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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-1500 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-1500
FlexRadio  FLEX-1500 Reviews: 82 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $649
Description: The FLEX-1500 is a low-cost, QRP SDR that is positioned to allow ham radio operators the ability to experience the incredible capabilities and just plain fun of operating an actual software defined radio without breaking the budget. It comes packed with features that make it ideally positioned to be the ultimate low cost, high performance QRP rig and IF deck for VHF-microwave transverter operation.

* Two-tone, 2 KHz spacing third order dynamic range measured @ 14 MHz of greater than 80 dB
* Full HF/6m transmit capability - General coverage receiver
* Built In Test Equipment (BITE) for hassle free calibration
* Multiple RF outputs for transverter IF or "full gallon" QRP operation
* Dedicated Receive only antenna selection for use with the transverter IF or the 5W PA Transceiver port
* Simple USB interface to the computer eliminates messy cabling that plagues other QRP software defined radios.
* External connectors for band data, asserting PTT, headphones, key and microphone
* Simple USB interface to the computer eliminates messy cabling that plagues other QRP software defined radios
Product is in production.
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K0INN Rating: 4/5 Nov 1, 2016 21:48 Send this review to a friend
For CW - highly dependent on your computer hardware  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the rig used from another ham. My operating mode is almost 100% CW. I like to operate 20-25 WPM casual QSOs. I'm using a 1 year old business class HP i5 desktop with 8GB RAM.

First off, the receiver and pan-adapter are great. This makes me really want to use the rig.

For CW with the internal keyer, the problem is delay. It is impossible to key when you are hearing the sound trailing by a second. There is a lot of material on the web about making changes to buffer sizes in the software. I tweaked on those and but never could get rid of that delay. But - then I discovered the secret. The audio was being carried from the flex by the usb through my computer to the speakers. I changed and ran a 3.5mm plug cable from the headphone jack on the flex directly to the input on the computer speakers. Voila! Delay gone.

So now - different issue. About 10-15 minutes into the QSO the keyer locks up and keeps sending dits. I have to close the program to stop it. This happens every time I use the internal keyer. I do some research and there are others with this same issue. The explanation is that it is likely a USB or computer glitch causing the problem. It is probably not the rigs problem.

OK. So I give in and use an external keyer. Everything is good now. I've been operating this way for a while and everything is working AOK.

One thing I've learned - software setting tweaking could result in there appearing to be a rig hardware problem. For folks experiencing what might be hardware issues - in the software there is an option to restore default settings. At one point I was convinced I had a hardware problem when there was an intermittent loud hum when transmitting. I restored to default settings and that was gone.

K6CEQ Rating: 1/5 Jun 4, 2016 21:41 Send this review to a friend
The radio oscillates. Flex is irresponsible.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I echo the comment of the preceding FLEX1500 owner. The radio is awsome until it breaks into oscillation. It is a design problem and the offer of $100/hour to fix their problem signals that they do not won't own up to their problem. SO I am telling others to think twice about upgrading to their expensive radios.
K6CEQ Rating: 2/5 May 31, 2016 21:54 Send this review to a friend
Radio oscillates  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
SDR is a great new experience at an introductory price. The filters are brickwall. The panadapter is fun to use. The need to buy a pair of virtual cables and look for instructions in order to install them is a real drag. They should be part of the software, in my opinion. Once configured, the radio is fun to operate..until it quits.

My Flex1500 breaks into oscillation intermittently. It did that from the beginning. Flex offered me one hour of repair time with any subsequent repairs costing $100/hour. Needless to say, that is no offer. If this is a problem peculiar to my radio, it is one that was there when they sold it to me.
If the radio was ment to sell Hams on the expensive line, it failed to convince me. I am glad that I got to experience it at $700, and not at several thousands.
K0PIR Rating: 5/5 May 4, 2016 12:12 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this radio a few months ago and got it off e-bay for about $500. It's pretty easy to setup if you know a little about comm ports and computers. I had it operating in about 30 minutes. The most difficult part was locating the two small programs (utilities) that connect it to my laptop and make everything function. I only use one USB cable to do everything! The utilities are Virtual Audio Cable and Virtual Serial Port Manager. I saw a few videos on youtube that helped me set these up and also the Flex Radio forum was helpful. It was a little intimidating at first but everything came together rather easily.

Now for the radio. The receiver is excellent. It is ranked #17 in the Sherwood Receiver Test Data, but it is really a great little receiver in my opinion. I am using Bose powered speakers with mine and the audio sounds great. It's easy to listen to and the quality is excellent. I had some cheap powered speakers at first but they can't touch the Bose Companion 2. So you'll have to spend another $100 for some great speakers if you want the best sounding receive audio. The NB is excellent as is the NR and ANF, but what really impresses me is the TNF (Tunable Notch Filter). It knocks out interfering signals within the passband and it really does work.

I haven't had any complaints about the transmit audio. People tell me it sounds real good. I use a Heil BM-10 with HC5 element and a Audio Technica ATR 30 mic. There are so many ways to adjust the transmit audio I gave up and just use a couple of profiles. They work good for me and I can break through a pileup with only 5 watts.

There's so much more I can't describe everything here. I used the radio in a cw contest (N1MM Logger+) and it performed very well. I was surprised at how many contacts I made and I didn't have trouble using it with the contest software. It works great with HRD and N3FJP software too.

To wrap things up, if you are looking to try a SDR, this is a great choice. It's only 5 watts, but I drive an Ameritron amp with it and get about 80 watts out. I even use this little radio with my amp to call a net two hours each week on 75 meters. It is reliable, I really enjoy just listening to it and I've been very happy using it.

Best of luck to you and yours, 73 and good DX. - Rich, K0PIR
KF5QDT Rating: 1/5 Nov 22, 2015 15:05 Send this review to a friend
Documentation and softare are awful  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I write software and documentation. I know what bad software and documentation looks like. The drivers are very poor; it's really hard to get the device to enumerate properly on USB. The calibration phase that should have happened seems never to have happened at that time. The documentation is also rather poor, as it seems to jump around and touch on various topics in many different places, rather than keeping pertinent information in one place. Also, the documentation requires you to make certain dangerous assumptions, for example, with the antenna port. On the back of the radio, there's 10MHz Refin, XVTX/C, XVRX, and Antenna. The available options in the software are XVTX/Com, XVRX, and PA. Is PA this Antenna port on the back? We can assume so, but risk blowing up a $700+ investment and voiding the warranty if we guess wrong.

Another detail, kinda off the earlier topic, this radio requires within 10% of 13.8 volts. That's not so good if you're using it with a voltage regulator driven home-made power supply. Every other radio I have works great with 12v, but this radio does not.

So I'm giving this device a 1 out of 5. I've had this radio for a few months, but haven't really had much of a chance to play with it until today. So far it's been an exercise in frustration. I've yet to get a signal out of it.

FLEX, for the amount of money I invested in this radio, I'm really irked. You're going to need to up the quality of your software and documentation before I invest in another radio.
VE7MBW Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2015 20:45 Send this review to a friend
There is a learning curve  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
It takes a while to learn the proper setup for this radio. It works best with a devoted computer. I use about a 4 year old cheap Toshiba laptop with great results. You need to be somewhat computer savvy to set this rig up properly. Once setup it works great. The receiver is very good - all for $500 ... A great deal!!
MM0XXW Rating: 5/5 Mar 10, 2015 14:37 Send this review to a friend
Excellent little radio ....  Time owned: more than 12 months
I love this little radio and it's a pleasure to play with. 5w is no limitation on cw or digital modes such as JT65 so no issues there! Run mine into a vertical via an MFJ-993 and it rocks along all day long (work permitting!).
I use the latest (2.7.2) PowerSDR and have had no problems with drivers or anything else akin to that of other owners (see below) in fact exactly the opposite. Helping it along with a x6 core PC which helps but really haven't come across anything negative at all.
Bang for buck I find this a very hard to beat option and if you want a bit more than 5w add a linear .... seemples!
W0XS Rating: 0/5 Dec 3, 2014 19:22 Send this review to a friend
Flex 1500 failure  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a Flex 1500 long ago but have never been able to make it operational.

I've redownloaded Powersdr a few times but the driver never shows up nor does the radio under devices.

Maybe it's defective. I have no problem running HRD 6 with my PROII so my PC is working OK.

For me the Flex 1500 was a waste of money.
KD7SU Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2014 06:23 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Great radio so far, had a month, only bad point the bnc connector on pc board not very strong mine came loose and is being repaired as I am posting review. will be more carful when I hook up antenna from now on, weak point>
73 Ron
N2DTS Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2014 05:41 Send this review to a friend
very nice!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had the flex 5000 and the 3000, and now have the 1500.
I liked the 5000's a lot, the 3000 not so much with its loud fan, and with a fair computer that is only doing sdr, they were delay and trouble free.
The 1500 has some delay because the cheap ssmall computer I run sdr on has a slow usb system.
There is always delay, with the sdr-iq, the qs1r, and the other usb based sdr's I have used.
I agree, they should have made the 1500 with a firewire interface, or Ethernet if they could.
But as it is, it works very well if you do not monitor yourself. Even on my poor computer I could set buffers low and get very low delay through the system, but it would be easy on my computer with a firewire interface which does not have as much delay.

The radio itself works very well, I do not notice much difference between the 1500 and the 3000 and 5000 on receive, they all have great filters and very good fidelity, low noise, low distortion, low background noise.
The 48 KHz band scope is enough.
CW sent with a straight key seems fine to me, with my slow speeds, I do not notice any serious delay with semi break in, so maybe the 1500 is ok for casual CW operators, real CW guys will want a good computer or an Elecraft I suspect.

Nice small box, no fans, the software just works, I have installed these radios on various computers without ever having a problem.
An old slow dual core lap top runs 30 to 50% cpu usage, the $300.00 quad core wall mart small form factor computer runs 17%.

Its a very nice and fun radio, I got mine used for about 1/2 price, and as a receiver its well worth the money.
As a rig, it all comes down to the delay through the computer, and that seems to be pot luck with usb ports.
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