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Author Topic: Flex-5000  (Read 27178 times)
NI0Z
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2012, 08:35:13 AM »

The last discussion as I recall on the Flex 5000K as a contest rig was that with added knobs and CommCat it was good for contesting.  This is why I have asked again, because I wanted to know what changed from the last time this was discussed.  The picture below shows basic knobs for VFO A, VFO B as well as power, gain, volume, ect.  Also the screens show CommCat, powerSDR, ect running.  CommCat is being used for logging and spotting.

http://roaringstar.com/sdr.jpg


You are correct in that the IC 7000 is not at all comparable to a flex 5K for HF work,  their not even close in capability.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 08:37:00 AM by NI0Z » Logged

N9RO
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2012, 08:42:49 AM »

Flex radio's require attention while contesting, top tier (or serious) contester will not accept that, it takes away from concentrating on building your score.  If the radio for ANY reason detracts or limits your chance of increasing points it is of NO use to most real contesters.  When contesting think POINTS POINTS POINTS and it is easy to see why the Flex  cannot be taken seriously as a contest radio.

Tim  N9RO
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NI0Z
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2012, 09:00:41 AM »

Tim,

I am not a contester, so help me understand your comments better.  The point of a contest if I understand it correctly is to make as many contacts as possible and log them correctly so you can submit the log for evaluation and scoring.

Why does a flex radio take any more monitoring than say a TS-590 for example?

Software like CommCat is no different being run with one radio verses another as it helps facilitate and speed up logging of contacts and spotting contacts depending which way you want to work things.  My observation of contesters is that they often work from a fixed frequency to try to get operators to come to them, or the glide up and down the bands scooping up as many contacts as they can or some combination of the two.

CommCat logs the time band and contact info of the contact by pre populating most of the info you need after either clicking the contact in the spotter or after entering the call sign.  But again, this is no different for a Flex 5K verses any other CAT co trolled rig.  Also clicking a contact in the spotter changes the VFO for you in PowerSDR so you don't have to even touch the dials or PowerSDR.  So when you say monitor it, what are you monitoring?

Look, just so we are clear here, I am not a Flex Radio biggot.  I care not for one radio manufacturer or another.  I am just interested in facts.  This Flex is probably my last as I am not spending $7k on their new SDR.  As I said, I am just interested in a factual conversation about this stuff and learning about contesting with regards to the part of the dialogue.

What am I missing here?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 09:06:46 AM by NI0Z » Logged

N9RO
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« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2012, 11:14:28 AM »

Mark,

The goal of most contest is to obtain the largest number of points, run rate and multipliers.  If you are operating SO2R your strategy may be running a pile up on one frequency and looking for multipliers on another, you do whatever needs to be done to get those multipliers.  If operating assisted you are analyzing the cluster, perhaps RBN and WSPR/PropNET networks to see what is going on this may be done mentally and with software.  If you have a big station (I sure don't) you have a tremendous amount of data you are analyzing at the same time you are running thousands of stations.  You cannot be dealing with the focus issue, the PC related issues and the freezing of some apps you are running due to a conflict that only shows up when everything is being push to the limit.
 
 I enjoy contesting and even with my sh&t scores and limited operating times I have experienced many distractions while using a Flex, here are just four:  1) The well known focus issue. 2) Crashing of an app during the contest causing the need to reboot the PC/Flex, during a major contest a number of apps are running and talking to one another.  This often times kicks the OS into recovery and it takes forever to boot back up  3) Mouse and/or keyboard dies and has to be replace.  4) Unexpected process kicks off during the contest and slows everything down to a crawl. 

If you are using a legacy radio you can at least still operate and search for multipliers while you recover you PC and applications.  With a Flex when any of the four problems (plus many more) occur you are DEAD, no searching for multipliers no monitoring the assist networks etc.  If your station (like mine) is built around using a number of networked PCs the Flex PC usually is the center of all activity during a contest and when it goes down so does the hub of all activity.  A lot of this will improve when good IP transceivers are available but for now I believe the Flex product line as it is TODAY remains an experimenters platform, way too many unknown variables for those working for the highest score.  In addition, in some contest I believe point and click is still not allowed so a big advantage of the Flex goes out the window (which is why it is not allowed).

For what it is worth my two cents.

Tim  N9RO
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2012, 11:17:03 AM »

Why does a flex radio take any more monitoring than say a TS-590 for example?

CommCat logs the time band and contact info of the contact by pre populating most of the info you need after either clicking the contact in the spotter or after entering the call sign.

Focus, focus and focus. Ergonomics too.

You are way outta your league here. Commcat is not even close to being adequate for contesting. Yep Commcat is my everyday logger but to use it for contesting would be very stupid on my part.

Trying to Explain contesting to one that has never done it is like trying to explain sex to a virgin.
You can read all about it BUT ----
Really you gotta experience it yourself.....  Cheesy Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 11:25:13 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
K9IUQ
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« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2012, 11:32:35 AM »

You are correct in that the IC 7000 is not at all comparable to a flex 5K for HF work,  their not even close in capability.

FWIW I have run 3 Field Day contests (with around 1300 QSOes) with my Icom 7000, N1MM logger and Navigator interface - which has the very needed Winkeyer builtin. I also ran 4 or 5 different contests (maybe a couple of thousand Q's) with my Flex 5K.

I would pick the Icom combination over the Flex 5K for contesting easily even though the RX in the Icom does not compare to the Flex 5K.

Many recent Dxexpeditons have used a Icom 7000. No DXexpedition to my knowledge has ever used a Flex 5K....

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 11:37:46 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2012, 11:47:42 AM »

Focus, focus and focus. Ergonomics too.

You are way outta your league here. Commcat is not even close to being adequate for contesting. Yep Commcat is my everyday logger but to use it for contesting would be very stupid on my part.

Trying to Explain contesting to one that has never done it is like trying to explain sex to a virgin.
You can read all about it BUT ----
Really you gotta experience it yourself.....  Cheesy Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ

Well, not really a good analogy, but I already said I was not a contested and I doubt contesting is as good as Sex is or as interesting.  Lol

Seriously though, I read about someone complaining about program focus however, they did not have the knobs like I do.  There are people out there contesting with Flex radios though.  Yes I know that CommCat is not contest software, it open claims it's not on their website.

What are some of the best contesting packages?
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NI0Z
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« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2012, 11:55:32 AM »

Tim,

Thanks for a good explanation of the problem.  I could see even with the 8 core PC running where there could be some lock ups due to the way windows multitasks.  Windows is still very poor at managing high  I/O on com and network ports.  I fortunately have a server board so I hardly ever experience a lockup or slow down unless I try to run some non ham related big software while I am monitoring.

I get it now.  I don't have the focus issue in my setup though because I have all those screens up with everything I need, but of course we are not talking contesting here though.

Perhaps the 64 core PC I proposed on my site could handle it!  Lol

So le me officially say I understand now why a flex is a bad contesting machine if you want to really win the big games.

Thanks again for a real answer!  I like dealing with facts!

« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 11:59:35 AM by NI0Z » Logged

NI0Z
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« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2012, 12:15:18 PM »

You are correct in that the IC 7000 is not at all comparable to a flex 5K for HF work,  their not even close in capability.

FWIW I have run 3 Field Day contests (with around 1300 QSOes) with my Icom 7000, N1MM logger and Navigator interface - which has the very needed Winkeyer builtin. I also ran 4 or 5 different contests (maybe a couple of thousand Q's) with my Flex 5K.

I would pick the Icom combination over the Flex 5K for contesting easily even though the RX in the Icom does not compare to the Flex 5K.

Many recent Dxexpeditons have used a Icom 7000. No DXexpedition to my knowledge has ever used a Flex 5K....

Stan K9IUQ

Stan, I am not trying to pick on the IC 7000, I like it a whole lot more than the Yaesu 897D I first had.  As I have written on an article on my site and will point out here, a flex 5K and a radio like a IC 7000 will perform very similar in a shack with a poor antenna and poor grounding.  Let's call it a poor shack verses a great shack.   A great radio shines more over a lesser radio on a great antenna and a cleanly setup shack.  I have also said that unless someone wants to cleanup issues in their shack that allows a great radio to shine, there isn't a lot of sense in buying a great radio and spending that kind of money on it.  

On the article I will post later tonight, I also talk about the fact that I haven't put the IC7K on my good antenna yet, so I will really see the difference between the two rigs when I do that.  I already know the Hex is significantly cleaner than the other two antennas I have.

One thing I think it would help to understand is as a ham that started HF rather than VHF a d as a Ham that has more time on an SDR than on a knobbed radio the world will look different to me.  Forget what SDR I have, I could for example swap out the Flex and put in a Genssis G59 and still really like how I have things setup and integrated.  It's far from perfect and far from what probably most hams would want.

Again, I have no love of one radio verses another.  I do really enjoy things when I have them working the way I want a d understanding their potential and limits which is why I frequent this forum.  I can always learn from more experienced hams, especially when they have the time and patience to field and respond to questions.  Most of my experiences with the more experienced hams is that they don't let their egos get in the way of helping other hams.  Even as a new ham I understand the value of haveing educated and newer hams coming into our hobby.

73
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 12:23:08 PM by NI0Z » Logged

K9IUQ
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« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2012, 12:38:03 PM »



Seriously though, I read about someone complaining about program focus however, they did not have the knobs like I do.

There are people out there contesting with Flex radios though.

What are some of the best contesting packages?

Losing focus. I will try to explain it. The contesting program needs to have the focus of Windows. It needs keyboard input for Call Letters and hitting the right key to send the right macro among other things. You also need focus sometimes on PSDR - to change bands, filters, modes. PSDR is running your radio after all. If you have focus on PSDR when you think you have focus on the Contester logger and hit a key combo for the logger you will do something to PSDR. Maybe change bands from 20 mtrs to 80mtrs and start sending your exchange. Waitttttttt - you are running legal limit and see smoke, hell there goes another amp.

That is just one example, it can do other unexpected things which will make your contesting quite interesting.  Wink The only way I see to eliminate the focus problem would be to run PSDR on a second computer. Yep another computer to keep track of. Ergonomics. Remember you are already trying to do many different things at once.

This assumes you are a Single OP. Consider trying to run Flexradios in a multi op contest environment. Not gonna happen.

I have tried several contest loggers, N1MM is fantastic - and free. It is Probably the most popular contest logger.

No doubt some hams use Flexradio for contesting. You use what you have........

Stan K9IUQ

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NI0Z
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2012, 01:00:15 PM »

Thanks for your response as well Stan.

It would seem like given these statements, unless the new flex radio software radically differs in the way it handles CAT that the new $7000 rigs will run into similar issues.

I am glad I don't have the contest bug!  Lol. I find contests very useful for picking up new entities though! Smiley



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NI0Z
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2012, 01:06:08 PM »

So, looping back around, still no answer to the original questions I had about replacing the Flex 5000.  It's noted that contesters don't want these rigs, so thats another reason to not use an SDR and of the category that it's not what I thought and going back to a knobbed radio.

I do seriously wonder in all this if the way Flex Radios approached announcing the new rigs if it won't be their undoing.  So we can add a reason to the list way above, owners are scared they will end up owning an unsupported radio if this all causes Flex to go belly up!

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K9IUQ
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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2012, 05:45:52 PM »

I do seriously wonder in all this if the way Flex Radios approached announcing the new rigs if it won't be their undoing.  So we can add a reason to the list way above, owners are scared they will end up owning an unsupported radio if this all causes Flex to go belly up!

Owners are concerned and that is why you see so many Flexradios for sale the last month.

Flexradio's undoing will be their inability to produce on promises in a timely manner.. They have a very poor record with PSDR and the 5K. It took them 3 years to get PSDR into a reasonable working state. Many hams such as myself bought one and were very disappointed.

Flexradio as a company has a reputation that is not respected by many well known hams. "If" - - the new Smart SDR software and the ultra expensive newly promised radios this fall do not come to market in a timely manner Flex will pay dearly.

Stan K9IUQ
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W6UV
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« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2012, 09:12:47 PM »

Flex radio's require attention while contesting, top tier (or serious) contester will not accept that, it takes away from concentrating on building your score.  If the radio for ANY reason detracts or limits your chance of increasing points it is of NO use to most real contesters.  When contesting think POINTS POINTS POINTS and it is easy to see why the Flex  cannot be taken seriously as a contest radio.
That, and the fact that any radio that has a propensity to freeze up and require a reboot at random intervals (which mine has done on several occasions) is certainly not something any serious contester would touch with a ten foot pole.
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NI0Z
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« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2012, 06:42:25 AM »

Freezes are more likely the result of your computer.  If your radio is really causing it then you should send it in.

It takes some serious sleuthing to find conflicts or the problem that your computer might be having with the radio.  It could be RFI getting into your FireWire cable scrambling data, or just an OS level conflict with either other software, overall lack of horse power or some other hardware device.

I have not had a freeze or lockup since the first 2 weeks when I setup the radio.  If you look at all that I am running (a lot!) you can see that on a well setup well equipped computer the flex will run fine.
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