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Is Flex Radio To Complicated??

Robert Lonn
Robert Lonn Member ✭✭
edited June 2020 in SmartSDR for Windows
When I decided to Abandon Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom for a Flex 6600M, several driving points convinced me to change. One was the overall quality and performance of the radio,, SSDR software and the potential for what comes in the future, like Version 3.0.. 1080P HDMI Output for that large 50" 4K TV screen with razor sharp display. 

And then came the on line documentation. A Manual of over 100 pages for the radio, and more for the SSDR software.. A Lot Of Reading for sure.. I decided to review 100% of all the documentation and the videos before my radio arrived last year.. It was a LOT to digest..

I like so many others, felt that all I had to do is turn on the power switch, let the TUBES warm up, and other then some Tune and Load adjustments, be on the air calling CQ DX!!! With Flex, you don't need to let the Transistors Warm Up, but you do need to wait for it to boot up!

Compared to other radios, Flex is complicated in the amount of features and Flexibility they have built into the radio and software!! You definitely need to read the manual if you want to enjoy everything this radio is capable of!! I like the complexity of the radio, as I do with software like HRD, definitely need that manual to fully appreciate what HRD can deliver as does SSDR!!

Thankfully we have our Flex Community to help out when strange things begin to happen or you just cant figure it out..

So Yes, Flex can be complicated, but so can the modern day info systems in an automobile,, HEY!!! I have been driving for 50 years, why do I need the manual to figure this out! After all it is just a car!! LOL

So after 45 years as a Ham, I am glad that Flex and others continue to introduce new radios and software.. What would our life be like if all we had was a new day where the most exciting thing we do is watch Tubes Glow and Heat The Shack in the winter time.. 

Cant wait for PHASE 3 of Complexity, Software version 3.****  as Advertised by Flex in April QST Magazine... I have my $200 Ready.. :-)


COLD in San Diego today, Need to warm up!! :-)



  • K0FLY
    K0FLY Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Great post and a very nice SX-88.

    Gayle K0FLY
  • John - AI4FR
    John - AI4FR Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    The heck with the post, that SX-88 is awesome!!! Some say the cream of the crop for Hallicrafters. Well done using it with your post.

    Thanks for the post and for sharing your thoughts.
  • Roger_W6VZV
    Roger_W6VZV Member ✭✭
    edited May 2019
    I miss heating up the shack with my Hallicrafters SX101A and Heath "Warrior" Linear amp and "Marauder" transmitter.  Those bad boys could really keep the shack warm.

    de Roger W6VZV
  • Gene Duprey
    Gene Duprey Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I still have my Collins S-Line to heat the shack up.  The 30L-1 is hooked up to the Flex 6500 which helps also. ;)

    Yes very nice Hallicrafters receiver.

    Gene, K1GD
  • Neil D Friedman N3DF
    Neil D Friedman N3DF Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I'm still looking for the plate dip control on my Flex 6600M.  It was right up front on my Drake TR3.  
  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    The glow of tubes is something you can easily miss.  I had a homebrew TX for a while that used an 813 final.  The glow on that was nice.

    But the voltage was always just scary.  These days I prefer solid state simply because it is a little harder to **** yourself working on it.

    Now on flex being too complicated...   I will quote:

    With great power, comes great responsibility!  (and a need to learn how to use that power).

    I will fully agree that Flex radio is vastly more complex than purchasing an Icom 7300 for example.  But there are things I can do with my Flex now that I know it relatively well that my Icom 7300 owner friend simply cannot do.

    I even have friends with Anan 8000 radios.  Now you want to talk about complex!!!  Every weekend these guys are on 40m debating some buffer setting or some other strange setting buried deep in the software.

    One weekend I listened to my neighbor instructing a new Anan 8000 op over the air on how to setup the best whatever.  It went something like this:

    Click on tab A
    Over the right click on advanced
    Find the ABC tab, click on it
    Adjust buffer A to 256
    Set slider XYZ to 19
    Click over to tab DEF
    Transmit, observe the numbers in field B
    Click back to ABC, decrease A by 4 / 3.14 * 256 for each value over 90 in field B

    the new user:

    So wait... what...?  Where is field B and tab XYZ I don't see them.   

    Whats on your screen now?

    I have XXXSDR 1.9

    Oh... ya you need to uninstall that and install 1.91  then you will have the ABC and XYZ tabs

    Ok uh sure... but why do I need to adjust the field by 4 / 31.4 * 256  where did that come from?

    That is just the magic number that works.  All us Anan users figured that out by trying different values

    Ok great... So once i get this set what do I do to save these values?

    That's easy!  Just follow the next 20 steps!


    So this is an exaggeration but not by much.  The Anan is a very cool, very powerful radio but it is very hacky.  There is a setting for everything and they are buried all over the place.

    The interesting thing for me is when I am on with my Anan user friends on 40m at some point someone will say:  I wonder if 20m is open?

    Me?  I've had a 20m pan open the entire time watching it.   I can quickly tell them.   

    I can't confirm this but it seems the Anan with whatever the popular software is that they run it with is really good at showing just one pan.  It can I guess overlay that pan with another one so it is possible although I'm not sure how useful to see 40m with 20m overlayed.

    I could be wrong as I don't own one but most of my Anan friends if they are on 40 and they want to check 20 either do it with another radio, an SDR receiver perhaps or they just switch bands for a few moments.

    We flexer just open a new pan.  Even a 6300 can do that just fine.

    Mark - WS7M
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2020
    Caution:  Long post ahead....

    I have owned a number of rigs over the past 45 years.  Some of them have been more complicated than others.  The list is long, but distinguished:  (I won't list VHF stuff, that list is even longer than this!)  Most of these were purchased used, or "horse traded" over the years as I swapped and traded multiple rigs in my constant search for improved performance (and novelty.)  I seldom owned more than two rigs at any one time.  Usually just one.

    Allied A-2516 Receiver (made by Trio) my novice receiver, bought new from Allied Radio in about 1973.  

    Globe Scout 65A  transmitter & Heath VF-1 VFO (my first novice rig) - Lots of knobs to peak & tune.

    Eico 720 Transmitter & 722 VFO (My second Novice Transmitter. - More knobs to peak & tune

    R-392 Military surplus receiver. My first general coverage receiver.  LOTS of knobs to adjust for optimum reception.  (My code practice receiver after I got Tech and lost Novice privileges)

    Hallicrafters SR-150 - my first SSB rig as a General.  Great 5-Band rig, but required adjustment of preselector, driver, & final peak & load controls, as well as mice, carrier, carrier balance, & final bias adjustment and regular dial callibration to keep running at optimum levels.

    Eico 753 (known as the "Seven Drifty three" because the uncompensated transistor VFO was unstable)  I didn't keep it long.

    Hallicrafters SR-160 - the three-band little brother of the SR-150.  Operated the same as the SR-150.

    Kenwood TS-120S - My first all solid state rig.  Also the first brand new rig I ever bought.  nice.  No peaking and loading, but it had that IF Shift thing that I had to learn.

    Allied SX-190 solid state receiver - a pretty decent receiver for the money.  I got it to play with while in Grad School.  It even had a Q-Multiplier to increase selectivity, but It was hard to adjust.  I would have loved to have the Amateur version (AX-190) one as a novice instead of the tubed A-2516.

    Kenwood TS-820S - Really nice solid state with tube driver and finals.  I still needed to peak & load the finals and driver. 

    Ten-Tec Argonaut 509 - my first QRP rig. Nice for the money.  The dial needed regular calibration due to dial cord stretching.  Still needed to peak the final amp and watch mic levels.  I ran QRP Mobile on 40 Meters in SW Texas with that rig!

    Ten-Tec Argosy - Nice 50 Watt big brother to the Argonaut.  Very fun to play with at home and mobile.  Very easy and simple to operate.

    Icom IC-745 - My 2nd brand new rig, and first general coverage Transceiver.    Plug and go, with little to adjust except for power out, IF Shift, Mic & Carrier levels, Compression, etc.

    Heath HW-8 - another nice QRP Rig after I repaired it from damage/****-sticking from previous owner.  Only had it a little while, just for fun.

    Kenwood TS-850SAT - bought brand new in 1993, kept it for about 21 years until I entered the wonderful world of Flex Radio.  Very strong receiver, had hi & low cut RX filter controls, 3-way selectable AGC timing.  Built in CW keyer and wonderful QSK.  The best CW rig I had owned to-date -- smooth & quiet.  Once modified, it had a wonderful Noise Blanker (original design was innefective). Required separate adjustment of Mic gain & Processor knobs, and had a selectable "hi boost" for the TX.  Contest worthy split and memory function controls.  Best arranged front panel of any of the rigs in the price point that I looked at before purchase.  A handful to operate until you learned it, but a good DX & Contesting rig for its day.

    Icom IC-706MK2G - My Mobile/Portable/VHF/UHF rig.  It mostly stayed in my Roadtrek RV for about 8 years until I had to have repairs done to the RV.  I still keep it as a back up & VHF/UHF rig.

    Flex-1500 - my first entry into SDR.  Running PowerSDR.  I was instantly impressed with the quality of the receiver, the brick-wall filters, its quietness compared to the IC-745 & TS-850SAT, and the fidelity of SSB audio it sent to my powered computer speakers.  It had TX Audio that could be fine-tuned to a degree that I had never experienced, and after I mastered it I got superb audio reports even with 5 watts.  I quickly grew to love it so much that I stopped using the TS-850SAT unless I need the full 100 Watts.  BUT there were MULTIPLE and often confusing adjustments that could be made in NB, NR, Auto Notch, AGC, and other areas.  Adjusting the TX Audio was a laborious but satisfying experiencing.  There were at least 5 stages of audio adjustments and metering to control in order to get the perfect audio from SSB or AM.  Once I learned it all, it was a wonderful rig.  In fact I liked it so much that three weeks after receiving it I put a deposit down on a new Flex-6500 in January before they were released.  After they released V.1.5 of SSDR on the 6000 series that included Full Duplex capability I no longer needed the 1500 for audio monitoring, so I sold it.

    Flex-6500 - WOW!  I call it the "Big Kahuna" because it is the best rig I have ever owned,  The SSB audio is easier to adjust than any other SDR rig on the market.  You don't need to dive three or four steps down into multiple menu steps in order to adjust the TX EQ.  It is right there on the TX panel.  Adjusting the Processor is simple - three choices, Mic Level?  simple - just keep it out of the red and don't overdrive the processor with too much Bass.  TX Bandwidth?  right on the TX panel.  Receive filters?  right on the slice drop-down menus, and you can slide the hi or low edges in the panel.  It takes a little practice to get the AGC-T just right, but it is very powerful.  Adjusting NB, NR, APF, etc are simple mouse sliders.  Yes, the Auto Notch Filter is not perfect yet, but it functions.  But the TNF (Tracking Notch Filter) is a game-changer that no one else has, to my knowledge, except those who copied it from Flex's PSDR.  All of this and more right from my main shack computer, and I can run multiple monitors and enjoy all of that computer real estate.

    The 6000 series is much simpler to operate than the PSDR rigs, and easier to adjust almost every control parameter than most recent legacy rigs with menu driven adjustments.

    The bottom line...Is the Flex 6000 Series too complicated?  Compared to what?  compared to most of the newer menu-driven rigs, it is actually much simpler.  But there is a bit of a learning curve because it is DIFFERENT from them.  Those who can still learn new things and make the adjustments in their operating style will appreciate it.  Those who cannot will have difficulties with any new rig.  The Flex Advantage is that there is a community of fine folks and "Elmers" who can assist you, and a Customer Experience department that is unsurpassed.  

    Ken - NM9P
  • Doug
    Doug Member ✭✭
    edited December 2019
    I think everyone here on this thread has W-A-Y T-O-O- much time on their hands. And if you think it is cold in S.D. Calif come to IL.
  • Michael Coslo
    Michael Coslo Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I'm a computer Jockey, so I might just find the Flex more natural, but I know My Club's 7610 and K3S are more complicated to operate for me. Weirdest thing is remembering the short push/long push on the K3S. The 7610 is just kinda weird. I do like both, but I can make my Flex dance, while I would be lost on either of the other two without the manual.
  • Johan _ SE3X
    Johan _ SE3X Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    It's not only in Illinois It's cold. Come visit to my mountain QTH in Sweden .. - 21.5 Celsius this morning .. a fantastic day for antenna work :)
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Not to long ago there were people critisizing SSDR for being to simple, A radio only for appliance operators. But many of us began to see and understand the power within.

    I have rolled back to use my old Flex 3000 with the very latest PSDR this week. As nice as some of the features found in PSDR are, it is shocking how much further SSDR has gone. Many of the things we used to do with VAC for audio, the hair pulling to get things to work are just a button push in SSDR, DAX. As one example. I always like going back to my Flex 3000, it really is a great radio. But there is nothing simple about it. The 3000 is always a great reminder just how good the 6xxx radios are.

    SSDR is so powerful it is simple, clean. If you really think about what SSDR can do in many different ways it is easy to see how it can do so much, simply....

    This simplicity can only be had with software that is very accomplished. In SSDR most everything is already optimized to perform at it's best, no need to dig deep into menues and tweek and tweek.

    Simplicity.= Power
  • Robert Lonn
    Robert Lonn Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    It is 15 degrees and Snow in the Palomar Mountains just east of San Diego!! :-)  
  • Robert Lonn
    Robert Lonn Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Does this mean I wont be able to tweak the Bias Voltage of Q-4 from -2.345 to -2.346 Volts in my 6600M???? Darn, oh well back to V-8 12AT7 adjustment.. LOL
  • Robert Lonn
    Robert Lonn Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Some folks may not know what an Appliance Operator is!!! It is a CB radio Operator who becomes a ham, but has no idea what E=IxR means... That is OK, I have friends who are hams and are very informed on all Ham Radio technology....

    All I can say is 10-4 Good Buddy, Come On Back!!! :-) 

    Hey, anyone watch Gold Rush on Discovery, and hear the way they talk to each other on their illegal Alaskan Radios!!! Drives me crazy!! As Does Parker! 

  • Michael Coslo
    Michael Coslo Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Crazy weather - In Australia it's been 50 degrees......Centigrade.  Apparently Fuit bats are dropping out of their trees dead because they've cooked. 

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