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Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Help

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KB2EOQ  Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2014 15:20  Send this review to a friend!
Groundbreaking   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
To fully understand what your are getting when you buy a Flex Signature series radio, you have to imagine being handed the very first Iphone but with limited "apps" . The Iphone was a quantum leap in technological capabilities and its basic "telephone" features were as as good as the competition. The Flex 6500 is similarly a quantum technological leap and will equal or better the receive and transmit specifications of almost all modern transceivers. The few specifications where the competition outperforms the hardware of the Flex 6500 are those that 99% of hams would never notice.

So, you have a transceiver that is as good as it gets but, like an Iphone, its the 'apps" that make the difference. The Flex Signature series is essentially akin to an Iphone 3. Its basic operating system (SmartSDR) does things that you will marvel at. However, it can do so many things... 3rd party amateur radio app developers never dreamed of such technology, so you will have to wait awhile for your Flex experience to be the equivalent of a Iphone 6 experience supported by a zillion app.

The signals you receive and the signals you transmit, will arrive/leave your transceiver as well as any other transceiver. The SmartSDR software will allow you do do things with the leaving/arriving signals that are impossible with most other transceivers commonly available. However, this is only the beginning. The Flex 6500 allows you to view every HF band (6 meters included) at once ! Flex's hardware allows you to view the entire HF spectrum in many different ways , Flex calls them "slices' or "Panadapters". This capability is the ultimate in amateur radio signal monitoring. With the 6500 , you can hear audio in up to four slices or four panadapters. Example, you can listen to digital signals at around 14070, listen to CW on 14010, listen in on DX at 14175, and work Slow Scan TV at 14233 all at the same time. That not exiting enough for you? How about working that DXpedition that is "up 5-10" on 15 meters where you can monitor ("see" ) everyone in the 10 Khz pile-up, listen to you local club's 40M net, and check DX on 20 meters at the same time!

All of the above is easy to do with a Flex 6500. However, back to my Iphone analogy and the concept of "apps". Amateur radio is famous for the innovative software that has made the hobby exciting. That includes DX clusters, 6M opening alert systems, contest software, elaborate logging software, propagation forecasting software, digital mode decoding software, CW decoding software, and much more. The Flex 6500 and SmartSDR have features unimagined by many of the innovative software developers. So, at the moment, these "apps" cannot take full advantage of a Flex 6500 and SmartSDR. Example: Your logging software authors probably never imagined that they would have to plan for someone listening and working a contest with a single radio that works four bands at once! How does your software know what band to log from ? Your digital mode software authors probably did not plan on someone decoding streams of audio from four separate bands with four different virtual sound devices all at once! So, if you buy a Flex 6500 you'll have to have some patience, patience for the developments to arrive. There are good signs already, a free "app" called SDR Bridge now accommodates 4 simultaneous streams of IQ data for CW Skimmer. Some logging software authors are contemplating how to log from four different "slices" of the spectrum. I suspect that in a year's time, the innovative amateur radio developers will have made full use of this amazingly capable radio.

The basic all work very well. CW is good with no latency. Digital modes are a breeze to set up, and phone transmissions can be tailored to suit your ears and voice.

At the moment you can't store your favorite frequencies using SmartSDR but I may simply be guilty of being stuck in the dark ages because I am not sure that you really need to with this new technology. Also, CW keying via contesting software requires a few extra old-fashioned circuitry at the moment.

Oh, the customer services is superb.

Andy K3UK (ex KB2EOQ)  
Product is in production.
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