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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-6500
FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Reviews: 41 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $4299.00
Description: Software Define Radio Transceiver with 4 independent full performance receivers from 0.03MHz to 77MHz
Product is in production.
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WK2Y Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2017 08:01 Send this review to a friend
Just a wonderful radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have had my Flex 6500 for just about a year now, and it would be understatement, by a wide margin, to say I have been thrilled with it. Before I get into details about why, let me provide a little background and make a suggestion to anyone who is on the fence about getting an SDR. I was first licensed in 1971 and have had a variety of knob radios over the years. When I got close to retirement, I promised myself a top of the line radio for my retirement gift to myself. I mulled over all the arguments about knob based versus SD radios for quite a long time. What finally convinced me to go with an SDR was my purchase of an inexpensive SDR receiver\dongle. I hadnít purchased it to help me in the decision process, but it took no time at all for me to see the advantages of being able to see the signals and adjust filters precisely to the desired signal. And, I also learned how easy it is to get used to using a software interface. In very short order, I was finding and tuning in signals much more quickly than I ever had been using a knob based radio. If you are having trouble deciding, then consider purposefully taking my inadvertent approach. I am certain you will be convinced in short order like I was.

Setup for the rig was painless. Unpack, connect the power, antenna, and Ethernet cable to the PC, download and install the software, and away you go. Not a hitch. The SmartSDR software was very intuitive. Once I was setup, then I really started to learn the advantages of the rig. I typically have, simultaneously, one receiver slice open to monitor PSK using Ham Radio Deluxe, another for JT65, and a third for SSB or CW. I could open a fourth slice but 3 seems to be enough for this addled retired brain. (Indeed, I made the mistake early on of not checking to see what slice was transmitting and blasted a PSK frequency with my SSB CQ.) Having the large support community available (a large motivating factor in my purchase of the Flex versus other SDR) made interfacing all the different software packages relatively easy. The filtering and signal processing are darned amazing. If you have an interfering signal, you just slide or adjust the receive window until itís out of the pass band. No guessing and it is gone. That alone would be worth the price, but the number of features built into the software, keyer, audio equalizer, digital signal processing, profiles, notch filters (truly amazing), etc, etc. only enhance the value.

Both the rigís firmware and the software are updated on a regular basis. The fear always is that something will stop working after the update. In the year that I have owned the machine, there have been several updates and none have caused a problem.

One final note: I am not a contest operator. I can see huge advantages of the Flex if I were. None the less, I donít consider the 6500 to be overkill for me. Even as a casual operator, I am able to take advantage of the features it offers, and it makes it a pleasure to operate. No buyerís remorse or guilt here whatsoever.

I am happy to answer specific questions should you have them.

WU5E Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2017 16:37 Send this review to a friend
best buy-ever  Time owned: more than 12 months
3+ years own, the best radio I have ever own. I have own some good radios before ICOM 775DSP 756PRO2,3 TenTec Orion and Orion II but the FLEX 6500 is better than all them put together. the flexibility of this radio is Awesome!
AH6FC Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2017 17:04 Send this review to a friend
update  Time owned: more than 12 months
Still an amazing radio.

My prior review echoed the same, but voiced my computer-brain dysfunction. That still exists.

Over the past week, I had difficulty connecting with my 6500...all computer issues..or more accurately, operator issues.

Dudley patiently helped me through these issues. Though it took a couple days, all is well.

The point is, the service is fabulous. Never had a problem with the radio. The features, particularly the filtering, multiband displays and all the bells and whistles are absolutely amazing. Though the computer side can be frustrating, it is well worth it. Just an amazing radio.

Without hesitation, go for it. Flexradios are the best.

73, Bill
DH2ID Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2017 07:15 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio, especially for digital modes  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have delayed writing this review until I had enough experience with the new radio. I have been using SDR TRX (Flex-3000/Elecraft KX3) and RX (RFSpace SDR-IQ/Elad FDM-S2)for some years now and then upgraded to the Flex-6500, keeping the 3000 for fieldday and EMMCOM use, as it is conveniently sized.

The very first thing I noticed with the new Flex6k5 is the ethernet connection and the fast and easy setup with SmartSDR. I run the radio with a gigabit switch, which in turn is connected to my router, which sets up a fixed IP for the radio.

Compared with the Flex3k, which uses firewire and the PC to crunch it's data the new Flex6k5 runs easily even on older notebooks, as all the data is processed inside the TRX. I use a SONY VAIO i7 notebook with Windows7 64bit HE as OS.

The next great thing about the Flex6k5 is the excellent support by FlexRadio (ok, I'm used to get great support by US companies :-)) and the great forum. You can ask anything and you'll get a fast answer!

The API is also a great plus, as there are some great programs like FRStack around, which make working much comfortabler.

SmartSDR is in constant development, which makes me proud to be part of a community, which is in the middle of the development process. FDV, D-Star and a dedicated RTTY mode are only part of all the new things we got. Remoting works great over the home network and remoting over WAN is ahead.

I have only very limited antennas on my balcony here, therefore I work mostly JT65/JT9/PSK31 and CW. PACTOR also works with a cable I made and my PACTOR TNC. Although these modes are quite a challenge for the hardware (the JT modes are sending continually for 46 seconds) I have no problems with overheating or HF wandering into my other electronic equipment.

I cant't say anything here about PA's or bigger antennas, as I can't use them. I do a lot of low power work, using maximum output of 10 watts and having reached the whole world with low power and very limited antennas!
Alex - DH2ID
ON8VP Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2016 09:26 Send this review to a friend
My doubts are vanished!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I do not often throw flowers but and i have to say that the learning curve seems to go faster than with the "knobs vessels".Did you ever see what you say or see what you hear? After years of traditional transceivers i hesitated to try SDR as i am not confident with software and pc stuff.
The Dutch distributor Ger convinced me to consider a demo after he installed the latest Smart SDR software and additional third party software om my pc . In my opinion a great commercial move that should be able to gain other hams .
I never thought i would buy a Flexradio 6500 but now i am happy i did.
Just to tell that you don't have to be afraid to consider a Flex! Check the possibilities on the Flexradio websites and compare and check what you get, you will be surprised !
NA5U Rating: 5/5 Jul 11, 2016 13:21 Send this review to a friend
Best radio I have operated owned!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The 6500 has allowed me to experience excitement and fasination I had for radio when I was 6-years old!!!
W4IEE Rating: 5/5 May 19, 2016 06:01 Send this review to a friend
Look Ma, no knobs  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I took the leap to reward myself for passing the Extra after 50 years. Sold my TenTec Orion (great radio) and not looking back.
To anyone who has not seen the interface or used a panadapter before, this radio is a total paradigm shift in operating.
I am impressed with the sensitivity and selectivity and simply (?) the ease of use with the visualization of the signals on the bands and the point-and-click method of tuning.
Did I mention - no knobs - not quite true, I do use my mouse wheel for fine tuning.
I've had the radio for 3 months and integrated it with DXLabs Suite and FLDIGI. I know I'm not using it absolutely correctly yet but I'm having a ball using it on all modes including Digital (JT65/9 next step).
Assuming that Flex stays in business and I'm sure they will, software/firmware upgrades should provide a continuous stream of goodies.
There is a lot to absorb with these radios but to get it up and running takes a lot less that I originally expected.
Although I operate all modes I am mostly into CW and the 6500 is a dream. CW Skimmer is also on the horizon.
Don't think twice about having to use a computer with it. Heck, if you don't have a computer in the shack for logging and the digital modes you are behind the curve anyway. Think of the Flex as just another application to make hamming more enjoyable.
Great radio...great experience.
AA0KM Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2016 23:02 Send this review to a friend
Computers And SDR  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am not going to go in details how Great the Flexradio is I am just telling some of the things that can be done.

The many ways I communicate using a computer.

Lets See>

To the kids sometime`s the computer.
To the businesses sometimes with the computer.
To Paybill`s sometimes with the computer.
Watch video or read the news with the computer.
Chat with friends with the computer.

And many more uses for the computer communications.

Why not use the computer with radio and all the above mentioned stuff?

Plus all that the digital software may bring in the future. Just add another program or App.

(you do not need internet to make the radio work) Still hearing this occasionally but for online software updates yes.

----------------------------------------Things that can be done------------------------

Radio ON: And have Voip application`s running for other comms and have Spotters network up and running and the weather app going.
Webpages for mapping locations or lookups for logbooks.

Radio ON: Watch the digital modes while talking on the radio on other modes and / or different bands.

Radio ON: Operations controlled with software such as Rotor antenna control,Amplifiers,Meters,Tuner`s, Antenna Switches.

Radio ON: Remote control of some connected radio equipment with various software.

All in one place, one monitor, one computer, one radio multiple RX`s.

And the Best Communications to or from a company and all the help you need is right in the Flexradio Forums!
WB6ZXM Rating: 5/5 Feb 29, 2016 18:06 Send this review to a friend
Buy This Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is NOT your common knob radio that you will master in 8 hours. But within a few days you will have basic knowledge and within a week you will understand you have made the
best "ham" decision of your life. (Note: these comments are made relative to SmartSDR v1.6X which is greatly improved over previous versions). So, after a few weeks here's what I have running: 40 meters, 20 meters, 15 meters JT-65. 40 meters, 20 meters, 15 meters CW Skimmer using SDR Bridge. That leaves one extra panadaper and slice receiver for roaming other bands and modes. You can view an entire band or partial band visually and instantly click on an operator without searching. Bands can be viewed in entirety for activity or not. Also, for those of you who have watched the digital video setup on YouTube....if you set up panadapters by BAND rather than mode, the IQ channels by panadapter can be sent to CW Skimmer or other 3rd party applications that use IQ channels. So if u setup panadapters for 40 meters, 20 meters, and 15 meters(example), you have DAX outputs for each band for programs like JT-65 INDEPENDENT of the IQ outputs FOR EACH BAND which are broadband. This hugely expands the four slice receivers available on the Flex 6500. All of this is running on an Intel quad core CPu with speed index of around 5K, internal video card, and 8 MB of RAM. I am so pleased with this purchase I'm going to upgrade to a Flexradio 6700 and already placed the order. Have no doubt that the 6500 is the "sweet spot" in the Flex lineup given cost and features. I'm upgrading ($3200..yikes) for the following: a. Diversity reception and the future b. Two meter reception c. Extra four slices. For most everyone except the digital folks, the 6500 will be the best decision you ever made in the ham world. 73's
KT9B Rating: 5/5 Jan 18, 2016 08:12 Send this review to a friend
Gets better and better  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
At the end of the day, the point of any transceiver is making contacts. With the Flex 6500 you get 4 world class receivers and a top flight transmitter. Setup is very easy and you don't need a powerhouse computer to run it as the crunching happens on the radio. One cable handles it all. Digital modes are reasonably straight forward with no additional cables unless you plug in a key.

As an operator coming to the Flex what I found most useful were the pan adapter, filters, noise reduction and TX/RX EQ. With the pan adapter/waterfall you can display more than an entire band which makes spotting contacts very easy. With four receiver slices you can monitor other bands as you work one. The waterfall display can be setup to display varying time periods so you can literally see where a station is working but not currently transmitting. If you were turning a dial, youíd miss these stations. To tune, you just point and click to the left or right of the signal, depending on the mode and a few turns of a mouse wheel and you are on freq. Since you can actually see the signal, those stations with the horrible eq that makes them sound off freq no matter where you tune, takes the guess work out of it.

SDRís noise reduction is excellent. Typically, you want to begin with setting the AGC to the noise floor, increasing it until there is a 2-3 dB drop. There is a third party meter called Flexmeter that takes the guesswork out of this. This will cause weaker station to pop out of the noise, then it is a matter of applying the Wide Noise Filter and perhaps the NR filter to make those station readable. Iíve made numerous contacts with stations sitting right on the noise floor that couldnít be heard with my other radios.

The filters are phenomenal. Iíve actually blocked intentional interference of people tuning up on a station simply by pulling the filter over with the cursor. The only situation I found that I havenít been able to fix is when you have two strong stations that canít hear one another where one signal is more than a third over the other. In digital modes, if you have one of those folks blasting out a very strong and over modulated signal that is screwing up the whole band segment, you can just place a notch over them.

Flex radios are known for their excellent audio and with the SDR 1.6 release, you can now easily record how you sound using a program such as Audacity. The other side of eqíing is the ability to set up mic and transmitter profiles for particular conditions and uses. There are three basic compression settings, norm, DX and DX+, each adding more compression which will give your signal some more punch. But for those hard to reach DX stations or in pileups, you can go much further. If you roll off your bass and high end while emphasizing your mid-range, then limit your transmit freq from say 200 on the low end to 2700 on the high, plug in the DX+ compression, you are going to as much punch as you can get out of your signal. Then setting the mic gain to achieve 0dB peak at the transmitter gets you full power. It isnít something youíd want to listen to all day, but you can save it as a profile and use it when needed to punch through a pileup. Iíve also found the RX eq to be handy on occasions to help distinguish a voice in the noise.

I tend to be really suspicious of reviews that talk about how many contacts someone made with this or that gear since so much depends on propagation, antenna and how many watts are being pushed. That said, I cannot resist saying that I received the radio Christmas Eve 2015. My regular antenna is down for repairs which is a Butternut HF9V vertical with 32 ground radials, so Iíve been using a portable vertical, with a 13í whip attached to a chain-link fence. Iíve made some 600 contacts, using no amp and 66% of them are DX from the Falklands to way up north in Canada, a good part of the Caribbean, Western Europe and a couple in Africa as well as AK and HI. Most were S5 or under and the band conditions havenít been good.

So these are my impressions using the radio. Hope you find them useful.

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