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Flex Radio Dayton 2015 Marketing. The cliche of the "World Class" guest speaker.

Mike WhatleyMike Whatley Member
edited June 23 in New Ideas
Flex Radio has announced  guest speakers at their Dayton 2015 banquet. Two "world renowned" contest/Dxers.  

  • Ranko Boca, 403A, is one of the world’s most accomplished radio sport contesters.  From his incredible mountain top station above the Bay of Kator, Montenegro, he’s made over 500,000 QSOs since his country gained independence in 2006!  Ranko also manufactures a growing family of networked station integration products under the 4O3A brand.  Learn more at http://www.4o3a.com/
  • Craig Thompson, K9CT, is the co-leader of PJ7E, NH8S, K9W and holds 3 expedition of the year awards.  He designed and owns a world class, winning contest superstation with 11 towers from 1.8 to 1296 MHz plus EME.  Craig enjoys station design engineering and working as a team in M/S and M/2 contests.    To read more about K9CT visit http://k9ct.us/
Impressive "hobbyist" resumes for sure. Yet in my view irrelevant to the SDR community.  Ranko has made "Over 500,000" Qso's.  Sorry I don't believe it. He may well of contacted these stations but he surely didn't talk to them for any length of time. Imagine getting to know 500,000 people! Laughs. Like most contesters he was too busy moving on to the next contact.

And Craig Thompson has 11 Towers and a "Worldclass superstation". Also irrelevant to the vast majority of Flex users.  The idea of having '11 Towers is too absurd to even address. This is a hobby for most. Not a lifestyle, profession or an identity.

My point? These speakers are a transparent attempt to have  "one of the worlds most accomplished" and another "world Class station owner"  pump up interest in the the Flex SDR platform in the Contest community.

Flex has every right to focus their marketing efforts on whoever they like. But I think their "world class" choices (Jeez what **** hard rhetoric!) are predictable and tired. The same marketing tripe put forth by Yaesu and Icom and even Kenwood on occasion.

Flex could have created an SDR extravaganza. Examples abound!  A round table discussion with an FPGA designer, Application developers, veteran users (no they don't have to have 11 towers), and enthusiastic posters from this very forum. If Flex were creative and daring they could even invite representatives from their competitors. Flex could show their confidence by inviting Anon, Elad, Quicksilver others to address their customer base as well.   Imagine a lively  "Blue Sky" discussion of where the SDR can go with audience participation.  What fun!!!  The Microsoft HoloLens comes to mind. Will I have the 20 meter band on my watch on 5 years?  ...........

Flex had a chance to be different. Like their platform, the possibilities are many.  But their market is ham radio operators.  And they like much of the hobby cannot think out of the box.  

mike whatley


  • JohnJohn Member
    edited June 2018
    Well, I agree with all this but have found out the hard way, as have many others that the local zoo ( europe ) will take an issue with anyone who dares to call CQ DX or have long qso's. Its a growing cancer amongst the "amateur radio fraternity" and its spreading. Seeking refuge in the microwave bands is one option, but I know my measely flex1500 is up to the job. I usually tell the zoo that I can put down more filters than they can with carriers and they will move on to someone else, but I digress. Flex would have done better to push its transceiver from the 1500 upwards , to the masses. As you said 11 towers is like saying I am running 10kw. Meaningless
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited April 2017

    Ok now...

    4O3A and K9CT both built up great stations, 403A is a beacon and develops valuable hardware for station integration and more that we use building performance radio stations, K9CT not only is a great contester but uses his resources and skill to do things like handing out all time new ones from Navassa amongst many other projects.  Just because these guys have the resources to take things to a higher level than many doesn't make them less a ham.  In fact both of these operators regularly use their resources to give so much back to the entire community. Lets let them do the same with flex. 

    It is a great honor to have these guys part of the community.  Bottom line, flex is making the right choices in the right places to not only boost sales but engage a community that will foster things like improved station integration, ease of use 3rd party application development, performance enhancements, and more.    If the power contest community adopts the flex platform, it will benefit everyone at all levels of operating and help Flex Radio lead the pack in transitioning the performance radio community into broad adoption of SDR.

    There is something for everyone here.. no need to slam any particular community nor set an expectation that a particular platform will cater to 1 particular subset of the hobby.  That would signify a narrow vision.  This was quite the opposite and is a very smart move.   

    Great job Gerald and team.  Keep up the good work.  and keep thinking outside the box.

    Chris Tate


    Chairman, California QSO Party

    ARRL Assistant Section Manager for DX and Contesting East Bay section

    Past President, Northern California Contest Club

    Flex Signature series owner, user and supporter.

  • Mike WhatleyMike Whatley Member
    edited July 2017
    As I said, Flex can market as they wish. I find their choices to be the same tired practices that have existed in the hobby for decades.  I would offer that a creative marketing campaign that is more inclusive could be just as effective. But we'll never know, because Flex (and probably correctly) chose the predictable path.

    Disparaging other parts of the hobby is part of the culture. It has existed  as long as I can remember. At age 15 in 1965 I recall listening to 75meter a.m. where AMers  conducted a "Slop Bucket War" against SSB users. It was amusing and fun for a Novice teenage to listen to!  And variations of it go on to this day. So what?

    I don't know what Flex's market share is. There is no data available like for almost every other industry and product line. It's a weird business.  We have credible data that Apple sold 75 million iPhones, but can't find out whether Kenwood sold 4,000 TS -990's or Flex sold 643 6700's.  

    That said, I care little for whether Flex "breaks out" and "thrives".  That's the beauty of the disruptive era we live in. I like their product line. But if they were to fail. I'd move on to another platform.  If there is a need, someone will fill it. 

    Who wants stability? It's sooo yesterday.   Laughs!


  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited May 2015
    Well, Mike, the world is an open oyster. What are you holding this year at Dayton  to promote your world-view?

    I could not disagree with your compliments given in your opinion piece but could not disagree more with your conclusions.

    Flex has not paid 1/100th the attention to the contesting community that competitors like Elecraft and Icom have over the years. In my opinion, they have done a good balance between casual experimentors and mature operators. Personally, I think, like automobile racing, contesting involvement by a rig manufacturer is needed because they learn so much from being on that edge (and especially analying the failures).

    We have all benefited by the mentoring presence of Stu, K6TU, in the Flex family as he is always pushing to do "a bit more" with his Flex's than the radio can currently do. This is how you continue to proress "early-mature" products and he has been great. K9CT is another that is trying to help out integrating the Flex contesters.

    I am not sure I will be there this year but in my opinion, this looks like the very best banquet yet from Flex!
  • K1UO - LarryK1UO - Larry Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    and, yet once again, it is good to see that you did not miss a single chance to remind others of your personal dislike of contests or even contesting in general...  I'm sure the contesters are saying the same about you....  just not as publicly or as often.
  • Steve W6SDMSteve W6SDM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2015
    Mike must have accidentally put salt in his breakfast cereal this morning.  Either that or he got hold of a bad Easter egg.

    I am a contester and a DXer.  I also had a very long rag chew with a ham that I had never met before last night.  So long it was that the XYL asked me why I never had conversations like that with her.  The only thing he knew about the Flex was what he had seen in QST.  He didn't contest and wasn't into DX despite the fact he's got a TH-11 on a 75-foot tower.  Nevertheless, we had a lot in common.  It's the brotherhood of amateur radio.

    There are many facets to amateur radio.  You can enjoy the ones that appeal to you and ignore the rest.  However, to criticize them simply because you don't understand or like them really isn't doing anyone any good.  There are those who think SDR is cheating and those who think DX clusters are cheating.  When Doctor Christiaan Barnard did the first heart transplant, some said that was cheating.  After all, why can't we just die when we're supposed to.

    Amateur radio is inclusive, not exclusive.

  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited April 2015
    I can remember when I was a young man and worked in a record store in Savannah. There was this young kid, whose name I cannot remember, always came in and said that Jimi Hendrix could not play worth a ****. Just cannot remember his name at all.

    Moral of story is that you get the ability to be listened to with respect gained by accomplishment.
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    No need to try at all, If I want to avoid busy contest bands I just slide into 12, 17 and 30 meters.  No problem.
  • k0eook0eoo Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Comments like Mike's leave me quite speechless....  Flex is trying to grow there market and this Dayton's theme is "Contesting"; so whats wrong with that!!  Next year it might be networking and so on....  WE are all winners if Flex is able to grow there market....  And by the way, I'm not a contester and I think what they're doing is GREAT.....  Dennis, k0eoo
  • Steve N4LQSteve N4LQ Member
    edited September 2015
    12,17 and 30 meters? There you'll find the DXers....5nn dr om 73 etc.
    Oh well, at least it's activity. What's worse? Bedlam or dead bands?
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited April 2015
    Just One

    K1N..... trampled even the WARC Bands

    BTW... for many hams  (except perhaps U) K1N was the thrill of an ATNO....and well worth trampling the bands..
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    Ive worked 208 entities on 17 meters and 194 on 12 from W6 over the last couple years.  Those beaches are as sandy as they are in Hawaii.
  • JohnJohn Member
    edited December 2016
    I look for long qso's in progress and tag along until one quits and then I hop on in. I try and avoid the 59'ers like the plague, but its not always possible.
  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I have had some of my best rag chews on 17 Meters, some of them with DX stations because the band isn't as highly pressured as 20, but often has propagation as good.
  • JohnJohn Member
    edited December 2016
    Just for interests sake, does anyone know the what highest amount of greenbacks required for a QSL card is ?
  • Mike WhatleyMike Whatley Member
    edited June 23
    Neal....Most of the Ham Radio population are living in the analog past. And in my view they are irrelevant to contemporary life.  I cannot tell you how many Hams I have worked on the air who proudly and defiantly tell me they only have a flip phone. No smart device!  These men (and they are exclusively middle aged to elderly men) are disconnected from the explosion of the app information culture.  Smart phones and the myriad of information stream apps are now as important to civic participation and understanding as radio was during WWII. It's not an option. This is a "known unknown" (With respect to Former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld)

     In the previous era, the ability to be listened to was indeed based on the currency of "respect" gained by accomplishment or marketing/advertising and publishing. Traditional  propagandists  were often people with many titles (Like Chris Tate, N6WM  Chairman of this, President of that, Assistant to somebody.) Members of   Vertical bureaucracies with self important titles that often carried weight in the swaying of opinion or endorsement of various practices or products.  That era and it's methods are obsolete. With the rise of social Media, globalized communications and the ability to reach anyone/anywhere, being "listened to" is now based on the message. It's validity. And how it is conveyed.  The pomposity of many vertical bureaucracies have been exposed for what they are. And media manipulation of the message is now far more difficult to conceal.  ( Hello Bill O"Reilly and Brian Williams!  Laughs!)

    Technologists in the USA developed instant messaging and all of the top tier Social Media platforms, yet the Islamic State has used these tools with superior methods to drive their vile message artfully forcefully and globally.  More than one American high level policy maker has lamented of late that the ISIL forces have mastered what our team seemingly cannot. So it's not about WHO is delivering the message. But how effectively their message is conveyed and through what distribution channel.

    Just what is the "accomplishment" you refer to.  Screaming into a microphone and making 500,000 contacts is an "accomplishment"?  I say no.

    BTW.... How much do you think Flex is paying these "World Class" hams to speak at this event? .   Flex Radio Systems is a remarkably transparent company. Perhaps they will tell us?  

    If Flex were to "broadcast" the World class speakers at the banquet via Meerkat or Periscope you and others could watch in real time.

     But oh wait! That requires a Smart Phone!!


  • Bob K8RCBob K8RC Old Guy Member ✭✭
    edited April 2015

    The greatest part of this hobby is that it IS so inclusive. In my 49 years as a ham, I've handled traffic, rag chewed, contested, scratch-built my own single sideband exciter, chased DX, worked RTTY with a computer I built from the chips, experimented with satellites and now explore the possibilities of SDR with a nice little box I got from these guys.

    Some times, ham radio HAS been my lifestyle. Even my high school sweetheart knew I was going to be unavailable for one weekend in November for SS-CW. I still have the picture of her logging for me at Field Day.(Yes, she's now my XYL)

    Other times, I have gone a few years with nothing but a few repeater QSOs to my credit. You can even ignore the hobby entirely for a while and it will be there when time and resources permit.

    If a SSB contest is clogging up the bands, call CQ on RTTY. If a DXpedition has a pileup parked somewhere, move. The spectrum display makes finding a clear spot a snap.

    The point is, our hobby is what you make it. The actions and attitudes of the people manufacturing the radios don't set the possibilities, YOU do.

  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited April 2015

    Knowing the company is I think I do, You might be the one surprised at how much they are paying the presenters. My suspicion is exactly what youl would pay them if they appeared at your house (ie, a good dinner or the closest the hotel can come to it!).

    I agree that diversity of activities is the pure joy of the hobby, really active hams might not actually get on the air much at all (I have 2 friends who are building a 40M moxon antenna right now and its a huge project involving a lot of people who will never use it personally).

    So the question is: what the heck are you really trying to say:Flex isn't pushing the technology edge hard enough by  playing it safe to all these contester/dxers?

    I just don't know what you expect a company in  the business to sell SDRs to be doing?

    Have you been to one of their banquets? It sounds like you want a SDR convention instead of what the purpose of the dinner is. The dinner has "experts/representatives" distributed so there is at least one per dinner table, allowing for some "low pressure" q/a time and general fellowship before the meal, then after the meal abt 1 hour of presentation. Usually Flex provides no concrete information on the next releases/new radios but during the Q/A they often tell more by saying "we can't tell you" then if they answered the original question.

    The other thing beneficial about the dinner is seeing the FLex guys themselves. All the conspiracy theorists, etc. cannot compete with just how nice/kind/smart these guys are. Its hard to imagine other companies being this transparent.

    Mike, you might consider going to the ARRL Digital Convention, its more in depth, has more than Flex and you get a real breadth of how far the envelope is being pushed.

    As far as ISIL is concerned, wrong thread/forum.
  • Dan -- KC4GODan -- KC4GO Member
    edited November 2016
    It's funny I don't do much of any of the normal ham stuff .
    • A little Digital mostly listen
    • I check in to a net 2 to 3 times a week
    • Play with antennas 
    • Trying to figure out how to improve my Signal to Noise Ratio
    • Listen to short wave  
    • Of of the the 168 hours a week I may transmit 1 of them not all the same mode.
    • Oh and I might work a CW contact or 2 
    Most of which is not part of what I find in CQ or QST but I still enjoy the magazines
     and still read all the posts on the community with great interest. After all I might learn something
    Howard and Stu have all ready instanced my knowledge. I follow Ken's antenna exploits with intrest.

  • Simon LewisSimon Lewis Member
    edited April 2015
    Mike .. for the record .. SMS/Text Messaging was NOT invented by the US .. it was invented by Hillebrand while working for Deutsche Telekom and followed through standardisation under the GSM group. The first SMS service was run under the UK's Racal/Airtouch service .. now called Vodafone :)  MMS was further developed by GSM and the ETIS and Open Mobile Alliance mostly driven by Nortel and Nokia. I worked for Vodafone throughout the explosion of 3G/UMTS/4G and it was an incredible time for software development .. things have come a long long way .. I remember thinking at the time ... we haven't seen anything yet... I never realised at the time HOW much it was going to change the world :)
  • Steve N4LQSteve N4LQ Member
    edited September 2015
    Dan: You're part of the silent majority.
  • Simon LewisSimon Lewis Member
    edited April 2015
    Mike we have the same sad disparaging here in NZ. A friend of mine recently upgraded his 6m station .. new yagis.. 1KW amp etc. He happened to mention this to some locals one night and the howls of discontent was incredible ... I think the comment of "wow I'd keep that quiet if I was you" was most puzzling. So improving your station to gain ground over the locals is viewed with disdain. Sadly a very NZ trait ... called Tall Poppy Syndrome here ... if you're out front setting the pace and doing well ... well that's just not on :)  I have been licenced since I was 14 ... teh funniest thing I ever heard in the hobby was someone selling up .... "I've done everything" he said ... really? I think I could have 3 lifetimes and still not DO everything :) The great thing about the hobby is it can be anything you want or do not want ... there is no one niche... which is great .. so diverse .. so challenging ... SDR is just one facet .. but one is never better than the other .. just different :)

    Cheers Simon ZL4PLM
  • Steve N4LQSteve N4LQ Member
    edited September 2015
    What's K1N?
  • Simon LewisSimon Lewis Member
    edited April 2015
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited April 2015
    The point I made was to refute ur contention that "e other ham interest other than contesting that tramples on others, just one." I mentionsed at least one. There are dozens of others too.
  • Mike WhatleyMike Whatley Member
    edited April 2015
    Yes Simon in my irrational exuberance, I overstepped. By that I meant the Texting apps of the current period , POST SMS... that of AOL instant messenger, Yahoo, and the many in app "chat" capabilities that now exist thanks much in part to the pioneers you list.  Thank YOu for the correction.

  • M0JUEM0JUE Member
    edited February 2016
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited May 2015
    Tell that to the guys bitching on 17M SSB.. there was not an open space on the band.

    BTW... you should be applauding the contesters for pushing forward the state of the art of technology, encouraging lots of people who never get on the air to get on the air, filling up the bands so that ARRL can make the Spectrum Defense Case, training hams to communicate under difficult conditions to prepare them to handle REAL emergencies, increasing the sales of top of lhe line equipment so that rag chewers can benefit from the ever increasing quality of equipment, and a myriad of other benefits to numerous to list

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