10M Contest praise and wish list for improvement (cw)

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I spent 10.5 hours in the 10M contest (mixed/unlimited/HP) this weekend, operating mainly on the Flex 6500 with occasional use of a K3s for comparison.  The Flex was feeding an Acom 2000A and 3-element SteppIR up 60ft in Albany NY and I ended up with 237K points for my casual effort.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Flex 6500 contesting suitability and very impressed with the level of engineering behind this radio. The receiver really stood out with a low level of "hash" and absolutely superb rx audio. The DAX digital audio virtual soundcard connection worked flawlessly with N1MM Logger+ and made ssb voice-keying a snap. Although the monitor audio is admittedly taken off before processing, I’ve never heard such pristine playback of my voice in my headphones before.

The SmartSDR waterfall trace is hands-down the best looking color waterfall I've seen and never needs to be tweaked (yay!!!). During some stretches of the contest, I used two “slices” to implement SO2V, routed slice audio to L and R channels, and rapidly pulled bandmap spots into each slice/vfo, working them in rapid succession (see http://n1eu.com/n1mm/cwso2v.htm for more info on this technique) and the 6500 performed flawlessly.

I view my 6500 ownership now as a test/audition for a decision to go “all in” with a 6700, since I’ve been using stereo diversity operating almost exclusively for the past ten years (dual rx Orion/RX366, K3, ANAN-100D).

I'm hoping Flex can improve in the following areas going forward (I'm being very picky here, but this radio has SO much potential):

1. eliminate T/R pop in rx audio on trailing edge of keyed cw message (N1MM to Winkey).  This pop is heard regardless of whether using PTT MOX or break-in for T/R switching and regardless of delay setting

2. eliminate T/R rx recovery delay with slow/med AGC (as if AGC was recovering from sidetone); the rx should recover from T/R immediately at full gain (it does so with fast AGC)

3. support cw PTT MOX even with Break-in enabled – many contesters use a mix of PTT MOX on computer generated keying and break-in for a paddle; this is supported in the Orion, K3 and ANAN-100D

4. provide lower minimum sidetone level - even at zero it's louder than many of us like to set it (i.e., just audible) when running

5.  FlexControl knob tuning rate is too slow at 10Hz step.  Either provide a higher pulse rate encoder option or add 25Hz step tuning rate option (50Hz step is too coarse in cw)

6. add provision for reverse cw mode

7. provide for custom filter presets

8. provide for filter slope adjustment

Thanks to Flex engineering for an amazing product and for listening!

73, Barry N1EU

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Barry N1EU

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Posted 3 years ago

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Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

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Barry, you can add a 25 tuning step by typing it in the box and pressing return. I do not recall if it persists an on/off cycle.
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Barry N1EU

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Thanks Guy, great news!
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James Del Principe

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Re:"5.  FlexControl knob tuning rate is too slow at 10Hz step.  Either provide a higher pulse rate encoder option or add 25Hz step tuning rate option (50Hz step is too coarse in cw) ", I notice a LOT of latency in this control. That is, if you tune rapidly, it continues to increment the frequency when you stop turning the knob. Also, if you try to tune by rocking the tuning knob, the latency prevents this. It sometimes gets confused and goes in the wrong direction. Am I the only one who experiences this? I'm running 1.4.16 for now and waiting for 1.6.x.    Release 1.5.1 seems to have too many issues for now.   73, Jim
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Al K0VM, Elmer

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Barry,
 Whats 'reverse CW mode ' ?
AL, K0VM
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W7NGA

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reverse CW mode is available in the SSDR startup display ... I am assuming Barry would like that option per slice.
(Edited)
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Barry N1EU

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Oops, I figured out my answer.  You DON'T make the changes at startup, you wait till SmartSDR opens and then go to Settings - Radio Setup.

Walt, no the cw signal should be centered if tuned in to match the Pitch whether it's CWL or CWU.  Perhaps you need to adjust the Pitch setting to the tone you normally tune them in.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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I've always let that default to 600 and, as I said, on WWV it is spot on centered plus it just came back from the radio hospital with a clean bill of health. Yes, I attributed the 'off freq' to their radio being 'off freq'. Other than that, I am unclear what the CWL vs CWU does.
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W7NGA

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Come on Walt .. you be an engineer. You have a CW carrier, which side of it are you going to be listening on after you transmit?
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Al K0VM, Elmer

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Walt,
  In CWU, the pitch of the received signal goes lower as you increase the dial freqeuncy ( as if you were in USB), For CWL, the pitch goes higher in frequency as the dial freqeuncy is increased ( as if you were in LSB ).

AL, K0VM
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Oh Dan, you're just shaming me now huh? Here is what I always thought and seems beared out by the panadapter view of the filter construction for AM, USB, LSB, CW. There is a carrier, or perhaps a suppressed carrier, fpr side band, either upper or lower, the other half of the signal is absent. For AM there is a suppressed carrier and two side lobes. For CW there is a suppressed carrier and two side lobes. So, say on a 100Hz cw filter /-\ vs a usb shape of carrier, a gap, then some band real estate to pass the upper half of the, otherwise, AM signal. The nice thing about the panadapter is the visualization of what the signal looks like. I was just going by the depiction of the filters on the RX panel on the right side of SSDR. Thanks Al!
(Edited)
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James Del Principe

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Re "5.  FlexControl knob tuning rate is too slow at 10Hz step.  Either provide a higher pulse rate encoder option or add 25Hz step tuning rate option (50Hz step is too coarse in cw) ",  my flex control knob has a very long latency which is really unpleasant for tuning across signals. If you dial rapidly, it will continue on changing frequency after you stop turning the dial.  If you wish to 'rock' the dial across a signal, the latency makes this impossible. It will continue in the wrong direction before reversing. Am I the only one who experiences this?
Point n click should not be the only way to tune the Flex radio accurately.      73, Jim
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Jay / NO5J

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James 

You can enter 25 in the RX panel step size box and it will step at 25 until you select some other step size. If you then save to memory it will save that 25Hz step size as the step size for that frequency and mode. Not as nice as having it as a selection, I agree. Once saved in memory if you select that particular memory first you can then change the frequency and save it again to create another memory with a 25Hz step size.

73, Jay - NO5J
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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James, there is a help to remedy some of the "knob whiplash" when using the FlexControl Knob.  Go to Device Manager and open the properties of the COM port that serves the FlexControl Knob.  Go into the advanced setup, i think, and turn off the FIFO buffers.  This will not allow the buffer to store up "clicks" that continue after you stop moving the knob.  It isn't a perfect solution, but it helps a lot on some systems.

Ken - NM9P
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Phil m0vse

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I found the Flexcontrol quite unstable with SSDR 1.4 and am now using it through DDUTILv3 instead. Much better control of functions and much more stable IMHO.
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James Del Principe

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Thanks for the replies, guys. Ken, I will try turning off the FIFO buffer and that should help. I had not thought of that... every day is a learning experience.    73 to all, Jim