted V and Vertical Dipole are noisy and have static.  Same radio, same QTH, seemingly the same noise floor, but very different dynamics.  

Sometimes it seems like the other two antennas are not useful, however, they do have their purpose and on some occasions they can still pull in a signal better than the hex albeit it much noisier and with static.  Yes, I agree with someone here that said you must also listen or you will miss signals.  That happened yesterday when I raked in china.  I found the signal on the vertical faint and in the noise and then swung the beam around and raked it in.  That's DXing!

The SDR experience is just very different than the traditional radio experience.  Some like it and others don't.  Someone here said SDR radios are for experimenters and to some degree I buy into that.  It's hard to explain, but in part due to my lack of experience and the different experience traditional rigs represent, I was blind to a lot of RFI issues in my shack.  On my Yaesu when I started my noise floor on the SMeter was S6/S7.  I doubt I would have found half of what I did and would still probably have an S5/S6 floor.  Yes, some issues were ones you could hear, but some were much more evident on a Panadaptor and the patterns they represented were easy to spot.

The whole point is this, if your not an experiementer oriented person, SDR radios for a true Ham could easily become a frustrating experience and a lot of people blame the RFI issues they see on the radio when in reallity most of them have to do with the persons shack.  Others might buy a SDR and think nothing of the fact that they have issues in their shack and find the experience comped able or more exciting than that of a traditional rig.  New seems better, new seems exciting!  Nothing wrong with that, new can be fun and thrilling!

If you are not willing to do some work on your shack if needed and experience a bloody beating in your usage of these super radios (new hardware, new technology and new software equals bloody times), or just use them the best you can, you may want to temper your own expectations and excitement until it all gets ironed out and priced for the masses.  

I truly believe that the current line of Flex radios is only now approaching that place, and even saying that might be a stretch as I believe they are really still experimenters radios.

You can see the station and read about it on my site.  Go easy on me, I am still a new Ham, not even a year under my belt yet so I am tossing out my disclaimer now.

As a friend and I discussed today on VHF on the way to work today, we can make our ham experience as simple or as complex as we want.  I have chose the complex path as that is often a lot of fun for me.  Hence you will see things that represent excess!  I get that, that's just part of my chosen fun!  Some hams buy their antennas, so home brew them, ect.  To each their own!

The link is below in the signature if you want to check it out.  You can also find my 6 month comments on owning the Flex 5K there as well in the articles.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 09:37:53 AM by NI0Z » Logged

W8JX
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2012, 01:35:37 PM »


Could you ever imagine any commercial/government that would put up with the problems that PSDR has had over the years?Huh


Commercial, no but government yes. US Gov has long bought things that were broken on the promise of what they would do if and when they are fixed. Look a B1, it took 15 years to get bugs out of it. Who else would buy a plane that needed a ejector developed to forcibly eject 500 lb bombs from plane when it was discovered that the turbulence in bomb bay area was so bad the it was causing free fall ones to bounce against bottom of plane.
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2012, 01:59:36 PM »

I was blind to a lot of RFI issues in my shack
 
SDR radios for a true Ham could easily become a frustrating experience and a lot of people blame the RFI issues they see on the radio when in reallity most of them have to do with the persons shack.

Baloney. That is the Flexradio propaganda talking whenever anyone has RFI. It is your fault, not the 5K's. Again BALONEY. Actually I want to use stronger words but I am a True Ham.  Wink

I have been at my present shack for 12 years. it is well grounded and until I bought a Flex 5K I never had any RFI problems. When I first got the 5K I found it would stutter on several bands on SSB. Caused by RFI, stuttering is a well known problem of Flexradios. This was at the 100 watt level. At legal limit I could not run SSB at all on several Bands. Even tho I had run legal limit problem free with at least 3 different knobbed radios I could not do it with the Flexradio 5K.

So - - - I bought ferrites, lots of them -$100 worth in all. You can always tell a Flex owner at a hamfest, he is the guy carrying the large bag of ferrites.  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy I also bought the special expensive Firewire Cable from Flexradio. I put Ferrites on everything, I mean everything including my German Shepherd dog's tail when she would enter the shack. I finally conquered the Flex RFI problem and was able to once again run legal limit on SSB.

After I sold my Flex 5K I took all the ferrites off, including letting the dog in the shack without a ferrited tail.  Cheesy

I had no RFI problems with my non-Flex knobbed rigs.

Next time you are talking to a Flexer on-air and his audio stutters and then he disapperars while he re-boots his PC you will know it is the dreaded Flexradio RFI problem. Which is not caused by the Flex.  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2012, 02:24:59 PM »


Commercial, no but government yes. US Gov has long bought things that were broken on the promise of what they would do if and when they are fixed.

The Flexradio 3200 is made for signal intelligence and exploitation. Somehow I can not see the CIA or FBI or the wonderful OPs that took out Bin Laden to wait around for the Flex database to reboot.

Stan K9IUQ
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NI0Z
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« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2012, 06:13:21 PM »

I was blind to a lot of RFI issues in my shack
 
SDR radios for a true Ham could easily become a frustrating experience and a lot of people blame the RFI issues they see on the radio when in reallity most of them have to do with the persons shack.

Baloney. That is the Flexradio propaganda talking whenever anyone has RFI. It is your fault, not the 5K's. Again BALONEY. Actually I want to use stronger words but I am a True Ham.  Wink

I have been at my present shack for 12 years. it is well grounded and until I bought a Flex 5K I never had any RFI problems. When I first got the 5K I found it would stutter on several bands on SSB. Caused by RFI, stuttering is a well known problem of Flexradios. This was at the 100 watt level. At legal limit I could not run SSB at all on several Bands. Even tho I had run legal limit problem free with at least 3 different knobbed radios I could not do it with the Flexradio 5K.

So - - - I bought ferrites, lots of them -$100 worth in all. You can always tell a Flex owner at a hamfest, he is the guy carrying the large bag of ferrites.  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy I also bought the special expensive Firewire Cable from Flexradio. I put Ferrites on everything, I mean everything including my German Shepherd dog's tail when she would enter the shack. I finally conquered the Flex RFI problem and was able to once again run legal limit on SSB.

After I sold my Flex 5K I took all the ferrites off, including letting the dog in the shack without a ferrited tail.  Cheesy

I had no RFI problems with my non-Flex knobbed rigs.

Next time you are talking to a Flexer on-air and his audio stutters and then he disapperars while he re-boots his PC you will know it is the dreaded Flexradio RFI problem. Which is not caused by the Flex.  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ

I have put a few ferrites on, only on Audio related cables, head phones, mic in put, speaker out lines.  I would guess that the headphone and speaker out cables is not needed on most other rigs.  I tend to tell things how I honestly see them and that's it on ferrites for me.  Since putting the 3 ferrites on those cables I have not had issues other than having coax cables too close to each other where they can leak into each other.  You can see though that even there I have not gone to too much trouble if you look at the rats nest of cables on the back of my rack.  But I have also read similar stories with people on their Yaesu FT-2000 rigs with the DMUs.

All of the other RF issues I found on my flex visually using the Panadaptor were verifiable on my little Eton 100 Shortwave radio when I tuned to the same frequency.  Things like a bad lamp, air cleaners, bad cap on the AC, daughter cell phone charger ect.  I bet I am not alone in having these kinds of RF issues since even a small SW radio can pick them up once I knew where to tune to to hear them. 

That's the straight scoop and the basis for my statements.  Yes, I have a flex radio, no I am not a member of the Flex die hard fan club, I think if you read my posts and the articles on my site you'll see I talk about both sides of the coin.
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NI0Z
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« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2012, 07:53:43 AM »

I will add that I think Flex Radio Systems has not done a good job of managing the myths that now circle some of their products.

Bundling $20 worh of ferrites and suggesting people put them on the audio related cables as well as 2 paragraphs in their manual on how to avoid common RFI issues would have been a whole lot cheaper than the lost sales and Ill will not doing it has created.

I doubt they will do it since they have undoubtedly collected a lot of money and put themselves under the gun, however, they should really get a few Flex 6K radios out early to some testers who would be under non disclosure who test and objectively report back what they find with the radio in exchange for a significant discount on the rig or agreement to return it if they don't like it.

Many companies do this, I can obviously see that Elecraft did this with the KX3 with prototype radios.  It's a very smart and savvy business practice to get ahead of issues rather than having to deal with the embarrassment and commotion failing to do so causes.  So far, the inability to catch up with the backlog of orders is the only real negative I have heard about that radio. We shall see how time treats them, but I am guessing they have it mostly right.  Those that don't like Elecraft radios know not to buy one for the most part as well.

The flex radios are decent radios if you know how to make the most of them and ensure you understand what they are and what they are not when you buy them.  Yes, Power SDR has obvious bugs.  It lost some of my settings last night again.  Same one for the TX checkbox in the antenna settings.  Ironically I read on the flex site that 2.35 backs up your settings and uses the backup if your settings get corrupted.  I had to laugh when I read this because obviously the program has no idea it's lost a setting.  

The radios are not the best and not the worse.  That's the simple truth of it all.  Some radios work better for some individuals than others.

It's also true that if Flex has mishandelded the support and sales of some of their users then they reep the wrath they receive from the fallout.  I respect your right here to not like or even hate the company.  For the most part I am having fun and success with the rig.  But I don't use it for CW.  I am 90% SSB right now and plan on doing some more RTTY and PSK31 soon to pick up some more countries.

Yes, I am probably more an experimenter at this point than I am a DXer, but I am learning to become a DXer and am loving it.

I will tell you this much, I have learned that a good ham learns to make what they have work for the most part unless they don't like their rig.  The Yaesu 897D has been touted by many to be a great rig, but it wasn't what I really wanted.  I have moved on, use the Flex 5000A right now and it mostly is getting the job done.  I am learning to check the settings when I fire up now, and making it work.  

I chased one DX last night and got the Canary Islands.  15 & 20 at the time I hammed were not so great.  I really didn't even think I stood a chance making the DX.  I listened a little bit, decided that just maybe I could get him and got him on my first call.  There is as much in the technique and knowing your stations capabilities and how to work a DX as there is in the equipment itself.  The Rig I have is more than capable of getting the job done.  

Please take note that I have the equivalent of an RFI factory in my shack.  Just take a look at big Bertha alone and you see the potential for trouble.  Same goes for the front end audio I have which can cause any radio trouble.  I know this from having talked to other non flex users who elmered me in getting it setup.  Both non SDR users who I worked with told me I needed a ferrite on the audio cables.  They had the same issues and they both had Kenwood rigs.  It's not an excuse for Flex radios, it's just what has to be done when you play with certain toys.

Here is my point.... I have only added 3 ferrites in my whole setup and have no RFI issues.  Call it luck if you want or maybe you can say I just took time to figure out what Flex could have proactively told me in terms of what needed to be done.  I can't really tell you what to think.  

I am sure my requirements for a rig and expectations are much less than many a long time hams.  I get that and I think people also get that many hams have limited needs a d desires and what they want may be very different from what someone else wants or expects.

The truth about these radios lies somewhere between the extremes.   What I do know is right now, I have it all working for the most part, I understand the current quirks and am able to work Some nice DX contacts.  I'd say that the system surprises me more often than it fails me at this point and time.  It took some work and experimentation to get there though.

That's what is great about these forums though, we can come here, share and learn!  Some really smart people here, but also some people that seem angry.  The anger is real and must have been caused somewhere.  I feel bad for those that have had experiences that have left them angry.  Life's too short to be angry too long in my opinion.

Thanks for listening!  I'll sit back and listen and learn some more now!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 08:07:02 AM by NI0Z » Logged

N5NA
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« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2012, 08:18:55 AM »


Flex is not the only company doing this.  Elecraft does this also.  Both companies encourage and take advantage of the cult like following they have.

Elecraft doesn't take any of your money until your rig ships.

73, Alan N5NA
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2012, 02:47:20 PM »

Elecraft doesn't take any of your money until your rig ships.
73, Alan N5NA

This is the only honest way of doing business. Taking down payment money and delivering nothing but a promise is very shady IMO... A very good way to lose $$$..

It says volumes about Flexradio finances to require a huge down payment for a promise...

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 02:49:51 PM by K9IUQ » Logged
KB3Z
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« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2012, 04:38:35 AM »

I have never prepaid for a radio before.  Even when I purchased my Elecraft K3 I waited for a year or two before I did.  Now when I purchased my Alpha 8410 I put down the 50% deposit and I had to wait a couple of months due to parts, but I did finally get the amplifier and was not sorry I bought it.  Flex has a good product, but I just like to go into the shack and turn on the radio and not have to wait for a computer to boot up or software to load.  Flex used to have an all in one package.  I don't know why they stopped it.  Maybe because it didn't sell that well. The only problem I had with flex is that you were advised to use Microsoft XP as your operating system. I have not been on their reflector in quite a while so I don't know how many operators are using Vista or Windows 7. Flexradio never seemed to be too fast when it came to operating system advancements.  But then again, I confess I haven't really kept up with their products!  Mark KB3Z
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NI0Z
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« Reply #25 on: June 15, 2012, 07:56:56 AM »

I run my Flex 5k on Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit right now.  It's working well.  I recently added an article to my website inspired in part by some of the conversation in this thread about Life on an SDR and the 5K.  I believe I have been fair in pointing out the good and the bad.

I am going to sum it up this way here.

You need a better than average PC to run a Flex 5000A, especially if you want to run cat software and all kinds of other things that computer oriented people like myself run.  I don't really know what quality of PC Flex had in their 5000c but I am guessing a user like myself would have quickly become unhappy trying to run everything I do.  This is a reallity of wanting to drive a Flex 5000 radio hard, you need a good PC that is not already inheritenly flakey and that has some horsepower under the hood.  Buying a cheap PC and thinking your going to have a good experience is not likely.

Being fair, you need to take certain RF precautions.  I as I have said only have three ferrites and they all are on audio devices.  The coax cables don't have any, I am only made sure that they for the most part are all 1 inch away from each other so they don't bleed into each other.  Last but not least, I also positioned my equipment so that A the amp was not near the radio, B that my audio equipment was not near the radio and C so that I could run the cables in such a way to have the spacing I referenced above.  

Being objective that is a lot of work and extra cost for a good PC and some ferrites that one might not have to do with another rig.

I also wrote an article on the site about choosing a PC for SDR radios if it's of any interest as well.  Link is below.

Now, whether that's worth it for people, my guess is that the answer is no for most Hams.  They don't want or need the hassle.  Flex would do well to simply state this stuff upfront and provide the three ferrites for users.  I am guessing they have a bench where they test and an industrial PC they use and so the woes of the common end user don't come into play for them in the lab.  A good lab setup also looks at distructive testing a d looks at the worse case scenarios as well as the optimal ones.

For us few, once you get it setup right, it's a blast to use!  I am not sure what it says about me, but I have enjoyed the challenge of figuring it all out and now operating the station now for the most part is a lot of fun. 

« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 08:03:09 AM by NI0Z » Logged

NI0Z
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« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2012, 01:01:31 PM »

Interesting Flex 6K discussion on this thread.

http://elecraft.365791.n2.nabble.com/OT-Dayton-New-Equipment-Show-td7556083.html
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2012, 01:32:34 PM »


You need a better than average PC to run a Flex 5000A, especially if you want to run cat software and all kinds of other things that computer oriented people like myself run.

I don't really know what quality of PC Flex had in their 5000c but I am guessing a user like myself would have quickly become unhappy trying to run everything I do.  


I had the Intel i7 processor, 8gb memory, Win7 and the best $200 ATI/AMD video card I could afford  Wink  This computer also has extremely low DPC's. When I bought it I took the DPC program with me on a USB drive. When the clerks were not looking I checked every computer in the store for DPC's.  Cheesy Cheesy

Also I was hardly a computer weenie having worked on and with computers since 1978.

The problems I had were not related to the power of my computer, altho the first thing Flexers tell you is to buy Neal's computer, overpriced but it has the Flexradio stamp of approval.

The 5000C was a dud, few hams bought one, much like the VHF/UHF module.

Stan K9IUQ
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #28 on: June 15, 2012, 01:51:11 PM »


Yeah, W4TV, is a huge Elecraft Fanboy to the point where he will purposely misrepresent any other competitor's product.  Roll Eyes  And he has no idea what he is talking about related to DDC architectures.  The misinformation and misconceptions he spreads are just horrible.

Gene
« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 01:54:21 PM by KE5JPP » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2012, 03:02:01 PM »

Ok, about the computer, most commercial PC's stink for applications like this.  Easiest way to get it right is to build one yourself.  That's why I stopped buying commercial PC's because they usually don't remain very stable when you use them for IO intensive applications. 

Gaming machines are made for high intensity video and moderate IO.  Servers are made for intensive CPU and IO usage.  Your average home PC or business PC are not made for that stuff.

Even when you build them yourself, one should stick to good motherboard manufacturers.  I have learned to use Intel and Tyan motherboards and I seldom see issues.  ASUS is not bad but not great either.

Again, I get that people feel they shouldn't have to have a super PC to run their radio.  And there are probably some people that just run Power SDR and the radio and do just fine.

Other than Bertha having server grade parts she is about half of what you just listed power wise because she's three years old.  But, she's running the latest 64bit OS and multiple programs now and stable as a rock.  It's not luck, it's good components.

About the computer for the 6k series of radios, probably won't need something as special since the computing will be done in the radio and greatly reduce the IO to the computer as well.
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