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Author Topic: Sold my Flex 3000  (Read 24423 times)
VK5DO
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Posts: 87




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« on: June 17, 2012, 10:36:56 PM »

Hi All,

I recently sold my Flex 3000 after less than a year of owning it and thought I'd share some observations on the radio.

I live in VK and got the radio sent over direct from Flex in August 2011.  After less than 3 months I had to send it back to the US for repair when the firewire hardware in the radio died.  Tim at Flex was great and they paid for freight both ways from South Australia to Texas and back and I had the radio back in less than a month.

Then early this year I started noticing higher output power on some bands.  This quickly developed to all bands and finally it was outputting 150W on all bands whenever the drive level was set anything above 2% or so.  I figured this might cook something so got in-touch with Flex again.  Dudley was a bit hopeless ("reset the database" multiple times and that's about it) but when I got onto Tim again, things moved quickly towards a solution.  Via Teamviewer he diagnosed the problem remotely and it was sent back to the factory again.  Flex covered the repair and one way of the freight and I had the radio back in about three weeks.  As soon as it got back I sold it.

I'm sure my experience with needing two warranty returns in the 1st year is a bit unusual but with no local support in or near Australia by Flex, I wasn't going to take the chance of this happening a third time.  Maybe mine was a "friday afternoon" build but it certainly seemed like a bit of a dud with 2 serious hardware faults in a very short period.

The other thing that I never did get sorted out despite various combinations, brands, cable runs and dozens of ferrites, was RF getting into the speakers.  I tried four different brands of powered speakers, some quite expensive, all sorts of cabling and ferrite combinations but never did sort it completely.  I could get it to work ok on some or even most bands but I always had one band no matter what combination I used that had massive RF noise.  I could use the same speakers as external speakers on other radios in the shack with the same antennas and they worked fine.  It was only when connected to the Flex that they got RF noise.  I put it down to a shielding issue in the radio??  Who knows. 

I'm not completely off Flex's though.  In fact I'd happily say it's the best radio I've ever had apart from the above issues.  Great to use, excellent receiver and good software.  I'll probably leave it a few years and once again head down the Flex road with a 6000 or whatever they have new at the time.  As long as the audio shielding is sorted out better and QC is improved a bit I wouldn't be afraid to commit again.

Yours,
Dene
VK5DO
VK4TN
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KD8DEY
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Posts: 352




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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 11:52:30 PM »

I've only Heard one person on the air locally, admitting to using a Flex 3000 he had just purchased used.
He sounded choppy like he was speaking through a box fan between himself and the microphone.
(And the Box Fan was winning)

I wasn't impressed.....................
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ZENKI
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Posts: 934




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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2012, 03:32:51 AM »

Try using a end fed long wire with any Flexradio! Every other radio can handle this with maybe lip bite here and there. All Flexradios and their associated computers just fall into a crumbling heap.

If companies want to place sensitive DAC's and other other sensitive electronics close to a 100 watt PA, the least they can do is include good shielded modules and then RF harden all the hardware and wiring.
The Flexradio inside looks like a PC motherboard its so open in terms of its layout. Its then no surprise that the  Flex3000 cant even handle the RF from a simple endfed long wire at low power. Most laptops handle the RF better than the
Flex3000.

 I also tried to use a Flexradio as a spectrum analyzer on a high power amp. It could not handle the near RF fields surrounding the QRO amp when fed from a directional coupler. The Winradio G31DDC which is nicely shielded in a metal box worked very well in the same situation.  You cant just stuff electronics into  a small box and expect it to handle common and differential mode currents and voltages by itself. The designer has to work very hard to make sure the design is RF hardened.  I think these comments could be made about all the current American made radios. Elecraft, Ten Tec and Flexradio who seem to have this open non shielded  RF architecture layout which is not wise. When you compare radios like Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood they at least try and use as much isolation and shielding as possible Their die cast modular construction results in excellent shielding and RF immunity. My K3 for example has birdies in the receiver,  the level of these birdies  varies  depending  on the position and moving   cables around the inside of the K3. If Elecraft spent some more time designing in some proper shielding you would not  have to move birdies around in a box by moving a cables around.  The K3 in construction terms is really cheap and nasty in this regard. The same is  could be said for the TenTec radios.
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1745




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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 04:29:49 AM »


He sounded choppy like he was speaking through a box fan between himself and the microphone.
(And the Box Fan was winning)

I wasn't impressed.....................

This is the well known stuttering RFI in the xmit. $100 worth of ferrites will probably cure it. Do not forget to put a ferrite on your dog's tail..   Grin

RFI in the XMIT is one of those Flex annoyances that the Faithful try to ignore, blaming it always on your antenna, station,computer grounding, etc. They never admit that the problem starts with the Flex Radio.

Stan K9IUQ
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NI0Z
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Posts: 560


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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2012, 04:54:29 AM »

Hi All,

I'm not completely off Flex's though.  In fact I'd happily say it's the best radio I've ever had apart from the above issues.  Great to use, excellent receiver and good software.  I'll probably leave it a few years and once again head down the Flex road with a 6000 or whatever they have new at the time.  As long as the audio shielding is sorted out better and QC is improved a bit I wouldn't be afraid to commit again.


My advice is not to ever go back, put the flex radios in your rear view mirror and don't look back!  The reasons you leave something one time more often than not become the reason you'll leave it again.
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1745




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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2012, 05:17:22 AM »

My advice is not to ever go back, put the flex radios in your rear view mirror and don't look back!  The reasons you leave something one time more often than not become the reason you'll leave it again.

Maybe. Maybe not. I gave up on Kenwood Radios for 10 years because of some poor experiences with one of their Radios. Time heals, I have a Kenwood in the shack again.  Cheesy

Will I ever have another Flexradio in my shack? I have doubts Flexradio would ever knowingly sell me another radio.  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ
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M6GOM
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Posts: 899




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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 10:05:53 AM »


RFI in the XMIT is one of those Flex annoyances that the Faithful try to ignore, blaming it always on your antenna, station,computer grounding, etc. They never admit that the problem starts with the Flex Radio.

Stan K9IUQ

That is because it IS a problem with your antenna installation and thats the same no matter what radio you use and if you can't recognise that then you're unfit to hold a licence. If you have RFI issued its because common mode is coming into the shack. If you've got common mode in the shack its because you cocked up your antenna installation somewhere along the line.

And no, I don't own a Flex.
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1745




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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 11:36:53 AM »

That is because it IS a problem with your antenna installation and thats the same no matter what radio you use and if you can't recognise that then you're unfit to hold a licence.

Baloney. I have held a ham license for 52 years. I am quite fit to hold it and do not need a newbie ham foreigner telling me different. Roll Eyes

From your M0GVZ QRZ web page: "I have been licenced since 2009 and am still learning the hobby."  You have a lot more to learn my foreign friend...................

The Flexradio was and is susceptible to RFI in the xmit. The computer and powered speakers attached to the Flexradio aggravate the situation.

I have had the same installation for 12 years. NONE of my radios before the Flex 5K exhibited any RFI in the XMIT. NONE of my radios after the 5K has exhibited any RFI in the XMIT. ONLY the Flexradio 5K had any RFI in the XMIT problems.

Using good old American common sense tells me the problem was the 5K.   Shocked

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 11:57:38 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
KE5JPP
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 01:16:03 PM »


RFI in the XMIT is one of those Flex annoyances that the Faithful try to ignore, blaming it always on your antenna, station,computer grounding, etc. They never admit that the problem starts with the Flex Radio.

Stan K9IUQ

That is because it IS a problem with your antenna installation and thats the same no matter what radio you use and if you can't recognise that then you're unfit to hold a licence. If you have RFI issued its because common mode is coming into the shack. If you've got common mode in the shack its because you cocked up your antenna installation somewhere along the line.

And no, I don't own a Flex.

Flex Radios are notorious for being extremely sensitive to RFI.  I reported on an experience that I witnessed first hand with another Ham's Flex-5000 almost a year ago:

-----------------------------
A few months ago while using my Flex-5000a I was in a QSO with another Ham who was also using his Flex-5000a.  He was running approximately 800 watts out on 40meters.  While transmitting he opened the transmit equalizer dialog box.  He had been just a few minutes earlier extolling the virtues of the Flex-5000a and PowerSDR in general to a crowd of guys listening.  He wanted to demonstrate how nice it was to have a built-in transmit equalizer. In mid sentence either his PowerSDR or Windows locked up and all I heard was a stuttering "uhuhuhuh puh puh puh uh uh uhuhuhuhuh uh uh  puh puh uh uh ..." for like 30 seconds.  I seriously thought the poor guy was having a stroke or seizure!  No kidding.  On my spectrum display I could see that he suddenly was splattering at least 20 kHz up and down the band causing interference to all those around us with his 800 watts of "uhuhuhuh puh puh puh uh uh uhuhuhuhuh uh uh  puh puh uh uh ...".  After about 5 minutes, he came back on the air to explain what had happened.  He finally had to resort to pulling the power to stop the stuttering loop that the computer had gone into.  

It was the most pitiful thing that I have ever heard live on the air.  I can still hear and still laugh about the half a minute of wide band, 800 watt "uhuhuhuh puh puh puh uh uh uhuhuhuhuh uh uh  puh puh uh uh ..." noises today.  I felt bad for him as he said it was one of the most embarrassing moments in his 40+ years of Hamming.
-----------------------------

I have never had anything like that happen with a conventional rig.

Gene

P.S. Before the Flex Radio Faithful jump on me for posting this experience again, let me remind them that eHam reposts old interesting article submissions for time to time.  What's good for the goose...
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 01:21:05 PM by KE5JPP » Logged
K9IUQ
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Posts: 1745




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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 01:58:19 PM »

Flex Radios are notorious for being extremely sensitive to RFI.  

All one has to do is Google "Flexradio RFI" You better have lots of time, there is plenty of complaints.

FWIW I bought bought $100 worth of ferrites from Dx Engineering to cure the RFI in the 5K. I called it the Flex-Pak.  Grin

After I sold the Flexradio I took all the ferrites off. I still got them stored in a bag. Someday I may get another SDR...  Grin

Stan K9IUQ
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KT4WO
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Posts: 149


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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2012, 06:12:53 PM »

Its like the FT-2000, after years of "the best radio ever made"  years
later " Well...maybe it was not..." or "never really liked it"  .....hahaha

KT4WO
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KC4MOP
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Posts: 733




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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 04:31:57 AM »

To completely isolate my Flex radio from the computer, I bought extremely well made audio isolation transformers. The metal case of the computer is not common to the case of the outboard sound card (FA66 in my situation) and the metal case of the Flex Radio. Nice clean TX and RX.
The situation reported on earlier with the stuttering audio seemed like it was always there and when he tweeked the audio EQ, sent the computer into a tizzy. Probably from using unbalanced audio in his shack. Doesn't sound like a Flex radio problem.

These RFI Flex radio problems are from the presence of legal limit RF?? Or just when the operator is talking (SSB)?
You can use the FM mode to create a steady carrier, or AM with the TX audio turned down.

The Flex radio and probably other SDR platforms are capable of very high quality TX audio, and if your audio system is not up to the task of legal limit RF, and you have RFI issues, don't blame the radio. You gotta look back at a broadcast AM station. How do they run their audio? There are many B'cast stations where the studio is co-located at the transmitter site.
Just my .01 cents worth.

Fred...........sorry to ruffle feathers.......I am not a real Flex Faithful type. It's a box made by humans and certainly not perfect.
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1745




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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2012, 08:48:41 AM »

The situation reported on earlier with the stuttering audio seemed like it was always there and when he tweeked the audio EQ, sent the computer into a tizzy. Probably from using unbalanced audio in his shack. Doesn't sound like a Flex radio problem.

Your response reads like it is right out of the Flexradio help file. Have you not read this thread? Perhaps like all Flexers you are blind to Flexradio truths and have me and Gene on "ignore".  Grin Grin

Stan K9IUQ

« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 08:51:43 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
KC4MOP
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Posts: 733




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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2012, 04:41:35 PM »

I thought this forum was a little less problematic than other places. I guess I'll have to put you and Gene on Ignore.
Stuttering audio doesn't come from the radio. It is the computer.
I am not a 'true-blue Flexer". I own an old Flex 1000 and enjoy all modes.
I read that there is an RFI problem in a Ham operator's shack and it shuts down a radio.
The same thing happens in a mobile radio. Top of the line Ham gear, Kenwood, Yaesu and others. They will do the same thing if there is RF in the wrong places.
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RFDOG
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2012, 05:30:54 PM »

Stan and Gene have nothing better to do but gripe on the SDR forum and fan flames. Never had a stitch of trouble with my 3000. Kind of fun to read them sometimes, I must admit.  Many of todays hams are just too turn-key and lazy to deal with today's complex radios  Flex or otherwise. Painful truth.
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