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Realistic alternative to F6k + maestro
This is the Expert Electronics Sun MB1 SDR
For those that like SDR plus knobs-and-dials too (ie. the maestro user), then It costs around £1,700 less (!) than the F6700. And for that you'd get the Maestro part as standard built-in, not an optional expensive extra.
Okay the radio may not do 6 slices, but how many of us can really drive our brain in time with 6 slices anyway?
Speaking personally, I wont be changing to the MB1 as I only drive my radio via a PC+network. And that is precisely why I purchased the Flex. I don't care for the knobby front-end of any SDR but for those that like it that way you do have options!
73 de Steve G1XOW
K6OZY Member ✭✭It was at Dayton. But I'm confused at why you would post this here. This is a Flex community for Flex owners about Flex products. Directing people to competitors seems disrespectful and something that should be done on a non-Flex owned website such as Yahoo, etc.5
Jd Dupuy Member ✭✭Plenty of exposure in the USA. Watched it for 2 years as it went from prototype to production. I have one. Cheap Ham is US dealer for the Sun MB-1. They can't produce enough of them for dealers and they are slow to get orders out. Warranty work if needed is a big question right now for US buyers. It's a neat rig no doubt. I have a lot of rigs by all the major players, Flex, Elecraft, ELAD, ANAN, ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood and yes I have my favorites. I have the radios that turned out to be turds in my book also. Flex remians #1 with Elecraft right behind. Cost is not a major player, but performance and options are. Our hobby will continue to evolve as it has for many who have been in this hobby longer than me. Stick around long enough and are radios will be a hologram someday!
Some major differences between MB1 and 6700......the MB1 is more comparable to the 6500 than the 6700 as it only has one ADC. Another big difference to me is their need to use third party COM software to create needed COM ports as well as virtual audio cable software. the flex integration there is much nicer. All that said...I actually like the UI used by expert electronics much better. Its all pros and cons......1
Robert Allbright Member ✭✭I have a Sunsdr2 Pro and really like the GUI more than my 6300
in fact I use the Sun most of the time
haven't yet had a play with the the MB1?
73 Rob G3RCE
Realistic in what context? Flex 6k and a maestro is pretty real to me. And the rx and TX properties are good as well. I can't imagine we will see that rig sitting on top of the sherwood list.0
And why not?
I’m an evangelist of SDR technology and what it can do for us. However, I am not a kiss-**** supporter of one manufacturer, or indeed one country over any other. As we all know the modern world is a small place nowadays. Protectionist views and vendor lock-in is a failing concept from the 80s vis Apple, IBM, Dell - all suffering for failing to see the world changing around them. My last SDR was purchased directly from Anan Radio in India. Import duty, shipping etc were no concern and I would happily do the same again when I find the right product match to my preferences.
In Europe things are changing rapidly. We are starting to see sellers referring openly to competitive products, price linking etc. This is a good thing for consumers and it acts as a catalyst to drive markets forward with benchmarks, that stance can improve the SDR-world for us all. So; hide from the emerging threats or rise to the challenge and do it better?
Looking specifically at FRS: if the MB1 is total **** then FRS has nothing to worry about! However, if it is close to ideal for many “average-joe” ops that would buy say an F6500 then FRS really need to take a long hard look at the detail that has gone in to the MB1, especially around the user interface which is blissful to use. At the very least they should use this as a hard benchmark because Sun is sure not standing still in the game.
The MB1 is still very new to the market. 10 months ago was still in beta, so it has some way to go. Issues like 3rd party drivers will get resolved. Remember it was not that long ago that Flex had the same issues. The point is that if you look at the trajectory of the MB1 then this is a horse to keep an close eye on me thinks.
I don’t want to have to buy yet another expensive SDR in a years’ time (already on my 5th) so I would really like to see FRS doing it better than the new upstarts by pleasing its customers.4
Mark Griffin Member ✭✭Frankly, I think it's good that people write about what else is out there! How does Flexradio cut the mustard with other SDR's? If and when other manufacturers come out with an SDR I would like to see some good conversation about it. If Elecraft comes out with their SDR I would love to read all the comments on that. And hopefully they would be constructive in nature.
I myself would have liked to see the Maestro handle all modes. Not just CW and SSB, but all the digital modes. But that's my personal preference.
Bravo to Steve, G1XOW for making the post!!!
Mark Griffin, KB3Z
Maybe you misunderstood the meaning of "realistic alternative", this does not mean "the same". Just like BMW and Audi are realistic alternatives.
Not too many years ago we had a joke car manufacturer called Skoda. Considered then to be a cheap/nasty second rate car that would be embarrassing to own. Now they outsell most of the big brands who failed to smell the coffee.
Skoda is now a very realistic alternative for many many car buyers who expect a car to have features other than just horse-power and technology. Strong competition is a good thing, not something to get defensive about.1
K6OZY Member ✭✭Because this isn't an open off-topic forum. I agree with your reasoning, just not on listing it here.2
Interesting of course, but not exactly an inclusive alternatives list, eh?
That said I wanted to upgrade my Island QTH's main radio from the Flex-6300 to better take advantage of the technology and antennas being implemented in this clean-sheet station build.
I looked at a lot of options. Within reason I was wiling in this evaluation and planning to put Performance at the top of the decision making list, with quality, reliability and track-record also taking place with dollars invested in making a choice.
Won't ramble on over the roughly dozen rigs that made the initial cut, nor am I going to enter into any debate as my decision is what was best for me.
There were some pretty strong contenders and some reasons that each radio of the final three made it to my short list. BTW not all were the same technology, as I really wanted to focus back on that achieved performance (and if possible future expandability).
If I had a whole pocket full of loot I'd love to have bought one each of the top three to six rigs to do a "shoot out" style evaluation. But a buy decision had to be made.
Just received the email that the Flex-6700 w/GPSDO for the Island shack has shipped from Austin.
Decision made, now the focus is on whether a remote radio server in the tower/antenna service enclosure makes more sense than the traditional station configuration of bringing the feedlines and control cables all back to the user occupied station shack. Still working through that decision.
BTW while the MB1 was in the dozen short listed, mostly because performance SDRs trip my trigger, it didn't make the final three largely for reasons folks earlier in this thread have already outlined.
But there was a bigger reason for the FRS choice - The FlexRadio Systems Vision.
Like all interesting products that help expand a market segment, there will be alternative offerings developed along the way. That is the way of the marketplace.
In the case of the Flex-6000/SmartSDR/Maestro/4o3a-devices combination there is a vision that adds a synergy I didn't see as well developed (or even expressed) in the greater number of the short listed rigs.
It also reinforced the raw performance calculation that still favors the Flex-6700.
Of course YMMV but mine didn't.
ctate243 Member ✭✭For my experience, Its not necessarily completely all about the rig itself. Its the Eco-System. the flex community is a multi-layered eco system designed not only to put out cutting edge radio technology, but also comes with it its entire support network. You have your Managment, Design staff, your hardware engineers and software development engineers. then you have in house testers, then the Alpha testers providing defect reports back to the software/hardware engineers for remediation. And finally and excellent support staff with tools that include this community to support the end user experience and gather feedback from them.
I would be shocked if there was another SDR manufacturer could handle all these aspects as well as FRS, If they do they could be a possible alternative. So far I have not observed any company that comes close from an entire ecosystem standpoint other than Elecraft and they dont make latest gen SDR.
Bottom line is that there is a lot more to the decision on adoption an architecture than a raw 6500 or 6700 with Maestro vs a SUN.
Flex 6000 series with Maestro is ready to be in my contest shack. SUN is not at this time.
Just my 2 cents... :-)
Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭Flex has been doing this for a long time,,longer than anyone. It is clear that Flex is the benchmark for everyone to stride for in SDR. The hardest thing about being #1 is staying there.
As a Canadian we look at our Hockey, something we started. All countries in the world watched and looked at how we develop players. In time many countries developed programs much the same and have had good returns on their efforts. Now it is harder for Us to stay at the top. And some years we are not.
For Flex to stay at the top, it will be a continual effort as many companies learn from them.1
Simon Lewis Memberditto - I was interested in the MB1 a while ago but never got the fuzzies from them about company cability long term - Steve is right that the world is changing in EU - but I have not yet seen a product with support behind it that makes me want to spend - Maybe in a few years the MB2 will ... but for now the 2 x 6500's and my Maestro are keeping me very happy - I am just about to move into a new house this weekend - the new shack will be engineered to support IP based devices - a new world is upon on - the new amp will be very interesting and I will be investing in one over the next couple years no doubt to replace the SPE 1K - no more tubes - IP based devices and LAN controlled gear - kinda of exctiing
Nothing defensive there was just curious as to what was meant. There are several other SDR systems online. Each with their own ups and downs.0
JD, I have been monitoring the development of the MB1 with great interest, anxiously waiting to meet a person who owns one. My schedule changed and I could not attend Dayton either. So I'd love to chat with you privately. Would you mind contacting me at n2wq at ARRL net?0
David Decoons, wo2x Member, Super Elmer Moderator
This is a realistic alternative for local operation in your shack. But my main purpose for the Maestro is to run remote away from the shack, where there are no antennas. My Maestro has already been run remote from a hotel 700 miles away and daily from my office.
I'd have to agree with others the included Flex SmartSDR CAT and DAX make integrating to shack accessories and 3rd party software a breeze. The MB1 can do it using too but using a VSP program and VAC.
I'll have to check out the specs on the MB1. Can you get I&Q audio out? How about the panadapter on a PC monitor in real time?1
Ernest - W4EG Member ✭✭K6OZY
I fully agree with you; "This is a Flex community"
Why are they posting it here?
I am happy to see that the 7300 conversation has seized: Hopefully for ever here!0
Yes on the IQ..in fact, it has dedicated support for two instances of CW skimmer built in to the GUI. From what I have read on the MB-1 there is an HDMI output and you can clone the radio display or extend it to the external monitor just like in Windoze ...since it is Windoze.0
I expect when they come out with a version that is similar to the 6700 with the dual ADCs it will likely be in the same ball park price-wise...if not more expensive.
From what I can see now though..when I'm ready to jump back on the air it will likely be with a 6500/maestro combo (if they fix the meter colors by then). I really like that setup and hopefully the lil buggies will be exterminated.
Another plus on the Flex side is it is here in the USA. While not normally adverse to foreign brands, political climates are so unstable in EU (and here at home) who knows what kind of support will be available with the MB1. Putin seems to want to push the military envelope to a point where conflict seems inevitable at some point...same with China.0
How do folks feel about embedded PC? Running only an i5 isn't awful right now, but the experience of the 5000c puts a concern in my mind for use of a non-industrial consumer grade embedded PC in a radio. Often that gear works just fine until an update tips things over. The personal experience of an off-network PC which unbeknownst to me had gone from satellite signal data updates to full softwares updates fed over satellite suddenly crashed due to unresolvable resource limitations is one I've not quite gotten over. It wasn't all that long ago 5000c owners were trying to find replacement hardware that could keep up with Windows updates. Hmmmm.... Yep the 6700 was the right choice.., 73 Steve K9ZW0
Hi Steve, I prefer the external PC for my home station. More power, ram and solid stare drive options, more video options, multiple monitors, easy to upgrade, can run multiple programs. In other words, the 6xxx architecture. Regards, Al / NN4ZZ.1
How is the CPU constraint any different than the FPGA constraint? Ditto about the Maestro. All the heavy lifting is done by the radio itself, with the PC or Maestro being just a client.0
At some point there may be a need for a more powerful FPGA. And the next generation of radio server will provide it. The current FPGA seems like it has a reasonable lifespan but FRS would be in a better position to comment. IMHO - On the PC side there is more demand for ever more powerful devices and software driven by the huge consumer market. Better, faster, cheaper and the os keeps expanding to use it as well as the applications. IMHO, The 6xxx architecture leverages both by keeping them separate. Regards, Al / NN4ZZ0
Jd Dupuy Member ✭✭Email Sent. And it bounced. send me one at n0irs at kc.rr.com.0
Dan -- KC4GO Member ✭G1XOWSteve WRAGGE Nottinghamshire?0
FRS has total control over updates done to the rig, Which would be different than housekeeping updates done to an OS as time goes on. The other nice thing about the FPGA is it can be programmed to directly do exactly what they need to vs just running a program on a processor. While eventually this hardware like any other will be dated I believe that FRS has much more control (Total) over what goes on there and being able to optimize it for their hardware.
I am in total agreement of purpose built hardware over an embedded PC. My company had to replace 5 year old HMI's on machines that were embedded windows touch screen machines. The Allen Bradley stuff that went in will run until someone does something **** to break it.
Steve W6SDM Member ✭✭Well, I watched the video and the background music sure was sexy. I was about to reach for my check book when I started to wonder what the background score to a Flex commercial may sound like. Willie Nelson?
Simon Lewis MemberI love how people trash talk on these videos ... shows an S1 beacon a few hundred km away and says we can be assured of VHF performance ... riiiiiiiggggghhht! I'll reserve judgement when I see it running some pileups on dxpeds and perhaps some EME
Additionally I am unable to determine if the custom hardware to embedded PC relationship is Thick-Pipe (like the 5000/PowerSDR model) or Thin-Pipe (like the 6000/SmartSDR Model)?
Would be more concerned in a ThickPipe instance.
As the connectivity seems to be to the embedded PC from an external additional device, it seems to be more a ThickPipe structure.
In terms of the architecture lifespan and limitations of a given chipset in the PC world vs FPGA product lifespan there is enough difference in how they are used to make the comparison difficult. If the embedded PC is orphaned in the ever increasing system resource needs of future Operating System updates that the radio manufacture is a passive recipient they may be stuck using an old operating system past its support life to keep the machine running.
Spares much more quickly become an issue in the PC world if you need exact replacements.
If the present FPGA is eclipsed - actually more accurately if the pricing of the present FPGA is eclipsed by more capable FPGAs of a scale that cost more presently, it hardly matters unless spares become unavailable and/or if FRS wants to exceed the FPGA's design limits.
I do recall a FRS presentation at the start of the 6000 project that mentioned that the hardware was being selected from components expected to be industrially available for a reasonably long time.
Imbedded industrial hardware takes a good while to become obsolete but it does happen. Where I work we have a fab machine that the German firm created an upgrade path to replace the control head and certain sensors when the original components became obsolete and the marketplace expectations had risen to a higher HUI standard.
Thank might happen for our radios, but we're also likely to be running these current platforms 5 years from now with the changes needed to run Windows 14 being handled in our evolving PC, leaving the radio operating much the same behind its API's hooks.
And in those 5 years if we follow the last calendar year (use Dayton to Dayton) we will have upgraded the functionality of our 6000's perhaps better than twenty times!
YMMV and I'd love to have both.
Burt Fisher Member ✭✭The 7300 conversation "seized" another conversation?
The radio in the video is SDR, so it belongs in this forum
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