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Author Topic: Thoughts on the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series  (Read 20414 times)
KE5JPP
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« Reply #45 on: September 18, 2012, 05:08:45 AM »

The 6700 is not over priced... It's capabilities cannot be had for any price right now.  
Doc
KX0O

You are 100% correct on this one!  You can not even get the supposed "Flex-6000 series capabilities" in a Flex-6000 right now.  Flex has yet to demonstrate a working Flex-6000.  LOL!

Gene
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #46 on: September 18, 2012, 05:22:31 AM »

True and false.   The qs1r and studio 1 can run multiple receivers but they have to be within the tuned bandwidth which if I recall is 2 MHz.  The stock fpga code isnt capable of multiple receivers on multiple bands.  There may be some way to use cw skimmer server fpga code in conjunction with studio 1 but this would take some serious fiddling and may or may or work.

Soo... If you want to monitor 8 bands simultaneously, or 8 signals separated by more than 2MHz you don't have many options.  The USRP, hpsdr stuff and the flex-6700.  The 6700 will be the first off the shelf receiver with this capability that I am aware of. You would need 8 qs1r's to monitor 8 bands.  I have one and it is neat.  It just won't do what I want to do. At least or easily...but I am still fiddling to get as much out of it as possible.

If anyone knows how to spread out the virtual receivers on the qs1r please let me know.

Doc
KX0O

This is not correct.  You are behind the times.  I am able to tune up to 7, 192 kHz wide independent receivers tuned anywhere within the 10 kHz to 62 MHz range of the QS1R, not just 2 MHz.   Soon the code will allow wider bandwidths of 250 kHz in each receiver.  I only typically use 2 receivers though.  I suggest you contact the manufacturer if you want to know how.  

The USRP stuff can do this if you are a programmer and know how to code.  There is no out of the box solution for the USRP without the user having to code.  The HPSDR multiple receiver stuff is based on the CW skimmer FPGA code that was originally written for the QS1R by Alex, VE3NEA.  There is software for HPSDR that supports up to 7 receivers, but it is not fully functional.  The Flex-6000 is TBD because there is no working demonstrations by Flex.  Flex has also stated the the initial release of the Flex-6000 series will not have the full receiver functionality.  Who knows how long the Flex Guinea Pigs* will have to wait for this!

Gene

*Flex Guinea Pigs - those who have pre-purchased the Flex-6000
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 05:37:47 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
KX0O
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« Reply #47 on: September 18, 2012, 06:03:44 AM »

Gene,

I am glad I am wrong.  Are you using Studio 1 to do this?  I contacted them (Woodbox) and they were light on details because they don't have a QS1R to test on.  When you say contact the manufacturer are you referring to Phil Covington?  Let me know how you get that done....it would be sincerely appreciated.  I would like to start grabbing data.

Doc
KX0O
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NI0Z
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« Reply #48 on: September 18, 2012, 08:16:23 AM »

Studio 1 is pretty new to the market, since just this July I believe.  I believe they are a real small shop so the fact that their software is as nice as it is seems amazing to me.  Unfortunately small and new equal a bit of bleeding edge and so what it really means is that unless someone has Studio 1 and the QS1R, we are not likely to know.  

I am planning on a QS1R as soon as my IC 7000 sells.  I have Studio 1 on the KX3 and short of not having the cat control, I am impressed so far.  Their user interface paradigm is a bit different, but it does grow on you and makes sense once you get the hang of it.

WoodBoxRadio is asking quite a bit for their software. $200.   I suspect it's because it's so polished and supports a variety of different radios.  Keep in mind, for some SDRs Studio 1 now represents the best choice of Software, Or it will if they finish it all up and add more radios to their supported collection.

Here is some food for thought and the small gamble I amtaking if you look for justification.  Understand though, it's a gamble and what I am saying next may be wrong.

When I get the QS1R I'll always have SDRMax for it, so if Studio 1 doesn't pan out I won't have regret with regards to Studio 1.  Studio 1 was purchased for my KX3 and the gamble there was that they will deliver the Cat control.  I believe they will since I think their code source is from HDSDR. ( this is where I could be recalling things incorrectly).  HDSDR already has Omnirig support for cat control.  On occasion I like to listen to shortwave as well, I have a nice Wellbrook loop 0-30mhz that needs a radio to go with it.  Studio 1 will do very nicely for that when I get there.

From what little I have seen, SDRMax is quite a nice SDR interface, so no great issues if QS1R support is not perfect in Studio 1.

The IC 7000 was only in my shack until the 2M module for the Kx3 arrives.  So, basically I loose 2M until Elecraft delivers which is probably next year Q1 if I had to guess.

I am lucky also that I will procure a 100 watt amp as soon as I decide which makes most sense for me.  This will then position me to run these lower watt rigs in the future.  There is a genesis kit I am eyeballing for mid 2013 as well.  There are several other low watt SDRs that are starting to emerge.

It's my belief that Flex in no way will have cornered the market with their new arrival.  I say that based on both the Ethernet connectivity and the slice receivers.  There are going to be far cheaper options which might not even be lesser offerings either.  Some offerings might have Internet support before Flex does and all of these radios I am referring to are sub $2K US.  Some in theory already exist, I have no experience with any of them, so it's hard to say what's real and what's not.  Keep in mind as well, you can already share your radio on the Internet today with SDRRadio by Simon.

If I had to speculate, and that's all we outside the inner Flex circle can do, the actual specs on the Reciever might top the charts when the dust settles.  That may be the true real upshot of their new radio.  They also have an opportunity to make their new software super nice, however, we shall see what is delivered.

Virtual receivers will be cool, but not all that people believe they will be.  Internet support will take a while for Flex so that idea of sharing slices is going to take a while as we'll.  Plus, the real benefit of sharing ones receivers for the average ham is limited in my mind.  Clubs might be able to leverage it far better in terms of real value than a single ham. 

Thing is though, you can already use someone else's receiver today with SDRRadio by Simon.  It's not like you can have more than one person using the transmit capabilities of the slice effectively with the new Flex.  If you have ever used multiple slices before you quickly see there are two utilities with them in my humble opinion.  Watching signals on another band or bands and using one on the same band to tune to two frequencies.  

I have used 3 receivers before with the Kx3 and one was really useless, it was more of an experiment at best to see if I could make use of it.  Again, if I wanted for example to watch 20, 17, and 15 so one could see if propogation was picking up on the other bands They like then I could see it being useful.  Keep in mind though you can also use a band spotter for this as well.

This hopefully paints a realistic picture of how Slice receivers might be of value to the average ham.  Again, I think you can already do this with the QS1R and hopefully in a month or so I will know for sure.  Honestly, my draw on this for the QS1R is its wide spectrum support.

My biggest belief in all this though as far as sinking big bucks into receivers is that it's wasted if you don't have a great antenna to go with it.  A ham on a cheap radio that has a great antenna is likely to fair far better than a ham with a super  rig on a cheap antenna.

By far the best purchase I made so far is the hex beam and roof tower. It's worth as much as 3 S Units of gain over the vertical dipole I was using before it.

Best of luck and fun with your quest for knowledge on this!
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 08:27:02 AM by NI0Z » Logged

KX0O
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« Reply #49 on: September 18, 2012, 08:23:13 AM »

I am hoping gene enlightens me on how he is doing it.

I too sold my 7000 to get the qs1r... I wish i still had the 7000 though.. i really liked it.

I will for sure get studio 1 if I can verify it can do 7 receivers widely spaced with the qs1r.

Just waiting for the methodology gene is using.

Doc
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NI0Z
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« Reply #50 on: September 18, 2012, 08:29:43 AM »

Doc,

 If the 7000 was your main rig then I can understand the anxiety.  Knob withdrawal is difficult for many.  Do you have your QS1R yet?  Have you tried out SDRMax?  If so, let us know what you like and don't like, many here would enjoy hearing about your experience.

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KX0O
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« Reply #51 on: September 18, 2012, 09:00:47 AM »

SDRmax is fine.. just different.  I am used to powersdr.  I would say it is sufficient although I am not comfortable doing all I can do with it.  but I have sseveral thousand hours on powersdr.  The radio was fairly easy to characterize regarding frequency offset and it is very precise when driven by an external precision 125MHz clock. 

I currently have it hooked up to a Jackson Labs Fury via a valon 5007/3008 synthesizer divider for clocking.  I show a frequency stability somewhere around 100 nanoHz.  Which is pretty good.  I think my weak link is the synthesizer but I havent found a foolproof method of providing a more stable conversion of my 10MHz (mid 10-13 ADEV at 1 second).  I do have an apollo VHF which makes a pretty good 125 MHz clock (still synthesized).  I have a 125MHz VCO that i think I can get locked to 10MHz but it is a rainy day project... I have a guy that is refining CPLD code to lock it.   I think that will provide the best clock.

Now I just need to figure out how to do the multiple independant receiver thing... still awaiting n explanation.

Doc
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NI0Z
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« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2012, 10:53:14 AM »

SDRmax is fine.. just different.  I am used to powersdr.  I would say it is sufficient although I am not comfortable doing all I can do with it.  but I have sseveral thousand hours on powersdr.  The radio was fairly easy to characterize regarding frequency offset and it is very precise when driven by an external precision 125MHz clock. 

I currently have it hooked up to a Jackson Labs Fury via a valon 5007/3008 synthesizer divider for clocking.  I show a frequency stability somewhere around 100 nanoHz.  Which is pretty good.  I think my weak link is the synthesizer but I havent found a foolproof method of providing a more stable conversion of my 10MHz (mid 10-13 ADEV at 1 second).  I do have an apollo VHF which makes a pretty good 125 MHz clock (still synthesized).  I have a 125MHz VCO that i think I can get locked to 10MHz but it is a rainy day project... I have a guy that is refining CPLD code to lock it.   I think that will provide the best clock.

Now I just need to figure out how to do the multiple independant receiver thing... still awaiting n explanation.

Doc

Thanks Doc.

Doc, Gene,

This sounds kinda of complex.  Since you two own and run one, can you tell me what a person really needs to run one of these right in addition to these base items QS has listed on their site?


QS1R Receiver, with enclosure and USB cable
QS1E Exciter, add-on board for the QS1R receiver
SMA to BNC Adapter, gold plated
USA Power Supply, 5 VDC, 1000 mA, 100-130 VAC Input

So if a guy like me wants to know the real full laundry list of what needed to run the bands from 0-60Mhz, what other things are needed and do you have good commercial reccomendations for them.   

Doc, my guess is for Studio 1 to be able to run multiple virtual slices accross bands that obviously the spectrum you want to create the slices from has to be available to it all at once.  If that is the case then you would simply spawn Virtual Receivers and tune them to that part of the spectrum you want to recieve on.  So if we wanted 40M, 20M and 15M then we would need 7000-21450 available to Studio 1. 

On  the KX3 for example, I can only create slices on part of one band because I only have 40K of spectrum available to Studio 1 through the 16Bit driver right now. 

Thinking about this, Virtual slices with a full transceiver will be interesting.  You would probably in this model want to create one slice that you use as both Send and receive and then monitor in the others because clicking on a slice with some sort of rig control in place would likely change the VFO.

Anyways, this is all pure speculation on my part and I am not sure how much spectrum the QS1R would make available through the EXITIO.

Thanks for any help you can offer on whats really needed to run a QS1R.

 
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KX0O
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« Reply #53 on: September 18, 2012, 11:51:18 AM »

I dont use the qs1r as a transmitter.  Only as a receiver.  So I cant help you on that.  In perusing the yahoo group for qs1r i do know it is not trivial using the qs1r as a transmitter.

On studio 1 ... I am waiting for some verification as to how it works (if it does).  I have asked woodbox and they dont know.  and I am waiting on the respose from the yahoo group.  Was hoping gene would chime in.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 11:58:49 AM by KX0O » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2012, 02:25:03 PM »

Looking at things a little closer today, I would say that Virtual Recievers from the QS1R in Studio 1 will be limited to the 2MHZ window unless the EXITIO lib is updated to support more.  I plan on asking some questions in the group to try and better understand what is needed on my part to go along with the QS1R.  Its hard to tell at this point if I need an external clock reference or not.

Lots to learn, this is a different paradign to live it!

As a side note, if your QS1R is recent and you want to trade for my ICOM 7000, let me know.  Maybe thats a win win for both of us. In fact, I see we live fairly close so a radio exchange in person could work pretty easily.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 02:29:10 PM by NI0Z » Logged

KX0O
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« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2012, 03:37:41 PM »

You can do better than that for the 7000.  No...I like this little receiver... Just wish I had kept my 7000.  Ask me again when I get my 6700...lol.
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NK2F
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« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2012, 11:37:02 AM »

These guys are definitely moving forward with their product line:

https://apache-labs.com/al-products/1027/ANAN-100D-HF---6M-100W-ALL-MODE-SDR-TRANSCEIVER-KITPREORDER.html

It will be very interesting to see who will survive the soon to be very competitive commercial SDR transceiver market.

Rudy N2WQ
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KX0O
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« Reply #57 on: September 22, 2012, 04:08:28 AM »

That is a neat radio.  I have been watching as that has been developing.  I was going to get one then got concerned.  I am not sure who is realling running things... TAPR/HPSDR/Apache labs?  I think it is structed such that HPSDR developed it and have a cooperative relationship with TAPR and then they farmed out the finish work to Apache.  Now here is why I didnt buy one.  I worry about this whole structure or lack thereof.  They software is all over the place but I could have endured that albeit very little guarantee of continued cohesive development.  Also, the board was supposed to be released in February or March... it didnt happen...then there were several months of silence about production (there was an interest list you could sign up for) but then whammo there was a week long window to order then orders were closed.  Yep... wait for months then a very short window for ordering through TAPR.. then all turned over to apache for any other orders.  It seems like a very odd way to do things to me.  Apache Labs may end up being a very viable commercial vendor for the radio... time will tell... I dont set my hopes too high though.


DOC
KX0O
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #58 on: September 22, 2012, 05:20:12 AM »

That is a neat radio.  I have been watching as that has been developing.  I was going to get one then got concerned.  I am not sure who is realling running things... TAPR/HPSDR/Apache labs?  I think it is structed such that HPSDR developed it and have a cooperative relationship with TAPR and then they farmed out the finish work to Apache.  Now here is why I didnt buy one.  I worry about this whole structure or lack thereof.  They software is all over the place but I could have endured that albeit very little guarantee of continued cohesive development.  Also, the board was supposed to be released in February or March... it didnt happen...then there were several months of silence about production (there was an interest list you could sign up for) but then whammo there was a week long window to order then orders were closed.  Yep... wait for months then a very short window for ordering through TAPR.. then all turned over to apache for any other orders.  It seems like a very odd way to do things to me.  Apache Labs may end up being a very viable commercial vendor for the radio... time will tell... I dont set my hopes too high though.
DOC
KX0O

What happened is that the guy who runs Apache Labs (Abhi) did the PCB layout for the HPSDR HERMES.  He got tired of the excuses and waiting for TAPR to produce the HERMES, so he decided to produce them through his company Apache Labs instead.  TAPR had a fit over this but there is nothing they could really do because Abhi owns the copyright on the PCB layout.  This put TAPR into gear and there was a compromise where Apache Labs would wait until TAPR got the orders they needed for a single run of the HERMES.  A deadline was set sometime in July so after the deadline expired, Apache Labs could take orders for the HERMES and supply it with a warranty (something TAPR does not do).  Apache Labs also developed an enclosure and PA for HERMES since the HERMES board only puts out 0.5 watts.

My concern is that Apache Labs is still depending on HPSDR volunteers to develop the software with the problems that you mentioned - software pieces all over the place with no coherent explanation of what you need or where the software is going for it.

Gene
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KX0O
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« Reply #59 on: September 22, 2012, 06:11:29 AM »

Gene,

Ok.. yeah... I was pretty excited about it until it went haywire.  I agree on the software issues.  Near as I can tell the HPSDR group and TAPR have some personality problems.  Case in point resulted in Phil defecting with QS1R.  Glad he did because it is a more coherent product.  What I don't get about TAPR.. they discontinue products people still want and they are apparently gone forever.  The 10MHz distribution amp is the main one I would have liked to get but missed the boat.  If you want something they have you better buy a few of them when available because they may vanish never to reappear.

Doc
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