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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | FlexRadio SDR-1000 Help


Reviews Summary for FlexRadio SDR-1000
FlexRadio SDR-1000 Reviews: 55 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1399.00 100w ver/ $925 1w ver
Description: Software Defined Radio: RF section on three small boards. A Tayloe Detector/mixer converts the RF to two channels of audio 90deg out of phase. DSP, etc. is then done in the PC, using the soundcard.
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.flex-radio.com/
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KI6USW Rating: 5/5 Jun 15, 2012 14:06 Send this review to a friend
Fun, fun, fun!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought this radio almost two years ago and it sat in the box for all of that time. Why? Intimidated. Not that I don't know my way around a computer - I can build and set them up with the best of them. I just got a bit flakey about getting off of my butt and away from the Kenwood TS-2000. That is a nice radio - too.

But what really got me going on this project was a local Ham that put together a "Ensemble TXRX" 10-15m kit radio - which is also software dependent (it uses the "HDSDR" software). He was raving about how much fun he was having, how well the receiver and transmitter worked, and the fact that the software had the panadapter. He told me to hook up my Flex; so I did.

After a day and a half of struggling to make it work, I got around to reading the SDR-1000 manual. Should have done this in the first place. Hindsight is 20-20 - isn't it? That straightened out what I needed to know. At this point, I knew what questions needed to be answered and the manual delivered.

I also had to purchase a FireWire PCI-E card in order to get the Edirol FA66 sound card into the computer. After installing the Edirol driver, the FlexRadio driver, and the Power SDR software, I was able to start the software for the radio. It finally lit up!

The other problem that I had at first, was figuring out where the three sets of wires went between the Edirol sound card, the Flex, and the computer. Flex has a pdf for that too; so that made it easy.

Once it was all set up correctly in the setup menu, It was time to set up the freq cal, level cal, and RX image cal. Used WWV for that.

Latency isn't a real issue - IMO. That will depend entirely on the quality of the sound card, the computer speed, and the way you set up the parameters in the setup GUI. I use a quad core AMD 3.2ghz processor with 4gb's of RAM, and a 1gb video card. No bottlenecks here . . .

After all of that, it has been fun playing with all of the adjustments and filters. If you are into eSSB at all; this is the radio for you. However, if you a into DX/contesting or SW; they have a transmit profile for those too. The filters - and the panadapter screen that can be used to control them is easy, informative, and just fun to use.

This particular radio I bought had some of the options, such as the antenna tuner, TCXO crystal, and the 100w amp.

You might feel like a pig on roller skates for the first few days. But that will quickly pass as the fun this radio can generate just using it and discovering just how 'Flexible' these radios really are.
 
AE5YJ Rating: 5/5 Oct 28, 2011 04:09 Send this review to a friend
Fine radio, now that I finally got it up and running  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I agree with the last reviewer who stated that this radio is not "plug and play". It is a chore to get the 1k working, especially on a newer system. Few issues I had that are very common...

1. Radio seemed RF deaf. I could not hear the relays initializing at launch of powerSDR, and the panadapter shows only soundcard noise. Problem is that the parallel interface isn't communicating (bit-banging) to the radio. You can use the rare FlexRadio Parallel to USB adapter (which is only supposed to work with WinXP, but I am living proof that it will also work with WinVista 32 bit). I did not have any luck with aftermarket parallel cards, regardless of interface. I have been told that the drivers for Vista only support limited communication with these devices, and that to run them properly to use Winxp. Perhaps, but my advice would be to run a windows xp system with an integrated parallel interface on the motherboard and just be done with it. You should not have the "rf deaf" parallel port problems using an xp system with mobo integrated parallel port. If you do, check your cable (not more than 6').

2. Stray RF. I am running a short G5RV apex at 20'. This Rig is not forgiving of RF in the shack. In my case, RF would hit the parallel-to-usb cable and knock out my computer. This was only on a tuning carrier of approx 5-10 watts. SSB was a little more forgiving, but as soon as my voice hit the right pitch, it would knock out the cable (usually mid transmit). I added a choke balun at the feedpoint of the antenna and redid my grounding system to allow for better RF ground. Seems to have solved all my RF problems.

I mention the above two common issues because unlike the previous reviewer, these were not problems of the radio, but problems of the computer or station design. True this radio is not very forgiving of installation mistakes, beginner or otherwise, but it does perform as advertised.

Now that I have been able to finally enjoy the full RX/TX potential of this rig (within limits of my antenna) I must say that I am very impressed. RX seems very hot, much more so than the Yaesu FT-920 that it replaced. I do get annoyed looking at the spurs present on 15/12/10, but from operational standpoint they don't interfere. Speaking of interference, there is nothing that I have found that the multiple tracking notch filters in the latest version of PowerSDR can't take care of (yes they are stackable). Full control over TX bandwidth is a plus as well, I want to explore ESSB someday with some good rack gear (although using a large-diaphragm condenser mic with the FA66 sound card gets awesome audio reports with PowerSDR's TX EQ and downward expander).

I am really happy with this radio now that I finally have installed and configured correctly. I understand the newer flex radios (1.5k, 3k, 5k various flavors) are more streamlined to install and configure. I would love one, but see no need at the moment to upgrade as the 1k is doing a fine job. I have to admit that returning to a traditional transceiver with LCD display and rigid filter options (or lack therof) makes me feel blind. The powerSDR panafall display is the ultimate in band situational awareness. I do miss a physical radio interface, but the ability to see everything for a 96kz swath quickly makes up for it.

My only fear is that the radio will outlast the legacy system that is supporting it. Modern computer tech. seems to have left this radio in the past, with the requirement of the parallel interface. Might have to build a just-in-case system for that possible eventuality, I don't plan on getting rid of my flex for awhile.
 
K4CMC Rating: 1/5 Oct 17, 2011 17:31 Send this review to a friend
Poor driver support  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Bought SDR1000 with Edirol soundcard. Went out and bought dual core computer to use and found SDR drivers simply would not work with VISTA software. Had my computer guy downgrade to XP at a cost of over $100, but still it did not work. Despite numerous attempts I was unable to get the Edirol drivers to work with the SDR software. Called Flex, but got no real effective help. Also posted on the user site asking for help and got none. Guess if you are a computer mavin you might be able to get the SDR1000 to work, but I gave up and sold it. Definitely not plug and play!
 
KG4GLI Rating: 5/5 Apr 16, 2010 07:49 Send this review to a friend
Very Good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned my SDR 1000 for about 3 months now and all I can say is it is a very good rig. The software is whats makes the rig so great. It has the pan adapter all the filter you will ever need. When they update the software it like getting a new rig. I am debating on selling it to purchase the New 5000A, I thought about the new 3000 but the 1000 still offer more. This thing will transmit 6khz wide for some great ESSB audio. You just cant beat the rig it has one of the best receiver I have every heard. Great Rig all the way. All I can say is it's a Flex.
 
HR2510 Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2010 12:29 Send this review to a friend
A Great Radio With the Right Sound Card toss your Delta 44 away  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned two of these first generation SDR radios. The first was probably the worst experience I've ever had with a rig. It had the Delta 44 PCI card included from the factory. Why Flex-Radio ever chose this problem card I'll never know. This card has poor drivers, no mic preamp (which this radio definitely needs!), and a huge tangle of wires to an "interface" box. The transmit audio always was weak and had a motorboat sound in the background. I grew so frustrated with it I finally sold it. But it did give me a taste of the SDR experience.

Go forward a year and I happened to come across another SDR-1000 with the Roland FA-66 for a good price. I figured what the heck and purchased it. The difference is night and day with the FA-66. This external sound device makes this radio come to life. It brings out all the good things the SDR-1000 is capable of without all of the issues of the Delta 44. It now holds the position of my main radio.

Would I sell the SDR-1000 now even for a Flex-3000? Nope. I bought a Flex-3000 and sold it.

These rigs now go for less than $800 in most cases. The performance is just simply incredible for the money. Just stay away for the problem Delta 44 card and you'll have a great rig.
 
NB4M Rating: 5/5 Dec 13, 2009 16:24 Send this review to a friend
Superb  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After getting cold feet many times, ran across the SDR1000 model used for a reasonable price.
Currently running the Edirol FA66 and better than 2 gig PC, I am amazed with receive quality and selectivity of the 1000. Far better than expected and beats most anything I've used/liked in the past. My comparisons were made to many other top brand rigs in my shack under contesting and weak signal DX work.

Although I have not dedicated the SDR1000 to contesting, it has become the primary QRO DX rig in the shack due to it's performance over the past 6 months. The FLEX flitering abilities are superb when it comes to pile-ups, QRN, and QRM, all while maintaining the target signal.

As mentioned in other reviews, if you don't want to read the manual, don't waste your time with SDR. This rig is not for the average appliance operator, but well worth the time and investment for those looking for the highest quality receiver available.
 
K3ROJ Rating: 5/5 May 19, 2009 15:08 Send this review to a friend
Great CW Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Was given a Flex 1000 to sell as an estate item but tested it out first. It worked well using Windows XP on a medium speed computer. By not allowing many programs to startup and disabling the LAN, the Flex SDR Console ran very well. Only used it for receiving but did test it out using the MOX button. The antenna tuner also functioned nicely. The 1000 will make a nice rig for someone wanting to get into Software Defined Radio since we are putting it on E-Bay. I now have the Flex 5000A.
 
N4BFD Rating: 5/5 Mar 2, 2009 21:39 Send this review to a friend
Excellent reciever, best on the market for the buck, with a bug  Time owned: more than 12 months
I figured it was about time to write a review of the SDR1000 as I have had it for just over a year now and have been using it almost daily since purchase.

I bought my SDR1000 used from a local who upgraded to a 5000, and it was one of the last ones made from the best I can tell, so it should have all of the fixes and such done to it. The one thing that drew me to the Flex was the performance you got for the price you paid (for a used SDR1000).

I started off with a Delta 44 sound card that came with the rig, then quickly transitioned to a Roland FA-66 due to the fact it had a built in Mic amp, phantom 48v voltage, 196khz sample range, and a higher dynamic range. Setting up the Flex with the FA-66 was a bit of hassle at first, plugging this cable into that device and so forth looks daunting initially, setting up the drivers for the sound card, getting PowerSDR tweaked to your liking and learning all of the ins outs takes time. In fact, in a couple of months the slight heart attacks I got from screwing up something and the rig not working only to find out the what I did slowly went away. Overall it has been a great learning experience.

I can say that you need some common sense computer knowledge. Don't run this rig and software on your spamware infested, low memory, slow CPU typical users PC. While the software will certainly run on slower computers, you need to have them running at peak performance.

Receive performance of the rig is simply amazing. Ever read those ARRL reviews of this rig and that having a roofing filter and such and such dynamic range? They test with a signal in the passband and one outside, on some better rigs this second signal may end up outside of the bandwidth of the fixed width roofing filter, showing great dynamic range. Well, with a Flex and PowerSDR your passband IS your roofing filter. If someone is outside of your passband (which you can vary from 10khz to 10hz in 1hz increments) and has a clean signal, you flat will not hear them, your AGC will not be pumped, and the rig will not be desensed. I do a lot of PSK31, and the filters are great, you just click and drop the passband on both sides of the signal in the waterfall, and everything else on the planet is gone. I like to rag chew on 80m SSB, and I have a neighbor that is less than a quarter mile way from me. It is hard for me to work him and everyone else on frequency in a relaxed rag chew with any rig but the Flex. The Flex and PowerSDR have a lot of headroom, and the rig quickly recovers from his transmissions even when the AGC is set to the long setting. The AGC-T does a great job of making 80m static crashes silent for the most part, with loudness of received signals unaffected, which can make for less fatigue in 80m summer time listening. You also can setup a dual receive within the panadapter's receive range, and use it to listen to your TX freq when working split, which is pretty darn handy.
Both the receive and transmit audio are completely flat until you adjust them, the rig does not color the received passband. You have a nice equalizer to play with on receive and transmit audio that works very well. You can color it to your hearts desire with the ten band EQ.

PowerSDR has a excellent speech processor called a compander, it does a excellent job at boosting the loudness of your audio, and increasing average power out without sounding terrible. In fact, unless it is on the highest setting no one can tell you're using it unless you engage it in the middle of a conversation and they are paying attention. A get asked a lot what rig I am using all the time and receive great unsolicited audio reports. You can save as many TX audio profiles as you like and they are easily selected on the fly from the front panel. Mic gain, compander setting, transmit bandwidth, and so forth are saved in each profile. For example I have a 80m rag chew profile, 60m bandwidth and power out profile, and a DX audio profile.

The TX PA on the 100watt model seems to be very robust. It is good cooling and the rig stays cool to the touch even during extended RTTY and other digital QSOs.

The panadapter is a great feature, it is more than a typical display, it is real time, and you can interact with it. Click on a signal down the band and be tuned in on them almost instantly. You can use a peak function on a quiet band, widen out the display to 96 or 196khz, leave the room and come back a few minutes later to see what happened and tune in. You can easily recognize SSB signals, AM, CW, RTTY and so forth by what they look like. It also works on your transmitted audio. You can set the display to a split screen to show a panadapter/waterfall or panadapter/audio scope. You can also set it to other types of displays that fill the screen.

And now the bad.. the biggest thing that frustrates me on the SDR1000 is the spurs that show up on the panadapter and the passband sometimes on the higher bands (15-6m) Six meters is the worst, but since the rig only puts out a watt on that band I don't use it there. Ten meters is slam full of spurs you have to look at, but... you can shift them out of the passband with the spur reduction function. I guess this is the Achilles heal of a panadapter. A regular rig would not show these spurs, even if it had them. With the Flex you have to LOOK at them, and sometimes deal with them. There is another spur on the upper end of 20meters, but again, you can get rid of it. These are caused by the reference oscillator.

Another problem I had was that when using the rig on digital modes it would drift a few hertz down the band when I first keyed down, then drift back when I un-keyed or the power went down. This is caused by the oven on the reference oscillator changing temp due to voltage sag under TX from my power supply. It drops maybe a half volt, but it was enough. I solved this problem by adding a voltage regulator, a ten minute fix found on the Flex website.

Another annoying thing factor was the fan that cools the rig was a bit loud. I solved this by taking some nibblers to the casing on the inside and gutting out the meshed steel behind the fan. This improved airflow and silenced the noise. You can't tell once you close the case up this mode has been done other than the silence.

Overall this rig has greatly enhanced my HF experience. I live in the middle of town in a crowded neighborhood, and if it were not for the excellent NB on this rig, I would not be able to get on a lot of the time. This is not possible with my other rigs. With the possible barrage of PowerSDR updates available via SVN, and the up and coming new distributed software, the SDR1000 will only improve over time. It is not perfect, but it sure is heck ain't junk!
 
WB6YZZ Rating: 3/5 Nov 23, 2008 17:14 Send this review to a friend
A work in progress  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built a SoftRock SDR and got a taste of SW defined radios. The bandscope and flexibility of this type of radio is unparalleled. The audio quality is SUPERB on SSB. The closest to hifi audio I've heard - the Atlas transceivers were the closest I've heard to these. I did have a hard time not having a big knob to tune with, but these grow on you when you are able to drag a signal with the mouse on the scope into the passband. That's the good stuff.

I bought an SDR-1000 hoping to have an ultimate HF rig. I was immediately dissapointed with how difficult it was to setup to transmit and the SDR-1000 (100W) never was able to equal a standard analog radio (FT-847) for output. Learning curves aside, there was the high frequency spurs. Starting at 20M, there were all kinds of spurs across the band, apparently an artifact of the local oscillator and division scheme. Couldn't get used to that. I'm also a fan of big radios with big knobs (ala 75A-4) and since I'm a SW engineer by trade, don't want to come home after staring into a CRT all day and fire up a computer again to get on ham radio! I'm also impatient. Having to sequence a computer and radio and external sound interface to "read the mail" just got on my nerves. I ended up getting an ICOM 756 Pro III and now have the best of all worlds. Your milage may vary.
 
AE6JN Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2008 19:28 Send this review to a friend
I'm an SDR Believer!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was curious just how good one of these radios could be after reading many of the reviews here. So I bought a used SDR-1000 to check it out for myself. I found it very easy to setup, but I am fairly computer literate. I can understand why some folks might have had trouble, or felt challenged to get it working, but such was not the case for me. I'm using the FA-66 audio interface and the audio does sound great. I love the panadapter, it's everything everyone said it was. Just click a filter, and slide it (shift it) with the mouse when necessary! WOW! I must admit that so far I am not crazy about the NR or the ANF. All my other equipment is Icom, and so I am used to the Icom noise reduction, which as far as I'm concerned works great, same goes for the Icom notch filtering. I'm still fiddling with the PowerSDR NR and ANF, but so far I have not been able to find a setting that really works. The noise reduction distorts or chops up the audio, and the notch filter is barely effective. I also found that if the offending tone is behind or close to the desired voice signal it has an undesirable affect on the signal. The folks at Flex need to work on these two very important features. But that's what's great about SDR, the next version of software can improve! Any other traditional radio and you would be stuck with whatever performance it gave you...period. So I hope to see some improvement in future releases. I also wish there were memory slots. The band stacking is OK but limited. Memory channels would be nice. I was very pleased with the sensitivity of the RX. I don't know why, but I didn't expect it to compare to the RX capability I was used to with my other equipment. The RX is superb, and finding weak signals via the panadapter is easy. I will really be putting this radio through its paces during the next several months and will come back with a follow-up after I have had more time with it. But so far I'm happy enough to rate this a 5 in spite of the NR/ANF performance. Who knows, I may even consider one of the higher end Flex radios if this unit holds up and the software improves in the next version!
 
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