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Re-packaged Flex 3000

Robert Dale
Robert Dale Member ✭✭
edited June 2020 in New Ideas
Here are a couple of pix of my re-packaged Flex 3000. Runs silently now with on-demand cooling. Very nice radio with built-in auto tuner and especially nice with KE9NS' version of PSDR. Thanks again, Darrin!

73,
Robert
VE7ZN

imageimage
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3 votes

Open for Comments · Last Updated

Comments

  • Patrick
    Patrick WH6HI KauaiMember ✭✭✭
    edited June 2020
    Very nice job....
  • Patrick
    Patrick WH6HI KauaiMember ✭✭✭
    edited June 2020
    Robert, just noticed. What is the additional circuitry?
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017
    Mic circuitry, fan speed controller, and an audio amplifier. Have since added temperature sensing fan control (not shown in the pic but mounted onto the audio amplifier board).
  • Rob N4GA
    Rob N4GA Member
    edited October 2017
    Awesome post, thanks!

    I've never cracked open my 6300 but can assure you I've never liked all the noise the constant fan makes. Ridiculous.

    It's amazing how much of the rig is the 100W PA and the ATU and LPF.

    I'd like this transceiver without the any of those, personally.

    Need none of that to feed into the amps I build.

    Oh well, probably not much $$ in that for FLEX.

    73s

     
  • David Kutiej
    David Kutiej Member
    edited June 2018
    Bob, where do I go to get those mods done........way cool.
    David / KE7JHA
  • John
    John Member
    edited June 2018
    I open mine twice a year, to clean the fans and any dust inside. Fan noise is usually caused by dust settling on the blades, changing the airflow  over them. One can also use antistaic wipes to slow this process down.
  • Pierre Martel
    Pierre Martel Member
    edited October 2017
    Realy nice work, care to give some more info like what is the name of the casing and how you did all the holes in the back? I would really like to do something like this as I find the initial case not as pretty as it used to be ;-)

  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2017
    So, the fans only spin when the radio reaches a certain temp?
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited November 2017
    David, I designed and did it by my lonesome. :)
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited November 2017
    The case was ordered from a company in Japan and sent by courier - very reasonable cost and VERY good quality - like most Japanese goods. I designed the panels using FrontPanelExpress software then had them mill them for me. This is a terrific company in Seattle that does very high quality work and very reasonable cost.
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited November 2017
    If you want more specifics, email me at VE7ZN at jasero dot com. I'm happy to share the design files with anyone.
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited November 2017
    Yup. I've set it to 110F which is well within specs. However, I did use a large heat plate under the chassis which makes a big difference. Rarely do I even get close to 110F. Usually it operates around 87F-95F or so.
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited November 2017
    Thanks Pat. With Darrin's (KE9NS) PSDR version it's a great setup and I like it very much.
  • David Kutiej
    David Kutiej Member
    edited November 2017
    Robert, I can't even solder correctly!  So could I talk you into doing my radio for me.  I'll leave the cost up to you. Please let me know by email: 
    [email protected]
  • Jean-Philippe DIEL
    edited December 2017
    Great job - I was thinking the same. Could you document ? What was the total build cost? Cheers & 73’s ZL1RPL
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited December 2017
    Several folks have asked me where I got the enclosure etc., so I will give some basic details here: 

    NOTE: Doing this, you must take your Flex 3000 completely and carefully apart!

    1. The enclosure was purchased from Takachi Electronics Enclosure Co. Ltd. http://www.takachi-enclosure.com. I chose the Takachi MS99-37-35B (Black) enclosure which (JUST) fits everything. I could have used a bigger enclosure which would have made fitment easier, but I didn’t want to go any larger than I had to. 

    2. I designed the front and rear panels and then had Front Panel Express in Seattle, WA mill them for me (http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/) . They do the engraving and ink-filling for a very professional look. (They are an excellent company to do business with and I can HIGHLY recommend them.) If you want to use my front and rear panel designs, send me an email and I will email the CAD files to you. 

    3. I also used a .25" thick plate of T-6061 aluminum as a heat spreader/heat sink which mounts under the Flex chassis. (I was going to use copper but the cost was prohibitive and milling is easier with aluminum). The Flex was first fit to the plate and appropriate mounting points established, drilled, countersunk and fitted with the required hardware. Then I figured out where the mounting points for the plate to enclosure should be. These were drilled through the enclosure and into the plate and then I tapped the holes in the bottom of the plate. On re-assembly, the flex is mounted to the plate (thermal paste applied) and the whole assembly is then mounted to the enclosure bottom.

    4. There are various connectors that need addressing, including:
       • 8 pin mic RJ-45 connector
       • 8 pin “Kenwood” compatible mic connector 
       • antenna connector
       • DB-9 serial cable connector
       • Firewire connector
       • DC input power

    There are MANY ways to deal with these and you can decide what works best for you; however, the biggest PITA is the mic connector, which won’t allow you to insert a plug because of its fitment inside the enclosure. I had to remove the existing right-angle PCB connector and install a vertical PCB connector. A bit tricky but it works. I made a small jumper from this new connector to an RJ-45 breakout board (which you can see in one of the pics - under the fan driver board on the left side).

    For base operations, I use a Kenwood MC-60 microphone and so I used the appropriate 8 pin connector on the rear panel.

    Due to fitment issues in this enclosure, I changed the antenna connector on the Flex chassis to a SMA bulkhead connector and then a right-angle SMA fitting to the coax jumper which goes to the bulkhead-mounted BNC antenna connector on the rear panel.  

    All the other connectors on the rear panel are self-explanatory.

    5. The fans are 60mm x 60mm and are now controlled by a temperature sensor mechanically fitted to the top of one of the RF finals. Once they exceed 120C, both fans come on HIGH and stay on until the temp drops to 110C. This doesn’t take long at all. In my normal operations, the fans don’t come on very often – you really have to be long-winded on SSB or using a lot of power on digital modes (which you shouldn’t be doing anyhow).

    6. To improve airflow, you could also put ventilation slots in the enclosure top panel; however, I didn’t find it necessary and it would have simply added to the cost.

    Hope this helps those of you who may consider going this route. It was a fun project and I love how it looks and works. As for cost, the enclosure and panels are the biggest expense (Enclosure was $88 + shipping and panels were $158 including shipping (ready in 5 days!). Aluminum plate was about $20 and then you need misc connectors, fans, wire, etc. Great little rig.  

    Best 73,
    Robert VE7ZN

  • Jean-Philippe DIEL
    edited December 2017
    Fabulous - great work - thanks for sharing the details. 73’s
  • Pat Hamp
    Pat Hamp Member ✭✭
    edited March 2018
    Absolutely beautiful. Just got a nice used 3000, thanks for the list of materials.

    Pat KA4VNM
    
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭
    edited March 2018
    Oops, I note in my earlier post that I had the fans come on at 120C - which should have read "F". I was trying to express temp in "American" degrees but messed up - :). Recently , I changed my fan temp control circuit and adjusted it to come on at 30C then they either ramp up speed (or not) to get the rig back down to 30C. The fans will stay on "low" which is barely audible to maintain 29C-30C. Much better now.
  • Pat Hamp
    Pat Hamp Member ✭✭
    edited March 2018
    Question, unrelated to the original post. I have a damaged BNC from shipping and need to replace it. I removed the cover and see that some components seem to be tied to heat sink with screws. I need to pull the board and there is no service manual on a 3000 with instructions for disassembly. Did you need to separate the TRX board from the heat sink or did you just unscrew the boards as one and move them to the really nice new case? I need to get to the BNC on the board side so I can de-solder the old one and replace it. Any tips appreciated. I to am running Kens software and loving it!

    Pat
  • Robert Dale
    Robert Dale Member ✭✭

    Updated comments re: my repackaging of the F3K:

    Further to my last post (copied below) here are some NEW NOTES in bold text


    Several folks have asked me where I got the enclosure etc., so I will give some basic details here: 


    NOTE: Doing this, you must take your Flex 3000 completely and carefully apart!


    1. The enclosure was purchased from Takachi Electronics Enclosure Co. Ltd. http://www.takachi-enclosure.com. I chose the Takachi MS99-37-35B (Black) enclosure which (JUST) fits everything. I could have used a bigger enclosure which would have made fitment easier, but I didn’t want to go any larger than I had to. If doing it again, I would choose a slightly taller cabinet, perhaps the MS-133-37-35B to incorporate a larger heatsink and alternate fan placement.


    2. I designed the front and rear panels and then had Front Panel Express in Seattle, WA mill them for me (http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/) . They do the engraving and ink-filling for a very professional look. (They are an excellent company to do business with and I can HIGHLY recommend them.) If you want to use my front and rear panel designs, send me an email and I will email the CAD files to you. If choosing a taller enclosure (as above), the rear panel would have to be changed slightly to accommodate different fan placement.


    3. I also used a .25" thick plate of T-6061 aluminum as a heat spreader/heat sink which mounts under the Flex chassis. (I was going to use copper but the cost was prohibitive and milling is easier with aluminum). The Flex was first fit to the plate and appropriate mounting points established, drilled, countersunk and fitted with the required hardware. Then I figured out where the mounting points for the plate to enclosure should be. These were drilled through the enclosure and into the plate and then I tapped the holes in the bottom of the plate. On re-assembly, the flex is mounted to the plate (thermal paste applied) and the whole assembly is then mounted to the enclosure bottom. If doing it again, I would simply buy and use a larger heatsink. The heatsink Flex used is a complete joke. I would have something with fins at least 1" high and 3/8" thick base. HeatsinkUSA.com offers several reasonably priced alternatives - but probably have to use 2 pieces side by side to cover the full LxW required. I would mount the heatsink inverted so that the bottom cabinet slots could provide some air entry (slots oriented towards front of cabinet) and I'd cut the heatsink in such a way as to accommodate the 25mm deep fans at the rear. there is really no need to have the fans "above the board" as I did. In hindsight, inversely mounting the heatsink and leaving a space of, say 30mm from the back of the heatsink to the inside of the rear panel to allow the fans to be mounted would have been MUCH better.


    4. There are various connectors that need addressing, including:

      • 8 pin mic RJ-45 connector

      • 8 pin “Kenwood” compatible mic connector 

      • antenna connector

      • DB-9 serial cable connector

      • Firewire connector

      • DC input power


    There are MANY ways to deal with these and you can decide what works best for you; however, the biggest PITA is the mic connector, which won’t allow you to insert a plug because of its fitment inside the enclosure. I had to remove the existing right-angle PCB connector and install a vertical PCB connector. A bit tricky but it works. I made a small jumper from this new connector to an RJ-45 breakout board (which you can see in one of the pics - under the fan driver board on the left side).


    For base operations, I use a Kenwood MC-60 microphone and so I used the appropriate 8 pin connector on the rear panel.


    Due to fitment issues in this enclosure, I changed the antenna connector on the Flex chassis to a SMA bulkhead connector and then a right-angle SMA fitting to the coax jumper which goes to the bulkhead-mounted BNC antenna connector on the rear panel.  


    All the other connectors on the rear panel are self-explanatory.


    5. The fans are 60mm x 60mm and are now controlled by a temperature sensor mechanically fitted to the top of one of the RF finals. Once they exceed 120C, both fans come on HIGH and stay on until the temp drops to 110C. This doesn’t take long at all. In my normal operations, the fans don’t come on very often – you really have to be long-winded on SSB or using a lot of power on digital modes (which you shouldn’t be doing anyhow). I've changed this arrangement. I HIGHLY recommend using Noctua NF-A6x25 PWM fans - they are super quiet and VERY efficient. I use a cheapo PWM fan controller (from Aliexpress $3 or Amazon $10) to control the fans. I've set them on spin at 20% continuously then ramp up as the temp increases. I suspect that if you were using a MUCH better heatsink than the **** Flex one, you would hardly ever see the fans ramp up to 100%. I bet they'd rarely ramp up to 50%.


    6. To improve airflow, you could also put ventilation slots in the enclosure top panel; however, I didn’t find it necessary and it would have simply added to the cost. A MUCH better alternative is to use a taller cabinet, bigger, better heatsink (mounted inversely), orient the slots on the bottom cover to the front, and place the fans in between the rear of the heatsink and rear panel. 


    Hope this helps those of you who may consider going this route. It was a fun project and I love how it looks and works. As for cost, the enclosure and panels are the biggest expense (Enclosure was $88 + shipping and panels were $158 including shipping (ready in 5 days!). Aluminum plate was about $20 and then you need misc connectors, fans, wire, etc. Great little rig.  


    Best 73,

    Robert VE7ZN

  • W2NER
    W2NER Member ✭✭

    I just priced out the case, $268!! I think I'll stick with my old case.

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