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eHam Forums => Software Defined Radio => Topic started by: N6YFM on February 06, 2018, 10:20:05 AM



Title: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 06, 2018, 10:20:05 AM
Now that people have been receiving and setting up their new Flex 6400 and 6600 models, does anyone
have any first impressions to share?   What do you like/dislike, etc?
(Please, only actual users of the new models)

Thanks,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on February 06, 2018, 01:08:03 PM
FlexRadio Systems allowed me to purchase my Flex-6600M early, and I have been writing about it at:

With Varying Frequency:  http://k9zw.wordpress.com (http://k9zw.wordpress.com)

As I already have Flex-6700s and Maestro's in my shacks (along with a Collins S-Line in each shack) I'm very accustomed to operating with SmartSDR.  The Flex-6600M is a shiny new radio for sure, and brings all of the Flex-6000/SmartSDR features to one's shack.

There are important new features in the version of SmartSDR released (and preinstalled on radios) that came out with the Flex-6400/6600 radios.

There will even newer features as successive versions roll out.

From FlexRadio Systems pictures a LOT of amateurs will be on the air with the new Flex-6400/6600 series radios very shortly.

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on February 09, 2018, 01:07:10 PM
So far I have only seen one legitimate review for the 6600M and a bogus review from some fanboy who doesn't own one. 

There is one review for the 6400 and it is not all that good so now I'm beginning to wonder.  If Flex really did start shipping these rigs at the beginning of February, where are all of the reviews? 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K5TED on February 09, 2018, 06:49:45 PM
Could be Flex users aren't interested in wasting time being flamed here, opting to do ham radio instead.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on February 09, 2018, 07:35:03 PM
It's still early days.  The Flex community boards don't have many 6400 or 6600 owner comments yet either, but it is clear that shipments are starting to happen.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on February 10, 2018, 04:50:34 AM
Still waiting on mine to ship.   Thinking it should ship next week.  My friend got his ship notice and should have his radio by Monday 2/13.   I had a 6300 and will be able to see if there is any edge over it.   I doubt it.   


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 10, 2018, 12:09:34 PM
There is one review for the 6400 and it is not all that good so now I'm beginning to wonder.  If Flex really did start shipping these rigs at the beginning of February, where are all of the reviews? 

I was the first person to post a review on the 6400. I'm not sure how you got "not all that good" out of my review?
It was my first review on Eham and I did not go into great detail but thought it was fairly straightforward with a 5 out 5. This radio is fun!

I am playing in the CQ RTTY contest today and this radio is really shining.  There are 20 over signals up and down the band and the receiver is razor sharp with no overload. I parked between 2 strong signals and copied a weak station in the middle easily with NO interference from the sides.  The AGC level adjustment is the key to using this radio in strong signal conditions.

I worked some FT8 on 30 yesterday and the weak signals from Europe decoded perfectly. Worked Z60A on 20 RTTY yesterday in a huge pileup.  Rag chewed with some buddies on 160 last night and they loved the audio. I am certain their receive audio sounded better than on my Flex 5000. The receiver is just quieter all the way around.

I am still tweaking all the settings for optimal use. Finding new things and learning as I go. If anyone wants to know any particulars of the 6400 and setup just let me know.

73 Dan KG0AQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on February 11, 2018, 11:13:04 AM
There is one review for the 6400 and it is not all that good so now I'm beginning to wonder.  If Flex really did start shipping these rigs at the beginning of February, where are all of the reviews? 

I was the first person to post a review on the 6400. I'm not sure how you got "not all that good" out of my review?
It was my first review on Eham and I did not go into great detail but thought it was fairly straightforward with a 5 out 5. This radio is fun!

I am playing in the CQ RTTY contest today and this radio is really shining.  There are 20 over signals up and down the band and the receiver is razor sharp with no overload. I parked between 2 strong signals and copied a weak station in the middle easily with NO interference from the sides.  The AGC level adjustment is the key to using this radio in strong signal conditions.

I worked some FT8 on 30 yesterday and the weak signals from Europe decoded perfectly. Worked Z60A on 20 RTTY yesterday in a huge pileup.  Rag chewed with some buddies on 160 last night and they loved the audio. I am certain their receive audio sounded better than on my Flex 5000. The receiver is just quieter all the way around.

I am still tweaking all the settings for optimal use. Finding new things and learning as I go. If anyone wants to know any particulars of the 6400 and setup just let me know.

73 Dan KG0AQ

Perhaps I should have said less than glowing.  I think your review was honest and I think you are generally pleased with your new rig.  The things you said that caught my attention were:

" Useable Band stacking on the 6400 requires a third party program called FRStack."

"Using CW Skimmer requires a third party program called SDR-Bridge."

"There is a workaround to get WSJT to work but it is not a Flex issue."  (yet it still requires a work around)

"The real issue I have is using Fldigi RTTY in split mode. For the time being you must use XIT which is kludgy at best. Again, not necessarily a Flex issue but needs work."

"Conclusion: You must be a patient person to use Flex products. Software is ever changing and requires time to develop. This radio is an absolute keeper! To me the bottom line of any transceiver is the receiver and transmitter performance...The 6400 is TOP NOTCH! I can wait for the enhancements and remember the key to Flex products...they keep getting better with each software release."

I understand the goodness aspect and I am sure that the Flex 6400 is a good rig but I am not patient, and I don't want to be hostage to a companies software releases to make my rig do what it should have done out of the box.  It's like they make you a beta tester.  That's OK if you have the disposition for that sort of thing, I sure don't. ;D


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on February 11, 2018, 02:24:01 PM

"Conclusion: You must be a patient person to use Flex products. Software is ever changing and requires time to develop.


Deja Vu
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wait, wait and wait some more.Within several years Flex will maybe have a finished Radio. Then they will abandon your beloved radio, and they will introduce the Newest and Greatest SDR. And the routine will start all over.


Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on February 11, 2018, 02:46:58 PM
Could be Flex users aren't interested in wasting time being flamed here

Flex users are afraid of honest,truthful information. Eham is not full of Flex Lovers willing to tell the truth about their beloved radio.

Flaming:If that bothers the Flex Lover, they need to stay on the official Flex Forum. Bulldog Tim, Gerald, and Steve will all give you that warm feeling that you bought the right radio.

Flex Lovers here are known to attack hams that dare to question the Flexradio spin. A good example is K9IUQ. He has repeatedly been attacked personally. He has been called terrible names, has been wished dead, and a long thread was started by a Flex Lover to BAN K9IUQ on eham. It was a long thread which got deleted because of over the top nastiness. That thread was horrible, and was the only thread I have seen that got deleted.


Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on February 11, 2018, 03:52:53 PM
As more and more mid- and upper-tier Software Defined transceivers hit the market, I am sure competitive pressure will force manufacturers to improve their "out of the box" performance and software features without the need for ongoing and time-consuming updates.

Ratings will be based on what a product actually does, not what it is expected to do at some future date.  The software IS the product, and an honest evaluation of it means the current version is being evaluated.  Just like how Microsoft Office 2016 is considered a different product from Office 2013 and gets evaluated that way, and is not just a $99 update.



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on February 11, 2018, 04:06:21 PM
the product, and an honest evaluation of it means the current version is being evaluated. 

Honest Evaluations of Flexradios are far and few between. They always fail to mention the features that are not yet in the software. Look at Flexradios past history.

New Flexradios are ALWAYS touted as the BEST ever radio by their owners.

Stan K9IUQ 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on February 11, 2018, 05:27:59 PM
Well, it seems to be a given that Flex software is a limited speed process, probably due to company size or whatever.  Meanwhile....  I am not inclined to keep upgrading software in anything I own.  If it needs frequent updates, I buy a different brand of cellphone, laptop, transceiver, etc.  The ONLY things I will accept to be regularly updated are my computer's anti-virus software and my eyeglasses prescription.

Flex-6600 owners will probably find it hard to confirm if their new radio performs any better than a Flex-6400.  They BOTH can't be the best at the same time!  I will be interested in hearing about this kind of discussion.

We know from the Flex site that the specs comparison table shows that the 6600 preselectors are more sophisticated than the one in a 6400, but the 6400 specs are already in the upper range of receivers to begin with.  And then there is the 6700 at the top of the family, I would expect it to be the best of the lineup.  Almost every manufacturer of any product type has a "good - better - best" option in their product family lineup, and Flex seems to be no exception.

Let's see if Bob Sherwood can find a difference between a 6400 receiver frontend and a 6600 (or 6700) ... that is, other than the fact that the 6600 has 2 of them.

I will be interested to see reactions of owners of the "M" versions of the new radios to see how they compare in user friendliness and attractiveness to the computer or Maestro driven non-M versions (and perhaps to "Brand I" as well, which will really get my interest).

73, Ed VE3WGO


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 11, 2018, 08:57:43 PM

"There is a workaround to get WSJT to work but it is not a Flex issue."  (yet it still requires a work around)


Hi KG0AQ:

I am the orig poster, and still don't yet have one of these radios, but am thinking of buying.
But KA4DPO's statement above for WSJT-X, had me a little concerned, but when I read the following
thread from Flex, found with google, I can't see that any workaround is required.

https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202037343-Configuring-WSJT-X-and-SmartSDR-for-Windows (https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202037343-Configuring-WSJT-X-and-SmartSDR-for-Windows)

That setup is no more complex than what I do for my Icom or Yaesu rigs.
Can you expand?   It looks fairly simple and straight forward.

But anyway, thanks for the other remarks.   Sounds like the performance of the RX is great.

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on February 12, 2018, 05:21:51 AM
Using the General Release SmartSDR 2.1.30 Software and latest SmartSDR for iOS software I am really enjoying my Flex-6600M.

Been hard to not be on the air (when bands allow) and will have to make time to update my blog and review.

A couple thoughts on prior comments:

FlexRadio Systems Signature and SmartSDR products are meant to evolve.  This is a paradigm shift that might seem challenging if you expect to never upgrade your radio. 

Add-in Software, especially non-FlexRadio Systems software, is welcomed.  You can build the station you would like using these software building blocks. While you can build it and leave it be, you also can upgrade as new releases come along.

The new Flex-6600M/6600 and Flex-6400M/6400 radios are "hardware & packaging evolutionary" so they setup, configure and work just like the Flex-6700/6500/6300.  They have better features, improvements under the hood, and changed physical design/layout.  Please remember they replaced the Flex-6300 and Flex-6500 in terms of new production. 

Think station integration with the Flex-6000 series.  While you can plunk a new Flex-6400/6600 in any station, you can draw more if your plans eventually include the PGXL Amp, the 4o3a antenna switches and other related hardware.  Check out the USB-cable based data/automation or use the network integration.   

If all of this is a challenge or the ever-improving nature of the evolution doesn't sit well with you, you can of course set up your Flex-6000 and leave it alone - don't change that software - or pick another transceiver. 

Given the wide range of radio amateurs who are successfully running their Flex-6000/SmartSDR radios, it apparently is not so complex that you would not be able to operate one!  If my 86 year old neighbor can get himself up running a Maestro and a Flex-6300, well I think you can too.

Today I am planning to operate remotely as I have an house downtime between to appointments out of town.  I've previously cased this building and they have awesome internet, so my iPad and headset will be put to use making QSOs for that unavoidable down time.  This is a huge benefit for someone with schedule demands like myself.  Otherwise I guess I would be stuck reading about ham radio rather than doing ham radio for that downtime!

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on February 12, 2018, 07:36:22 AM
Using the General Release SmartSDR 2.1.30 Software and latest SmartSDR for iOS software I am really enjoying my Flex-6600M.

Been hard to not be on the air (when bands allow) and will have to make time to update my blog and review.

A couple thoughts on prior comments:

FlexRadio Systems Signature and SmartSDR products are meant to evolve.  This is a paradigm shift that might seem challenging if you expect to never upgrade your radio. 

Add-in Software, especially non-FlexRadio Systems software, is welcomed.  You can build the station you would like using these software building blocks. While you can build it and leave it be, you also can upgrade as new releases come along.

The new Flex-6600M/6600 and Flex-6400M/6400 radios are "hardware & packaging evolutionary" so they setup, configure and work just like the Flex-6700/6500/6300.  They have better features, improvements under the hood, and changed physical design/layout.  Please remember they replaced the Flex-6300 and Flex-6500 in terms of new production. 

Think station integration with the Flex-6000 series.  While you can plunk a new Flex-6400/6600 in any station, you can draw more if your plans eventually include the PGXL Amp, the 4o3a antenna switches and other related hardware.  Check out the USB-cable based data/automation or use the network integration.   

If all of this is a challenge or the ever-improving nature of the evolution doesn't sit well with you, you can of course set up your Flex-6000 and leave it alone - don't change that software - or pick another transceiver. 

Given the wide range of radio amateurs who are successfully running their Flex-6000/SmartSDR radios, it apparently is not so complex that you would not be able to operate one!  If my 86 year old neighbor can get himself up running a Maestro and a Flex-6300, well I think you can too.

Today I am planning to operate remotely as I have an house downtime between to appointments out of town.  I've previously cased this building and they have awesome internet, so my iPad and headset will be put to use making QSOs for that unavoidable down time.  This is a huge benefit for someone with schedule demands like myself.  Otherwise I guess I would be stuck reading about ham radio rather than doing ham radio for that downtime!

73

Steve
K9ZW

So it sounds like most of the changes for the new rigs are cosmetic.  The only problem I have with incremental software development is that the timeline is not firm so promised features and functions can get pushed way out.  I think they have done a great job considering the complexity of the build but I am just not patient enough to wait or to go through the nut roll of loading and debugging new software.  Sometimes it's a piece of cake, and sometimes it is a huge PIA, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. 

As for downtime, being retired for the last ten years has spoiled me, I make my own down time so that is almost never an issue.  I just would like to see a Flex rig that lives up to it's potential right out of the box without having to worry about my hardware, or wait for software updates, or upload and de-bug third party software to make it all work together.  All of that configuration is tedious and just not for me, I suppose if you are more into computers than radio then it's cool.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 12, 2018, 08:28:15 AM
So it sounds like most of the changes for the new rigs are cosmetic.

I suspect that the development of the new rigs were driven two two things: the need to reduce cost and the need for knobs. The first one is obvious. The original 6000 series used a very expensive FPGA and other components. The new rigs use cheaper parts that have become available in the intervening years. Although I haven't seen one in person, from photos I've seen it looks like they've cheapened out on the enclosure as well. There're other subtle things they've done here to reduce cost that I don't like, primary among them eliminating the XLR mic connector on the back of the 6500/6700 and replacing it with a 1/4" TRS connector.

I wonder too about long-term repairability of these rigs. I've asked on their forums, but have never gotten an answer to my questions regarding the architecture of the front panel of the "M" rigs. It's obvious these front panels have a different microprocessor (because they run Windows) than that used by the rig itself (which runs Linux). The Maestro is literally a Dell tablet inside a plastic case with a bunch of knobs and buttons and connectors for a mic, key, etc. If the 6400M/6600M uses this arrangement, how long will replacement display panels be available for repairs? Everyone knows that model lifetimes in the PC industry are fleeting (with model lifecycles measured in months, not years), which makes me wonder if Flex bought a bunch of the Dell tablets that are used in the Maestro for when these units fail and need to be replaced.

Quote
The only problem I have with incremental software development is that the timeline is not firm so promised features and functions can get pushed way out.  I think they have done a great job considering the complexity of the build but I am just not patient enough to wait or to go through the nut roll of loading and debugging new software. 

I'm still waiting for FSK, which they've occasionally hinted at, but have never delivered. It seems to me that for the last year or two they've been concentrating on remote operation and SO2R crap. Remote operation is fine, but not when they've seemingly put everything else on the back burner to concentrate on that aspect of the product. I don't want or need this capability and would rather them address some of the performance issues with NB/NR, FSK, etc. They also seem to have gotten into bed with the superstation contesters. I can only imagine this is mostly for publicity purposes because very very few hams in their potential market routinely put several hundred thousand dollars into rigs and antenna farms. For every K9CT there's thousands of average hams who just don't care about features like SO2R and $7K amps.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K4JK on February 12, 2018, 08:42:17 AM

I'm still waiting for FSK, which they've occasionally hinted at, but have never delivered. It seems to me that for the last year or two they've been concentrating on remote operation and SO2R crap. Remote operation is fine, but not when they've seemingly put everything else on the back burner to concentrate on that aspect of the product. I don't want or need this capability and would rather them address some of the performance issues with NB/NR, FSK, etc. They also seem to have gotten into bed with the superstation contesters. I can only imagine this is mostly for publicity purposes because very very few hams in their potential market routinely put several hundred thousand dollars into rigs and antenna farms. For every K9CT there's thousands of average hams who just don't care about features like SO2R and $7K amps.

I agree, they are chasing Elecraft and trying to make waves in the contest game for better or worse. And I couldn't care less about boutique features like remote operation, adding a FreeDV dongle or that crazy amplifier (which you STILL can't buy) either.

I think they are trying to check too many boxes at once... They are pretty successful all things considered, but I have to wonder how much better the features in SmartSDR would be if they had concentrated on that rather than trying to woo contesters (90% of whom you would have to pry their K3s from their cold dead hands.)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on February 12, 2018, 09:29:02 AM

I'm still waiting for FSK, which they've occasionally hinted at, but have never delivered. It seems to me that for the last year or two they've been concentrating on remote operation and SO2R crap. Remote operation is fine, but not when they've seemingly put everything else on the back burner to concentrate on that aspect of the product. I don't want or need this capability and would rather them address some of the performance issues with NB/NR, FSK, etc. They also seem to have gotten into bed with the superstation contesters. I can only imagine this is mostly for publicity purposes because very very few hams in their potential market routinely put several hundred thousand dollars into rigs and antenna farms. For every K9CT there's thousands of average hams who just don't care about features like SO2R and $7K amps.

I agree, they are chasing Elecraft and trying to make waves in the contest game for better or worse. And I couldn't care less about boutique features like remote operation, adding a FreeDV dongle or that crazy amplifier (which you STILL can't buy) either.

I think they are trying to check too many boxes at once... They are pretty successful all things considered, but I have to wonder how much better the features in SmartSDR would be if they had concentrated on that rather than trying to woo contesters (90% of whom you would have to pry their K3s from their cold dead hands.)


Yeah they might be spreading themselves too thin but that is a business decision that time will answer. 

W6UV made an excellent point about the cost of the FPGA's being used in SDR.  We all know that the cost of components will continue to decrease as the processing power continues to increase.  I still hold that in ten years analog radios will mostly be a thing of the past.  Interesting times.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K7JQ on February 12, 2018, 10:34:07 AM
IMO, the K9CT station is an anomaly in the contesting world. All the other superstations that I know of still use the box with knobs. The contest club I belong to has many long-time, hard-core contesters (a few world-class operators) that only operate K3's. One famous guy uses a pair of TS-590's. For the most part, they all could care less about spectrum scopes/waterfalls.

But, as the older generation dies off (sorry to say that), the newer breed of younger, more computer-savvy contesters (and regular ops) could eventually change the landscape to a Flex-type radio choice with constant streams of updates and revisions. No problem for them to handle. Most old-timers are creatures of habit and resistant to change, with a few exceptions.

All I know is that these forums are filled with "Help...I can't get my radio to work with this program", or "This software update changed all the settings and made things worse", etc. Combining ham radio with various computer operating systems, to me anyway, is still a complicated process, with many PITA pitfalls. Many just want to take it out of the box, hook up an antenna, mic/key, plug it in, and operate. Then again, I'm one of those old-timers ::) :D.

73 and enjoy what you have,

Bob K7JQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 12, 2018, 02:17:13 PM
But, as the older generation dies off (sorry to say that), the newer breed of younger, more computer-savvy contesters (and regular ops) could eventually change the landscape to a Flex-type radio choice with constant streams of updates and revisions. No problem for them to handle. Most old-timers are creatures of habit and resistant to change, with a few exceptions.

I do like the capability to fix bugs and introduce new features by issuing a firmware update. The American companies (Flex and Elecraft) seem much more likely to do this than the Japanese companies.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 12, 2018, 02:30:26 PM

I'm still waiting for FSK, which they've occasionally hinted at, but have never delivered.


Hi W6UV:

Can you expand on why FSK matters so much?   For the last two years I am running true FSK
on my Icom  7300 in RTTY contests, but only because some web articles "said" it was "better".
But in truth, there have been an equal number of articles and tests that claim on the RX end I can not tell
AFSK from true FSK (unless the AFSK is done by a LID who over drives and distorts the audio).

So while FSK might be potentially a little safer for newbies that don't set an audio drive level properly,
it will in fact sound and look the same on the  receiving end.   So is it that big a deal?

Also, I suspect if Flex promised it, they might one day get around to that software update.
But again, for now, is it a real show stopper?   Why?

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 12, 2018, 02:44:45 PM

I agree, they are chasing Elecraft and trying to make waves in the contest game for better or worse. And I couldn't care less about boutique features like remote operation, adding a FreeDV dongle or that crazy amplifier (which you STILL can't buy) either.

I think they are trying to check too many boxes at once... They are pretty successful all things considered, but I have to wonder how much better the features in SmartSDR would be if they had concentrated on that rather than trying to woo contesters (90% of whom you would have to pry their K3s from their cold dead hands.)


Just to play devil's advocate for a minute;   Is there a rule that says what segment of the market place a free-market private company like
Flex or Elecraft is required to focus on and cater too?

Perhaps Flex and/or Elecraft assumed that they could make more money by accepting that Kenwood/Yaesu/Icom own the mass-market,
and instead chose to focus on the high end, like Ferrari and Lotus.   Nothing wrong with that.   Someone has to be Nissan.   Someone has
to be Toyota.  Someone has to be Ford.  And someone has to be Jaguar and Ferrari.

We don't bash Ferrari for not catering to the Nissan or Ford crowd.   Why bash Flex or Elecraft for focusing on high end customers, when it is
OBVIOUS by their price structure and advertising that they are not real interested in the low end or mass bell-curve.  Else they would have
offered a $1000 radio long ago.

Just my distorted opinion.
Your mileage may vary.
[Feel free to correct me with a Clue-Stick, since most other hams do anyway...]

Cheers


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 12, 2018, 02:46:49 PM
But again, for now, is it a real show stopper?   Why?

It's not a show stopper. I want it because it's the elegant way to operate RTTY.  AFSK works, but is kludgy in same way CW is kludgy on the Collins KWM-2 (it generates CW by applying a tone to the SSB circuit).


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 12, 2018, 03:30:27 PM
But again, for now, is it a real show stopper?   Why?

It's not a show stopper. I want it because it's the elegant way to operate RTTY.  AFSK works, but is kludgy in same way CW is kludgy on the Collins KWM-2 (it generates CW by applying a tone to the SSB circuit).

That's completely fair.
By the way, do you have a Flex rig yet, or are you shopping like me?

Cheers


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 12, 2018, 04:03:15 PM
By the way, do you have a Flex rig yet, or are you shopping like me?

I have a 6500 and a 6700 and am considering a 6600 or 6600M.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 12, 2018, 04:58:05 PM

"There is a workaround to get WSJT to work but it is not a Flex issue."  (yet it still requires a work around)


Hi KG0AQ:

I am the orig poster, and still don't yet have one of these radios, but am thinking of buying.
But KA4DPO's statement above for WSJT-X, had me a little concerned, but when I read the following
thread from Flex, found with google, I can't see that any workaround is required.

https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202037343-Configuring-WSJT-X-and-SmartSDR-for-Windows (https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202037343-Configuring-WSJT-X-and-SmartSDR-for-Windows)

That setup is no more complex than what I do for my Icom or Yaesu rigs.
Can you expand?   It looks fairly simple and straight forward.

But anyway, thanks for the other remarks.   Sounds like the performance of the RX is great.

Cheers,

Neal

Hi Neal,

Those specific instructions are the ones I originally used and had issues with. I don't remember the issues exactly but I found a flex user recommend the following method for WSJT.

Set the rig to: Flexradio 6xxx   
In the network server box I used the local host plus the stock TCP port in SmartCAT:  127.0.0.1:5002
Set the PTT to CAT and your off to the races.
Everything works great now and I have JTAlert following and sending logging info automatically to the DXLabs suite.

I also figured out the RTTY split issue in Fldigi.
Edit the Com port connected to FLdigi in SmartCat to:  Auto Switch TX Slice to DISABLE
I can now work split in RTTY with the click and xmit method where the DX is listening!

As for all the Flex haters on here. There are plenty of Icoms, Kenwoods, Yeasus and Anans that may suit your needs? If you don't like Flex don't buy one. Bashing products goes nowhere with me. If I own a radio I don't like I sell it and move on.  Try to move on...it's less stressful and remember...it's only a hobby!

73 Dan KG0AQ



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K4JK on February 13, 2018, 07:09:50 AM

Just to play devil's advocate for a minute;   Is there a rule that says what segment of the market place a free-market private company like
Flex or Elecraft is required to focus on and cater too?

Perhaps Flex and/or Elecraft assumed that they could make more money by accepting that Kenwood/Yaesu/Icom own the mass-market,
and instead chose to focus on the high end, like Ferrari and Lotus.   Nothing wrong with that.   Someone has to be Nissan.   Someone has
to be Toyota.  Someone has to be Ford.  And someone has to be Jaguar and Ferrari.

We don't bash Ferrari for not catering to the Nissan or Ford crowd.   Why bash Flex or Elecraft for focusing on high end customers, when it is
OBVIOUS by their price structure and advertising that they are not real interested in the low end or mass bell-curve.  Else they would have
offered a $1000 radio long ago.

Just my distorted opinion.
Your mileage may vary.
[Feel free to correct me with a Clue-Stick, since most other hams do anyway...]

Cheers
It's not a question of Ferrari vs Nissan. I don't mind paying the money for the radio equivalent of a Ferrari, if that's actually what I get. Early on everyone was led to believe that SmartSDR would eventually have most of not all the features of PowerSDR.

Flex's at that point were more like a Ferrari Kit car... Lots of flash and dash but when you popped the hood the lack of features in the SW left a bit to be desired. SmartSDR is still lacking in that regard IMO. This is my main complaint. Don't get me wrong, the receiver is great, but the functionality of the SW it not yet what I would like to see. They added a few useful (to me) things, but a lot of the stuff I wanted to see was never added to SmartSDR. Instead we got remote operation, DV voice, a promised $7k amplifier, $2k tuner, lots of stuff to get the Maestro to work right, things geared towards contesters, and so on and so forth. None of which I care about for my primary rig at home.

Then they told everyone that they would stop putting new features in V1 and you had to cough up another $200 to upgrade. I got tired of waiting and didn't feel like forking over more money so I sold my 6500.

Their business/marketing decisions are out of alignment in what I want from a high-end SDR. End of story. It's not wrong or right, it just is what it is.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 13, 2018, 10:05:54 AM
Then they told everyone that they would stop putting new features in V1 and you had to cough up another $200 to upgrade. I got tired of waiting and didn't feel like forking over more money so I sold my 6500.

That's really the crux of my dissatisfaction with Flex--they go after the glitzy, shiny features few people use and neglect the meat and potatoes features the average ham wants and needs. I'm still on V1 because I don't see the need to pay $200 for remote features I neither want or need. I'd rather see them spend their development resources on things like better NB/NR, FSK, and lower latency than direct it all towards pandering to the superstation contester set.

BTW, what did you buy to replace your 6500?


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 13, 2018, 10:23:57 AM
Then they told everyone that they would stop putting new features in V1 and you had to cough up another $200 to upgrade. I got tired of waiting and didn't feel like forking over more money so I sold my 6500.

That's really the crux of my dissatisfaction with Flex--they go after the glitzy, shiny features few people use and neglect the meat and potatoes features the average ham wants and needs. I'm still on V1 because I don't see the need to pay $200 for remote features I neither want or need. I'd rather see them spend their development resources on things like better NB/NR, FSK, and lower latency than direct it all towards pandering to the superstation contester set.

BTW, what did you buy to replace your 6500?

I do agree with your NB/NR remarks. The NBers on the 5000 were fantastic. The NR on the early 5000 releases and 1000 software were great. I really do like the WNB on the 6000 though. I too wish Flex would concentrate on the pure receiver performance issues and less on the contest and remote features.  As I stated in my review, I will be patient but only when it relates to the features that are important to me.  Great conversation. Thanks,

73 Dan KG0AQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K4JK on February 13, 2018, 11:22:32 AM
Then they told everyone that they would stop putting new features in V1 and you had to cough up another $200 to upgrade. I got tired of waiting and didn't feel like forking over more money so I sold my 6500.

That's really the crux of my dissatisfaction with Flex--they go after the glitzy, shiny features few people use and neglect the meat and potatoes features the average ham wants and needs. I'm still on V1 because I don't see the need to pay $200 for remote features I neither want or need. I'd rather see them spend their development resources on things like better NB/NR, FSK, and lower latency than direct it all towards pandering to the superstation contester set.

BTW, what did you buy to replace your 6500?
Yes, the NB/NR are pain points for me too. As is the latency under narrow filtering.

I haven't bought anything yet to replace it, strictly speaking. I have had a IC-7300 for awhile that I am using as a primary for the time being. That and my TR-4. I haven't been operating that much lately so honestly the 7300 is all I really need for now.




Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KD0ZV on February 13, 2018, 12:12:25 PM
I too wish Flex would concentrate on the pure receiver performance issues and less on the contest and remote features. 
73 Dan KG0AQ

I am in the same boat. I am more a rag chewer than anything but do CW contest on occasion for fun.  I can't say many of the features that Flex has added in the 3 years owning one has benefited me. I could care less about remote access.

I would like to play with new features similar to what has/is being added to PowerSDR but if I am honest with myself, those kind of things have more entertainment value than usefulness for me.  My current 6500 does almost everything I need and does it well. I realize this does not apply to everyone.

I have had a 6600M on order since the first day after Dayton (5/22) and I see fellow hams either getting shipping notifications or taking delivery for orders placed on 5/19 to 5/23 depending on their model and options.

If I was going to complain about Flex it would be that they have great intentions but lack in follow through. Version 1.x software did not make it as far as they led everyone to believe it would before switching to the next paid version (2.x). And, I am not thrilled about putting down a $500 deposit for a radio that was supposed to ship "July August time frame" and here we are in February and I am waiting for a shipping notice after paying the final $4500 on it 2 1/2 weeks ago.

But that said, their support has been great. I don't know if this is reality, but I think I could call and talk to anyone at the company including the president. They listen to ideas and have even implemented a suggestion I had.  My experience with my Icom's and Yaesu has been nothing like this.

So in the end the pluses outweigh the minuses for me. By far.

My reason for upgrade was the second SCU. That is important to me and I could not afford a 6700. I would be lying if I said I do not get frustrated because I really do. But, currently there is not another radio I would rather own regardless of cost.

73,

Rich
kd0zv


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 13, 2018, 01:27:08 PM
But that said, their support has been great. I don't know if this is reality, but I think I could call and talk to anyone at the company including the president. They listen to ideas and have even implemented a suggestion I had.  My experience with my Icom's and Yaesu has been nothing like this.

That's a strong plus in favor of Flex (and Elecraft). I doubt there are any Yaecomwood engineers frequenting the support forums for their rigs, and your chances of ever meeting or chatting with the president of one of those companies is essentially zero. The president/founders of Flex and Elecraft attend the larger hamfests and I've met all of them over the years.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on February 13, 2018, 01:46:47 PM
I am happy to see actual Flex users posting their experiences.
I am a software hack, and also rather patient myself.
You guys are giving me the feedback and details I need to "hit the purchase button"
with a little more confidence.  (Confidence that the choice is right in MY situation, Stan :-)  )
[No one Brand/Model car is the perfect choice for ALL your neighbors, right?]

Thanks for an informative thread and keep the replies coming as you unbox your new rigs.

Thx,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KD0ZV on February 13, 2018, 02:20:54 PM
That's a strong plus in favor of Flex (and Elecraft).

Yes, Elecraft is great company as well even though I have not had much contact since my K2 building days.

I am happy to see actual Flex users posting their experiences.
I am a software hack, and also rather patient myself.
You guys are giving me the feedback and details I need to "hit the purchase button"
with a little more confidence.  (Confidence that the choice is right in MY situation, Stan :-)  )
[No one Brand/Model car is the perfect choice for ALL your neighbors, right?]

Thanks for an informative thread and keep the replies coming as you unbox your new rigs.

Thx,

Neal

Neal, I don't think you would be disappointed. The problem is Flex has changed my operating style. I can now do things differently in a manner I really cant do with other radios. So I am stuck with them :)

Its nice to have 4 receivers running. Rag Chewing SSB on one while receiving three different FT8 WSJT instances on different bands.  See some rare DX on one WSJT instance and just click on them and the transmit slice switches automatically and you work them. Jump back to your SSB QSO to tell your buddies hey I just worked Tuvalu !



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on February 17, 2018, 04:52:27 AM
Quote
Yes, the NB/NR are pain points for me too. As is the latency under narrow filtering.

Flex has adjustable filter skirts that will allow you to decide how much latency you want to deal with.   Any SDR radio with tight skirts will have latency.   Level 0 is the tightest and level 3 is the widest    I have made a few CW contacts with my 6400 and have not noticed any issue with latency at all.   I have my CW setting on 1.

I have not done any real A/B tests on NB/NR yet with my 590 but will get back at some point with an update. 

So far I am pleased with the radio.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 17, 2018, 01:52:08 PM
Quote
Yes, the NB/NR are pain points for me too. As is the latency under narrow filtering.

Flex has adjustable filter skirts that will allow you to decide how much latency you want to deal with.   Any SDR radio with tight skirts will have latency.   Level 0 is the tightest and level 3 is the widest    I have made a few CW contacts with my 6400 and have not noticed any issue with latency at all.   I have my CW setting on 1.

I have not done any real A/B tests on NB/NR yet with my 590 but will get back at some point with an update. 

So far I am pleased with the radio.


I too have the 6400 and running it thru the ringer today on the WW CW contest. Latency is NOT an issue on CW. I have mine on filter level 1 and the skirts are tight with no latency issues noticed with my current operational setup. I am running 28 wpm and mowing them down. The preamps and AGC are fun to play with to get the best S/N ratio. i still have my Flex 5000 but think its going down the road soon.

My biggest challenge was getting all the third party programs all synced up. I currently have CW Skimmer, the entire DX labs Suite, WSJT, FRStack, DDutil, K9DUR Voice Keyer and SDR Bridge all running happily together.  This is the ultimate Ham Radio Transceiver setup! The overall dynamic range at close spacing is stunning!

73


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on February 17, 2018, 03:29:15 PM
Quote
My biggest challenge was getting all the third party programs all synced up. I currently have CW Skimmer, the entire DX labs Suite, WSJT, FRStack, DDutil, K9DUR Voice Keyer and SDR Bridge all running happily together.  This is the ultimate Ham Radio Transceiver setup! The overall dynamic range at close spacing is stunning!

I just loaded JT Alert http://hamapps.com/ (http://hamapps.com/) .  It allows my WSJT-X qso's to log directly to DX Keeper log.   Check it out.  I think you will like it.  Also I am running WSJT-X natively on the pc using tcp socket.  It works great.



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 17, 2018, 05:50:26 PM
Quote
I just loaded JT Alert http://hamapps.com/ (http://hamapps.com/) .  It allows my WSJT-X qso's to log directly to DX Keeper log.   Check it out.  I think you will like it.  Also I am running WSJT-X natively on the pc using tcp socket.  It works great.

Mike,
I have been using JT-Alert since it came out. I also have it linked with DX Keeper. Great auto logging and time saver. Here is a snapshot of 2 weeks of work setting most of the third party apps up. It was all mind bending work but a great challenge. I justed worked Kosovo on 30 with two CW Skimmer screens one for RX and the other for TX. Enjoy your new 6400!

(https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipPs7vVYtv-_3At9oPWzEprMjt_JcL-xAm0M7JZL)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG0AQ on February 17, 2018, 07:52:45 PM
Quote
Here is a snapshot of 2 weeks of work setting most of the third party apps up. It was all a mind bending experience but a great challenge.

I'll try one more time for an image link.  Hope it works this time?

(https://photos.app.goo.gl/oHftWkXPiILgR8jz2)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K0CWO on February 19, 2018, 05:11:56 AM
A total of only 3 reviews in the review section of this site?  The 6400/6600 Flexers must be busy enjoying their new rigs!


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 19, 2018, 11:34:09 PM
I too have the 6400 and running it thru the ringer today on the WW CW contest. Latency is NOT an issue on CW. I have mine on filter level 1 and the skirts are tight with no latency issues noticed with my current operational setup. I am running 28 wpm and mowing them down. The preamps and AGC are fun to play with to get the best S/N ratio.

I too used a Flex in the ARRL DX contest this past weekend (my 6500). Under the crowded contest conditions on 20m it generally worked well, except when some strong locals showed up.

I heard a very strong station that appeared to have a signal that spanned 40 kHz. I could actually hear this station 20 kHz away from his transmit frequency well enough to copy his code. I tried the attenuator and backing down on the gain, but nothing I did completely stopped his signal leaking past the 6500's filters in a big way. It wasn't because he had a dirty signal (it was N6BV, and it's very unlikely his signal is that wide), but because he's only about 25 miles from me. Just to be sure, I looked at his signal on the waterfall of a web SDR receiver located on the opposite side of the country and his signal looked clean.

I'm not sure why I was seeing so much obvious filter blow-by, but suspect it's because I changed the CW filters more towards the low-latency end to reduce the ringing I'm hearing when they're set too far towards the sharp end. Even doing that shouldn't have let me copy a CW signal 20 kHz from where it was being sent. I wish I'd taken a screen shot, but didn't think of it until the contest was over.

This does not happen on my FTdx-5000.



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on February 19, 2018, 11:55:05 PM
Seems like ADC overload. Assuming N6BV is line of sight, a quick calculation would be:

1500 watts = 62 dBm
10 dBi of TX antenna gain
87 dB of path loss at 14 MHz
10 dBi of RX antenna gain

62 + 10 - 87 + 10 = -5 dBm


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on February 20, 2018, 06:08:39 AM
A total of only 3 reviews in the review section of this site?  The 6400/6600 Flexers must be busy enjoying their new rigs!

Either that, or the three or four people who actually have one are just too busy trying to make them work with all of the "third party software". ;D


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on February 20, 2018, 08:51:32 AM
A total of only 3 reviews in the review section of this site?  The 6400/6600 Flexers must be busy enjoying their new rigs!

Either that, or the three or four people who actually have one are just too busy trying to make them work with all of the "third party software". ;D

You will find a lot of user reports in the typical FlexRadio online hangouts.

The software complexity is "fake news" as nothing has changed from any prior FlexRadio System radio version. 

You build up the same sorts of software for other SDRs or for station automation, the same configuration process.

With that comes the ability to tailor your own personal station, and if you are so motivated even roll your own applications.

Not much different in the setup process from many years ago when I ran a TenTec Pegasus, but with awesome more upside capabilities.

Some useful pointers:

  • Take notes and do screen shots to capture your stations settings/configurations when you have them working.
  • Follow Install/Update directions, especially the recommendations to export your profiles (configurations) before changing software.
  • Take control of your system's operating system auto-update process, as it will cost you lost time and contacts if it runs on its own.
  • Backups mean you most like will never need them.
  • Checking your backups and restoration process means they are useful if you ever do.
  • Whenever possible change just one thing and get it running, rather than updating/changing everything.
  • If you really don't need an added software package, consider whether it is worth the time to get it up and running.
  • If you have a station running well the time to make changes is after a contest or DX event, not before/during.

In my station I have both a Flex-6600M and a PGXL amp running well, including remotely.  You can too!

73

Steve
K9ZW




Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 20, 2018, 03:12:44 PM
Seems like ADC overload. Assuming N6BV is line of sight, a quick calculation would be:

1500 watts = 62 dBm
10 dBi of TX antenna gain
87 dB of path loss at 14 MHz
10 dBi of RX antenna gain

62 + 10 - 87 + 10 = -5 dBm

There's also the loss due to a small hill in N6BV's direction and the fact that I had my beam pointed directly away from him.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2RJ on February 20, 2018, 08:58:08 PM
Several were on air this past weekend for ARRL CW, including I'm told a very high scoring entry. I'll let you guess which one.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on February 21, 2018, 01:47:20 PM
Several were on air this past weekend for ARRL CW, including I'm told a very high scoring entry. I'll let you guess which one.

I'm sure I can guess who. At that level, however, it's the Indian, not the arrow, that counts. All the top contesters have gear good enough to win.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K7JQ on February 21, 2018, 04:04:59 PM
Several were on air this past weekend for ARRL CW, including I'm told a very high scoring entry. I'll let you guess which one.

I'm sure I can guess who. At that level, however, it's the Indian, not the arrow, that counts. All the top contesters have gear good enough to win.


Absolutely! And not even using top of the line radios. A famous world-class contester uses a pair of TS-590's. He's always at or near the top of the heap in every major contest.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on February 23, 2018, 06:05:08 PM
I had a chance to compare the NR on my 6400 against my 590S and I can report that it is better than the 590.  With the 590 I really could not go much past 3 - 4 with out reducing the RF gain to stop the waterfall sound.   The 6400 has significantly less waterfall artifacts than the 590.   I can leave it on with the slider at about 10% and it pretty much removes most of the noise. 

The only thing I have noticed is that I loose some high end frequency response.  I would still recommend using adjusting the gain 1st and then NR 2nd,  but I can see where it will certainly help.

 I suspect the better results are more of a SmartSDR 2.1.x upgrade rather than a hardware upgrade.

My friend has a 7300 and a 6400 now and I am waiting for him to do some comparisons.  So far he is very impressed with the 6400.   

I have not had any RFI to test the NB out on yet.   I hope I never have too.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N3HEE on March 08, 2018, 06:40:53 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8nk7K3gjGo&t=1s


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on March 08, 2018, 09:27:03 AM
something looks really wrong with the waterfall coloration in that youtube video


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 08, 2018, 10:02:09 AM
something looks really wrong with the waterfall coloration in that youtube video

You are not kidding.  My 7600 looks better than that.  I have to wonder if the guy has it improperly set up because if that's what the display looks like, NO THANKS.

The rig already has that old Ten Tec toaster oven stamped metal look about it, it should at least have a decent display.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on March 08, 2018, 11:47:45 AM
evidently there was a problem with the cellphone camera that made the video


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on March 08, 2018, 12:37:28 PM
something looks really wrong with the waterfall coloration in that youtube video

Check the release notes - there are a whole raft of waterfall color/fill/fill-density/FPS/rate options.

I have mine fairly monotone in comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on March 08, 2018, 12:45:24 PM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6UJ on March 08, 2018, 06:40:55 PM
Please tell me the video camera was the blame for that display in that video and not the display itself.
It looks terrible. !!

Bob
K6UJ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on March 09, 2018, 02:29:26 AM
if you look in the video comments section, you'll see where he responded to my question about it


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on March 09, 2018, 06:36:11 AM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?

Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging. 

Go look at one in person, or check out some other videos. 

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

Sometimes it is hard to get one's "here and now" fixation out of one's mind, given the redefinition possibilities for the architecture. 

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 09, 2018, 01:37:54 PM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?

Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging. 

Go look at one in person, or check out some other videos. 

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

Sometimes it is hard to get one's "here and now" fixation out of one's mind, given the redefinition possibilities for the architecture. 

73

Steve
K9ZW

Don't they charge a couple of hundred bucks for software updates Steve?  Sometimes when someone pays that much money for a product they expect it to work at least as well as less expensive radios right off the bat without having to wait for software updates to be available for purchase.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on March 09, 2018, 02:10:15 PM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?

Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging. 

Go look at one in person, or check out some other videos. 

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

Sometimes it is hard to get one's "here and now" fixation out of one's mind, given the redefinition possibilities for the architecture. 

73

Steve
K9ZW

Don't they charge a couple of hundred bucks for software updates Steve?  Sometimes when someone pays that much money for a product they expect it to work at least as well as less expensive radios right off the bat without having to wait for software updates to be available for purchase.

They charge $200 for a software update, but only for a major new release, and those happen very infrequently. The 2.0 release that came out last year was the first release they charged for since the initial release of the Flex-6000 series five years ago.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 09, 2018, 08:10:46 PM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?

Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging. 

Go look at one in person, or check out some other videos. 

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

Sometimes it is hard to get one's "here and now" fixation out of one's mind, given the redefinition possibilities for the architecture. 

73

Steve
K9ZW

Don't they charge a couple of hundred bucks for software updates Steve?  Sometimes when someone pays that much money for a product they expect it to work at least as well as less expensive radios right off the bat without having to wait for software updates to be available for purchase.

They charge $200 for a software update, but only for a major new release, and those happen very infrequently. The 2.0 release that came out last year was the first release they charged for since the initial release of the Flex-6000 series five years ago.

If that's the case them I am pretty disappointed by what I saw.  I need to see one in person to really get an idea of what it looks like up close because if the youtube video is even remotely representative of what the display is almost unacceptable.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6UJ on March 09, 2018, 08:37:35 PM
Steve, I'm quite sure that video is not faithfully displaying ANY of the waterfall color options.  Have you watched it?

Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging. 

Go look at one in person, or check out some other videos. 

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

Sometimes it is hard to get one's "here and now" fixation out of one's mind, given the redefinition possibilities for the architecture. 

73

Steve
K9ZW

Don't they charge a couple of hundred bucks for software updates Steve?  Sometimes when someone pays that much money for a product they expect it to work at least as well as less expensive radios right off the bat without having to wait for software updates to be available for purchase.

They charge $200 for a software update, but only for a major new release, and those happen very infrequently. The 2.0 release that came out last year was the first release they charged for since the initial release of the Flex-6000 series five years ago.

If that's the case them I am pretty disappointed by what I saw.  I need to see one in person to really get an idea of what it looks like up close because if the youtube video is even remotely representative of what the display is almost unacceptable.



Same here John.  Not what I was expecting at all.  The 7610 is looking better and better  :D

Bob
K6UJ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 10, 2018, 06:32:26 AM
something looks really wrong with the waterfall coloration in that youtube video

You are not kidding.  My 7600 looks better than that.  I have to wonder if the guy has it improperly set up because if that's what the display looks like, NO THANKS.

The rig already has that old Ten Tec toaster oven stamped metal look about it, it should at least have a decent display.

I have mine fairly monotone in comparison.

73
Steve
K9ZW

Makes sense to me, if the color is Crap, make it monotone... Surely you can come up with other excuses?


Quite of lot of the mentioned artifacts are reflections of the clothing.

Not only may he have had camera issues, but the lighting and staging introduced more issues.

Filming these types of screens must be challenging.  

What we also need to remember is if there was something that really wasn't right that corrections could be released in the next SmartSDR update.

73

Steve
K9ZW


Lets see, blame it on the clothing, that is a new one for me. Blame it on the phone camera? Hell my dog Boomer can even take perfect selfies with my iPhone. Cell phones are MADE to be idiot proof (NO, Boomer ain't no idiot).

Hmmm filming a sdr screen is challenging (for Flex Owners??). It IS interesting that the Icom 7610 owners can make an acceptable sdr screen video, along with thousands of other sdr owners on youtube.

Corrections will be made in an update. Flexer Lovers been hearing that for years, wait, wait and wait....

The Excuses ARE pretty puny and funny and entirely predictable from well known Flex Spinners....

I do admit, that screen was ugly.

LMAO

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 10, 2018, 06:34:27 AM

The 7610 is looking better and better  :D

Bob
K6UJ

Dang, my thoughts exactly. I guess the Flexradio will have to be taken off my Wish List too...   ;) :D :D

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on March 10, 2018, 10:50:28 AM

The 7610 is looking better and better  :D


Dang, my thoughts exactly.
With some luck we may have another option in the rumored Kenwood SDR to be unveiled at Dayton (maybe).



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: SP5QIP on March 10, 2018, 01:12:44 PM
That flex looks like cheap Chinese https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVAm2PuxZz0
Sorry flex, my money will go elsewhere.
Mike


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on March 10, 2018, 01:49:43 PM
There are many videos on youtube of Maestro taken with better camera.
The video you keep discussing here is simply have washed out colors.
BTW, I do not own Flex products yet.
KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6UJ on March 10, 2018, 08:34:19 PM
There are many videos on youtube of Maestro taken with better camera.
The video you keep discussing here is simply have washed out colors.
BTW, I do not own Flex products yet.
KN7K



Nope not washed out at all.  I just looked at the video again.  Actually very bright with lots of contrast.  Washed out is not the problem.  At any rate, it doesn't look good at all.

Bob
K6UJ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on March 11, 2018, 06:21:28 AM
You can configure the Flex display to suit your tastes.   The video has a  the gain set a little high for the panadapter for you Icom fan boys.   I have not seen any panadpter even close to the resolution of a Flex.   You must have a sad existence if all you do is look for ways to disparage a product that you don't own and have no clue what you are talking about.   


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 11, 2018, 06:38:26 AM
You can configure the Flex display to suit your tastes.  

OK, then Obviously the Flex Lover that made that video has "Odd tastes"  along with all the Lovers who are attempting to defend that BUTT UGLY video.

What is next? You Gonna call that Glued on, slapped on after thought Maestro on the front of a Flexradio is a beautiful specimen of an American Radio?? You Flex Lovers have Odd Taste.

Thanks to youtube, You do not have to own a Radio to determine that it is BUTT UGLY.

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 11, 2018, 06:51:11 AM
The video you keep discussing here is simply have washed out colors.

Nope not washed out at all. 
Bob
K6UJ

 The video has a  the gain set a little high

have no clue what you are talking about.   



Washed Out. NO, not washed Out. GAIN SET TOO HIGH. Can't have it both ways. At least I can agree that you all are Clueless...

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on March 11, 2018, 08:32:22 AM
Quote
GAIN SET TOO HIGH

I am not talking about rf gain.  The panadapter has its own gain.   For the LIDs who have no CLUE...RTFM.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on March 11, 2018, 08:37:00 AM
From the manual.   

The Gain, Black and Auto controls work together to adjust how different signal levels are displayed in the Waterfall. The Black control sets the level below which all pixels will render as black. In other words, it sets the level at which signals are no longer of interest. The Auto control will automatically set the black level to just below the noise as band conditions, preamplifier changes or antenna changes alter the noise floor. To enable auto-black, click the Auto button so that it is blue.

The Gain control adjusts how rapidly the Waterfall will advance through the color spectrum for minimal changes in signal level. Lowering the gain gives the Waterfall a broader dynamic range, but lessens its ability to show small variations in signals. Raising the gain lowers the dynamic range, but provides more detail in the variations in smaller signals’ magnitudes.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 11, 2018, 08:51:07 AM
I can hear it now as the new Flex 6600M user tells the DX station, please stand by, can't see the display, I have to go QRT for a couple of minutes change clothes and will be right back. ;D ;D

I still maintain that the display on my IC-7600 looks far better and it's an old radio.  AFWIW, the Flex 6600 really does look like a toaster oven.  The front and rear panels look cheaply made for a radio that costs that much.

I honestly think Flex screwed the pooch by trying to compete with Icom instead of staying within their comfort zone of black box SDR.  The Maestro was a knee jerk reaction to the little IC-7300's success and the 6400 and 6600 M models are the same thing in response to the IC-7610. 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on March 11, 2018, 09:03:44 AM
Many Flex and Icom bandscope/waterfall videos are fine on youtube, so some videographers are just not setting things up right I guess.

Regarding front panels and some comments about the big screen radios coming out these days, I must say I like the Icom front panel designs that they have been using in recent years.  Of the American manufacturers, I would much prefer Elecraft over Flex front panel design.  But in order to compete with Japanese and Chinese SDR radios which have a chunk of the market, I suppose costs had to be cut somewhere, and cosmetic complexity of the Flex front panel is probably the first area to control costs.  I guess that's how they keep the price of the 6400 and 6600 series in the right ballpark.

Looking at a Flex 6300 versus Icom IC-7300 comparison video, I noticed a couple of differences in their scope displays:
1. the Icom has fast response, the Flex has a slow "liquid" response.  Maybe this is user settable?
2. the Icom has persistence (like a Tek storage scope), the Flex does not.  But the "liquid" scope display kind of makes up up for some of that.  again, user settable?

And, on the waterfall display:
1. the Icom shows some of the noise floor background, the Flex has a cleaner background.  user settable gain or threshold maybe?
2. the Icom waterfall colors are moderate, while the Flex colors seem high contrast, almost to the point of being garish.  again, user settable?

73, Ed


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 11, 2018, 09:31:16 AM
Yes the do look like costs were kept low.   And from the look of it, if you press and hold the main tuning knob on the 6600M for 15 seconds it goes "DING",,, and a nice warm strawberry pop tart falls out from under the display.  Perfect for contests or, if you need a break to go change clothes so you can see the display. ;D

Sorry, I couldn't help it. ;D ;D


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 11, 2018, 09:51:06 AM
Quote
GAIN SET TOO HIGH

I am not talking about rf gain.  The panadapter has its own gain.   For the LIDs who have no CLUE...RTFM.


Why would anyone think you "meant" RF GAIN??  You did say:

 The video has a  the gain set a little high for the panadapter for you Icom fan boys.  

I don't see anything about RF gain, nor did anyone but YOU say anything about RF GAIN..

Go look in the Mirror and ask yourself: Why am I protesting so vigorously and publicly making myself look silly (and or clueless)?

With only 30 posts, you are new here. Here is a tip for you AND all Newbie Flex Lovers:: be careful what you post and never lie.

Stan K9IUQ



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on March 11, 2018, 12:17:59 PM
Stan K9IUQ

It's painfully obvious you HATE Flex radios.    Were you even aware that the waterfall gain can be adjusted?  The point is you can adjust how the waterfall looks to suit yourself.   

Having a high post count is not indicative of anything except post counts.   You really need to get a life and quit obsessing over Flex radios.




Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on March 11, 2018, 02:01:13 PM
Were you even aware that the waterfall gain can be adjusted?

It's painfully obvious you HATE Flex radios.  

You really need to get a life and quit obsessing over Flex radios.

Your Newbieness is showing. Anyone who has ever used any waterfall knows that the gain, colors, brightness,contrast etc can be adjusted.

It is painfully obvious you LOVE Flex Radios and have the need (and Duty) to Defend and Obsess  your beloved FlexRadio. This is not necessarily a good life that ends well, trust me.......  :(

Meanwhile, I hate nothing, including Flex Radios. My Life is Good, and I love keeping you Flex Lovers entertained AND honest. Especially the Clueless Newbie Flex Lovers..

LMAO

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on March 12, 2018, 04:36:16 AM

Remember there are two flavors of the newest Flex radios, with knobs/display and black-box style.

With either you also have the option of running the GUI to your PC, an Apple product (both computers and the iPhone/iPad options) or with some models to a separate monitor by HDMI.

Current GUI's available are (I've included URLs where appropriate):   

SmartSDR for Windows (your PC option, also runs under Parallels on a Mac) http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr/ (http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr/)
SmartSDR for Maestro/M-model (this is a tailored version for the Maestro and Front Plates of the 6400M/6600M models) (comes preloaded)
DogparkSDR (this is your iMac macOS version, produced and sold by Dogpark) https://dogparksoftware.com/dogparkSDR.html (https://dogparksoftware.com/dogparkSDR.html)
SmartSDR for iOS (this is your iPad/iPhone version, available through the Apple Store) http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr-for-ios/ (http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr-for-ios/)

There are other Flex-6x00 GUIs that folks have personally done, as you could do through the FlexRadio FlexADP (Application Developers Program) http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr-api/ (http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr-api/)

A lot of choices - from dedicated Hardware Interfaces, PC Windows Interfaces, Apple Mac Interfaces, iPhone/iPad Interfaces and a roll-your-own interface option.

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W8MLS on March 12, 2018, 08:35:55 AM
Quote
Your Newbieness is showing. Anyone who has ever used any waterfall knows that the gain, colors, brightness,contrast etc can be adjusted.

Apparently NOT.  You guys are bashing the waterfall in the video.   All I did was point out it can be adjusted.  You Flex bashers have serious issues.  I have never bashed any radio.   NO radio is perfect including Icom.

Quote
Meanwhile, I hate nothing, including Flex Radios. My Life is Good, and I love keeping you Flex Lovers entertained AND honest

I hope your life is good.  Your posts  indicate that you are compensating for something by having to bash other radios.  However to be a good sport any time you are in my area stop on by and I will let you operate my station.  You may actually enjoy using a Flex.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on March 12, 2018, 09:38:59 AM
That flex looks like cheap Chinese

None of the three American manufacturers (Flex, Elecraft, TenTec) seem to put much into the industrial design of their rigs. They tend to use sheet metal and flimsy knobs and hardware on their products. The Japanese big three, on the other hand, tend to put much more thought and effort into the mechanical and industrial design of their rigs.

Take the Elecraft K3 as an example. It's a bunch of circuit boards and sheet metal held together by screws and what they call 2D fasteners. A typical Japanese rig has a solid die-cast chassis that gives the whole thing mechanical stability and also electrically isolates the various sections of the rig. Compare the insides of a K3 to an IC-7610, for example. As another example, compare the main VFO knob on a Japanese rig to the K3. The VFO knob on my FTdx-5000 is smooth as butter. The K3's VFO knob uses two pieces of felt to provide friction and it doesn't feel anywhere near as smooth as the VFO knob on a much cheaper Japanese rig.

The Flex rigs are similar to Elecraft mechanically.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AE5X on March 12, 2018, 09:49:27 AM
How's this for a screen presentation:

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GHotuKUr2yo/WqZ5MsE5GdI/AAAAAAAAEKw/z1r9_v27gQMOCMsZ3ygJK1A-PWRUE--MQCLcBGAs/s1600/2DX.jpg)

Just my lowly old F6300 doing what it does best - working DX.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 12, 2018, 10:34:44 AM
How's this for a screen presentation:

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GHotuKUr2yo/WqZ5MsE5GdI/AAAAAAAAEKw/z1r9_v27gQMOCMsZ3ygJK1A-PWRUE--MQCLcBGAs/s1600/2DX.jpg)

Just my lowly old F6300 doing what it does best - working DX.

A lot like the Chinese rig but not terrible.  Of course it's not a Maestro display and you are probably wearing dark clothing so as not to wash out the screen. ;D ;D



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6UJ on March 12, 2018, 04:34:34 PM
How's this for a screen presentation:

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GHotuKUr2yo/WqZ5MsE5GdI/AAAAAAAAEKw/z1r9_v27gQMOCMsZ3ygJK1A-PWRUE--MQCLcBGAs/s1600/2DX.jpg)

Just my lowly old F6300 doing what it does best - working DX.



Very nice John !

Bob
K6UJ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on March 13, 2018, 10:07:49 AM
How's this for a screen presentation:

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GHotuKUr2yo/WqZ5MsE5GdI/AAAAAAAAEKw/z1r9_v27gQMOCMsZ3ygJK1A-PWRUE--MQCLcBGAs/s1600/2DX.jpg)

Just my lowly old F6300 doing what it does best - working DX.


It looks fine to me.  It works, shows the needed information, and no issue with colors.
I intend to buy a Flex 6400.  I also own an Icom SDR.
Both work, both get you on the air.
All radios do something.  Some do some things a little better.
So depending on what someone needed/wanted, that is why all
of them are circulating on the new and used market.
Choose the make/model car that YOU think is better.
They all get you down the road...

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4KOE on March 17, 2018, 08:06:37 AM
I do wish the software team would enable users of SmartSDR to customize colors. Some with vision issues have difficulty with the color selections.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on March 17, 2018, 08:54:22 AM
I do wish the software team would enable users of SmartSDR to customize colors. Some with vision issues have difficulty with the color selections.

The same is true for Icom.  The colors can be customized a little but not enough to really change the visual impact of the display.  Probably a cost issue for the developers who assume that the standard selections are good enough for the majority of users.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4KOE on March 17, 2018, 10:11:43 AM
Well, it seems the audio cutout issue with the Maestro's has been solved. I own a 6300/Maestro. Like any product, it has warts but works. Call me a pragmatist but definitely not a Kool-Aid drinker.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KZ1F on March 22, 2018, 07:48:12 AM
There is one review for the 6400 and it is not all that good so now I'm beginning to wonder.  If Flex really did start shipping these rigs at the beginning of February, where are all of the reviews? 
"Conclusion: You must be a patient person to use Flex products. Software is ever changing and requires time to develop. This radio is an absolute keeper! To me the bottom line of any transceiver is the receiver and transmitter performance...The 6400 is TOP NOTCH! I can wait for the enhancements and remember the key to Flex products...they keep getting better with each software release."

I understand the goodness aspect and I am sure that the Flex 6400 is a good rig but I am not patient, and I don't want to be hostage to a companies software releases to make my rig do what it should have done out of the box.  It's like they make you a beta tester.  That's OK if you have the disposition for that sort of thing, I sure don't. ;D

I think your conclusion is spot on. One does have to be patient. From a purely technical perspective the radios are really good. Being an SDR the pudding, so to speak, is in the software. This is where they become more problematic. Although, specifically the 6600M seems to be having QC issues. One new owner received a dud, it was sent back and replaced with another dud. Others have worked fine out of the box. Software has been an issue plaguing them since the 6000s came out. The advantage of the FRS philosophy is they ship early, before the radio is fully cooked. Consequently, the user experiences new functionality over the course of it's life (version 1 is functionally complete and the 6300/6500 are out of production). The downside of constantly adding new features is there are always new bugs created and others regressed. If one compares the UX of the 6000 series to, say, TS-990s or ic-7610 the flex UX is that of very early Windows programs. I am completely impressed with the 990s front panel. I wouldn't own one though. Consider too, the 6600M has 4 slices (VFOs) of which only 2 are visible on the front panel.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W1BG on April 08, 2018, 06:20:07 PM
At this point it would be very helpful for the Sherwood Report to come out on these new Flex radios to either confirm they're good as some claim or else to help silence all the dang bloviating about them. I got frustrated with mine (6600M) and returned it while I could still get a full refund. In their defense, the check for the full amount came quickly, sooner than the 10 days I was told to expect.  I ended up getting a 7610 and am sure glad I did.

73 - Bill
 W1BG


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 09, 2018, 01:07:08 AM
At this point it would be very helpful for the Sherwood Report to come out on these new Flex radios to either confirm they're good as some claim or else to help silence all the dang bloviating about them. I got frustrated with mine (6600M) and returned it while I could still get a full refund. In their defense, the check for the full amount came quickly, sooner than the 10 days I was told to expect.  I ended up getting a 7610 and am sure glad I did.

73 - Bill
 W1BG

The Sherwood test numbers are all about strong signal handling capability. If you're a contester with stacked monobanders at 130 feet, they are important. If you're a casual operator with a dipole at 6 feet, they are almost meaningless.

For the vast majority of operators, any receiver produced after 1960 will hear as well as anything on the top of the Sherwood list.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on April 09, 2018, 05:23:18 AM
If you're a contester with stacked monobanders at 130 feet, they are important. If you're a casual operator with a dipole at 6 feet, they are almost meaningless.

For the vast majority of operators, any receiver produced after 1960 will hear as well as anything on the top of the Sherwood list.
So if I'm trying to complete a casual qso with a weak dx station using my 100W and dipole and a strong signal opens up 2KHz below me and my receiver just crumbles, that's NOT an issue for me?

Sorry, I'm not buying that Rob Sherwood's testing isn't of general significance to average operators.

73 - Barry N1EU


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 09, 2018, 10:36:45 AM
If you're a contester with stacked monobanders at 130 feet, they are important. If you're a casual operator with a dipole at 6 feet, they are almost meaningless.

For the vast majority of operators, any receiver produced after 1960 will hear as well as anything on the top of the Sherwood list.
So if I'm trying to complete a casual qso with a weak dx station using my 100W and dipole and a strong signal opens up 2KHz below me and my receiver just crumbles, that's NOT an issue for me?

Sorry, I'm not buying that Rob Sherwood's testing isn't of general significance to average operators.

73 - Barry N1EU

Having operated in the 60's we would do what we have always done, QSY to a quieter spot away from the QRM.  I can assure you that no matter what receiver you are running a really strong signal 2 KHZ away is going to cause problems unless you are operating CW. ;)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K7JQ on April 09, 2018, 01:50:46 PM
If you're a contester with stacked monobanders at 130 feet, they are important. If you're a casual operator with a dipole at 6 feet, they are almost meaningless.

For the vast majority of operators, any receiver produced after 1960 will hear as well as anything on the top of the Sherwood list.
So if I'm trying to complete a casual qso with a weak dx station using my 100W and dipole and a strong signal opens up 2KHz below me and my receiver just crumbles, that's NOT an issue for me?

Sorry, I'm not buying that Rob Sherwood's testing isn't of general significance to average operators.

73 - Barry N1EU

Having operated in the 60's we would do what we have always done, QSY to a quieter spot away from the QRM.  I can assure you that no matter what receiver you are running a really strong signal 2 KHZ away is going to cause problems unless you are operating CW. ;)


I have to agree with DPO. I've yet to see a receiver that will brick wall a strong 3 KHz (+ on peaks) wide SSB signal that's 2 KHz next to you. CW?...different story. Try a major SSB contest...bonkers. You can only filter so much before the desired signal is unintelligible. Not to say that Sherwood numbers aren't beneficial, but sometimes they're just splitting hairs in the real world.

73,   Bob K7JQ 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 09, 2018, 07:40:53 PM
So if I'm trying to complete a casual qso with a weak dx station using my 100W and dipole and a strong signal opens up 2KHz below me and my receiver just crumbles, that's NOT an issue for me?

Sorry, I'm not buying that Rob Sherwood's testing isn't of general significance to average operators.

73 - Barry N1EU

For interference from 3rd order IMD products, you need two (or more) strong signals opening up. And the two signals have to be spaced so that one of the IMD products falls in your passband (for example, one 2 kHz away and the other 4 kHz away). If you're using a narrow CW filter, the spacing has to be fairly precise.

You end up with some probability function of this happening. During a contest, the probability is high. During a typical operating session, the probability will be low.

The probability is further modified by station performance. If the Internet is a good judge (maybe not), the average station is using a vertical, G5RV or an EFHW. Not exactly the highest performance antennas.

Finally, most small stations are using digital modes like FT8 where most folks (not all) are running low power and there really aren't huge interfering signals.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: JBIRD on April 11, 2018, 09:33:27 AM
In the spirit of the thread title, I'll post my impressions.

Background - I'm not a contester, I enjoy interesting dx and special event stations. I'm learning cw. I've been a ham for a little over two years. My (now) back up rig is an ftdx3000 with an sdrplay to console v3 with omnirig for cat. My new radio (a couple of weeks now) is the 6600 and a 17" laptop running ssdr, slice master, hrd and frstack.

I added the panadapter action to the 3000 within a month of getting that rig. Seeing the signals in addition to hearing them is major. The reason for interest in an sdr radio stems from that use with the 3000. The flex attracted me as you can have multiple panadapters to audit several bands at once and I'm not relegated to the shack (like to operate in the living room when with the xyl, on the back porch, back yard under the shady tree etc). The easy lan hook up is nice.

My main concern was (is a little still) that the radio is a computer and computers seem to have problems from time to time. My laptop is newer so couldn't run win 7 as drivers weren't available for some of the components. Running win 10 pro.......

Impressions:

After a few hours of operating and getting things set up as I like, I'm glad I bought the rig. I did have to put a wifi extender in service and using it to create a subnet with only the rig and the laptop on it. Only go through the comcrap router/modem to lookup calls etc., working solid.

Favorably impressed with the noise and qrm mitigation features and how they're invoked. I used the tracking notch filter on an slightly overlapping signal last night working south america. Easy to apply and effective, didn't really need to use bandpass reduction or shifting. I also use the tnf's as markers on frequencies in use (can tell when a new signal pops up on a crowded band).

Qso reports of good audio; I'm using a logitech gaming wireless headset. So won't need a high end headset......gotta save a buck somewhere..... ;-).

I have 3 panadapters on the main screen for 80, 40 and 20 and using the 4th in a separate window to see what's happening on 17, 15 etc. If nothing going on on the upper bands, will break 80 in half over two panadapters if I'm working 80.

With the convenience of lan operation, I able to be on the bands a lot more. I'll have the laptop setup in the living room while watching tv and can keep an eye on things. If I see something interesting (fairly easy to see someone calling cq), I can check it out.

I wouldn't recommend this system to someone starting out but for someone with hf experience, I would recommend it. It can be a little daunting at first otherwise.

I'll be retiring in a few months and will likely move to Northern Fl (SW Fl now). Running barefoot  usually 75w or qrp. May look at a 4-500w amp down the road. I'll have a better location for antennas as I'm using the dipole mystery antenna at 25' inv V now. Will probably stay with that mounted higher, add a vertical and receiving antenna.

I'll be happy to answer questions if any.

73

Jim



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 15, 2018, 09:25:27 AM
Looks like they have really lowered the price on the Flex 6400M.  I checked their website a couple of days ago and it said " Your price, $300.00"  Sweet, only three skins for knobbed SDR.

In reality, by the time you add an internal tuner and a few niceties the price is about $3500.00 out the door which is competitive with the IC-7610, but is it really?  I am not convinced that one S unit of RMDR (claimed) over the competition is worth all of the stuff you don't get.  I don't see the 6400M competing with the IC-7610, I see it as competing with the IC-7300. 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on April 15, 2018, 11:05:03 AM
....  I don't see the 6400M competing with the IC-7610, I see it as competing with the IC-7300. 

Oh, I agree with you, but you're probably going to open up a major hailstorm of opinions with that.  But it's true that the 6400 has only one receiver, while the 6600 has two.  So your comparison is technically valid.  The 7300 and 6400 are similar in that they have a single receiver front end, while the 7610 and 6600 have two.  Never mind how many sub-bands or "slices" the DSP splits it into...  the 7610 and 6600 can have two separate and independent receive preselectors operating at the same time...

As far as comments on Rob Sherwood's results go, I find it a relevant to know what the receiver will do when a big signal comes on a band.  But the odds of it being very near to my frequency are randomly low however, unless we happen just by chance to be chasing the exact same DX or contester at the same time.  Other than that, it makes no sense to me to dwell on the radio's 2 kHz dynamic range.  I would however, want to know the 20 kHz or maybe 100 kHz dynamic range because that reflects my more likely scenario.

Why hasn't Sherwood (or QST) shown any test data in his table yet for the 6400 or 6600?   My guess is that he has tested them already, and the results were perhaps not as good as hoped so maybe Flex is fixing something.  I say this because he already had test results for the IC-7610 less than a month of it coming onto the US market.  The published test results of all these new radios are highly anticipated, and are becoming highly controversial these days, so they need to be carefully presented, or the wrath of brand devotees will be unbearable for him.

73, Ed




Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 15, 2018, 11:34:38 AM
I say this because he already had test results for the IC-7610 less than a month of it coming onto the US market.

That's because he bought an IC-7610 for himself. For other rigs, someone has to provide a test sample to him.

If you subscribe to the IC-7610 or IC-7300 group, you'll see plenty of e-mails from NC0B. He seems pretty open about his findings and I would never attribute any funny business to him. He is not a Flex fan.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K5FM on April 15, 2018, 11:40:26 AM
How's this for a screen presentation:

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GHotuKUr2yo/WqZ5MsE5GdI/AAAAAAAAEKw/z1r9_v27gQMOCMsZ3ygJK1A-PWRUE--MQCLcBGAs/s1600/2DX.jpg)

Just my lowly old F6300 doing what it does best - working DX.



Very nice John !

Bob
K6UJ



I have owned the IC7300 and IC7600 in conjunction with my Flex 6500. The Icom displays are tiny with dismal resolution, I can expand the  Flex panadapter and separate CW stations that are only 20HZ apart. Anyone that cannot see that the Flex display is in  a different universe needs to quit spending money on radios and pay for a eye exam.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on April 15, 2018, 11:59:06 AM
9M0W and 3D2EU are 60 Hz apart (not 20 as you said), according to the scale in AE5X's screen grab above.

Anyway, the IC-7300 and 7610 can both scan this same 5 kHz sweep bandwidth as well, at 30 frames per second.  The 7300 has 10.4 Hz per pixel, the 7610 has 6.25 Hz per pixel, so no problem to see this same presentation.

And your point is.....?

73, Ed


disclaimer...  I own several different brands of HF radios, so I am not stuck on any particular brand.  I own none of the radios mentioned here, but I might someday.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: VE3WGO on April 15, 2018, 02:02:35 PM
I get it... the Flex 6400 spec sheet says it can expand the display sweep to 5 KHz with 5.85 Hz resolution; the 6600 can sweep down to 1.4 kHz to show 1.6 Hz resolution.   No specs listed in the Flex website for display signal resolution of the previous 6300/6500/6700 generation.

IC-7610 has 6.25 Hz resolution.

Human ears can just barely detect a 4 Hz difference at a CW tone of 700 Hz (0.6% commonly stated), so maybe it doesn't matter so much.  Both tones would be inside a 25 Hz bandpass filter anyway, so there are limits to what really matters.

If we need to split hairs, the new Flex radios will help, but we might not be able to hear the difference that the radio can display.

73, Ed


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KX2T on April 15, 2018, 04:49:19 PM
I think the differences between the Flex and the Icom SDR radio's is the UI user interface, some like point and click mouse and full computer control and some like knob style radio's but it all depends on what your own personal preferences are. The IC7300 brought about one thing to the SDR market which is a huge yake up call to all the rest of the manufactures out there and that is SDR radio's will sell and disrupt what used to be a close horse race, now you see the SDR rigs leading the charge. Flex had a huge part of bringing SDR technology to our market but when Icom brought out the 7300 it totally blew away even Icom's expectations and forced Flex to bring out knob styled versions of there black box radio's.
The problem still exists that the UI on the Flex knob style rigs is not as smooth or as sex as what I com has been delivering for many many years which is very easy to use user interface, they have had decades of refining this and making it very easy for almost anyone to just turn on and play radio plus most don't even open up there manuals cause when you look at the radio forums on the net you see newbies always asking questions instead of RTFM (reading the frigging manual) but with Flex you have to sit down and really read it and for most that is too time consuming.
There still seems to be that continental divide between Flex and knob styled radio's, Flex was hopping to meet that need but from what I have been hearing they still have the UI problem which still makes there radio's more fun for computer style geeks plus if you want remote control that is another area that Flex kills it but to be honest for me I want a good performing radio and when I play radio I want to be in front of it but that is me.
The other area is the big screen fish finder which Icom made useful even back when the introduced the IC781 but modern day Icom's have still have a very nice display, Flex uses your computer in there newer designs which makes the computer a useful tool in bringing you an excellent Fish finder experience but here again this is a side feature to me but if that is more important to you the Flex display is very very detailed as far as the spectrum display, remind those again it a spectrum display NOT a Spectrum Analyzer.
This has been a pet peeve since Icom first introduced any form of live spectrum display, and I feel that most RF technically orientated folks will agree neither radio has a $1500 to $2000 spectrum analyzer built into your $2K-$4K radio, anyone thinking its anywhere close to being a stand alone spectrum analyzer like ones that are calibrated test instruments should re think that one.
The funny thing here mentioned above is Rob Sherwoods list, that has taken that man years of dedicated time to develop but if you go to DJ0IP's site you see more of the Lab tests and user test drives by Rob himself, these are far more interesting than the RX table plus give you more meat and potato's with some gravy on top lab numbers beside just the 3Rd order numbers, his own personal comments on how he found the radio to operate as well. If you also go to his site and read the different posts about what seem to be important in today's rigs you will find that there are at least 20 very good radio's on his RX list which will work extremely well at any QTH and more than a few that are south of the $1500 budget mark. I find his in depth personal lab and user reviews very helpful and chock full of info.
Bottom Line is both of these companies are forward thinking but IMO the Flex UI has to be improved a wee bit, Icom has the UI fine tuned they have been doing that since the first IC781 hit the streets.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on April 16, 2018, 09:17:08 AM
I’ve been traveling for weeks, returning a few days ago (just before the big snow storm), and have operated my main QTH’s Flex-6600M with Flex-PGXL amp from a handful of different states.

Operated remote from my hotel in Chicago Illinois.

Operated from several locations in Arizona.

Ran QSO's between meetings in Omaha Nebraska.

One morning I was checking the bands while on the treadmill in a fitness room in Iowa, again by remote to my home station. (That was from an iPhone running SmartSDR for iOS).

I can do all of this easily with my FlexRadio System gear.

And to be certain, I am sure I was one a many - many - operators remoting.

While stuck inside during the big snow storm, I was running QSO's using "SmartSDR for iOS" from an iPad.  The reports I got from stations like VP9KK with his 59+20 & crystal-clear audio with nothing more than an iPad for my station's GUI, Microphone and Speakers, was frosting on the cake.

Did in all this remoting were their glitches?  Yeah - flaky internet connections mostly.  But I still made contacts!

It is a neat state of the hobby where with a handful of gear one can remote, and among the easily remotable gear the FRS Flex-6000 serieshardware & SmartSDR software sure make it easy.

I'm appreciative of being on the air remotely, rather than being off-air for three weeks just because I was on the move.

YMMV, and there are a lot of great radios out there, and as long as you have fun it's worth while regardless!  I know I had fun because my FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M, PowerGenius XL Amp, and SmartSDR/SmartLink software all played well.  

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 16, 2018, 09:35:41 AM
I’ve been traveling for weeks, returning a few days ago (just before the big snow storm), and have operated my main QTH’s Flex-6600M with Flex-PGXL amp from a handful of different states.

Operated remote from my hotel in Chicago Illinois.

Operated from several locations in Arizona.

Ran QSO's between meetings in Omaha Nebraska.

One morning I was checking the bands while on the treadmill in a fitness room in Iowa, again by remote to my home station. (That was from an iPhone running SmartSDR for iOS).

I can do all of this easily with my FlexRadio System gear.

And to be certain, I am sure I was one a many - many - operators remoting.

While stuck inside during the big snow storm, I was running QSO's using "SmartSDR for iOS" from an iPad.  The reports I got from stations like VP9KK with his 59+20 & crystal-clear audio with nothing more than an iPad for my station's GUI, Microphone and Speakers, was frosting on the cake.

Did in all this remoting were their glitches?  Yeah - flaky internet connections mostly.  But I still made contacts!

It is a neat state of the hobby where with a handful of gear one can remote, and among the easily remotable gear the FRS Flex-6000 serieshardware & SmartSDR software sure make it easy.

I'm appreciative of being on the air remotely, rather than being off-air for three weeks just because I was on the move.

YMMV, and there are a lot of great radios out there, and as long as you have fun it's worth while regardless!  I know I had fun because my FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M, PowerGenius XL Amp, and SmartSDR/SmartLink software all played well.  

73

Steve
K9ZW

That's cool Steve but you do know that you can remotely operate a whole bunch of the newer radios with a simple internet connection.  The main thing is that you had fun doing it, that's what counts.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on April 16, 2018, 12:19:00 PM

It is a neat state of the hobby where with a handful of gear one can remote, and among the easily remotable gear the FRS Flex-6000 series hardware & SmartSDR software sure make it easy.



That's cool Steve but you do know that you can remotely operate a whole bunch of the newer radios with a simple internet connection.  The main thing is that you had fun doing it, that's what counts.

Think we all know there are ways to remote several radios, and I kind of sort of thought had that clearly covered.

Lots of nice stuff out there, and I can first hand report the plug-n-play of the FlexRadio System works for me - DX heard & worked. 

As for some detail, the new FRS PGXL Amp works great!  Being able to control it remotely was a real boon.

The FlexRadio Systems option sure makes remote easy?

73

Steve
K9ZW



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 17, 2018, 10:35:44 AM
Still have not seen anything from Sherwood or ARRL on the 6400 or the 6600.  I am more interested in the M models since they are supposed to operate stand alone without any computer assist.  The manufacturer specs are good but realistically not better enough to warrant additional cost for casual hamming since most of the top 15 or 20 rigs on the Sherwood Engineering site are practically brick wall anyway under normal conditions. 

I guess the little Elecraft rig is the one to beat for weak signal work, I don't think any other radio can touch it right now.  The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.
I am also hoping that at some point the ARRL, or someone, will chime in with an article about eye candy and at what point does it become overkill (like it hasn't already).  Seems like all of the SDR folks are far more concerned about the display than the actual radio performance.  I don't know about you but the only time I ever worked anyone on a screen was either RTTY or PSK, aside from those modes the display is actually kind of useless.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W1PJE on April 17, 2018, 03:18:00 PM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 17, 2018, 08:32:48 PM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window so the noise is somewhat band limited which gives an improved signal to noise ratio.  Also, the analog input is continuous while the Direct Digital Sample is granular.  There is some signal resolution lost in the granularity.

A direct sampling front end works at some sample rate.  Each sample is a stream of bits that first are subjected to several statistical algorithms that determine what is signal and what is noise.  Only problem is that in very high noise conditions some noise gets through as signal and some signal gets canned as noise.  This happens more when there is high amplitude Gaussian noise like we encounter on the lower bands and very low signal levels.  Software is good but it can't quite replicate an analog and that is why the Elecraft is so good at digging out the weak ones.  Remember, there is no granularity in an analog signal.

 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AC7CW on April 18, 2018, 08:20:09 AM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window

SDR radios can be, and often are, equipped with analog band filters. For that matter we can use a high-Q magloop antenna and have very narrow filtering ahead of the first RF stage of any radio. And yes, SDR's do have RF amplifiers even though some have tried to tell me that "direct sampling" means "no RF amplifier".


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on April 18, 2018, 08:27:14 AM
Software is good but it can't quite replicate an analog and that is why the Elecraft is so good at digging out the weak ones.  Remember, there is no granularity in an analog signal.

I had a K3S, Flex 6500 and ANAN-100D in the shack at the same time for a couple of years and operated/compared them under a variety of conditions.  The Flex and ANAN gave up nothing to the Elecraft in terms of digging out the weak ones, whether the band was noisy or quiet.  The were very different animals, but they all had superb receivers in that regard. 

73, Barry N1EU


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W1PJE on April 18, 2018, 09:07:17 AM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window

SDR radios can be, and often are, equipped with analog band filters. For that matter we can use a high-Q magloop antenna and have very narrow filtering ahead of the first RF stage of any radio. And yes, SDR's do have RF amplifiers even though some have tried to tell me that "direct sampling" means "no RF amplifier".

I agree with all these points.  Any good radio based on digital sampling must deal with using a RF preselector = bandpass filter in its pre-sampling stage, whether in hardware (antenna response) or in an analog filter, etc.  To do otherwise would risk violating the Nyquist criterion by inviting frequency aliasing of an out-of-band signal into an apparent lower frequency.  This is part of the design when one chooses a target bandwidth for the final digitally demodulated signal.

So in this case, saying that the analog front end looks at a 'narrower bandwidth' is comparing apples to oranges.  A proper comparison would use the same target bandwidth for both designs and in that case, you could directly compare analog with digital designs in terms of performance (where you examine other things like linearity and quantization noise - although that is getting much better thanks to modern relatively high bit count ADCs.)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 18, 2018, 09:49:04 AM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window

SDR radios can be, and often are, equipped with analog band filters. For that matter we can use a high-Q magloop antenna and have very narrow filtering ahead of the first RF stage of any radio. And yes, SDR's do have RF amplifiers even though some have tried to tell me that "direct sampling" means "no RF amplifier".

I agree with all these points.  Any good radio based on digital sampling must deal with using a RF preselector = bandpass filter in its pre-sampling stage, whether in hardware (antenna response) or in an analog filter, etc.  To do otherwise would risk violating the Nyquist criterion by inviting frequency aliasing of an out-of-band signal into an apparent lower frequency.  This is part of the design when one chooses a target bandwidth for the final digitally demodulated signal.

So in this case, saying that the analog front end looks at a 'narrower bandwidth' is comparing apples to oranges.  A proper comparison would use the same target bandwidth for both designs and in that case, you could directly compare analog with digital designs in terms of performance (where you examine other things like linearity and quantization noise - although that is getting much better thanks to modern relatively high bit count ADCs.)

You are correct about equal front end selectivity, I should have stated that as a condition.  Still, even though sample rates are much higher than they used to be, the quantized samples are still a series of snapshots in time and can't replicate an analog signal one hundred percent.  I am still convinced that for signals that are only a couple of db above the noise floor that an analog front end followed by DSP can recover those signals better than a direct sampling system.  Keep in mind that I am talking about very weak CW and using headphones and a gray matter processor to decode.  I realize that in most cases, similar to that pointed out by N1EU, that they will all perform about equally but I suspect those were signals that could have been copied on a good many radios.  This has nothing to do with contests conditions, I'm not talking about weak signals in the presence of strong adjacent signals, I'm talking about very weak signals, almost in the noise, but otherwise unhampered by QRM.  That is where the difference can be seen.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W1PJE on April 18, 2018, 12:06:23 PM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window

SDR radios can be, and often are, equipped with analog band filters. For that matter we can use a high-Q magloop antenna and have very narrow filtering ahead of the first RF stage of any radio. And yes, SDR's do have RF amplifiers even though some have tried to tell me that "direct sampling" means "no RF amplifier".

I agree with all these points.  Any good radio based on digital sampling must deal with using a RF preselector = bandpass filter in its pre-sampling stage, whether in hardware (antenna response) or in an analog filter, etc.  To do otherwise would risk violating the Nyquist criterion by inviting frequency aliasing of an out-of-band signal into an apparent lower frequency.  This is part of the design when one chooses a target bandwidth for the final digitally demodulated signal.

So in this case, saying that the analog front end looks at a 'narrower bandwidth' is comparing apples to oranges.  A proper comparison would use the same target bandwidth for both designs and in that case, you could directly compare analog with digital designs in terms of performance (where you examine other things like linearity and quantization noise - although that is getting much better thanks to modern relatively high bit count ADCs.)

You are correct about equal front end selectivity, I should have stated that as a condition.  Still, even though sample rates are much higher than they used to be, the quantized samples are still a series of snapshots in time and can't replicate an analog signal one hundred percent.  I am still convinced that for signals that are only a couple of db above the noise floor that an analog front end followed by DSP can recover those signals better than a direct sampling system.  Keep in mind that I am talking about very weak CW and using headphones and a gray matter processor to decode.  I realize that in most cases, similar to that pointed out by N1EU, that they will all perform about equally but I suspect those were signals that could have been copied on a good many radios.  This has nothing to do with contests conditions, I'm not talking about weak signals in the presence of strong adjacent signals, I'm talking about very weak signals, almost in the noise, but otherwise unhampered by QRM.  That is where the difference can be seen.


Under the conditions that a human is applying their brain's pattern recognition to try and recover a coherent signal (CW) in the presence of non-coherent/random signals (noise), you certainly could be right.  We've now wandered into an area that is very very difficult to quantize since one would have to also consider the hearing of the individual, the fact that even with identical hearing not everyone perceives sound the same way, the expertise in hearing similar patterns previously, and on like that.  Analog could indeed be easier to deal with there for some, but perhaps not all, listeners.  (I suppose similar arguments can be made for vacuum tube amps vs. solid state amps when it comes to "fidelity", whatever that is.)

It's also the case that sampling rate and bit depth are interrelated in some ways.  Providing one has already bandwidth limited the incoming signal, oversampling it would change the number of samples in time before the amplitude changes 1 bit, so it does change the behavior of the digital signal a bit.  But quantization noise is still mostly driven by the bit depth and how much front-end gain is applied to the signal before you try to digitize it.

By the way, radio astronomers provide an interesting case: they deal with noise limited signals all the time and most times near the noise floor of the instrument.  They have been using 1 bit sampling - retaining only the sign of the signal - for decades.  This would seem to be a ridiculously extreme distortion decision - except that all the signal's shape characteristics are in the zero crossings or phase, and almost none of it is in the amplitude domain.  (They then go for max sampling rate at 1 bit.)  Also, in audio, when CD players were being refined, they made similar decisions to oversample but use 1-bit sampling.  Obviously there, audio purity is central to the listening experience, so they were careful to listen for high dynamic range near the noise floor.

So it can work either way - the subject is a complex one and interesting to think about.



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on April 18, 2018, 12:40:21 PM
Back to the Flex-6400/6600 there are quite a few Shack pictures being posted of the new radio:

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/show-us-your-flexradio-in-your-shack (https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/show-us-your-flexradio-in-your-shack)

Some good 6600M performances in contests:

Contesting with a 6600M in the CQ WW WPX at VP5P - https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/contesting-with-a-6600m-in-the-cq-ww-wpx-at-vp5p (https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/contesting-with-a-6600m-in-the-cq-ww-wpx-at-vp5p)

and another good show:

Feb 2018 NAQP RTTY doing well with a barefoot Flex-6600M - https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/another-flex-contest-win (https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/another-flex-contest-win)

73

Steve
K9ZW



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: SP5QIP on April 18, 2018, 12:44:36 PM
It's not radio doing good score. It is location, antennas and operator.
Mike


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AC7CW on April 18, 2018, 03:28:47 PM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Sure.  The analog front end looks at a narrower window

SDR radios can be, and often are, equipped with analog band filters. For that matter we can use a high-Q magloop antenna and have very narrow filtering ahead of the first RF stage of any radio. And yes, SDR's do have RF amplifiers even though some have tried to tell me that "direct sampling" means "no RF amplifier".

I agree with all these points.  Any good radio based on digital sampling must deal with using a RF preselector = bandpass filter in its pre-sampling stage, whether in hardware (antenna response) or in an analog filter, etc.  To do otherwise would risk violating the Nyquist criterion by inviting frequency aliasing of an out-of-band signal into an apparent lower frequency.  This is part of the design when one chooses a target bandwidth for the final digitally demodulated signal.

So in this case, saying that the analog front end looks at a 'narrower bandwidth' is comparing apples to oranges.  A proper comparison would use the same target bandwidth for both designs and in that case, you could directly compare analog with digital designs in terms of performance (where you examine other things like linearity and quantization noise - although that is getting much better thanks to modern relatively high bit count ADCs.)

I have an SDR that operates all the bands from 80-10. It, by design, has analog LC bandpass filters for each band. A dipole might actually serve as a narrow enough filter to prevent aliasing in some cases, I have to think about that...


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AC7CW on April 18, 2018, 03:30:23 PM
It's not radio doing good score. It is location, antennas and operator.
Mike

Try it without the radio some time :)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 20, 2018, 08:24:44 AM
Quote
The analog front end has an advantage over direct sampling in the high thermal noise on 160, 80, and 40.

Can you explain that in another way?  I'm having trouble understanding why high thermal noise favors an analog front end.

Go look at Sherwood's test data.  Look at receiver sensitivity with the preamp off, keep in mind that turning on the pre-amp in a DSR can have a serious impact on ADC performance on the lower bands where noise levels are high.  Ordinarily you would not want to use a preamp on the Flex, or any other SDR, below 20 meters and even 20 can be a problem if the noise floor is high.

Now you might begin to see where the Elecraft can hear extremely weak CW signals on 160 and 80 that the SDR cant dig out.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1EU on April 20, 2018, 08:34:24 AM
Now you might begin to see where the Elecraft can hear extremely weak CW signals on 160 and 80 that the SDR cant dig out.

As I said previously in this thread, I did the comparisons.  Real life, in my shack, not in theory and the K3s did NOT hear extremely weak CW signals better on 160 and 80 than a Flex 6500 or ANAN-100D, using a variety of receive antennas.  There was no perceivable difference in performance in pulling weak signals out from noise between the 3 receivers.

Barry N1EU


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 20, 2018, 09:43:07 AM
Go look at Sherwood's test data.  Look at receiver sensitivity with the preamp off, keep in mind that turning on the pre-amp in a SDR can have a serious impact on ADC performance on the lower bands where noise levels are high.  Ordinarily you would not want to use a preamp on the Flex, or any other SDR, below 20 meters and even 20 can be a problem if the noise floor is high.

Now you might begin to see where the Elecraft can hear extremely weak CW signals on 160 and 80 that the SDR cant dig out.

Receiver sensitivity is a non-issue on 160 and 80 meters. Even a Hammarlund HQ-129X has enough sensitively for the low bands.

(http://www.w6rz.net/bandnoise.png)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 20, 2018, 02:48:25 PM
Go look at Sherwood's test data.  Look at receiver sensitivity with the preamp off, keep in mind that turning on the pre-amp in a SDR can have a serious impact on ADC performance on the lower bands where noise levels are high.  Ordinarily you would not want to use a preamp on the Flex, or any other SDR, below 20 meters and even 20 can be a problem if the noise floor is high.

Now you might begin to see where the Elecraft can hear extremely weak CW signals on 160 and 80 that the SDR cant dig out.

Receiver sensitivity is a non-issue on 160 and 80 meters. Even a Hammarlund HQ-129X has enough sensitively for the low bands.

(http://www.w6rz.net/bandnoise.png)

But without the selectivity to band limit the noise it's just a boat anchor.  And that is exactly my point.

So still have not seen a review of the 6600 or 6400 on Sherwoods site, particularly the M Models.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 20, 2018, 11:29:13 PM
But without the selectivity to band limit the noise it's just a boat anchor.  And that is exactly my point.

So still have not seen a review of the 6600 or 6400 on Sherwoods site, particularly the M Models.

You mean front end RF selectivity? The HQ-129X has a tunable pre-selector. It's very possible it has more RF selectivity on 80 meters than a K3. But it's a moot point. RF selectivity has no effect on noise.

As for the Sherwood numbers, it's pretty easy to make a prediction. The new Flex radios will test just fine.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 21, 2018, 09:35:38 AM
But without the selectivity to band limit the noise it's just a boat anchor.  And that is exactly my point.

So still have not seen a review of the 6600 or 6400 on Sherwoods site, particularly the M Models.

You mean front end RF selectivity? The HQ-129X has a tunable pre-selector. It's very possible it has more RF selectivity on 80 meters than a K3. But it's a moot point. RF selectivity has no effect on noise.

As for the Sherwood numbers, it's pretty easy to make a prediction. The new Flex radios will test just fine.

I don't know where you got that idea?  Front end selectivity has everything to do with noise.  Band limiting the front end noise is what establishes the signal to noise ratio for the receiving system and I don't care if it is analog or digital.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 21, 2018, 05:39:46 PM
I don't know where you got that idea?  Front end selectivity has everything to do with noise.  Band limiting the front end noise is what establishes the signal to noise ratio for the receiving system and I don't care if it is analog or digital.

It seems we have a terminology problem and are not on the same page. Yes, the bandwidth right before the modulation detection stage establishes the attainable signal to noise ratio for the receiving system. I agree with that 100%.

My terminology for that is "IF selectivity". I consider "RF selectivity" to be the bandwidth of the first stage of the radio. Either set with a pre-selector or more common these days, a band-pass filter.

Now let's recap your arguments that the K3 or K3S can "dig out" more signals than a direct sampling radio.

Quote from: KA4DPO
The analog front end looks at a narrower window so the noise is somewhat band limited which gives an improved signal to noise ratio.

Others thought you were talking about RF selectivity and chimed in that almost all radios have band-pass filters. In another post, you agree with those comments. So that's not a factor.

Quote from: KA4DPO
Also, the analog input is continuous while the Direct Digital Sample is granular. There is some signal resolution lost in the granularity.

The K3 has a DSP at 15 kHz. Therefore, there's an ADC running at a sample rate of 30 kHz in front of the DSP. Isn't that way more "granular" than a direct sampling ADC running at 128 MHz? I'm not seeing how that could be a factor.

Quote from: KA4DPO
A direct sampling front end works at some sample rate. Each sample is a stream of bits that first are subjected to several statistical algorithms that determine what is signal and what is noise. Only problem is that in very high noise conditions some noise gets through as signal and some signal gets canned as noise.

The first thing that happens in a direct sampling system is that a frequency range is selected with a digital down converter. Then the signal is decimated to a lower sample rate and bandpass filtered. It has to be. At the high samples rates of direct samplng (128 Msps), there's no CPU powerful enough to do much processing. Even a big 4 GHz x86 processor can only do 30 single clock instructions per sample.

Flex may have some wideband noise reduction algorithm with their giant FPGA (most likely after decimation to 14 Msps), but the typical direct sampling receiver only does optional noise reduction much later in the receiver chain. I'm not seeing how that could be a factor since it doesn't make any sense.

Sorry, but your arguments are weak sauce. N1EU's posts stating that he can't see any difference between the K3, Flex 6500 and ANAN-100D are infinitely more believable.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on April 21, 2018, 08:19:03 PM
The signal to noise ratio of a radio receiver is established in the very first stage of the receiving system.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on April 21, 2018, 10:29:48 PM
The signal to noise ratio of a radio receiver is established in the very first stage of the receiving system.

For a given IF bandwidth, yes. But that doesn't advance your argument.

The MDS of the K3S is -135 dBm. The IC-7300 is at -133 and IC-7610 is at -132. The Flex 6700 is at -118 dBm.

But the noise level on 80 meters never gets below -110 dBm. All of the receivers will be swamped with band noise and their effective sensitivity will be exactly the same, -110 dBm. That's why I said an HQ-129X has enough sensitivity on 80 meters.

So what makes the K3S more capable that the others? It seems you're telling us that it's magic.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on April 23, 2018, 10:43:21 AM
Since the title of this thread is Flex-6600 New User Reports/Impressions, here are mine...

This Saturday I drove down to the DX Convention in Visalia specifically to see the Flex-6600M. I got there early enough to beat the crowds and have around 45 minutes of hands-on time with the rig.

My first impression is this rig is much bigger than my 6500/6700. That's not surprising given that the display, knobs, and buttons have to go somewhere. The front panel seems logically laid out with the controls mostly grouped by function and by which slice (A or B) they're associated with. There are no connectors for phones, a mic, or a key on the front panel--all of these are located on the back panel. The back panel XLR connector for a mic is missing in action on the 6600M. It was replaced by a 1/4" TRS jack, which is a shame because anyone (like me) with a 6500 or 6700 who used the XLR input will now have to buy an adapter or a new cable. There's plenty of room on the back panel for an XLR connector and I can only surmise that they eliminated it to either save money or because the XLR connector requires an additional manufacturing step.

The display is, of course, touch sensitive and responds to simple touches and gestures (pinch and spread) that were made popular by smart phones like the iPhone. The screen layout is a near clone of SmartSDR running on a PC with some changes made to accommodate a much smaller display area. The touch interface was responsive without any noticeable lag. On-screen menus are basically monochrome, and it's here that I think Flex can improve on the look of the menus with better use of color.

The buttons and knobs are typical for modern ham rigs--injection molded plastic with molded-in ridges to add some tactile feel. All of the knobs, except the main and sub VFO knobs, are concentric dual-function. These knobs all have some very noticeable lateral play, but this seems common to all recent rigs using these kinds of knobs, including the Icom-7610 and even the $14K IC-7851. These knobs just don't feel like they belong on a $5K rig. If I buy a 6600M I'll probably make a set of replacement knobs out of aluminum on a lathe.

The main VFO knob is large and has a dimple to permit quick spinning. The tuning feel of the 6600M was one area that disappointed me. The main VFO tuning is not "stiff" enough. I don't mean stiff in the sense that the knob spins too easily--I mean stiff in the sense that the display tracks the knob precisely and promptly. On the 6600M it feels like the VFO knob is connected to the frequency display through a big rubber band. There's a perceptible lag between turning the knob and display updates, especially when turning the know quickly back and forth. I do not notice this effect at all when tuning my 6500 using a FlexControl knob, for instance--that combination is pleasingly stiff.

Overall, the operation of the 6600M felt very similar to operating one of the older Flex-6000 series rigs, albeit with a much smaller screen and using fingers instead of a mouse as the main interface to the controls.

I wasn't able to get a good feel for the RF performance of the rig as they had it connected to a short piece of wire up on the roof that was split six ways to drive the six rigs they had on display. One of the Flex people manning the booth said the 6600 transmitter was 100% duty cycle key down indefinitely--I'm not sure I believe that statement as there's no mention of it in the manual or product brochure, and that's the kind of thing marketing types like to shout from the rooftops if it were true.

Overall I was more impressed by the 6600M than I was expecting to be. Ergonomically it feels very nice and responsive (except for the rubber band tuning). My recommendations to Flex: make the main tuning much stiffer, don't cheapen out on the knobs, and bring back the XLR mic connector. Was it worth a 500 mile round trip drive to see? Yes, I think so.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on April 23, 2018, 01:49:31 PM
Since the title of this thread is Flex-6600 New User Reports/Impressions, here are mine...

This Saturday I drove down to the DX Convention in Visalia specifically to see the Flex-6600M. I got there early enough to beat the crowds and have around 45 minutes of hands-on time with the rig.


Great report and thank you for sharing it!

The Flex-6600M and Flex-6400M front plate with knobs is basically a Maestro in a lot of ways.  The "knob feel" is basically the same between the devices and is different than the "knob feel" we've all experienced with legacy radios.  This perception is kind of the same with a FlexControl.  You made a worthwhile observation that is does feel different.

Not certain if you had a chance to try the RX from the raft of radios FlexRadio Systems had available to remotely operate from volunteers during the DX Convention? 

Again I think a lot of us appreciate your sharing your observations! 

73

Steve
K9ZW



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on April 23, 2018, 02:19:03 PM
Not certain if you had a chance to try the RX from the raft of radios FlexRadio Systems had available to remotely operate from volunteers during the DX Convention? 

No, I didn't have a chance. I drove down from the Bay Area and had to drive back in time for a concert that evening, so it was literally a hit-and-run trip just to get my hands on a real 6600M, even if it was only for a few minutes.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on April 24, 2018, 02:05:14 PM
The "knob feel" is basically the same between the devices and is different than the "knob feel" we've all experienced with legacy radios.  This perception is kind of the same with a FlexControl.

I've noticed that the "knob feel" on most modern radios has a distinct flimsy, insubstantial quality. This is in big contrast to older rigs--just compare the feel of the knobs on a recent rig to something like a Collins S-Line rig--the difference is like night and day. Some of this difference is down to cost (better knobs, switches, encoders, and pots cost more money) and some of it is down to availability. Companies like Flex, Elecraft, and Icom don't make these components--they source them from other companies--and the primary market for these components is often cheap consumer electronics where saving a few pennies on parts is more important than quality.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AC7CW on April 24, 2018, 02:30:58 PM
The "knob feel" is basically the same between the devices and is different than the "knob feel" we've all experienced with legacy radios.  This perception is kind of the same with a FlexControl.

I've noticed that the "knob feel" on most modern radios has a distinct flimsy, insubstantial quality. This is in big contrast to older rigs--just compare the feel of the knobs on a recent rig to something like a Collins S-Line rig--the difference is like night and day. Some of this difference is down to cost (better knobs, switches, encoders, and pots cost more money) and some of it is down to availability. Companies like Flex, Elecraft, and Icom don't make these components--they source them from other companies--and the primary market for these components is often cheap consumer electronics where saving a few pennies on parts is more important than quality.

I have melted lead into aluminum knobs to weight them. It makes a difference in the tactile feedback department: I can fine tune a signal better for a given tuning rate. The whole thing of changing the tuning rate to get from one signal to the next and then changing it again to get it tuned in sucks imo.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on April 24, 2018, 02:51:35 PM
The whole thing of changing the tuning rate to get from one signal to the next and then changing it again to get it tuned in sucks imo.

I like this feature. The real solution is to implement this feature in firmware and make it configurable so people who like it can turn it on and people who don't can turn it off.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AC7CW on April 24, 2018, 06:18:40 PM
The whole thing of changing the tuning rate to get from one signal to the next and then changing it again to get it tuned in sucks imo.

I like this feature. The real solution is to implement this feature in firmware and make it configurable so people who like it can turn it on and people who don't can turn it off.

I guess that essentially I was thinking about analog tuning but being able to select the mode would be fine.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on May 03, 2018, 03:13:50 PM
One user was complaining that the FLEX rigs have a harshness or raspiness to their audio,
almost similar to the "Amazon Rain Stick" toys.  Of course, that is ONE opinion.
And of course, we each have different hearing (mine, being a little poor, would filter such
annoying highs :-)  )

For users on this thread that "ACTUALLY HAVE THE RADIO", how do you find the audio after
a few hours of usage/listening?

Thanks,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6UV on May 03, 2018, 05:18:04 PM
For users on this thread that "ACTUALLY HAVE THE RADIO", how do you find the audio after
a few hours of usage/listening?

I have the Flex-6500 and -6700 and I don't notice this rain stick effect in the audio. I've operated phone and CW contests with these rigs for up to 12 hours at a time and don't find the audio fatiguing.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9ZW on May 04, 2018, 05:34:55 AM
One user was complaining that the FLEX rigs have a harshness or raspiness to their audio...

For users on this thread that "ACTUALLY HAVE THE RADIO", how do you find the audio after
a few hours of usage/listening?

Have been running two Flex-6700's since early on (the older is #11, in the first handful released outside of FlexRadio itself) with no problem.

To be certain there are enough built-in controls that someone someplace may adjust the output too far.

As the RX sensitivity is noteworthy, I imagine one could change settings to dig deeper and deeper, until it might not be great for long listening, but even running contests I've not found anything that rates a negative special mention.

I do have my Flex-6700 configured in many profiles (where you can store settings to allow you to later flip between "personalities") to reproduce the RX audio compensating for my personal hearing and preferences.  I would imagine to someone with "reference ears" the resulting audio is not accurate, but I'm communicating rather than playing HiFi.

If you are going to buy a new Flex, they do have a their return program where you have (I think 30 days) to try the rig in your shack.  Details would be on their website.

73

Steve
K9ZW


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on May 21, 2018, 05:16:52 PM
One user was complaining that the FLEX rigs have a harshness or raspiness to their audio...

For users on this thread that "ACTUALLY HAVE THE RADIO", how do you find the audio after
a few hours of usage/listening?

Have been running two Flex-6700's since early on (the older is #11, in the first handful released outside of FlexRadio itself) with no problem.

To be certain there are enough built-in controls that someone someplace may adjust the output too far.

As the RX sensitivity is noteworthy, I imagine one could change settings to dig deeper and deeper, until it might not be great for long listening, but even running contests I've not found anything that rates a negative special mention.

I do have my Flex-6700 configured in many profiles (where you can store settings to allow you to later flip between "personalities") to reproduce the RX audio compensating for my personal hearing and preferences.  I would imagine to someone with "reference ears" the resulting audio is not accurate, but I'm communicating rather than playing HiFi.

If you are going to buy a new Flex, they do have a their return program where you have (I think 30 days) to try the rig in your shack.  Details would be on their website.

73

Steve
K9ZW

With the feedback in this thread, and meeting in-person with Flex owners, I decided to take Steve's advice and try one.
As of mid-May, they are caught up with backlog, and radios are in stock.  Mine should ship tomorrow.
The best way to see if I like it is to try it...

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on May 22, 2018, 07:29:01 AM
One user was complaining that the FLEX rigs have a harshness or raspiness to their audio...

For users on this thread that "ACTUALLY HAVE THE RADIO", how do you find the audio after
a few hours of usage/listening?

Have been running two Flex-6700's since early on (the older is #11, in the first handful released outside of FlexRadio itself) with no problem.

To be certain there are enough built-in controls that someone someplace may adjust the output too far.

As the RX sensitivity is noteworthy, I imagine one could change settings to dig deeper and deeper, until it might not be great for long listening, but even running contests I've not found anything that rates a negative special mention.

I do have my Flex-6700 configured in many profiles (where you can store settings to allow you to later flip between "personalities") to reproduce the RX audio compensating for my personal hearing and preferences.  I would imagine to someone with "reference ears" the resulting audio is not accurate, but I'm communicating rather than playing HiFi.

If you are going to buy a new Flex, they do have a their return program where you have (I think 30 days) to try the rig in your shack.  Details would be on their website.

73

Steve
K9ZW

With the feedback in this thread, and meeting in-person with Flex owners, I decided to take Steve's advice and try one.
As of mid-May, they are caught up with backlog, and radios are in stock.  Mine should ship tomorrow.
The best way to see if I like it is to try it...

Cheers,

Neal

That is true, try it and if you like it, keep it.  If you don't like it, send it back.  I have done that myself, it really is the best way to decide.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4KOE on May 29, 2018, 06:35:59 AM
I have a 6300. Read over the specs of the 6400.....keeping my 6300.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on May 29, 2018, 09:38:03 AM
I ordered the 6600 the day before Dayton Hamvention.   UPS email says it will be arriving this afternoon.
So it seems like they are taking approx 1 week to ship orders right now.

I expect with the learning curve, it will take me until the weekend  (I am still a working fool) until I get it
all setup with my software and bench wiring.   By the weekend, I should be able to start exploring how it
does for me on SSB and digital modes.   [I did actually buy a morse code key a few years back, and sometimes
actually stare at it for a moment...   Maybe when I retire :-) ]

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 02, 2018, 11:36:35 PM
Reporting Back:

I finally got time to unpack the radio and connect it into my operating position.
This is my first few hours with Flex and SmartSDR, so I don't know much yet.
Initial observations;

+  The software install on the desk computer was trivial and simple.  Worked right away.

+  I used the quick-start sheet in the box to cable the radio, but did double-check the hardware reference
    manual for the line level speaker output to make sure I did not use the wrong cable and short it.
    It really took no time at all to hook the radio up.

+  When I powered up the radio, the computer software found it right away and it connected and worked.
    At this point, I had not read any instructions on SmartSDR, but proceeded to click on what seemed logical,
    and was listening to a number of SSB QSOs in short order and playing with controls and filters.

+  I set RF Power at 10 watts, picked a dead area of the band, and clicked TUNE;  my external Palstar HF-auto
    detected the RF, tuned right away, and showed the power level.   I next set RF power to 3 watts, and talked into the
    mic, while monitoring on my Icom 7300 with no antenna connected, and the transmitted audio sounded fine, even
    though I have not studied the profiles for TX and MIC.    It was fairly simple to find the EQ sliders for TX and RX.

+  Without reading the several hundred pages covering SmartSDR and Hardware Ref,  it was not obvious to me how
    to configure WSJT-X.  I posted an inquiry on the Flex forum seeking a short tutorial, and both Flex employees and
    other Flex users answered within the hour, even though this was dinner time on a Saturday.   Support and help seems
    more accessible and responsive than from Yaesu or Icom (I have an FT-DX3000 and an Icom 7300), but that is just
    my personal experience.

Short Summary:  I know nothing yet, but the rig appears to be working fine.   Tomorrow will start with the documentation
and also some of the YouTube videos.  I intend to get WSJT-X going in an hour or two after that.

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K9IUQ on June 03, 2018, 04:18:38 PM
Reporting Back:

+  Without reading the several hundred pages covering SmartSDR and Hardware Ref,  it was not obvious to me how
    to configure WSJT-X.  I posted an inquiry on the Flex forum seeking a short tutorial,

Cheers,

Neal


Get used to asking for help on how to do things with a Flexradio. Any other radio would have FT-8 running without begging for help. Let us face the truth, getting WSJT-X working correctly is not rocket science and any ham should be able to figure it out.

What I find hard to believe is you want to work FT-8 first after buying a multi high dollar Flexradio. ANY radio will work FT-8 fine , no multi $$K high dollar SDR Flexradio needed. A Flexradio is not going to make your FT-8 life easier, indeed it makes FT-8 harder to use.

I went to the Flexradio Community forum to read your posts and the replies. You are asking for help with a FT-8 setup??  Replies with Teamviewer, phone calls and youtube videos, all to run FT-8??? PATHETIC.....

I guess you need hand holding when you buy a Flexradio. LOTS of hand holding. Just do not piss off your Flexradio Lover peers on their Community forum. Show love and respect to all things Flexradio and someone will Teamview your computer and get FT-8 running for you.  Then you can come back to eHam and brag on how great your Flexradio is doing on FT-8... LMAO

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N0YXB on June 03, 2018, 07:51:17 PM
Reporting Back:

I finally got time to unpack the radio and connect it into my operating position.
This is my first few hours with Flex and SmartSDR, so I don't know much yet.
Initial observations;

+  The software install on the desk computer was trivial and simple.  Worked right away.

+  I used the quick-start sheet in the box to cable the radio, but did double-check the hardware reference
    manual for the line level speaker output to make sure I did not use the wrong cable and short it.
    It really took no time at all to hook the radio up.

+  When I powered up the radio, the computer software found it right away and it connected and worked.
    At this point, I had not read any instructions on SmartSDR, but proceeded to click on what seemed logical,
    and was listening to a number of SSB QSOs in short order and playing with controls and filters.

+  I set RF Power at 10 watts, picked a dead area of the band, and clicked TUNE;  my external Palstar HF-auto
    detected the RF, tuned right away, and showed the power level.   I next set RF power to 3 watts, and talked into the
    mic, while monitoring on my Icom 7300 with no antenna connected, and the transmitted audio sounded fine, even
    though I have not studied the profiles for TX and MIC.    It was fairly simple to find the EQ sliders for TX and RX.

+  Without reading the several hundred pages covering SmartSDR and Hardware Ref,  it was not obvious to me how
    to configure WSJT-X.  I posted an inquiry on the Flex forum seeking a short tutorial, and both Flex employees and
    other Flex users answered within the hour, even though this was dinner time on a Saturday.   Support and help seems
    more accessible and responsive than from Yaesu or Icom (I have an FT-DX3000 and an Icom 7300), but that is just
    my personal experience.

Short Summary:  I know nothing yet, but the rig appears to be working fine.   Tomorrow will start with the documentation
and also some of the YouTube videos.  I intend to get WSJT-X going in an hour or two after that.

Cheers,

Neal


Thanks for the interesting follow up. Hope you post more updates as you get more expereience with the rig.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 03, 2018, 09:04:37 PM
Reporting Back:

+  Without reading the several hundred pages covering SmartSDR and Hardware Ref,  it was not obvious to me how
    to configure WSJT-X.  I posted an inquiry on the Flex forum seeking a short tutorial,

Cheers,

Neal


Get used to asking for help on how to do things with a Flexradio. Any other radio would have FT-8 running without begging for help. Let us face the truth, getting WSJT-X working correctly is not rocket science and any ham should be able to figure it out.

What I find hard to believe is you want to work FT-8 first after buying a multi high dollar Flexradio. ANY radio will work FT-8 fine , no multi $$K high dollar SDR Flexradio needed. A Flexradio is not going to make your FT-8 life easier, indeed it makes FT-8 harder to use.

I went to the Flexradio Community forum to read your posts and the replies. You are asking for help with a FT-8 setup??  Replies with Teamviewer, phone calls and youtube videos, all to run FT-8??? PATHETIC.....

I guess you need hand holding when you buy a Flexradio. LOTS of hand holding. Just do not piss off your Flexradio Lover peers on their Community forum. Show love and respect to all things Flexradio and someone will Teamview your computer and get FT-8 running for you.  Then you can come back to eHam and brag on how great your Flexradio is doing on FT-8... LMAO

Stan K9IUQ

Hi Stan:

So sorry that you are still enraged over your prior situation.

I will run whatever mode I wish while testing out SSB, FT-8, RTTY, etc. on anew rig, in any order I wish.
Also, far from pathetic, the responses by Flex over the weekend were prompt and spot on,
which had me understanding the new SmartCAT TCP port mapping to Virtual COM port utility
that I had never used with another radio.  It works fine now.  The support was great.

So far, without reading the instructions, and with one support post for a question, I have a lot
of things figured out.   But, I really don't need to justify anything to anyone, or you :-)   Do I ?  :-)

Hope you have a happy evening.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 05, 2018, 12:06:47 AM
Update #2:

I really need to retire.  Working is really getting in the way of my hobbies. :-)
Got another hour free in the radio room tonight.  The only problem I was having
with WSJT-X and Flex, apparently had nothing to do with Flex.  After more than 2 years of
playing with the program, and several different rig configurations, I had corrupted the settings
file for WSJT-X.   Tonight, I wiped it, redid the settings, and was up doing FT-8 QSO's in no time.
[I know what you are thinking;  ANY radio can do FT-8, what ARE you doing Neal!?   I get it, but
since I have always done JT-65, FT-8, RTTY, and PSK-31, plus SSB voice, I wanted to verify that
I could add the Flex into my existing software stack of WSJT-X, JTalert, HRD logbook, auto-upload
to eqsl.cc, qrz.com, clublog, and HRD upload to LOTW.    Now that this all works fine, I can move on.

One really happy observation;  The received audio passband can only be 2400hz on Icom 7300 in data
mode, and only a typical analog non-flat audio "curve" with bigtime roll-off on my Yaesu, but with this
Flex, you audio receive passband can be flat as a board to whatever you set it.  3600hz?  5000hz? 8000hz?
NO PROBLEM.   I have to consult the docs, but I think it will do 12,000hz flat as a ruler.

Instead of an on-screen ALC meter, the Flex 6x00 series radios are using a proper audio VU meter.
(ALC can still come into play for an external amp, but for setting mic or digital audio levels, we don't
use an "ALC meter" like on Icom, we instead use a VU audio level meter with an average and peak,
and a zero dB mark.   For digital, if you keep the peak marker just below 0 dB, all is good.
I can control power out with any of;

+ The Flex Power level slider
+ The Flex DAX Audio interface stream TX slider
+ The WSJT-X "PWR" slider

I also learned a lot more about the Flex SmartSDR on-screen user interface today
(I am using a PC, not yet a Maestro; that will get ordered next month).
I like how easy I can set the band frequency edge of the panadapter and the zoom level
all with mouse movements and no direct entry.  So it is really easy to show the entire band,
or a small section of the band, and center it where I want, without using any menus or
frequency keypad entries.   Very fast, very easy.

Yawn.  Sleep....
Time for some more SSB later in the week.

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG7OEV on June 05, 2018, 04:09:53 PM
Neal:

Only a small item, but the data mode filter width on the 7300 is set narrow as a default, but can be set to the same width as SSB mode, 3.6khz. Not as wide as your Flex, but not 2400 either.

In the filter setup, BW button.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 05, 2018, 05:46:07 PM
Neal:

Only a small item, but the data mode filter width on the 7300 is set narrow as a default, but can be set to the same width as SSB mode, 3.6khz. Not as wide as your Flex, but not 2400 either.

In the filter setup, BW button.


Thanks for that.

Cheers


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 07, 2018, 12:05:59 PM
Update #3:

Having played with SSB and digital modes with one antenna connected and one panadapter on
the screen, it was time to expand.  I reviewed more of the user manual and asked a few more
questions on the Flex community forum.  ( I notice that most questions get answered rather quickly,
both directly on the forum, and sometimes with other users sending you personal email.)

With my rotating Comet H-422 still connected to ANT1 on the radio, I next connected a multi-Band EFHW
long wire (MyAntennas EFHW-8010) to the ANT2 jack on the radio, and opened several more displays, each
on a different band.   While it may be obvious to experienced users of these things, I could not
find specific mention is the user manual that all other receive inputs would be muted/disconnected/shorted
while I transmit on another one.   I tend to be careful, and did not want to fry a new $$$ rig,  So I posted
and emailed a few users to confirm. Yes, I guess it is obvious that it has to be safe;  the responses summarized;

A.  In normal usage, when you start to transmit, the radio will disconnect all other receive inputs.
     - extensive protections are in place to detect RF above +8 dB at a receive input and shutdown the radio.
     - an extra safety net beyond this are sacrificial diodes that will kick in at higher levels, protecting the SCU
        but requiring repair.     So there are 3 layers here;  It disconnects the inputs, but if you somehow manage
        to reconnect an RX input while transmitting on another output (like full duplex mode), the radio will detect
        the RF and shutdown.   If that safety net were to fail for some unexplained reason, diodes will clamp the
        input to the SCU and sacrifice themselves, but require repair.

B.   The one danger point;  This radio can be configured, if you wish, for full duplex operation.
      If you do that, you must plan/calculate and perform proper antenna separation and isolation so
      that the RF signal at the other receive inputs does not exceed 0 dB (some headroom, as the automatic
      protection shutdown triggers at +8 dB).    Very few hams use full duplex HF at their home QTH, so this
      advanced section (for which there is a section in the user manual), does not typically apply to most people.
      Even without full duplex mode, this type of planning WOULD apply to field day, but most people at field day
      with ANY rig will typically use TX/RX Bandpass filters before the radio itself.


The next thing I played with was opening multiple band receiver panadapter/waterfalls on screen, and either zooming out
to show the entire ham band, or zooming way in and centering to show just the FT8 or just an SSB bandwidth.
Nice way to watch activity transition from daytime to nightime across 20m, then 30m, then to 40m.
Although some nights this week, 20m kept going strong well into the night.   I noted that it was effortless and quick
to switch between any one of those band displays for TX.  Seeing all three at the same time provided a lot of info
as to what was happening on each band.

I next read about a free third-party software utility called SliceMaster, that let's you define what you want, like
2 or 3 or 4 digital sessions across several bands, and then will automatically set up the panadapters, automatically
configure WSJT-X, etc.  [With a question answered by the forums, I did not find it very hard to set up WSJT-X by hand,
but I will also try this utility program just to get an idea what it can do.

Back to SSB:   So far, I have used the hand mic that came with the radio.  I also have a Heil PR-781 on a boom.
Since my radio bench is close to a noisy street, I get a fair amount of "annoyance" where I am.  So, I use some
studio rack gear that essentially has;

+  A mic preamp for the dynamic microphone.  (Typically only needed for dynamic mics into Icom rigs)
+  A Noise Gate;  shuts down mic feed when I am not talking (cuts background noise)
+  A limiter/compressor;   you already know what those are for.
+  A downward expander, that essentially cuts gain in between my words so you don't hear
     hiss/hum/room noise.   (You can tell which cheap broadcasters and news agencies are not
     using one, when you listen to a newscaster speaking, and in between their words you get
     ramping up hiss or hum, or noise.)
+  A parametric EQ

All the above equipment has line level outputs for daisy chaining and feeding to recorders, transmitters,
etc.   The Flex has a true balanced mic input (not line level), and you can feed it in there with an attenuator
pad (two resistors). The Flex also has AUX connector inputs at Line level, but if the manual is right, those are
pseudo balanced, with one side connected to ground. There are several ways to feed audio.  The flexability is
nice.

IMPORTANT:  Most people have NO need for the above.  It is fun, I like it, it was cheap used.  But most radios
have a good enough mic preamp, compressor, and EQ. (It is, after all, SSB, not a concert album. :-) ) 
But a few hams have a noisy shack like me, and then the outboard equipment can really help (if you don't wish
to transmit all the passing motorcycle and other background noise).

That's all for today.

Neal
N6YFM


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N5PG on June 07, 2018, 11:23:45 PM

 PATHETIC.....

Stan K9IUQ

Your post is downright insulting.

What's truly pathetic is your obsessive negativity ::)

Get over it, for the sake of your own health.



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: JBIRD on June 08, 2018, 05:43:38 AM
Neal,

Check out the profiles. My standard setup up is three panafals - 80, 40, 20. I have one profile for ssb and another for cw. In effect, I break the bands in two.

As I get into digital, I'll do the same but focus on the digital portions.

I'll have the fourth panafall free floating and check it for the upper bands possible openings.....

I operate over the lan on a laptop with a headset. Most often in the living room but during nice weather, on the porch or out under the shady tree.

Good luck and have fun.

Jim


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 08, 2018, 11:35:26 AM
i am curious how do you setup several bands (more than 2) with 2 antenna connector on the radio.
Specifically i am interested in setup with Steppir.
I will choose to monitor let's say 28,24 and 21 mhz, CAT will send Steppir to one of the bands, i guess slice A, how is 2nd or 3rd band will use this antenna?
Thanks
KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 08, 2018, 01:55:28 PM
i am curious how do you setup several bands (more than 2) with 2 antenna connector on the radio.
Specifically i am interested in setup with Steppir.
I will choose to monitor let's say 28,24 and 21 mhz, CAT will send Steppir to one of the bands, i guess slice A, how is 2nd or 3rd band will use this antenna?
Thanks
KN7K

Sure;

The Flex 6600 (and some other models) have two Spectral Capture Units (high speed ADC units) that can each capture
up to 14 Mhz all at once from an antenna connector.   If you have a multiband Yagi (10-15-20) or multiband wire (say 10,
15,17,20,30,40,80) like mine, then on each antenna connector -->> SCU (wide digital receiver/ADC), you can open more
than one panadapter/waterfall and specificy the band(s), segment of a band or zoom down to one signal, like showing the
3khz wide segment running FT-8, JT-65, etc.   While you can only transmit on one at a time (and you may or may not need
to TUNE first, you can certainly receive a fair number of different bands and segments all at once.

The point is that while you really need to tune your antenna or step-ir for transmit on a specific band, you will find that it will
still receive across many bands at once, even when not tuned for them.   Give it a try.   I had your same question two days ago,
and people said to just ignore the tuning for receive and try it out.   It works fine.   A coat-hanger is a wide band receive antenna.
No argument that a tuned antenna receives even better, but you have plenty of gain in today's radios.

Does that help?

73

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 08, 2018, 04:39:10 PM
i am curious how do you setup several bands (more than 2) with 2 antenna connector on the radio.
Specifically i am interested in setup with Steppir.
I will choose to monitor let's say 28,24 and 21 mhz, CAT will send Steppir to one of the bands, i guess slice A, how is 2nd or 3rd band will use this antenna?
Thanks
KN7K

Sure;

The Flex 6600 (and some other models) have two Spectral Capture Units (high speed ADC units) that can each capture
up to 14 Mhz all at once from an antenna connector.   If you have a multiband Yagi (10-15-20) or multiband wire (say 10,
15,17,20,30,40,80) like mine, then on each antenna connector -->> SCU (wide digital receiver/ADC), you can open more
than one panadapter/waterfall and specificy the band(s), segment of a band or zoom down to one signal, like showing the
3khz wide segment running FT-8, JT-65, etc.   While you can only transmit on one at a time (and you may or may not need
to TUNE first, you can certainly receive a fair number of different bands and segments all at once.

The point is that while you really need to tune your antenna or step-ir for transmit on a specific band, you will find that it will
still receive across many bands at once, even when not tuned for them.   Give it a try.   I had your same question two days ago,
and people said to just ignore the tuning for receive and try it out.   It works fine.   A coat-hanger is a wide band receive antenna.
No argument that a tuned antenna receives even better, but you have plenty of gain in today's radios.

Does that help?

73

Neal

Thank you Neal,
While I understand the idea about "fixed" antenna (verticals, dipols and other with no moving parts) I still do not have a full picture with Steppir. Here are 2 scenario to be more specific for my 2el 40-6m Steppir:
1. If I monitor 2 segments of let's say 20m (SSB and CW), which segment of Steppir tune will be used by CAT?
2. Same for 2 bands, let's say 20m and 15m. Steppir tune segment can be used only on 1 band and if I want to transmit on another band I have to retune (Steppir) to this segment. But CAT will use only 1 segment of Steppir.
This concept is still not settle in my understanding :)
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 08, 2018, 05:08:58 PM
Neal:

Congratulations on your purchase of a truly fine, direct-sampling digital signal processing radio!  Your adventure is just beginning - please keep us in the loop.  I'd like to hear all about the great product the hardware and algorithm engineers at FlexRadio have developed.  Hope to hear you on the air soon.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2DTS on June 08, 2018, 05:26:39 PM
In some cases, you can use an RX antenna input that bypasses the built in antenna tuner in some radios.
When using something like a fan dipole, you can jump from band to band with no tuning.
Or monitor various bands at once.

Or maybe use an all band RX antenna and a different antenna for transmitting...


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 08, 2018, 10:54:08 PM
i am curious how do you setup several bands (more than 2) with 2 antenna connector on the radio.
Specifically i am interested in setup with Steppir.
I will choose to monitor let's say 28,24 and 21 mhz, CAT will send Steppir to one of the bands, i guess slice A, how is 2nd or 3rd band will use this antenna?
Thanks
KN7K

Sure;

The Flex 6600 (and some other models) have two Spectral Capture Units (high speed ADC units) that can each capture
up to 14 Mhz all at once from an antenna connector.   If you have a multiband Yagi (10-15-20) or multiband wire (say 10,
15,17,20,30,40,80) like mine, then on each antenna connector -->> SCU (wide digital receiver/ADC), you can open more
than one panadapter/waterfall and specificy the band(s), segment of a band or zoom down to one signal, like showing the
3khz wide segment running FT-8, JT-65, etc.   While you can only transmit on one at a time (and you may or may not need
to TUNE first, you can certainly receive a fair number of different bands and segments all at once.

The point is that while you really need to tune your antenna or step-ir for transmit on a specific band, you will find that it will
still receive across many bands at once, even when not tuned for them.   Give it a try.   I had your same question two days ago,
and people said to just ignore the tuning for receive and try it out.   It works fine.   A coat-hanger is a wide band receive antenna.
No argument that a tuned antenna receives even better, but you have plenty of gain in today's radios.

Does that help?

73

Neal

Thank you Neal,
While I understand the idea about "fixed" antenna (verticals, dipols and other with no moving parts) I still do not have a full picture with Steppir. Here are 2 scenario to be more specific for my 2el 40-6m Steppir:
1. If I monitor 2 segments of let's say 20m (SSB and CW), which segment of Steppir tune will be used by CAT?
2. Same for 2 bands, let's say 20m and 15m. Steppir tune segment can be used only on 1 band and if I want to transmit on another band I have to retune (Steppir) to this segment. But CAT will use only 1 segment of Steppir.
This concept is still not settle in my understanding :)
Sergey, KN7K

Since I don't have a Step-IR, you may want to check this question on the Flex community forum and/or even call Flex.
That said, I can make an educated guess;  Each panadapter/waterfall, or slice receiver that you open on your computer
screen will have a TX button that selects WHICH panadapter/frequency selection will be active for TX when you hit Push
To Talk.   I will make an educated guess that the segment which is selected as active for transmitting is the one which
CAT will use to adjust your Step-IR, but again, I would recommend checking with both Flex and with Step-IR just to be
sure.

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 08, 2018, 10:56:26 PM
In some cases, you can use an RX antenna input that bypasses the built in antenna tuner in some radios.
When using something like a fan dipole, you can jump from band to band with no tuning.
Or monitor various bands at once.

Or maybe use an all band RX antenna and a different antenna for transmitting...

Yes.
This Flex model (6600) has two RX input ports (RXA and RXB) in addition to ANT1 and ANT2 transceiver ports.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 10, 2018, 10:49:55 AM
Good grief!

I just had the opportunity to tour a Flex-6600 based station and had a thorough demo and walk through of the instrument followed up by a short range QSO from my own "shack".  I say "instrument" because it is the most "professional" DSP transceiver I've seen for the amateur market.  I have zero doubt that this product is selling, with some code additions, to the government/commercial market.  It's well done.  No artifacts in TX/RX or in the user software (which is very well thought out, intuitive and debugged).  Looks and acts more like a professional piece of gear I'd find in an industrial STE rack.

Kudos to the design/development/test and management team.  I know from direct experience just how difficult this is to do well.

I'm going to see if I can manage to convince a user to pop the top on one and examine the electronic  and mechanical architecture (FPGA family, micro-controller, ADC/DAC, PWB material, wedge-locks and whatever else I find).  Looks like it's cover is held together with Torx screws.  Not a problem.

Anybody know if there are photos of the internals of the 6600 on-line already?

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 10, 2018, 03:16:33 PM
Good grief!

I just had the opportunity to tour a Flex-6600 based station and had a thorough demo and walk through of the instrument followed up by a short range QSO from my own "shack".  I say "instrument" because it is the most "professional" DSP transceiver I've seen for the amateur market.  I have zero doubt that this product is selling, with some code additions, to the government/commercial market.  It's well done.  No artifacts in TX/RX or in the user software (which is very well thought out, intuitive and debugged).  Looks and acts more like a professional piece of gear I'd find in an industrial STE rack.

Kudos to the design/development/test and management team.  I know from direct experience just how difficult this is to do well.

I'm going to see if I can manage to convince a user to pop the top on one and examine the electronic  and mechanical architecture (FPGA family, micro-controller, ADC/DAC, PWB material, wedge-locks and whatever else I find).  Looks like it's cover is held together with Torx screws.  Not a problem.

Anybody know if there are photos of the internals of the 6600 on-line already?

Brian - K6BRN

Glass of kool-aid any one?



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 10, 2018, 03:37:23 PM
Hi Greg:

I started designing digital (DSP) comm systems in 1984 and built a very rewarding career doing just that.  Rode the wave of analog to digital systems conversions.  Retired early, because I could and consult part-time because I like to.  Have three homes across the USA and rotate among them, with the greatest of ease.  If that's Cool-Aide, I'll take two more cups, please.

Can't tell you just how many idiots I ran into that pretty much said exactly what your last post said about digital.  They're still working and wishing they'd stepped on board the train.  Oooops!  No Cool-Aide for them.  Just dregs.

And in that time I've gained the experience to recognize toys and junk when I see it. A lot of ham gear is in that class. And quality design and performance, too.  I like the Flex-6600 because I recognize excellent engineering, and a unit that will perform to a professional standard.

Not that I need to convince you.  You're an amateur, right?

Mighty fine Llama on your QRZ page, BTW.  Do you raise them?

Brian - K6BRN



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N8FNR on June 11, 2018, 06:10:20 AM
Good grief!

I just had the opportunity to tour a Flex-6600 based station and had a thorough demo and walk through of the instrument followed up by a short range QSO from my own "shack".  I say "instrument" because it is the most "professional" DSP transceiver I've seen for the amateur market.  I have zero doubt that this product is selling, with some code additions, to the government/commercial market.  It's well done.  No artifacts in TX/RX or in the user software (which is very well thought out, intuitive and debugged).  Looks and acts more like a professional piece of gear I'd find in an industrial STE rack.

Kudos to the design/development/test and management team.  I know from direct experience just how difficult this is to do well.

I'm going to see if I can manage to convince a user to pop the top on one and examine the electronic  and mechanical architecture (FPGA family, micro-controller, ADC/DAC, PWB material, wedge-locks and whatever else I find).  Looks like it's cover is held together with Torx screws.  Not a problem.

Anybody know if there are photos of the internals of the 6600 on-line already?

Brian - K6BRN

Glass of kool-aid any one?



I am on my 3rd glass of Flex Kool-Aide and love it. It must taste very good to me because to date I have owned a Flex-1000, Flex-5000 and now a Flex-6400. Never going back to an old fashioned rig....

Zack
N8FNR


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 11, 2018, 10:54:17 AM
UPDATE #4:

Still busy here on my end, and only managed to put in an hour or so every other day.
I have gained a fair amount of time playing with dual antenna multiple panadapter usage.
I typically like to open 3 to 4 different things, and watch activity on different bands.
I have also spent more time with SSB and received outstanding audio reports.

Now that I understand how to drive the AGC-T slider, I really really like what it does for
pulling weak signals out of the noise.

Another thing I really like compared to my other rigs;   The panadapter spectrum graph responds
very fast and at a frame rate I have not seen before on Icom or other rigs.  You can really spot what
is going on much quicker and easier.  I like the ability to easily zoom the vertical calibrated dbm scale
for the panadapter, and also quickly zoom and re-center the horizontal frequency range.

I am honestly not trying to be funny or make a pun, but I have never before had a rig with
this level of features or FLEXibility in settings.  I expect I will be having endless amount of
fun with this rig while I learn new features and capability.

Regarding other posts about Kool-aid;   I am not sure I really understand what that is all about,
or if I am missing something.   All I can share is that compared to my Icom and Yaesu (which work well),
this is the best rig I have owned yet.   I can't find anything that I don't like about it.

While I seem to be able to do anything I want using my PC to control the radio, I do like the idea of
screwing around with remote access without a PC or keyboard so I can see what that is like.
So I have ordered a Maestro this week.   One thing that will provide;  If I plug the cable into the radio,
I can operate stand-alone without a computer if I ever needed to.   Although I may not need to, because
even when I do SSB, I really like having my logging program open, along with other reasons to have a PC
in use (looking up a callsign, etc).

73,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6VZV on June 11, 2018, 01:23:38 PM
I received my new Flex 6400M about a week ago.  Time from order to delivery was exactly two weeks, precisely as promised.  Since then it has been difficult to pry me away from it.  I've been a ham for 50 years (I'm 63).  Here are my impressions.

1.  A beautiful piece of kit.  The front display is beautiful.  The menus are very well laid-out.  I don't think I had to refer to the manual one single time except to ensure that I knew which rear panel connection was used for what.

2.  The receiver is very very quiet and appears to be much better than the one in my old FT-1000MP Mark V.  Quieter and the DSP filters are very effective for CW, SSB, and above all the digital modes.  I am a digital mode power user and this rig is the best digital mode radio I've ever operated. 

3.  I was able to get the rig set up for the digital modes on Ham Radio Deluxe and WSJT-X in about 2 hours.  So the learning curve is not bad.  Most of this time was spent on just a couple of issues attributable to my unfamiliarity with WSJT-X and FT8 mode.

4.  I was able to work CW and SSB right off the bat, with no reference to the manual.  Again, everything was very intuitive.

5.  Got my linear amp hooked up very quickly.  Just quickly glanced at the manual.

The rig is a real pleasure to use.  The panel and menus are far superior to my old Mark V in terms of clarity and convenience.  One thing: it is best to connect the rig to your WiFi router, not to your computer.  Trust me on this.

It is worth mentioning in this review that Flex and the Flex community are incredibly helpful.  I posted a couple of questions about the WSJT-X software, with which I was completely unfamiliar, and I got answers literally in minutes.  This community really enhances the ownership experience.

My SSB signal reports have been terrific.  Further, my PSK31 measurements are perfect -34 IMD, the best reading you can get using the PSK meter.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with my Flex 6400M and with Flex Radio in general.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 11, 2018, 07:30:59 PM
OK.  Just managed to take a quick peek inside a Flex 6600.  This was no deep dive – it’s not my radio, and I only had a few minutes, so I was not able to do any disassembly to discover (for example) the FPGA type used in the radio.  But I had enough time to make a few observations and form some impressions.  To be clear, I do not own ANY Flex products and am not a general “camp-follower” of Flex itself.  But my career has been developing somewhat similar digital signal processing (DSP) systems for industrial uses – so I was curious.

The inside of the radio was not what I expected, and I should have known better.  In my line of work, the DSP ground terminals and payloads are ruggesdized and heavy, with wedge-locks holding in the boards and providing robust conduction cooling.  On STE racks, the front panels are heavy and the internals are thick aluminum with massively over-designed heat sinks and cooling fans to accommodate dense clusters of hot equipment.  Often, the cooling fans are so high velocity/noisy, hearing protection is a good idea.  Think expense, mass and an industrial environment.
Instead, the Flex 6600 is a product design exercise in simplicity, manufacturing cost reduction without sacrificing materials quality where it counts, and light weight.  It’s not terribly compact (obviously NOT a design priority) and there is a lot of open space inside, which not only makes the cooling problem much easier to solve, quietly, but is a major reason why the radio is so light – especially for it’s physical size.  It has plenty of room to add other functionality, and I have to wonder if this room might be used for added features in other Flex commercial/government products that may be based on the 6600.

The Flex-6600 case is simple stamped aluminum with a custom molded plastic face-plate.  This case provides the majority of mechanical strength for the unit, aided by some dual purpose internal sheet aluminum RF isolation bulkheads/stiffeners.  There is no expensive, heavy custom cast aluminum chassis that more conventional radios like the Yaesu FTDX-3000 and so many others rely on for mechanical strength, to enhance cooling and to form RF tight compartments.  Another reason the Flex-6600 is so light.

Taking the case top off reveals  the relatively small, horizontal antenna tuner board to the top right, just over the PA output filter PWB, PA PWB and simple finned, extruded aluminum PA heatsink.  These appear to be one modular sub-assembly built of very conventional off-the shelf (except for custom PWBs) components.  A large diameter muffin fan that appears optimized for low speed/low noise operation spans the entire height and width of this assembly and seems to be arranged to pull cooling air through from the rest of the chassis volume (I could not check for push or pull air flow), exhausting into a plenum formed at the front of the chassis by a flat aluminum sheet and the radio front panel.

On the left side of the case, looking in from the top, is the main horizontal DSP/controller PWB (largest in the unit), which appears to have just one (1) relatively small FPGA, covered by its own small heatsink and surrounded on three sides by an RF shield that is open at two ends.  This PWB also carries a small plug-in flash memory thumbnail memory card, similar to a SIM card, secured in place by Kapton tape.  Several unoccupied PWB strip connectors and an Ethernet jack are probably used to accommodate the “Maestro”-like front panel, when ordered with this integrated option, and for test.  I was unable to make a full list of the PWB components and hence cannot tell if the microcontroller is a separate component on the PWB or is contained within the FPGA as a hard macro like those found on some Xilinx FPGA types.

Mounted vertically and perpendicular to the main PWB, on an aluminum bulkhead parallel to the front panel are two small, separate ADC boards, each holding a single Analog Devices AD9467, 250 MSPS, 16-bit IF sampling ADC in a plastic quad flat-pack .  Curiously, the heat sink for this part is mounted on the opposite side of the PWB and not on the top of the part itself, which would seem to makes for a relatively poor thermal path for ADC cooling.  Presumably, the Flex-6600 designers knew enough to place sufficient plated –through, solder- filled thermal vias under the part to ensure an adequate thermal path from the ADC to the heat sink.  Analog input to the ADC is via a high quality FEP-jacketed coax cable while digital return from the ADC to the FPGA is via a conventional LVDS (differential) interface.  Other than the minimal RF isolation provided by physical separation from digital components and spot shielding around the FPGA on the main PWB, not too much effort has been made to isolate the ADCs from internal noise sources.  Curious, because I’d expect much of this noise to be in-band to the ADC, impacting performance.

Lying horizontally beneath the ADC PWBs and shielded by a 3-sided, formed aluminum sheet, is what is likely to be the RX band-pass filter board, perhaps including preselector.  Unlike the approach shown in early photos of the Icom IC-7610 preselector boards, whith their relatively large and probably hand-placed inductors, the (apparently) conformal coated Flex-6600 band-pass/preselector board uses small encapsulated inductors, as well as other tiny components that appear optimized for automated pick-and-place assembly.  Since this is an RX-only small signal board the components really do not need to be very large.  Once again, significant attention to detail has been paid to the design of this board to reduce its cost yet at the same time ensure that (for example) any FOD falling on the board does not affet operation due to the coating.  Also, once again, shielding is minimal with no sign of the nearly hermetic, sometimes RF gasketted conductive cavities commonly found in modern analog and analog/digital hybrid transceivers.  Presumably, testing has shown what isolation exists is more than adequate to requirements.  In  that case, this is a brilliant exercise in simplicity and low cost for a critical analog front end assembly.  Yes, even DSP receivers have analog front end components.

In conclusion, the Flex-6600 radio is contained in a rather large and lightly built chassis whose final assembly is probably done by hand and is no more complicated to put together than an Elecraft KPA-500 kit.  Each sub-assembly inside the chassis shows use of very high quality components and materials, while the chassis and internal partitions themselves are simple and inexpensive formed aluminum, aluminum sheets, angle brackets and extruded aluminum heatsinks.  As with most radios, it's not ruggedized and will break if dropped.  Unlike my FTDX-3000, its mass will not blow a large divot in the floor it you do.  The radio is very light.  Internal to the chassis are just a few major sub-assemblies, each well done, but with minimal heat-sinking and RF isolation compared to more conventional radios.  Flex is certainly taking full advantage of the abilities of a direct-RF-sampling signal processing chain to simplify physical complexity by cramming most small signal processing into the FPGA (and perhaps even the microcontroller – did not have time to really examine the main board).  I’d expect other manufacturers to follow the Flex lead if they really want to stay competitive.  Because this combination of performance and simplicity/low manufacturing cost will be hard to beat.

Well, that’s all I really had time to see, and given the very short time I had to look and inability to do further disassembly, some of my observation may simply be wrong.  Take this description for what it’s worth, and with a grain of salt.  Note that “inexpensive” does not mean “cheap” or “flimsy” in this posting – it generally means “smart design”.  Time will tell, especially regarding the isolation and heat sinking approaches Flex Radio chose.  This product is designed to minimize cost, and from the demo I had a few days ago, it also performs well, and does so with intuitive ease (at least to me).  Which means it probably has “legs” and will be quite popular as an advanced, top-shelf amateur transceiver.   It is perhaps just yet another step toward digital (physical) simplification of analog functions, leading to lower cost and enhanced flexibility.

Some day, we may see the following label on the side of our radios:  "SURPRISE - NOT MUCH (physically) INSIDE".  And instead of trading used Collins mechanical filters we'll be exchanging homebrew digital filter recipes.  Time to get a copy of MatLab.

Best Regards,

Brian – K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on June 12, 2018, 03:28:30 AM
The AD9467 uses a Lead Frame Chip Scale Package (LFCSP) that is designed for hand-held mobile applications (smartphones) where you can't have a heat sink. The heat dissipation path is from the bottom of the package.

http://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/application-notes/AN-772.pdf


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KG7OEV on June 12, 2018, 07:31:28 AM
BRN:

Thank you for the quick tour. I suspect the micro controller was programmed in the FPGA if there was not an obvious candidate. If it were me, I would leverage every opportunity to go with software defined components in order to accommodate changes/updates/upgrades and reduce costs. It looks like that is their philosophy across the board.

And yes, it will be a big step forward when we can share our filter definitions in a common format and plug them in as we need them. I am still surprised that so much amateur radio equipment has not evolved in these directions.

And now for my disclaimer: I don’t own a FLEX, I don’t drink cool-aid, and I am not going to run out and drop big coin on one. I do however take apart just about everything I can to see what the design and engineering looks like and what decisions were made.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 12, 2018, 10:15:19 PM
Hi Ron:

Thanks for the link.  I've just read the app-note it's not and it's not unusual.  Many parts today, including FPGAs, are designed for conduction cooling through the bottom.  But topside cooling is still commonly preferred when the part allows it and air rather than conduction cooling is practical.  Because it's simpler.

For bottom cooling, per the app-note, the ADC thermal design does require thermal vias in the PWB under the package to lower impedance through the PWB and into board metal layers;  this approach is to allow conduction cooling through the board metal layers for that purpose or into a thermal plate bonded to the back of the PWB, when used in very compact devices, which the Flex-6600 is not.  And it constrains PWB routing options, effectively creating a keep out zone under the device, on all layers.

So the Flex designers had a choice - either put in the added complexity of managing more thermal interfaces and place a heat sink for air cooling on the backside of the PWB, which is just enough out of family at many production houses to lead to errors, or simply bond the heat sink to the top of the epoxy package, which is moulded directly onto the ADC die.  Both thermal paths (if well done) may be approximately equivalent.  But one is simpler, more in-family at manufacturing houses (and slightly easier to build a test fixture for) and requires less analysis (the supplier will have a model for topside cooling, too).  Given how much thought Flex put into mechanical and manufacturing simplicity, their approach is just a little surprising.

Nonetheless, this is "Monday morning quarterbacking", and if the approach works with no complications, it's fine.  Also, the Flex product designer(s) may have had some conversations with Analog Devices apps engineers (I would have, before choosing that approach for an air-cooled application) and there may be a very good reason to do it the way they did.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2DTS on June 13, 2018, 01:30:01 PM
Thanks for the nice write up Brian!


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 13, 2018, 05:25:56 PM
Hi Greg:

I started designing digital (DSP) comm systems in 1984 and built a very rewarding career doing just that.  Rode the wave of analog to digital systems conversions.  Retired early, because I could and consult part-time because I like to.  Have three homes across the USA and rotate among them, with the greatest of ease.  If that's Cool-Aide, I'll take two more cups, please.

Can't tell you just how many idiots I ran into that pretty much said exactly what your last post said about digital.  They're still working and wishing they'd stepped on board the train.  Oooops!  No Cool-Aide for them.  Just dregs.

And in that time I've gained the experience to recognize toys and junk when I see it. A lot of ham gear is in that class. And quality design and performance, too.  I like the Flex-6600 because I recognize excellent engineering, and a unit that will perform to a professional standard.

Not that I need to convince you.  You're an amateur, right?

Mighty fine Llama on your QRZ page, BTW.  Do you raise them?

Brian - K6BRN



Brian, glad you are enjoying the flex. The user interface and science behind it is fascinating and I can tell you like to embellish all of the hoopla. I am just a an amateur,  no real science here on my part.

From reading your post, if your electronics skills are as good as your writing skills, i am sure you are quite knowledgeable.  You have a nice list of accomplishments in dsp, we all have our specialties,  mine a little different. Certainly  not in electronics or software. I do know quality and professional equipment when I use it. And like you I have no budget.

I have analog rigs here that are more satisfying to operate than the flex 6500 I sold. I did not sell it for that  reason, I sold it because it does not compete in the world of listening audio including weak signals verses other rigs in the shack. You may commonly hear me say I must have had a defective unit.

That being said, the best rig is one of two things, the one you own or the one you just got.
If the flex satisfies you,  great to hear. I would be hard pressed to own another dust collector. To each his own.

I do have bad hearing. I am very picky.

One a side note, thanks for visiting my qrz page. The animals are alpacas. A cousin of the llama.  Llamas are bigger and their ears curve inward..

Greg ni8r


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 13, 2018, 10:28:25 PM
Greg:

I actually don't own a Flex radio.  But some of the hams in the clubs I belong to are buying them.  I've talked to some members of the Flex design team at a ham event and was impressed.  They understood DSP quite well.  So I was curious about their latest product and asked a friend for a shack and radio tour.  I got one - very thorough.  Then I asked to look inside.  He obliged, but it was a short look.  I'm still impressed.

I know nothing about the Flex - 6500.  But one of my ham friends has serious hearing issues an uses a pretty stuffed rack of equalizers, companders, adaptive filters, etc. attached to his radios to make the best of it.  I imagine you've tried the same?

I generally don't worship equipment, but I do enjoy it.  Both new and old.  And I'm in no hurry - while I like the Flex 6600 radio, my other radios make be happy, too.  And because I'm up to my ears in the development of DSP products, almost daily, the technology is interesting to me - but not magical.  And I do have many other interests.  I do admire good engineering, though.  Always.

The "best" radio (or anything else) is probably the one that makes you happy.  It's a simple, reliable metric and inevitably very personal.  I do have quite a few "dust collectors" though, tube, transistor, hybrid analog/digital ... Hard to let go of something you once enjoyed so much.

Alpaca's?  Interesting.  A neighbor of mine in CT actually raises them, but I've not had the courage to approach them.  Appear to be beautiful animals, though.  Love their hair.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN





Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 14, 2018, 03:00:02 AM
Greg:

I actually don't own a Flex radio.  But some of the hams in the clubs I belong to are buying them.  I've talked to some members of the Flex design team at a ham event and was impressed.  They understood DSP quite well.  So I was curious about their latest product and asked a friend for a shack and radio tour.  I got one - very thorough.  Then I asked to look inside.  He obliged, but it was a short look.  I'm still impressed.

I know nothing about the Flex - 6500.  But one of my ham friends has serious hearing issues an uses a pretty stuffed rack of equalizers, companders, adaptive filters, etc. attached to his radios to make the best of it.  I imagine you've tried the same?

I generally don't worship equipment, but I do enjoy it.  Both new and old.  And I'm in no hurry - while I like the Flex 6600 radio, my other radios make be happy, too.  And because I'm up to my ears in the development of DSP products, almost daily, the technology is interesting to me - but not magical.  And I do have many other interests.  I do admire good engineering, though.  Always.

The "best" radio (or anything else) is probably the one that makes you happy.  It's a simple, reliable metric and inevitably very personal.  I do have quite a few "dust collectors" though, tube, transistor, hybrid analog/digital ... Hard to let go of something you once enjoyed so much.

Alpaca's?  Interesting.  A neighbor of mine in CT actually raises them, but I've not had the courage to approach them.  Appear to be beautiful animals, though.  Love their hair.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN





Brian, I don't own sound equipment.  I would have kept a few rigs I have dumped if I did.
I would never connect it to a sdr.  Might still have the k3 if I would have purchase a few thousand dollars of audio equipment to compensate for their $12.00 audio circuit that would struggle to sound better than a pocket radio from radio shack. Have a ton of friends that love them. Again not my cup of tea.
I sold my ftdx9000mp a few years ago when I got the icom 7851.  I like yaesu audio.
The new icom has a great advantage. I am sure they all catch up with each other eventually.

I operate 99% cw.  The radio has to make one tone perfect..

As for dsp, do you follow the hpsdr group?
The Apache labs radios have much better dsp code than the flex and way more adjustable.


Greg ni8r


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 14, 2018, 04:01:06 AM
Greg:

I actually don't own a Flex radio.  But some of the hams in the clubs I belong to are buying them.  I've talked to some members of the Flex design team at a ham event and was impressed.  They understood DSP quite well.  So I was curious about their latest product and asked a friend for a shack and radio tour.  I got one - very thorough.  Then I asked to look inside.  He obliged, but it was a short look.  I'm still impressed.

I know nothing about the Flex - 6500.  But one of my ham friends has serious hearing issues an uses a pretty stuffed rack of equalizers, companders, adaptive filters, etc. attached to his radios to make the best of it.  I imagine you've tried the same?

I generally don't worship equipment, but I do enjoy it.  Both new and old.  And I'm in no hurry - while I like the Flex 6600 radio, my other radios make be happy, too.  And because I'm up to my ears in the development of DSP products, almost daily, the technology is interesting to me - but not magical.  And I do have many other interests.  I do admire good engineering, though.  Always.

The "best" radio (or anything else) is probably the one that makes you happy.  It's a simple, reliable metric and inevitably very personal.  I do have quite a few "dust collectors" though, tube, transistor, hybrid analog/digital ... Hard to let go of something you once enjoyed so much.

Alpaca's?  Interesting.  A neighbor of mine in CT actually raises them, but I've not had the courage to approach them.  Appear to be beautiful animals, though.  Love their hair.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN






As for dsp, do you follow the hpsdr group?
The Apache labs radios have much better dsp code than the flex and way more adjustable.


Greg ni8r

Really? 

And you have personally tested both and can completely back that statement up with hard data? 

Please favor us with your detailed test results.  Include all work product.  Screenshots,  test results, equipment used, calibration data for said test equipment and block diagrams of all test setups. 

If live subjects were used to judge audio quality please detail your test subject selection criteria and what ITU standard test methodology was used.

We are waiting with bated breath to see your comprehensive analysis that you have based this statement on.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 14, 2018, 06:34:28 AM
Greg:

I actually don't own a Flex radio.  But some of the hams in the clubs I belong to are buying them.  I've talked to some members of the Flex design team at a ham event and was impressed.  They understood DSP quite well.  So I was curious about their latest product and asked a friend for a shack and radio tour.  I got one - very thorough.  Then I asked to look inside.  He obliged, but it was a short look.  I'm still impressed.

I know nothing about the Flex - 6500.  But one of my ham friends has serious hearing issues an uses a pretty stuffed rack of equalizers, companders, adaptive filters, etc. attached to his radios to make the best of it.  I imagine you've tried the same?

I generally don't worship equipment, but I do enjoy it.  Both new and old.  And I'm in no hurry - while I like the Flex 6600 radio, my other radios make be happy, too.  And because I'm up to my ears in the development of DSP products, almost daily, the technology is interesting to me - but not magical.  And I do have many other interests.  I do admire good engineering, though.  Always.

The "best" radio (or anything else) is probably the one that makes you happy.  It's a simple, reliable metric and inevitably very personal.  I do have quite a few "dust collectors" though, tube, transistor, hybrid analog/digital ... Hard to let go of something you once enjoyed so much.

Alpaca's?  Interesting.  A neighbor of mine in CT actually raises them, but I've not had the courage to approach them.  Appear to be beautiful animals, though.  Love their hair.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN






As for dsp, do you follow the hpsdr group?
The Apache labs radios have much better dsp code than the flex and way more adjustable.


Greg ni8r

Really? 

And you have personally tested both and can completely back that statement up with hard data? 

Please favor us with your detailed test results.  Include all work product.  Screenshots,  test results, equipment used, calibration data for said test equipment and block diagrams of all test setups. 

If live subjects were used to judge audio quality please detail your test subject selection criteria and what ITU standard test methodology was used.

We are waiting with bated breath to see your comprehensive analysis that you have based this statement on.

I would like to wait and see your lab tests, screenshots and live subject statements to prove me wrong. Now i have baited breath too waiting for your comprehensive rebuttal.

I have had a Flex 6500, Anan 100d and a ic7851 in my shack all at the same time. Do you really think i did not  A and B compare them?
Like i have said, i must have had a defective 6500.

The 6500 is by no means a bad radio, just not as good for my style of use as the other two. When i make myself turn a rig on once a month and use it so it does not go bad,
someone else should be enjoying it. And they are.

if i was a qsk guy, i would not keep the apache.
if i was a contester, i would not keep the apache.

You may value both of those items, in that case the flex gear would be perfect.
this is why crayola make 64 colors.


Greg Ni8r



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 14, 2018, 07:22:18 AM

[/quote]

I would like to wait and see your lab tests, screenshots and live subject statements to prove me wrong. Now i have baited breath too waiting for your comprehensive rebuttal.

I have had a Flex 6500, Anan 100d and a ic7851 in my shack all at the same time. Do you really think i did not  A and B compare them?
Like i have said, i must have had a defective 6500.

The 6500 is by no means a bad radio, just not as good for my style of use as the other two. When i make myself turn a rig on once a month and use it so it does not go bad,
someone else should be enjoying it. And they are.

if i was a qsk guy, i would not keep the apache.
if i was a contester, i would not keep the apache.

You may value both of those items, in that case the flex gear would be perfect.
this is why crayola make 64 colors.


Greg Ni8r


[/quote]

I don't have to.

I didn't make a statement regarding the two, you did.

Besides your observations you have no test results or hard data.  OK thats fine but certainly not definitive.

Perhaps in the future you might want to apply "In my opinion" to your statements.





Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 14, 2018, 01:15:39 PM
Michael:

It's the funniest dynamic on a forum when suddenly one contestant in a debate decides he's the boss or customer of the other and demands substantial work/proof/data/etc. without offering to pay a dime for it.  Hilarious, really.

Because if you don't pay for the work, you don't get the results -  Just free opinions.  Which are worth as much as you paid for them (unless you happen to agree).

I presume opinions are OK on an amateur forum? Generally they don't need to be substantiated, though we might desire them to be.  But in your response to Greg...

Quote
And you have personally tested both and can completely back that statement up with hard data?  Please favor us with your detailed test results.  Include all work product.  Screenshots,  test results, equipment used, calibration data for said test equipment and block diagrams of all test setups. 
If live subjects were used to judge audio quality please detail your test subject selection criteria and what ITU standard test methodology was used.
We are waiting with bated breath to see your comprehensive analysis that you have based this statement on

Based on your demands above, you'll really need to do a little work and spend a little money to make it happen:

1.  Issue an RFP describing the scope of work, in detail, the schedule, deliverables and CFE.  You've made a good start, above, but it's far from complete.
2.  Be prepared to accept a proposal and annotate and return a model contract agreeing to the above.
3.  Negotiate the cost estimate (will this be fixed-price or cost+?)
4.  Fund the effort.

Otherwise Greg is going to simply share his opinion, as he already has, and you get what you paid for.  A free opinion.  And you are "free" to whatever you want with it.

Based on my impressions of the Flex-6600 and an earlier experience with an Anan product, I don't agree with Greg, either.  But That's OK.  It's just his opinion.

He doesn't really have to prove... anything.

But if Greg really wants the work, perhaps he'll subcontract the job to me?  I'd expect him to take a healthy management fee, of course.  So... how much ya got?  :)

 - Just trying to keep it a LITTLE light (with bad jokes) - Have fun firing back - very few people really like my jokes - but I keep trying (thanks for listening!)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 14, 2018, 02:24:08 PM
I said in an earlier post" I am a amateur ".
Thanks for keeping my opinion in light spirit Brian.
Buy a flex6k series and tell me about how wonderful 80meters is with the pre amp off.

Who runs 80 with a preamp.

My 6k was great on 6 meters.


Brian, you may share your Anan story.
That will be entertaining.


Greg ni8rhttp://


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 14, 2018, 09:44:03 PM
And start ANOTHER food fight?

Not today.  :)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 16, 2018, 08:59:58 AM
 
Quote
"SURPRISE - NOT MUCH (physically) INSIDE".


Begs the question: "What is a radio with not much inside worth?" IOW, what price is sustainable in a competitive marketplace? To a first approximation, simpler inside (fewer parts) = lower manufacturing cost. So, as more manufacturers move to simpler (more integrated, fewer parts) radios, how will market prices move? My bet is sharply lower for radios in the 6600/6600M class (equivalent performance/features). History tends to show that software/firmware trends toward "free," with the result that the cost of the hardware platform is the largest driver of market price. IMHO, will be difficult to sustain prices in the $5000 and up range … unless these are highly differentiated products which incorporate competitively defensible features/performance. This will be difficult to achieve when so much of the underlying technology is readily available to all manufacturers. We'll see.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 16, 2018, 12:36:40 PM
Quote
"SURPRISE - NOT MUCH (physically) INSIDE".


Begs the question: "What is a radio with not much inside worth?" IOW, what price is sustainable in a competitive marketplace? To a first approximation, simpler inside (fewer parts) = lower manufacturing cost. So, as more manufacturers move to simpler (more integrated, fewer parts) radios, how will market prices move? My bet is sharply lower for radios in the 6600/6600M class (equivalent performance/features). History tends to show that software/firmware trends toward "free," with the result that the cost of the hardware platform is the largest driver of market price. IMHO, will be difficult to sustain prices in the $5000 and up range … unless these are highly differentiated products which incorporate competitively defensible features/performance. This will be difficult to achieve when so much of the underlying technology is readily available to all manufacturers. We'll see.

Rick
K8EZB

Hi Rick:

Just a counter-point as food for thought:
Software/firmware trending toward free only applies to mass market Linux OS software.  I have been a manager in the industry for over 30 years, and can tell you that the hardware is becoming a commodity, but creating specialized software is hugely expensive.  Ignore simple stuff that sells in volume like MS Office.  Go look at embedded aircraft software, or doctor's office mgmt software, or embedded automobile software, or accounting or legal vertical applications.  The cost is sobering.
For SDR, any competitor can buy the same chip, but it is YOUR software secrets that will create the performance and features.
And, that is both hard and costly.
Just some food for thought.

In my division, some of the software and firmware guys are making between 150K and 200K per year.  Some of my projects require up to 14 of those guys, for two years.  That is really not quite trending toward free, but you may have different examples in mind.

Cheers, 

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 16, 2018, 02:27:32 PM
Quote
Software/firmware trending toward free only applies to mass market Linux OS software

Well, ...  maybe. Look around a bit and I think you will find plenty of counterexamples.

Quote
Go look at embedded aircraft software

Here is one I know something about as a general aviation pilot over the last 50+ years. The integrated Garmin G1000H avionics suite in the single engine helicopter I fly is software intensive in the extreme. Yet, it provides capabilities unimaginable when I began flying in the mid sixties, and this kind of capability is now standard on most newly manufactured general aviation aircraft, even at the low end of the price spectrum. Such capability is offered by a wide range of manufacturers, and none have been able to erect a meaningful competitive barrier via software. One reason for this is that there is substantial shared underlying technology even in the software world. An HF transceiver is substantially less complex and more easily duplicated in terms of functions even if the software implementation differs across competitors, putting more downward pressure on prices.

Quote
YOUR software secrets that will create the performance and features.
And, that is both hard and costly.

IMHO, not all that hard and costly for the majority of features/performance acceptable to amateur radio buyers. Its already been done by a number of SDR manufacturers, with more entering the market each year; none has a lock on the market at present. But, if a manufacturer can really create and DEFEND innovative features that the market embraces, a (small) premium in price may be possibe (in the amateur radio market). As previously stated, we'll see.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 16, 2018, 03:22:28 PM
Neal,

PS: My comments are made in the context of a consumer product/market (HF amateur radio transceivers), not business/industrial products. Shared technology in the software world includes operating systems, other related systems software, development tools, distribution tools, some applications, open sourcing,  and others. Few new product development projects choose to develop these subsystems from scratch, which tends to make the playing field more level and competitive differentiation more difficult. I agree that if a manufacturer can really defend meaningful innovation from competitors, some pricing flexibility may be possible. I would speculate that many if not most technical innovations in this market are not all that difficult to duplicate, and that time to market with a steady stream of innovations over an extended period of time may be the principal means by which competitive advantage is gained.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 16, 2018, 03:26:24 PM
Neal,

PS: My comments are made in the context of a consumer product/market (HF amateur radio transceivers), not business/industrial products. Shared technology in the software world includes operating systems, other related systems software, development tools, distribution tools, some applications, open sourcing,  and others. Few new product development projects choose to develop these subsystems from scratch, which tends to make the playing field more level and competitive differentiation more difficult. I will agree that if a manufacturer can really defend meaningful innovation from competitors, some pricing flexibility may be possible. I would speculate that many if not most technical innovations in this market are not all that difficult to duplicate, and that time to market with a steady stream of innovations over an extended period of time may be the principal means by which competitive advantage is gained.

Rick
K8EZB

Totally fair.
It will be interesting to see how it works out over time.

Cheers


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 16, 2018, 04:10:52 PM
Quote
It will be interesting to see how it works out over time.

Don't mean to beat this to death, but I think we already have some early data points wrt the IC-7610 and the 6600M. I don't own either of these yet (but expect to own both once the dust settles a bit) but follow both closely via the various online forums (groups.io, eHam, Flex Community, etc.) It seems that the 7610 price has recently dipped below $3000, reflecting about a 25% discount from prices when shipments began less than a year ago. To my way of thinking, this product incorporates many relevant innovations. It appears the 6600M remains priced at the introductory price of $4999. So, the 7610 is within spitting distance of half the price of the 6600M (and I'd guess it will go at least a little lower). Is this price difference sustainable based on feature and performance differences? Possibly for a segment of the market, but hard to tell right now how large that segment is. My best forecast is that the 6600M price must come down substantially to be a significant player in this market.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 16, 2018, 05:37:06 PM
GW0GEI   Rating: 5/5   Jun 16, 2018 16:05   Send this review to a friend
Excellent sdr    Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I replaced my flex 6300 with the anan 7000dle in December 2017, after getting tired of waiting for flex to fix the random network disconnect issue and deliver a better NR system.

There was a steeper learning curve with the openhpsdr pure signal client software but it only took a week to get the basics and cat etc all sorted with dx commander and n1mm. The NR2 noise reduction is superb and far better than the flex one. SNB also takes care of most man made noise too and the ANF actually works whereas the flex only partially worked.

I was waiting for the new flex 6600 so I could have dual adc rx for diversity but as they have still not delivered into Europe I am glad I opted for the 7000dle instead. I use the dual adc rx to listen on different antennas to hf/lf and 6m; and the diversity beam steering to null out noise on the lf bands has enabled me to work lf dx I would not have been able to with the flex.

There are a lot more parameters which can be adjusted and after a few weeks I got the hand of the main agc and tx adjustments, with superb recovered audio on rx and good reports on tx. The pure signal pre distortion works really well in cleaning up the tx signal and I am about to hook it up with pre distortion feedback from a new lin amp uk 1kw solid state pa which will be linked to the pre distortion sma socket. I havnt tried it with a transverter yet but so far on 6m and 10m I have been very impressed at how low the rx hears down to at this rural low noise qth.

It was also £1000 cheaper than the still awaited for flex 6600, so in the end it was a no brainer alternative purchase. The noise reduction system alone is worth it and I run it all the time on all bands along with SNB as they both make such a difference on snr.

6 months of ownership and its been tested on hf contests and lf dxing quite a lot. Nothing out there for the same budget to beat it at present.
Steve gw0gei


Michael, here is your subjective statement on "more ajustable".
Brian, still waiting for that good story.
you can email me, if you dont want to share.


Greg Ni8r


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 16, 2018, 06:20:16 PM
Hi Greg:

No.  Think I'll just watch, this time.

BTW... just bought another FTDX-3000, fully loaded, just over a kilobuck, nearly new.  Works great, in any mode, just like my other one.  Makes me happy.  It's going to QTH#2 where the existing FT-991 (also a nice radio) is bring bumped to QTH#3.  The QTH#1 FTDX-3000 also has the micro-tune tracking filters connected.  It's a champ.  My only gripe about the radio is that it's menu system was designed by blind squirrels.  But I've never found anything I've needed that the radio can't do.  Sometimes it took a while to figure out, but darn, the RF and DSP IF/AF chain is very good.

No doubt your, Chuck's, John's and Fred's radios are far superior.  But I'm happy.

So... worshiping equipment and defending it fanatically - not so bright.

Just enjoying it... that works.  The real problem is letting go of it when I'm done.  Some day I'm gonna have a yard sale and invite you :)

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 17, 2018, 06:22:14 AM
Brian, i hope you invite me, i need to sell about 20 rigs myself. I like the ftdx3k, think it is a great radio, especially for the price.
I sold mt ftdx 9k as it could not hear near a well as the flex and the Apache labs rigs. much like all the rest. I really Missed having a legacy rig with buttons and knobs and bought the icom 7851 for a try after a eham patron who owned both said the flex and icom were close. Even if they receive the same, the Icom audio is super nice to my ears through my sp9000. I bought the sp9k for the ftdx5kmp which lasted here about 60 days. The ergonomic are not for a person who does not use their left hand well. Much like the small face control on a k3, my hands are too big and clumsy.

i had 3 issues with the flex that torqued my tires, but the last straw was i could not get the rig to quit hot switching my Acom 1000 unless the delay was set over 500ms.
even flex tech support could not get me past this. No other radio i have owned has done this. When real latency numbers were determined, this may have been the culprit. This may be corrected in new hardware. 

If i ever own another flex, it will be one i seen in operation and i just had to have it.  A few daytons away.


Greg Ni8R


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 17, 2018, 11:01:09 AM
Greg:

I'm very surprised the FTDX-9000 did not hear well.  It WAS Yaesu's top of the line hybrid analog/digital rig and was massive - one version had the same magnetic based, servo-driven agile pre-RF front end tracking filters I use externally, built in.  Never used one, though.

I wonder if the problem could have been a defect or a misconfiguration?  I've seen so many posts and reviews of the FTDX-3000 and FT-991 where users complain that the filters are not narrow enough, and when I contacted them, they actually did not know how to select the narrow roofing filters and use the variable DSP RX filters, and so left them wide open.

In Sherwood's numbers for the FTDX-3000, he shows only two numbers that don't look really good, and those are ultimate narrowband filter rejection (low - the filter used was "leaky') and close-in dynamic range.  Both are directly related.  If the narrowband  filter selected leaks, the close in dynamic range, the way Sherwood is testing, will look very bad.  This problem does not exist in the 10KHz spacing dynamic range test, where ultimate filter rejection is excellent.  Note that both the narrow and wider crystal filters sit right next to each other on the PWB and have identical isolation packaging and cavities.  It seems obvious that the seriously out of family behavior of the narrow filter was missed and is probably a defect in the filter or installation (its a plug-in), rather an as-designed issue.  Especially since experienced users (including me) have had no such problems) But Sherwood never revisited this, as he has on many other transceivers and receivers when he's suspected anomalies.  Hence, it received its bad rap.  And Sherwood's initial review dings the transceiver's high phase noise oscillator very hard - when in fact it's phase noise performance, by his own testing (and by ear) is very good.  Go figure and welcome to Ham Radio.

This is probably why Bob Allison (one of the nicest guys I've ever met) and the ARRL is so reluctant to post poor reviews - it's easy to make a mistake or let strong opinion/impressions overcome test results.  Then they are really hard to pull back.

This is complicated by "TechnoAcolytes" who worship (you name it... tubes, DSP radios, analog radios, Anan brand, Flex brand, Yaesu brand... you get the picture) and who will flame anybody with their own opinion or observation.  Even worse are the "Reverse Acolytes" who bash any given brand or technology (LDMOS, Flex, etc) as inherently bad/evil. 

Good Grief!  We're in POLITICS!   Aaaaguh!  (Charlie Brown face, here)

Brian - K6BRN



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 17, 2018, 11:50:52 AM
Brian , about the ftdx9000mp, the rig hears great. But the advancements in technology clearly show when listening to anything higher than 20m on hf, the flex and anan can work stations that the ftdx cannot hear. The response is even greater on 6 meters. 7.0-1.8, business as usual.

Mine did not have the display, used an external monitor for the data management system. The microtuners worked great on 40/80/160.

I like using a different rig every time i play radio, even the ic7100  .
Even miss my ts590sg. I called it the poor mans k3, That is a lot of rig for the money much like the ic7300.


Greg ni8r


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 17, 2018, 02:00:23 PM
GW0GEI   Rating: 5/5   Jun 16, 2018 16:05   Send this review to a friend
Excellent sdr    Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I replaced my flex 6300 with the anan 7000dle in December 2017, after getting tired of waiting for flex to fix the random network disconnect issue and deliver a better NR system.

There was a steeper learning curve with the openhpsdr pure signal client software but it only took a week to get the basics and cat etc all sorted with dx commander and n1mm. The NR2 noise reduction is superb and far better than the flex one. SNB also takes care of most man made noise too and the ANF actually works whereas the flex only partially worked.

I was waiting for the new flex 6600 so I could have dual adc rx for diversity but as they have still not delivered into Europe I am glad I opted for the 7000dle instead. I use the dual adc rx to listen on different antennas to hf/lf and 6m; and the diversity beam steering to null out noise on the lf bands has enabled me to work lf dx I would not have been able to with the flex.

There are a lot more parameters which can be adjusted and after a few weeks I got the hand of the main agc and tx adjustments, with superb recovered audio on rx and good reports on tx. The pure signal pre distortion works really well in cleaning up the tx signal and I am about to hook it up with pre distortion feedback from a new lin amp uk 1kw solid state pa which will be linked to the pre distortion sma socket. I havnt tried it with a transverter yet but so far on 6m and 10m I have been very impressed at how low the rx hears down to at this rural low noise qth.

It was also £1000 cheaper than the still awaited for flex 6600, so in the end it was a no brainer alternative purchase. The noise reduction system alone is worth it and I run it all the time on all bands along with SNB as they both make such a difference on snr.

6 months of ownership and its been tested on hf contests and lf dxing quite a lot. Nothing out there for the same budget to beat it at present.
Steve gw0gei


Michael, here is your subjective statement on "more ajustable".
Brian, still waiting for that good story.
you can email me, if you dont want to share.


Greg Ni8r

"and after a few weeks I got the hand of the main agc and tx adjustments".... 

After a few weeks? LOL after reading that one Gregory. 



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 18, 2018, 10:37:13 PM
Laugh harder.  It's taken me a couple of YEARS to "master" the menu of the FTDX-3000. And I'm still not sure I'm done.  But it IS the greatest radio ever made, so it's worth the effort.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 19, 2018, 05:34:36 AM
Laugh harder.  It's taken me a couple of YEARS to "master" the menu of the FTDX-3000. And I'm still not sure I'm done.  But it IS the greatest radio ever made, so it's worth the effort.

Brian - K6BRN

I can certainly understand how it could take a couple of years to master that miasma.

This is one of the reasons why I sold my Yaesu FT-DX5000D (the other was the Flex 6700 receivers ate it alive).  The FT-DX5000D menus were so byzantine, counterintuitive and User Hostile that I made cheat sheets out of photocopies of the manual and kept them under the radio for "easy" reference.  And many of the menu items showed in the FT-DX5000D Submenu displays which were tiny and developed OLED failures which made it even tougher to use and required a trip to Yaesu to fix (this was the second time back to Yaesu the first was for a hardware update). 

Other than that No Problem.... 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 19, 2018, 04:34:55 PM
Laugh harder.  It's taken me a couple of YEARS to "master" the menu of the FTDX-3000. And I'm still not sure I'm done.  But it IS the greatest radio ever made, so it's worth the effort.

Brian - K6BRN

I can certainly understand how it could take a couple of years to master that miasma.

This is one of the reasons why I sold my Yaesu FT-DX5000D (the other was the Flex 6700 receivers ate it alive).  The FT-DX5000D menus were so byzantine, counterintuitive and User Hostile that I made cheat sheets out of photocopies of the manual and kept them under the radio for "easy" reference.  And many of the menu items showed in the FT-DX5000D Submenu displays which were tiny and developed OLED failures which made it even tougher to use and required a trip to Yaesu to fix (this was the second time back to Yaesu the first was for a hardware update). 

Other than that No Problem.... 

The ftdx5000 is definitely not comparable to any modern sdr. . The second receiver was even worse than the main.

I could live with the menu's but all of the features that run from the left side of the rig made it hard for me to use the radio. my dexterity in my left hand is not great.
sounds like you have owned half of the catalog too.


Greg ni8r


 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 19, 2018, 06:02:24 PM
Laugh harder.  It's taken me a couple of YEARS to "master" the menu of the FTDX-3000. And I'm still not sure I'm done.  But it IS the greatest radio ever made, so it's worth the effort.

Brian - K6BRN

I can certainly understand how it could take a couple of years to master that miasma.

This is one of the reasons why I sold my Yaesu FT-DX5000D (the other was the Flex 6700 receivers ate it alive).  The FT-DX5000D menus were so byzantine, counterintuitive and User Hostile that I made cheat sheets out of photocopies of the manual and kept them under the radio for "easy" reference.  And many of the menu items showed in the FT-DX5000D Submenu displays which were tiny and developed OLED failures which made it even tougher to use and required a trip to Yaesu to fix (this was the second time back to Yaesu the first was for a hardware update). 

Other than that No Problem.... 

The ftdx5000 is definitely not comparable to any modern sdr. . The second receiver was even worse than the main.

I could live with the menu's but all of the features that run from the left side of the rig made it hard for me to use the radio. my dexterity in my left hand is not great.
sounds like you have owned half of the catalog too.


Greg ni8r


 
It was my feeling that Yaesu ‘5000 receivers were designed by Helen Keller...


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 19, 2018, 08:09:52 PM
I use FT5000MP for a long time and it is very fine radio.
I do not have to go to my Menu to tweak anything, I did it in the first-second month until I learn it.
Do not remember when lat time i opened the menu.

Last weekend I replaced 2 OLED displays, took me 3h from start to finish. No radio perfect, right?

My Flex6600 shipped today, but I am not going to say fy FT5000 is bad now.
And last page of discution remind me a kids with "my toy is bigger and better" :)
Choose your toy and enjoy!
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 20, 2018, 02:54:09 PM
I use FT5000MP for a long time and it is very fine radio.
I do not have to go to my Menu to tweak anything, I did it in the first-second month until I learn it.
Do not remember when lat time i opened the menu.

Last weekend I replaced 2 OLED displays, took me 3h from start to finish. No radio perfect, right?

My Flex6600 shipped today, but I am not going to say fy FT5000 is bad now.
And last page of discution remind me a kids with "my toy is bigger and better" :)
Choose your toy and enjoy!
Sergey, KN7K

Sergey:

Congrats on your order.   I hope you like the rig as much as I do.
Please share notes/questions/impressions when you get it.
Happy to chat on the phone too, anytime.

And I agree with you, while I really like my new Flex, I also really still like my Icom 7300.
The Yaesu receivers are also very good.
I concur that "some" of the public that lurks on eham.net needs a diaper change, some meds, and/or a nap.
The Flex or Icom or Yaesu is not a cult.   It's a radio product.  And ANY one of them will get QSO's
in the log book.   

It is rather amusing that if you hand ANY camera to a pro, they can take a great photo with it,
but if you hand ANY camera to an amateur, they start complaining about this, or that, or the price,
or the sensor, or the control layout, or the firmware, or the......   See the parallel?  :-)

I find there are normal people on both forums that will calmly answer questions and share technical
information and views.   There are just, as a matter of fact, less of these normal people on eham.net.
That said, we are all free to our opinions, and anyone should be welcome here, and we can choose to
use the "ignore" button on any user we don't find meeting our own expectation of normal mature adult :-)

And please don't think that Ham's are special in this respect;   I can find the same level of immature
behavior and stupid remarks on almost any public forum for fishing, 4-wheel drive, golfing, car enthusiasts,
you name it.   It's just people.    Most like to participate and make friends, but some like to start fights,
toss insults, or act like the school yard bully with soiled diapers.

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N0YXB on June 20, 2018, 04:32:10 PM
Congrats on your order.   I hope you like the rig as much as I do.
Please share notes/questions/impressions when you get it.


Yes, please. It's interesting and helpful to those of us considering the Flex in the future.

And please don't think that Ham's are special in this respect; I can find the same level of immature behavior and stupid remarks on almost any public forum for fishing, 4-wheel drive, golfing, car enthusiasts,you name it. It's just people. Most like to participate and make friends, but some like to start fights, toss insults, or act like the school yard bully with soiled diapers.


Indeed, my experience too. Many of the martial arts forums I frequent have their share of immature cretins. The only forums where I haven't seen any drama are the stamp collectors.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 20, 2018, 06:00:00 PM
"It is rather amusing that if you hand ANY camera to a pro, they can take a great photo with it,
but if you hand ANY camera to an amateur, they start complaining about this, or that, or the price,
or the sensor, or the control layout, or the firmware, or the......   See the parallel?  :-)

Cheers,

Neal



Neal, you have a bad example about Camera  :D as by accident I do have Canon top of the line Canon 1DX Mark II and I am an amateur (not a pro) and I love it !!!  ;D

But agree with you 100%
Sergey,KN7K
[/quote]
[/quote]


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W9CN on June 20, 2018, 06:33:47 PM
"It is rather amusing that if you hand ANY camera to a pro, they can take a great photo with it,
but if you hand ANY camera to an amateur, they start complaining about this, or that, or the price,
or the sensor, or the control layout, or the firmware, or the......   See the parallel?  :-)

Cheers,

Neal



Neal, you have a bad example about Camera  :D as by accident I do have Canon top of the line Canon 1DX Mark II and I am an amateur (not a pro) and I love it !!!  ;D

But agree with you 100%
Sergey,KN7K

I carry a Nikon D4 and D800E. 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 20, 2018, 06:37:48 PM
"It is rather amusing that if you hand ANY camera to a pro, they can take a great photo with it,
but if you hand ANY camera to an amateur, they start complaining about this, or that, or the price,
or the sensor, or the control layout, or the firmware, or the......   See the parallel?  :-)

Cheers,

Neal



Neal, you have a bad example about Camera  :D as by accident I do have Canon top of the line Canon 1DX Mark II and I am an amateur (not a pro) and I love it !!!  ;D

But agree with you 100%
Sergey,KN7K

I carry a Nikon D4 and D800E. 

Now we can discuss who's camera better/bigger :)
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 20, 2018, 08:43:43 PM
"It is rather amusing that if you hand ANY camera to a pro, they can take a great photo with it,
but if you hand ANY camera to an amateur, they start complaining about this, or that, or the price,
or the sensor, or the control layout, or the firmware, or the......   See the parallel?  :-)

Cheers,

Neal



Neal, you have a bad example about Camera  :D as by accident I do have Canon top of the line Canon 1DX Mark II and I am an amateur (not a pro) and I love it !!!  ;D

But agree with you 100%
Sergey,KN7K

I carry a Nikon D4 and D800E. 

Now we can discuss who's camera better/bigger :)
Sergey, KN7K

My camera has a bigger and better display than your camera, and it has a lot more information that helps me shoot more pictures in half the time.  Ansel Adams used ancient Hasselblad and Korona view cameras, they were clunky and slow analog technology, didn't even have color displays.  He also used a primitive light meter that wasn't calibrated.  He would lose a photo contest today because with modern digital technology we can take 100 photos for every one that he took. ::) 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 20, 2018, 08:47:47 PM
Sergey (KN7k):

It's not about the camera.  It's about what you can DO with it...

http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/159905297
http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/141613582
http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/141072267
http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/142290554
http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/152746217
http://www.pbase.com/bclebowicz/image/146218804

But with radios, it can be the same, or it can be about playing with the technology, or...

The two, especially as hobbies, are very different.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 20, 2018, 09:51:00 PM
Brian, if those your images - pretty amazing job! Well done!
Sergey,KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on June 20, 2018, 09:59:41 PM
Radios and cameras are okay, but tank collecting is where it's at! BTW, these pictures were taken with an early digital camera, the Kodak DC-280.

(http://www.w6rz.net/tank1.jpg)

(http://www.w6rz.net/tank2.jpg)

(http://www.w6rz.net/tank3.jpg)

(http://www.w6rz.net/tank4.jpg)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 21, 2018, 06:22:24 AM
Thanks, Sergey.  They are mine.  I've been shooting for decades, with many different cameras.  Switched to digital from film ( it was a gradual process) in about 2000. 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N0YXB on June 21, 2018, 07:12:36 AM
Nice photos!


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N8FNR on June 21, 2018, 08:28:22 AM
Here is my flickr photo feed. Comments are welcomed!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/10025089@N05/

Zack N8FNR



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 21, 2018, 08:56:21 PM
Quote
It will be interesting to see how it works out over time.

Don't mean to beat this to death, but I think we already have some early data points wrt the IC-7610 and the 6600M. I don't own either of these yet (but expect to own both once the dust settles a bit) but follow both closely via the various online forums (groups.io, eHam, Flex Community, etc.) It seems that the 7610 price has recently dipped below $3000, reflecting about a 25% discount from prices when shipments began less than a year ago. To my way of thinking, this product incorporates many relevant innovations. It appears the 6600M remains priced at the introductory price of $4999. So, the 7610 is within spitting distance of half the price of the 6600M (and I'd guess it will go at least a little lower). Is this price difference sustainable based on feature and performance differences? Possibly for a segment of the market, but hard to tell right now how large that segment is. My best forecast is that the 6600M price must come down substantially to be a significant player in this market.

Rick
K8EZB

The Flex 6600M is only one db better in the 2 KHZ RMDR test than the IC-7600.  Two db is not significant and there are so many other things to take into consideration,  The Flex 6400 was supposed to be the competitor for the Icom and yet, the Flexers keep pointing to the far more expensive radio for one or two insignificant features as way better somehow.

Notice how very shortly after the post by K8EZB the thread derailing process began.  That seems to be a common tactic along with bringing a competitors entry level radio to the Flex booth at Dayton to try and make fun of it.  That sure backfired.  What will they do next, I'm sure it will be entertaining for us adults.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 22, 2018, 06:19:19 AM
Yessss.....   yesssss....  ha! Ha! Heh!

Clever lad!   You have figured out our nefarious plan!  But it's too late for you!

Digital shall rule all of hamdom!  And Flex is our secret weapon!   Ha ha ha ha!  Run!  In FEAR!


(Um-hmmm.  Sounds silly, even to me.)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N0YXB on June 22, 2018, 07:52:11 AM
Here is my flickr photo feed. Comments are welcomed!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/10025089@N05/

Zack N8FNR

Very nice photos! Love the subject matter.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 22, 2018, 08:46:48 AM
Yessss.....   yesssss....  ha! Ha! Heh!

Clever lad!   You have figured out our nefarious plan!  But it's too late for you!

Digital shall rule all of hamdom!  And Flex is our secret weapon!   Ha ha ha ha!  Run!  In FEAR!


(Um-hmmm.  Sounds silly, even to me.)

Ohhh, I'm scared...    You're right, it is silly, they need a joke section.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 22, 2018, 02:38:33 PM
You mean, like:

Quote
Notice how very shortly after the post by K8EZB the thread derailing process began.  That seems to be a common tactic along with bringing a competitors entry level radio to the Flex booth at Dayton to try and make fun of it.  That sure backfired.  What will they do next, I'm sure it will be entertaining for us adults


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 22, 2018, 02:45:06 PM
I can make up MUCH more entertaining conspiracy theories.  And more plausible.  Just say the word.

The simple fact is that the market is speaking, and the buyers/users of the Flex-6600 seem very pleased.  And from what I've seen, it's well deserved.

So what say we start with a charming theory Col. Korso has about alien technology used in microwave ovens....


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2WQ on June 22, 2018, 06:18:09 PM

The simple fact is that the market is speaking, and the buyers/users of the Flex-6600 seem very pleased.  And from what I've seen, it's well deserved.


If we use the number of eHam reviews as a proxy for number of owners/market share, we don’t see any numbers supporting this statement. In fact, the numbers tell us that the little Icom 7300 outsells Flex by a huuuge margin; the 76100 outsells “only” by a large margin.

We don’t have any other hard data to support the claim of Flex having a significant market share.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K0CWO on June 22, 2018, 06:36:28 PM
I would like to try one and probably will.  So far the user response/reviews on the 6400/6600 radios seem underwhelming to me compared to other offerings.  I’ll wait a while before I decide on one of these.

73, k0cwo


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AB4D on June 22, 2018, 08:45:18 PM

I'm very surprised the FTDX-9000 did not hear well.  It WAS Yaesu's top of the line hybrid analog/digital rig and was massive - one version had the same magnetic based, servo-driven agile pre-RF front end tracking filters I use externally, built in.  Never used one, though...

Brian - K6BRN

Brian,

I was surprised as well, I owned a FTDX-9000mp that had the optional 'u-Tune' units.  In terms of mechanical hardware, the 9K is near the very top, over every rig I've owned.  However, the receiver seemed no better than a FTDX-3000 I still own, and about the same as an Icom IC-7700 I once had.

A Kenwood TS-990S I currently own is better than the 9K for weak signal phone (my preferred DX choice). Kenwood's adaptive DSP,  gives it an edge over the 9K/3K  So my point, when using a FTDX-3000, your not missing much of anything in terms of receiver performance, when compared to the top of the line Yaesu FTDX-9000. There was nothing I could copy with the expensive 9K, that I couldn't with the 3K.   I miss the 9K a bit, simply because it's a gorgeous radio, but I could not justify keeping it at my station based on appearance alone.

Jim

 


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 09:04:42 AM
Rudy (N2WQ):

Quote
  If we use the number of eHam reviews as a proxy for number of owners/market share, we don’t see any numbers supporting this statement. In fact, the numbers tell us that the little Icom 7300 outsells Flex by a huuuge margin; the 76100 outsells “only” by a large margin. 

Flex is not a mass market supplier and under their current business plan probably cannot ship quantites that will change the numerical balance over night.  But as a high end provider,  where there is a limited quantity of product,  they have a major presence, based on the incredible number of friends at the ham clubs I belong to that are dumping their traditional analog radios (lots of K3s, Icoms and Kenwoods) for the Flex-6600 and even -6400.  Los Angeles has some of the highest amateur radio population density in the USA, so its likely a very good indicator. 

Online review quantites can be very misleading.  At the least, the quanities would have to be normalized for "time on market".  For example, the FTDX-9000 we've been discussing has 44 reviews on eham and was introduced about 13 years ago.  That's about 3.4 reviews/year.  The Flex-6600 began shipping "in volume" (and remember, this is a limited production capability radio)  in January 2018 and has 10 reviews.  That's 20 per year.  For added comparison, using the same approach, The FTDX-5000 has 16.5 reviews/year and the FTDX-3000 hass 25 per year.  So I'd say the Flex-6600 is right in the "sweet zone" by that metric (which YOU chose, not me).

I'm sure we could dual all day on statistics.  And I'm equally sure Flex is pleased with their sales numbers.  But in the end, it does not matter.  All of the users I've talked to really like their Flex-6600 radios.  And having sat down and used one, I do too.

This overall argument for/against the Flex-6600 has to be one of the dumbest on the forums - and that's saying a LOT.  It's like the EFHW-8010 debate.  Invariably the people that don't like them and don't believe they work well have never owned or used one.  And those that do love them.  So, go buy one and use it for a while THEN tell the world you don't like it and why.  They hold value well and their is still a wait for shipping.  So you'll be able to sell it just about anywhere if you don' t like it, and get the vast majority of your investment back.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 09:21:27 AM
Jim (AB4D):

That must have been quite a dissapointment with the FTDX-9000.  Forget the price.  At that sheer weight and volume of equipment, there should have been little compromise in putting in what was needed to perform well across the bands.  No real excuse for that.

But every company turns out a "clunker" now and then.  And I have to wonder just WHAT the design team leadership was thinking when they did.  Only occasionally do you find out, like with the AL-811 3-tube amp, where the designer wrote an on-line blog with his regrets (and how the 4 tube version evolved).

I'm enjoying the FTDX-3000, menu warts and all, just as I have with many other (imperfect) radios.  Imagine if we refused to enjoy our children, unless they were perfect.  OUCH!  Then if THEY WERE perfect we'd be angry WE are not perfect - or at least some of us would be.  Better to appreciate and enjoy what you have now and move on as opportunity offers.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AB4D on June 23, 2018, 09:53:22 AM
Jim (AB4D):

That must have been quite a dissapointment with the FTDX-9000.  Forget the price.  At that sheer weight and volume of equipment, there should have been little compromise in putting in what was needed to perform well across the bands.  No real excuse for that.

But every company turns out a "clunker" now and then.  And I have to wonder just WHAT the design team leadership was thinking when they did.  Only occasionally do you find out, like with the AL-811 3-tube amp, where the designer wrote an on-line blog with his regrets (and how the 4 tube version evolved).

I'm enjoying the FTDX-3000, menu warts and all, just as I have with many other (imperfect) radios.  Imagine if we refused to enjoy our children, unless they were perfect.  OUCH!  Then if THEY WERE perfect we'd be angry WE are not perfect - or at least some of us would be.  Better to appreciate and enjoy what you have now and move on as opportunity offers.

Brian - K6BRN

Brian, yes I was a bit disappointed in the receiver.  However, it's a vast improvement over the receiver in the FT-1000mp Mark V I had been using, and an older FT-1000D.  The hardware/front panel projected a lot of wow factor.  Another issue I had with the FTDX-9000 and even the FTDX-3000, the transmit SSB audio is just not quite as good for my voice, as a Mark V I owned. Everytime I used that one, I always received unsolicited favorable comments about the quality of the transmit signal.  When DXpeditions stop in the middle of the pile up and ask what your using, it makes you confident that you have everything set up just right. I've never been able to duplicate that particular sound/tone with any other transceiver.

I agree, no need to dwell on a piece of equipment or sully a manufacturer.  We should all enjoy what WE have, and not be so negative about what others have. Too much of that vitriol in these groups   I keep a Flex 5000a in my station. I get a lot of enjoyment using that one, and experiencing each evolving version of Power SDR from Darrin KE9NS.  It's truly SDR at its finest in relation to the flexibility of the GUI and unique features that Darrin has incorporated into the program.

73, Jim AB4D    


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 10:15:54 AM
Jim:

Quote
I agree, no need to dwell on a piece of equipment or sully a manufacturer.  We should all enjoy what WE have, and not be so negative about what others have. Too much of that vitriol in these groups 

I could not agree more!

73 DE K6BRN (Brian)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2WQ on June 23, 2018, 11:14:10 AM
I am not advocating for Icom, but for the time being they are the only commercially available SDR alternative to Flex. So stay with me.

When we normalize for time on the market, consider this:

1) 6600- 10 reviews in 6 months. During the same period of time, Icom 7610 earned 52
2) 6300/6500/6700 in total have 110 reviews and have been on the market for quite a few years. In less than the same period of time, the Icom 7300 earned 280!

As far as what you see in LA is concerned, it is irrelevant. I spend tons of time in CA where I see lots of Teslas on the road; trust me, you rarely see any in most of the country. The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.

Last but not least, competition in the ham radio market is s good thing. It is competition that drives innovation and lower prices.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 23, 2018, 11:34:02 AM
I am not advocating for Icom, but for the time being they are the only commercially available SDR alternative to Flex. So stay with me.

When we normalize for time on the market, consider this:

1) 6600- 10 reviews in 6 months. During the same period of time, Icom 7610 earned 52
2) 6300/6500/6700 in total have 110 reviews and have been on the market for quite a few years. In less than the same period of time, the Icom 7300 earned 280!

As far as what you see in LA is concerned, it is irrelevant. I spend tons of time in CA where I see lots of Teslas on the road; trust me, you rarely see any in most of the country. The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.

Last but not least, competition in the ham radio market is s good thing. It is competition that drives innovation and lower prices.


As mentioned above, eham reviews do not represent anything. Agree 100%+
I am one of the hams that never posted (i am pretty sure of it :) ) review of my kenwood 870,ft1000, ft1000mp Mark V, FT5000MP DX.
I have a lot of friends in other countries that never bother to write reviews. A lot of hams here in Oregon that I know never wrote review either.
Anyway, for statistical purpose you guys have to find another source.
Even if you do, what does it prove - personal preferences, financial situations, special needs, "Nice" Looking and so on?
Not sure where is discussion going, but checking it anyway.
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 12:48:43 PM
Sergey:

Agree with you tbat eham reviews are a poor metric.  That was my point.  We could argue over that all day..GIGO.

Brian - K6BRN



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 12:56:58 PM
Quote
As far as what you see in LA is concerned, it is irrelevant. I spend tons of time in CA where I see lots of Teslas on the road; trust me, you rarely see any in most of the country. The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.


Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha....   Ho!  Ho!...

Of course.  How COULD tbe 5th largest economy in the world be significant?

I completely MISSED that!

BTW... I have another QTH in Connecticut.  Plenty of Teslas out there, too.  Are you SURE you get out much?  Really hard to miss these points.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2WQ on June 23, 2018, 07:23:39 PM
Quote
As far as what you see in LA is concerned, it is irrelevant. I spend tons of time in CA where I see lots of Teslas on the road; trust me, you rarely see any in most of the country. The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.


Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha....   Ho!  Ho!...

Of course.  How COULD tbe 5th largest economy in the world be significant?

I completely MISSED that!

BTW... I have another QTH in Connecticut.  Plenty of Teslas out there, too.  Are you SURE you get out much?  Really hard to miss these points.

Brian - K6BRN

Sure, CA (not LA) is the 5th largest economy, but so what? How does this translate into LA being a proxy of buyer behavior across the entire country? It doesn’t. You can see the same pattern repeating across pretty much everything- architecture, clothing, cuisine, work habits, etc.  That is LA, or even CA for that matter, do not represent average America.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 23, 2018, 08:13:32 PM
So the forgoing posts regarding the West Coast not withstanding, it is safe to say that the Flex 6600m, and even more notably, the 6400M, have not been runaway successes.  They are just OK but failed to capture the market from other companies as was so boldly predicted.  I'm sure that for the casual operator who is more concerned with looking at signals than actually working them, these rigs are just fine for their purposes.

I hope that next May the Flex folks will get their hands on a TS-890 and bring it to the flex booth at Dayton like they did with the IC-7300.  That should prove interesting.  I know it will certainly have an impact on my opinion of them. ::)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 23, 2018, 11:56:43 PM
Rudy:

You REALLY need to look around more.  I was in your hometown (Westport) in April, will be back there again shortly and continually see Teslas driving around in town and from there up to Saybrook on 95 and in Essex, etc.  Elon Musk has done a great job making electric cars much more comfortable and useful.  So your observations and thought process seems just a little sloppy. 

Quote
The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.

Really?  Hmmm.  Let me think....

Taking small samples of data to predict larger trends and events is called "Polling" and is pretty much a staple of both politics and statistics.  I presume you've had basic statistics?  And I can form my own personal opinion on pretty much any basis I choose - that's called F R E E D O M.  Of course, you are perfectly free to disagree - and that's just fine.

BTW...  regarding L.A.  What percentage of the world's 5th largest economy do you THINK resides in that economies LARGEST city.  HINT:  A LOT!

John (KA4DPO):

Quote
It is safe to say that the Flex 6600m, and even more notably, the 6400M, have not been runaway successes.

Ummm... just WHY is it SAFE to say that, and in what fantasy.  You have no good statistics, no demographics to go with the statistics, don't own one and have not used one and never will.  In other words, you know exactly zero about the product.  But I do respect your opinion as your own, and that you have a right TO it.

From the backlog that Flex still has (based on friends orders), it seems they can sell every unit they produce. 

Do you understand the difference between a boutique provider with limited manufacturing capability and mass market providers like Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.  I guess not.

Flex is changing the market, and its a BIG change.  The inside of the Flex-6600 is... physically simple.  The algorithms.... well done.  The perfomance.... just fine.  And they are selling well, compared to the makers ability to produce them.  By comparison, the IC-7610 is still stuck in a product design paradigm that is relatively complex and expensive to produce - and Flex has shown it does not have to be - that there is a LOT of money and profit being left on the table.  Icom is quite literally an analog company trying to design a digital product.  And it shows.  They need to change their culture - in a big way.  Their direct sampling digital radios look, feel and cost them to manufacture as much or more (more in the case of the 7610) than the equivalent analog product.  And that shouldn't be.  Flex has proven it does not need to be.  And with the wider distribution network Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood have, plus broader supplier agreements and leverage from bigger commercial product lines, just guess what's coming next?  Survival of the fittest.  Among the big three.  Or China.

Flex - they may or may not prosper.  But the quality, performance and utility of the Flex-6600 is a milestone, IMNSHO.

I've cracked this nut before and would take the Icom/Yaesu/Kenwood execs to the woodshed once I saw and understood the Flex-6600's potential.  Icom got the barest taste of it with the 7300 - high volume with a decent profit margin.  And DSP radios built like the Flex-6600 can be Soooo much cheaper to produce than the 7300.  And still perform better.  And be much smaller than they are now.  And can have so much cachet with the right marketing.

Have you ever had to conceive of, drive the design of, market and sell a product, John?  I have. More than a few times.  I can feel the wind in this one, and it's changing. 

So... have fun bickering about the Flex-6600.  And statistical data.  You're missing the boat on this even as is cruises right by you.

Just my opinion, of course.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN





Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 24, 2018, 08:03:57 AM
 
Quote
And DSP radios built like the Flex-6600 can be Soooo much cheaper to produce than the 7300.  And still perform better.  And be much smaller than they are now.  And can have so much cachet with the right marketing.


Closely related to some points I made in earlier posts. If so much cheaper to produce, why so much more expensive? And why not much smaller?

Quote
Do you understand the difference between a boutique provider with limited manufacturing capability and mass market providers like Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.

I do. If the products from the "boutique" manufacturer are regarded as substantially interchangeable (only modestly differentiated) by buyers with those offered by higher volume manufacturers, then the boutique manufacturer cannot sustain a large price differential. This is especially important for buyers whose buying behavior can be classed as "consumers" (amateur radio operators purchasing for personal use: highly price sensitive, much subjectivity in the purchase decision, etc). Most buyers will not pay substantially more to deal with a small manufacturer just because the company is small. Some will, in fact, avoid this out of concerns re the ongoing viability of the small manufacturer, an especially important consideration re FRS as the software is a work in progress. This is good in the sense of feature evolution, but not so good if there is no company surviving to develop these features, fix bugs, etc.

Quote
From the backlog that Flex still has


FRS website quotes shipment in 2-3 weeks. If true, suggests the line is very short, as this is likely a build-to-order rather than build-to-inventory product.

Quote
The right marketing


This is key. Not there yet.

Quote
IMNSHO

Yes, certainly!   ;D

No question the FRS products have some attractive features, but no need to keep proselytizing on their behalf. If the new 6000 series is all you claim, the market will confirm this via sales volume.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N2WQ on June 24, 2018, 08:20:22 AM
Rudy:

You REALLY need to look around more.  I was in your hometown (Westport) in April, will be back there again shortly and continually see Teslas driving around in town and from there up to Saybrook on 95 and in Essex, etc.  Elon Musk has done a great job making electric cars much more comfortable and useful.  So your observations and thought process seems just a little sloppy. 

Quote
The point is you can’t form your opionion on a tiny slice of the ham market.

Really?  Hmmm.  Let me think....

Taking small samples of data to predict larger trends and events is called "Polling" and is pretty much a staple of both politics and statistics.  I presume you've had basic statistics?  And I can form my own personal opinion on pretty much any basis I choose - that's called F R E E D O M.  Of course, you are perfectly free to disagree - and that's just fine.

BTW...  regarding L.A.  What percentage of the world's 5th largest economy do you THINK resides in that economies LARGEST city.  HINT:  A LOT!

John (KA4DPO):

Quote
It is safe to say that the Flex 6600m, and even more notably, the 6400M, have not been runaway successes.

Ummm... just WHY is it SAFE to say that, and in what fantasy.  You have no good statistics, no demographics to go with the statistics, don't own one and have not used one and never will.  In other words, you know exactly zero about the product.  But I do respect your opinion as your own, and that you have a right TO it.

From the backlog that Flex still has (based on friends orders), it seems they can sell every unit they produce. 

Do you understand the difference between a boutique provider with limited manufacturing capability and mass market providers like Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.  I guess not.

Flex is changing the market, and its a BIG change.  The inside of the Flex-6600 is... physically simple.  The algorithms.... well done.  The perfomance.... just fine.  And they are selling well, compared to the makers ability to produce them.  By comparison, the IC-7610 is still stuck in a product design paradigm that is relatively complex and expensive to produce - and Flex has shown it does not have to be - that there is a LOT of money and profit being left on the table.  Icom is quite literally an analog company trying to design a digital product.  And it shows.  They need to change their culture - in a big way.  Their direct sampling digital radios look, feel and cost them to manufacture as much or more (more in the case of the 7610) than the equivalent analog product.  And that shouldn't be.  Flex has proven it does not need to be.  And with the wider distribution network Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood have, plus broader supplier agreements and leverage from bigger commercial product lines, just guess what's coming next?  Survival of the fittest.  Among the big three.  Or China.

Flex - they may or may not prosper.  But the quality, performance and utility of the Flex-6600 is a milestone, IMNSHO.

I've cracked this nut before and would take the Icom/Yaesu/Kenwood execs to the woodshed once I saw and understood the Flex-6600's potential.  Icom got the barest taste of it with the 7300 - high volume with a decent profit margin.  And DSP radios built like the Flex-6600 can be Soooo much cheaper to produce than the 7300.  And still perform better.  And be much smaller than they are now.  And can have so much cachet with the right marketing.

Have you ever had to conceive of, drive the design of, market and sell a product, John?  I have. More than a few times.  I can feel the wind in this one, and it's changing. 

So... have fun bickering about the Flex-6600.  And statistical data.  You're missing the boat on this even as is cruises right by you.

Just my opinion, of course.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN





The most fundamental principal of sampling is that the sample must be representative of the larger population. Comparing all of the US to  the town with the highest per capita income in the county with the highest per capita income in the state with the highest per capita income is ridiculous. I am very well aware of the type of cars we drive in Westport, but don’t think even for a moment that this is what the rest of country drives. $75K PPC vs $54K PPC makes a huge difference in how people spend their money.

This debate is not about what radio you should like or buy. It’s about you trying to extrapolate your miopic views to the broader ham population. The fact of the matter is that despite sellers g the 6x000 series for several years, Flex has not gained a significant adoption or meaningful market share. Don’t try to portray them as bigger than they actually are. And again, last but not least, they are good for competition.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 24, 2018, 09:01:59 AM
John (KA4DPO):

Quote
It is safe to say that the Flex 6600m, and even more notably, the 6400M, have not been runaway successes.

Ummm... just WHY is it SAFE to say that, and in what fantasy.  You have no good statistics, no demographics to go with the statistics, don't own one and have not used one and never will.  In other words, you know exactly zero about the product.  But I do respect your opinion as your own, and that you have a right TO it.

From the backlog that Flex still has (based on friends orders), it seems they can sell every unit they produce. 

Just my opinion, of course.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN


I assume you do have statistics such as the number of back orders.  Pretty bad when you have to backorder a mediocre radio.  I really do hope they try the same stunt with the TS-890 at Dayton that they did with the IC-7300.  Imagine what it will do for Kenwood sales numbers.  I bet you won't have to backorder a TS-890 either. 

If by some chance you think I have a low opinion of Flex,  then you would be right.  Not because of the radio, but because of what they did with the IC-7300 at Dayton.  There is no way I can do business with any company that embraces that kind of culture.  From the issues I have seen, and the les than stated performance of the latest offerings I would have to say the chickens are coming home to roost. 8)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 24, 2018, 11:52:35 AM
Fred (K8EZB):

You first - you asked some good questions...

Quote
Closely related to some points I made in earlier posts. If so much cheaper to produce, why so much more expensive? And why not much smaller?

On cost...  Quite simply, Flex Radio has a shallow capital base and needs to:  1.  Recoup their significant development investment as soon as possible, and 2.  Supply and demand.  If they are producing to capacity, why reduce price and forego the profit?  Flex has plenty of margin to control the sales numbers as they wish.  THIS was obvious from looking inside the radio case.

BTW - Supply vs. Demand, with cost as the makers throttle valve...  This the same issue that faces all product releases - how to balance volume vs. price to yield maximum return.  In the case of the Icom IC-7610, Icom set expectations a bit too high (especially on cost) and faced many, many dropped reservations after the radio was released.  It's $4K price point far exceeded the market expectations, leading to 25% price reductions with one year of release.  And it's a fairly complex and expensive radio to build, so they just do not have that much "throttle range" to play with - or not as much as Flex.  In short, from a corporate standpoint, with it's initial release delayed due to design issues, heavy discounting soon after introduction (ham products tend to have a loooong product cycle) and relatively limited profit margin, it's likely a disappointment.  Especially following on the heels of the "over-the-top" sales success of the IC-7300.  The IC-7300 was a great cash cow for the company, due to ease of use (x10), minimized physical complexity, low introduction cost and decent but not necessarily stellar performance.

On size:  With a stamped/formed cabinet, cost does not increase much with size, as long as the maker stays within a few tool and raw material size limits.  It's not expensive, like the cast/machined aluminum chassis inside other radios.  So the incentive to stay as small as possible is... small... where the benefits to some growth are greater.  For example, cooling becomes easier, assembly is generally simpler and... of course the form factor of their remote front panel is preserved, which probably provides some small savings.  It does not take much.  Also, if I were Flex, I'd leave space in the cabinet, thermal design and power supply for another DSP/data handling board for commercial and government applications.  The have this space, right now.  Hmmmm.  I can think of quite a few - and they should be working that market hard, too.  That's where MOST of their profit COULD come from, with relatively low sales volume.

Quote
Most buyers will not pay substantially more to deal with a small manufacturer just because the company is small.

On boutique manufacturers...

I've used some that have been in business for more than four decades.  Yes, you always have to be a bit more careful than with a manufacturer having deep pockets and staffing and a diversified business base.  And the ham community follows suit - its NEVER stopped them from buying.  Elecraft, Anan, Flex Radio, Ten-Tec, MFJ -the list of boutique manufacturers is endless.  Some survive just fine, some do for a while and then THE key visionary in the company dies and they fail... or they just keep going.  But they all make their mark, usually with plenty of sales vs. capacity.  So you really need to think a little more about this.

Quote
FRS website quotes shipment in 2-3 weeks. If true, suggests the line is very short, as this is likely a build-to-order rather than build-to-inventory product

Maybe Flex is JIT.  If so, that would be a smart thing to do to minimize inventory costs/taxes.  But even JIT maintains a small buffer of inventory to minimize supply latency and 3-4 weeks to ship says this buffer inventory is continuously exhausted, which in turn indicates they are still selling at a rate above planned for steady-state sales volume.  This is where they SHOULD be if they've introduced a product that is selling well, during the initial high demand period of product introduction.

Quote
The right marketing.  This is key. Not there yet.

My comment on marketing was not about Flex, BTW.  But since you asked...

If Flex is at their current shipping capacity at full price, they don't need to and should not spend money on marketing to increase the demand, when it will only result in disappointment due to backlog.  All they need is market awareness that they HAVE the product.  And it's there.  In spades.  Your are helping their cause right now with your responses.

As I said above, my comment in the marketing area had NOTHING to do with Flex Radio.  It had EVERYTHING to do with the "Big Three" or China diving into the game and reaping large profits.  Flex has practically left them a detailed roadmap with step-by-step instructions.  Briefly:  1.  Build a very physically simple product to make it inexpensive to produce.  Put lots of investment into a good user interface and high quality algorithms that perform well.  Eliminate extra items a user will want to configure themselves and that are mass-market, low-cost items anyway.  2.  Market this simplicity as an advantage and exploit the mystique of DSP to give the brand cachet.  Even consider building in a very simple user-defined firmware "macro" capability that users can play with (THAT would be a first!).  For this reason, the Flex-6600 is a milestone product and not just a toy.  It's impact will far outlive it's own product life.

Quote
No question the FRS products have some attractive features, but no need to keep proselytizing on their behalf.

Really?  "proselytizing on their behalf."  I don't even OWN a Flex product.  But I HAVE used one.  And opened one up. And inspected it.   And I work in a closely related field.  And had some major successes in that field.  So I'm expressing my own informed opinion, and it's a strong one, based on what I've seen and experienced.  You have the very same right to do this as I do.  But be careful how you use that right.

Because ... The reason this thread is going on for so very long in the pro/con Flex-6600 is that you and others who:

1.  Do not own the radio
2.  Have not used the radio
3.  Have never looked inside the radio
4.  Have no idea how it works
5.  Will probably never do any of the above by their own admission

....continually attack the company and product.  Based on ... nothing.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.

First rule of combat on any field - Know your target (or enemy)

You don't have a clue.  No basis for judgement.  None at all.  So... maybe you should be better informed.  By, maybe (what a thought!)... actually trying one?  That's what I did.  "Seeing for yourself" is always a good idea, even if you're NOT from Missouri

You and a few others are actually keeping this pretty useless topic going by attacking a product you know nothing about.  Think about it.  And I became involved in the thread because I actually tried the product, looked inside the product, thought about what I saw, and liked it.  Then offered a personal opinion.  Not really much to argue about.  It's MY opinion, after all.  Not yours.

Which is why answering the attacks is like plinking in a shooting gallery.  Just TOO easy.  And entertaining.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN




Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 24, 2018, 12:00:43 PM
Rudy:

Quote
This debate is not about what radio you should like or buy. It’s about you trying to extrapolate your miopic views to the broader ham population. The fact of the matter is that despite sellers g the 6x000 series for several years, Flex has not gained a significant adoption or meaningful market share. Don’t try to portray them as bigger than they actually are. And again, last but not least, they are good for competition.

You keep on telling me what my opinion should be, what the rest of the ham world really wants and how bad the Flex Radio product is when you obviously have no clue to any of the above.  I can practically hear you sputtering from here.  If you'd really like to continue this debate, face to face, and in a civilized way, I will be very close to you next week, offer to provide the very finest whiskey to ponder this over, and a beautiful waterfront view to enjoy.  Send me a note and we'll make it happen.

But unless you come up with anything more substantial, like "I tried it and didn't like XXX, YYY, etc.", there is just not much more to discuss with you.

So..  Have a good week and Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 24, 2018, 12:16:06 PM
John:

Quote
If by some chance you think I have a low opinion of Flex,  then you would be right.  Not because of the radio, but because of what they did with the IC-7300 at Dayton.  There is no way I can do business with any company that embraces that kind of culture.  From the issues I have seen, and the les than stated performance of the latest offerings I would have to say the chickens are coming home to roost. Cool

I see.  You are implying Flex Radio tried to "rape" an Icom IC-7300 and that really pissed you off.  That would be a "first" in my experience.  How does that work, exactly?  I'm not buying it.  But there is always some righteous ... um person ... just dying to be offended.  For any reason at all.  Then comes the hate.  I see that in you.

Presumably you KNOW the IC-7300 well enough to use it as a metric against a Flex.  Or any other radio.  It does NOT have to be better or more expensive to be a good metric, anymore than a yardstick is limited to measuring lengths no longer than three feet.  Do you understand the concept?

And since you want to just take your ball and go home, you are free to do so.  You don't need my permission.  Nobody cares WHO you hate.  WAY too much of that in the world right not.

My advice (it's free):  Dwell more on the POSITIVE things in life rather than your rage and hate. It makes every thing so much sweeter.  And prevents reflux and gastric distress, too.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K8EZB on June 24, 2018, 12:19:45 PM
Brian,

Quote
You don't have a clue.  No basis for judgement. Etc, etc, etc.

You are obviously a smart guy. Too bad you choose to diminish your intellect by insisting on incorporating ad homiem attacks in what is otherwise reasonable discourse. You profess tolerance for the opinion of others and then trash that opinion when not consistent with your own. Seems to be the new normal. I find it disgusting.

Rick
K8EZB


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 24, 2018, 12:32:34 PM
John:

Quote
If by some chance you think I have a low opinion of Flex,  then you would be right.  Not because of the radio, but because of what they did with the IC-7300 at Dayton.  There is no way I can do business with any company that embraces that kind of culture.  From the issues I have seen, and the les than stated performance of the latest offerings I would have to say the chickens are coming home to roost. Cool

I see.  You are implying Flex Radio tried to "rape" an Icom IC-7300 and that really pissed you off.  That would be a "first" in my experience.  How does that work, exactly?  I'm not buying it.  But there is always some righteous ... um person ... just dying to be offended.  For any reason at all.  Then comes the hate.  I see that in you.

Presumably you KNOW the IC-7300 well enough to use it as a metric against a Flex.  Or any other radio.  It does NOT have to be better or more expensive to be a good metric, anymore than a yardstick is limited to measuring lengths no longer than three feet.  Do you understand the concept?

And since you want to just take your ball and go home, you are free to do so.  You don't need my permission.  Nobody cares WHO you hate.  WAY too much of that in the world right not.

My advice (it's free):  Dwell more on the POSITIVE things in life rather than your rage and hate. It makes every thing so much sweeter.  And prevents reflux and gastric distress, too.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN

No Brian, I don't own a 7300, or a 7610, it didn't really matter what radio it was, or who made it, it was the very childish and mean spirited act of bringing a competitors low cost entry level radio to their booth and attempting to trash it against their $6,000.00 top of the line demo radio.  Fortunately I am not the only one who saw it for what it was and Flex only wound up getting a black eye over it while Icom's sales went through the roof.

I don't rage and hate on anything but the bellicose nature of your posts suggest a dog in a manger stance against anyone who would dare criticize Flex radio.  You said nobody cares who I hate, I don't hate anyone but you sure seem to care. 

In my post I said low opinion, you said hate.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 24, 2018, 12:39:56 PM
I am not sure about the speed and efficiency of manufacturers like flex and elecraft, but market saturation and lack of demand tend to lead soft pricing (discounts).

Flex radio has done all owners and purchasers a great favor.

When you buy a flex, there can be a wait, then they look on the used market and you can sell yours for top dollar.  Sell your ic7300 or ic7100?

top dollar is much lower. until this 25% tariff comes.


Greg ni8r  


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 24, 2018, 12:43:39 PM
Brian , not sure if you have tried it, but crown royal just released its xo label again. better buy some before its gone.



Greg ni8r


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 24, 2018, 12:50:04 PM
Update #4 from N6YFM:

Wow! :-)   4 entire page tabs on eham of users that don't own a flex fighting,
posting photo's, without sharing owner experiences or asking pre-purchase/interest
questions :-)  [Ya' know;  if you don't have anything to ask or share related to the topic
of the thread, there really are other forums/bars/brawls.  Just sayin'  :-)

Back to the thread topic;

I was gone for a while traveling, and then busy with work.  I previously posted about
learning the digital modes setups.   This weekend, I had a couple hours free finally,
and decided to try Field Day for the first time, rather than simply watch.
After touring two different field setups, I went back home and decided to configure SSB.
I quickly figured out that to move fast with logging, I needed to understand how to get Flex SmartSDR
software to share (send) frequency/band/mode information with HRD logbook.
The answer was simple.  A free third-party software package called DDutil, and one checkbox
in the setup.   (DDutil does buckets more if you want, but I just needed this one simple function
for now).

With the above set up, I could click ADD in HRD logbook and all the right stuff was filled in
from the radio.

Next, I set up receiver slices to monitor the entire SSB portion of 20 and 40 meters.
Propagation did not look that great to me (but I am a rookie).  That said, I was able to
make 72 phone QSO's and log them.

When I spotted a signal, I would click it, fine tune, and then listen for the call sign.
Once I got the call clearly, I would then respond to the CQ.
Operating from home, this was only a 1D station class.  But I did not want/need to make field day
points; this was only about learning to work SSB on this radio in nasty crowded conditions.

I was pretty happy with the radio, and the reports I got on my signal.
In short time it became very quick and easy to move around and make contacts.
I learned a few things about all the moving pieces that I should share;

1.  Straight out of the box, when you change bands, the Flex starts at full RF power.
(I am thinking that if I read the manual and use "Profiles", I can pre-set what I want.
Note:  I really should make some time to read the manual).   Anyway, after this tested the
protection features on my amplifier 2 times, I learned to pay close attention during band
changes :-)

2.  The third party program DDutil that I am using to link to HRD logbook for band/freq
information also does a TON of other stuff.  It assumes you will configure DDutil to take over
controlling your amplifier, so by default DDutil turns off the Flex Radio hardware TX1 through TX3
amplifier keying outputs on the back of the radio.  (This caused me to spend half an hour
verifying cabling, etc, but again, if I would just read the dang instructions first :-)
I went into DDutil config settings and put it to manual TX PTT control so it would not disable
my TX1 output cable to the amp.

3.  While I did have no trouble with the audio and made all 72 contacts using the standard audio output,
I like the noise reduction better on my West Mountain CLRdsp audio box.  So, after field day,
I routed the Flex line level audio output into the West Mountain noise reduction box.
I used one of those cheap inline RCA plug ground-loop isolators (600:600 ohm audio transformer),
and I was able to reduce 40meter background static a little more than the Flex built in NR.

I have a ton more to learn, but am having a ton of fun. In playing so far only with SSB and Digital,
I am finding that the flex can make virtual com ports for a huge array of programs and stuff to
control, has USB outputs that work with FTDI USB-2-Serial adapters ($5 on ebay) to control a
wide array of stuff, and via third party programs like DDutil, can also control an even wider array
of stuff, including external tuners, antenna switches, rotors, amps, StepIR control, WattMeters,
external relays, IO ports, etc.

During field day, there were people overlapping the 3Khz SSB channels, stepping on each other, and
QRM up the WahHoo.  But I found it easy to see visually where there were clean SSB signals right
next to each other with zero spacing, and had no trouble working them.  The visual feedback and
high resolution of the display in SmartSDR made it easy to understand what was going on.
Even when people were overlapping or piling on, despite my hearing problems, if I was persistent
and hung around a minute or two, I got them in my logbook.

So again, I am not trying to sell anything and not drinking any cool-aid, but I AM really enjoying
this radio.  In my learning curve, each time I post a question or contact someone, I get a prompt answer
with typically MORE than one way of doing what I want.

I still like my Icom 7300, but all my usage right now is on learning the new Flex.

Next week, I will receive a small 6M antenna from Par Electronics, so will have to toss
that up a mast and start keeping another receiver slice open to monitor for band openings.
I want to experience 6m before the summer is over with.

Cheers,

Neal
N6YFM


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 24, 2018, 01:00:28 PM
Everyone,  repeat after me;    C A L M   D O W N

It seems this forum is starting to mirror the USA over the last 12 months.
Instead of divisive, intolerance, attacking, etc, how about we start trying
to remember   IT'S ONLY A HOBBY, NOT A WAR.
The idea for joining was to have fun, meet people, make friends, and learn things.

Can we start fresh next week?
Ideas for next week are to practice;

+  tolerate other ideas.
+  be friendly, or you will shortly have only ONE person on the forum :-)
+  all rigs work, and everyone wants something different.
+  If your truck is bigger than my....   You don't belong here, go to the White House.
+  Try to smile when posting, we need more people joining the hobby.
    Ask yourself;  with the past 4 pages of behavior, how likely are new kids to join this bully yard?

OK?
Please?
Take a Chill Pill.
And remember;        Free Beer Tomorrow


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 24, 2018, 02:14:12 PM
Greg (N8IR):

Quote
Brian , not sure if you have tried it, but crown royal just released its xo label again. better buy some before its gone.

Thanks, Greg.  Crown Royal XO sounds very interesting.  Matured in Cognac barrels.  Think I'll pick up a bottle, at your suggestion.  My current favorite rye is Whistlepig, which is a Canadian rye aged in the USA.  But I'm always looking for a new experience.

Did you notice that higher end liquors sometimes sell for 45% more in CT vs. CA.  Ouch!

Let me know if you'd like to join me.  We may need to invite Neal (N6YFM).  He sounds pretty upset.

Sorry Neal!

Drop by and we'll have a dram!  Good to hear Field Day went well for you.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N0YXB on June 24, 2018, 03:01:18 PM
Update #4 from N6YFM:

Next week, I will receive a small 6M antenna from Par Electronics, so will have to toss
that up a mast and start keeping another receiver slice open to monitor for band openings.
I want to experience 6m before the summer is over with.


Very cool. Thanks for the latest update.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: NI8R on June 24, 2018, 05:45:27 PM
Greg (N8IR):

Quote
Brian , not sure if you have tried it, but crown royal just released its xo label again. better buy some before its gone.

Thanks, Greg.  Crown Royal XO sounds very interesting.  Matured in Cognac barrels.  Think I'll pick up a bottle, at your suggestion.  My current favorite rye is Whistlepig, which is a Canadian rye aged in the USA.  But I'm always looking for a new experience.

Did you notice that higher end liquors sometimes sell for 45% more in CT vs. CA.  Ouch!

Let me know if you'd like to join me.  We may need to invite Neal (N6YFM).  He sounds pretty upset.

Sorry Neal!

Drop by and we'll have a dram!  Good to hear Field Day went well for you.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN




Brian , if your enjoy the finer things in life , i recommend a nice wagyu steak and some Balvenie 12 doublewood. You can stop by when you travel. I usually have some A5 steak in the freezer( just ordered more) . I have a  infrared grill, 1100 degrees and that scotch on $300/lb steak and no one will give a flying f*c* about Flex radio. I have some cheap rye at the house , only drink it when i want to feel lazy. Whistlepig looks pretty good too.

Greg NI8R


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K6BRN on June 24, 2018, 07:16:50 PM
Greg:

Thanks for the invite.  Consider it reciprocal.

Scotch Whisky is my preferred drink.  On the East Coast I stock Lagavulin 16 (for the smoke), Glenmorangie Nector D'or and Quinta Ruban (12) and Civas 18 blended.  The West Coast is much deeper.  I'm currently finishing a very nice Balvenie Portwood 21 over here.

The home drink is Essex seems to be a simple "Dark and Stormy", so ..."when in Rome..."  I enjoy them, too.  And the friends and family they come with.

Never considered $300/lb steak, though I'm very much a beefeater.  Barbeques are frequent when I'm on the East Coast, with many good chefs.  But I'm not a BBQ competitor as some of my friends are.  So I just have a few Weber gas grills that do the job, and let others, like #2 son (who is quite good with beef) do the cooking.  Usually.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN

(WOOF!  WOOF!)  - that's for John (I'm a Junk-yard dog, John, Junk-yard.)  :)


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KA4DPO on June 24, 2018, 08:23:50 PM
Brian - K6BRN

(WOOF!  WOOF!)  - that's for John (I'm a Junk-yard dog, John, Junk-yard.)  :)

Saw your picture on Linked in.  Junk yard? ;D


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6VZV on June 24, 2018, 08:50:02 PM
Wow, this thread sure did drift!  Lot of comments from people who have never even used a Flex.

I've been using my Flex 6400M coming up on a month.  The radio has been a total blast.  In this post I wanted to emphasize one of the strengths of the Flex concept that not everyone appreciates.  That is the ability of the Smart SDR software to effortlessly and easily create virtual COM ports such that different programs can have their own COM ports for radio control and PTT without conflict.  Right now I've got Ham Radio Deluxe and the WSJT-X/JT Alert using separate ports so that I can have both programs running simultaneously without any problems.  For digital modes the rig's built-in digital sound system makes interfaces and interface cables a thing of the past.  Got to love that.  No more soldering up those tiny DIN connectors and complicated interface harnesses.

The radio allows unlimited "profiles" so you can have different profiles for different bands and modes.  I can see that by the time I am done I will rarely be changing settings -- just profiles.

The receiver on the radio continues to please, and now I wonder how I worked SSB or CW without the panoramic scope showing all the band activity and where it is.  And it is SO easy to work split simply by creating a slice.

The Flex user community is a joy to work with.  Questions get answered in minutes not days, and everyone is super-friendly with very little or zero snark.

Look, I'm not interested in putting down the other excellent radios that others mention on this thread.  Who knows, maybe some of them represent a terrific value and so forth.  Possibly the Flex approach is not for everyone.  (Or maybe it will be.) All I am saying is that I've been a ham since 1968 (I was 12) and I've never liked a radio like the way I'm liking this Flex.  That's all.  More comments as I continue to learn the radio.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 24, 2018, 09:07:54 PM
Someone mentioned in previous page that current waiting time for Flex is 3-4 weeks.
I oredered 6600+Maestro on 6/11, shipped on 6/18, arriving tomorrow.

Neil, I am in process to build Optibeam 6m 6el antenna, but will delay installation for a few weeks as it is going on top of my Steppir and I need it for next week KH1 chaising.
I am thinking to bring cable all way to the shack and use 6m antenna on 1 slice, while Steppir or 43ft vertical will used on another. Two antenna outputs will be used on 6600.
How are you going to use your 6m antenna? Through external antenna switch? Are you using 1 antenna connector on the radio?
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 24, 2018, 10:26:55 PM
Someone mentioned in previous page that current waiting time for Flex is 3-4 weeks.
I oredered 6600+Maestro on 6/11, shipped on 6/18, arriving tomorrow.

Neil, I am in process to build Optibeam 6m 6el antenna, but will delay installation for a few weeks as it is going on top of my Steppir and I need it for next week KH1 chaising.
I am thinking to bring cable all way to the shack and use 6m antenna on 1 slice, while Steppir or 43ft vertical will used on another. Two antenna outputs will be used on 6600.
How are you going to use your 6m antenna? Through external antenna switch? Are you using 1 antenna connector on the radio?
Sergey, KN7K

Hi Sergey:

This week, I have my comet rotating dipole (H-422) on ANT1 jack on the radio, and my long wire (EFHW-8010) on the ANT2 jack.
So I suspect for the time being I will use one of my Alpha Delta switches to manually choose antenna for jack #2.
But with all the automation available in the rig outputs via USB to Serial connectors, and then again with the free DDutil program,
this just begs me to buy an electronic antenna switch.   That way, it can all be connected and when I switch bands, it just switches in
the proper antenna for me.  A project for August :-)

But for July, I will just use the manual antenna switch.

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 24, 2018, 10:56:13 PM
Someone mentioned in previous page that current waiting time for Flex is 3-4 weeks.
I oredered 6600+Maestro on 6/11, shipped on 6/18, arriving tomorrow.

Neil, I am in process to build Optibeam 6m 6el antenna, but will delay installation for a few weeks as it is going on top of my Steppir and I need it for next week KH1 chaising.
I am thinking to bring cable all way to the shack and use 6m antenna on 1 slice, while Steppir or 43ft vertical will used on another. Two antenna outputs will be used on 6600.
How are you going to use your 6m antenna? Through external antenna switch? Are you using 1 antenna connector on the radio?
Sergey, KN7K

Hi Sergey:

This week, I have my comet rotating dipole (H-422) on ANT1 jack on the radio, and my long wire (EFHW-8010) on the ANT2 jack.
So I suspect for the time being I will use one of my Alpha Delta switches to manually choose antenna for jack #2.
But with all the automation available in the rig outputs via USB to Serial connectors, and then again with the free DDutil program,
this just begs me to buy an electronic antenna switch.   That way, it can all be connected and when I switch bands, it just switches in
the proper antenna for me.  A project for August :-)

But for July, I will just use the manual antenna switch.

Neal

Neil,
I am using Microham Sation Master for a few years.
It is overkill for my small station, but I love it.
I have one coax out and Array Solution 6 Ant switch outside. Currently 2 ant in use-Steppir and Vertical Inv L. Actually vertical used by the same switch box in dual configuration 80m and 160m. So, technically I use 3 antennas with automatic switching.
I programmed what outputs should be used for each Antenna and Band, hated it initially until I learned it.
Station Master has 10 outputs for antennas and 10 outputs for BPF if needed.
As I said, it is overkill, but fully automated.
Not trying to sell you Microham, just saying that automation is nice.
Now, I will have to figure out how to use it with Flex.
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AE5X on June 25, 2018, 08:37:23 AM
but will delay installation for a few weeks as it is going on top of my Steppir and I need it for next week KH1 chaising.

It looks like KH1 will be starting a day earlier than previously announced - tomorrow possibly.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 25, 2018, 10:11:01 AM
but will delay installation for a few weeks as it is going on top of my Steppir and I need it for next week KH1 chaising.

It looks like KH1 will be starting a day earlier than previously announced - tomorrow possibly.

Great, Thanks John for heads up. I need KH1 !!!
Do you mind to share where are looking for info? On they website last update was on June 4th.
Enjoying your blog by the way, good job.
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AE5X on June 25, 2018, 10:50:54 AM
Tnx Sergey. I got the info here:
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,121006.15.html

from the quote posted by VK3GA. I believe he got it via Twitter.

73,


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 25, 2018, 11:33:09 AM
Tnx Sergey. I got the info here:
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,121006.15.html

from the quote posted by VK3GA. I believe he got it via Twitter.

73,

Cool, More here
https://dx-world.net/kh1-kh7z-baker-island-dxpedition/


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 25, 2018, 12:59:44 PM
Tnx Sergey. I got the info here:
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,121006.15.html

from the quote posted by VK3GA. I believe he got it via Twitter.

73,

Cool, More here
https://dx-world.net/kh1-kh7z-baker-island-dxpedition/


I looked over the info, but a question please;
Where would I find what bands/modes/frequencies they might try to use for that week?
I would like to try to log Baker, and this is my first time actually watching/hunting for
a specific group.

Thanks


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 25, 2018, 01:25:53 PM
Tnx Sergey. I got the info here:
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,121006.15.html

from the quote posted by VK3GA. I believe he got it via Twitter.

73,

Cool, More here
https://dx-world.net/kh1-kh7z-baker-island-dxpedition/


I looked over the info, but a question please;
Where would I find what bands/modes/frequencies they might try to use for that week?
I would like to try to log Baker, and this is my first time actually watching/hunting for
a specific group.

Thanks

Here
http://baker2018.net/pages/plan.html


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 25, 2018, 02:48:53 PM
Tnx Sergey. I got the info here:
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,121006.15.html

from the quote posted by VK3GA. I believe he got it via Twitter.

73,

Cool, More here
https://dx-world.net/kh1-kh7z-baker-island-dxpedition/


I looked over the info, but a question please;
Where would I find what bands/modes/frequencies they might try to use for that week?
I would like to try to log Baker, and this is my first time actually watching/hunting for
a specific group.

Thanks

Here
http://baker2018.net/pages/plan.html

KH1 just arrived - http://www.callingdx.com/KH1-KH7Z-Baker-Island-DXpedition.htm
"UPDATE:  June 25 2018, 20:21 UTC : The team is now just off the coast at Baker Island! Next step - getting ashore with all the gear - then QRV very soon thereafter!"

My Flex6600+Maestro also arrived today.
Neil, thanks for you help with initial setup. My Maestro is ON now as well and am just learning the radio.
Most likely will shutdown tonight as I will chase KH1 with Yaesu FT5000.
As I may to figure out Flex, my Log and Microham antenna switching currently programmed and connected to FT5000. So, I do not want to miss opportunity to work KH1 during shack changes.

On 1st Power UP (with Neil on the phone) radio requested SW update, completed in about 2min.
Maestro also updated in about 1min.
For now going through Menus and listening.
Sergey,KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 25, 2018, 07:51:51 PM
Well, my 1st day with 6600 is good so far.
However no joy with Maestro.
After about 2h of operation (RX only) it became very slugish and I decided to power cycle it.
Never came to live again, have error 152 on the screen.
Error desribed here
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/new-maestro-loading-error-152?topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bfilter_by%5D=all&topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bpage%5D=1#reply_19603304

Opened ticket with Flex and will follow up tomorrow.
Sergey,KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: AE5X on June 27, 2018, 05:09:32 AM

My Flex6600+Maestro also arrived today.
Neil, thanks for you help with initial setup. My Maestro is ON now as well and am just learning the radio.
Most likely will shutdown tonight as I will chase KH1 with Yaesu FT5000.

Just got Baker on 40m CW with my Flex 6300 - wow, these things can actually work DX! GL to all who need KH1.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: IK8HCG on June 27, 2018, 03:19:42 PM
Received from few hours the first one in Europe flex6400. Tomorrow i'll will run it. Just a question, may i upgrade the black box with a external display. The hole back side is close, maybe it's a optinal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 27, 2018, 04:52:46 PM

My Flex6600+Maestro also arrived today.
Neil, thanks for you help with initial setup. My Maestro is ON now as well and am just learning the radio.
Most likely will shutdown tonight as I will chase KH1 with Yaesu FT5000.

Just got Baker on 40m CW with my Flex 6300 - wow, these things can actually work DX! GL to all who need KH1.

Great John!
Well, I drove home from work to listen KH1, saw them on 160m and 40m in cluster, but could not hear.
After 1pm started to hear them on 20m CW, but could not make it initially.
Around 4pm finally got them on 20m, switched to 17m and got them SSB 1st call.
Calling now FT8 on 14090, but too many stations.

Anyway, going back to Flex.
My Maestro replacement shipped today.
6600 helps me as a panadapter to watch pileup while I transmit on FT5000+Acom2000A.

Downloaded SDR for iPAD yesterday, paid $60. While learning (cheking menus) application locked up to unresponsive state several times. Needed to close and start over. Not very good sign got money spent yet.
But will play more.
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on June 27, 2018, 10:00:47 PM
Sergey:    After your post about your new Maestro failure, since mine arrived from same batch within 24 hours,
I finished work and finally ran out to the shack to open/unpack at 10:00PM.   Lucky, mine so far seems to be a
good one, but too soon to tell.   I played for about two hours.   It seems to work very well, even with the crappy
internal speaker.

Work has been "in my face" for the last two days, but I hope to get out there tomorrow night and configure hound
mode for FT8 and see if I can get Baker.  I could also try SSB, but I have a compromise antenna, poor take off
angle, and only 400 to 500 watts max.  So I may have better luck being patient with Ft8.

[One way you know it is time to retire;  you resent work for getting in the way of your hobby time :-)  ]

Let us know when your replacement Maestro arrives.

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on June 27, 2018, 11:35:08 PM
Sergey:    After your post about your new Maestro failure, since mine arrived from same batch within 24 hours,
I finished work and finally ran out to the shack to open/unpack at 10:00PM.   Lucky, mine so far seems to be a
good one, but too soon to tell.   I played for about two hours.   It seems to work very well, even with the crappy
internal speaker.

Work has been "in my face" for the last two days, but I hope to get out there tomorrow night and configure hound
mode for FT8 and see if I can get Baker.  I could also try SSB, but I have a compromise antenna, poor take off
angle, and only 400 to 500 watts max.  So I may have better luck being patient with Ft8.

[One way you know it is time to retire;  you resent work for getting in the way of your hobby time :-)  ]

Let us know when your replacement Maestro arrives.

Neal


Neil, great that your Maestro works fine.
Mine started to show some signs of slow down (making wzzzz noise with delays to buttons responce) and after power cycle went to the error state.
Just to make sure you got a good one, try power cycle.

New Maestro shipped today, I got tracking info. Unfortunatly they shipped replacement by UPS Ground and it will arrive on July 3rd.
Just worked KH1 FT8 on 20m, after SSB and CW QSO.
Sergey,KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on July 03, 2018, 12:27:38 AM
Update #5 from N6YFM:

Another Weekend came and went.  I did not get any time to install the 6m antenna,
but did get a number of hours for 3 days in a row to play with SSB, Digital, and do A/B
comparisons with my Icom SDR.   In both SSB and Digital modes, the Flex can clearly
receive weak signals that that the Icom is not even aware of.   Of course, looking at the
specs on the digital parts, there is no secret here;  one uses much cheaper ADC's with
fewer effective bits (ENOB), and other less capable chips.  But it hits home more when you
actually try it and hear (or don't hear) the signals.  [The performance of an SDR will be
affected by many things, some of which will be the Effective Number of bits and sampling speed
of the ADC chip, the filtering (Both analog in front of the ADC, and digital after it), the quality
and capability of the FPGA, and then of course, the secret sauce in the Software running on
the FPGA and the microprocessor for the radio.]

OK, then why did I not work on the 6m antenna?   I got side tracked and became interested in
DX, and read about the Baker Island DXpedition.  I decided it would be fun and educational to
try my first real hunt for DX.  [I was only recently licensed for HF in 2015, and since that time,
the 92 DXCC log entries I have were "random collisions", meaning that I had no plan, no directed
effort, and was simply responding to random CQ's wherever I happened to be listening that day.)

This time would be my first hunt.   [Neal, shut up and jump to the end, you hot air bag....]
On the third day of trying and getting frustrated, I finally got Baker Island (KH1/KH7Z) in the log.
In my location, with noise, compromise antenna at best, on a hill with poor take-off angle, and terrible
propagation toward Baker for all 3 days, it would have been impossible to receive on my Icom at my location.
( I tried more than once)
But the Flex was able to pull it out of the noise for me.

Propagation has been so bad the last few days, that even weak modes like FT8 were harder to work than usual.
We really need something  or someone to go kick the ionosphere.

I also finally spent enough hours playing with the Maestro that I find I really like it sitting right behind my keyboard.
The angle lets me see/use the Maestro and still see both computer displays.  The buttons and controls on the Maestro
feel better and more solid to me (for my large fingers) than the buttons did on my Yaesu and Icom.
(The way I operate, if I was going to stay ALL on the computer, with no Maestro, I would want a third computer display.
I watch more stuff than an air traffic controller :-)    But using the Maestro to monitor the radio, I could close SmartSDR on
the computer, just leave SmartCAT and DAX running, and then use two computer screens for software like logger, solar
conditions, call sign lookup, digital mode software, DDutil, Amp control, it all fit on two screens for me.

Finally starting to hunt DX as a newbie taught me how to use the Flex in Split mode (which the Maestro made simple),
and also made me learn how to use the spotting networks (yes, I did piss off one guy before I learned what to do, and not to do.)
I ordered a couple of adapter cables for the Maestro so that I can use a spare desk mic, or my Heil headset, or the Flex mic.
At this point, I think I am ready to try remote operation, but should probably get back to assembling the 6m antenna next
week.  At the rate I am going, the summer E season could be over by the time I put up the 6m antenna :-)

I read about the Flex USB to Serial interfaces that can control my Elecraft amplifier and my tuner, but they are already
automatic and follow frequency.  I will have to let another Flex user with more experience than me, tell me when/why
I would want the cables controlling the amp and tuner when they already sense RF and follow frequency.
[A guess?  Maybe if I use direct control cables, it could avoid me needing to press tune after I change bands? Don't know,
but a DX club meeting comes up later in July and most of those guys have Flex 6000 rigs, so I can ask.]

Cheers,

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on July 03, 2018, 07:19:01 PM
Good preogress Neil!
My Maestro replacement arrived today and I am listening last 5hours or so.
Maestro works fine, no issue so far.
A am going back and forht between 6600 and FT5000MP and while I like CW on 6600, i am trying to adjust to 6600 SSB audio. I use preamp from -8 to 32db, NR, AGC-T,Shift and Width, somehow Flex sound noisier in SSB and seems like FT5000 more punchy.
Watched Yuotube video vor AGC adjustment and performed it on my radio.
It is not a criticizm, quite possible that i am doing something wrong or have to adjust my hearing. Need mre time to figure it out.

I spent time today to locate USB procedure, found FTDI adapter in my collection of cables, connected to Flex.
Flex recognized the SN of the chip and I found another cable (DB9 to 3.5mm) for connecting Microham Staion Master. Station Master control my antenna switching, so I have to implement changes in wiring.
Plannig in comming days to get it connected and finally make a QSO but in another hand my vacation just started so quite possible that i could go some travel and will delay everything.
Another project is awating 6m anetenna is halh build and need time to put it up as well.
Too many projects for this summer  ;D
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on July 04, 2018, 01:34:49 AM
Of course, looking at the specs on the digital parts, there is no secret here;  one uses much cheaper ADC's with
fewer effective bits (ENOB), and other less capable chips.

ADC ENOB from specifications (at 5 MHz):

AD9467 = 12.4 bits
LTC2208 = 12.6 bits
LTC2208-14 = 12.5 bits

It's hard to believe ADC selection makes much of a difference. However, noise reduction performance may well be the real differentiating factor. IMHO, for the average ham station, noise reduction may be the most important performance metric of all, yet it's never tested in any meaningful way.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on July 04, 2018, 11:33:19 AM
Of course, looking at the specs on the digital parts, there is no secret here;  one uses much cheaper ADC's with
fewer effective bits (ENOB), and other less capable chips.

ADC ENOB from specifications (at 5 MHz):

AD9467 = 12.4 bits
LTC2208 = 12.6 bits
LTC2208-14 = 12.5 bits

It's hard to believe ADC selection makes much of a difference. However, noise reduction performance may well be the real differentiating factor. IMHO, for the average ham station, noise reduction may be the most important performance metric of all, yet it's never tested in any meaningful way.

Next, compare the sampling rate between those parts.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: W6RZ on July 04, 2018, 03:22:32 PM
Next, compare the sampling rate between those parts.

The AD9467 is clocked at 2X the LTC2208, so you get 3 dB more from decimation gain. However, accounting for ENOB, the actual difference is only 1.6 dB.

But even that small difference doesn't set the noise floor of the receiver. That's a function of the preamp(s) in front of the ADC.

It's better to think of the ADC as providing an operational range of signal levels from minimum detectable signal (MDS) to overload. Then that operational range can be shifted up (by adding attenuation) or down (by adding preamp gain).

AD9467
overload = 11.9 dBm
Noise Figure = 27.7 dB
MDS in 500 Hz bandwidth = -119.3 dBm
500 Hz Operating Range = 131.2 dB

LTC2208
overload = 11.0 dBm
Noise Figure = 28.4 dB
MDS in 500 Hz bandwidth = -118.6 dBm
500 Hz Operating Range = 129.6 dB

I consider these two ADC's to be virtually identical.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KN7K on July 04, 2018, 03:45:02 PM
July 4th update:
1. Could not decide the way around my Microham and Yaesu FT5000MP setup, so I removed all and started from the beginnig.
2. Removed FT5000, Microham Microkeyer II and all cables.
3. Connected FTDI USB cable for Fleex 6600 USB port, it recognized FTDI SN fine.
Next connected DB9 serial cable to 3.5mm CAT port on Microham Station Master.
4. Connected Steppir Serial connector of Steppir SDA100 to Station Master Serial Port.
Initially could not see any communication.
5. Installed DDutil , that I heard about but never used or saw it.
DDUtil recognized 6600 and all my Steppir started to follow up Frequency and antenna switching. Pretty cool.
6. Tried TX CW with 10w after AutoTune. It was TX-ing fine, but anytime I increased TX above 30W SSDR froze.
Spent about 1.5h to read the manual and search forum.
Found one post about PS, sure enough my Astron VS-35m had current limit and was the reason for SSDR to crash.
7. Fixed PS issue and made 1st CW QSO.
8. Initial hiss on CW RX solved by changing Pitch from 600 to 520, that's what I used with Yaesu radio's.
Next thing to fix a mess on the desk and try SSB. Also need to learn profiles...
That's it for now.
Sergey, KN7K


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N6YFM on July 22, 2018, 09:41:35 AM
Update #6 from N6YFM:

I finally got some more free time.  Put up my new 6m antenna, and it was fun to make my first few digital contacts on that band.
Next, I noticed that there was RTTY going on this weekend (I am not a contest competitor, but I really do like contest weekends
for getting more experience with a certain mode and making lots of contacts in a short time period.  It is also good repetitive
practice for using all the controls on your rig to work signals quickly, so I find contests to be really good for practice and learning.
[But I could not care less about hanging paper on my wall.  It's just for fun, for me.]

I had previously set up N1MM+ about 2 years ago for my Icom 7300, did several RTTY contests to put a few hundred RTTY mode
QSO's in the log.  But I never learned much about N1MM, just how to get by...
So it took me about half an hour of screwing around to figure out how to configure N1MM+ for the Flex 6600.
Next, due to really illogical setup menu layout of the MMTTY RTTY program, it took me another 30 minutes of messing around in
confusion until I spotted the config entry I needed on a completely different/illogical setup config page.

A quick TX test, adjusted audio levels, and was off and running for RTTY.   I opened a log for the N.A.Q.P RTTY contest, looked at
the exchange macros and started logging contacts right away.   I use a KPA-500 amp, and tend to operate RTTY around 300 watts
most of the time.   [The KPA-500 amp is an indestructable RTTY dream.  You can kick the crap out of it, and it just sort of smiles
side-ways at you.]  Observations with the Flex over the Icom 7300 previously used (which is still great and a lot of fun):

+  With the 7300, I had to tune slowly up the RTTY band and listen/decode each signal;  With the Flex, the visibility and dynamic
range of the panadapter was so much more, with short practice I could click the upper edge of a signal and be tuned/decoding
right away.  Some, it took a small turn of the VFO knob, but most tuned right where needed very quickly.  The ability to spot very weak
RTTY signals in the background of the panadapter was very much better with the Flex.  It helped me avoid causing QRM for those people,
since I could see faint traces next to blank spots, and choose a better blank spot to call CQ.   The RTTY signals were stronger looking on
the Flex with better contrast.  It was also very clear that the filters were tighter, if that is a proper way to describe them?
With RTTY signals close to each other, there were fewer cases where I could still hear adjacent signals interfere.  Maybe the filters
are more sharp walled?

In summary;  While the Icom 7300 I have is a really fun and easy to use radio, and works fine for RTTY, I found the Flex 6000 radio
even better and easier to use.   I guess this could translate to more contacts per hour if I cared about serious contesting, but for me
it was just about "easier to use, better display and filters, and make a fair lot of contacts".

Next weekend, I really need to play with SSB some more.   I am still trying to learn the best way to adjust RF gain, preamps, AGC threshold,
and NR and EQ to get nice voice with low hash noise.  I admittedly have not spent much time on SSB yet, and due to the propagation, or
complete lack there of in this silly solar cycle, I may need to spend a lot of time figuring out if it is about learning the noise settings better, or
simply about not much voice at all under the terrible propagation conditions.   I am thinking that finding someone close by (stronger), and/or
a good propagation day, will make it easier to learn to optimize voice vs. noise reduction settings.  I have only made about 75 SSB QSOs on
this rig so far, so I have more to learn in order to optimize the SSB settings.

That's all for now.

Neal


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K0CWO on August 11, 2018, 01:45:59 PM
Last 6400M review does not look confidence inspiring and does not bode well for customer service either. Only 6 reviews so far. Why so few?  Radio has been out for a while.  I’m really trying to like this rig but I don’t have much to go on here.


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N8FNR on August 12, 2018, 07:38:23 AM
Last 6400M review does not look confidence inspiring and does not bode well for customer service either. Only 6 reviews so far. Why so few?  Radio has been out for a while.  I’m really trying to like this rig but I don’t have much to go on here.

Did you know that if you buy a rig from them that you can return it within 30 days if you don't like it?

I have a 6400 (non-M) and it is a great rig. Sold my Flex-5000 to fund it. Have had zero issues with it.

This is the Flex community link. It is a great place to ask questions if you are thinking of buying one: https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio

Zack N8FNR


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K0CWO on August 13, 2018, 09:08:26 AM
Thanks for the link Zack.

BJ
k0cwo


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1FMV on August 15, 2018, 09:27:29 PM
OK, so the old 6300 is now officially donated to a new ham. The 6400m is here and working. I got it since I was in the mood for some knobs. I learned a valuable lesson with the first Flex and that when it comes to audio take nothing for granted. Originally I had a pair of Behringer reference speakers as output and it was harsh and not easy to listen to for long periods of time. I replaced them with a pair of Klipsch 2.1 computer speakers and loved the way that sounded. Anyway now back to the 6400m. It is pretty user friendly with one notable exception. Why is the microphone conection in the rear? Seems counter-intuitive to me. Also it uses a 1/8 jack. Aren't most mikes either XLR or 1/4 plugs? I guess you can use a 1/8 to 1/4 adaptor but that seems like a bit of stress on the jack to me. Do owners run their mikes through a mixer before the Flex? On the 6300 I used to use a Heil Pr40 and foot switch. How would I hook that up to the 6400m? Also any reason there isn't a headphone jack (1/4 inch) on the front? Other than that I find the controls simple and well laid out. Now for my only real gripe, and this concerns the entire signature series line as it is a problem with SmartSDR and not the radios themselves. With all of Flex's software engineering skills why is that SmartSDR does not work with any screen readers? Non of the controls are accessible and SmartSDR is totally useless for screen reader users. Sure I work around this by using either JJ Radio on the PC or Dog Park on the Mac but for such a modern product I would think that SmartSDR would be built to modern accessibility standards.

Frank


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K3GC on August 16, 2018, 09:04:52 AM
I have been happily using my 6500 for several years now so here goes what is probably a totally stupid question.
What in the devil is a screen reader and why do I need one? :-[


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N1FMV on August 16, 2018, 10:17:52 AM
Gene, a screen reader, in this context, is a piece of software either built into an operating system or an add-in that converts text on the screen to spoken words with synthesized speech. This is mainly used by blind or visually impaired persons to use their computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. Ever since the Americans with Disabilities act was signed into law as a civil rights act in 1990, Title 3 of that law requires private entities that provide products or services to the public to make their products and services accessible to disabled persons who are covered under ADA protections to the extent that is possible with current state of technology. In terms of accessing computers operating systems and software both Apple and Microsoft provide built in screen readers and accessibility guidelines for third party developers to make their software accessible. When it comes to third party software it is up to the developer to follow accessibility guidelines to make their software work properly with access solutions such as screen readers. Most commercial software packadges are fully compliant with the requirements of the law and work out of the box with current screen readers. Actually, the SmartCAT software is accessible to screen readers. Unfortunately, the SmartSDR is not in any way compliant at this time. Screen reader users navigate through the operating system and software packadges using their keyboard. As they do so the screen reader converts what they are focused on to spoken words. OK, so to answer your question as to if you need one, do you have a need to access your computer/phone/tablet without seeing the screen?
Luckily most companies, such as ICOM and Kenwood make their amateur radio software accessible to blind hams. In case you are wondering this computer uses an aftermarket screen reader made by Freedom Scientific, in addition to the built in Microsoft screen reader:
https://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS

Regards,
Frank


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K3GC on August 16, 2018, 07:19:16 PM
Thanks,I feel somewhat less stupid - just a bit uniformed


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N3HEE on August 21, 2018, 06:55:59 AM
After many conversations with Flex owners, contesters and Flex sales people I am the owner of pre-owned certified Flex 6600M.  This radio replaces my K3 and TS-590SG combo for SO2R contesting. This is my one week report. The radio shipped the same day as ordered.  I ordered on Thursday and had it in my hands the following Monday.  Unfortunately the radio had a bad fan and kept shutting down every 2.5 minutes.  I opened a ticket with Flex support which was answered within minutes.  To make a long story short the radio was fixed within 48 hours without needing to send it back.  I found setup and configuration very straight forward.  It amazing how few cables are needed to do SO2R with the Flex.  Truly SO2R in a single box. My first observation was how quite the receiver is compared to the K3.   The second observation was how well the Flex noise reduction features worked.  Once I got AGCT, NR and APF working in concert weak signals were much easier to copy on the Flex compared to the K3.  In the past week I have started running the Flex through it's paces using it to make several CW, SSB and FT8 contacts.  I used it in the NAQP SSB contest and was very pleased with the N1MM integration which includes automatic audio switching via OTRSP protocol.  No external audio switching boxes and cabling are needed.  I also experiment with controlling the radio via SmartSDR on my shack PC and laptop.  The panadapters are simply the best I've ever seen or used.  I'm looking forward to working week DX on 160 meters this fall and winter.  So far I am very happy with the radio but is early in the game.  Time will tell how well the radio will stand up to the demands of contesting.  -Joe N3HEE


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KF7DS on September 05, 2018, 09:03:19 AM
This thread has sure gone quiet...did everyone migrate to a new thread?


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KM9R on September 10, 2018, 02:52:05 AM
After many conversations with Flex owners, contesters and Flex sales people I am the owner of pre-owned certified Flex 6600M.  This radio replaces my K3 and TS-590SG combo for SO2R contesting. This is my one week report. The radio shipped the same day as ordered.  I ordered on Thursday and had it in my hands the following Monday.  Unfortunately the radio had a bad fan and kept shutting down every 2.5 minutes.  I opened a ticket with Flex support which was answered within minutes.  To make a long story short the radio was fixed within 48 hours without needing to send it back.  I found setup and configuration very straight forward.  It amazing how few cables are needed to do SO2R with the Flex.  Truly SO2R in a single box. My first observation was how quite the receiver is compared to the K3.   The second observation was how well the Flex noise reduction features worked.  Once I got AGCT, NR and APF working in concert weak signals were much easier to copy on the Flex compared to the K3.  In the past week I have started running the Flex through it's paces using it to make several CW, SSB and FT8 contacts.  I used it in the NAQP SSB contest and was very pleased with the N1MM integration which includes automatic audio switching via OTRSP protocol.  No external audio switching boxes and cabling are needed.  I also experiment with controlling the radio via SmartSDR on my shack PC and laptop.  The panadapters are simply the best I've ever seen or used.  I'm looking forward to working week DX on 160 meters this fall and winter.  So far I am very happy with the radio but is early in the game.  Time will tell how well the radio will stand up to the demands of contesting.  -Joe N3HEE

Hi Joe,

I visited your qrz page to find my answers but not enough info so replying to your post. I did see you stated that you are employing so2r on a small lot so your insight would provide some great feedback. I have very limited actual so2r experience but have direct experience in how vital it's use is.

You mentioned in on qrz that you were using stubs and band pass filters (external ? ) ( high power ? ). I was very interested in learning if you still need to use one or both with your 6600m ?  

I am in the process of building a new station with primary emphasis on domestic contests w/ a dx contest capability and more importantly so2r capability. I am a little more fortunate wrt property size and one antenna configuration will have the off band tower approximately 400 feet away from the run towers. I currently have a 6700 but was looking at an additional 6600 because of the better filtering. If that filtering proved insufficient , then I was gonna employ low power external filtering first and then high power external filtering if that proved to be insufficient for high power.

Was just curious what your known results were wrt filtering required for so2r with your new radio.

Thanks,
Mike 1502


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: K1ZH on September 10, 2018, 04:33:25 PM
You mentioned in on qrz that you were using stubs and band pass filters (external ? ) ( high power ? ). I was very interested in learning if you still need to use one or both with your 6600m ?  

Mike,

I'm not sure what the goal of Flex was when they marketed the 6400 and 6600 radios as having "contest-grade" filters. That tactic seems to have given hams the notion that their new radios will operate (with impunity) in the near vicinity of other transmitting stations. That's just not so. These "contest-grade" receive-only filters are analogous to the roofing filters employed in most super-het radios except that they most certainly have a much wider bandwidth than a typical roofing filter.

The purpose of stubs and external band-pass filters is to reduce the typical multi-band interference (aka, splatter) caused by a transmitter. These external filters provide similar functionality as a duplexer in a repeater system, which is to reduce the power reaching the transmit-antenna that is outside of the transmitter's target frequency/bandwidth. Without these transmit-filters, the splatter of a local transmitter will over power all of the weak signals of interest received by a local receiver (i.e., desense).

Steve



Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KM9R on September 11, 2018, 04:46:39 AM


Mike,

I'm not sure what the goal of Flex was when they marketed the 6400 and 6600 radios as having "contest-grade" filters. That tactic seems to have given hams the notion that their new radios will operate (with impunity) in the near vicinity of other transmitting stations. That's just not so. These "contest-grade" receive-only filters are analogous to the roofing filters employed in most super-het radios except that they most certainly have a much wider bandwidth than a typical roofing filter.

The purpose of stubs and external band-pass filters is to reduce the typical multi-band interference (aka, splatter) caused by a transmitter. These external filters provide similar functionality as a duplexer in a repeater system, which is to reduce the power reaching the transmit-antenna that is outside of the transmitter's target frequency/bandwidth. Without these transmit-filters, the splatter of a local transmitter will over power all of the weak signals of interest received by a local receiver (i.e., desense).

Steve



Hi Steve,

You are correct, the improved filtering that Flex promotes on the 6600 is in the receive chain vice filtering for the TX side that external filters address. The first flex I owned was their 6300 and then the 6700. Both did a great job wrt rejecting local commercial broadcast and I have seen video of both performing great in a close environment field day set up. Low power cross band interaction is of zero concern to me,

As many so2r ops know ( same goes for multi multi stations ) high power cross band is a different animal. I think bottom line , the best option is gonna be simply obtaining two sets of high power filters and stick with just the 6700. I think due to antenna separation and tower orientation , filtering will be zero concern for me at low power entries , however I think I might be asking too much from the rig at 1500w without including a good set of high power filters. External high power filters should also go a long way in keeping the neighbors happy as well.

Thanks Steve,
Mike


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: N3HEE on September 11, 2018, 08:32:40 AM
Mike.  I run 100 watts max with my SO2R setup.  I still use external band pass filters and a coaxial stubs on 40 and 80 meters to help reduce transmitter related noise levels.  However, I have a major problem (especially on harmonically related bands, 40 & 20 is worst) with harmonics generated from household devices with switching power supplies such as wall warts. They will generate nasty second harmonics with very little (1 watt or less) transmitter power.  No amount of filtering will help get rid of that interference since it is being generated outside of my filters.  I have spent months tracking down these devices and replacing them with linear power supplies.  My close by neighbors probably also have offending devices.  So before you invest allot of money and time into setting up a SO2R station you should check to see how much of this type of interference that you have.  You can tell by listening to the second harmonic on your second radio while transmitting on the first radio at reduced power of 5 watts or less.  If it sounds and looks like very wide band nasty modulated raspy buzzing noise then you have issues to solve first.   -Joe


Title: RE: Flex 6400/6600 - New User Reports/Impressions?
Post by: KM9R on September 13, 2018, 12:01:36 PM
Joe,

Thanks for the feedback. Sorry to hear about the external noise generators. Funny how public at large is overly concerned how we may generate interference but not so much wrt the spurious emissions they generate.

I have already done some testing of the area and did not detect any major offenders. At first look it appears to be fairly quiet. That was just with an end fed half wave though. Who know what will show up after putting up the yagis. Fingers crossed.