ATU high SWR software bug

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  • Problem
  • Updated 1 month ago
I have not seen this discussed much on the community so I wanted to share my experience with my Maestro, 6600, and SDR Software. In addition I thought others should be aware and be cautious.
 
This year at Dayton I traded my 6400 for a 6600. It took about 6 weeks or so for me to receive it. I had purchased the 3.x software for my 6400 and had the same version on my new 6600. 

Early on I began to have problems with the ATU not properly handling the tuning sequence. It consistently tuned to very high SWR values, 3.0 and higher. I had to push the ATU button 3 or more times until I finally got a low SWR. Thinking it was a problem on my end I tried various different antenna configurations all with similar results. 
 
I attended the Boxboro MA. Hamfest on 9/2019 where Flexradio had a booth. I spoke to the Techs that were there and we discussed the ATU and high SWR problem I was encountering. After some discussion the suggestion was to submit a service ticket on the Flex site. 

On 9/11/2019 I submitted a help ticket and after exchanging some ideas on possible causes of the issue I was issued a expedited RMA. On 9/18/2019 I was issued the RMA and it was shipped out Monday 9/23/2019 and received at Flex on 9/27/2019. On 10/4/2019 I checked on the status and got no response. I again checked on 10/8/2019 and 10/9/2019 with no response. Finally on 10/15/2019 I got the following response;

The following issues were found during the problem assessment phase of the service request:
1. Confirmed customer stated issues with ATU as described in customer comments. 
2. Confirmed that the ATU hardware and all radio hardware passes both factory calibration and functional testing. 
3. Confirmed that ATU issue is a FW (firmware) related issue.

Corrective Action Taken or Service(s) Performed:
The following corrective actions were performed to resolve the issues noted above.
1. Installed FW v 2.4.9 and ATU tunes and performs as designed. 
2. Software Engineering is working on FW fix for proper ATU functionality with newer FW.

The radio was shipped back to me on 10/15/2019 via UPS Next Day Air. Total time about 4 weeks.
I received the radio, set it back up and everything worked fine with ver. 2.4.9  
On 11-5-2019 I asked for a status on the hotfix fix because I wanted the newest features of ver 3.x . Especially the multiFlex option among other fixes in the latest version. (definition: Hotfix - update to fix a very specific issue, not always publicly released) 
 When I ask this is the response.

I am afraid that I am not able to provide any additional updates as the status is still the same as you have been previously informed.  The issue you are referring to is defect G7727 and it is currently in the work engineering queue.
Since your question regarding this support ticket has been provided a response, I am submitting your HelpDesk ticket to be closed at this time. If you need additional assistance or have any follow-up questions regarding this support incident, you can re-open this ticket simply by replying to it and we'll continue working with you on your issue.

Thanks for using the FlexRadio HelpDesk. We're here to help when you need us.

I felt there should be a better answer considering this was to fix a flaw/bug in their base software product. I was not asking for additional features or upgrades just to fix a flaw/bug in the SDR software so I could make complete use of the software (3.x) I purchased. I requested this be escalated to the next level. On 11/05/2019 I got a response from Dan as follows;
Hello Ken,

Everyone at FlexRadio knows software bugs can be frustrating to customers and we do our best to not release with them. We are not always successful at that.  I'm sure you understand that making commitments to customers, especially those involving dates, that are not based on grounded truth is a bad practice with many downstream negative impacts. 

Fixing this issue is on our engineering team's list of priorities for the next release of Smart SDR and we do not have an availability date to communicate at this time.  If this ATU function us more important than another version 3 feature(s), we recommend that you use version 2.4.9 in the interim.

If you have any questions or further concerns, please feel free to call me at xxx.xxx.xxxx 

Best,
Dan FlexRadio SystemsTM
4616 W Howard Ln Suite 1-150
Austin, TX 78728

I called Dan the same day to talk and he steadfastly held the company line that he did not know a date when the flaw/bug would be fixed. I asked when he might know and he said call him next week. I called back the following week and left a message. I did not get a call back. I waited a few days and called again and left a message. Still no return call. I called again the following week and did get Dan on the phone. Dan continue to hold to that he did not have a time when the flaw/bug would be fixed. He said on average they put out 3-4 updates a year to the software and that was all he could say. I pushed the issue and finally got Dan to say that they had an internal idea but could not (would not) commit the Company to any date. I asked him who I could escalate this to since while I understand software upgrade commitments, flaws/bug fixes are very different and a customer should expect some time frame when a defect in their product will be addressed. Dan said he was the most senior person making this decision and the only one over him was Gerald (owner). He said if I’d like he could have Gerald call me. I said I would very much like that. That return call from Gerald never happen and I guess I wasn’t expecting it.

Where does it all stand now? I continue to use ver. 2.4.9 mainly because I’m unsure what other issue/damage might be caused by upgrading and not having the ATU work properly. I have seen others on the community talk about high SWR, no transmit output, or blown finals. Was any of this caused by the defect with the software for ATU? Does this particular flaw/bug effect any other parts of the SDR software?  Does the flaw/bug potentially do damage to other parts of the hardware? Is this a bigger issue that the software engineers are having problems fixing?
In closing let me say that everyone I dealt with at Flexradio was at all time polite and professional. This is a management policy/procedure issue that that needs to be addressed. I believe every customer not matter what industry they deal with has some expectation as to know when a flaw in a product is going to be fixed. Software bugs that are part of the base product should be immediately addressed and hot fixes issued to those customers affected by them. Customers should be advised when those hot fixes will be available. Ignoring the issue or not supplying a proper answer compounds the flaws and hurts the Company brand.
Ken
AG2K

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Ken AG2K

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Posted 2 months ago

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Harold Rosee

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I have to throw my 2 cents in here.  The tuner doesn't work in V3.  That's a fact.  I had opened a ticket before and emailed a couple of days ago for a status.  Got the same reply to use V2.

The other fact is Flex puts out releases when Flex wants or needs to put out releases.  The last V3.1.8 wasn't installing correctly and they put something out the next day.

The tuner is a major issue and should have a separate "emergency release" put out.  It's way overdue.  This is not a simple feature that is not working it's a major part of the radio Hardware/Software that is not working.

I know they can fix it fairly quickly because it worked before.  I think the issue is packaging up a release is a major piece of work and they don't want to do this anymore than they have to.  I am sure the fix is integrated into code for the next release and would be difficult to put out by itself. 

I am not pointing fingers but to say "this is part of owning a flex" is a ridiculous statement.  Flex has been in business for a long time and has all this figured out.  Please don't take away from a great company by saying you have to expect this from Flex.  They are way better than that.

I will close by saying while I have an external tuner it is really surprising to me they have decided to treat this defect in this manner.

Harold
W5ZZT
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I for one did say, it is all part of Flex ownership. Meaning that most people have a grasp of the complexity of correcting any code in SSDR. And most understand that Flex works very hard to improve the software. So owning a Flex means that we take the ride with them, good and bad times.

I personally suspect that fixing this glitch is more complicated then any of us think. How do we know by working on the Auto tuner does not effect many other systems in the radio? For anyone to think that fixing things in SSDR is easy work makes clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

In the mean time if the tuner is a huge problem for your operation than why not help yourself by downgrading to were it works well? In my case the tuner works pretty well on v2.6.1
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Erika - KØDD

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Oh boy here we go again.

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Mark NS9N

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I could have not said it better. Hang in there Flex will fix it. But as others have said, if the tuner function is key to your station working, go back to a working version until the fix is released.
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W7NIK

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Yes we are all still in the experiment design. FLex came a long way already.
Streppir. For years are finding issues still a great design.