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Does FlexRadio have any future plans to create a hardware upgrade pathway?

Justin SmithJustin Smith Member
edited January 2020 in FLEX-6000 Signature Series
Apple does this with selected products. At some point in the future I will want to move up to the 6700 from the 6500. I would prefer to trade in my existing 6500 (which could be reconditioned and resold at a mild discount but would carry a full warranty and be equivalent to the 6500 radios being sold new at that time). This would save me the complexity of selling it privately "As Is" to another individual, and make the acquisition of the 6700 - even a refurbished 6700 - more likely.
Thank you,
Justin




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Answers

  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited September 2018
    Ever consider having two 6500's?
  • Dale KB5VEDale KB5VE Member ✭✭
    edited January 2017
    They will take a trade in I believe but most have not had a issue in selling the 6500 if they wanted to. Now when you said hardware upgrade I thought you were talking about improvements by the means of hardware changes. Flex encountered a heat issue with the 6700 might developers it is taxed more so they made a recall on the older models and upgraded them. Otherwise I do not foresee hardware upgrades .
  • Tim - W4TMETim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited March 2017
    We are really not setup to sell used or previously owned hardware so we do not have a trade-in program.  Even if we were, the trade in value we would have to offer would most likely be less than what you could get for it selling it on the open market, as we would need to recoup our costs for the refurbishing and marketing.

    We will however conditionally take a radio back for credit towards a higher model within the first 30 days of ownership.
  • Mike WhatleyMike Whatley Member
    edited November 2016
    The analogy with Apple Computer is ridiculous! Apple computer is a commodity firm and the richest company in the US valued near $700 billion with 72000 or 98000 employees depending on what source you prefer.

    Flex is a small privately owned firm with less than 20 employees. Flex is rightly not in the business of helping customers sell their used models. It's an unnecessary expense on already thin margins.

    Flex should stay focused on their core mission.
  • rfoustrfoust Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    They sell to government too, I think. :-)
  • Tim - W4TMETim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    We have very passionate employees who are dedicated to our customers and individually strive to do the best job we can day in and day out.  It is directly related to our company's leadership and the quality of our employees.  Bert, that is how we do it.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Burt I don't plan on answering for Flex, but here is my take on your question. Flex radio was born out of one question, what if!. It is hard to produce a fine product that effects this hobby so profoundly as Flex has. I don't see anyone at Flex ever padding there wallets with millions of buck doing what they do.

    Considering the dedication and the hours spent for all of them I think for most at Flex this is more a labour of love.

    Hmm, I feel a new article coming. lol
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited May 2015

    The personnel at Flex are comprised of the kind of people that made this country great. It gives me hope.


    Jim, K6QE 

  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited April 2017
    All being said..  a suggestion to create.. perhaps a flex 6600, one that comes with 1 SCU and a bay to add a second SCU.  either that or an external SCU box that can add a second SCU and diversity to the 6500.  both viable products that could and would be great gateway devices upgradeable to the top level. 
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited September 2018
    What would be the difference than just buying a second 6500?
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    also Diversity Receive.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    This Is something Steve said a while back.
     we looked at making all the processing a plug in module for the FLEX-6000 when it was designed.  There were a few issues such as:  1) there are a large number of high-speed lines that that would have to go across connectors.  This requires the use of connectors that preserve signal integrity at high speed which are generally fairly expensive.  You often need something like double the connections in a connector system than you would on a PCB because of all of the ground routing requirements (on a PCB you just use a ground plane and a power plane).   Then there's all of the extra work to route across the connectors, verify signal integrity, work any issues, etc.  2) With connectors there are always mechanical concerns -- will the connector fail over time, will the contacts corrode, will there be soldering issues in the factory, will the connector dislodge in a drop event, etc. (reliability)  3) You have to comprehend what you might need in the future ... that can be hard.

    We weighed all of this and decided it was best not to incorporate plug in modules for all these reasons including cost, time-to-market, etc.  There are thousands of decisions made in a design process and we try to make the decisions that are in both our best interests.

    Also, the key reason to do this is to enable the swap to larger/faster computing components as they become available.  For a PC software person, you just drop in the next processor and you are ready with more power.  It's never this simple in the embedded world.  We always have to trade off the effort to incorporate a new part vs. the advantage of the new part.  We put very current parts in the FLEX-6000 radios -- they are all either the latest generation or one generation back currently, over two years after the design.  This is decidedly not the case for many competitive products.

    There is extreme flexibility in the hardware and software in this radio.  If someone said -- we need this radio to be a 5MHz IF radio for a microwave station -- so it needs to receive and transmit a 5MHz swath of data, this is completely possible in the FLEX-6000.  It just requires software.  If someone said "we need only one receiver, but it needs diversity and it needs to continually attempt to decode 20 different digital modulation schemes, trying to figure out which scheme it sees," it's just software.  These two are not likely requests from the ham community, but other things may come up.  Things like a new digital mode that requires 20kHz of bandwidth on HF, etc.  We'd like to be able to do these things when they come up.

    And yes, we'll build new radios in the future too.  And over time, they'll have more computing power.  But we've engineered SmartSDR to run on different platforms so we are hoping that if there are things we do in the future on some new platform, that those things will also work on the existing platform whenever possible -- but that's a long time away.
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    Indeed.  all makes perfect sense and certainly does not bode well for an expansion of the 6500, but a future model that is priced in the range of the 6500 that could accept a plug in module containing another SCU that was snapped into place..on a pre designed bus would truly be a great product that would leverage on the success strategies of other top tier platforms while keeping this one uniquely Flex.   Id buy it. 
  • IW7DMH, EnzoIW7DMH, Enzo Member ✭✭
    edited January 2017
    Before thinking to hw upgrades let Flex boys get out most of the power we have in our rigs.
    As intermediate hardware upgrade I would like to see a low noise fan kit and a rugged box for 6300 portable operations. Something strong like Marshall amplified speakers. :)

  • Joe, KQ1QJoe, KQ1Q Member
    edited April 2015
    Re h/w upgradeability and user-serviceable parts, this is an old and long-debated design issue.

    During the Apollo Moon Program, NASA intensely debated whether the Lunar Module should have field-replaceable electronic modules. Some felt that serviceability by the astronauts might be a life-and-death matter, so they should make all electronics with access panels, racks and connectors and include in-flight spares. Also plug-in electronics would allow upgrades due to design improvements between manufacturing and flight. Money was no object, nor was "planned obsolescence" -- they simply wanted the best reliability, and every extra ounce and cubic inch was critical.

    NASA found that designing electronics for field maintenance hurts weight, volume and reliability. Providing easy access to electronics limits packaging density. Including extra space for racks and connectors hurts reliability. They ultimately packed all electronics tight as possible, and "potted" the wires and modules in place with an epoxy-like adhesive.

    Fast forward to today, and the basic principle still applies. However it's greatly magnified due to extreme clock rates, miniscule lead pitch, thermal issues,lead capacitance, etc. In CPU board design there's a big debate over going from LGA to BGA mounts which would eliminate the ability to field replace a CPU:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_grid_array
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_grid_array

    There's a saying in mechanical engineering: "complexity breeds failure". Minimizing mechanical complexity by eliminating connectors and access pathways is a valid engineering choice, even though it hurts serviceability and upgradeability. With things like FPGAs, to a degree the hardware can be updated under software command. Maybe that's the best way forward.
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2016
    Well.. With all due respect to the Apollo program(and the heros involved) Amateur Radio's are not lunar modules and life and death are not a concern here.. but value is.  My example would be this. I first purchased a K3 in 2008 as a base model, added features like a second receiver, dvr, improved microelectronics, mutliple firmware updates and add on modules.  It still works great today, and is a completely different and vastly more versatile rig that it was when I first purchased it.  I was able to get in at the ground level, and improve the radio components, a purchase at a time to its top flagship class.  this versatility could be a way to grow with a platform.. and add value for its operators/owners and minimize on large purchase pocket book pain.   I would like to see this ability in the Flex (shall i dare to say flexibility? hi hi)  
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I think it is 31 but your point is still valid, and I agree. This is why, to Burt's point below, when I have been most vocal it has been directed towards those that worship at the FRS alter rather than FRS itself. I do believe if we treated them more like a company (rather than bestest friend forever) and they treated us like a customer base (rather than being bullied by unrealistic expections or lulled by irrational exuberance) they would have a more sustainable profitable future. At the end of the day, I think that is what we, the customers, should want for them.
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Would that be radical right wing fanatics?  I never got that impression.
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I am still waiting for Kenwood to upgrade my TS-530 to a TS-990. I am not holding my breath. I suspect the better business model is to put out a product (car, washing machine, ham radio) with a given life expectancy. It is healthier for a company to sell more products, not more daughterboards.
  • Chris Tate  - N6WMChris Tate - N6WM Member ✭✭
    edited April 2017
    This is not a relevant argument.  and that is why you dont see TS-990's in most power user shacks.  You see K3's.  I would like to see more flex signature rigs there...  Lets take current hardware.. TS-590...  $1500   TS-990   $7000   neither has  the capability of any flex.


     The flex meets or exceeds a great deal of the elecraft performance features. (will take some more work and listening to close in on a few more) But at the $4000 range some ability to provide expansion blocks would open a lot of doors. Elecraft achieved this by designing a rock solid modular platform with a solid and dependable upgrade path.  And believe me they have been successful.

     Know your competition.  learn from your competition. exceed your competition.  take your place at the top.
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited September 2018
    Five years from now, the hardware used in Flex will be outdated. Just like the hardware used in the 3000/5000 is passé. Why build around antiquity?
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2018
    As Steve said above, the complexity of the radio does not lend itself to a module design. 
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited September 2018
    Seems to me complexity is not the point. Modules could be built using Ethernet to effect various functions. The point is for what? Why not just build another radio?
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I agree Chris, I only used ts-990 as it is the same manufacturer as the 530. Yes, indeed if I had another (or different) radio, it would be a K3. Actually if you look at the numbers the K3 and Flex 6700 have large areas of overlap. And I really hesitate to say this as I wasn't in the room at the time and if I was it would be under NDA, but think about the product mgmt differences between the 1500, 3000, and 5000 (the computer is the radio) and the 6000 (the radio is the radio and the computer is the GUI). Maybe they could upgrade our memory ... or sell us a new radio. FRS is in business to make money, not do charity work. And, since I am not an employee I shouldn't be talking about what I perceive to be there business plan. Suffice it to say, they will not stay in business making our (the customer's) radios infinitely upgradable. Just as there was a successor to the 530, there will, I hope, be a successor to the 6000 series. To think otherwise is irrational exuberance.
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited September 2018
    Has anyone tried using two 6300/6500/6700 Flex radios at the same time over the same LAN?  
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Jim, have you tried it and seen an issue or do you want to know if/how it works? I would think there would be an issue running two instances of ssdr on the same harware but two different computers each talking to a different radio, I suspect Austin does that all the time. But I haven't tried it as I don't have two 6000 series.
  • Jim GilliamJim Gilliam Member
    edited May 2015

    I run my 5000 and 6500 at the same time, 24 hours a day. However, the hook is I need two computers. One for the 5000 which I remote over Teamviewer and my 6700 which I remote with the same client computer. The 5000 is used with my SteppIR on 20/10 and the 6500 on 40 and 80. Also run my 6500 on the same host computer as my 5000 and remote both over the WAN using Teamviewer. Lots of fun.


    Jim, K6QE

  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Read Steve's reply above.

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