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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: 94 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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W6PSA Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2012 23:32 Send this review to a friend
FlexRadio FLEX-5000, Welcome to the 21st century  Time owned: more than 12 months
Welcome to the 21st century.

This is a great radio that requires a modern computer. If your computer was bought before 2007, then you should be cautious. Almost any $400 dollar computer sold off the shelf today can handle the Power-SDR software.

Once you use the band scope, and learn how to Frequency hop from station to station with a click of your mouse, there is no turning back.

When using an appliance radio, I feel like I am driving blind without the band scope. Yes, it does require a computer and doesn't have a dial. But within seconds of looking at the band scope, I can tell if the band is dead, and where the stations are.

Everyone hated SSB when it was first released. Don't make the same mistake with SDR radios. The future is here and is here to stay. Stop wasting your time, spinning a dial looking for DX, when you can SEE it 100khz away on the band within seconds.

If you don't like Flex-radio, then buy a pan adapter that connects to your 19" monitor. The Flex-5000 is an exceptional radio that offers modern performance at a discount price. What are you waiting for???
 
NI0Z Rating: 4/5 Sep 11, 2012 18:19 Send this review to a friend
Not bad, not great!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After 10 months plus ownership I felt now was the right time to provide my review of my Flex 5000A with ATU and 2nd RX. Why now? Well, I have two other radios in my shack that help provide some reference points and for the past few weeks I have spent most of my time on another radio and spent an hour this evening back on the Flex.

Reference point; I am a 1 year ham, this is on of 5 radios I own or have owned and used. I am about 90% SSB in my usage with about 10% use for PSK and RTTY.

This review is about as honest as I can get in my intent. I am not a brand loyalist so I don't get wrapped up that way and feel am objective.

I think one thing that fails to get mentioned in reviews is that with an SDR your results are bound to the computer you use and the quality of ones shack, wiring and antenna along with the peripherals used such as amps and tuners. IE, use cheap stuff around any high performing radio and your not likely to get your money's worth!

The radios are susceptible to RF. if you have RF in your shack already, buying this radio is going to put it right I your face, literally, right on the Panadaptor for you to stare at and wonder how you'll rid yourself of it. While its likely this impacted you before you bought the radio, it's likely it will impact your use of the Flex 5000 even more. There is a lot to seeing and being bothered by the sight of it impacting your ability to make QSOs verses being visually blind to it on a radio without a Panadaptor. These radios probably need some better shielding and or more RFI counter measures. Use ferrites on your audio cables to get rid of half of it, and work on the placement of your flex and your coax cables to get rid of the rest.

If you get past these issues for SSB then you have the potential for some really nice audio using these radios. I run a Behringer front end rack audio with a studio Mic into my rig and get lots of nice complements. Don't forget the iBox before the connection to the unbalanced mic input on the flex if you follow the same path.

The other big part of owning a flex is the software and your computer. I will go ahead and tell you if the computer is your least favorite part of your station, don't buy a no knobbed SDR like this. The computer running PowerSDR is your interface. If your windows system is already unstable today, don't even think about hooking your flex radio to it, it will only get worse. You need a very well powered computer by a stable manufacturer. 3ghz or better quad core at least preferred. I'll stop here on this, other than to say that if your computer running windows isn't fast and rock solid then your going to have a lot of fun figuring it out. My issues went away when I updated the bios and drivers on my motherboard.

PowerSDR is decent for making QSOs. You have some nice tools in the way of filters, nice configurable notch filters, ect. If your system is stable you can have fun making a lot of quality QSOs. PowerSDR though has had a history of loosing settings, freezing up on QSOs. Again a fast fast computer is key here. Mid you know how allocate processors to running programs under windows helps too. With all I run on my system I find that keeping six 2.66 Zeon cores allocated to PowerSDR running above normal and using the remaining two for other programs solves this issue. The latest version of 2.44 is supposed to help this though. I have not tried it yet as I am waiting on the fork by Tobias so I can continue using the knobs I added. Yup, in an ideal world you'll want two CPUs with 4 cores each if they are Intel or 2 8 core CPUs if AMD. Tyan or Asus make dent motherboards for this if you want to roll your own computer. Equipping your computer with 8GB of ram and disabling swap helps make your computer faster as well.

Why all these comments about computers and RFI? Because that's real life for many users with this radio and I have spent considerable time an effort getting my Flex 5000 to run like I wanted and expected it to when I purchased it.

The Flex 5000A is decent for digital modes. Honestly I prefer using my IC7000 and my Yaesu 897D before that for digital work. They are just easier in my humble opinion. That said you may feel different and digital modes work perfectly fine. Using DRM to listen to shortwave broadcasts is pretty nice.

Integrating the flex with multiple software packages on your computer is a strong point using VAC and VSP with DDUtil.

The recording features are a bit flakey, but workable. Diversity receiving is interesting and sometimes useful. Running dual antennas on dual receivers works flawlessly and you can see Panadaptors for both antennas and receivers side by side. This is really nice for DXing with a beam and a vertical. The vertical being more Omni directional can help you see and hear signals that your beam may not be pointed at. Great for hunting down DXs. This is a niche right now for PowerSDR and the flex I believe.

In a side by side comparison with a KX3 SDR the KX3 was able to dig out weaker signals better using NAP3. This was an unscientific test that could be flawed. I think it's worth mentioning since the Flex 5000A is starting to get a little long in the tooth and we are going to see a new wave of more capable SDRs when it comes to Dynamic Range. The Flex 6700 while sporting a huge price tag in theory should greatly surpass the flex 5000.

To balance all this, if you like computers and enjoy a good challenge like I do, then you can have a ton of fun getting all this to work. See my website for the articles there that journal my adventures.

So here are my ratings.

Build = 3.5 -> poor RFI shielding, variety of nice strong connectors, should provide better FireWire cables and 3-5 ferrites and instructions on where to apply them.

Radio Performance = 4.5 -> computer aside you have a great performer here when it's all working correctly.

Value = 3.5 -> the radio is too pricey, buy used if you can!

I'll give the Flex 5000A a 4 as it applies to my uses and needs by virtue of rounding up a little.

Real rating for me is 3.75.
 
WX9DX Rating: 3/5 Aug 24, 2012 00:58 Send this review to a friend
Hmmm  Time owned: more than 12 months
Mine took from May to July to get after buying it at Dayton, then had a problem right off and was replaced, and that was a real nightmare. Then the new one came up with problems similar to the first one just before the original warranty ran out. So what is next. Now tonight the guys on 160 tell me my audio has a Flex Radio sound and has drop outs??? Now what???
Guess I have to call Dudley again! They said KJ9T has figured this peroblem out. Hmmm? :(

Jimmy, WX9DX
 
W6UV Rating: 3/5 Aug 7, 2012 20:08 Send this review to a friend
Good Attempt at SDR  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my Flex-5000 for 20 months and it's been the workhorse of my shack.

Digital modes are where the Flex rig shines. Since the majority of the rig runs on a PC, the interface to digital software, such as Fldigi or HRD, is trivial and requires no cables, just VAC and some configuration settings. Recent versions of the control software (PowerSDR) have automated almost the entire process of running digital modes.

SSB operation is as you'd expect for a rig in this price range, but I don't do a lot of operating on phone, so don't feel my experiences justify mentioning in this review.

CW has always been an exercise in frustration for me on the Flex-5000. Up until the spring of 2011 CW was virtually unusable, but most of the issues were finally corrected in an update to PowerSDR. I still have issues with timing when using paddles plugged into the 5000 and listening to the rig's sidetone in headphones. There's enough lag to throw off my timing to the point where I start sending errors at higher speeds. One cure is to use an external keyer and listen to its sidetone instead of the rig's sidetone. These CW issues probably cannot ever be completely fixed due to the architecture of the rig.

Other problem areas (in my experience) have been with the noise reduction and blanking features that work unevenly (or not at all, in some cases), PowerSDR freezes that sometimes happen right in the middle of a QSO (grrrrrrrr...), and quirks in the user interface. There was a well-known problem with spurs on the 160M band a few years ago that Flex promised to fix in software, but ultimately required a hardware fix.

Customer support is good. Flex maintains a knowledge base on their site that contains the answers to most configuration and usage questions. Phone support is also good. There are two email reflectors (FlexRadio Users and FlexEdge) that are very active and can often provide quick answers to problems, although I have heard of users getting banned for being too vocal about issues with the rig.

Overall, I'd give the Flex-5000 a solid 3/5 for the reasons outlined above. I personally feel that Flex has put too much effort into fancy eye candy in PowerSDR and not enough in making the interface robust and bullet-proof. Perhaps they feel that in this iPhone age, eye candy is what sells rigs.
 
W4ABF Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2012 07:34 Send this review to a friend
Great Product!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I don't know what to add to the previous reviews other than to echo the accolades. Solid product and works as advertised. Where else can you get brick wall filtering? I've used mine for a few months now and continue to discover more of it's capabilities. It is nice being able to 'see' the band activity before hearing it. Using a mouse to scroll through frequencies seems natural to me, as well as the plethora of keyboard shortcuts that are possible. No more endless turning of a knob to find a station - just point and click. No comparision to the FT-950 that the Flex replaced in my shack. Tech support is great - as well as the online support community. I was going to start with the 1500 but knew I'd soon trade up, so I just jumped in with the 5000. No regrets and I will not be selling this radio. When I feel an urge for old school tuning, I flip on my KWM2 or SB 102.
 
W1SWR Rating: 4/5 May 10, 2012 15:19 Send this review to a friend
Suprized  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well friends have been telling me for over 2 years
to get the Flex. I kept saying i like to play with knobs.
Did not want to tie up my computer and didn't want to buy another computer just for
the Flex.


Well last week i broke down and bought the Flex
5000A and i was impressed right of the bat on how
easy to setup. I was very impressed with the
receiver also. I have had some nice radios, IC-7700
FT9000 and a few more. This Flex with all options
VU5K , Second receiver, ATU is a nice setup.
Great Radio.

I found out a way i can run two monitors on my
quad core Windows 7 system. Did not have to buy a
second computer.

If you ever get a chance to give one a try you
will be very impressed.

 
W1AEX Rating: 5/5 Feb 29, 2012 18:57 Send this review to a friend
Versatile, Capable, and Reliable  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my Flex 5000A in August of 2010 and have used it almost exclusively since then. Most of my other ham radio “toys” have been gathering dust as I have dug deeper and deeper into the capabilities of this versatile software/hardware combination. Flex has made the installation and setup a no-brainer and I have found the stories about the need for a dedicated monster computer to be a myth. The first computer I used with my 5K was an old gaming computer that I built in 2005 running XP/SP2 and a 3.0GHz P-4 processor with 1G of RAM. The Flex ran glitch free with this fairly lame setup using the motherboard’s integrated firewire port. Several months ago I retired another gaming computer built in 2007 using a dual-core 3.0GHz processor running XP/SP2 with 2G of RAM and the migration of the Flex to that computer took about 30 minutes with no issues at all. I have also run my Flex at times with my quad core 3.4GHz Windows 7 64-bit machine without any issues. As long as your computer is problem free your Flex experience will most likely be problem free.

The short story is that you can run the Flex platform out-of-the-box with the default settings and be perfectly happy, or you can roll your sleeves up, read the manual, and go as deep as you want into the software adjustments available at every level of the transmitter and receiver architecture. It didn’t take long to realize that the 5000A was more fun than anything else on the bench so I sold off my ICOM Pro III and now run the Flex with every mode I use. It handles all of the voice modes on 160 meters through 6 meters and the 5000A and PowerSDR combination are a breeze to use with the digital modes if you run them. The patch panel in the back makes it possible to run digital modes with a standard hardware interface but by purchasing the VAC utility program you can throw out all that stuff and patch your digital programs through software right into PowerSDR. I’m a casual CW operator and have enjoyed using the Flex with that mode as well while plodding along at 15 to 20 wpm. My Flex is interfaced to an AL-82 and using a star grounding configuration for all the station equipment that resides on the operating bench (including the computer) I’ve had no incidents with RF feedback when operating full legal limit in any mode. For those who like to run AM the Flex 5000A is the king of the multi-mode rigs. It offers synchronous detection and independently variable bandwidth for each sideband on receive and adjustable brickwall transmit filtering along with software voice processing that produces a clean and potent signal. The software voice processing and 10 band EQ are a treat to work with when detailing the transmit audio and you can make an infinite number of transmit profiles to cover all occasions. The transmit and receive filters can be customized on-the-fly with one swipe of the mouse in the panadapter making operation unparalleled for HF work in my opinion. The ability to make real time adjustments through the PowerSDR interface without digging through menus makes weak signal work a breeze. I use a pair of Bose Companion II powered speakers with my setup and enjoy the big Wurlitzer jukebox sound when tuning the AM BCB or shortwave stations.

My Flex 5K has been problem free, but I did have a few questions when starting out. I have contacted Flex support several times and found them to be easy to access and very quick to come up with answers to any questions I had about PowerSDR or the hardware. The 5000A is their flagship rig and Flex supports their customers like a 5 star dealer. I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another product from this company and I kind of like the “Made in USA” tag that’s on the back of the case. I haven’t had so much fun since I put my Viking One on the air.

Rob W1AEX

 
W3DCB Rating: 5/5 Jan 26, 2012 14:52 Send this review to a friend
Flex and Abroham Neal Software, great combo!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have a Flex 5000C. The built-in computer is in computer heaven. Flex did not have a substitute, although later they found a mother board which would fit, although the upgrade would be expensive. Perhaps, in the future, I might persue the rebuild. In the mean time...Enter: Abroham Neal Software at http://www.abrohamnealsoftware.com/ which is actually recommended on the Flex site.
I purchased his "Premier" SDR computer....Great workmanship, solid good quality parts, great fast i7 processor, great support! What a great combination, Flex & Abroham Neal! Thanks!
 
W1MSG Rating: 5/5 Jan 21, 2012 13:13 Send this review to a friend
Simply Awesome !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Finally upgraded from the old SDR-1000 to the 5000A. I am kicking myself for waiting so long. Setup was very smooth and I was on the air very quickly. ESSB set up was a bit trying, using my Behringer Rack gear as the 5000 is much more sensitive to what you feed it, but it now sounds Great even better than my 1000. The best thing is you can get a base model and always add to with the AutoTuner, 2nd RX and a V/U module. The software is always evolving and gets better with every release. The receiver will put radios that cost 3 times as much to shame. In my opinion you cant go wrong with the Flex 5000 !
 
W5DPK Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2012 18:12 Send this review to a friend
I was amazed!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I came up the Ham ranks with T-50 transmitters and NC 183 receivers, and have preferred the older analog stuff. My stable contains Astro Cubic 103 IC 765 IC 756 Pro TS 830S Tempo 2020 and others. I had heard much said about the Flex and in a moment of weakness bought a used Flex 1000 with the ATU PA and FA 66 sound card box.

Now the Flex 1000 is NOT plug and play and it toke a week or two before I got the Flex really working well. And when I did I was stunned with what that radio could hear.

That led me to the purchase of my Flex 5000A with ATU and the second receiver. I have to say I do not miss the dials and buttons. Power SDR has enough things to keep me amused. But what really made me a believer happened last evening. I was listening into the Old Gear net on 3870. Most signals were 10 to 20 over 9. On 3873 there was a QSO going on with signals of similar strength. On 3867 was another QSO with signals over 20 db over 9. I could copy each QSO with no bleed over on each frequency. I then switched the antenna over to the other receivers and found for the most part lots of splatter from everyone. The Astro 103 handled it best but it had a hard time with it.

So I am a believer. The Flex 5000A works really well and very close to plug and play especially when you compare it to the Flex 1000.

If you have the bucks to spend I think you will be very pleased.

I will write again in a year or so and see how I feel at that time.

Dennis n5dpk
Lake Hawkins TX
 
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