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FLEX Console (a Maestro without the screen)

After using my FLEX 6500 for a few years, I knew I didn't need a radio with knobs but I kind of liked the idea anyway and I ordered my 6600M. I'm very pleased with the radio, however, I find that I am using Smart SDR 90% of the time. (Other users have confessed this to be the case as well) I really don't need the Maestro screen. What I envision is something resembling half a Maestro or less. It would basically consist of the top row of buttons and the two tunning knobs and maybe the Mic/Speed/power button. This would be a unit that would fit nicely under a monitor maybe the length of a keyboard and four to six inches high. It could have a slightly sloping front panel. Basically, it would have most of the features of the Maestro and maybe include a couple of handy USB Ports in the back. It might be half the cost of the Mastro maybe as much or more with the right features. I think contesters would be popular with contesters and quite a nice package for DX Expeditions. I'm guessing others will have some features they would like to see in the SmartConsole. Maybe the artist among us can come with some design concepts.

Comments

  • Justin_KL2D
    Justin_KL2D Member ✭✭

    Wow, that looks awesome!!! Love that it is ethernet... Very nice Len!


    I'm probably not smart enough to build one, but would love to see them available some day.


    73

    Justin

    KL2D

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    Thanks Justin. Well, the hardest part about building it was writing the software. The next hardest part was figuring out the front panel. I built a couple of cardboard box prototypes before I committed to drilling the aluminum panel. Hooking it all up is tedious, but not really difficult. You just have to be sure the correct wires from the controls and display are where they need to be on the processor board. I just mounted .1 inch headers on a proto board and have the whole thing plugged together with push-on jumpers.

    If I were to build another, I would still mount a socket for the processor board like I did, but then I would solder all the controls to the proto board and use more ribbon cable than individual wires to keep things neat. Right now, I am afraid of wires coming loose when I travel with it to field day and other camping trips. On the other hand, a loose wire is easily fixed without a soldering iron...

    73,

    Len

  • I'm building TeensyMaestro #2. Thanks to all Len's hard work on the code and front panel layout, it's very straightforward to build. Cost for the components (assuming you have some items like screws and standoffs in your parts collection) is right at $300.

    Len didn't mention that he recently added band edge indicators (configured to your license class), and that the TeensyMaestro boasts a touch screen. He's also written an operator's manual.

    I like to use a second monitor for the SmartSDR display, and use the computer monitor with my logging program. Now I can control the functions I adjust frequently using the TeensyMaestro, without moving my mouse between the two screens. For hunt-and-pounce operation, this is a huge advantage. I'm on track to have my TeensyMaestro on the air for the NA QSO Party next weekend!

    73,

    David, W4WKU

  • Terry K8EET
    Terry K8EET Member ✭✭

    Nice Job Len,

    That is a lot more complicated than what I had in mind. I figure since I'm using the computer anyway for logging and other programs I might as well be using SmartSDR thus my desire for the very basic functions of the Maestro.

    Terry

    K8EET

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    Thanks Terry! I heard you on the Flex Net today. You had a very nice sig into Colorado.

    This box could be built without the display and with only half the controls (so it would only control Slice A) which would reduce the price and complexity significantly. I originally built this without a display and used it that way for quite a while. I had this display on hand from another project, so I added it on a whim. I definitely like the display, but the controls work just fine without it.

    It is funny, but the VFO knob is not the one I use most. It is volume and AGC-T that get the most action while the high and low shift knobs (width for CW) are a close second. During contests where the sigs are back to back, I tend to use the VFO knob. During casual operating on less crowded bands, I tend to double click the mouse on sigs I want to hear, then fine tune them with the mouse wheel. It is the combination of SmartSDR and this box working together that really makes the operating experience.

    73,

    Len

  • Terry K8EET
    Terry K8EET Member ✭✭

    Len,

    I thought about giving you a shout to talk after the net today but I got a phone call that went a little long. Yes, I understand exactly what you mean because when I do actually use the radio. I'm changing the volume, the width, or shift. I do use split a lot for DX and sometime when I'm in a group and someone is not quite on frequency. So I guess I would favor two knobs. I've seen the disk jockey boards that guys have adapted but there all larger than what I want on my desk. One of my friends who bought a Flex after playing with my 6500 said it's great but I got to have knobs. I had already ordered the 6600M and when he saw that, he said perfect. I was telling him about my ideas and he said, "I hate to admit this to you, but I use Smart SDR 98% of the time, I like your idea." I've talked to several 6600M users who have told me the same thing. There's a market there I think...so good luck with your project.

  • SDupuie
    SDupuie Member
    Len, have you posted the schematics or Teensy code anywhere?
    73,
    Scott
    AK5SD
  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    Hi Scott, not yet, but I probably will soon. I am thinking of putting it out on GitHub. If I do, I will write up a builder's guide to go along with the user manual. It is not complicated to build, but is fairly tedious to plug or solder it all together (lots of wires...).

    My buddy Dave, W4WKU is nearly finished with his. I will use our combined construction experiences to write the builder's guide.

    73,

    Len, KD0RC

  • FYI - A new thread with information on building the TeensyMaestro is here:

    https://community.flexradio.com/discussion/8023866/teensymaestro#latest

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    Here is a link to the GitHub project:

    KD0RC/Teensy-Maestro-for-Flex-6000-radios (github.com)

    Questions, comments etc should be posted to the link Dave posted, above.

    73,

    Len, KD0RC

  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭

    Hi Terry,

    Your idea was suggested back in 2016. It got 30 votes and is still marked as "under review" by Flex. FRS never discloses if / when they plan to release any new hardware or software but maybe it's still coming. Here is a link to the thread:

    https://community.flexradio.com/discussion/7049774/maestrocontrol-the-next-generation-flexcontrol#latest

    Since the post was transferred over from the old community some of the posts in the thread are out of order and the original mockup didn't get included so here is the picture below. The new TeensyMaestro is very similar to the original idea but has a screen. For someone that doesn't want to build their own, a Flex offered / supported device might be attractive also.


    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ

    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

    6700 Win10 SSDR V2.4.10

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