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I’m dithering about which 6000-series to buy.

After years of dithering, I’m finally convinced that I need to use an SDR.  After Dayton I put a deposit down on a Maestro and I’m currently dithering about which 6000-series to buy.  I’ve read Flex’s description but I’d sure like some advice from current owners.

Here’s a bit of information about my operation:

Since the early 90’s I’ve used the same Omni VI, a decent antenna farm, and more recently, an elderly Heathkit SB-220 with an Ameritron QSK box (talk about three boxes that don’t want to play well together). 

Almost all of my operating is HF CW DXing, but I do dust off the mic from time-to-time.  I really don’t seem to enjoy digital modes much (maybe because I worked at a keyboard for many years).

I also try to put North Dakota on the air for most of the ARRL CW contests, but I’m not a serious contester. Serious contesters, however, do often visit and use the station for phone contests.  Since ND is a rare-bird, we can usually plant ourselves on one frequency and let people come to us.   

Although my station location usually has a very low noise-level, I do have a neighbor who is a fairly active RTTY ham.  Our antennas are only 200’ apart and when he is on the same band, my poor old Omni is compromised.  We try not to interfere with each other, but it happens.

Any advice regarding the selection of a 6300, 6500, or 6700 would be appreciated.

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Answers

  • Steve W6SDMSteve W6SDM Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    Unless you're trying to conserve cash, I would go with the 6500.  It offers pretty much everything you're going to use for either contests or DXing.

    If you're watching what you spend, then the 6300 is a good alternative.  It's the radio that I use.  You don't have four slices and you don't have the preamp.  Also, you lose the balanced mic input.  If you can live without those, it's a really good radio that will hold it's own with the 6500 and 6700.


  • Martin SmithMartin Smith Member
    edited July 2015
    Agree with Steve, 6500 seems to fit the bill!
  • George Molnar, KF2TGeorge Molnar, KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Wow - a tall order. The answer, of course is that "it depends." I have a 6500 and am very pleased. I sometimes wish I had sprung for the 6700, though. The ability to operate simultaneously on two bands, with two antennas, would be very handy. For example, goofing around on 20 or 40 while keeping an eye on 6 for openings. Or watching for DX. The 6300 is a pretty good "drop in" replacement for any modern transceiver. You get a nice performance bump, the advantages of SDR, and one of the best receivers out there. It is a very worthy radio. The 6500 has changed the way I operate. When I started, I was strictly a VFO A/B kind of guy. As time progressed, I discovered using 3 or even 4 slices is a great advantage. Lately, I've had one on 6m CW, with CW Skimmer watching out for beacons, etc., while two other slices are open for ISCAT and JT65 operation. Every now and then I throw the fourth into the mix for SSB, but like you, don't get a huge kick out of phone. If I had to do it again, I'd probably still buy the 6500. If money weren't an issue, definitely the 6700. If I were less active and just wanted a good, solid, day to day radio, the 6300 would be fine. I do like the balanced microphone option on the 6500 & 6700. Probably a leftover from my broadcast days. The extra relay controls are also a plus, compared to the 6300. If you anticipate needing them. One thing I have to say - buying a 6000 series is not buying a "radio" as much as it is buying a "radio server." Operating and interacting are different than with a conventional radio. It took some time to sink in, but I honestly say I look at radio and operating very differently now than I did before. As a nearly 40-year ham, it did take some getting used to! But I wouldn't go back. Hope that helps!! Welcome aboard... Geo
  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited June 23
    Tough choice.  They are all great rigs.

    If your neighbor uses high power on RTTY, you might be better served with the preselectors in the 6500 than the 6300.  It might give you just a little more isolation from his signals if you are on a different band than he is.

    If you are both on the same band, or on harmonically related bands, the limiting factor, once you are past the Blocking range of his signal, will be the phase noise on his transmitted signal.  Assuming that he is not overdriving his amp or audio inputs and creating spatter (yes, even on AFSK RTTY) there is not much you can do about that other than hoping he has a low phase noise oscillator in his rig.  Even the best receiver, which the 6500/6700 are, cannot reject that garbage.

    The other consideration is whether or not you use 160/80/40 a lot and want the option of using polarization or geographic diversity reception in order to dig out the weak ones?  If you think you will, then the 6700 is the only one that will do that.  (I wish I could afford to get one!)

    Do you want to use transverters for VHF/UHF?  All three rigs will work with them, but the 6500/6700 have more inputs on the back, making them a little more flexible than the 6300.

    Likewise, if you want to have a transverter AND a separate receive antenna for the low bands, the 6500/6700 have more inputs and more flexibility.

    The 6300 does not have a Balanced XLR/TRS input for the mike.  The 6500/6700 do.

    The 6500/6700 have a more effective and flexible preamp/attenuator than the 6300 if you need it.  (For example, I use the 20 dB preamp on 160 receive with my homebrew tuned receive loop.  the 6300's preamp has a built in frequency roll-off for lower frequencies that will not allow it to work on 160 meters)

    If you have none of these concerns, then the 6300 will be a great addition to your shack.  It performs almost as good as the 6500/6700 on CW and SSB, but only has 2 panadapters and 2 slices.  If that is enough, then get the 6300.  If you think you might want to have more visual display and more slices open at the same time, then you will need to upgrade to the 6500 or 6700.

    Hope this helps.

    Ken - NM9P

    6500/1500 owner
  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    I concur with Ken. I personally think that if you can afford it, get the 6500. I think the 6300 is a fine radio but its more of a "starter" radio for the 6000 series. I think the 6500 is the sweet spot!
  • George Molnar, KF2TGeorge Molnar, KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    OK guys, I am getting scared - we are all agreeing! It's a sign, I tell ya...

  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member
    edited November 2016
    I agree with Steve and Martin, the 6500.
    One thing that is interesting is with the new control surface out in the 4th quarter, FRS has gone from 8 receivers are what everyone should want back to VFOa VFOb (2 slice receivers). While yes, there will be people that contrive a reason to try to use all 8 and convince themselves they are ahead of the pack, I think the reality of it is one would be hard pressed to use 3, much less, 4. It is almost double the price for the second set of 4. For that extra $3500-$4000 put a few more feet on your tower, put up a better antenna. That is the singularly best use of your money. I would say the 6300 except the 6500 is a much better radio. Whether that 'much better' is discernable to the human ear is questionable but you could find a use for that 3rd slice. It's not a show stopper if you don't have it but it is more easily argued than arguing for 8.
  • Ned K1NJNed K1NJ Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
          Yes, the 6500 is a wise choice,  Don't forget, you can go to a 6700 later on if you feel
    the need to do that.  The CW on these radios is great.  The filters are amazing.

    Have Fun,
    Ned,  K1NJ

  • Steve N4LQSteve N4LQ Member
    edited September 2015
    The 6300 produces random pops in the speaker when using QSK CW. The 6500 does not therefore get the 6500. 
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member
    edited November 2016
    My take on dithering is that your head on your shoulders is having a debate with your heart. Generally, the head is correct. The difference in price between the 6300 and 6700 buys a MUCH better antenna system. Given the radio is the lowest thing on the list as far as where finite funds should be spent, go with your head on this one.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I disagree!!
  • Dave -- W7IWWDave -- W7IWW Member
    edited June 2018
    Hard to add anything to the conversation, but I love the diversity reception available on the 6700. Dave W7IWW
  • Duane_AC5AADuane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited May 2018
    One more vote for the 6500.  I also have a neighbor 2 streets over, about 500' away, and he runs around 1 KW digital a lot of the time.  If not, he's on CW.  Thankfully, he has a K3, so it is not too bad for transmitted phase noise.  I have no trouble working within 5-10 KHz of him, depending on which antenna I choose.  We both run Inverted V's and I have a vertical as well.  I used to have an Omni VI+, and then an Orion.  This is the only rig I'd replace the Orion with, and all 4 RX's (slices) are even better than the Orion's.  It will take some getting used to, and I recommend the FlexControl until you get the Maestro, as  you'll want to have that tuning knob.  It just makes tuning the bands a lot easier than just a mouse/trackball.  An extra $3000 for diversity is up to you, but the 6700 also includes 2m and a slightly better signal/noise, according to reports I've read.  Wasn't worth it to me.  I've been active with my 6500 now for about six months and I really enjoy it!
  • Steve WalkerSteve Walker Member
    edited September 2016
    I will add my +1 vote for the 6500 as well. I have a 6300 along side it which is dedicated to digital and 6m only which is great but the 6500 is just a tiny bit better!

    If I had to replace either they'd be 6500s. I don't think for me the 6700 would get the use it would deserve.



  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017

    Forward on future features may favor one model or another based on your future operating plans.

    A bit more coin, but I sprung for the 6700 based on the true dual receive and future potential for various diversity configurations. 

    I also bought a 6300 to haul around on weekends to various rented cottages & island operations.

    The best suggestion I can offer is to look hard at what you want now, what you imagine you might want in operational capability in the near future, and the same evaluation for the longer term future.

    Then it becomes a balance between pocketbook, actual needs and vision for the future. 

    I treat these three classes of evaluation as tiered-gates.  If it doesn't do what I need & want right now I don't see much point in a piece of gear.  If it does, then I evaluate on near term future needs & wants, with a similar go/no-go decision, and lastly repeat for the longer term future.

    Then I shake the piggy bank to make sure I am comfortable with what I can afford to spend on a hobby, and after that test do a risk evaluation. 

    Perhaps too structured for every person's decision making discipline, but it doesn't take long and keeps my feat on the ground (and my pocketbook from the red).

    YMMV, as a person's own decision tree is likely to be pretty individualized to their bias, needs and expectations.


    73

    Steve

    K9ZW

  • EA4GLIEA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    If money is not an issue I think the 6700 is the way to go. I cant wait to put together a few more radio funds and upgrade from the 6300 to the 6700. One thing the 6500 and 6700 have over the 6300 is the possibility to operate outside ham bands of you provide the necessary identification to FRS. Combine that with the 2 transceivers of the 6700 and a couple transverter and that is a dream station that can work hf and sats, eme, etc...
  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited January 2018
    The true dual-receive of the 6700 made it my choice of radio.

    My mother taught me to usually buy the best you can get at a time, even if it means not buying anything until your could afford it. Its advice that has never failed me.
  • Ross - K9COXRoss - K9COX Member ✭✭
    edited June 23
    I would go with a T-150 and R-100A.
  • VE2MBTVE2MBT Member
    edited November 2019

    I have the 6500, i do a lot of phone, RTTY, PSK and little bit of CW. this radio is AWESOME compare to all i have owned. 4 receiver is quite enough for me too, i have 3 screen plugged to the computer, most of the time 2 are used for digital mode and the 3rd one is for the flex ( touch screen ) I also use 1 screen for log ( qrz.com) 1 screen for digital and... 1 for the flex. i thing to consider, if you are MARS operator, the 6300 CAN'T transmit out of ham band... i'am a CFARS operator and the 6500 is wonderfull on the military band just like the ham band.

  • Duane_AC5AADuane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Ha!  Had both - mowed lawns for summers to purchase kits. R-100A pretty good for its day if you got the Q-Multiplier, but the T-150 was awful.
  • Ross - K9COXRoss - K9COX Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    If you were careful one could transmit on 40m and 80m simultaneously, sort of like two slices.
  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    i mowed lawns and passed newspapers to get my Knight-kit Star Roamer II, Allied A-2516 and used Globe Scout 65A for my novice station in 1973.  Didn't know until earlier this year that the A-2516 was made by Trio for Allied Radio (Trio later became Kenwood)!  Boy, Ham radio has changed in 41 years!

    I still recommend the 6500 in your case, Joe!
  • Duane_AC5AADuane_AC5AA Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Ross - I got both an FCC and OO ticket for doing exactly that because the harmonic was out of band!  I wrote the same letter back to both explaining the problem and got off with a wrist slap.
  • Steve N4LQSteve N4LQ Member
    edited September 2015
    T-150  !!! I borrowed one in 1964 and got my one and only FCC pink slip for out of band transmissions. I was never sure what happened but I gave the T-150 back to its owner. I suspect I just dipped the final on the wrong dip or something because the circuit was rather common.
  • K3SFK3SF Member ✭✭
    edited March 20
    OK
    I am seeing a lotta go for the gusto replies. 
    and
    the more practical side has been stated too

    i chose a 6300 for my situation.

    BECAUSE

    My path to flex was via a Ten Tec OrionII with a rfspace sdr-iq wired in as a third receiver. The SDRIQ allowed for the integration of using cwskimmer into the Orion
    and operated as third receiver with panafall display which the transmit section of the orion could follow or operate split. To me bringing three receivers to a DX pileup and "seeing" how the pileup operated made finding the right freq to call on a breeze
    and the qrm fighting capability of the orion made coping the weak signal dx easy too.

    This is what the flex had to do or even beat. 

    After reading the QST review, i got a flex 6300. A cautious purchase as i didnt see the price-performance enhancement of the 6500 being worth at that time. I live in rf quiet zone out in the country side so the preselector filtering not needed.

    After six weeks of side by side comparison with my Orion setup, i sold the Orion.
    The 6300 equal or exceeded my orion setup. For Weak signals the 6300 sounded more quiet and the filtering on cw...awesome..there it beat the Orion. Whatever i could do with the orion i could just do better on the 6300 after learning what controls parameters worked best.

    Just like the Orion, there is a learning curve and i am still learning.

    One thing i miss is diversity reception. They is real qsb buster when needed which for me was only on occasion now and again but not that often. Even the 6500 is not capable of diversity reception. Gotta have 6700 and that was way out of my price range at the time. (still is ;-)  )

    I was going from having three receivers to two. But the visual of two panafalls made up for it and that i could run two cw skimmer on two separate bands simultaneous truly a big bump in hunting dx band fills.

    The other key component in all this is the computer. How much computer power is needed for each model.  Compute power costs too.  And then there is how many displays..displays cost too and how big of a display.  Each slice eats up display real estate. How many slice can you actually tend to... i think the 4 slices of 6500 is good  choice but 8 slices of 6700 is overkill. (my opinion also based on human factors to comprehend complex data)

    DO NOT underestimate the computing needs.

    First off, I am a Mac user
    My computer setup includes mac mini with i7 2.5hgz with 32gb ram with 1TB SSD, and mac mini i5 3.0 ghz with 16gb ram with 1TB SSD, three 22 inch 1920x1080 monitors and one 27 inch 2560 x 1440.  I run VMware fusion visualization sw to run microsoft windows7 and windows10 and mac osx.

    I have run flex SSDR s/w on my macbook pro ( I5 2.5ghz 8GB ram with 1TB SSD) both direct connect and via local lan.  Yep watching tv with the wife working 30m cw
    something i could not easily do with the Orion.  The panafalls on 30m makes click and work'em the operating mode.

    What the computer does for you is bring MORE operator aides to bear. Like Cw Skimmer, Logging, Maps, Clusters,  Digital modes to name a few and all that on top of flex s/w SSDR ..

    So when some recommends 6500 or 6700 find out what the computer setup support then and what other software they run on it  and why  ...

    The computer setup is the other part of the story..without it you get incomplete information to make a informed decision.


    by the way..
    i did sell the Orion which went to finance an Elecraft KPA500F amplifier
    which works flawless with the flex.

    yep..
    i would recommend flex
    and
    my choice is 6300


    Paul K3SF





     








  • Rick, N9AJRick, N9AJ Member
    edited November 2016
    I'm an old CWer myself and before making my purchase a couple of months ago I read a  number of posts and reviews here and elsewhere that recommended the 6500 over the 6300 if you could afford it.  I followed that advice and don't regret it for a second.  the 8 slice 6700 I'm sure is the class of the field, but out of my budget and operating needs.  Which ever you get, you'll be thoroughly amazed with a Flex.  Makes hamming a totally new and exciting experience in my 50+ years of being on the air. Rick, N9AJ
  • Walt - KZ1FWalt - KZ1F Member
    edited November 2016
    Good point Paul!
  • Ross - K9COXRoss - K9COX Member ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    I have a 6300 and still have a 5000 with second receiver due to it's diversity capabilities...no complaints.
  • edited July 2015
    and.. if you do any MARS work, the 6300 cannot be updated to transmit on the MARS frequencies.
    Andy K3UK

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