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What's next, anything?

Given that the 6300, 6500, and 6700 models ended production around the 10 year point, and the 6400 and 6600 models have already been out for around 6 years, it begs the question, what's going to happen in 4 years from now?

I know Flex doesn't address specifics about future equipment and software enhancements, but I'm wondering if someone from Flex can at least chime in and let their loyal customers know if they have something (anything) on their drawing board, which will eventually replace current models?

Butch, KF4HR


  • fpmacko
    fpmacko Member ✭✭

    I'd be very surprised if they would speculate about future products. No matter whether they're four months or four years into the future. They surely know all about the "Osborne Effect".

    Osborne effect - Wikipedia

    73.... Frank / WA3NHK

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited July 25

    There are always new ideas in the mix. And, I would love to share them. Maybe some day. I can't even hint about anything to my close friends who try to drag it out of me. :)

    The Osborne effect is something very real.

    Most new product ides never make it to the "let's build it phase" because it might not be economical to build.

    But, I can tell you it is a lot of fun to be part of the design discussions.

    The questions are:

    • How much does it cost to build (hardware, software man hours). The rough guess to totally design a radio from the ground up costs about $1M to take it to market (+/-). Not only is there the design, and build phase, you have to send the units out to RF labs for noise emissions and the certifications have to be done not only in the US but the EU and they are different Labs.
    • What can we sell it for? You have to produce a profit. The accountants are funny that way. :)
    • How many will we sell in year 1 and then year 2 (usually measured in the thousands). This is hard because Hams are thrifty and there is competition from offshore even though the products are sub-standard (I can confirm that as I have played with a number of them).
    • How much will post-sales support cost since you have to consider most items we have come with a 2 year warranty and you have to pay staff to support the product?

    You then take all those expense costs above and divide it by the projected sales over 2 years and that is your Raw radio cost (roughly).

    For those of you who have tried to manufacture something, this is not news. If you aren't aware of the overhead, it can be quite eye-opening.

    I hope that helps explain a bit.


  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the reply Mike, that does help a bit, and I'm sure its fun sitting in design discussion meetings.

    I have no doubt the cost of design and production phases are expensive but it's a safe bet that Gerald (and team) have gone through the business model process long ago. And after being in business for over 20 years they also probably have pretty good handle on the other questions you mentioned; how many will sell first year, etc.

    Since FRS sees 10 years as the life span of any particular transceiver model, this doesn't bode well considering the 6400/6600 designs are already 6 years old. It is my hope that FRS has new designs on the drawing board since the 6400/6600 designs have about 4 years live left.

    While I've enjoyed my Flex 6000 series rig for several years, now I'm wondering what to do. Hang onto my out-of-production model until parts are not longer available, then convert it to an expensive paper weight? Or buy a newer 6400 or 6600 model knowing these models will also be out of production in a few short years, and replacements may or may not be available? Or not take the risk on either of these scenarios and switch radio equipment brands?

    Reference the Osborne effect. While I understand FRS's need to play their business strategy details close to the vest (due to competing companies and such), the total lack of future information leaves Flex customers like myself wondering to expect, if anything. Assuming FRS does plan to continue to build amateur equipment into the foreseeable future it seems to me they should be able to provide at least some minimal future plans without giving away any company secrets to competition. Tesla and other companies do it all the time.

    I'd like to make a suggestion that perhaps you could pass along to the powers-that-be during your next design meeting. Rather than spreading out FRS funds to design and produce multiple transceiver models for entry level, M models with knobs, etc, why not make just one full featured 2-slice model that meets or exceeds the specs of other brands that looks similar to the 6600 but could accept a snap-on Maestro screen. (Also create a snap-on back panel for the Maestro so it can continue to be used as a remote stand alone unit). And design this full featured 2-slice transceiver to where multiple transceivers can be daisy-chained together so customers have the choice of buying one transceiver or multiple transceivers to create 4, 6, 8, or more receiver slices, and the daisy-chained transceivers all be controlled via one PC. Consider the benefits. FRS would only need to design and manufacture one high end 2-slice transceiver, and Flex customers who wish to have more than two receiver slices would be buying multiple units. And the Maestro would be an operational snap-on option, knobs or no knobs, or stand alone remote unit. A win-win.

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Neil D Friedman N3DF
    Neil D Friedman N3DF Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 25

    According to Flex’s release, the 6700 was discontinued due to component shortages, not obsolescence or plans for a replacement radio. Similarly, the 6500 and 6300 are not always repairable due to component unavailability.

    Presumably, 6400/6600 manufacture will continue while components remain available.

  • Trucker
    Trucker Member ✭✭✭

    Butch, interesting ideas. But, I am having a hard time visualizing how, "daisy chaining " multiple physical receivers together to add more slices/receivers would be accomplished. I would think it would take a total rewrite of the firmware and SmartSDR ( or some variation of SmartSDR) to juggle controlling the various added receivers. I would think parsing the data from each add on receiver to either a pc or a control surface like the Maestro would be a problem.



  • bahillen
    bahillen Member ✭✭✭

    Regarding repairing 10 year old radio designs and parts availability, this is a fact with any radio as technology changes and not unique to Flex.

    Products have plans to project inventories of repair parts for factory service. I could not get factory service on my Yaesu FT1000 MP. I did find a repair small company (person) that did a repair and had a stash of parts or parts radios. Flex has less options in that regard than an independent repair shop.

    if a radio is hit with a lightning strike Flex may at some point not have complete circuit boards to make that repair to a 6700. I would check the used market in that case.

    In other words there will be options. All is not lost.




  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    James - Yes, SSDR would definitely need to be changed to accommodate multiple rigs running under one instance of SmartSDR, as this is currently not possible. Similar to the way we can now have multiple Flex rigs available when we pull up SmartSDR, but [current] we can only access one rig at a time, my thought was, the next generation hardward/software could provide access to multiple Flex rigs, all running under one instance of SmartSDR. Or perhaps a full featured 2-Slice rig with the ability to add optional internal slice modules to expand the base 2-slice rig to 4, 6, 8 or more slices, so ideally users aren't locked to only 2 or 4 receive slice transceivers.

    Butch, KF4HR

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