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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | FlexRadio FLEX-5000 Help


Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-5000
FlexRadio FLEX-5000 Reviews: 95 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $2799
Description: The FLEX-5000 is the next generation of software defined radios which now integrates all A/D & D/A functions and control over a single FireWire (IEEE-1394a) connection to a user provided computer running PowerSDR. A separate sound card is not required.
Features:
* Greater than 105 dB two-tone 3rd order dynamic range at 2 kHz spacing
* Frequency Stability: 0.5 ppm, TCXO equipped
* Individual optimized bandpass filters for all Ham Bands
* Receiver can monitor transmitter spectrum
* SO2R ready with optional second receiver
* FlexWire™ for external control of rotator, antenna, and much more.
* 100 watts output 160-6 meters
* General coverage receiver
* Separate RX antenna connectors for optimal reception
* Optional full performance second receiver (dual watch is standard)
* Single cable connection to computer
* Full Duplex transverter ready
* Fully automatic internal test/calibration. No external calibration equipment necessary
* Standard input/output jacks. Internal antenna switching for up to 3 antennas plus receive only antenna
* Balanced TRS line/microphone input
* Full QSK
* Quiet high volume fan keeps unit cool
* Optional full featured ATU 160-6m
Product is in production.
More info: http://support.flex-radio.com/Downloads.aspx?id=148
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W4PGM Rating: 5/5 Dec 18, 2014 13:54 Send this review to a friend
Great Repair Service  Time owned: more than 12 months
My V of the V/U went deaf. The repair was fast and economical and while it was on the bench I had the remote start installed. The total bill was less that $300 of which most was the remote start and shipping.
 
N5LB Rating: 5/5 Aug 31, 2014 08:16 Send this review to a friend
Great radio -   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Purchased used to see if I liked SDR I'm now hooked. The receiver seems to be nearly crunch proof as long as the noise blanker is properly adjusted. It is quiet and sensitive with a multitude of ways to set up for varying conditions. Running the latest PSDR 2.7.2 is smooth and without crashes on a W8.1 machine. I did have to unload a lot of the nonsense software that Microsoft and others will load on boot; not difficult and very effective.
The transmitter side is very good and SSB can be tailored to your voice and your microphone. Digital modes are excellent. I use DXLab, FLdigi VAC and DDutil to tie everything together. Some may say this is a pain to get working but for me it was fast and effective plus there are lots of help docs on the Flex site and the web.
Some have complained about CW operation. At first I also was disappointed but after cleaning up my computer and adjusting the Flex I find it effective and enjoyable. Sometimes I will run breakin with a very short delay for pileups. It is good for me, plus I can watch where the majority of the callers are in the waterfall.
Being a used radio I did have a few electrical/mechanical issues with connectors but easily repaired, though I had Flex do this minor work.
The use of the Panadaptor and Waterfall became so natural that I doubt going back to a radio with knobs will ever suffice.

The 5000 works for me and my operating style. Plus I have learned a lot about SDR and the related software.
Here is the downside....there is always a downside. Now I want a 6xxx.
 
G0MJK Rating: 5/5 Jul 17, 2014 02:26 Send this review to a friend
Great in every respect  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I had toyed with the idea do SDR but was rather put off by the price so when the chance came to buy the 5000A with atu and second RX fitted at about half the original price I took the plunge. I am really glad as I am so impressed with all the facilities, the only extra I purchased was the FlexControl tuning knob which I found so much better than the scroll on the mouse. I still have my conventional radios and will be keeping them too but the Flex with a 24 inch LED monitor takes some. beating.
 
K6HOM Rating: 5/5 Jan 21, 2014 15:47 Send this review to a friend
A Great Learning Experience, Great Digital Mode Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using my Flex 5000A for two years. It has been a reliable and enjoyable radio in daily use. My radio is connected to an i5-Win 7/64 bit PC dedicated to its operation and both a Flex-recommended Firewire card and Flex-recommended Granite Firewire cable, both bought directly from Flex at the time of the radio’s purchase.

My bias is definitely for radios with knobs that don’t need PCs. I bought this radio both to satisfy my curiosity about SDR technology as well as to learn about something new. I like SSB, digital, and increasingly, CW, for both rag-chewing and DXing. I have found the 5000A to be a fine radio for these uses with all of the virtues that others have mentioned. Power SDR was a pretty mature product at the time that I bought my Flex (v. 2.3x) and I have had absolutely no operating issues with it or with the Flex itself. My CW is done via a K1EL USB keyboard keyer.

I have found this to be an exceptionally good radio for digital modes like PSK, JT65, JT9, Hell and I am sure, others. It interfaces well with various digital mode control applications and no external hardware has been required. The filtering and TX bandwidth adjustments are perfect for digital. Great fun on these modes, the 5000A has become my preferred rig for digital.

I still prefer radios with knobs, but not because of any lack of performance by this Flex. My SDR experience has been a good one so far and the Flex 5000A has been a very worthwhile addition to my shack.
 
WD4ELG Rating: 5/5 Sep 16, 2013 19:50 Send this review to a friend
SDR at its best  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
As the proud owner of a Flex 3000 since May 2009, I decided that it was time to take my DXing to the next level.

Each year I increase my station in one specific area to improve the DX performance. In 2002 it was the improved wire antenna arrays at my previous QTH. In 2003 it was the TS570D. 2004 was the Cushcraft MA8040V. 2005 was a new computer. 2006 was the TS480SAT and the Hex Beam for 20 meters. 2007 was the Zero Five vertical. 2009 was the Flex 3000. 2010 was the hex beam five bander. 2011 was the HF amplifier. 2012 was the receive array for the low bands.

With each improvement station capability has increased and so has my DXing ability and overall tally.

Which brings us to this year's station improvement, a 500A with second receiver.

So why the Flex 5000? Simple: second receiver, diversity reception and even better receive performance than any of my previous radios.

But the Flex 5000 is discontinued, you say? Well, Flex is not making the 5000 but the software continues to get regular updates. And nobody else does SDR like Flex. No intention of bashing the Apache rigs or the Elecraft, but for SDR there is no substitute for Flex products.

I looked seriously at TenTec, Elecraft, Yaesu before buying this rig. Any time I put this much money into my hobby, it warrants a LOT of research.

Additional observations:

PROS:
The panadapter
* Software updates
* Second receiver
* Enhanced Signal Clarity feature set
* Customizable antenna selctions (very useful)
* Ease of use - as a Flex 3000 user and reader of W9OY's blog, I was ready to take advantage of the features from the moment I turned on the rig
* ESSB, although I don't use it at this point
* Highly customizable SSB audio
* Completely customizable brick wall filters, esp handy for digital modes
* TNF for notching out unwanted signals
* Integration (with DDUTIL and VSP manager and VAC) with all of my software programs: CW Skimmer, Band Master, MixW, AA6YQ software suite, DX4WIN, N1MM, WSJT, JT65A, RCFOrb remote control
* Incredibly responsive large community of helpful hams (providing info to questions anytime, within just a few minutes of posting the request)
* Amazing customer service; no joke, I am truly impressed by these folks down in Austin


REPORTED DOWNSIDES BY OTHERS with my responses:
* AM band and 6 meter band birdies - not observed on my rig
* CW - I use a LogicKey K5, so I don't have any of the stutter issues on CW
* RF issues - not observed on my rig
* CW-X keyboard freezing - I have seen this if I click too quickly on the different form buttons, and I believe this is scheduled for fix in a future release
* Audio latency on receive - addressed with buffer adjustments and fiddling with other computer settings
* Reduced power out - not observed
* Distorted audio - not observed, I customized my audio according to the knowledgebase articles to prevent distortion

If you want the best ham radio experience and you are not intimidated by a paradigm shift and you have some patience to learn something new, your path forward with a Flex Radio will be a most rewarding step forward.

Mark Lunday
WD4ELG
http://wd4elg.blogspot.com
 
IWOQCR Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2013 15:45 Send this review to a friend
FLEX VERY GOOD FOR PC-FRIENDLY HAMS  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've been using FLEX 5000 since 2008.
I mostly use it for random Psk31 and SSB, no CW, no contests.The mic is a Kenwood Mc-60.I use no amplifiers.
The incoming and FREE new sofware & firmware updates have greatly improved (for me) the qualities.
No problems with firewire,no rf returns.I'm still working since 2007 with a P5B DELUXE/Q9650/WIN XP PRO 32 bit with no issues (I've used also a q6700/e8500-no problems).
Surely You must be "WINDOWS FRIENDLY" and know enough the tips and tricks to overcome some
hangs that sometimes occur (but I use the pc with many other applications that I install
and remove - it is not a dedicated gear).

In short:

PROS:
SMOOTH LISTENING
GOOD AND EFFECTIVE NB,NB2
PANADAPTER
RX & TX EQUALIZERS
"TAILORED" FILTERS
TNF

CONS:
NR ALTERS TOO MUCH THE VOICE, PARTICULARLY WITH LOW-LEVEL SIGNALS
FLEX NEEDS GOOD SIGNALS FOR ADEQUATE DIGITAL PROCESSING
200 WATTS WOULD BE WELCOME


PROS/CONS :
YOU MUST BE ABLE TO FIDDLE WITH A PC AND AFTERWARDS BUY A FLEX !


Finally ....I would buy a Flex again !
 
G7CNF Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2013 08:39 Send this review to a friend
2 Years on. . . (4 years total)  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had a 5K for quite a bit more than 2 years but my first brief review was 2y ago. What's changed in that time? It's got better, that's what!

Since PowerSDR 2.2.3 the tracking notch filters arrived and what freedoms they bring! Up to 18 on one active location and an infinite number can be permanently stored (not just in the ham bands either - so good for SWL). Gone are the birdies and local carriers I detest so much.

I've seen some claims that the TNF is not inside the AGC. This is untrue. Whilst FlexRadio haven't at the time of writing implemented the TNF to include the S-meter, the TNF most certainly IS inside the AGC. I've also seen some naysayers bleat about the lack of real-world application of the TNF. Here's one. I like DX. I like the weak ones - you know like on PSK - when all the weak ones disappear inside the AGC pump from the numerous strong stations. On a legacy radio (Y/K/I) one might try folding down the DSP or taking out the AGC and putting in an attenuator. It might work but the attenuator will most probably kill your DX, too. Some decoders can't cope if the audio passband is too narrow, so choosing which stations to null and leaving the noise floor intact is another victory for the TNF (works well for JT65).

So I enable any number of TNFs and selectively mute all the strong signals which recovers the weak ones. Doing this I can work anywhere amongst the strongest of stations and still work stations on the limit of PSK decode capability(IMD/QRM permitting). At times I've closed down the filters and eradicated irritating adjacent signals to my CQ down to 10Hz either side and continued working my QSO partner, imperviously. The TNFs can even be stacked progressively to take out S9++++ stations. Alternatively keep the audio bandpass fully open to, say 4Khz and watch the entire PSK band with the strong ones notched out. You can't do that even with the latest legacy radio (2013)from Kenwood.

I've not had or operated any other radio with this kind of capability and flexibility - to completely notch out as many or few adjacent stations as one desires.

Add to this the superb selectivity and excellent transverter support, 10MHz reference input, RX2 making it a triplex receiver, full duty 100w TX (blah blah, it's all been said).

And now there's going to be a 6000 with even better performance? Ouch.

FTR I do not have any affiliation with Flex nor receive any incentive for writing this. I can't help how I feel and that is - that there simply isn't a radio out there than can better this - for me at least (maybe a 6k. . .)

I still maintain though that there is a demographic whom will never take to the Flex workflow of a radio entirely inside a PC - and quite understandably. One must never forget that with a Flex, the radio is the PC (except the 6000 series' altered architecture) and if the PC is unhealthy that can easily impinge on one's enjoyment. It doesn't help to load up the Flex onto the office PC with a dozen other major applications running. That said, on my i7 3960x I can operate both receivers on the Flex @192kHz and transcode an HD movie, so processor power does matter!

I can't say 'go buy one, you'll not be disappointed' because we're all different. I was convinced to get an Icom 7600 and didn't like it come the end. I was convinced to get an FT-2000 and hated it. Horses for courses!
 
ON4AMG Rating: 5/5 Jan 26, 2013 02:45 Send this review to a friend
SDR is here to stay  Time owned: more than 12 months
Strong Positives (besides everything else already mentioned in other reviews)

1. Superb Tracking Notch Filter (as of PowerSDR V2.2.3)
2. Click and tune
3. Integrated 3 & 10 band audio equaliser
4. PowerSdr software is extremely stable (V2.5.3 running on Win7/64)
5. Additional software enables station integration and automation (logbook, amplifier, SWR metering ...)
6. Functionality can easily be expanded through external software (see point 4 below)
7. Balanced and unbalanced microphone inputs allowing a wide range of microphones
8. Excellent after sales support (also in Europe, thank you Claus!)
9. Structured user support and forums for knowledgde sharing


Things to take into consideration:

1. Requires a powerful Windows PC to run PowerSdr and associated software (TCO), low latency (DPC) is key.
2. Requires external speakers and microphone (TCO)
3. VU module for VHF-UHF operations (no longer for sale) was never available in Europe (lack of CE certification)
4. May require additional interfacing software: VAC for digital mode operation (36 us$), VspMgr for Virtual Serial Port creation & management(free), DDUtil for integrating external hard & software (free)
5. Absence of integrated voice keyer (K9DUR is offering free software which is excellent)
6. Firewire interface requirement nearly always involves purchasing a seperate FireWire card (most motherboards do not come with a recommended TI FireWire chipset)
7. Requires external 13.8V DC Power Supply (but who does not have one of these around already?)
8. CW experience is a mixed bag

On the wish list:

1. 200W output
2. Redesign of PA stage attempting to get even better IMD

My overall experience with the Flex 5K is a very positive one, it is a superb transceiver with great sensitivity and selectivity, the panadapter experience is highly addictive.
The knobless experience might be difficult at first for some but I reckon it is not really a big issue for the new generation of HAM's (it certainly was not for me and I have been a HAM for 30 years).
I can recommend this SDR for those who are primarily focusing on SSB and digital modes and that are not afraid of going through a learning curve, some computer knowledge is required to get the most out of this SDR. If I were a keen contester and/or CW operator this would however not be my first radio of choice.

Considering no single radio is perfect and the fact that the Flex answers my operating requirements, my final rating is 5/5. The basic hardware platform is very good and software wise, the functionality of PowerSDR is constantly evolving, basically providing a new and better radio with every release.


 
KA4KOE Rating: 4/5 Dec 10, 2012 04:37 Send this review to a friend
Good Overall with Some Warts  Time owned: more than 12 months
Going on 2 years+ ownership of my Flex. Here are some observations:

Good:

1. The 192 KHZ wide panadapter will spoil you quickly.

2. The receiver is fantastic from 160 meters and up in terms of sensitivity.

3. The audio quality is second to none on transmit, especially on AM.

4. The customizable notch filter is a great feature and actually works very well.

5. The radio is imminently customizable to one's operating style.


Bad:

1. The radio will not do full break in CW well no matter how the settings are tweaked.

2. The DSP filters and NB's are barely a "pass". No documentation is provided to explain how to tweak these filters to get good performance. I very rarely use digital noise reduction.

3. Receive below the AM BCB is a joke. No front end filters = multiple images, thereby making reception of actual signals an exercise in futility. One must buy an outboard filter to enable reception of longwave signals. This is a flaw that cannot be fixed via software, apparently. However, since LW reception is really not a priority for me, this is not a deal breaker.

4. Third party software must be installed to enable use of digital modes in order to route the various signals to and fro inside the radio's digital architecture.

5. Flex discontinued the V/U module upgrade board. However, the pricing point for this module was well over $1K. One could get a great used TS-790 for the asking price.


Summary:

I would definitely purchase a Flex if I had to do it again.
 
WB8BIL Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2012 19:16 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have never heard a receiver with such selectivity and sensitivity. The problem with CW has been virtually eliminated with the upgrades to software. I use it mostly for CW and some PSK31 and dabbled with other modes. I worked 169 countries in a little over a year with the aid of CWSkimmer. There is a learning curve, but it is worth it, even though at times I was pulling hair out. Once I understood the corellation of sample rate to selectivity, things are great. It is a great rig for the cost, which is not much when you see what you get.
 
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