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

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-1500
FlexRadio  FLEX-1500 Reviews: 84 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $649
Description: The FLEX-1500 is a low-cost, QRP SDR that is positioned to allow ham radio operators the ability to experience the incredible capabilities and just plain fun of operating an actual software defined radio without breaking the budget. It comes packed with features that make it ideally positioned to be the ultimate low cost, high performance QRP rig and IF deck for VHF-microwave transverter operation.

* Two-tone, 2 KHz spacing third order dynamic range measured @ 14 MHz of greater than 80 dB
* Full HF/6m transmit capability - General coverage receiver
* Built In Test Equipment (BITE) for hassle free calibration
* Multiple RF outputs for transverter IF or "full gallon" QRP operation
* Dedicated Receive only antenna selection for use with the transverter IF or the 5W PA Transceiver port
* Simple USB interface to the computer eliminates messy cabling that plagues other QRP software defined radios.
* External connectors for band data, asserting PTT, headphones, key and microphone
* Simple USB interface to the computer eliminates messy cabling that plagues other QRP software defined radios
Product is in production.
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WB0FDJ Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2018 12:13 Send this review to a friend
Still a great QRP rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Had the rig 6 years now and have no regrets. I'm still finding things I can do with the receiver, which is, along the the 3000, the best I own. On digi its fantastic, I use it to WSPR and some PSK, flawlessly. Very good SSB if you want. I've never had a glitch that resulted in having to reset, ever. (My Flex 3000 has needed this a very few times) The reason for this follow up post is to share what I've done to reduce latency as much as possible. If you are thinking of buying one of these used, the info might be helpful.

I have an old Acer desktop that runs an Athlon II quad core 645 chip, not the latest thing. Just used a free trial of AVG PC tune up to eliminate all but the most essential backround programs. This has resulted in CPU usage of 5-10%, often less than 5%

I plug the radio's USB into the front port of the computer which is shared with nothing else. Buffer size under audio settings: 128. Display FPS 10. Process priority Above Normal. USB driver buffer and Process priority are set mid range but might be worth a look if you need to. The result is I can reliably work up to 20 WPM with the internal keyer, as well as use a straight key. Out of the box, using default settings, this was not possible. Added bonus: with an external keyer there is no choppiness or dropped characters at all. Make no mistake, my other regular rigs are a TT Jupiter, Argo V, etc. At 100 ms delay it's not full break in and not quite as smooth as those but I've used this rig in events, such as SKCC, and it did the job well.

So for digi and SSB it's a great radio with multiple ways to enhance performance. (i.e. when running PSK set AGC to fixed and you won't have the problem of strong stations blanking out the receiver). For CW work to reduce latency and it's a very useful, if not perfect, machine. Why consider it at all? Digging out small signals with S5-7 noise is what this radio does all day long. I'll take a less-than-perfect but quite usable CW experience to do that.

I am listed on QRZ and will be happy to answer questions if needed.
K5AV Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2017 14:11 Send this review to a friend
Amp and Flex 1500  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently bought my FLEX 1500 used from a friend (im late to the SDR game) and ran it through my Expert AMP 1.3k FA. With the Flex at 5 watts or 100% drive, all bands are 500 watts out with a few that just dip below. My amp runs on 110v setting and could probably do a little better if I went to 220. I have 3 other non SDR radios that now gather dust (which is a shame) as this radio makes the others somewhat boring. The Panafall setting along with mixed receiver output(hear tx and rx from either L or R speaker), lotsa of filter settings and a great receiver make it fun to operate.

There are a few small takeaways but non that cannot be corrected. Ie the CWX or internal keying is delayed. Not cool if you are in the heat of the DX moment and want instant tx response time. So I use my win keyer and bencher direct to the radio. I have seen it go into the 'oscillation mode' a few times on boot up only but never during operation. A quick restart and all is resolved.

Once your learning curve flattens, band change, set up split operation ect are quick and easy. The mouse wheel allows my hand to stay flat on the table which seems trivial but not after you go back and tune with the Big main knob of a hardware radio. With the Panafall zoomed out, I can view the entire CW spectrum and see any action from say 14000 to 14050 in just seconds.

I realize most of this is old hat to most but really wanted to mention my results with the ampů

Regards, John K5AV
K0INN Rating: 4/5 Nov 1, 2016 21:48 Send this review to a friend
For CW - highly dependent on your computer hardware  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the rig used from another ham. My operating mode is almost 100% CW. I like to operate 20-25 WPM casual QSOs. I'm using a 1 year old business class HP i5 desktop with 8GB RAM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For me the Flex 1500 was a waste of money.
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