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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio SDR-1000 Help


Reviews Summary for FlexRadio SDR-1000
FlexRadio SDR-1000 Reviews: 58 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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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!
 
SV1FXO Rating: 5/5 May 9, 2008 12:26 Send this review to a friend
Simply revolutionary  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought it brand new on February 2007 so it’s one of the last produced with the latest mods applied by Flex Radio. My configuration includes the 100W PA and the Edirol FA-66 sound card. It actually deserves a 4/5 but due to the innovative techniques it implements, its experimental nature and its overall performance, I excuse most of its weaknesses and give a 5.

Pros:
• Minimum use of hardware and design simplicity.
• Control, calibration and DSP are done via PC.
• Marvelous visualization.
• Exceptional dynamic range.
• Numberless user selectable knife-edge band pass filters.
• The AGC is perfect making listening pleasant even with the presence of heavy QRN.
• NB that works.
• Dual reception capability.
• Up to 192 kHz real time spectrum analysis.
• Very accurate s-meter indication independent of rf stage gain status.
• Equalizer on both Tx & Rx audio.
• Excellent quality 100W PA.
• User defined control of external devices.
• Ever evolving free software (Power SDR)
• Since you get amplitude and phase information you are able to demodulate every type of signal you can imagine.
• Record the entire bandwidth in IF level.


Cons:
• Not spurious free VFO. AD9854 DDS produces many birdies that are above Rx noise floor especially from 10 MHz and above. The Spurious Reduction button helps in most cases but it does not solve the problem.
• Rx image rejection is very deep (better than 60 db) at the frequency you make the set up but it gets worse across the rest Rx bandwidth. It is also band dependant and the software doesn’t let you store different settings for each band.
• Edirol FA-66 suffers from pin one problem (Tx echoing) and also produces noise spikes every 1 kHz when a cable (even a short one) is attached to RCA inputs 3 & 4. Unfortunately the use of good quality external isolation transformers is unavoidable.
• Noise reduction is OK but needs improvement.
• ANF works only when it has to deal with a single beat frequency. In the presence of a voice signal plus the beat frequency it is completely useless and distorts the audio.
• There is no Manual NF.
• Tx audio can be extended up to 20 kHz making it a good choice for Enhanced Splatter Side Band use.
• Flex Radio has stopped the hardware development of this model so any enhancements to be expected are only on the software side.


I believe that SDR-1000 is a milestone rig since it introduces a neglected method of RF handling, which due to current process power the modern components provide, has become feasible and accessible to everyone.
 
K3ROJ Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2008 07:08 Send this review to a friend
WOW  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Was planning on getting a 5000A but they can't make them fast enough and was told it would be perhaps three months. Just happened to find a complete SDR1000 station on E-BAY including a desktop computer all loaded and ready to run. Instead of an old CRT monitor, a 22 inch LCD not only takes up less room when mounted on a wall, you can watch the Flex Radio software along with MixW or HRD. All of the cables are a hassle going to my 44 Delta sound card interface but it sure works well. My antique ICOM 756PRO now sits in the closet since the SDR1000 outperforms any radio I have ever had. Never dreamed I would enjoy CW so much, being able to pull any signal out and using down to 25 Hz filtering without ringing. Had bought the 756PRO to use the spectrum display for weak signal work on the 144 MHz band using a Elecraft transverter but the SDR radio is able to see the weakest signal. Was surprised when I was able to see signals from a moon bounce station in Texas using a 13B2 beam here. One thing I like is using Tortoise software for automatic downloading changes in software and updating. When searching for CW signals, using the split screen with the panadapter on top and waterfall on the bottom makes for excellent CW operations. The Shuttle Pro is used here for tuning and other control. It is like learning a musical instrument since it can sit on your leg or desk and your fingers automatically hit the correct buttons and jog wheels. Will still get a 5000A in the future for portable operations using a laptop.
 
2E1RDX Rating: 5/5 Jan 30, 2008 10:53 Send this review to a friend
Just love it  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
this is my 2nd SDR-1000 the first being the 1watt version that I have now replaced with the 100w version after some research i decided to use a Audio Technica Mic directly into the Delta 44 soundcard and I am getting excellent results.
The mic was around £40 so a very cheap option
As my previous review just love the receiver and the received audio is perfect I never use the Noise reduction just back the AGC-T off and you have a perfect quite receiver.
For what these radio's are fetching now 2nd hand they are an excellent choice and would make an outstanding Receiver for SWL etc, just love it
rgds Ian
 
K4FX Rating: 5/5 Dec 4, 2007 16:16 Send this review to a friend
The Best for the bucks  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is an amazing radio, far better than anything I have ever ran (TS940's, IC-746's, IC756's among others) the DSP is amazing, the lack of knobs is a bit misleading, there are all sorts of knobs and sliders they are just in the PowerSDR software, about anything I have been able to think "boy that would be nice" next thing I know there it is, already there.

This is NOT a plug it in and talk radio, you are gonna spend a few days tweaking and getting used to it, but it's more than worth it. With the new 5000 out, these 1000's can be had for 1K with the FA-66 sound card, what you would have paid 2K for last year.

The most interesting thing to me being an RTTY op. was the fact that with VAC (virtual audio cable) you do not need an internal sound card to use software base digital modes, it's all done in the PC, quite amazing to me, the panadapter is great, there's nothng quite like seeing the band.

I was concerned about support for an older Flex but when I had some minor issues fellows like Tim W4TME and others came to my aid and were a great help.

If you want to get into SDR now is the best chance you'll have with all the used SDR1000's out on the market, try one you'll like it.

One final note, some posters talked about cutting back on XP because of audio glitches, I run my logger, MMTTY or MMSSTV, surf all I want and no glitches at all, I have a P4 3.0Ghz with 1.5 GB of dual channel DDR-400 ram, nothing that fancy by todays standards, but if you have a 400 dollar Dell with 256 mb ram, forget it.
 
N1DZ Rating: 4/5 Nov 11, 2007 22:11 Send this review to a friend
Real Radios Need Knobs  Time owned: more than 12 months
I like the SDR-1000/powerSDR very much. Due to the many negatives and the lack of knobs I do not use it anymore as my dedicated transceiver. I use it primarily for broadcast SWL and monitoring the VHF/UHF bands with its excellent panoramic scope.

The radio consist of a black box the SDR-1000 and the PowerSDR software. I use version 1.10.1.
The black box SDR-1000 works perfectly. A newer improved black box is available the SDR-5000 but the basic transceiver is the same as it is the powerSDR software.
The software (powerSDR) runs under windows XP My computer is an AMD4200X2 1MB Ram, Nvidea GEForce 7600 and a M-Audio Delta audio card. This is more than sufficient computer power.
Most of this review is about the PowerSDR software. The powerSDR software is the actual radio and its interface. This software is the same as used by the newer hardware version SDR-5000. Much of this review applies to the more expensive SDR-5000 too.

Pros:
-The receiver audio is outstanding. For broadcast SWL the synchronous AM detection is fantastic. I have it hooked up to stereo speakers and the audio is stunning.
-The panoramic bandscope is amazing. It is far better than the Pro III. No-comparison.
-Great responsive service from Flexradio.
-The radio is constantly improving.

Negatives:
-No knobs, buttons. The interface is the mouse. I find the mouse interface just awful. It does not work for me.
-It runs on a computer under windows. The most unreliable electronic piece of equipment in my shack is my windows computer. Most of the RX/TX problems are related to my computer. To make the radio work w/o receive clicks/interupts I had to run the powerSDR software on a dedicated computer. I had to strip XP down to the bare bones to get rid of the many interupts which you hear as clicks in the audio. If you are not comfortable with working under windows than forget about this radio.
-The software is constantly being updated. Some improvements cause instability of the program. It also seems that there is no focus of where the software is going and that Flexradio is in a tug of war with the various interest groups. Some groups are very vocal and do get more attention. The AM crowd and ESSB crowd seem to have hijacked the development.
I found a stable version and have no interest in upgrading the software unless it has some very compelling improvements. Currently Flexradio is occupied with making the software run on the SDR-5000. This seems to have slowed down the improvements this radio needs to bring it on par with the top of the line Icoms/Kenwoods/Ten-Tec's.
-Reading the Flexradio web site I got the impression that the SDR-1000 is interfacing perfectly with VHF/UHF transverters. It does not. I had to modify the hardware radio to make it work safely with transverters. And then the next software update might mess it up.
-Very complicated use of memories. If your operating style is just sitting on one frequency and ragchewing the powerSDR is just fine. For old fashion tuning in search of DX it lacks the ergonomics to make it my dedicated transceiver.
-This is not a great CW transceiver and needs major improvements.
-Good noise blanker but it completely deteriorates the receiver performance making it useless for the lower HF bands.
-Many birdies on the higher bands.
-The image rejection on very strong signals is not good enough even after calibration. This might not be a problem on HF as the band is generally very noisy. On VHF during a contest with S9+20 signals the receive image rejection is not sufficient. This is not a show stopper.

The SDR-1000/powerSDR is a fun radio to have as an additional radio. The drop of the second hand price of the SDR-1000 makes this a very affordable transceiver with good basic receiver performance. For Broadcast SWL this is a great bargain. I would not upgrade my hardware any time soon to the SDR-5000.
 
W8SYD Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2007 23:58 Send this review to a friend
Great, but challenging to a newcomer  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had the SDR-1000 for about 6 months. It's great! It's versatility permits it to be many rigs in one. I concur with most of others comments. If you want a plug 'n play radio, the SDR-1000 is not it. Go to the SDR-5000. I prefer the 1000 because it's an experimental radio. The 5000 is a much more refined product.

I've been a ham for over 50 years. The SDR-1000 is the radio I dreamed of inventing when I was a teenager.

The software features beat almost any radio, but they are still in their infancy. As more programmer & hams tinker, the sky is the limit.
 
UT6EG Rating: 5/5 Aug 28, 2007 12:08 Send this review to a friend
UT6EG  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I been greatly impressed by the performance. I agree with the all previous review.None of the other radio have the operating enjoyment of the SDR. Fantastic opportunities. Magnificent work Nilolaj UT6EG.
 
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