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Flex6400 6600 reliability questions

I subscribed to the community as I had the intention to buy a flex6600m and wanted to have some more info. So after reading this forum, and cutting through the roadies, I was left with questions about the reliability and Stability of the flex. I have read that a small number of people reported hardware and software issues. I got the impression the software issues are often minimized by the cheerleaders, and that some weird issues pop up for a number (small number) of users. So now hesitating to go for a flex. Mayby the users with issues could contact me of list to inform me how the issue they experienced was handled and resolved. 73 ON4IQ
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Answers

  • KL4QG
    KL4QG Come on Man ,That Thing you know That Thing. Member ✭✭
    edited May 2020
    All my issues where me not understanding how to operate my Flex I’m using 6400M I have no internet connect so far using a stand alone radio - staying that way all computers and internet does is create a Sewer Blockage of problems
  • Mark NS9N
    Mark NS9N Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I have owned radios from almost every manufacturer in the community. Some have been perfect and others from the same manufacturer have not. My two Flex radios have been perfect so far. Yes, I did send one back for an upgrade and did another upgrade my self. But neither for an urgent issue. But let’s be real. Electronic devices do fail no matter who makes them and at what price you pay. And yes there are those who have had issues with their Flex Radios. But for the numbers that are out there and the fantastic service Flex offers, I have to put them at the top of the list of radios to buy on the market today. But the real question has to be, if the Flex Radios give you what you want in a radio, then buy it. In my case, my 6400 brought me back into the hobby and my 6600 is keeping me here. For me, there is no finer and easy to operate radio on the market. And yes, as others have said, all of my issues have been user not wanting to spend the time to read but just go for it and experiment. This is also not always a bad strategy but when I take this path, I don’t **** about it on the forums. SDRs are the future and Flex is by far leading the way. The great news is that they really care about the community regardless of what you read on the internet. And just so it is said, no I don’t work for Flex but I do spend my hard earned money on the best I can buy.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2020
    Two years ago I got my pre owned 6500. After a week it stopped turning on, and I was working field day. It just stopped. I sent it back to Flex and they fixed it and sent it back with in a week. This radio has been perfect ever since.

    As for software? going in I understood that SSDR  software is always in development, things get fixed and other things get brocken. But when some things don't work as they should I am clear about what to expect. But here is the thing, even with all the little things that may be wronge with SSDR I still don't see anything out there I would prefer instead.
  • Tim N9PUZ
    Tim N9PUZ Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I have had my Flex 6400M for about a year now. I use it nearly every day and I have had zero issues with the hardware. I have had one problem with the DAX software that connects the radio to the PC for digital modes. That was due to a Windows 10 upgrade but I could not figure it out on my own. I filed a trouble report with Flex and the next day when I got home from work I had detailed instructions from the support team on how to fix the problem. The instructions worked perfectly.

    I think it is human nature that we go to the forums and vent our frustrations when something doesn't go perfectly. When things run smoothly we are on the air instead of wasting precious time praising the products!

    The Flex 6400M is my second Flex radio. The first was a Flex-1500 QRP radio that they no longer manufacture. I used that radio for years without a problem.

    Tim N9PUZ

  • Neil D Friedman N3DF
    Neil D Friedman N3DF Dayton, OHMember ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    My 6600M is 18 months old.  I use it daily.  Had one issue with DAX after a Windows 10 update.  Tim from Flex resolved it remotely within 24 hours. 
  • George KF2T
    George KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I’ve used a 6000 series nearly daily since they came out (original waitlister from 2012). They have provided great service. The software has had a couple of hiccups, as the Community shares. The hardware has been stellar. The most unreliable part of my system has been the operator.

     There IS a learning curve and adaptation process. The 6000’s are not like “regular” radios. You do need to think about operating differently, understand that these are computer servers, and that things just aren’t the same as a TS820s anymore. I’d venture to say that the loudest complaints and the hardest fixes stem from the required change of perspective. Not everyone is comfortable with it.
  • Homer1952
    Homer1952 Member
    edited October 2019
    Johan,
    It is a matter of expectation. 

    My Flex has not been perfect, but I always feel Flex wants to make it right when I do have an issue.  I had a problem with a recent s/w update & I finally fixed it.  A few days after I contacted Flex about it & was working fine, Flex followed up to make sure it was.  Follow up doesn't happen too often for most companies, but Flex was the exception.  And unlike many companies, Flex lets you contact the community on their website to answer questions like these.  That is also pretty rare.  If you get on some of the IO groups, you'll find a fanboy running the group & he won't let "complainers" hang around to discuss issues & will close the conversation all too soon.  After spending $3000 on a HF rig, you oughta be able to ask questions or complain.

    I think you'll find Flex a good company to deal with & I do not worry about the hardware in my Flex 6400ATU.  Overall, I'd buy a Flex with the same confidence as I'd buy any other brand.

    I do wish Flex would update the software more frequently & add many features that are in free s/w like SDR# & SDR Console.  Flex is lagging there, especially considering I paid for this s/w.

    Good luck on you decision - Bob W8RMV
  • Neal Pollack, N6YFM
    Neal Pollack, N6YFM Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I have a Flex 6600 for about 1.5 years now.   Honestly, the hardware is outstanding.  One or two people have a fan failure or something else.  But more than that on Icom have display problems, or Yaesu 5000 display problems, or Yaesu FT-991 early PA problems.  The point is, ALL hardware, including cars, cameras, and home appliances, occasionally have problems.   This is what your warranty is for.   It is impossible in the real world to make perfect items.  But, that said, I have owned Yaesu and Icom, and I like my Flex the best.   The PanAdapter is by far better than anything else I have seen.   The vertical scale is calibrated like a spectrum analyzer in dBm.    
    Disclaimer:  I don't yet know or operate CW.  But for SSB and Digital modes, it has done outstanding
    for me.   

    What would I improve?   My wish list was just completed;  They have new version software to work
    around the Microsoft caused problems, where MS Windows updates would corrupt the audio DAX devices.  This is not a Flex Radio problem, it is a Microsoft Windows problem, and Audio device companies all over the planet are **** at Microsoft.  But Flex found a way to work around it.

    My second wishlist item would be for Flex to improve the noise reduction algorithm in their software.
    Do understand that DSP noise reduction is a black art, and it is close to impossible to find and hire people that can do it well.   On Flex, instead of a traditional RF Gain control, you will find AGC-T Threshold, and also antenna step attenuator or gain (preamp) settings.   Once you play with it, it does about the same thing as RF Gain.  In the mean time, I also run the output of my Flex into a West Mountain ClearDSP audio box, which, too be honest, I used also on Yaesu and Icom.   It improves the noise reduction even more.   But let's be both fair and honest;  In a solar minimum, it is easy to get fooled.  Propagation is so very poor right now, basically there is not much more than noise.  You can start thinking the noise reduction is not good enough, but really, also, there just is
    not much signal AT ALL compared to the noise floor.  So until we get sunspots, FT-8 or CW or local city SSB is where people hang out.

    All of that said, the Flex 6600 has been amazingly reliable, VERY capable, and does not get in my way operating digital modes and SSB.   It just works.   Software features and firmware updates evolve more quickly than on my Icom and Yaesu.   The remote capability mops the floor with Icom and Yaesu.   

    I keep my Icom 7300 as a backup rig, but tend to only need it for portable IOTA or Field Day, because my Flex has not yet let me down.   I use the Flex with an Elecraft KPA-500 amp, and if just feels like a 500 watt tranceiver.

    You wanna' know the honest truth;  We need sunspots.  No radio, not even an Icom 7851, is going
    to do much with zero sunspots on HF.   I came into this hobby during the Solar minimum.  Despite that, I have 99 coutries confirmed with my Flex, and 113 worked.   If we get a few sunspots, maybe I can hit 100 and get DXCC :-)     But the Flex does not seem to be missing anything important for ME.
    Each person will be different, depending on if you speed 100% time on CW, or almost all the time on Digital, or SSB.    But for me;  I would not give up my Flex for ANY other rig.

    Neal
  • K9SO
    K9SO Member ✭✭
    edited May 2020
    Johan,

    I have two Flex radios currently in service at two different locations, a 6500 and a 6600. In my "collection" of radios I no longer use include a Yaesu FTdx3000, IC746PRO, IC775DSP, and an older IC706MKIIg. My Flex radios and my Yaesu have performed flawlessly over the years. I can't say the same for my Icoms. I think the Flex hardware is second to none.

    Now about software ... as you know software runs these radios and I'm certainly no cheerleader in that regard. 

    I have posted my particular "bug" complaints regarding the latest revisions. My particular bug complaint in SmartSDR v3.xx prevents me from using it, but my use case isn't the norm and unfortunately for me, my case is considered to be an outlier. Others have found bugs that affect their particular styles. But in almost all cases, there are simple workarounds and one by one, Flex works to fix all the known bugs in their releases.

    I have been "forced" to use release version v2.4.9 because my particular bug was introduced in later releases. But there's something important to note here: Flex is unique in that you don't really need to upgrade the software ... They allow you to choose software versions upon startup if you want. Now, v3.xx introduced some features that are important to some, but are only of marginal interest to me. 

    It was important for me to realize that my radios continue to outperform any others in the market while running v2.4.9. While I have complained in this forum about my particular bug in v3.xx, I'm in no way really damaged or even affected by it. I simply use v.2.4.9 and won't use 3 it until it's fixed.  

    No big deal. 

    In fact, since I first started with v1.x.x, incredible new performance and feature enhancements have been added. The vast majority of these revisions have performed flawlessly. My older 6500 is still a state of the art radio because of those enhancements. You won't get that in any other brand of radio.

    Don't let us "complainers" deter you. I, for one,  have no regrets and would never go back.

    73,
    Fred
    K9SO


  • BL7IB
    BL7IB Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I am using 6400, here is my comment slower bootup time than I expect 1.5A RX current Some dust inside after 3month use (dunno if it fan speed is variable or not) Not recommended for mobile installation Stable Easy software upgrade Value for the price User friendly but prepare 2 hours for RTFM
  • Ron WD5FUN
    Ron WD5FUN Member ✭✭
    edited May 2020
    I don't often read the Flex Community because it is mostly an outlet for user frustrations.  Most are due to two things, new users don't read the manual and most post their frustrations before asking Flex for help.  I have found Flex hardware to be of the highest quality (My 3rd Flex) and software to be innovative and mostly free of bugs.  All of the problems I have had have been self inflicted and I too have complained on the Community before truly find the root of my complaint.  Unfortunately I have had over 40 HF radios in my 42 years as a ham and I must say none of them were as good as my Flex 6400M.  Don't be afraid of Flex quality, it is outstanding.
  • KL4QG
    KL4QG Come on Man ,That Thing you know That Thing. Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I have agree with you 100%
  • KL4QG
    KL4QG Come on Man ,That Thing you know That Thing. Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    The ANAN-7000DLE MKII monoblock SDR transceiver incorporates an Intel 8th Generation i5/i7 core computer, the SDR client software is preloaded and calibrated making the unit completely Plug & Play They say plug play it’s not !!Where Built in VFO dial ??? 6400M and 6600M plug and play my book I don’t use my Flex 6400M with computer or internet 6600M and 6400M plug play but than again I’m different than most Hams lol
  • Joe Herreweyers
    edited October 2019
    Johan, I appreciate your question. While the question is about Flex and it's hardware, let me start with this forum.  I'm happy to be part of this community and I have benefited from it on several occasions.  My experiences mirror what has already been stated.  Starting with the low power SDR 1000, 5000, 1500 and my current 6500 (for the last five years).  In that time, I've had one hardware issue, with the SDR 1000.  That was problem was handled very quickly.  My other issues have can be defined as software (Windows/Dax already mentioned) and my personal learning curve. 

    I initially chose Flex, because I wanted to learn and stretch myself about this new technology.  Its one of the reasons many are initially drawn to this hobby.  Like moonbounce before, Flexradio's platform has done that for me. And continues to do so; while providing me with a world class product and enjoyment.  

    A quick world about the Windows/Dax issue is formative.  It was frustrating, a lot like trying to create an efficient home brew antenna can be.  The help and support through this medium and just as  importantly directly from Flex was outstanding.  Tim, was directly involved, helping me through the process of undoing what a Windows upgrade had done on more than one occasion.  This level of assistance where the term of customer service has become an oxymoron is rare and priceless.   Good luck with your choice
  • Michael Lieberman
    edited October 2019

    Hi, I have been using my Flex 6400 for about 1 year now. Had one issue which turned out to be operator error not even involving the 6400 ! Flex Customer Support helped me solve my problem even though it had nothing to do with the 6400 !! Now, that was cool !!

    Anyway, the 6400 is used almost every day or 5-6 days a week. ZERO problems ! There will always be someone who has a problem or question that blames the Company. I looked at several radios and they all were great !! The Flex seemed to give me more than I was looking for or needed. I likes the fact that they are always not just upgrading BUT updating the unit. I couldn't" be happier with my 6400 !

    Just my opinion !!
    73,


    Michael
    WA1UZO
  • Johan Van De Velde
    edited October 2019
    Wow, I really got a lot of feedback. I could summarize it as no real hardware issues, however the software side is prone to quircks, some of them introduced by Windows updates, other by the flex software and/or updates. General feedback was that customer service is good so that these issues are taken care of. But it sucks big time when this software radio stops working . Ând its happens. Used to run regular radio's ic7800 ftdx5000 K3, had none of these software glitches, ï m still not convinced the flex 6400 6600 is the way to go. But I was able to narrow down my options to 3 rigs, flex6600 K4 ftdx101d. The K4, yet to be released has the edge given the feedback I got and the fact elecraft has a 100% burnin test on all the radio's they ship.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Flex does a full burn in on all radios leaving the factory as well. I personally like what Electraft is doing with the up coming K4. If the Flex was not so good, I would consider that.

    Even though many other radios have perhaps more features, better this or that, one thing that sets Flex apart from every other radio espescially on the M models is the great screen and panadapter. No other radio has such a great clear panadapter on their stand alone radios. Look at them and compare. I would really miss that.
  • Eddie Jennings
    edited October 2019

    Hello,
          I've had a Flex 6400 for a few months. I've performed two software updates, with NO PROBLEMS or surprises. I use it to regularly support MARS. 

          I had a Flex 3000 before that for 10 years and supported MARS on a nearly daily basis with no issues.

         The newer Flex software appears well tested and requires minimal resources on a modern laptop.

          This is my story; I hope that the information  helps.

           Very Respectfully,
          Eddie Jennings, AJ4OC

         

  • Steve K9ZW
    Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    @ON4IQ Looking at this forum and then making reliability judgements is paramount to picking a car by reading the troubleshooting section of the user manual. FlexRadio Systems (FRS) doesn’t hide problems, rather they work to fix them. I’ve had a Flex-6700 since 2013 - but more important since Pre-Release software. That radio has been “rebuilt” perhaps 30-40 times by software releases. Problems found went away. I usually have several Flex-6000s on 24/7 and others I’ve dragged about with rough handling at times. But more importantly I’ve had a blast making contacts with them, learning the software/hardware, and exploring what they could do for me. I did pick up a spare 6000, a 6300, from a ham who couldn’t get the hang of the radio & software. Really a personal thing for them as they needed things more tactile. So be certain there is room for other radios in the shacks of hams. I have Collins S-Line set up at my homes, and a contemporary transceiver as a backup. I realized that the backup transceivers hadn’t even been turned on for three years, so I’m checking them out. And the Collins stations come on the air a couple times a year. If it wasn’t such a blast learning about the tube radios I really shouldn’t use up so much space with them in the shacks. As for personal observations of reliability I’ve had very minor issues with one 6300 (fans) and the other radios (several 6700s and a 6600M) have only been back for any updates (PEN). One had a field installed PEN. The repair rate and costs have been a non issue. Did I mention that usually at least two are on 24/7? And that I get to use them remote when traveling or from my work desk? Or that I can sit outside with a Maestro and enjoy the day? Or that I can run an FT8 instance while I’m working in my workshop, and make dozens of contacts in the process? Perhaps go see a Flex in action. Or maybe a friend will let you log into theirs? If a person is a cup half full sort of operator it is hard not to enjoy a Flex-6000. 73 Steve K9ZW Blog: http://k9zw.wordpress.com
  • Neal Pollack, N6YFM
    Neal Pollack, N6YFM Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I guess I really could post a much more simple, short, concise response;

    Ignoring great hardware reliability and good enough software, and outstanding performance,
    the choice to buy a Flex is rather simple.  No matter how much posting and reading and arguing;

         Those that will, do,  and those that won't, don't.

    It really is kinda' like the reason we all don't drive the same exact type of car :-)

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    As has been said here already:

    You will mostly see problems in any product support oriented forum.  That doesn't mean the product is bad or unreliable.

    As others have said, some of their posting are a result of their own misunderstanding of how to use the product.

    I have owned 5 different flex radios:

    Flex 1500 - My starter that got me interested in SDR
    Flex 6300 - Wow what a radio!  So good I upgraded to the 6500
    Flex 6500 - Ran 24/7 for close to 2 years then I upgraded to the 6600
    Flex 6600 - Has had one single problem:  Fan.  Since replaced it has run great even lugged to FD, WWV and all over the place.

    I currently also own a Flex 6300.  So I have two.

    The hardware is very good.  Yes like anything there will be certain failures and there have been people that had issues.  One guy I know bought a 6600 and had multiple problems.  Flex took care of him and he is now happy.

    That being said: This is a software defined radio.   This means that its ability to work also much include how reliable your network, computer or other client device is.

    On this forum we've had people complain about how they cannot use their radio, they keep getting disconnected.  Turns out their network was ****.  So the radio was fine, but what they connected it to and judged its performance against was ****, so they felt the radio was ****.

    With Flex radios you have to be willing to put in the time/effort to make your environment for the radio function well.   A good network, a good computer makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

    I know some people that have these cheap POS computers with Core Duo processors in them running at sub Ghz speed.  They complain about chunky performance of Smart SDR.  Well this is not the radios fault.  The graphics does demand some CPU.  So put a nice computer with it and you will be much happier.

    I love new gadgets and I would love to have an Icom 7610 on my desk to play with.  But once I think past my desire for the new gadget/box I realize that what I keep coming back to is my Flex 6600 that I can connect to and use from anywhere in the world.  While the Icom 7610 offers a similar ability it is not quite as simple to do as the SmartLink from Flex.

    Mark - WS7M
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited October 2019
    Hi Johan

    I have had a 6300, now a 6600 running remotely since 2014 or so.  I have never gone offline due to a radio failure.  DAX or CAT have never once been an issue for me, other than a few restarts now in then.  Something I can live with given the radio performance.  

    I did this video last week that helps show why I went this route.   Today, I could not imagine working with only 1 RS232 PORT.  :)

    Mike va3mw

    https://youtu.be/YhgpWuW7h14
  • Mark NS9N
    Mark NS9N Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Thank you now let’s get this forum back to technical issues!
  • Rick  WN2C
    Rick WN2C Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Johan, I have owned 2 Flex radios. A 6300 and now a 6400M which I use mostly stand alone.
    I can tell you I have not had a problem with it since the day I got it.
    My question to you is this;
    What radio manufacturer has a continual upgrade system and which manufacturer has a forum to help solve any issues you might have?
    Which manufacturer has 2 year warranties on their equipment?
    Who has the best customer service?

    I can tell you...Flex Radio Systems.
    Believe me you won't be disappointed if you buy a Flex.

    Oh ya, did I tell you about the brick wall filtering?
  • Johan _ SE3X
    Johan _ SE3X Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Bought my 6700 with Maestro 2 years ago. Short after I bought a 6500 as back-up. Never used it, so 6500 sold last year to a local club, they use it as a clubstation. Giving members remote access so they share the radio. Been a hugh sucess.

    My 6700 stays and will stay with me to the bitter end ;) Just love it, can't think of anything better. Much because what many others have mentioned as Flex strong points.

    Havn't had any hardware issues, and belive it or not, never any software and/or upgrade issues either.

    Just adding a Kenwood TS-590S with a tube amp to SE3X. Mainly for reasons to have guest op's here that like to work with a conventional radio given the opportunity to work with know eq. and then slowly learn to use the Flex. 

    I can't say Flex is for you, not for everyone, but for me it's the best radio ever. I sure would be very surprised if you would buy it and not being a happy user ;)

    My recomendation are to have a non M model with a Maestro on the side.

    I never had any use for MultiFlex when V3 arrived. I still upgraded immediately. But with SmartConnect, in the last upgrade, I found something making the cost for V3 worth every penny.

    Setting up for SO2R for the first time in upcoming CQ WW SSB. So far the combo of the large SSDR screen and Maestro for quick acess to settings will be very interesting to try. Just love it when having tried it.

    Gl what ever your purcahse decision might be.




  • Joe N3HEE
    Joe N3HEE Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I've owned a Flex 6600M for a little over a year.  To save some money I bought it from Flex as a pre-loved unit.  It arrived with a dead cooling fan.  Flex quickly responded and allowed me to replace the fan myself.  I was up and running within 2 days without needing to send the radio back. 

    My radio also suffered from spurs on 160 meters caused by an internal power supply issue.  I sent the radio back to Flex for repair.  Flex covered the shipping both ways.  When I received the radio back from Flex the vfo knob was broken in shipping.  Flex quickly issued an RMA and paid for shipping both ways to fix it.  Flex support is first rate !  They will always make it right and do it quickly.

    The radio hardware is very stable. My radio runs nearly 24/7.  I have no complaints about the hardware.  The new fan is still going strong. No other hardware issues to report.

    The software releases tend to introduce bugs and or unintended features that get taken care of in  future software releases.  The software releases are frequent enough to keep users happy.  Being a tech savy customer helps as there tends to be allot of users related issues.  

    The Flex radio platform lends itself really well to experimenters and software developers.  Anyone with programming experience or the desire to extend the functionality of the radio may do so via the Flex API.  This is were Flex really shines.  Not many if any radio manufacturers have this ability.

    All in all it has been a good experience.  Flex is not perfect but clearly leads the SDR market with innovative products.  I am primarily a contester and CW operator.  I have logged well over 10,000 contacts on my Flex 6600M radio so far.  It really shines for contesting.  

    Joe
    N3HEE
  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Johan,

    If you want to hear about my terrible experiences with repairs to my 6700 then email me at [email protected]

    I won't burden the rest of the group with this story as they've heard it before and they hate when anyone says anything negative about Flex even if it's true.

    73 Pat N6PAT
  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    I've had a 6400 for almost two years. I'm one of the few that has had a fan issue on these radios. I received a fan issue warning for a few weeks. Been on almost 24x7 during that time. Put in a help ticket, Flex sent an RMA to return the radio. Seems it could be a fan, or fan controller. It's been back at the mother ship for a little over a week. Hope to hear something soon.

    It's really distressing to be without. I can't count the number of times I've walked into the shack, then uh-oh no radio. I've enjoyed the Flex more than any other radio I've ever owned.The display panafall is the best thing since...whatever.
  • Harold Rosee
    Harold Rosee Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Johan,

    If you still don't feel good about buying a Flex then by all means but one of the other radio you mention.

    Just make sure they have exactly what you want to live with for as long as you have the radio.  Don't expect any other features to be added in the future.  It just won't happen.

    While the Flex software has it's growing pains like any software you get new features with each release.  It may take a couple of fixes to get it perfect but none will stop you from using the radio.

    The new things that come with each release are what makes the Flex a fun radio to operate.  A lot of the hams today don't want to play with new technology or software.  If that describes you then get a something else.

    All that aside I doubt you will find a easier radio to interface with the outside world or a receiver as good. 

    In the end it's you decision and the Flex is not for everyone.

    Harold
    W5ZZT
  • Joseph
    Joseph Member ✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Johan:

    Lots of good info in the previous replies.  I have had my 6600M for about 9 months now, and the PGXL amp for a month.  You can read my history elsewhere but in a nutshell I also had owned Kenwoods and ICOMs up thru the early 1990s, then didn't do any radio for nearly 20 years.  As a product of Silicon Valley, career wise, when I retired I was intrigued by the philosophy of the Flex SDR architecture.  So I ordered the 6600M and the amp. 

    We'll skip all the frustration with slipping delivery schedules.  I managed to not totally lose it and cancel my order, and now, 18 months later, I have everything I ordered.

    The 6600M has been on 24/7 ever I received it.  Like the amp (mostly in Standby).  When everything is working, it is hard not to love this setup.  The only problems I have had with either have resulted from software updates to either the 6600M/SSDR or Windows.

    One caveat: I use my 6600M with a desktop, front ending the radio.  I didn't go for the SDR 3.x upgrade initially because you couldn't use the radio front end alongside the SSDR application.  When SmartControl came out, I did, and found that I almost never use the knobs.  (Still use the power knob a bit!)  I am now too attached to the large waterfall and point and click mode of running the radio.

    Positives: I believe someone said you'd be tying into a state of the art radio architecture.  You will be.  In short order probably all high end radios will be SDR's.  But some thought has gone into the separation of the user interface and the actual radio at Flex.  Like I said, when it works, which is most of the time,  it works very well.  It integrates with all manner of third party software applications.  No CAT interface cables.  It harnesses the power of a desktop computer if you want to use it that way, with SSDR, which makes things easier.

    Negatives: It is based on Windows.  Windows is not a real time operating system.  Microsoft seems to be **** bent on forcing updates on you (Windows is a service?  Really?) that sometimes muck up what was working.  Flex has yet to figure out how to make the update process work ALL the time.  (I routinely have to reboot things (by "things" I mean all software involved, including Windows itself) half a dozen times after an update before everything settles down, for no apparent reason, and works like it should, even after a power failure type reset.  Even then it still isn't perfect or bullet proof.  For instance, no one has owned up to it, but WSJTX, in particular, seems to interact with the DAX application in a way that results in decoding hanging up until you reset either DAX or WSJTX.  In my case, I traced the problem to a latency issue caused by a DELL driver that periodically interrupted normal operation.  Sometimes a reboot will cause SSDR to lose all settings.  Bottom line: to keep the frustration level down you will need to know your way around Windows to keep things running smoothly.

    Another positive:  Flex has one of the best customer service departments anywhere, for any product.  The ability to remotely connect with your machine and look around, find a problem, and fix it, is magic.  There are numerous testaments to this fact on the web.  There is also a really good support group, to which your question and this post are additions, that will point you in the right direction, most of the time, obviating the need for a customer service interaction at all.

    So my advice is to take the plunge.  Certainly if you are like most amateur radio types that like tinkering, improving, figuring stuff out, working with the most modern equipment, etc.  On the other hand, if you hate computers, think TCP/IP is a rock band, or just love knobs and small displays, the Flex solution may not be the best fit!!


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