6300 for contesting & DX?

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Or I guess the new 6K series in general. I am a previous owner of a 3K & a 5K, and enjoyed  them. I mentioned to a 6500 owner I was thinking of ordering a 6300. He responded " Good for rag chew and ESSB, but NOT DX or contest " ...... So, what's your take on his comment? I wish I would have had him explain. He has owned everything, and currently had the Icom 7800, and the Kenwood 990 as well as the 6500. And what other considerations besides the 4 slices vs. 2 slices? Trying to see if another 1800.00 bucks is something to consider.

Thanks in advance!


73


Steve / NZ4Z

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Steve Parker

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Posted 3 years ago

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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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There are plenty of contest testimonials here in the Community. I've won my section and class in the last two Sweepstakes with a 6500 and a wire. Have worked 236 countries, Triple Play WAS, and 9 band WAS (only 8 more for 10-band). All on my Flex. Pileup navigation with the 6000 series is outstanding, the receive filtering is awesome. I do like the "extra" slices, by the way. Started off not thinking they would be relevant, until I learned how to use the rig better. It's a whole new way of operation.

With due respect to your friend, perhaps his issues are not so much the radio as his DX/contest style.
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Bill N5TU

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The ability to hear really weak signals and the super filtering are awesome.  I think my 6500 is great for both DX and contesting.  BTW, I run about 99% CW.

73, Bill, N5TU
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Jay / NO5J

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Folks that own an Icom 7800 and a Kenwood 990 and a Flex 6500, might be inclined to spout valid justifications for why so much was spent to do something that can be done for so much less. after all I spent a lot of money therefore, I'm smart, well educated, shiny, and my opinions matter. Don't try to make me look silly. I'm an expert, just take my word on that. I am the ultimate authority on all things "Ragchew", "ESSB", "DX", and "Contesting". They only have a slight difficulty, with all things "true". The 6300 can do most of what the 6500 can do, the 6500 just does them $1800.00 better.
So do you want $1800.00, an Icom, a Kenwood, or, 2 or 4 better receivers and 1 transmitter that are controlled with 1 set of "no" knobs, Those 2 extra, and better receivers are what cost the extra $1800.00. The fact that they connect to the other 2 better receivers and transmitter, without CAT cables, and coax, and power cables, and use the same set of "no" knobs for controls, and take up no additional space in the shack when not needed is just further icing on the cake. You either have plenty of space in the shack or can afford a bigger shack, or you compromise. How can he have an expert opinion on the features of Flex 6XXX series radios, when those features are being continually improved and some haven't even been added yet?  He's talking about one of the "old" Flex 6XXX's not one of the current ones. Maybe he should download the updates, and reevaluate his opinions, or download and update some new ones. Oh and if the huge number of "no" knobs available aren't enough, additional "real" knobs and buttons are just $99.95, and an unused USB port away. No soldering required. I like my 6500. I have no opinions about Icom and Kenwood other than they make quality boat anchors.
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Anthony Bowyer

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I do as much contesting and working DX with the 6300 as I did with any other transceiver. Actually 2 slices, as they are implemented, work much better for me than dual receivers in a typical xcvr. I wrote a small util to place the 6300 in split and set slice 'A' to go to the left spkr/headphone output and 'B' to the right (or however you designate). This made it much easier to set the 6300 to 'split', and being able to see the signal locations at the same time is a big advantage in pile-ups. Works very well for DX.

Close in dynamic range is far above anything else I've used. Actually a bit amazing in a contest situation.

While it might be nice to have more slices to monitor activity elsewhere, not having them hasn't been a great handicap.

As was mentioned previously, I suspect the answer was based on the number of $$ that had been spent and there was a need to justify the expenditure.

A 6500 would be great, but for me, I'm not sure it would be worth the much higher cost. It has other capabilities besides more slices, however, and for some, these are needed (wanted). 
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Let me start by stating that I am not a contester. I enjoy contesting, and with the Flex 1500, recently (Raw Score) I placed 3rd in the World in my category in CQWW.
I have, however, had the chance to see contest stations, and discuss contesting with people that DO contest quite a bit and that are very good at it.

I think the key work here is consistency. Contesters look for consistency in their setup, making sure everything runs very smooth, that there is very little time wasted and that problems can be resolved quickly.

They ideal contest station allows for very quick operation, no RF of any kind, super stable logging and quick work of any multipliers. They also have a complete backup of everything that can be online in mere minutes. They also look for comfortable operation that allows you to get the best out of the operator, no distractions, no issues. 

With all those aspects in mind they setup their contesting station with the proper antennas and arrays to work the mode/band combo they decide to enter in the contest. They have antennas in the directions that yield more points, no wasting time turning rotors, or staying several minutes working the odd DX that has the big pileup. They pretty much have 2 or even 3 of everything.

The Flex 6000 series radios are great performing rigs, but many of the devices that have been develop for the "serious" contesters have not been fine tuned for the flex yet. There isn't a logging program that can quickly interact with the Flex radio without using middleware (such as DDUtil). There is no Band data being send from the radio to make SO2R or quick band changes a smooth operation. The Flex Control knob, in the current version of SmartSDR doesn't allow the level of customization of the buttons and wheel (as you have in PowerSDR) and you have to rely on DDUtil or N4PY software to do what should be done directly on the Flex software. Finally, the use of a single computer to run everything becomes the weak link. You have to have 2 computers, setup identically and ready to take over if the first one fails. If you could run the Flex radio out of the USB port with a device such as the Tmate 2 by woodboxradio without the computer then you could have an extra layer of safety and not be so dependent on the PC. If one computers fails, you have your laptop ready to go with your logging program, but the radio and the running done on a specific frequency never stops.

Contesting can be done with any radio, with any logging program, heck, you can do the logging on paper if you want to do so. Winning contest, getting up there in the ranks, and having Flex radio be the radio of choice will require a bit more that an excellent receiver. Many successful contest stations still use radios (such as the FT-1000) which are not even close to the performance of the previous Flex radios. 

In a contest station we are talking about considerable investment that has already been done getting the equipment that gives you the edge (filters, listening antennas, stacks, arrays, hot switching, amps, etc...). There is a paradigm shift, and I am sure and confident that SDR radios will be the future of contesting. But in order to do so, the features of the hardware and the software will have to be based on what top contesters demand.

Working DX, rare ones, breaking pile ups, in that area, I think there is very little out there that can compete with a Flex 6000. Tell you friend he is dead wrong in that aspect. :)

But when it comes to serious contesting we still have a lot of work to do to get the software up there. 
In the case of the 6300, in order to see action in other bands with the second slice I need an antenna that can listen to those bands, such a log periodic or a hexbeam or a multiband vertical. Ideally I would like to listen on ANT2 while I operate on ANT1. However, that is not possible. I can have different TX antenas on ANT1 and ANT2, but I can not have a different RX antenna on ANT2 for the second slice, because the 6300 and 6500 only have once receiver. I can do that on a 6700 though. This means that in order to do SO2R I need to get two 6300s or one 6700. Two 6300s would make more sense from the backup point of view.

Anyway, I am really looking forward to ver 1.4 of SmartSDR and later iterations. Remote operation through the local network opens a new realm of operating possibilities. I can wait for the very serious contesters to start using Flex radios, that will lead to new features that we will all enjoy in our Flex radios.
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Anthony Bowyer

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Oh, and my call is NT4X. I need to add this somewhere
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Steve W6SDM

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I will be blunt:  Your friend is severely mistaken.  First of all, contesting isn't at all about the radio.  It's about operating skill, endurance, and perseverance - much like any athletic sport.  I am a member of the Arizona Outlaws Contest Club and while I am not a "big gun" but that doesn't have anything to do with my Flex 6300.  It has more to do with the time I am able to dedicate to a contest and the fact that I don't presently run a full gallon.

One of the big advantages of the Flex in a contest is the filter - particularly in a CW contest.  Being able to see the signal, see the QRM, and filter or notch out that QRM is a competitive advantage - especially when it's a multiplier that you really need.  However, most contesters don't bother with signals that take much time or effort as the idea is to make the most contacts.  That's why the radio isn't as important as the skill.

All Flex radios work seamlessly with N1MM+ and cluster software.  If you're working assisted, that's another advantage.  In many cases a few clicks of the mouse will log the contact, I don't even touch the keyboard. 

I can't think of a single advantage that a 6500 or a 6700 would give a contester.  Now, they would help on on DX, particularly on a weak signal because of the preamp.  Nevertheless, I have worked both WAS and DXCC in a single day, during a single contest using my 6300.  The radio is certainly contest capable.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Nothing is as adept at working CW or RTTY splits, in my book. And you are correct, the filters combined with the panafall are extraordinary. I have done pretty well in my moderate station running S&P contesting and DXing. I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do SO2R and other fancy things in a contest, but I know the rig is very capable.
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Burt Fisher

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You like blunt, so I ask how do you compare sitting on your butt to "endurance, and perseverance - much like any athletic sport?" Running 26 miles in a marathon? Playing soccer? Climbing a mountain? Contests have zilch to do with athletics.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Not all endurance is physical. Contesting takes mental endurance, processing power, strategy, and a lot of other skills. But then I had arguments with athletes in high school who said that marching in the band wasn't athletic. But they had never done competitive marching.
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Burt Fisher

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Mental endurance, yes, but you cannot compare it to an athlete. You think SS contest can be compared to a triathlon?  Marching in the band is athletic just as cheerleading. I bristle at the term, "Radiosport." What an oxymoron. Are chess players athletes?
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Steve Parker

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Ok.....great feedback so far. As far as the guy that told me it wasn't good for DX & Contest......not my friend, just ran across him on the air.
Now, another question, will I be able to sync my logging program to the 6K? (DX Lab Suite) Like it is to my Yaesu 5K?
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Lee

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Here is what I think....I had the 6300 and in all honesty it did all I need,,,,,for DX and some contesting. Did not really need a 6500.

I upgraded to 6500 for a few reasons:

1) On a 6300 (like most any radio) 2 slices is all you have if working split...you cannot watch other bands...4 slices let's you run split AND watch/switch back & forth... 2 other bands.

2) I like the little better pre-amp/ATTN

3) I like the pre-selector on ham band feature, even though it is only effective it you are on 1 band.

4) I guess I thought long tern...the 6500 with it's faster processing might do better with new stuff coming down the Flex road (I may be wrong on this)

5) I thought it would be cool to have balanced audio in...but have not used it yet.

So, if $$ are not that big a deal for you...get the 6500 (or 6700)

However if you get a 6300....you will still have a great radio good for DX and everything else.


I do believe there is some things coming along soon that will make it a better contest radio.

Other heavy contest oriented hams here can explain that.


73,

Lee


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Steve W6SDM

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Yes, you can sync any logging program with the Flex.  I use Log4OM for my general logger.  If I work a contact from the self-contained cluster monitor, I don't even have to type in the callsign - just hit one button and it's logged.  Likewise, you can upload your log to LoTW.  It's a shareware program.

I also use N1MM+ for contesting.  I upload the contest logs into Log4OM when I am done and then send them to LoTW.  N1MM will key the Flex for CW contacts and it has a voice announcer to play your pre-made WAV files, so it's an efficient contesting package. 
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Jim - N7CXI

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IMHO the 6300 is good for everything except perhaps "country club" contesting, where the environment and trimmings are as important if not more important than results.

Having said that there are also very old arguments about having to eye-track the GUI instead of blindly reaching for knobs. That's a subjective thing so can't be "resolved", but can be at least partially mitigated with a FlexControl.

Other minor issues include the requirement for both RX slices to use the same antenna and that SmartSDR in general isn't fully featured yet - but will be eventually.

On the positive side, having a panadapter and being able to tweak it for custom views is terrific, even more so when running split.

73,
Jim N7CXI
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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If you run assisted using a Flex it shouldn't be any different than any other radio. N1MM or your preferred logger will do everything through CAT in the contest.

And if you are running non-assisted you will either sit at a spot if you have power, or low power and go up and down the frequency looking for contacts. If you are doing the latter, the possibility to see the whole band with the panadapter will be fantastic, and I imagine it will give you a bit of an edge.

The biggest issue would be to have a solid and stable PC to run it all.
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William Hein

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My Flex 6700 is a fantastic contest radio on both CW and SSB. I placed Top Ten in the US on 10 meter single band in the last CQ WW Phone and CW contests with my Flex (my antenna had only two 10 meter elements) and I can't imagine contesting with a 'knob radio' ever again.

Bill AA7XT
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Don-KB6TSQ

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Steve,

I am not a contester.  But during the last CQWW contest, I worked over 200 contacts in slightly over 2 hours.  I intentionally skipped US contacts and tried for DX contacts.  I would say 65 percent of the contacts were DX.  I had the 6500 connected to N1MM logger.  I could work an s9 signal next to a s9 +20 easily with the filtering on the radio.  I worked up the band as Salvador mentioned.  If there was a pileup, I would leave a slice on the station's freq. and shut of the sound to the headphones for the slice.  I would keep an eye on that slice as I moved up the band.  When I could see he/she called a couple of times to get a response, I would put TX on that slice and turn on the sound and work them.  If the 6300 can hear or has similar dynamic receive range as the 6500, someone would be hard pressed to show me a better radio.  I do not think that the current receive is as good as it will get until after future software upgrades!  At the time I bought the 6500, I did not know that there would be a 6300...LOL.  My choice was simplified.  Have fun Steve.
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Jay / NO5J

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I knew about the 6300 a week or two before ordering the 6500. And Boy! was the choice hard. I wanted the 6700, but I also wanted an Acom 2000A and a Palstar AT-Auto tuner, I also have a fondness for eating. So I decided on the 6500 , an Acom 1500, a Palstar AT2K, and the 2nd RX and autotuner  boards to go into my Flex5000A backup rig. Still eating and loving the choices, and looking forward to installing the new parts in the Flex5000A. At least I'll finally have a better understanding of, if I made the right choice when i purchased the 5000 without those parts at the time. Oh, and another discovery I've made, boat anchors make great dust collectors when they're no longer needed for backup rig duties.