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eHam Forums => Software Defined Radio => Topic started by: W6UV on February 04, 2011, 08:45:03 PM



Title: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 04, 2011, 08:45:03 PM
I finally dug my key and keyer out of storage and tried operating CW with my 5000A.

Wow! What a can of worms!

I've heard that the built-in keyer is practically useless in the current beta version (2.0.16) of PowerSDR, so I tried using my AEA MM3 as an external keyer. The keyer itself works fine with the 5000A, but I ran into a number of issues. I first tried using the side tone generated by the 5000A itself. This was a disaster because I just could not send properly when listening to this side tone. There must be lag or something, because my sending became very uncoordinated and full of mistakes. I attributed this at first to my rusty CW skills, but even that couldn't account for the mess I was sending.

I then tried sending using the side tone from the MM3 and everything was fine. No more uncoordinated gibberish going out on the air. So in its current incarnation, the 5000A's built-in side tone is more that useless -- it leads to crappy, mistake-ridden sending.

Since I was now using the MM3's side tone, I tried to turn off the 5000A's side tone by checking the "Disable Monitor" option in the CW options since the manual says "check the Disable Monitor check box to avoid hearing the side tone from the internal keyer". This doesn't work--even with Disable Monitor checked, I still hear the 5000A's side tone in addition to the MM3's side tone. The only way I could operate was to mute the 5000A right before sending. There has to be a better way.

On the receive side of things, the 5000A is a rather pleasant CW rig. The filters work fine and can be set narrow enough to eliminate close-in interference. I could detect no ringing at all, even when set to the narrowest setting (25 Hz). The 0 Beat button quickly zero-beats a signal to my preferred 350 Hz pitch and centers it in the pass band. No issues here.

Operating split is straightforward, and the ability to "watch" a pileup on the panadapter display is a real plus. This makes it easy to locate the stations the DX is working and greatly helps determine his tuning pattern.

I'm disappointed that CW seems like a red-headed step child in the Flex world. I hope that these issues are addressed (as promised) in the next version, but I'm not holding my breath.

73,

Jerry



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W4TQ on February 05, 2011, 07:32:09 AM
I had the same problem when using an external keyer and the 5000A monitor.  My CW sending was terrible (it's not that good to begin with due to hand tremors).  I also concluded that the problem must have been due to the small delay, and my brain's inability to adapt.

I bought a Palstar keyer, which has a monitor volume control on the front panel (very nice keyer).  I now do CW with no problems at all.

73,
Dan - W4TQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 05, 2011, 09:39:15 AM

 "I could detect no ringing at all, even when set to the narrowest setting (25 Hz)."


The last time I played with the 25 Hz and 50 Hz filters, maybe 9 months ago,  they worked no better than the 100 Hz one (which *is* quite good).  Their performance depends on buffer and sampling settings, computing power, and maybe a lot more.  You can probably get your filters to work narrower than 100Hz but other performance, including panadapter bandwidth and keying, will degrade severely.

See:
http://kc.flexradio.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50437.aspx

I don't detect any cry from users for improved CW filters. Ultra narrow CW filters introduce some undesirable fuzziness to high speed CW. Even on crowded bands, 250 Hz and rarely 100 Hz, are usually best.

An adjustable notch is needed more than "showy" ultra narrow CW filters. But we won't be seeing that soon.



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: HAMMYGUY on February 05, 2011, 11:36:43 AM
This is the main reason I finally unloaded all of my Flex rigs.  CW transmit can be frustrating.  The CW monitor lag is just the cream of the crop.  What used to get me was the missed dits.  Hit the paddle and the software would try to switch to transmit, but the dit would never make it out the antenna.  I tried newer machines, old machines (which actually seemed to work better), and old machines with older software.  The older official versions worked the best since they don't have the new GUI.   

External keyers definitely worked OK MOST of the time. If the computer all of a sudden got busy with anything, the software would begin to miss characters.  Yes I had a dedicated machine with nothing running in the background. 

It's too bad because they really are fun to play with.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 05, 2011, 02:07:55 PM
This is the main reason I finally unloaded all of my Flex rigs.  CW transmit can be frustrating.  The CW monitor lag is just the cream of the crop.  What used to get me was the missed dits. 

Anyone know what architecture Flex uses when sending CW? I bet the key input gets sent up the Firewire port to the PC to be processed before being sent back down the link to the radio hardware as an RF waveform.

They would have been better off putting a $0.50 Pic MCU in the box and using that to directly key the transmitter, even if the radio's internal firmware has to generate the RF waveform directly. A simple on-off keyed CW signal can't be that hard to generate to require a fast PC's processing power.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W9OY on February 05, 2011, 03:32:51 PM
Jerry

I use the F5K almost exclusively on CW and very much enjoy the radio.  The way I have mine setup is in the driver I use "safe mode level 1" and I use 512 buffers.  To get to the driver go to the "start" button on windows menu bar and under "all programs" and find the "flex radio systems" folder.  Click on "flex radio" and it will start a GUI for the driver.  Just make your adjustments if needed and close.  some folks need to run 1024 buffers depending on your computer.  I use 1024 on a slow old laptop I have.  Just play with it using the lowest number of buffers that are stable. 

In PSDR setup screens go to: setup>audio tab I set the buffers to 512 and I use sample rate = 96000.  (if you had to use a larger buffer in the driver then set this buffer to match what you used in the driver)  The shorter the sample rate the greater the lag so 192 has the least lag (in terms of side tone) but it also has the worst filters.  96000 is a good compromise I think, but you can play with this also.  Under setup>DSP I use in the Buffer size CW field RX 4096 and TX 512.  You can shorten the latency by going down on the RX buffers but that also decreases the steepness of the filters 

I use an external keyer, a winkey USB and I feed the output of the winkey into a real serial port  (not a usb to serial converter).  As a buffer I use a PNP transistor between pin 4 and pin 6 on the serial port connector and drive the base from the keyer through a few hundred ohm resistor (see page 22 of the manual 1.14.0 on the flex website for pinout)  to turn on this means of keying in PSDR, go to setup>DSP>keyer and set "secondary" to the correct serial port and I use RTS as the key line. 

I have virtually no lag in terms of sending and no trouble using the internal monitor in the radio.  I generally don't go over 40wpm or under 15.  I set my delay on the front of the radio to 60ms and find that is a good compromise for between word QSK.  I use this setting in pileups all the time so I can stop transmitting when  the DX starts transmitting.  I am using 2.0.16 software and its associated driver and firmware.  I have never had good luck with the internal keyer.  I do not like the way the "memories" are set up.  The keyer is much better than it used to be, but I still don't like it much.  I do have a paddle hooked up to it in case something screws up but I much prefer the winkey. 

You can listen to KIUQ, the self appointed "anti-fan girl", flap her lips all day long about how horrible the radio is, but frankly I think she just doesn't know crap about radio and is a bit of a misanthrope to boot.  In the old days she spent all her time over on the ten tec reflector knocking the Orion and now she spends all her time knocking the Flex radio.  I wish she would just buy a Yaesu or a K3 so she could go spend her time knocking that radio, and leave us fan boys alone.  Can't wait to hear her response:  waa waa waa.

Since I went to this method of keying several years ago (SDR-1000 days) I have had no problems with any of the subsequent revisions of PSDR as far as CW goes.

Hope this is of some help to you

73  W9OY


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6RMK on February 05, 2011, 05:18:47 PM
"Anyone know what architecture Flex uses when sending CW? "

The key closures wind up as MIDI note messages and wind up in the PC in that form. The latency on that part should be fast and very consistent.

Then, the actual keying envelope is processed through the usual transmit chain, essentially by creating an audio tone that is translated up.  Very similar to if you had an audio code practice oscillator feeding a SSB transmitter.

Since there is some potential variability in the latency from key to RF, it can be very, very confusing to listen to an RF monitor (or the equivalent of a loopback within PSDR).  Depending on how variable the latency variation is, it can be totally disruptive.  A really old version of PSDR, before they changed the buffering strategy, would only turn the Tx/Rx around on buffer boundaries, so the delay varied randomly by one buffer time.  Now they're using a more full duplex buffer processing strategy, but there still is some latency variation because the buffers to be processed all get queued up to be processed through one thread, and I don't know that there's any guarantee of ordering or latency.  Especially if there are multiple subreceivers or pan adapter things going on (since they also result in buffers going through the buffer processing chain).   (I don't recall whether the current version of PSDR uses a separate thread for Tx and Rx, but even then, threads have to compete for processor resources)

If you're using a keyer with an audio monitor, then your brain is hearing your keying as you do it, so it should work just fine, and only the other end of the QSO would hear any variations.  And, since the receiver processing has a lot more latency variation than the transmit, your signal might be quite good to the other end.

If you're using VAC, then there's another source of variable latency.

Yes, this *could* all be fixed (after all, pretty much every video/audio mutimedia app on the PC, especially games and video playback, manages to do it pretty consistently and seamlessly) but it's hard work, and the existing software works "good enough" if not excellent for many users.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 05, 2011, 09:22:41 PM
W9OY:

I have the buffer size set fairly low in the Firewire driver (not at the rig right now so I can't look up the actual values) and I have the sample rate set to 96K and the Operation Mode set to Normal. I have a fast PC with four processor cores, 8GB of RAM, and don't run anything else on the box when using PowerSDR. I've gone through and turned off any unneeded services in Windows as well.

I have the MM3 keyer output plugged directly into the 5000A's Key jack and have DSP->Keyer->Connections->Primary set to "Radio".

With these settings, the internal side tone generated by the 5000A is enough out of sync that it messes up my sending. I'm just getting back into CW after a 15 year break, so my keying is bad enough without the rig's side tone lag contributing to it. ;)  I'll try tweaking the buffer size settings and see if this helps.

W6RMK:

I agree with you able latency issues not being a problem in other PC software. I've run some professional audio and video applications on PCs less capable than the box I run PowerSDR on and did not have any latency issues, so this can be fixed. I guess Flex just has to put their limited resources where it generates the most bang for the buck. I don't know how many Flex owners use CW, but I'm sure the numbers aren't nearly as high as for SSB and digital modes (where I have no problems at all). I just wish Flex would put more effort into fundamentals rather that fancy looking skins and other eye candy, but their marketing people probably told them that's what sells rigs.


BTW, I found a fix to disabling the internally generated side tone issue I mentioned in my initial post. It turns out that the "Disable Monitor" check box in the keyer setup dialog box is ignored if the "Mon" button on the front panel is pressed.

At this point, I'll stick with using the side tone generated by my keyer rather than the internal side tone. The only problem with this is that I often operate CW when others in the house are asleep and the side tone coming from the keyer is too loud when I have its volume set high enough to hear it when using headphones (which I always use when operating).

Anyone have any ideas how I can mix the audio output of the keyer into the headphones along with rig audio?


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 06, 2011, 07:51:51 AM

W9OY says: "In the old days [Stan] spent all [his] time over on the ten tec reflector knocking the Orion"

K9IUQ says: " I have NEVER been on the TT Reflector, nor have I ever owned a TT radio"

And the rest of us wonder: "W9OY, got a link?"


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WA8JNM on February 06, 2011, 08:13:24 AM
W6UV:

I run CW on the Flex 5000A as well. I too am playing with the settings, especially now that I just got the radio back with the second receiver and the latest .16 beta.  One thing I noticed in your comment: you are using Normal for the Operational Setting. The manual and knowledge base does not recommend this. Apparently Safe Mode 1 is preferred. Normal works very poorly for me; I think it is misnamed. Also, I appreciate the comments here re using the external keyer  sidetone rather than the Flex sidetone, because of latency. I'm going to go try that right now, because my CW is still a bit rough too.

Dave


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WA8JNM on February 06, 2011, 09:12:59 AM
W6UV,

Later. I am able to send CW much better using only the external keyer sidetone. Thanks for the tip. I too had trouble shutting off the Flex 5k sidetone, even after I chose that setting in Setup. But now it is off, and I don't know what I did to kill it. Wish I did. I also listened to the transmitted CW on a separate receiver and it sounds fine to me. I only send about 20 wpm, though, so I can't say if any problems develop at higher speeds. By the way, my settings are as described by the other op in this thread, except I use a sample rate of 48000. My external keyer output, though, goes directly in the CW jack of the Flex, not to a USB port.

Just ignore the rants by Stan. I do. He must be short on things to do.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 06, 2011, 10:09:10 AM
One thing I noticed in your comment: you are using Normal for the Operational Setting. The manual and knowledge base does not recommend this. Apparently Safe Mode 1 is preferred. Normal works very poorly for me; I think it is misnamed.

Dave,

I used to use Safe Mode 1, but switched to Normal after a long conversation with Dudley in Flex Tech Support. Normal mode works better than the "Safe" modes on my setup -- they probably recommend the safe modes (and name them that way) because of differences in PC hardware people use. My PC is very fast and has very low DPC latency, so Normal mode is appropriate. YMMV.

73,
Jerry


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 06, 2011, 03:56:57 PM
So - blame me, my computer, or my 5K if you wish, but something is wrong with the CW mode on MY 5K. And I have talked to many many others who feel the same way but are afraid to go public because of the nastiness that this subject brings...

Stan,

Based on what I've experienced so far, I think you've hit the nail on the head when you say the 5000A is not a good CW rig. I've only used mine on CW for a week, and I shudder to think what other issues I might encounter. I only have one receiver at the moment, so I can't listen to my signal on the air.

I like the ergonomics of PowerSDR a lot, but if CW is not up to snuff (or can't be brought up to snuff--some things are just not fixable in software), then I might buy a K3 for use on CW and relegate the Flex to SSB/data modes. There's probably a reason many of the big DXpeditions use K3s and not Flex.

73,
Jerry


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W9OY on February 06, 2011, 05:13:23 PM
I love the way Stan spends his time being the "messenger of bad news" yet hundreds of us use the radio every day to make CW contacts.  You will notice if anyone says anything constructive about the Flex radio he is labeled a "fan boy" or is some part of some super secretive underground Masonic testing society.  If his nasty rantings are then responded to in a likewise manner he is a victim, just a poor humble messenger out to save ham-manity from the evil Flex Radio... What a hoot   

I worked VP8ORK a couple of days ago on 80 and 40 CW.  Because of the Flex system combined with DDUTIL and Skimmer, on 80 I was able to determine exactly where the VP8 was listening and worked him on the first call even though there were about 100 stations in the pileup.  I don't have a super station, just a Flex a vertical and about 1300W.  Because of the Flex system I was able to determine within in a minute that the VP8 was alternately listening to the top and bottom of the pileup and worked him in 3 calls.  On 40 I also use a simple vertical.  The pileup on 40 was a solid wall of RF.  You can listen of Mr Bad News Stan if you like.  You can buy a noisy old K3 if you like, I will just continue to rack up the DX in my log with my Flex 

As to Dxpeditions   They use K3's because Elecraft sponsors Dxpeditions.  They use Acom amps for the same reason and DX Engineering antennas for the same reason.  This is marketing 101.  You will note the first entry on the list of Orkney equipment sponsors

http://www.vp8o.com/vp8equipment.html

I'm not sure why Flex doesn't do this (even though I'm a fan boy and in the super secret Masonic society of testers)  My guess is they are more interested in using their resources for developing radios for the government and military. 

73  W9OY



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 06, 2011, 07:50:37 PM
W9OY
Quote
"I don't have a super station, just a Flex a vertical and about 1300W. "

And a Florida QTH. LOL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: AB0Z on February 07, 2011, 03:30:19 AM
Jerry:

I've only very recently got on a Flex 3000, but I'm a mostly CW / RTTY op so maybe my observations will help -

I immediately noticed that any "RF in the shack" is pretty fatal.  With my original analog radio (an FT-1000MP, which I love…) it makes little difference to operating, although I often noticed that the PC I used for logging and digital modes would stumble a bit. With the Flex, the PC *is* the radio so it becomes critical. I often wonder if this is why folks report "stuttering and timing issues" - I certainly had them too, until I finally did the right thing and cleaned up my antenna chain, grounding, choking, etc.

Right now, CW sending works just fine for me - I use both the built-in CWX and a Logikey keyer plugged into the key socket.  I work up to about 30 wpm max but I do the opposite to you and switch off the keyer sidetone / listen to the PSDR tones.  I don't use the QSK, so I can't comment there...

Let me add that a major advantage (for me…) is that the shape of the CW that you send is specially crafted by the software.  It sounds very sweet to a receiver.  A notorious flaw of the FT-1000MP are the terrible keyclicks.  This actually makes the Flex my *preferred* CW sending radio!

Mni 73 de David, AB0Z


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 08, 2011, 11:22:45 AM
I immediately noticed that any "RF in the shack" is pretty fatal. 

You can always tell a Flex owner at a hamfest. He is the Ham carrying 2 or 3 bags of ferrites.... ;)

That's one problem I don't have. Probably because my antenna is 450 feet from the shack.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 10, 2011, 11:01:30 AM
Update: Several people on the Flex reflector suggested a set of sample size/buffer size settings that should fix the side tone lag issue.

I tried these settings, and they do help, but not enough. There is still noticeable lag between my keyer's side tone and the rig's side tone. Enough to still cause errors in my sending (even at 20 WPM). I'm back to disabling the rig's side tone and listening only to the keyer.

On a related note, Bob McGwier said on the reflector that 2.0.17 will make "CW as it should be." I hope so, because it certainly isn't now.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 10, 2011, 12:22:28 PM
As far as I know Bob McG does not get any $$ from Flexradio.

Interesting. If this is true, then I wonder what Bob's motivation is for working on the code? I wonder even more why Flex is relying on volunteers to fix critical functions of their own product...


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W9OY on February 13, 2011, 03:01:43 PM
I did the super secret handshake and elbow bump and  loaded the new 2.0.18 beta release and as best I can tell using the internal keyer CW is the best I have ever heard from a Flex radio.  I can do QSK down to 6ms delay (the relays are rated at 4ms) there is no popping or variability or clipped characters.  I can hear stations between dits at 60wpm   I listened to my transmitted signal on one of the websdr.org receivers about 700 miles from my qth and running 100W to my vertical it was flawless up to 60 wpm   This is my first check but so far excellent.   

73  W9OY


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 16, 2011, 10:42:01 AM
FWIW from FlexEdge yesterday about the latest pre-beta:

Quote
"The improvement in CW in this test code is so remarkable that again, you are
reminded,  the radio gets better with each new software release and
sometimes in revolutionary ways.   Some of our harshest CW critics are the
friends doing the testing and are using the internal keyer in this new code
and calling it "perfect".
Let the CW team work out the last gotchas or
settings, modes, etc. misunderstandings and you too will get a new radio...
AGAIN.

Bob
N4HY"

I presume this refers to the PSDR version that W9OY has. 


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 17, 2011, 09:57:39 AM
So when will the unwashed masses see this bit of CW magic?


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 17, 2011, 12:49:17 PM
Well, the ARRL CW DX test is this weekend. You know you won't see the "CW Magic" release in time for a major contest like that. :)

I've discovered that my Flex works pretty well on CW if I disconnect additional antennas from the back. I saw where someone else suggested that on the internet. With my 15 meter inverted V plugged in, keying is terrible on 40 CW with my vertical unless I reduce power to QRP levels.

It would be quite exciting for Flex if they could really get the CW working well at high speed and with some degree of break-in. I think many of us had given up on that ever happening. 

 


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 11:00:47 AM
Not to take away from the fun of flex-bashing here, this thread is supposed to be about Flex's CW performance. Flex has put out a new version, 2.0.19 RC1, and the guys trying it out and then posting on the Flex reflector say that CW performance is dramatically improved. Have any of you (Stan!) tried the new version? Do you think it is an improvement? I know I do.

As for ferrite beads and RF-in-the-shack, I have found that it can be a problem and that proper treatment, e.g. grounding and choking off RF current on the outside of the coax, solves the problem. What's wrong with that? That comes under the heading of, "best engineering practice."

Oh, and there is a side effect that many seem to miss. Remember that those RF currents on the shield go both ways. The outside of the coax can conduct noise picked up from inside the shack to the antenna where it raises the noise floor. Those chokes on the coax help with that too. Lower noise floor means you can work the weak ones. Think about it.

Ferrite cores on the dog's tail? ::)

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 04:08:06 PM

Yes I have tried 2.0.19 and my early views are in another thread here on eham.

I missed them I think. I'd like to read them. Which thread did you put them in?

Quote
Somehow you do not seem to have the correct personality to own a dog, so put those ferrites on your cat's tail.   ;) :D

I have two rescued greyhounds Stan. Lovely dogs. I recommend them to anyone who likes dogs with a calm, friendly demeanor.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 04:30:04 PM
I have been listening to all the complaints about CW on the Flex radios I thought I would try out the capabilities of 2.0.19 in this area. I have both a Flex 5000a (RX2 and ATU, no VU5K) and a Flex 1500 at home. (The Flex 3000 is at the school where the kids use it.) I used the regular computer, a home-built AMD machine using parts recommended by Neal, for the 5000 and a MacBook Pro (an older one, about 3 years old now) for the 1500.

So far I have been pleased with the performance of all the other features of 2.0.19 but hadn't tried CW. I am not a CW op so I don't use the mode but I can certainly tell when something isn't working. Anyway, I thought I would try it out.

Basically I plugged my bencher paddles into one radio or the other and started sending. I didn't touch anything. I run 96kHz sampling with 1024 audio buffers on the 5000. I run 48kHz sampling on the 1500 with 512 audio buffers.

First impressions: I am impressed as heck. Both the 5000 and 1500 sent at 25 WPM right off the bat. No muss, no fuss, no tweaks, no nothing. Just start sending.

I did play with the break-in value. I cranked it down to 50ms and it was working with break-in between elements. I could clearly hear the RX between dits. Even though it was working at full QSK I did find the TR relay chatter annoying so I played with the break in value to get it to keep the TR relay closed between elements but to open between letters and words. It just worked.

I did keep cranking the speed up hoping to detect where it started to lose the first dit. I was beyond my ability to make characters when I gave up. As far as I could hear, there was no problem with truncated first elements, either dits or dahs.

So as far as I can tell, 2.0.19 is working 100% for all modes. If you have a Flex radio I would say it is time to upgrade to the latest version of PowerSDR.

I will be happy to answer questions about my setup or to help others get theirs going. (Even you Stan! ;) )

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 21, 2011, 05:51:56 PM
I will be happy to answer questions about my setup or to help others get theirs going. (Even you Stan! ;) )

Brian,

I hope you don't think us all idiots who can't get our Flex rigs operating properly without your help. Many of us have been dealing with various issues for a long time, and it's not due to lack of know how or lack of experience. Some things just haven't been right with the software and/or hardware, and the fixes have been very slow in arriving (just ask Stan about the 160m spur issue for an example).

CW has been a particular sore point because sending CW manually using a key is all about timing and the Flex hardware/software has worked against us to make it nearly unusable without workarounds (such as using an external keyer and disabling the rig's side tone). I have yet to try using the internal keyer, so I'll withhold judgement until I do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this new release really does address all issues with CW and that the glitches I've been experiencing go away with some magic combination of settings.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 06:22:00 PM

I hope you don't think us all idiots who can't get our Flex rigs operating properly without your help. Many of us have been dealing with various issues for a long time, and it's not due to lack of know how or lack of experience. Some things just haven't been right with the software and/or hardware, and the fixes have been very slow in arriving (just ask Stan about the 160m spur issue for an example).

I don't think you or anyone else here is an idiot. But I really was just offering to come help or to give you help if you want to come to my place. I am not trying to prove anything. I am just offering to help if you want it. No strings, no agenda. Just one ham offering to help another. Hey, I could use some help getting some antennas up in my back yard.

Quote
CW has been a particular sore point because sending CW manually using a key is all about timing and the Flex hardware/software has worked against us to make it nearly unusable without workarounds (such as using an external keyer and disabling the rig's side tone). I have yet to try using the internal keyer, so I'll withhold judgement until I do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this new release really does address all issues with CW and that the glitches I've been experiencing go away with some magic combination of settings.

Look, it is really simple. Until 2.0.19 CW in PowerSDR was *broken*. Period. Flex tried to do the band-aid thing and patch the old software. That didn't work. Now they have thrown all the old CW stuff away and rewritten it from scratch. It really does work now.

I just plugged in my key and I was amazed at just how good it was on both my 5000 and my 1500, using two different computers. It just worked. So, if you are still having problems and want another set of eyes and a spare brain to look and see what you might have missed (it happens to me too -- I regularly suffer from CRS) I was just offering.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 08:02:31 PM

As Brian has demonstrated here, he thinks his opinion of Flexradio is so much better (and he is smart, just ask him) than others. Him and his Flex reflector buddies look down upon anyone who thinks Flexradios are not great. We are stupid, do not know how to read a manual, set up a firewire card, build a computer etc. etc. etc.

You amaze me Stan. All I did was offer to help Jerry. 

And, yes, I am smart. I have demonstrated that with what I have created and accomplished in my life. I like being smart and using my head to create new things and to teach people new things. You know, being smart is a GOOD thing Stan. I'm glad I am. (And I am waiting for you to make some crack about how this means I don't think you are. FYI, this isn't a zero-sum game.)


73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 08:15:14 PM
Look, it is really simple. Until 2.0.19 CW in PowerSDR was *broken*. Period. Flex tried to do the band-aid thing and patch the old software. That didn't work.

Where you been?

I've been around Stan. Teaching new hams, operating, helping others.

Quote
I have been saying that for a year here on eham. All I got for my troubles was W9OY calling me nasty names and proclaiming I was stupid. Cw worked great said W9OY, he even did a hilarious column about it (and called me nasty names) on his website.

That is too bad. Probably didn't do anything for his credibility did it.

Quote
You know W9OY right?

Can't say that I do. If he is on the flex lists then I have probably seen his postings but, frankly, his call doesn't ring a bell.

Quote
There is a link to his website on the Flexradio website. Flex is proud of him, he even has the secret handshake for pre-betas.

Is there something wrong with having the secret handshake for the pre-betas? I did. I did a lot of testing. Lots of times my radio stopped working. Stuff happens. OTOH, because of trying things and having my radio not work, Flex got good feedback and now they have released 2.0.19. I feel good about having helped.

Quote
He has been telling us for a year there was nothing wrong with cw on a 5K.

Can't help you there. He is not me. I am not him. Why don't you deal with me and stop worrying about him.

Quote
Beginning to see why Flexradio ehamers do not necessarily believe the company line???

I don't know Stan. I don't work for Flex Radio Systems. It certainly seems to me that the party line is that they are trying to improve things. I think that the release of 2.0.19 bears that out. I am pleased to have been able to contribute through testing and working on the Wiki. I see those as creative and helpful. I am willing to help you or anyone else who needs it. Maybe you can help me become a good CW op.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 21, 2011, 08:54:18 PM
Brian, do you think it's possible that the keying quality might vary with band activity or proximity to very loud signals?

I noticed some odd squeaky background sounds in my headphones while keying yesterday on 80 meters. Just after 0000z those sounds stopped, along with dozens of S-9+ contest stations.

--
I just now did a full removal of all versions of Flex software on my machine,  some going back 18 months.  I used the Add/Remove Programs section in the Control Panel. Reinstalled 2.0.19, and built a fresh database for about the fifth time in three days. So far CW keying seems good on all bands except six meters which has always been a problem for me.

Brian, have you tested your keying on six?

 


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 21, 2011, 10:36:03 PM
Brian, do you think it's possible that the keying quality might vary with band activity or proximity to very loud signals?

I don't see how. The receiver and transmitter are separate. I don't see how a receive signal can affect the TX.

Quote
I noticed some odd squeaky background sounds in my headphones while keying yesterday on 80 meters. Just after 0000z those sounds stopped, along with dozens of S-9+ contest stations.

The noises I CAN imagine. SDR always introduces a delay (latency). Literally the sound you hear now was on the air some number of milliseconds ago. Same with the transmitter. The signal you are generating now goes out the antenna some number of milliseconds later. If you are running QSK it is possible to get overlap between RX and TX and actually hear some of your own transmitted signal. PowerSDR tries to prevent this by blanking the receiver for some time after the TX unkeys so you don't hear the tail end of your own signal. But you want that to happen for as short a period as possible or it starts to eat into your QSK time. I am betting that by reducing your DSP buffers one notch you might eliminate that.

But I am guessing here. I haven't tried it. You might want to try different buffer settings while keying into a dummy load and see if that changes the characteristic of the sound or maybe eliminates it entirely. Try changing the driver buffers (buffer setting in Setup>Audio>Primary) too. That changes how long it takes samples to get from radio to computer. Smaller buffers are better for latency but if you get them too small the audio goes to pot. Try different values.

Quote
--
I just now did a full removal of all versions of Flex software on my machine,  some going back 18 months.  I used the Add/Remove Programs section in the Control Panel. Reinstalled 2.0.19, and built a fresh database for about the fifth time in three days. So far CW keying seems good on all bands except six meters which has always been a problem for me.

Brian, have you tested your keying on six?

No, I haven't tried 6m. I did my testing on 10m.

When I hear of TX problems that are band-related, I immediately think of RF-in-the-shack. Do you have a good dummy load? If so, try that. If the problem goes away, suspect RF in the shack. Make sure that your radio and computer are close together and there is a good, short ground wire between them.

I don't think this is a software problem. If it were, you would see the same problem on all bands. Since it only occurs on one band, I think this is good old RF.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 22, 2011, 12:12:14 AM
"The receiver and transmitter are separate."

But they share the same computer. There would be some millisecs of overlap during change-over. Wouldn't CPU usage increase with many loud signals being received, as compared with a dead band?

--
I've done many tests and fiddled endlessly with buffer and sample settings.  Yes, I ran tests Saturday with a dummy load connected directly to the Flex to assure that RF wasn't causing problems.

Anyway, things may be looking up after I deleted those many old Flex files a few hours ago. Brief tests on all bands sounded very good. Six meters CW sounds slightly "thumpy" in my headphones, but not bad. My CW is well formed with 2.0.19; I had been bothered mostly by minor clicks on change over to transmit. The more annoying squelch tails and dropped dits I experienced a few months ago (with 2.0.16) are gone.

Try six meters CW and report back. Others experienced keying problems there last summer.



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: KF6QEX on February 22, 2011, 12:59:36 AM
Shameless temporary thread hijacking to clarify a couple of things:

Quote
19     eHam Forums / Software Defined Radio / RE: Public Apology From SM5BSZ - Flexradio NOT Scamming Anyone    on: February 20, 2011, 09:28:15 PM
 Shocked Wow!

I just learned that there was an SDR forum on eHam and came over here to look. Lots of people flaming Flex.

Quote
Position:    Member
Date Registered:    June 16, 2009, 02:12:38 PM

It's funny that:
Quote
Quote
He has been telling us for a year there was nothing wrong with cw on a 5K.

Can't help you there. He is not me. I am not him. Why don't you deal with me and stop worrying about him.


Ok..then lets do just that.
You have been a registered registered user for over a year and a half hear and year you claim you  "just learned".
 
You have access to early betas, but yet you claim no ringing of bells of your predecessor's call sign, however prominently it is (or used to be) featured on the flex web page. 

It wouldn't surprise me to find out you are a "plant", the new "friendlier" voice of flex on eham especially now that PSDR "just works".

Your motives may be sincere. But the sudden sprouting of your posts is most interesting.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: N3EVL on February 22, 2011, 05:53:14 AM
First Brian's a "Fanboy," now he's a "plant"?

You people have just broken your own silliness record by another 10dB.  Truly amazing.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 22, 2011, 07:05:21 AM
Brian,

Was that you working as a volunteer in Flex's Pacificon booth last October? I seem to remember someone there who looked like your picture on QRZ.com.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 22, 2011, 07:28:10 AM
Quote
"You people have just broken your own silliness record by another 10dB.  Truly amazing."

Agreed, but I find it hard to believe Brian isn't familiar with W9OY. For the past two years, the Flex Radio site has had a prominent link to 'OY's Flex blog. I've always found Brian's posts to be informative especially since he's been active in frequency measuring tests (where Flex is the best radio on the planet under $100,000).

I'd love for him to stick around.




Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 08:18:09 AM
"The receiver and transmitter are separate."

But they share the same computer. There would be some millisecs of overlap during change-over. Wouldn't CPU usage increase with many loud signals being received, as compared with a dead band?

Not really. The code must go through the same loops to perform the filtering and detection. To the computer it doesn't matter if it is adding zero over and over or adding 1000 over and over. It is still going through the entire addition process.

Now understand this this is a gross oversimplification but hopefully you will get the idea.

--
Quote
I've done many tests and fiddled endlessly with buffer and sample settings.  Yes, I ran tests Saturday with a dummy load connected directly to the Flex to assure that RF wasn't causing problems.

Anyway, things may be looking up after I deleted those many old Flex files a few hours ago. Brief tests on all bands sounded very good. Six meters CW sounds slightly "thumpy" in my headphones, but not bad. My CW is well formed with 2.0.19; I had been bothered mostly by minor clicks on change over to transmit. The more annoying squelch tails and dropped dits I experienced a few months ago (with 2.0.16) are gone.

That does seem to be the case with 2.0.19.

Quote
Try six meters CW and report back. Others experienced keying problems there last summer.

I will try it. But at this point I don't think reports of CW problems from previous versions are going to be significant since the new code is SO different (I have been told). The problems that were there probably aren't there now. Now there is a whole new set of problems! :) (We hope not.)



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 08:29:39 AM
Quote
I just learned that there was an SDR forum on eHam and came over here to look. Lots of people flaming Flex.

Quote
Position:    Member
Date Registered:    June 16, 2009, 02:12:38 PM

It's funny that:
Quote
He has been telling us for a year there was nothing wrong with cw on a 5K.

Can't help you there. He is not me. I am not him. Why don't you deal with me and stop worrying about him.


Ok..then lets do just that.
You have been a registered registered user for over a year and a half hear and year you claim you  "just learned".

Yup. I don't recall why I signed up for eHam back in 2009. I wanted to get access to something or to ask a question on one of the forums. But I certainly didn't make a habit of checking in here. What I "just learned" was that there was an SDR forum. So I looked. I probably would have gone right on by but I was pretty amazed at what I saw here. Of course, I couldn't just keep my mouth shut, right? ;)

 
Quote
You have access to early betas, but yet you claim no ringing of bells of your predecessor's call sign, however prominently it is (or used to be) featured on the flex web page.

Nope. Other than helping people who ask questions and trying to pull information together, there aren't too many people on the flex lists, beta or otherwise, that I directly communicate with on a regular basis. Neal Campbell is probably the guy I talk with most. He and I have become friends, mostly from working on the FlexRadioWiki together and figuring out how to tweak PCs to make them work better with PowerSDR. I lean toward Macs myself.

As I made clear, CW is not my preferred mode of operation. I like new things. I like seeing how much data I can send with the least amount of energy. That leaves out CW, RTTY, AM and SSB. So if he was oriented to CW, I didn't pay much attention to what he was doing.

As to what is on the Flex web site, I go there to get access to the download section and to the knowledge base. I couldn't even tell you what is on the front page.

Quote
It wouldn't surprise me to find out you are a "plant", the new "friendlier" voice of flex on eham especially now that PSDR "just works".

Your motives may be sincere. But the sudden sprouting of your posts is most interesting.

But you caught me! BWAHAHAHAHA, Actually I am Flex Secret Agent 000000111 (convert from binary to octal). After shooting JFK from the knoll I was dropped in here from a black helicopter flown by asian men wearing blue helmets. BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

(Sorry. It is hard to type when I am laughing.)

All kidding aside. Try this: deal with me directly based on what you know about me and what I say. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." I truly do not know what W9OY said or did here. Believe it or not, I haven't looked at his web page.

I really do want to help Jerry if he is having a problem. I do this because I think that the Flex Radios are the most interesting amateur transceivers in production today. They have a lot of warts but it seems to me they also have the greatest potential. You can't make the current crop of knob radios any different than they already are. What you see is what you get. Not so with the Flex radios. That is why I like them. Let's see you do CW skimmer with your FT101. (Yes, you can add a SoftRock to a K3 but then, you basically have a Flex radio for your IF.)

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on February 22, 2011, 09:19:32 AM
Quote
Now there is a whole new set of problems! Smiley (We hope not.)

Unquestionably that will be the case. I've done some reading of K3 groups and there's some real bashing by owners of that wonderful radio too. A major reason I opted for the Flex is its lab quality S-meter, a first for our hobby and a half-century overdue. I see lots of complaints about the K3's puny meter.

With Flex CW cleaned up so that high speed ops can push the limits, expect to see more discussion of relay chatter. Also I'd sure like to see less erratic performance from the SWR meter, which the reflector touched on yesterday. Both are minor problems and fixable down the road.

The real excitement will occur when Flex begins adding new features in future releases.   

 


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 10:45:19 AM
Brian,

Was that you working as a volunteer in Flex's Pacificon booth last October? I seem to remember someone there who looked like your picture on QRZ.com.

Yes. I worked in the Flex booth at Pacificon. Greg Jurrens said he needed help and I live in the area. I thought it would be fun to "eyeball QSO" some of the people I have met on the lists. Apparently I met you there too. I thought  recognized your picture too when I looked you up on QRZ.com.

I make no apology for liking Flex radios. As I said, I don't know of any other production radio that has the potential of the Flex radios. And I would emphasize that I was a volunteer in the booth. I do not work for Flex Radio Systems.

If I think Flex has done something wrong or needs to change something, I have no problem saying that. Any company that lies to itself or its customers about its products deserves to go out of business. The way a company gets better products is to learn, change, and improve. I'd like to see my Flex 5000 reach its potential. It certainly hasn't done that yet but 2.0.19 makes me really hopeful that it will.

And I can understand the Fanbois. Mostly they see the potential of the product and get all excited. They want everyone else to be excited too. And Fanbois tend to say things like, "Well if you don't see how good it is, you must be stupid." The problem is, with something like PowerSDR, there are a lot of warts and bugs in between what is and what could be. There is nothing wrong with saying, "Gee, CW sucks on this radio. It certainly doesn't meet my expectations," because it was the truth. (I think that 2.0.19 may have changed that. You decide.) OTOH, both sides need to back off and recognize that there is good truth too. From just a pure receiver prospective, you know, clean signals, good filtering, resistance to overload, etc., the Flex 5000 is just breathtakingly good. So I take the good, I get the bad, and I bug Flex to fix the bad.

Right now I am sitting in the shack at the school where I teach. Sitting on top of the Flex 3000 is the K2 that was donated to our school by the ARRL. I am really proud of my students who built the K2. (Wayne Burdick joked at Pacificon a couple years ago that we hold the record for the most people taking the longest time to build a K2. But when you consider that many of the builders were 5th graders you can understand how I could think that 20 good solder joints might be a good day's work.) We have used it for several years now. It has been the mainstay of our Field Day operation for three years. It is truly one of the all-time great radios. It is perhaps the best QRP CW rig ever made. (OK, the QRP K3 is probably better. Still, I *really* like the K2.)

But here is the thing. That K2 is never going to change. It is not going to get more features without bolting on some new hardware. It is what it is. And if all you want to do is QRP CW, it will do that job extremely well. But now contrast that with the Flex 3000 sitting underneath it. Even though the K2 *was* a better CW rig, the Flex 3000 already was a better digital mode and SSB rig. Now, through a new release of software, the Flex 3000 rivals the K2 as a CW rig. (Maybe the 3000 now rivals the K3. I don't know yet.)

And I know that the Flex has a bad rep for RF-in-the-shack problems. But it isn't alone in that. I had no END to RF-in-the-shack problems with the K2 running digital modes. RF killed our computers. The keyboard would stop working, or the mouse would stop working, the serial port would stop working, or the computer would crash. I had snap-on ferrite cores on all the cables between K2, Rigblaster, and computer. I had snap-on ferrite cores on mouse and keyboard cables. Those problems actually went away with the Flex 3000. Now the kids really like running PSK31. For them it is far and away their favorite mode. Maybe that is because it is a lot like texting on their cell phones, who knows. But at least I am getting them on the air and they really like the Flex 3000.

I can also do things in class with the Flex 3000 I can't with other radios. When I teach about amplitude modulation I can show them the upper sideband, lower sideband, and carrier on the panadaptor. I can filter out the unwanted carrier and sideband (razor sharp filters) so they can hear how much louder the sideband by itself is (because the carrier is reducing the gain of the receiver through the AGC). Then I can show them the difference in power output when I switch the transmitter to SSB. They can SEE all this on the screen of PowerSDR. I can't DO that with the K2.

So, I guess you *can* label me a fanboi. I am because I don't know any other production radio that will let me do what I want to do. But I am not a slave to any party or company line. What matters to me is that it does what it is supposed to do or that it is moving in that direction. But I do prefer to focus on how to get to the potential rather than focusing on how bad it is perceived to be right now. After all, it is just an engineering problem to be solved.

OK, I got carried away. Go ahead, beat me up now. ;)

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 02:31:41 PM
OK, I got carried away.

Indeed you have posted some of the  l  o  n  g  e  s  t   posts I have ever seen on eham. Lots of them too.

I hope you didn't have any problem reading them. ;) "If you can read this, thank a teacher," and all that. ;)

Regardless, I write pretty fast. My dad made me take typing in high school. It turns out to have been the most useful class I ever took.

Quote
You got way too much time on your hands Brian, I think I understand now why state governments are paring down the teacher force..   ;)

Quite the gadfly, aren't you Stan. ;)

It is fortunate that I teach at a private school. Normally Tuesday is one of my days off but I am in this week because our Science Fair is this week. I had some time this morning to answer questions. It only took me all of about 30 minutes to write those posts.

What would ever give you the idea that the public school system would allow a teacher to make ham radio part of the required curriculum? No, I'm glad I am not part of the public school system. I would go crazy in a minute.

Quote
I gotta an excuse, I am retired. No job, no Boss, no worries, no mortgage, no paycheck and plenty of time to play Flexradio...........

I used to be retired. Then I discovered I was merely unemployed. ;D

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 03:54:57 PM
Quote
Now there is a whole new set of problems! Smiley (We hope not.)

Unquestionably that will be the case. I've done some reading of K3 groups and there's some real bashing by owners of that wonderful radio too. A major reason I opted for the Flex is its lab quality S-meter, a first for our hobby and a half-century overdue. I see lots of complaints about the K3's puny meter.

Actually, there is an interesting story that ties Flex, that meter, and kids learning ham radio in school together.

Two years ago I had two students who wanted to do a joint science fair project. They wanted to build a back-pack HF station they could take hiking. Since I had had problems the year before with unequal distribution of work on joint projects I told them they had to split the project into two pieces. One boy, Josh, build the backpack, solar-panel mount, charging system, and mounted the school's K2. The other boy, Michael, undertook to analyze different wire antennas to figure out what would be best to carry into the field. He decided to rate the 1/2 wave dipole, full-wave delta loop, wire 1/4-wave ground-plane with elevated radials, and a non-resonant wire with counterpoise and tuner.

Michael compared the antennas for size, bulk, weight, ease of construction, and ease of erection. The problem came when he wanted to compare performance. He started out by building models at 2m and testing them in a home-made antenna range. That didn't work out too well so he was looking for something better. He and I were brainstorming and came up with the idea of using my new Flex 5000 with the two identical receivers and calibrated meters to compare signals. He chose to use PSK31 signals from all over since the signals are narrow and constant power.

Michael got his classmates to help him set up an antenna farm on our playground. I brought in my F5K and he set up to collect data. We spent most of a day tuning in PSK31 signals and comparing the signal strengths from the different antennas. He would take literally thousands of readings. For each station he would collect as many pairs of signal readings as he could and then averaged all the readings for a given station on a given antenna and compared that with one other antenna. (The dipole became the reference antenna.)

In the end we were quite amazed to find the results. By his calculation the delta loop had a 2.3dB advantage over the dipole. The dipole and ground plane were even up. He did notice the diversity effect where a fade on the dipole would be a peak on the ground plane and vice versa. The end-fed random wire came in dead last by almost 10dB.

In the end when he weighted his results, including the performance measurements, the 1/2-wave dipole came out on top.

How did they fare in the Science Fair? Michael took 1st place in our regional fair for Engineering. Joshua took 2nd place. At the California State Science Fair Michael took 2nd place for Electronics and Electromagnetics.

So, the Flex 5000 with its calibrated RX1 and RX2 ended up being used a a piece of test equipment and a boy learned a lot about antennas as a result.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL.

P.S. I have been trying to get Michael to write that up as an article for QST for two years. So far he has refused. <sigh>


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 22, 2011, 09:56:58 PM
Great story Stan. Ham radio still finds its way into the occasional school. The ham station usually ends up happening because one teacher keeps it going. When that teacher goes, the club usually ends.

The difference here is that "Wireless Technology" in our school is an actual class. It is a *required* class for all middle-school students. All students work toward at least a technician-class license. That is what I was saying will never happen in a public school.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL




Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 23, 2011, 10:57:14 AM

With Flex CW cleaned up so that high speed ops can push the limits, expect to see more discussion of relay chatter. Also I'd sure like to see less erratic performance from the SWR meter, which the reflector touched on yesterday. Both are minor problems and fixable down the road.

I have been thinking about both of these things. WRT the SWR reading, I think they use the same A:D converter for both forward and reflected power. That means they cannot sample them simultaneously. The end result is that the SWR reading is only valid if both forward and reflected power are constant and steady, i.e. when sending a steady carrier (like TUNE). It won't indicate properly when the signal is being amplitude modulated (SSB, AM, CW during keying, PSK31, etc.) or when the tuner is in the midst of tuning. This would require a hardware change, either add another A:D or add a sample-and-hold to both signals, to make the SWR reading work when the signal is changing.

But since I know that it is not accurate when the signal is changing, I would like the option to have SWR displayed anyway.

As for relay chatter, I was thinking about the characteristics of a relay vs. PIN diode switching for rapid turn-around, e.g. QSK. Relays are noisy but they won't degrade receiver performance in the presence of a really strong signal. A PIN diode can. I think that I would opt for a relay in that case and live with the noise. Of course, if Flex can find a quieter relay ...

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 23, 2011, 12:02:03 PM
As for relay chatter, I was thinking about the characteristics of a relay vs. PIN diode switching for rapid turn-around, e.g. QSK. Relays are noisy but they won't degrade receiver performance in the presence of a really strong signal. A PIN diode can. I think that I would opt for a relay in that case and live with the noise. Of course, if Flex can find a quieter relay ...

A Flex rig is just a box with connectors and no user interface. If relay noise bothers you, put the box under the bench, or in a closet, or someplace where the noise isn't an issue.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 23, 2011, 12:24:36 PM

A Flex rig is just a box with connectors and no user interface. If relay noise bothers you, put the box under the bench, or in a closet, or someplace where the noise isn't an issue.

That would be just too easy.  :D

And speaking of orientation, one thing that has always bothered me about the 5000 is that Flex put the power switch, mic jack, and headphone jack on the back of the radio. No idea why they didn't put them on the front with all the other connectors.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 23, 2011, 02:08:36 PM
Well, my initial post certainly generated a lot of comments and a lot of heat. It's been interesting reading all of it, especially the rants and the flames!  :D

I'm still withholding final judgement on 2.0.19 until I have time to try CW using a real key later this week.

Despite all of the heat surrounding CW issues, the Flex-5000A really is a wonderful rig on phone and digital modes. My operating is 15% CW, 5% phone, and 80% digital, so while I find the CW issues annoying, they're not showstoppers for me.

I have had very few issues on phone and none on digital modes. Most of the phone issues I've had are minor and can be considered annoyances rather than big deals. Sure, I'd like to have a noise blanker as effective as the one on my WJ HF-1000 and a manual notch filter even the low-end Japanese rigs have, but I can get by without them.

Where the 5000A really shines is on digital modes. I've operated just about every digital mode there is, going back thirty years, and the 5000A is by far the easiest to configure and operate rig on these modes that I've ever seen. Almost all other rigs require external hardware (such as a Rigblaster) and cables to interface to a computer running sound card digital mode software. Not so the 5000A -- just install VAC, do some simple configuration, and everything just works.

Operating PSK31, JT65HF, Olivia, or RTTY is almost trivially easy with a rig like the 5000A and software like Fldigi. It's literally point, click, and start typing. Operating in a RTTY contest, like the recent RTTY Roundup and the CQ WPX RTTY contests is almost like shooting fish in a barrel with this combination. I worked nearly 100 countries in just a few hours of operating.

The 2.0.19 update revamped the filter lineup in the digital modes to something that actually makes sense. It also cleaned up filter centering, which was somewhat problematic prior to 2.0.19. Many people complain about others running excessive power on PSK31 and blanking their entire waterfall, but the problem isn't power levels, it's the fact that they're running their IF through a 3 kHz filter and the AGC doing its job by reducing gain. When this happens, I simply hit the QSY button in Fldigi to center the signal of the station I'm working in the receiver's pass band and then switch in a 75 Hz filter. No more problem with the strong signal 200 Hz away.

I don't want people to think that, despite all my recent comments, I don't like my 5000A. Nothing can be further from the truth. I did a lot of research before buying, and I still think I made the right decision. I just wish Flex would devote more time to the fundamental functionality of PowerSDR and less time implementing flashy eye candy -- I don't care how great your UI skins look if fundamental things like CW and noise blankers don't work properly.

73, Jerry


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: KD8K on February 23, 2011, 03:02:14 PM

With Flex CW cleaned up so that high speed ops can push the limits, expect to see more discussion of relay chatter


I agree. As a CW op, that is the one thing I would most like to see improved. I have the 3000 as far away from the operating position as the firewire cable will allow, but it's still way too loud. I intentionally run the T/R switching at a slower speed because of the relay chatter.

Perhaps when the dust settles from all the work on PowerSDR, Flex could look into some hardware improvements on this. I would love to see diode switching. If properly designed, it does not have to sacrifice receiver performance. One of the top rated transceivers for receiver specs (K3) uses diode switching. If they want to stick with relays, using something quieter would still be a big improvement for CW.



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WA8JNM on February 23, 2011, 06:42:59 PM
I have really enjoyed this thread, guys.  Lots to argue about.  My two cents: the Flex 5K, with antenna tuner and 2nd receiver, and with the new software, is a huge improvement on CW.  I detect no latency at all, at my CW speed of 20-25 wpm. (I monitored the transmission on my Pro 2.)  My fist sounds much better; I make substantially fewer errors. I am a CW op, only. My setup: XP, latest version, dual core machine, K-3 keyer into the Flex key jack, and use the Flex sidetone.  It was a smooth and easy setup with the new 2.0.19 software (but delete the old firewire driver, first). Sampling rate for me: 48,000, buffer 512, operating mode: Safe 1.

Diversity receive is a blast. I run routinely with CW Skimmer on a second screen, smooth as silk.

NR seems weak. I can't speak to the antenna tuner; I prefer manual tuners.

I'd recommend this radio to anyone, without qualification.  It is quite exciting for me to use, even two years after I bought it.  Its like a brand new rig, with this software upgrade.

Now it appears we are going to get the crux of the disagreement: which side of the box is the "front". I await the resolution with bated breath.

Dave


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 23, 2011, 08:45:29 PM
I have complained about the lack of FSK before and have seen a Flex promise to include it at some future date. I believe the twin peak filter idea could probably be implemented easily in PSDR also.

I agree that both of these would be very nice to have, but I don't see Flex doing either of these any time soon given their lack of resources and tendency to favor flash over function.

73, Jerry


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 23, 2011, 09:08:05 PM
Well, my initial post certainly generated a lot of comments and a lot of heat. It's been interesting reading all of it, especially the rants and the flames!  :D

Ya think? ;)

Quote
Despite all of the heat surrounding CW issues, the Flex-5000A really is a wonderful rig on phone and digital modes. My operating is 15% CW, 5% phone, and 80% digital, so while I find the CW issues annoying, they're not showstoppers for me.

My operation is more like 5% phone and 95% digital.

Quote
I have had very few issues on phone and none on digital modes. Most of the phone issues I've had are minor and can be considered annoyances rather than big deals. Sure, I'd like to have a noise blanker as effective as the one on my WJ HF-1000 and a manual notch filter even the low-end Japanese rigs have, but I can get by without them.


It strikes me a something that would be most useful for CW. On phone the ANF should be sufficient and any decent modem implements its own filters and won't care unless the IF filter is too wide so that the interfering signal is manipulating the AGC.

Quote
Where the 5000A really shines is on digital modes. I've operated just about every digital mode there is, going back thirty years, and the 5000A is by far the easiest to configure and operate rig on these modes that I've ever seen. Almost all other rigs require external hardware (such as a Rigblaster) and cables to interface to a computer running sound card digital mode software. Not so the 5000A -- just install VAC, do some simple configuration, and everything just works.

Amen brother! You tell it!


Quote
Operating PSK31, JT65HF, Olivia, or RTTY is almost trivially easy with a rig like the 5000A and software like Fldigi. It's literally point, click, and start typing. Operating in a RTTY contest, like the recent RTTY Roundup and the CQ WPX RTTY contests is almost like shooting fish in a barrel with this combination. I worked nearly 100 countries in just a few hours of operating.

You are so right. I can't ever go back. It doesn't make sense to take the signal back to analog once you have digitized it.

Quote
The 2.0.19 update revamped the filter lineup in the digital modes to something that actually makes sense. It also cleaned up filter centering, which was somewhat problematic prior to 2.0.19.

You can thank Tim for that one. I showed him how I set up my filters, all centered on 1500 Hz with the click-tune offset also set to 1500 Hz. Lets me put the cross-hairs on a signal, click, and copy. Tim's slick hack was to tie the filter center to the click tune offset. If you change the offset, it changes the center of your filters. That gets my vote for hack-of-the-week.

Quote
Many people complain about others running excessive power on PSK31 and blanking their entire waterfall, but the problem isn't power levels, it's the fact that they're running their IF through a 3 kHz filter and the AGC doing its job by reducing gain. When this happens, I simply hit the QSY button in Fldigi to center the signal of the station I'm working in the receiver's pass band and then switch in a 75 Hz filter. No more problem with the strong signal 200 Hz away.

Precisely. I tend to forget about that problem because I just don't have a problem any more. The only further improvement would be to have the modem generate the AGC signal directly from the desired signal rather than generating AGC from power in the passband.

Quote
I don't want people to think that, despite all my recent comments, I don't like my 5000A. Nothing can be further from the truth. I did a lot of research before buying, and I still think I made the right decision. I just wish Flex would devote more time to the fundamental functionality of PowerSDR and less time implementing flashy eye candy -- I don't care how great your UI skins look if fundamental things like CW and noise blankers don't work properly.

Amen again. I agree that, given a choice, put the development resources into the signal processing, not the appearance.

But I do think that Flex got that message loud and clear. 2.0.19 is just WAY better than any of the previous versions, skins or no skins.

Clearly you don't need my help. Still, it might be fun to get together at some point and compare notes.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 23, 2011, 09:16:35 PM
Now it appears we are going to get the crux of the disagreement: which side of the box is the "front". I await the resolution with bated breath.

I posted that jokingly. But, truth be told, I really do have my Flex 5000 mounted so that the power-switch, mic jack, and headphone jack face the wall. The conector side faces the operating position. I am always making configuration changes; it is just easier that way. In fact, I have BNC-F to PL259 adaptors on ANT 1, 2, and 3 so they are BNC. All my shack wiring (amp excluded) is on BNC jumpers.

So, from my point of view, the connectors really are on the front.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 23, 2011, 09:37:14 PM
The biggest issue I have with the digital modes is the Flexradios do not do FSK. Real Hams use FSK on the RTTY mode.

There are some real advantages to using FSK. Which is why most radios have FSK.

I understand what you are saying Stan. That isn't exactly how I understand it, and I don't really agree, but I understand what you are saying.

Quote
The best radio I have ever used on RTTY are the Icom radios that have the twin peak filters. My Pro III had it and my Icom 7000 has FSK and twin peak filters also. It amazing to see the Icoms copy RTTY. Twin peak filters means there is  2 independent sharp filters - 1 around the mark and 1 around the space tone. The Flexradio will not come close to the Icom's ability to copy RTTY, yes I have tested head to head many times.

I certainly find your results surprising, given the distortions introduced by the filters, audio chain, etc., in an analog rig. I can't think of any reason why I might want to go back to an analog rig except for nostalgia, and then I am going to go all the way back to tubes. (I love Collins gear. I'm so sorry I sold my Collins separates and my KWM2.)

Quote
Yes I have used every RTTY software package out there.MMTTY is the best for copying RTTY, MIXW2 a close second. Yes I have used the popular FLiDigi too. I have done several RTTY contests with the Flex 5K and everytime I do, I wish I had kept my Pro III.

You know Stan, I think you are right. You ought to sell your Flex and get that Pro III back. In fact Stan, I like you so much that, if you like, I will find you a pristine IC-756 Pro III and trade you straight across for your Flex 5000. No greater love hath any man, right?

Quote
I have had no radio that has come close to the Icom's in RTTY readabilty. The Icom radios also have RTTY decoders built in, that is you can copy RTTY without any computer, the copy is right on the LCD of the radio.

You are definitely right about that. Pretty slick. I should probably get one too but because I like you so much, I am still going to find that pristine Pro III for you and trade. Nothing is too good for my friend Stan.

Quote
I have complained about the lack of FSK before and have seen a Flex promise to include it at some future date. I believe the twin peak filter idea could probably be implemented easily in PSDR also.

I'm not sure Stan. Those Icom guys are pretty smart. And they have a lot more engineers than Flex does. I'm thinking that the Pro III with the twin-peak filter and the REAL FSK is the rig for you. Just let me know when and where we can do the swap so I can find that Pro III for you.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 24, 2011, 09:11:26 AM
Just let me know when and where we can do the swap so I can find that Pro III for you.
My post on FSK and RTTY were not criticism of my 5K. I merely relayed my observations on RTTY performance VS another radio. Yet you get all upset about it and feel a need to defend.. Believe it, the Icoms do a much better job of copying RTTY, certainly my 5K is not even close to the ProIII's ability on this mode.

Now why would I trade a 5K, and mine has second RX and ATU which cost me $3500 for a Pro III that is worth maybe $1800. I am not as dumb as you think Brian, and you are not as smart as you think you are.....

Well, you certainly have me confused then. You were just singing the praises of the Icom 756 Pro III and how much better you think it is than the 5000 in both CW and RTTY. If that is true then swapping an "inferior" rig for a "superior" rig would be a gain. You would be getting a "better" radio without having to spend any money. Given how much you clearly dislike the 5000, how better to tell the world how inferior it is than to trade straight across for the Pro III. What a statement! But there is no need to swap with me. Sell your 5000, buy a Pro III again, and laugh at the stupid Flex owners all the way to the bank.

Intelligence really isn't the question here -- making a good decision is. If you think that the Pro III is better than the Flex 5000, then it would be stupid to keep the Flex 5000 when you could sell it, buy a Pro III, and put money in your pocket. OTOH, if you choose to keep the Flex 5000 instead of selling it to get the Pro III then you are stating very clearly with your wallet that you think that the Flex 5000 is worth $1800 more than the Pro III in spite of your protestations to the contrary. You really can't have it both ways, Stan.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 24, 2011, 11:15:09 AM
I would miss tweaking you Flex Fanboys, without a Flex radio I would have no reason to complain.... Other radios are not high maintenance like the Flex's are....

Just curious Stan, if someone did take you up on your offer to buy your 5000A, what would you buy to replace it?


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 24, 2011, 12:43:20 PM
This is not the first time I have been invited to get rid of my 5K. Your buddy Tim the Bulldog sent me his infamous "if you don't like, sell it) private email just before he banned me on the Flex reflectors. Seems to be a pattern here, if you cannot stop the Flex criticism get the ham to sell the radio.

So you chose to keep it instead of selling it. Interesting. Clearly you value the radio.

Quote
I have said it before here on eham, If I had to do it over again a Flexradio would not be in my shack. I am not however going to take a big loss on the radio just to make you Flex fanboys happy.

But you do have it to do over again. You can sell the radio. If the radio doesn't work for you then selling it to get something you prefer makes sense. Ask anyone on here. Used 5000's go for very near their new price so you wouldn't take a big loss. Somehow I don't think that is keeping you from selling.

Quote
Here is the deal Brian, send me $3200+shipping and you get a perfect 5K with 2nd RX, ATU AND the 160/80 mtrs spur factory modification. What a deal for Flex. By telling the truth here on eham I have probably caused them many lost sales. An opportunity to silence my Flex criticism and increase sales.  I would even throw in a bag of ferrites as I will not need them any more without a Flex in my shack.  :)  :)  :)

Stan, I already have a 5000 with RX2 and ATU. I also have a 3000 (at school) and a 1500. I don't need another 5000. I have clearly voted with my wallet so my preference is clear.

OTOH, I bet it would go in a New York minute on eBay. Doesn't eHam also have a place to sell equipment?

Quote
It even has an owner installed fuse holder in the non-factory 6ft heavy duty 12v power cord!!
It is still under warranty which is transferable.

You should put all that in the ad.

Quote
I would miss tweaking you Flex Fanboys, without a Flex radio I would have no reason to complain.... Other radios are not high maintenance like the Flex's are....

Well, there you go then. It's OK, no one is going to kick you off here that I know of. You can continue to complain to your heart's content AND have a different radio that makes you happy. Sounds like a real win from your point of view.

OTOH, $3200 is an awful lot of money to keep tied up just so you can continue to have the fun of tweaking us Flex Fanboys. Either you value goading people more than you value the $3200 or you think that the radio is worth keeping. OK, I understand.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W4ZDI on February 24, 2011, 03:52:59 PM
After checking into this site several times in the past few days, I became disillusioned with Amateur Radio.  I'm an Ex ham that dropped off years ago and just got back on the air last year.  Since that time I'd estimate I have spent a minimum of five hours a week, trying to catch up by monitoring ham forums and reading articles on antenna design.  I also spent hours each week reading the inputs to the Flexradio forum and have learned a tremendous amount of valuable information,  This information comes from generous hams who donate their time answering other's questions that help make setting up and operating the Flex 5000 much easier.  Every forum of any field that I've checked into is just full of hams answering questions from fellow hams and helping them solve their problems.  Literally thousands of questions on the Flex forum have been answered by the staff with the help of a dozen or so dedicated forum members.
 
Then I came to the eHam SDR forum.  What a waste!  So many hams checking in to learn something about SDR and what do they find?  A Gang of old, tired out goats who have no life other than sitting in front of their computers, writing post after post, complaining about something that was wrong with the radio they bought a couple of years ago.  Their complaints usually include the same old problems that they have mentioned at least twice before in posts earlier in the same day, irrespective of the fact that that particular problem had been solved a year ago.

They are complaining about a company that had the nerve and guts to start out in a brand new field of radio: Software Defined Radio, at minimum, a futuristic, fantastic change in the way radios will be designed and built in the future.  Their complaints are that the first product put on the market was not absolutely perfect in every respect, irrespective of the fact that the company has stated that they were committed to correct problems and improve the product.  Each post echoes previous posts, thinking that the louder and more frequent they are read, the smarter they will appear to their readers.  One in particular can't wait until the next post comes along that will give him something to shrill about in his reply.  Even today, now that the forum on eHam has positive comments about the recent Flex software release, I notice that one of the pack leaders still chimes in with as many negative comments that his tired fingers can create.  I cheered when Flex kicked him off the their forum!  What a mean spirited, disruptive, degenerative SOB!  One even posted today to the effect that Flex had not been "'open" with the world.  What planet is he from?  Where else will you find a president of a company personally answering questions related to the future goals they are working on?  Nowhere.  You betcha. 
 
Why don't some of these lost souls spend time trying to do something good for the hobby that they profess to cherish?  Surely, when they were just getting into ham radio, they themselves had to rely on asking for advice or help from other hams in solving their problems.  What a waste of a persons time, sitting in front of a computer all day, complaining about something not being perfect on the first go around and yet not making the first piece of constructive criticism.  I'm sure they would have ranted for years about having to hand-crank the Model T Ford.  It's very sad to see that they have nothing better to pass the time. 

What a miserable way to grow old!

While I'm ranting myself, I want to publicly thank all the great guys who have helped others by answering thousands of questions on the Flex forum.  I don't need to name names; you know who you are.

Pierce W4ZDI


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: KF6QEX on February 25, 2011, 03:28:08 AM
Quote
Why did it take you a few thousands words when those 3 would of sufficed?
You have posted more words on eham in 2 days than I have in 5 years. Cheesy  Cheesy

I understand too.

You took the words right out of my mouth.
It's cheesy and sad at the same time.
It was interesting to watch the transformation.


 ....when you hear the sound of hoofs, assume it's a horse and not a zebra...but... sometimes it's an ass.



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 25, 2011, 01:08:29 PM
Quote
Why did it take you a few thousands words when those 3 would of sufficed?
You have posted more words on eham in 2 days than I have in 5 years. Cheesy  Cheesy

I understand too.

You took the words right out of my mouth.
It's cheesy and sad at the same time.
It was interesting to watch the transformation.


 ....when you hear the sound of hoofs, assume it's a horse and not a zebra...but... sometimes it's an ass.

It is not entirely clear from your posting whether you are calling me or Stan an ass. Regardless, is it really necessary to sink to name-calling? I would be happy to discuss aspects of radio design and operating. That seems to me what ham radio is all about. Name calling -- not so much.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 25, 2011, 08:34:12 PM
Since I have been called many very nasty names by your Flexer friends the last few days here on eham, perhaps you should direct your comments towards them. Perhaps you have tunnel vision and did not see the nasty Flexer diatribe right above the post you quoted. Selective vision perhaps?

Here is a nice Flexer remark directed to me:
"I cheered when Flex kicked him off the their forum!  What a mean spirited, disruptive, degenerative SOB!"

I never call anyone nasty names. I can not get passionate enough with any radio to show that kind of rage.

You know, you are right. Neither the post calling you an SOB nor the post calling me an ass was called for. They devalue our hobby.

Every day I teach ham radio to kids. I try to find ways to make it relevant and interesting. Do you know how hard it is to find other hams to be role models from a technical and operational point of view? I sure as heck wouldn't want them to come here and read the postings. Spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance? Yeah, right.

Quote
It just is not personal with me..

I would even answer a CQ by you Brian..  :)

Well, when someone calls me an ass then that is getting pretty personal. I would probably take exception to being called an SOB too.

This has been a long, hard week. Our school had Science Fair today. This year there were no ham radio projects.

I hope everyone on this list has a good weekend and comes back looking to be friendly and helpful.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W7SMJ on February 25, 2011, 11:32:01 PM
Wow Pierce, you're right, that was quite a rant!  You claim to be recently disillusioned with Amateur Radio after reviewing this forum and then you proceed to make reference to  "old tired out goats", and then reference a "mean spirited, disruptive, degenerative SOB!"  No, that's not mean spirited in any way, is it?

Your assessment is not only very unfair and inaccurate, it's very hypocritical too!   Bravo and kudos to you!

While you may think the material in this forum is a "waste", I have found it to be very informative and valuable and I appreciate the contributors taking the time with their posts.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I don't own a Flex and have never owned and SDR transceiver so I can't interject an informed opinion on a Flex one way or the other.  Having said that, I can make observations and it is interesting to me that any negative comment regarding Flex in this forum usually results in an almost maniacal and fanatical response.  Why is that?  Nevermind, that was a rhetorical question and I have been able to figure out the answer myself.

Also, FWIW, if I had spent approximately $3,500.00 on ANYTHING and it didn't work as advertised over a year later I probably would be pretty upset too.  Who wouldn't?

73,
Scott


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 26, 2011, 08:35:40 AM
There is nothing worth replying to. We have the Flex Bashers. We have the Flex Basher Bashers. We have the Flex Basher Basher Bashers. Everyone on all sides is Holier Than Thou and oh-so-justified.

"Flex didn't fix the problems in MY time frame." (bash bash)

"That Flex Basher is a mean spirited SOB." (bash bash)

"That Flex Fanboi is an ass." (bash bash)

So, who is going to break the chain? Who is going to decide to sink to the level of courtesy and respect first? Oh, it is going to be hard because it will be open-season on the people going for respect. It will be oh-so-much-fun to bash them when they don't respond because, after all, we are *right* and we have God on our side.

Actually, I have to deal with this sort of thing regularly but I have to deal with it from 11-year-olds. And eventually they get the message and find that mutual respect and cooperation in the pursuit of solving problems goes a lot further than laying blame and poking fun at others. And I sure as heck don't expect this kind of behavior from adults.

So, does anyone actually want to talk about Flex-5000A CW Impressions? That is the subject line on this thread. As I have said several times, CW on the Flex-5000 sucked (past tense). I just tried the new version. QSK seemed to work quite well to me. So what is YOUR experience now? Has it improved? Is it usable NOW? Can you change it from unacceptable to acceptable through configuration changes? Now that discussion would be on-topic, germane, and useful.

I like the Flex radios. I am not apologetic for that. But I am no slavish adherent. God knows I have complained to Flex many times about things I didn't and don't like. My experience is that Flex has been responsive. They have solicited my input and then acted upon it. I cannot complain about that.

So, is anyone here interested in a productive discussion?

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 26, 2011, 11:00:53 AM
CW on the Flex-5000 sucked (past tense).

So, is anyone here interested in a productive discussion?

I have been proclaiming that CW on the Flex was crap for the last Year. And for a Year Flexers like W9OY have been proclaiming CW was great. I have been ridiculed and abused verbally by your Flexer friends. W9OY's website link is prominently displayed on the Flexradio Website Homepage and on his website W9OY ridicules me and calls me a very nasty name, all because I had the nerve to say Flex CW was crap. He consistently promoted the great Flex CW on this website for a very long time. I have to assume that Flexradio agreed with W9OY's insights.

Now you Brian, as a well known Flexer, say that  "CW on the Flex-5000 sucked".

Where were you for the last year when I was getting beat up on this cw subject? Why were you not defending me??

Then you should feel vindicated. OK, you have also said, "I TOLD YOU SO," and I certainly have acknowledged that.

As for you question, I don't know where I was but I know I wasn't here. I did see a fair number of "CW sucked" messages over the past year or so and I did see acknowledgement from Flex. CW did work (for some values of "work" > 0 :) ) and for some it was usable. For some it was unusable and Flex said they were working on it. I took it for granted that everyone pretty much agreed that CW on the Flex radios was not good. Personally I didn't care because I don't run CW. (If I have a computer present there are better, more power efficient modes than CW so I am going to use them for weak-signal work. Since the Flex radios must have a computer present, QED ...)

As for you, frankly, I didn't know you had been kicked off the list. I did sort-of notice that you stopped posting, kind of like when the furnace turns off and suddenly you realize that you can hear the TV better without the fan noise. :) Sorry to say it but I did find your unceasing complaining to be annoying. You had gotten your message across but then you continued to beat the dead horse.

Quote
Sorry Brian, too little, too late.

You want productive feely good discussions? Go back to your beloved Flex reflectors..

Stan K9IUQ

So, as far as you are concerned, it is "too little and too late," so we can never have a productive, positive discussion here? That certainly isn't my first choice for an attitude. But it is interesting that you think that productive, positive discussions go on over on the Flex reflectors but it is "too little and too late" for them here.

No Stan, I am going to hang out here and answer real questions people have. Hopefully we can eventually put the negative attitudes aside. And I am not going to bash you either. I agree with you that the CW was not good (sucked) on the Flex-5000. I no longer believe that to be true. Apparently you don't either according to your posting on the Flex 5000 side-tone. Good. Flex is making progress on fixing things. Let's see if we can too.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W9OY on February 26, 2011, 12:38:24 PM
You know flex has a 30 day trial period  if its not your cup of tea send it back.  Pretty simple and more than fair.  As far as changing the way the radio works, there are those of us who rolled up our sleves and set about improving the radio's performance and there are those that get on eham and bitch and bitch and bitch  that's also fair because this is a free country.  If you are sitting on the fence wondering about the radio why would you possibly take the advice of a self appointed expert and bitch meister instead of taking the radio for a 30 day test drive?

Personally I have worked on this radio since its drawing board days as a volunteer, and on the sdr-1000 before that, slowly grinding through the issues toward solutions.  We have seen many solutions and improvements over the course of the last ten years.  I reset my dxcc total the day i got my sdr-1000.  since that time i've worked 300 countries on 40 80  and 160 all on cw and all very part time many on the first or second call, all using simple vertical antennas.  i've worked thousands of hams in regular qso i've worked contests including using the radio as a so2r  digital modes as an IF for transverters, i use it as the control hub for my fully automated antenna switching and automated amplifier switching and on and on. I have never owned such a versatile piece of radio gear.  How therefore can this device be such a piece of crap as some would have us believe?

Now i'm sure i will get labeled with the pejorative fan boy from the peanut gallery. I am a fan boy because this amazing radio is deserving of a fan

if you don't like it in the 30 day window send it back  if you don't like it after that sell it.  Only a moron would spend years on eham bitching

An honest man may have an opinion but in the end he would state the opinion as an opinion and not as some kind of immutable fact and invite the reader to give the product a whirl  if he doesn't like it SEND IT BACK  every radio has things you can point to that you don't like kenwood icom yaesu ten tec collins drake   thing is this radio you can do something about it, and every owner can benefit the very next day by simply downloading an update without ever firing up the soldering iron

its a fascinating aspect of the hobby

73  W9OY


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 26, 2011, 12:50:38 PM

All email clients have message filters. Anyone (including you) on the Flex reflector could have put K9IUQ in their message filter. Voila, no more annoying posts by K9IUQ.

I agree. I find the delete key to be useful in cases like that. I don't like to put anyone in a kill-list because, proverbially speaking, even the blind hog finds the occasional acorn. For some people, 90% of what they post is useful. For some people, 90% of what they post is not useful. But I have never found anyone for whom 100% of their posts were not useful.

Quote
Instead, Censorship (by banning me) means everyone only gets information that the moderator wants you to see on the Flex Reflectors.

I don't run any of the Flex lists. I can't help you there. I don't even know what to suggest.

Quote
If you do not like reading my opinions here on eham.net - then don't.. There is no need to rebut my every word. I will not apologize for annoying you.

I wouldn't expect you too. :)

Quote
My "unceasing complaining" helped get the 160mtr xmit spur mod implemented. My public "unceasing complaining" about the CW inadequacy probably did not hurt getting the cw software code completely re-written.

Maybe. Would it make you feel better to get credit for it? Several people complained about both things. Didn't Flex fix the 160m spur on your rig? I thought they announced a fix for that.

As for CW, it looked like Flex went through several iterations trying to fix QSK on CW. They tried several things and then they finally gave up on fixing what was there, threw it out, and rewrote it. But you certainly weren't the only one complaining and it appeared to me that others were more productive in their criticism. But that doesn't take away from your input.

Quote
We have had many productive positive discussions here on  (the SDR Forums) eham the last year. So far, Non of them have included your input.....

Nope, I didn't know about the SDR forum here. Looks interesting. I think I'll stay and see what goes on.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 26, 2011, 08:07:48 PM
self appointed expert and bitch meister

 How therefore can this device be such a piece of crap as some would have us believe?

 Only a moron

 W9OY

Ah, more nasty names, true to form. We expect nothing less from Flexers.

Perhaps "Flexers" could be something other than a derogatory name as well?

But, yeah, name-calling sure as heck doesn't help people get along.



Quote
Did not Brian just ask all of us to be more civil and not call names? Guess he did not send that message to Flexers.  :D

Actually, I thought I had. Some people don't listen.


Quote
This device, a Flex 5K is neither crap or as you believe Gods' Greatest Gift To (CW) Ham Radio Operators. It is somewhere in between.

Stan, in this I agree with you 100%.

Here is my take on the Flex radios. From just a raw receive and transmit basis, they are excellent transceivers. The receiver has excellent dynamic range and signal quality, better than anything else I have ever used. (I can listen to this radio for house without fatigue.) The transmitter is one of the cleanest I have ever used, primarily because it does not need to push the signal through a crystal filter that introduces passband ripple and non-linear group delay. Also, they provide a pure digital path from immediately after the first mixer all the way to the digital mode program. This eliminates a plethora of potential problems.

That having been said, it doesn't come without a down side:

1. CW performance has been not very good but appears to be much better. Personally, since my interests do not run to CW operation this was not a show-stopper for me.

2. Other DSP functions, e.g. noise-blanker, noise reduction, and notch filter, have been spotty in terms of performance. Since I run primarily digital modes, I can't use NR or ANF anyway so their performance faults have also been a non-issue for me. OTOH, the NBs do work and seem to work adequately for a number of different types of impulse noise, just not all. I can live with this.

3. There is no digital path from RX2 to any other digital mode program. This to me IS serious. But I also know that Flex can't fix this until they to a complete rewrite of the software.

4. I think that the user-interface for PowerSDR is "clunky" and imposes too many restrictions on screen real-estate as well as functional behavior (like the no-digital-path-to-RX2 problem.

5. PowerSDR is not modular so you cannot easily move functions around or replace them.

Much of what is there is there because Flex is trying to make their products still look like a traditional radio. I understand that because if it was done correctly (by my measure) then it might not be recognizable as a ham transceiver.

Now here is the best part of the Flex radios: they can change just by changing the software. If a function doesn't work then I know it can still be fixed without having to purchase a new radio. This is a form of protection against built-in obsolescence. When you buy a traditional radio you are stuck with what it does now. Sure you can get software upgrades that make small changes but you can't get big changes. Flex provides first-class RF design that is leading-edge. It couples that to a high-bitrate path to the computer. It leaves ALL the key functionality in the computer where we can change and add to it. As far as I can tell no other ham transceiver offers me this. Also, if I want to add a feature, I can. The source code to the software is available to me to work on. Again, no other ham transceiver offers me this.

So, I think I am a realist. The Flex radios have a long way to go but the PATH to get there is clear for all to see. I don't have the option of a path to change anything Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Elecraft, or Ten-Tec makes. So, is the Flex radio perfect? Heck no. Is it good? Much of it is excellent. Is it possible to make it better and/or different? Absolutely. This makes the Flex the only game in town for me right now.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 27, 2011, 11:54:34 AM

 But you certainly weren't the only one complaining and it appeared to me that others were more productive in their criticism.

 I think I'll stay and see what goes on.

Really. I had a couple of months of emails with Steve Hicks, Flex Engineer concerning the 160 mtr spur. Are you privy to what he and I said? Still got those emails too, but I will not post private email..

I have no idea what exchange went on between you and Steve. You reported (here) that your exchange with him was professional. That is what my comment was based on.

Quote
I need people like you and W9OY and all the nasty Flex name callers to bring out the best in me. We need to show prospective Radio buyers what Flexradio is really all about.

Boy, you can be annoying at times. <sigh>

Have I called you a name Stan? I think you are right about some things and I think that, many times, the way you say things is intended to annoy rather than convey constructive criticism. But that is not name calling. Sure you annoy me sometimes but I still try to treat you with respect. OK, I get the mild dig in once in awhile when I think you are being over-the-top but that is it. I am not a nasty name-caller and I resent being categorized that way.

Let's try to be productive here.

73 de WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 27, 2011, 03:19:54 PM
As I made clear, CW is not my preferred mode of operation. I like new things. I like seeing how much data I can send with the least amount of energy.

Brian,

I'm curious, what modes do you operate, what bands, and what call sign do you use?

I checked PSK Reporter and it shows that WB6RQN was last heard 92 days ago on any band/mode.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 27, 2011, 04:15:25 PM
As I made clear, CW is not my preferred mode of operation. I like new things. I like seeing how much data I can send with the least amount of energy.

Brian,

I'm curious, what modes do you operate, what bands, and what call sign do you use?

I checked PSK Reporter and it shows that WB6RQN was last heard 92 days ago on any band/mode.

Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home. I have 500W at school but the 5000 and 1500 at home both run barefoot. Someone just donated a Heathkit SB-200 to the school so after we overhaul that I will probably set that up to operate at the school and borrow the IC-2KL amplifier to use at home.

Once in a awhile I will come up on PSK31, mostly at school when explaining that mode and helping the kids get on. In that case I will operate using the school's club call, K6GBM. When I am on 'live' I tend to be a rag-chewer and don't really care to have yet another Call-RST-QTH-brag-WX-73-sk QSO, which seems to be the norm on PSK31. That is just a matter of pressing some macro buttons which, to me, is not too interesting. I want to talk about antennas, propagation, SDR, frequency measurement, switch modems to see which ones are working better under the current conditions, etc. Weather? Prostate? Those idiots over there? Not so much.

When I was down in Dominica this past summer I operated using my Dominican call, J79BPL. I was using the 3000 from the school barefoot with a loop antenna tuned by an SGC-231. I operated phone, PSK31, Olivia, and Contestia. I stumbled onto an opening on 6m and ended up being at the small end of a pile-up. It was fun but I was NOT set up to run. Trying to handle a hand mic and type into the log on fldigi turned out to be a challenge. :)

But the rest of the time, I use my call, WB6RQN.

As for bands, right now WSPR is hopping between 40m, 30m, and 20m. At night I usually have it hopping between 80m, 40, and 30m. My preferred bands are 30m and 17m. They are quiet. 40m here is just too noisy. Right now my noise floor on 40m in a 300Hz filter is -100dBm. But choice of band is primarily determined by propagation and staying away from RTTY contests. ;)

And sometimes I do crazy things like watch the phase rotation of the WWV carrier due to doppler. Plotting that with fldigi's frequency measurement tool is just really interesting. You'd think that it would be random but if you sample for awhile you begin to perceive two apparent intervals of periodicity, probably having to do with some consistency in the shapes and motions of the ion clouds.

BTW, if you want to come up to Sacramento on Tuesday night I am giving a talk to the River City Amateur Radio Communication Society (RCARCS) about digital modes in general but WSPR specifically. The meeting is at 1930 PST. I plan to set up a WSPR demo using my 1500 and laptop.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on February 28, 2011, 01:10:05 PM
Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home.

I've tried WSPR, and find it useful to see where my signal is reaching. It's not something that I'd consider a primary mode, nor something I'd dedicate something like a Flex-5000A to. This is something that a small, dedicated, QRP rig would excel at--start it up and let it run in the background. As a sit-in-front-of-the-rig-and-operate mode, WSPR is about as interesting as watching grass grow.

Olivia is probably my favorite digital mode. I find it much more likely to find someone on this mode who's actually interested in conversing rather than sending a bunch of canned macros (macros are the main reason I dislike PSK31, except for chasing DX). I have a weekly Olivia sked with a friend in Ohio and I'm usually running 4 watts out with 100% copy on his end.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on February 28, 2011, 04:38:18 PM
Well, I am on the air right now doing WSPR. Check the spots for me on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/spots. I find that, most of the time, I am more interested in the science of ionospheric propagation than in having a QSO. When I do get on to call or answer a CQ it is almost always with Olivia or Contestia because they make the best use of the power that I (don't) have at home.

I've tried WSPR, and find it useful to see where my signal is reaching. It's not something that I'd consider a primary mode, nor something I'd dedicate something like a Flex-5000A to. This is something that a small, dedicated, QRP rig would excel at--start it up and let it run in the background. As a sit-in-front-of-the-rig-and-operate mode, WSPR is about as interesting as watching grass grow.

I agree. I am usually working on something else and that just becomes background operation. I certainly don't dedicate my 5000 to that function. I mostly use my 1500 for WSPR. But when I am in the shack I have WSPR on if I am not doing something else with the radio(s). OTOH, when I am not using the radio for a QSO, why not use it for WSPR?

Quote
Olivia is probably my favorite digital mode. I find it much more likely to find someone on this mode who's actually interested in conversing rather than sending a bunch of canned macros (macros are the main reason I dislike PSK31, except for chasing DX). I have a weekly Olivia sked with a friend in Ohio and I'm usually running 4 watts out with 100% copy on his end.

Olivia is also my favorite digital mode. I think that in some ways it could stand to be improved but I haven't found any other mode that will allow for a keyboard QSO with less signal arriving at the receiver. DominoEX is interesting but its FEC implementation is not particularly good. THOR is DominoEX with proper FEC but it is not popular. I would love to do on-air comparisons of THOR and Olivia. Contestia is nice in some ways but the short interleave makes it too susceptible to QSB. If contestia just would allow the 7-block interleave used with Olivia I think it would be a killer keyboard mode.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of testing of different modes over an NVIS path. Would you like to make a sched and try various modes on NVIS? That is something I am *very* interested in for another project I am working on.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on March 01, 2011, 03:25:48 PM
There doesn't seem to be a lot of testing of different modes over an NVIS path. Would you like to make a sched and try various modes on NVIS? That is something I am *very* interested in for another project I am working on.

Sure. What band? The only antenna I have up right now is a vertical on 20m, which isn't much of a NVIS antenna. I could probably throw up a low dipole on 40m pretty quickly, however.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on March 01, 2011, 03:45:08 PM
For NVIS I would opt for 40m or 80m. 40m is definitely the NVIS band during the day and 80m at night. When I moved my GAP antenna the 80m tuning changed and now it resonates below 80m. The SWR is about 3:1 at the lower end of 80m so I can use it with the tuner.

Why not try using 40m for now.

Right this instant I am finishing up a reference and explanation of the PDP8 instruction set. I am using the -8 to teach the kids how computers work inside. They will be writing very simple programs and entering them into memory through the front panel of the -8 I have built already. We are going to build a 2nd one in class and use PDP-8 emulators on our Macs.

Bottom line, I can do it on Thursday during the day or evening. Friday I can do it in the evening. Not sure when you like to operate.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WB6RQN on March 04, 2011, 09:36:39 AM
Jerry, I would still like to do that NVIS digital mode testing between you and me.

I am thinking of putting up a horizontal loop. Carol, KP4MD, and I just did a talk on WSPR at the RCARCS club meeting and she has been getting great results with her full-wave 80m horizontal loop on 40m. I was thinking of trying to get up a full-wave vertical loop for 40m but horizontal would be easier to do and would probably work better for NVIS.

Let me know if you want me to come over and help you get that dipole up.

73 de Brian, WB6RQN/J79BPL


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K3ROJ on January 07, 2013, 10:56:45 AM
I really enjoy using my Flex5000A but CW was difficult to use with the sidetone delay etc.  I tried many things to make CW sound good but gave up.  Now I only use the CWX feature since I only operate during contests.  That solved my problem unless I operate faster than 30 WPM.  You would think Flex Radio had CW operators in mind when designing their rigs.  I must be doing something right since we have over 30,000 stations worked since getting my Flex Radio.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on January 07, 2013, 11:51:51 AM
I gave up on CW on the 5000A completely, sold it, and bought a Yaesu FTdx-5000 where CW works as it's supposed to.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: N8FNR on January 10, 2013, 09:13:35 AM
I use CWX that is built into PSDR to do CW on a daily basis for DXing with my Flex-5000 and could not be any happier. Of course I don't use an external key but do love the memories in CWX and actually enjoy using my keyboard. The memories are great in contests.

Recently I bought a Elecraft KPA-500 amp kit and find it and the 5000 to be a killer setup with my SteppIR vertical.

Put me down as a "True Flex FanboyTM" as I really love this rig. I sold a fully loaded TS-850SAT to help pay for it and never looked back. BTW my PC never crashes while running PSDR and I find it to be very stable.

Yeah, I know that according to some who lurk in this group that any Flex rig is the worst radio ever. According to them I should sell it and replace it with any other rig as a Flex is no better than one of these. http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/marconi/exhibition/7777.htm

73
Zack
N8FNR


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 10, 2013, 09:46:48 AM
I use CWX that is built into PSDR to do CW on a daily basis

 Of course I don't use an external key but do love the memories in CWX and actually enjoy using my keyboard.

CWX and using a keyboard for CW is hardly "Real CW". It would not surprise me to see Flex Fanboys brag about using a CW Reader either.

Of course since you own a Flexradio there is no other acceptable way to do CW. Using ANY kind of CW key trying to do REAL CW will drive you bonkers on a Flexradio. And that is the truth!

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: N8FNR on January 10, 2013, 11:05:36 AM
Stan, please define what "real CW". Is that using a straight key, bug, iambic or perhaps a spark rig? I looked for it on the web but could find not a definition.

At your leisure could you explain why using a keyboard is not "real"? If I use a keyboard for DX contacts is ok to have them verified by QSL or LOTW or are they not "real" either?

Zack
FlexFanBoy
N8FNR


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 10, 2013, 01:55:52 PM
Stan, please define what "real CW".

You wouldn't understand since you own a Flexradio...  ;)

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on January 10, 2013, 02:12:14 PM
Stan, please define what "real CW". Is that using a straight key, bug, iambic or perhaps a spark rig? I looked for it on the web but could find not a definition.

Using CWX on CW would be the equivalent of using a voice keyer to engage in SSB QSOs.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: N8FNR on January 10, 2013, 03:40:50 PM

Using CWX on CW would be the equivalent of using a voice keyer to engage in SSB QSOs.

I admit that I am not the brightest guy and must have missed that section in the bestselling book "Hoowz to be a Gud Ham".
Please enlighten me as to what is real and the only way to do CW. That must mean that you cannot use a keyer with memories correct? Because that would be a lot like CWX right? And an iambic keyer helps make dots and dashes perfect and isn't that a crutch too? So that brings us to the straight key which apparently is the only thing a right thinking person can use. Am I missing anything here? Should I tell the ARRL LOTW folks to remove all of my confirmed QSO's in there because the are not real CW? Would that be the right thing to do?

Some hams use voice keyers in contests. Is that ok to use?

Stan, please define what "real CW".

You wouldn't understand since you own a Flexradio...  ;)

Stan K9IUQ

I guess if I owned a Yasicomwood I would see the light and follow the straight and narrow path to CW Heaven (location to be determined). But wouldn't I have to disable the keyer in one of those rigs to be admitted the Ham House of the Rightous?

And let's not even get started on the veracity of using the digital modes......

Zack
FlexFanBoyClub member #666
N8FNR



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 10, 2013, 04:26:53 PM
I admit that I am not the brightest guy

I disagree, using CW on a Flexradio with a key a of any kind is not too bright. Since you use faux CWX you must be at least half bright.

Now ex Flexer W6UV (who started this thread) has been shown to be a Genius. He got rid of his Flexradio after putting up with the Flexradio CW nonsense for a couple of years and got himself a radio that does not have the Flexradio CW Problem. He bought himself a nice knobbed radio.

Now if you really want to have fun try using the Monitor on SSB with headphones. It has the same similar delay that plagues the CW mode. Because of the Flexradio Monitor delay I could never say a complete sentence. It is really weird to hear yourself talking with a delay in the headphones.

If the Flexradio was a great CW radio and Contest radio like the half bright Flexers tout, then Top Gun CW Contesters would use Flexradios. They do not. Even half bright Hams should be able to figure out why they do not.

Let me help you on this - Contesters are competitive and want to Win.

Stan K9IUQ



Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 10, 2013, 04:33:11 PM
Using CWX on CW would be the equivalent of using a voice keyer to engage in SSB QSOs.

No-Coders love CWX and CW Readers.. It is the only way they can make CW QSOes.......

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: N8FNR on January 10, 2013, 05:54:16 PM
Using CWX on CW would be the equivalent of using a voice keyer to engage in SSB QSOs.

No-Coders love CWX and CW Readers.. It is the only way they can make CW QSOes.......

Stan K9IUQ

Uhhhhh really! WOW! Too bad I took my Tech test at the Detroit FCC when the code was required. Does that mess with your reality?
Will other hams scorn me at Dayton and thrown corndogs at me now because of the CWX4EVR tattoo on my forearm?
Since I use CWX should I turn my license into the FCC for termination with extreme prejudice?

Just out of curiosity what rigs are worthy enough for use on Stanworld? Do they have transistors? Are digital modes accepted on your world?

N8FNR


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on January 10, 2013, 06:08:02 PM
Zack,

We're just ribbin' you now. You can use anything you want to send CW. In fact, I would much rather QSO with someone sending with CWX or a keyboard than someone abusing a bug.

But people who take their CW seriously will rib you for using a keyboard just like BMW enthusiasts will rib you for buying a bimmer with an automatic transmission.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WD4ELG on January 10, 2013, 09:11:56 PM
Stan, I have a question.  I have been reading your honest and candid posts since I got my Flex 3000 in May 2009.

Is it the CW delay that is the show-stopper that made you trade it in?  I agree that I observe the same behavior with mine, and cannot use MON when sending CW or even SSB.  I have to use the external side tone on my K5 keyer.  (This does make me wonder if the CW going out over the air is choppy like what I am hearing, but I suspect not).

Anyway, back to the question.  Stan, was it the CW issue that ultimately "broke the back of the camel with the last straw?"  Just wondering.  I am so enthralled by all the other features that I just chose to work around that one, even though I am 95% CW.  Maybe I am missing something else here.  I am Kenwood 520/480/570 and Yaesu FT817 for comparison, but I can't see going back (even though I keep the other rigs in the shack to fiddle with and remind me occasionally of nostalgia).


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 11, 2013, 04:36:19 AM
Anyway, back to the question.  Stan, was it the CW issue that ultimately "broke the back of the camel with the last straw?"  Just wondering. 

No, it was many problems that ultimately made me decide to get rid of my Flex 5K. The RFI problems (which I conquered) the 160/80 cw spurs (which were finally fixed because of my constant complaining) the poor CW performance, the "focus problem" when doing contests and many other quirks. Having Flexradio modify my Radio to fix the spur problem and then sending it back to me without checking the radio (it came back not operational) did not help matters either. And the Flexboy's "ignore problems attitude" which is prevalent did not help my outlook either.

After 11 months of owning the Flex 5K I just decided the effort needed to appreciate the Flexradio was not worth the aggravation. I do not regret the decision in any way. I will never again own any radio with a Flexradio nameplate, however I believe other SDR's are in my future.

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 11, 2013, 05:29:44 AM
  I have to use the external side tone on my K5 keyer.  (This does make me wonder if the CW going out over the air is choppy like what I am hearing, but I suspect not).

Unfortunately you suspect wrong. I listened to my Flex 5K many times on CW with another (knobbed) Receiver. I sent cw macros into my dummie load and listened on the knobbed Receiver. Flexradio CW can be choppy and odd sounding. I believe this is because of the processing done by the computer and windows. It is not just a matter of a slight delay in the CW either. It is hard to describe but the CW will occasionally "stutter".

Try this yourself and make your own determination of how well the Flexradio sends CW. Send CW macros for several minutes and listen on a different knobbed receiver. Come Back and tell us what you think?

You results may vary from mine. Different computers will probably give different results. I tried these tests on 2 different computers and got similar results. One of the computers was a very Fast full blown i7 computer with extremely low DPCs and running Win 7...

CWX, CW macros or even using a key the Flexradio is not my idea of a CW Op's dream radio.

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: WD4ELG on January 11, 2013, 06:58:06 AM
Thanks, Stan.  Now you have me thinking...


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K9IUQ on January 11, 2013, 08:49:20 AM
Thanks, Stan.  Now you have me thinking...

This is good. Doing your own testing and not relying on others opinions (especially peer pressure opinions like is seen on the Flex Reflectors) is the way I do things.

I step on many toes and have lost friends because I am truthful and honest. It is the price I pay for thinking for myself......  ;)

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: KA4KOE on January 14, 2013, 12:46:02 PM
Missing dits? I wondered why my morse with a paddle had issues. The bug can fix that!


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: EI3GD on April 04, 2013, 03:52:31 PM
Folks,
Has the new release (2.5.3) made any improvements to the reported CW delay or 'stutter'?

I use a Flex 3000 and found a noticeable delay when using VAC, but listening to CW direct from the front panel (headphone socket) seems to have no delay. Does this work on the 5000?

Thanks
Ray


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: K0OD on April 04, 2013, 04:44:01 PM
I've never had any such CW delay on my Flex-5000. Owned it for 3+ years.

I use it (with my own keyer, BTW) all the time on CW at speeds between 20-35 wpm. My radio has had a persistent problem that I've referred to as a slight squelch tail sound that I hear and can see on the Flex scope sometime when the radio switches from transmit to receive. Varies with the band and other things. Fairly minor.

2.5.3 didn't affect keying when I installed it several months ago. As I recall, that version didn't deal with keying according to the release notes. Flex is working on another update to PSDR that should be released soon.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6RMK on April 05, 2013, 06:34:40 PM
Anyone know what architecture Flex uses when sending CW? I bet the key input gets sent up the Firewire port to the PC to be processed before being sent back down the link to the radio hardware as an RF waveform
Midi messages
Quote

They would have been better off putting a $0.50 Pic MCU in the box and using that to directly key the transmitter, even if the radio's internal firmware has to generate the RF waveform directly. A simple on-off keyed CW signal can't be that hard to generate to require a fast PC's processing power.

That's not how it generates CW (nor how any SDR would generate it): you're thinking in terms of traditional analog radios where you do something like turn the final amplifier on and off (or perhaps one of the stages, and then feed it to a linear amp).

In an SDR, you just generate the sine wave (envelope shaped to reduce key clicks) that you want transmitted.  Think in terms of something like hooking the output of a code practice oscillator to the input of a SSB rig.

The challenge with the PowerSDR software architecture is that the latency through the chain can vary somewhat.  The transmitted signal is ok, but has a variable delay from the input to the chain, so if you listen to your own transmitted signal, you'll be confused.  The recipient on the other end of the path doesn't care.. he or she hears normal CW.  Another term for this is "pipeline delay" and such a delay exists in ALL radios (even analog ones).  The delay through a filter with a given bandwidth is roughly 1/Bandwidth * number of sections. So if you have a 50 Hz wide filter, you're going to have a 20 ms delay (at least).  In the Power SDR, the delay is more about the block size in the DSP. SHort blocks mean shorter absolute delay, but the filter performance isn't as good.  You want a 1 Hz transition in a brick wall filter? that's a 1 second delay.

The other challenge faced by the PowerSDR architecture is T/R switching.  In the early versions (fixed at least 4-5 years ago, I think), you had to wait for the audio buffer to finish before it could be "turned around" to the other direction. That's probably the "missing dit" thing.  When they fixed the buffering so that it ran full duplex (at a cost of doubling the CPU burden), that particular problem went away..

The other tricky aspect to the PowerSDR architecture is that it potentially has multiple blocks of data stacked up through the chain in both directions.  You really, really don't want to have the Transmit DACs "run dry" (because you'll be emitting a big CW carrier at the DDS center frequency with fixed values of I and Q until the next set of samples arrives), so you want to have a few blocks queued up, in case the PC decides to go do something else for a short time.  If you're watching a DVD and you hesitate a frame or two, you might not notice.  But if the last set of samples happened to be full scale I & Q on a Flex, then you're transmitting full power carrier until the next samples arrive.  A good design (which they may have done in the firmware between 1394/Firewire and DACs) would have some default "zero" value (chosen to minimize feedthrough of the DDS) to clock out if samples don't arrive over the firewire in time. 

In any case, the need to have extra blocks in the pipeline so the FIFO doesn't run dry also leads to longer delays.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on April 15, 2013, 02:51:29 PM
Anyone know what architecture Flex uses when sending CW? I bet the key input gets sent up the Firewire port to the PC to be processed before being sent back down the link to the radio hardware as an RF waveform
Midi messages
Quote

They would have been better off putting a $0.50 Pic MCU in the box and using that to directly key the transmitter, even if the radio's internal firmware has to generate the RF waveform directly. A simple on-off keyed CW signal can't be that hard to generate to require a fast PC's processing power.

That's not how it generates CW (nor how any SDR would generate it): you're thinking in terms of traditional analog radios where you do something like turn the final amplifier on and off (or perhaps one of the stages, and then feed it to a linear amp).

In an SDR, you just generate the sine wave (envelope shaped to reduce key clicks) that you want transmitted.  Think in terms of something like hooking the output of a code practice oscillator to the input of a SSB rig.

Thanks for the explanation. That approach sounds convoluted and bound to cause problems (like the lag I saw).

I was never able to come to grips with CW on the Flex and that's one of the reasons why I sold it. I now have a Yaesu FTdx-5000 and it's bullet-proof on CW. I'm happy.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: EI3GD on April 19, 2013, 02:34:31 PM
Just been testing the newly released PSDR version 2.6.4 on my 3k and it seems 100% on cw to me. No extra or missing elements.
I really can't see any problems, it's rock solid. And when using the front head phone socket there is zero delay, at none that I could detect at 28 wpm sending.

73
Ray
Ei3gd


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: AF4RK on May 12, 2013, 02:15:49 PM
I have a Flex radio 1500. I built a 555 side tone oscillator that also keys the Flex radio. I operate in CW contests with N1MM and WinKeyer with no problems. I feed the side tone into an audio mixer so that I hear it in my ear buds along with the radio. True, the internal sidetone/keyer is useless. Try disconnecting the antenna and listen to the delay. You're not hearing what is on the air, which is an occasional problem with the "hotshot" CW contest guys. I miss a letter sometimes on receive. But I had 367 Q's in the ARRL CW SS with the Flex. by the way, anyone who owns a Flex radio, and I really like mine, should ignore any of their tech support. It took me a year to finally buy a decent computer, at which time the intermittent noise and red x on the display disappeared. All of the complicated suggestions were very misleading if well intentioned. With the I3 and ASUSTeK  P8H61-M motherboard , the operation of the Flex is flawless. I use Mini Deluxe and DM780 for casual digital and N1MM / FLDIGI for serious RTTY contesting using the Flex connector Line In / Out instead of VAC. VAC, another source of delay, about 1 second, which is critical for RTTY contesting.  I am very pleased with my Flex and would not go back to "normal" radios.


Title: RE: Flex-5000A CW Impressions
Post by: W6UV on May 14, 2013, 11:00:45 AM
I have a Flex radio 1500. I built a 555 side tone oscillator that also keys the Flex radio. I operate in CW contests with N1MM and WinKeyer with no problems. I feed the side tone into an audio mixer so that I hear it in my ear buds along with the radio. True, the internal sidetone/keyer is useless. Try disconnecting the antenna and listen to the delay. You're not hearing what is on the air, which is an occasional problem with the "hotshot" CW contest guys. I miss a letter sometimes on receive. But I had 367 Q's in the ARRL CW SS with the Flex. by the way, anyone who owns a Flex radio, and I really like mine, should ignore any of their tech support. It took me a year to finally buy a decent computer, at which time the intermittent noise and red x on the display disappeared. All of the complicated suggestions were very misleading if well intentioned. With the I3 and ASUSTeK  P8H61-M motherboard , the operation of the Flex is flawless. I use Mini Deluxe and DM780 for casual digital and N1MM / FLDIGI for serious RTTY contesting using the Flex connector Line In / Out instead of VAC. VAC, another source of delay, about 1 second, which is critical for RTTY contesting.  I am very pleased with my Flex and would not go back to "normal" radios.

Looks like you have work-arounds for most of the lag issues. CW was the only one that bothered me, and I never found a satisfactory solution that worked for me.