Bootstrapping into digital modes with new Flex 6400 (once it arrives)

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I recently ordered a new Flex 6400M to replace my legacy radio (FT 1000MP MkV) and while I wait for the radio to arrive I've been trying to learn all I can about the radio and associated software.  I spent part of the morning reviewing the manuals for the radio and software and wow, I have to say, it was a little bit overwhelming!  I mainly operate the digital modes and have every since the Amtor/RTTY days.  My question to everyone out there especially the digital mode ops is simple:  How hard was it for you to figure all this stuff out moving from a legacy radio to the Flex system?  I figured all the digital mode stuff out once, and I suppose I can do it again.  Went from the venerable PK232 to the SCS Pactor controller to radio sound card and then to the Navigator setup, and now moving to the Flex system.  A lot of learning there!
I intend to operate using the 6400M with Dax and DM780 (HRD, of which I have a license).  One of the things that attracted me to the Flex radio is that there will be no more hassling with an outboard sound card or interface.  I used the Navigator for years, and it gave good service and worked great when set up, but I found it to be a bear to set up.  Did it, though.
So how ugly did you folks find the learning curve to be?  Of course, figuring things out and ascending the learning curve is part of the fun, I get that.  Is the plan that I have sensible (i.e. using HRD/DM780 with the Flex?)  Or is there a better way?  All comments welcome as I am trying to figure as much of this stuff out as I can without having the radio actually in front of me.

de Roger W6VZV Huntington Beach, CA
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Roger J. Buffington

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Posted 5 months ago

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Lol, this is a very good question Roger. Let me just say I have had a Flex 3000 for 12 years and never tried digital modes because it was cumbersome on the Flex 3000.

After I got my 6500 with SSDR I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the needed software and configured it for my Flex, everything is all in software, really cool. I knew nothing about this when I started. But after some help from others helping me with a few settings it all works.

The learning is understanding the software that works along with SSDR, But I did it!!!!
And It was not all that hard...
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Roger J. Buffington

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I would be interested in knowing what software you are using, modes you are running and so forth.  Thanks for the reply!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Roger, I do not do as much as some do, I use WSJT-X for many modes.
Most for FT-8
(Edited)
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Roger J. Buffington

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Thanks!  I have been out of digital modes for about 3 years due to personal and professional commitments so I am a little out of date.  However, I am intending to operate the PSK and other modes.  That assumes that people are still operating PSK31.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Ok, I looked and this software does not have PSK31 mode..but as you use HRD, it has it. That should be a snap on the Flex.
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Roger J. Buffington

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Sure hope you are right!  No doubt I'll end up running and/or at least trying both.  Digital modes are my preferred method of operating although I also like SSB and CW.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Well than, your Flex is the only way to go...
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AH0U

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I use HRD and it was not hard to install with my 6700 but I now use Slice Master and automates the whole thing... installs by itself and makes the process as simple as can be... best of all it’s free
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Roger J. Buffington

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Great info.  I'll check it out.
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Clay N9IO

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Roger,
First, currently the only digital I run is RTTY (so far) but I must say DAX is wonderful!
It's a joy to run a kilowatt on RTTY and have a very clean signal out and absolutely no issue with RF getting in to your cables or interface.
I run N1MM+ and MMTTY.
Bests the heck out of my original Ritty setup in the early 80's with a model 19 teletype and HAL TU .

BTW: Welcome to the community.
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George N1GB

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Roger, I have the 6400 and run DM780.  It was not hard to set up at all.  The instructions are available online (https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202422549-SmartSDR-Ham-Radio-Deluxe-DM780-HowTo-Setup-Guide). I use the free MiniDeluxe 'HRD Listener' which takes the place of HRD rig control which you will not need. The instructions will walk you through the set up. Did not take much time at all.
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Roger J. Buffington

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This is very helpful, George.  Thanks! de Roger W6VZV
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Doug

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Roger I also have a 6400M and licensed HRD and find it a snap to setup. I also setup FT8 but it's not my cup of tea. I also have a SCS PTC II plus a shelf full of old tnc's including the pk232, Kam Plus, SCS PTC I , Hal P38 Clover board. Good luck and when it comes enjoy your new Flex.
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Roger J. Buffington

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I too have also run the Kam and the SCS PTC.  The SCS unit was sure a great piece of hardware; too bad Pactor just up and died.  I made some really good contacts on that mode; Pactor II with the SCS unit was awesome.  But PSK31 killed it.
(Edited)
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Doug

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Yes PTC II was wonderful but when all the sound card modes came along and ham's are cheap and everyone had a computer they jumped on them. Nothing like linking up to a ZL on 20m and watching the PTC II take control after the handshake and reduce the power of the radio back to 5w and stay there unless qrm came in etc.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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How ugly is the learning curve? Consider that I am expert level on the platform now, BUT when I got it, I was a fish out of water, coming from the iCom and Kenwood world. That said, reading the docs took a lot of the mystery of it. Within a week I was busting pileups and dealing slices like Vegas, baby... 

Digital modes are a dream with this radio. Especially JT modes. With that said, peruse this for FT8 setup:

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/search/show

The best thing as you pointed out is DAX. Pure digital audio path. There's also TCP for CAT communication rather than using virtual serial ports. 

73
Ria, N2RJ
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Roger J. Buffington

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Thanks N2RJ -- I am coming from the Kenwood, Yaesu and before that Heathkit(!) world, so this will be a learning curve for me.  All this talk of slices, DAX, and so forth is all new to me.  I can see that it won't be a matter of hooking the rig up, turning it on, and making contacts!  Oh well, that's what makes it fun...
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Roger, the radio comes with defaults that allows it to work out of the box. All the things we are talking about are used to do so much more with the radio. Boy your going to have fun.
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Roger J. Buffington

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Boy I'm having fun!  Got HRD and DM780 all set up.  Got my Heil Proset Plus all set up too!  Haven't figured out the WSJT software yet; it is kind of enigmatic so far.  Being a ragchewer I'm now sure it's worth the trouble but I'll give it a shot.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Roger, remember, after you have DM780 set up, save that as a profile so it will just load just the way you left it, if you have not all ready

WSJT-X  here is my setup

(Edited)