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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-3000 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-3000
FlexRadio FLEX-3000 Reviews: 82 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $1699
Description: The FLEX-3000™ is the newest member of FlexRadio Systems' high performance 100% Software Defined Radio (SDR) transceiver family. The FLEX-3000 is a "direct descendant" of the FLEX-5000™; it integrates all A/D & D/A functions and control over a single FireWire (IEEE-1394a) connection to a user provided computer running FlexRadio PowerSDR. The FLEX- 3000 is the perfect transceiver for hams just getting started with high performance software defined radios.

* Uses FlexRadio PowerSDR to provide all SDR capabilities and features.
* TCXO equipped for enhanced frequency stability.
* Compact size (12.25" x 12.25" x 1.75").
* Optimized band pass filters for all ham bands plus a BCB low pass filter.
* No additional roofing filters to buy. All filtering is done via DSP
* FlexWire™ peripheral interface bus.
* 100 watts RF output 160-6 meters.
* General coverage receiver.
* 48 & 96 KHz A/D and D/A sampling sate selectable.
* Single Firewire cable connection to computer for audio and hardware control.
* No external sound cards or "rat's nest" of audio and control cables are utilized.
* Built in test equipment (BITE) for convenient external equipment free calibration.
* Modular microphone input.
* ATU 160-6m a standard feature.
Product is in production.
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WM4DE Rating: 5/5 Aug 9, 2013 06:26 Send this review to a friend
This Should Have Been My 1st Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have now had my Flex 3000 for 45 days. Enough time has elapsed that I feel very comfortable in saying that there is nothing about this rig that I do not like. The first time I saw a Flexradio in action was at Field Day, 3 years ago. A couple of months prior, I had passed my General exam, and had purchased an FT-857D, as my first HF radio. I felt intimidated by the Flex...I can't figure out why, since I've been in IT for over 20 years. As time passed, I purchased 4 more rigs, each one costing more than the last.

Then one day, the owner of the Flexradio became my Elmer. He invited me to his QTH, where I learned a lot about the radio, and got the opportunity to use it. Wow. To make a long story short, I had to get one. It just took some time to convince the XYL. Finally, the day arrived that the 3000 came to my door, and was taken into my shack. I had the radio up and running in 15 minutes. 5 minutes after that, I had my first DX QSO with the Flex.

Soon, I was adding software components to my arsenal, that allowed me to do even more with the Flex. Having nearly 92 Khz laid out in front of me is an incredible feature. I can click and pounce on signals with incredible speed. The ability to see the passband, and make lightning fast adjustments make contesting almost too easy!

There are so many features on the 3000, that are exclusive to Flex, or you would have to spend $1000's more on a conventional radio. I must add, this is not a 'plug and play' rig. There are so many features that you can add or adjust. You will learn so much about HF operation, just by having the ability to tweak PowerSDR (the software interface for the radio.)

It is so easy to dig out weak stations out of the mud. Do you have a strong station splattering while you're trying to work a weak station? No problem! By changing the width of the passband, or by throwing up a notch filter visually, you can quickly resolve the issue. The filters are like brick walls.

You can take a CW transmission, set the passband to 25 Hz, and all you hear is the CW! There are no roofing filters used or needed to buy, it's all done in the digital domain with your computer. The radio is very quiet...Yet the receiver is very sensitive.

I have a lot of QRM around my QTH. My vertical antennas are notorious, since they pick up noise in all directions. However, with a beam, it's all the difference in the world. I don't have a need to use my linear. With the same antenna setup, I now regularly log VK's, that I was never able to do with my FT-950 or Icom-7000.

Do you work digital modes? With the Flex, it could not be easier! Just use VAC to setup a pair of virtual audio cables, and fire up DM780, FLdigi, or whatever digital software you like, and you're in business! I could go on and on.

What it all boils down to is this...If you want a radio that is easy to use, and has features found in rigs costing 1000's more (or, are exclusive to Flex.) Then, the Flexradio is for you.
NY0P Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2013 22:35 Send this review to a friend
I love my Flex-3000  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I recieved my flex 3000 late winter this year. The software loaded easily to my Intel 7 powered HP desk top running Windows 8. I've got duel monitors with Power SDR running on one and AC log, DX Watch on Mozilla, QRZ on explorer, Pst rotor controling my Yaesu rotor, FLDIGI for PSK31 and rtty, all running on the second monitor. I have a VBA script that starts everything with one click of the mouse. With all that running the CPU is idling along at 10%.

AC log is linked with Power SDR and automaticly put the band and frequency info into AC Log for me. I can double click on the spotting window in AC log and it will automaticly tune the Flex to that frequency and place the call in the call line of AC Log. Too cool...

I'm using a Heil GM-4 mic and I get nothing but great audio reports on the radio. I do go to great lenghts to not over drive the radio or my ALS-600 which helps the audio quality. I might have to get a SPE 1.3k-fa early next year. It would be wild to have a no-tune amplifier that would automaticly select the band data from the Flex. (My ALS-600 is a older model without the rig interface jacks.)

The spectrum display is great, seeing where the signals are without having to blind tune around for them. Seeing other operators at the band edge and being able to see that part of their transmitt signal is out of band. I have my transmitt filter on the display so I can visually see if my signal will interfere with nearby stations around my frequency or if my signal will fall outside the band edge.

Another plus is 6 meter operation. It was a blast working over a dozen states and Mexico during the last VHF contest, all in a couple of hours, all with 100 watts output. Can't wait to get an HF+6m amp.

I would buy another one in a heartbeat...
VA3MW Rating: 5/5 May 28, 2013 20:02 Send this review to a friend
I've owned 4 of these  Time owned: more than 12 months
I first purchased my 3000 when the first came out. Never had a serious problem. I then sold that to buy a 5000 with the 2nd rx and Tuner. With that I got to play with the ESC (or beam steering) buy combing the signals from 2 receivers. That was pretty cool.

Recently, I swapped my 5000 for a 3000 because I wasn't using the 5000 to its full capacity. (Somewhere in there I also picked up a 1500 at Dayton).

While a few years a ago, most of us struggled with firewire issues. Those are just about a thing of the past.

The technical support is amazing. Where else will someone dial into your computer FOR FREE! Flex will bend over backwards to help solve just about any problem. Granted their are a few issues you just can't solve from time to time.

My ProIII is on the shelf collecting dust for most of the time. Awesome radio, but the future of receivers is in SDR.

The Tuner (ATU) is only average when compared to my LDG200Pro.

We have gotten to the point that we are now using the Flex radios as the contest radios.

If you want the best that money can buy, then pick up a Flex. There are some learning curves, but for the most part, it works out of the box.

If you want to turn on your new radio and never look at the manual, you can have your pick of any other HF rig where the development of that rig stopped the day it was sent out to manufacturing.

With my Flex, I get a new radio every few months as they update PowerSDR.

Good luck.
WW5AA Rating: 5/5 May 3, 2013 13:11 Send this review to a friend
Wave of the future  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I realized several months ago that SDR is the wave of the future. After reading reviews and articles on digital communications I tested the Flex-3000 at a hamfest and ordered one. UPS showed up two days later. I ordered the Abrohamneal computer (Neal provides a great service!). The big day came and every thing was hooked up. I'm not a tech guy but the Flex web site does all the brain work. Since I have a great antenna system, no RF problems. With Neals computer, no software problems. The receive is better than the IC-Pro III which is now the back up and diversity receive. I'll get the XYL a Mercedes, sell all the analog junk and get the 6700 next.
Lindy de WW5AA
N3LKA Rating: 3/5 Apr 30, 2013 07:44 Send this review to a friend
Ok, not worth the hassle  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought a used Flex-3000. I was excited as I hooked everything up, downloaded new software and drivers. Yes it has great receive and it sounds great, but when I transmit, forget it. I've never seen a radio so susceptible to RF than this flex.

I started to put snap on ferrite beads and torodial chokes everywhere. Reconfigured the grounding situation for my station to eliminate ground loops, different antennas, mics, speakers, headphones, etc. Just when I think I had it licked without the amplifier on, it came back bigger and badder.

I've ran 4 other radios in that operating position including my ProII and only ever ran into rf once, and a coax choke killed that situation.

I'm sorry, I want to operate and not spend hours tracking down an rf issue that I don't have with stand alone rigs. I went back to my ProII and started to ragchew, rfi free.

It's a nice radio, but the fact for me it acts like an rf sponge turns me off. Maybe some people don't have the rf issues, but I did. But as I mentioned above, my 718, 706, 746, and 756 ProII didn't. Also when I had both the ProII and the flex on at the same time, the receive wasn't that much better on receive. Maybe just a hair on the really weak ones, but it's not worth the effort of curing the rfi on xmit.
KF0XV Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2013 20:02 Send this review to a friend
Best Rig I've ever owned  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own the 3000 and a 1500 Flex. The 3000 is used almost every day. The 1500 when I'm in the mood to hook it up. I do CW mostly and this is the best rig for CW I've ever owned. I see and hear some, very few, complain about computers locking up and the sorts. Well buy or build a computer that is worthy of this fine rig. Like any rig, if you have a crappy antenna, you have a crappy rig. Flex is close to that analogy when it comes to its life support also. I use this rig on SSB, AM, Digi and CW (my favorite) modes and have not one complaint.
WB0FDJ Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2013 13:47 Send this review to a friend
Does a lot of things very well  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Kind of an update: Put this radio on the shelf for a while, played with everything else I own. The Jupiter is down with a busted wing (malfunctioning multi knob). Been using my 32 year old Argosy after a successful driver transplant. Now that the "new" has worn off thought I'd fire it back up after several months of non-use. Using an Acer quad core AMD that I picked up at Wally world for $300 and a $99 monitor: both dedicated to running the radio only. Updated the software. Wow, this is a very nice machine. Does everything but make coffee. Again: a great receiver. Phenomenal filtering. Does digi very well. Even CW is good, not wonderful but quite acceptable. No rats nest of wires running about the operating position. Not one problem using a stock off the shelf computer and a Firewire card I bought online from somewhere. I'd still recommend it. My operating experience matches Sherwoods numbers. Earlier review follows:

Heres my take on this radio. I've had it a couple of months now and have been able to do a little more than just "take it around the block".

VALUE: Sad fact is, two grand doesn't necessarily buy you a lot of radio these days. While this one is not perfect, you get a lot of bang for you buck. You get as good a receiver as you can find in any under $2K radio with plenty of very useful features, i.e. excellent filtering for most any application.

SUPPORT: Haven't needed direct support. Everything I wanted or needed to know was on the website and the users manual is very well written. Further there have been no surprises here, even the shortcomings are well documented and spelled out. You will know what you are getting when the box arrives.

PARADIGM: (yes I know, overused....)With this radio theres is a new way of getting it done. Pretty much everything is controlled by software. This means you have to get at least a little comfortable with setting up things like virtual audio cables, virtual com ports and the like. On the other hand if you want sharper filters you don't pry off the lid a put in a board, you adjust (meaning fiddle with) the settings using the software setup. You "tune" using everything except that old big knob. It's not hard, seriously if I can figure this out anyone can, but it is different. If nothing else owning and using this radio has forced me out of my rut and made me look at what I am doing in a new and different light. A good thing because once you get it, this is, well....way cool.

GRIPES: Ok, I've not found the perfect radio yet and nothing here is a deal breaker but it's got a few warts. Others have mentioned most of this. For example: when seriously operating I always wear headphones. Lately if I'm fiddling with my computers I like to listen to the QRP watering hole on a speaker. With this rig you need an amplified speaker. We all know it wouldn't be hard to include a small board to make that unnecessary. The CW relay is a bit noisy, not a problem with headphones but compared to my Ten Tec it's mildly irritating. I run a linux box in the shack, for years now, and would love to see some good linux control software: so far any discussion of that remains a pipedream.

So....if you are willing to learn a few things that are not difficult, take the time to work with the software to make the experience a good one, oh and make sure you have an adequate computer system you will have a very competent rig. Well worth the money you spend.
K5TED Rating: 5/5 Jan 14, 2013 00:08 Send this review to a friend
You can't touch this..  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I've had no life threatening, earth shattering, ego deflating, or bank breaking problems with my 3000.

Once in a great while I have to restart PowerSDR, depriving me of approximately 15 seconds of operating time. This always occurs after hours of operation, and always seems to be the result of running some other high CPU program while Power SDR is running. Not very unusual in the realm of software/computers. Lots of programs I use regularly, especially DSP programs, require restart after long periods of use and fiddling with settings, and running alongside other high CPU software, like PowerSDR.

The fix? Don't run and fiddle around with other high CPU software while running PowerSDR. Otherwise you might occasionally have to restart PowerSDR, depriving you of approximately 15 seconds of operating time. The real horror is when you might have to stop the software, power cycle the radio, then restart the software. That can amount to a seemingly interminable 25 seconds or so of no radio. That happened to me once back in September 2012. It happened after I accidentally tried to transmit out of band on 60m(clicked on a DX Spot then tried to transmit on the displayed frequency, which was not a valid channel). I got a warning from PowerSDR, then had to restart the radio AND PowerSDR in order to enable transmit again. Not sure what exactly occured, internally. Not too interested to know.. Frightening, to be sure, but my therapist claims I'll get over it. I won't do that again, unless I do. Accidentally.

Another possible fix might be to build a SERIOUSLY powerful machine to run PowerSDR and all those other programs simultaneously. Or, build a good PC for sole use as the PowerSDR machine. Buy a separate monitor for PowerSDR. Monitors are $99 or less.

Don't run PowerSDR on a dual-core laptop. It won't be a good experience, for many reasons. Why would you do that, anyway? Do you run a 100 watt radio at 100 watts continuous on a 20 amp power supply?

I use a very special microphone, called the "Yaesu MH31". I know, it's probably overkill, but it gets such good signal reports I couldn't possibly live with anything less. I've tried other microphones, including some Plantronics, Jabra and Logitech headsets, a couple of "studio type" large diaphram condenser mics, an EV RE20, a Yaesu MD-100, a D-104 with 10DA head, and a Shure SM5. None are as easy to use or get consistently good reports as the MH31. The SM5 gets good reports, mind you, but also gets really heavy during a long QSO.

The BNC antenna port... At 50MHz, I have an insertion loss of over...wait.. I don't use the BNC adapter. I use a custom built (by me) BNC to PL-259 jumper cable from the radio to my antenna switch. I guess the BNC antenna port is really OK. I've noticed that most test bench equipment uses BNC, so it must be OK for radios and stuff. It sure beats twisting and twisting a WWII vintage design connector to get the cable conected or disconnected. That BNC insertion loss is almost 1/40 of an S unit at 50 MHz, but I have to live with that knowledge and that at some point I might miss an important DX entity because of that darned BNC connector. It's just a cross we bear as BNC users.

As for the radio itself, on the same antenna, side by side with a fully loaded FT-847, a stock FT-857D, and trusty rusty old Kenwood TS-140S, I don't notice much difference on receive unless there is noise on the band, adjacent strong signals to deal with, I want the audio to sound really good, or I wish I didn't have to tune up and down the band to see if anyone is there. The TS-140 sounds good, but doesn't have the rejection or DSP, and the FT-847 has the rejection, but doesn't have the sound quality or as good a DSP. The FT-857D, well, it's an FT-857D. It has sound. The TS-140S cost $2125 in 2011 dollars, the FT-847 with filters ran about $2000 in 2011 dollars, and the FT-857D is almost 1/2 the price of the 3000.

Even a brand new Flex 3000 with a custom built dedicated quad core PC and monitor costs slightly less than a TS-140S.

The Flex 3000, combined with Windows and a Firewire interface, is not sold, promoted, advertised or suggested for use in a life/safety application. I wouldn't use it, or any ham radio, to control Uncle Ned's ventilator. On the other hand, if I want to have a good time playing in the amateur radio hobby, I use my Flex 3000. It hasn't failed me in that respect.
N9WX Rating: 5/5 Jan 13, 2013 19:46 Send this review to a friend
LOVE IT!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Hi everyone...I just got a slightly used one about a week ago! I LOVE IT! Now...I noticed a gentleman a few reviews down who kept having the software lock up and shut down. My guess is RF getting into the rig. Had the same problem a little once in a some more clip on ferrite beads! My Firewire had one on it... I put 2 more, and it seems to have (knock on wood) solve the problem. Had an individual build me a computer (to the specs on the flex website) for $ average CPU usage is 13%! This rig is AWESOME! You can NOT touch a rig at this caliber for anywhere near $1,600.00!!! You need to do your self a favor and at least, TRY ONE!!! Find a friend and play with theirs! LOVE IT LOVE IT! Nothing like it! One of the top receivers in the Sherwood tests. Beats the IC-7800! Just try one! I am listening to it as I type this...NO Problems! I have a Radio Shack 33-3038 mic on it and people love the sound! ($20.00)

Dan N9WX
NX8P Rating: 4/5 Dec 24, 2012 06:19 Send this review to a friend
Great Customer Support  Time owned: more than 12 months
I ordered my Flex-3000 at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention. The radio was at my doorstep in about three days. I used the radio for awhile, but then my brand new dedicated computer wouldn't recognize the radio. After talking with tech support, I had to send it back for repairs. It took a few weeks to get the radio back, but it worked "almost" perfect from there. The radio was still not recognized at times by the computer. Sometimes the audio would even become distorted and I had to click the start button and restart the software. Tech support says it's because the 8 data streams on the firewire would get out of sync. Once the version 2.4.x of PowerSDR was installed it cleared up everything. All works well now. Always recognized by the computer and no audio distortion problems. I'm now running version 2.5.3 and no problems at all. It's very smooth now. The "real-time" signal display will spoil a person especially when you go back to a traditional radio. You can even tweak your transmit audio waveform. I've also set up virtual audio cables on the Flex and used it on digital. Works well and not difficult to set up. I've even operated my Flex remotely from a laptop (while the Flex stayed at home) using a program called TeamViewer (free). As for taking the Flex out in the field, I like the flex and it is as portable as any traditional rig as long as you use a laptop for your interface as a desktop computer makes things a bit of a chore to move around. The major concern that I have as with any "firewire" device is that firewire is pretty much on it's way out. Not many laptops come with firewire today. Overall, I like the radio. I use it all the time and I love how I can tweak my audio on both receive and transmit. The filters are like no others. I just wonder what ideas FlexRadio has for a future without firewire.
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