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Author Topic: Flex power genious xl  (Read 5326 times)
KB6DYA
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« on: April 07, 2019, 04:02:54 AM »

Why is flex taking so long to introduce the Power Genius? will the addition of a diplexex help the Imd3? in the palstar- 35 IMD-3 with a diplexer. then there is elecrafrt with no diplexex at only -30 IMD3. will you here the -5 db on the air?
Thank you for your thoughts- KB6DYA
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K6AER
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2019, 08:00:25 AM »

Most very high power solid state amplifiers have a very strong third harmonic component. The Genius amplifier is using two 1500 watt pallets and even at legal output could see a third harmonic of 150 watts. In the case of a low pass filter system the power would be reflected back to the final transistors and have to be dissipated.  In a diplexer system the power above your primary output frequency is sent to a load. This helps lower the harmonic output and improves the IMD somewhat but still the harmonic power has to be dissipated.

Either application of a Diplexer or a Low pass filter will be required for a amplifier to meet FCC certification standards. Has the Power Geniuus been FCC certified yet?

With a average dipole under normal band conditions a IMD of -30 dB is marginal and you might hear the difference between -30 and  -35 dB. Throw in a tower with a 6 dB of antenna gain and your signal could be S9 +30 dB. Now that IMD of -35 is not very good and you will be producing S8 sidebands up and down 10 KHz of band width.

I can't imagine that production is held up of over a filter design. The folks at FLex are not dummies. What did the manufacture say about the hold up when you called them?
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K6BRN
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 10:05:09 AM »

The fellows at Flex Radio are not dummies when is comes to digital signal processing.  But I believe that the "Power Genius" was subcontracted out to a former eastern bloc supplier who pretty obviously sold the concept to Flex well before it was ready to be put into production.  And the Power Genius promises all sorts of things, like "Maximum Efficiency", predistortion, heat pipe cooling, diplexer based filters, direct Ethernet control,....etc.  And presumably an affordable price (for hams, which is prety difficult).  It sounds more like a "science project" than a profit oriented product development.  And profit is NOT optional - it's what keeps a firm alive.

So, what could possibly go wrong?  Risk is always multiplicative.  If each "advanced" feature has a 90% chance of success within the required cost/schedule constraints, and there were at least five of them (see short list above - and there are more claims, too), then the overall probability of success, just based on those items alone would be about 60%.  Not good odds for an established shallow-pockets business that was not in the speculative venture capital mode - because there is an existing customer base to dissapoint.

I've had similar problems with suppliers - the only real fix is to recognize the risk right from the beginning and have a simpler but adequate "Plan B" ready to go if they fail or are excessively delayed.  And to limit investment.  Seems like Flex Radio was a little naive about this one and bought a convincing story without a backup plan.  Hopefully they have not sunk too much or their own capital into it, or it could seriously impact them.

Otherwise, just buy a KPA-1500.  It works.

Maybe time to call the Power Genius a loss.  That "Final Mile" getting a new product into production, especially if it is well over its cost/price target, difficult to produce or otherwise unstable, could last forever and drain every drop of capital put into it.  A case-study mistake almost every business school teaches.

I'm sure the principals at Flex are debating this right now.  I genuinely wish them luck and feel their pain.

Brian - K6BRN
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K6AER
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2019, 10:41:34 AM »

A lot of hams do not understand business economics. Technology, declining business base and social norms can make a thriving company out of business in two years. A large influx of hams passing has flooded the market with legel limit amplifiers.

In 2001 NEC was the largest maker of tube computer monitors with over 2 billion in sales. 5 years later they were out of business.

Remember compact florescents? They were going to save the planet. Find one now.

For under $2000 I can buy a very nice Alpha 99 or 91B. So it takes 15 seconds to set the Tune and Load. The extra $4000 save from the Genius is better spent on a tower and beam.

If you are jumping for a 2KW solid state amplifier then buy the RF Kits out of Germany.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 10:44:06 AM by K6AER » Logged
KD8MJR
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2019, 11:03:45 AM »

If I was a new ham i don't know if I would want a tube amp but I do know that turning on the radio and hearing almost nothing would not make me very enthusiastic about spending several thousand dollars on an Amp.


73s
Rob
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“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
K6BRN
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 11:31:41 AM »

Michael:

You're right, most hams do not understand business economics - because they've never had to deal with it, except as an employee, and/or have never had training in it.  Happens a lot in small businesses to.  Plenty of fields of study to explore in this wide world.

The cases you mention below are not really where Flex is.  Solid state amps are where the market is going, big time, for many reasons that have been debated endlessly, not the least of which is that that tube technology has already been "end-of-life'ed" and we are now running on reserve stock and specialty firms whose business base is rapidly eroding.  Not a good place to be for a growing business.

This case might be labeled "New Product Development:  How NOT to do it."

I've been there and taken some very painful lumps - nothing like actual experience as a teacher.  Thankfully I survived and leveraged just what I learned, from my mistakes, my vendor's mistakes and my Customer's mistakes.  This is a learning experience for Flex.

They are developing a new product in an evolving but established market, trying to find a real discriminator (price?  Features?  Performance?  Cachet?)  and have picked Features, Performance AND Cachet at a reasonable Price.  Problem is, that price point is very hard to hit when all of the really critical features are covered by other manufacturers and the new features offered are difficult (expensive/takes a long time/may not perform as promised) to develop and deliver.  And the market volume is limited.  And the promises are becoming stale, which tends to poison the market for the offered product.  Lots of challenges.

As I said above, hopefully Flex has insulated themselves enough against their supplier's issues to make this a "non-issue".

The Flex core (ham) business of developing and delivering top-notch DSP ("software defined", in ham-speak) radios DOES appear healthy, and the hope is that the Power Genius issue will be resolved shortly, with minimum impact to the company.  I'm sure that's the plan, anyway.  The Flex-6400 and -6600 appear to be winner products - a very good sign.  And these radios are designed from the get-go for low-cost manufacturability while maintaining excellent performance.  Very elegant, very smart.  Should provide at least a decent cash flow and profit to leverage to get "over the hump".

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN
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K6AER
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2019, 02:29:23 PM »

Brian,

I wonder how many millennial hams who buy homes in the urban nightmare with a S9 noise level will ever spend money for that level of sophistication? There is so much equipment on the used market now day's.

It is obvious by the questions I read in this forum and others that the technical has been greatly dumbed down. I can see the attraction of new hams thinking they don't have to learn much by buying a SS amp but antenna physics are still the same and still much has to be learned to be successful in QSO's.

If the ARRL wanted to really help the hobby they could give a copy of the ARRL handbook to every new ham. Then we could have regional jeopardy technical games.

"Alex, I will take Triodes for 50"
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G3RZP
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2019, 02:49:06 PM »

K6AER,

Do you not need both a diplexer and a low pass filter, so that the majority of the reflected harmonic power goes to the load but the remainder still gets filtered out?

Quote
It is obvious by the questions I read in this forum and others that the technical has been greatly dumbed down.

Very, very true.....
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M0HCN
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Posts: 566




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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2019, 03:58:45 PM »

This thing is for use with a SDR in a closed (modulation domain) loop feedback scenario, not so?

If so then the reflected third harmonic can actually be used to LOWER device dissipation, if the reflected phase can be worked correctly by a combination of filter design and line length.
Sure it hurts linearity, but if the thing has a bucketload of modulation feedback then it should still be better then most of the other stuff out there. This is more often seen in VHF and UHF amplifiers where the harmonic tuning can be done with printed lines, but you can do it at HF using suitable design of a third harmonic trap before the main LPF. Doing it gets you about a 10% improvement in efficiency.
See multiple discussions of class F amplifiers.

I would not be surprised if they are trying to do drain modulation as well, which is really good for efficiency in SSB or QAM modes with high crest factors, but introduces some nice traps when combined with RF feedback (Gate puncture if you get too far into saturation due to the modulator not keeping up has cost me a few expensive LDMOS parts). PIN diodes and actually monitoring the gate voltage and feeding it to the drain voltage controller is helpful here. 

All of this stuff works on my bench, but works on the bench is one thing, works 100% into some badly maintained aerial and when hooked up with cheap coax full of water is quite another, works and gets FCC and CE (Which is tricky as this is a intentional radiator, so self cert is out) approval is a very other sort of problem. Doing it at a price which actually makes money? Tough, very tough. 

73 Dan.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2019, 04:56:51 PM »

Michael:

Quote
I wonder how many millennial hams who buy homes in the urban nightmare with a S9 noise level will ever spend money for that level of sophistication? There is so much equipment on the used market now day's.

Smartphones are the primary tool of the Millennial. Instant communications, instant data, instant processing, anywhere.  No legacy knowledge of love of tubes anywhere in their experience.  How do you think they'll react to a tube amplifier.  That they can't get parts for.  And have to adjust every time they use it.  IMHO its pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Quote
It is obvious by the questions I read in this forum and others that the technical has been greatly dumbed down. I can see the attraction of new hams thinking they don't have to learn much by buying a SS amp but antenna physics are still the same and still much has to be learned to be successful in QSO's.

To really BE technical, you HAVE to be trained, by school, by mentoring, or with a very, very few, by experimenting.  Part of the work I've been asked to do is mentoring of 1st level engineers with 0-5 years of experience.  I've had zero problems with capability - the same mix it always was - brilliance, motivated and competent and needs help.  Colleges in the USA are doing a very good job, in my experience.  The best engineers will hit six figures income not very long after graduating with a... BSEE, for example.  And they'll have lots of experience with digital signal processing.  No mysteries about FLEX Radio to them.

There are more than 270,000 Electrical and related Engineers in the USA, and many more with technical degrees of one kind or another that provides a decent foundational background.  Maybe we should attract THEM and let them do the "heavy lifting".  Because they have the knowledge, they have the income, and they WILL have children.  No doubt they will also live in an urban environment.

Others that wish to enjoy ham radio and do NOT have a technical background will need to start with an "Elmer", will need to be primarily "appliance operators" and willl have a long journey in front of them.  But... if that journey is part of the fun of this hobby, then it's all worthwhile and we probably should not hammer on them for how they take enjoyment.

How many hams today can code up a 64-point FFT in MatLab, or in VHDL or Verilog?  How many know it needs a windowing function to be really useful?  Or what potential windowing functions are?  A few, maybe.  Not many.  (This work pays REALLY well, though)  I'm pretty sure there are MANY, MANY more who are competent CW operators.  An interesting skill.  But not terribly relevant today.  So.... those simple facts make 95% of hams "appliance operators" on new radios.   And that's OK with me.  It's all about fun, not status.

Just some personal philosophy...

Brian - K6BRN


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KB6DYA
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2019, 05:12:18 PM »

I am sorry if I dumbed down the hobby. I use this form to gain knowledge. I know I am not the sharpest pencil in the box. So I will not be using this site to gain more knowledge and information. Thank You KB6DYA
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N0YXB
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2019, 05:30:42 PM »

I am sorry if I dumbed down the hobby. I use this form to gain knowledge. I know I am not the sharpest pencil in the box. So I will not be using this site to gain more knowledge and information. Thank You KB6DYA

You have nothing to apologize for, keep doing what you're doing. Some oldtimers seem to forget how long it took them to accumulate their vast knowledge. Brian sums it up pretty well, IMO.

To really BE technical, you HAVE to be trained, by school, by mentoring, or with a very, very few, by experimenting. 

Others that wish to enjoy ham radio and do NOT have a technical background will need to start with an "Elmer", will need to be primarily "appliance operators" and willl have a long journey in front of them.  But... if that journey is part of the fun of this hobby, then it's all worthwhile and we probably should not hammer on them for how they take enjoyment.

How many hams today can code up a 64-point FFT in MatLab, or in VHDL or Verilog?  How many know it needs a windowing function to be really useful?  Or what potential windowing functions are?  A few, maybe.  Not many.  (This work pays REALLY well, though)  I'm pretty sure there are MANY, MANY more who are competent CW operators.  An interesting skill.  But not terribly relevant today.  So.... those simple facts make 95% of hams "appliance operators" on new radios.   And that's OK with me.  It's all about fun, not status.

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K6BRN
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2019, 05:41:47 PM »

Oren (KB6DYA):

Crimeny, irony and sarcasm is supposed to be MY tag-line!  Cut it out!  Smiley  Just kidding.  You do it well. (Sigh!)  Competition!

Nobody has to be the "sharpest pencil in the box..." to enjoy ham radio.  If you're having fun and learning, too, I'd say you're doing pretty well.  And you're probably selling yourself well short, too.

This is NOT the "Hobby of Geniuses", it's the hobby of "Anybody who wants to (as long as you follow a few simple rules that the FCC has kindly laid down and spelled out)"

ITS.  A.  HOBBY.

Big money?  Little money?  MIT Summa Cum Laude?  High school only? King?  Senator?  Nobel laureate?  Nobody at all to speak of?  That's OK.  The only guideline that I THINK is valuable is that if you are having fun, enjoy the hobby.  If you're not, or have more improtant things to do, drop it.

Many operators come and go, and sometimes come back (like me).

Be cool, dude!  (Am I dating myself?  Hmmm.)

Brian - K6BRN



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M0HCN
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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2019, 05:11:44 AM »

It is a multi faceted hobby, for me pushing the technical limits is the fun, but (for example) contests are a complete turn off, while others consider a contest using whatever is the latest box from Icom to be cool, and others like the DX hunting, it takes all sorts, and I would not argue that my thing is in some strange way 'better' then another.

My spare room having a pile of HP, Anritsu, and Lecroy kit does NOT make me a more serious ham then someone who has a room full of log books and contest certificates, it just means we have different interests. Same with the fact that I don't know CW, sure I could learn, but it is not a mode that interests me much.

Why would anyone code up the butterflys in matlab? It has a perfectly good built in function to do FFTs of almost any length?

And yes, I can write an FFT in VHDL (Not generally a lot of point the vendors have IP for this), the windowing is of course important and choice will depend on what matters to you, Blackman made a career out of publishing a mess of different windowing functions, but Hann, Bessel, Hamming, Chebyshev, Harris, Walsh and others all have window functions named for them.
Sometimes writing something a bit more specialist can save a useful number of LUTs, say Gortzels algorithm instead of using a full up FFT.
Windowed Sincs are useful for computing FIR coefficient sets, and essentially the same windows apply.   

I am (mostly) a self taught hacker dating from before all knowledge was in google, so it is possible to get reasonably technically competent without spending three years for a degree. 

73 Dan.
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K4QXX
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2019, 05:30:55 AM »

Per the Flex community site, there have been several people that have received their amps recently.  Hopefully Flex can ramp up production now and get caught up with all the back orders.
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