Buying a Flex?

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I was listening on 40m. It was asked, why buy a Flex when you can buy another kind of SDR for much less and does the same thing?

Many people who buy a Mersedes simply like the finer things in life, and they buy them because they can. they like the paint, fit and finish, the feel. The car is so well refined. They could buy a Hyundai witch has many of the same features and maybe more. And it gets you around the same way from here to there. But it is not as expensive or as refined. It's just not a Mersedes.

Why do people buy an amp costing $10.000 instead of buying an Ameritron amp? they both do the same thing, amplify.

It seems many buy a Flex for many reasons. The Flex Radio is very well refined. Fit and finish is great, well engineered inside and out, and expensive. These customers like the finer things in life. It is not just about price. And lets not forget the best costumer service in the business. And having such wonderful software helps too.

These are some of my thoughts, do you have any?
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Posted 4 years ago

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Barry N1EU

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I don't buy the analogy.  I know I'm in the minority here, but I think the performance of the Apache/ANAN rivals the Flex 6K (I own both).  I prefer my Flex 6500 for certain things and I prefer my ANAN-100D for certain things.  Unfortunately for those who wish to think simplistically, it's a more complex issue that A is better than B.

And as far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on whether doing the processing in the FPGA (Flex) or doing it in the PC/Cuda processors (ANAN) will prove the better approach in the next 5 years of SDR evolution.  The pace of development is a major concern to me.

73, Barry N1EU
(Edited)
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k0eoo

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@Barry,

I think after SSDR V2.0 is released and we are able to run our 6xxx's directly on a WAN, the value of Flex's FPGA architecture will be reveled...  ANAN's architecture doesn't lends itself to that environment, it still needs to be tightly coupled to a PC to do much of it's heavy lifting.  I know that was a major reason I chose Flex, I liked the all-in-the-box architecture....

But, then again, YMMV....
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Barry N1EU

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Some of us have absolutely no use for WAN software.  There are so many SSDR feature enhancements that are critically needed for me, and I have to think the FPGA architecture is partly responsible for the logjam.  So the value of the FPGA architecture is still open to question in my book.
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DrTeeth

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Hi Barry,

You have succinctly written what I have thought for most of the time I have been a Flex user. Last night, whilst on the air, I really wanted the mouse, when over a slider (automatically giving it the focus), to have the wheel adjust it rather than changing the frequency. This would speed up all the tweaks that have to be made to get the best out of the Flex. I am surprised that this enhancement was not considered good enough to be in the contesters' release along with many other productivity interface enhancements that have been requested.

From what Flex people have written about the hardware in response to the 'how can you design the software before you know what you want it to do?' questions, I believe that the lack of progress you are talking about if firmly due to the design pathway that Flex has decided upon.

I really want to see a lot more done in v1 before v2 appears. Like you, I have no interest in WAN so would not fork out for that alone and I would hate to see so many of the enhancements that have been requested for ages to be put in v2 as a way of encouraging upgrading. How Flex manages this encouragement will be very important as to how the company will be perceived going forward, not just by current owners, but potential ones too.
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Walt

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Will buy Guy a pint on that one. 

Cheers

 
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Bill -VA3WTB

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The idea of putting all the processing in the radio is the big selling point for me. I have had a Flex 3000 for many years and getting away from the computer performance issues is great. I listen to the Anan guys talk about upgrading there computers all the time and they run very fast ones in order to make things work. I don't wish to go that rout anymore. I know some one will say that's not true, and they run the Anan on a 386. But that's what they were saying on air. I don't mention this as a Flex Vs Anan thing, it is just how they work differently.

As for the so called log jam, because things are not moving as fast as some would think it should. Programming the the FPGA is very complicated and takes a lot of time. There are very few that can do it. That is why Anan can't move away from computer performance, they don't want to bother making the radio do all the work, it's not easy. And they already had software left over from Flex to work on and change as they need it.

Steve at flex has writen here before about the selection of features and their order and progress, and why features are ahead of others. But I can't see it come to a time when every single feature any one thinks of will be there.

I know they talked to many of the leading DX guys about what the flex needs to be one of the best DX machines, and they told them, and Flex used that info.
(Edited)
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Paul Bradbeer

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@ Guy and Barry.  I too have no interest at all in WAN functionality but it appears to get lots of attention.  I wonder, if a Flex-owner survey was done, how many would want WAN functionality at the expense of finishing some of the other things?  Will be interesting to see how future releases will be branched (if at all)..  Paul M0CVX
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Maybe we should create a post on, what features are missing to date?
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Barry N1EU

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I think I'll pass on that.  Everyone will clamor to promote THEIR wants over others' wants and in the end, Flex won't respond and indicate which ones will actually be done in the future.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Barry, that's sort of the point here,,lol   that has been going on for a long time. Everyone has features they can't live without, and can't understand how Flex could have missed it. As I look back at old threads I read were Tim has said several times when a feature was asked about, He said it is going to be in the next release, or it is not planed at this time.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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To my knowledge, the WAN'survey' was conducted during the 2012 or 2013 Dayton Flex dinner. It only consisted of those with the money and time to go to Dayton. My gut feeling is it wasn't a representative sample. Well, not from any course I took on the subject of research analysis. But, from listening to the folks here, for the most part, it is THE most important thing in the world. I think if they asked which first, Maestro or WAN, people's heads would explode. Hihi.

Sort of like 'computer to the last digit the value of pi' ala StarTrek, the original series.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Walt I am not an expert on research analysis. But I can't see how they got a good sweep of the wants of most owners by conducting the survey at the dinner.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Bill, reread what I said, especially the part where I sad 'it wasn't' :-). BTW, anyone else hate self correcting spell checker? What I typed was "compute" not computer.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Walt I am not an expert on research analysis. But I can't see either how they got a good sweep of the wants of most owners by conducting the survey at the dinner.  
Is that better..lol
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DrTeeth

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There are some proposed tweaks to the UI that seemed to get a good positive vote here and AFAICS, not one has been implemented. When Flex talks about what is in releases or what is planned, they mention several big things and not the little things. How difficult would it be, for example, to program the SWR and power output meters to be more readable? Al (NN4ZZ) produced some nice mockups and Flex has not done anything about this. Is it because they think the current unreadable colour scheme is actually the best they can do? I think we should be told. From reading the forum, some items have been on the 'to-do' list for years

I would say that it would be impossible to get a realistic sample at a convention. Whenever samples are sought, people tend to request the very experienced operators. This is a big mistake as those with limited space and those who like to reg-chew with a pal in the next street have just as valid issues as the 'experts'.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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It should be mentioned that they have almost all their man power working on finishing the Maestro. And the reason for the timing for WAN is they want it out around the same time as the Maestro. To bring the best out of the Maestro WAN is important.

I suppose it could be said that the Maestro should never had it's start till every want is in the UI and what ever features are deemed missing are finished. Remember, V1 is not over yet, lets see what happens.

Keep in mind too, Flex reads all these threads, they know!!
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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With the majority of the FRS software workforce currently working on Maestro and V. 2.0.  I am not sure that it makes sense to go to all the effort to add a long list of GUI enhancements to V. 1.x, Alpha-test them, and release them in a point release,  only to turn around and rewrite them into the new, redesigned interface that will include WAN and other features in v.2.0.  

At this point, I haven't seen any hints of what additional refinements will be included in v.2.0, but it seems to me that it would be a waste of time and effort to chew this cabbage twice, especially when so many are clamoring for the release of WAN on 2.0 and the release of the Maestro along with it.

Are there a number of GUI refinements I would love to see?  Yes!  And I hope some of them find their way into v.2.0 or 2.1....such as enhanced readouts, easier control manipulation, and additional enhancements to DSP (NB, NR, ANF)  and Linking RX EQ to modes or mike profiles...

Others have been created by 3rd party programmers utilizing the API's.  These fine utilities are able to be displayed at different locations, even on different monitors than SSDR, which, I think was one of the features often requested.  Why insist that FRS incorporate something into their complex SSDR when it is also readily available on utilities such as FRStack?  At least not before they get some of the other major features finished.

Just my 2 cents.....(or has inflation raised it to a nickel?)

Ken - NM9P
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DrTeeth

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Hi Ken,

Hope this finds you well.

I would respectfully suggest that having the UI improvements in a paid upgrade will be a sure-fire way to hack off customers. It will be like having to pay for an upgrade which is just a bug fix in disguise as some companies do. I do agree with your comments, but keeping customers happy is very important too. So spending the effort in getting v1 'right' would bring kudos to Flex.

IMHO I would like to see v1 finished before v2 sees the light of day. I am, quite frankly, *horrified* that your assertion that the majority of the software workforce  are working on Maestro and v2 could be true. v1 is nowhere near finished at all.

Just my two pennies' worth (3 cents).

@ Bill - The Maestro will be out soon AIUI and IIRC once v2 of SSDR is out, v1 will only get bug fixes. I could be mistaken on this but I cannot see Flex concentrating on v1 and v2 the same way.

Regards

Guy
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Bill, yes sir, that was much better :-)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Bill, I believe, per n5ac, release 1 is over. I wouldn't expect to see WAN until at least end of the year. .
Who knows? As for the minor tweaks, I think FRS is handling that aspect quite well. I don't, necessarily, want Al's idea of the control surface. Granted, most people on this forum don't know how to write a competing control surface. This makes an opening for people like dogpark, Stu, myself to 'add value' to the Flex experience.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Walt.
Actually the idea of a version 2 of the Maestro as a control surface that would run concurrently with SSDR was not mine. Steve H discussed it at the booth in Dayton in 2015. He said the control surface ability would probably not be available initially . He went on to say there could be other radio data and touch buttons instead of the panadapter display. So I'v been calling this mode the "mega-FlexControl" mode.

For at least some number of users this would be a good use of the Maestro. So while I can't take credit for the idea, I do like it.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Ken - NM9P

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Hello Guy,
Not arguing, but "thinking out loud..."
For me, I guess, the balance point is the definition of "finished" for v.1.x...
The same for "keeping the customer happy."

There are a few things that I would like to see "finished" in v.1.x.  

But from some of the discussion I have read, there are some who seem to think that the original version will never be "finished" until they get EVERYTHING they want, not just quality/necessary functions, but all of their favorite options, enhancements, and innovations, too.  In short, until their "dream list" (and we all have them) is fulfilled, they will not be happy...everything they DON'T want can wait 'till v.2.0....

There is, indeed a balancing act between the company trying to keep the customer happy, and the customer realizing that software versions DO change and upgrade and the company cannot be expected to continue development on the old versions when new versions, offering better performance and additional features, have been released.  Continuing to develop two separate lines of software would be ultimately counterproductive.  The new line is where additional features and enhancements should be developed.  

Major malfunctions and performance issues, of course, should be fixed until the v.1.x line is "stable."  Again, the question is how do we define "major" and what is an essential function vs. what is a personal preference or "option?"  
We all have our lists... ultimately, I hope that many of my favorite "options" will be just that...Options that can be selected, rejected, or modified in the setup screens.....Many of these, however can be added to v.2.0 in my book.

Am I in a hurry to shell out another $199?  not really.  (Actually I already did when the first policy was that there would be an annual software maintenance fee...)  But had I not already spent it, I would be very willing to shell it out if the update has enough "added value" to my Flex-radio experience.  If not, I would wait until such time as the features and enhancements I desire were part of the deal.  

I am facing the same dilemma with my ten year-old Vista laptop at home.  It is still a good computer, but I cannot upgrade it for free.  Do I really want to shell out the money to move up to Win 10 on a ten year old computer?  Probably not, but I hesitate to throw it away as unusable now that MS will be dropping Vista from their support.

Ah...Progress!

Have a great day,

Ken - NM9P
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Walt - KZ1F

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What I do find interesting is when people are complaining about the location, color, behavior of a control. In a sense, as the saying goes, 'if that's all you have to complain about clearly the big ticket items are all working'. For myself, perhaps others, I don't consider wnb or NB working yet. I am not enthusiastic about paying an additional $200 to get the working version. But it is what it is. I can alter the location, appearance, and behavior of the controls. What I cannot do is make a wnb that 'works' with the noise around my qth, ditto with NB.
As for Maestro, i think, that should be shipped with the purchase of every 6000, such that if you prefer Mac, or Linux, or iPad you don't have to change to use the 6000. One's choice of radio shouldn't mandate the OS you run on your computer, assuming you even own one. Perhaps that's just me.
(Edited)
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Barry N1EU

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For what I want/need to do with my 6500, it's not an issue of v1 GUI features that are needed.  In a nutshell, it's mainly v1 issues with how I contest: inability to vary filter and AGC slopes, too much cw rx latency, unsmooth cw T/R, lack of PTT-MOX cw, and lack of SO2V.  I'm not hopeful I'll be seeing much improvement on these, except for maybe the last two. 
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DrTeeth

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@ Walt - " In a sense, as the saying goes, 'if that's all you have to complain about clearly the big ticket items are all working'".

Quite often it is the little things that are more annoying than the big things. That is my experience personally and having been a dentist for 34 years - so I have seen that in many other people. Also, please be aware what has been said before (by Ken ?), what is minor to you is not to somebody else.

So, I ask again and hopefully Flex or some other programmer can answer, "how difficult is it to change the colour scheme of the power and SWR meters". Surely it is a matter of changing a few values and is 'safe'?
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Guy,
Ken mentioned that the SSDR interface would be changing for V2.  And that GUI improvements like the SWR / Power meter readability idea would need to be re-written for V2.  


Ken,
From your comment above:   "With the majority of the FRS software workforce currently working on Maestro and V. 2.0.  I am not sure that it makes sense to go to all the effort to add a long list of GUI enhancements to V. 1.x, Alpha-test them, and release them in a point release,  only to turn around and rewrite them into the new, redesigned interface that will include WAN and other features in v.2.0.  "

Ken, I was not expecting the SSDR GUI to change much at all for V2 (WAN).  Do you think there will be major changes to the GUI?  I haven't seen that mentioned before so am I reading your comment correctly?  

If the SSDR GUI is not being re-designed, then I don't see where making improvements would be a problem.  It sounds like FRS uses a code management system that supports branching and merging so that multiple lines of development are supported.   

I suspect managing the priority is more about what will generate the most in sales (Maestro and WAN).   Some of us would prefer to see the other things addressed sooner, especially the ones that appear to be minor and have been requested for quite some time.  The SWR/Power meter readability is just one example.    It is surely a balancing act to manage the development resources against the backlog of enhancements.  Cash flow and sales are vital to keep FRS successful so they have to do what is best for the company. 

My guess is that we will see some of the other improvements rolled out with V2, V3 and later.  If there is another V1.x maybe something there too. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.21.77
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.21.159
Win10


 
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Walt - KZ1F

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Guy, I can only speak for what I'm doing. XPSSDR has a skinnable UI. By that I mean controls are both individually and class identified. In a separate CSS file with by class of control or individually the control appearance and, to some extent, behavior can be modified at run time, vs compile time. In a conversation I had with Steve, over a year ago, he said WPF had no concept of a style sheet. So, given that, the only way to affect appearance is in source code. So if one would like a different PT size and others a different color that becomes a problem as all users would be forced to live with the personal preferences of that minority of users that felt sufficiently passionate about a change in appearance to be vocal about it.
This is why I had said I thought FRS was handling the appearance issue well.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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What Walt said here sums it up well I think. As they were planing the software there comes a time when Flex makes choices for their standard looks and feel. If they asked customers what they would like, they would have had thousands of ideas and still would need to decide what to do. It is impossible to make the software so know one ever complains.

I read some of the comments on the community were some people that claim to have 200 years exp under their belt writing software that many of these changes are easy and would just take a few moments to do. Many have know idea what is involved in working with SSDR, it is complicated stuff. Walt I'm sure can contest to this as he has been working on his software, he should know.

One great thing about a software radio is, you are not always stuck with some things. If we don't like the power meter, we can use a 3rd party one and plop it in.
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Mark - WS7M

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I'm a bit shy of 200 years under my belt but I've been doing software both embedded, PC and mini/main long enough to know that NEVER is it easy.

In fact the current company I work for has classified ALL SOFTWARE CHANGES as "MAJOR".  So if I want to change the copyright date, rebuild it is a MAJOR change which in turn triggers a WHOLE BUNCH of stuff in the quality side of things making my 2 minute change 8 months of work.

I work in the bio-med field so you can understand why this is so perhaps.  But the biggest thing for Flex would be to make some change that breaks the user base. Then they'd have a bunch of unhappy people.

Frankly I find SmartSDR nice and easy to use.  Sure like some I wish it was cross platform but I can totally understand why it isn't.

We created a piece of software to drive a very popular sensor from a big sensor company.  We sold the software cheap as sort of a door opener.  One day my boss got a call from a Mac shop (we like macs) and he decided to have me cross-platform our code.  It took me close to 4 months to do that.  We sold one, while the windows version kept selling just fine.

FRS obviously did their research and decided that Windows was the platform of choice.  I think they made a VERY SMART move in publishing the API.  This has allowed Mac, iOS and perhaps other clones to have a chance at existence and I'm told that FRS actually offers help to people like Don from Dogpark when things get sticky.

Where this business model might fall a bit is that as FRS works on new features for SmartSDR without a doubt the clones will fall behind some.  Also the API while full and rich is not fully documented.  I've been digging into it and on the Wiki page many pages are simply not there and in some cases what I see in WireShark is different from what the Wiki says.

So if I had a wish, I would wish that FRS allowed some of us to contribute to the Wiki much like most Wiki pages where you can submit a contribution to enhance the page. This would allow FRS to slowly catch up on documenting the API with the help of those developers that are actually using it.
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James Whiteway

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Mark, I "think" you can contribute to the wiki page and add documentation etc.
James
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Mark you can contribute to the Wiki.  If you do not have an account, you will have to contact us for one.  We had to do this because our Wiki was hacked when it was completely open.
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Walt - KZ1F

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User written documentation is the worst. Not for lack of trying but for execution. This is why, uniformly, wikipedia references are never allowed in a student's research papers. Yes, any given entry may be correct but, on balance, there is no guarantee of accuracy vs peer reviewed sources. I think, Mark, at this point if you are diligent in your search arguments likely any answer you are looking for is in the text of this forum. BTW, I couldn't disagree more with your first sentence. But this is the wrong forum for comparative anatomy :-). Cross platform is easy. It's all a function of one's familiarity with the process. But that is also a discussion for a different forum. The mere fact that Dogpatch and Stu are being paid for their efforts is testament to there are a sufficient number of people willing to shell out additional money to get software that works in the environment THEY prefer to use. I recall in the very early days of Microsoft Bill Gates telling a conference there were several areas they were leaving to others to fill in and that, likely, Microsoft would not be the author of the 'killer app". As it turns out Solitaire was the killer app, it was free and written by Microsoft.  But that speaks more about the typical home computer user, which isn't the typical member of this forum.

I'd rather see what engineering resources FRS has make NB and WNB better rather than trying out different color and pt size schemes for their controls.

FRS doesn't have the government regulations and approval gates to cross as medical software and hardware does. While I am not disagreeing on the industry specific hurtles your employer faces, ham radio software doesn't have those gauntlets. Recall the post, I believe it was Enzo did some months ago after the cross platform development environment thread, here's my involved app running on Mac, here is the same app running on Windows and here it is again, running on Mint. If it weren't for the decorators no one would know which was which. And what's in the black box with the Flex logo on it is running under Linux.
(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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@ Walt. I wonder how difficult it really would be to change colours and point sizes. Nobody authoritative has come up to the plate and said that it is difficult in all the months of requests, mock-ups and kvetching. If it *is* difficult, I will shop shouting about it. If it is not difficult, I will shout louder, hi hi.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Please don't do that Guy...please. I was previously chastised for even remotely sounding like I was passing judgement on code that comprises the SSDR GUI. I have never intentionally ever implied or felt I could do that from on high. So, my answer is relegated to the tools I use. OK? As a simple example. This is portable GUI code where the look / feel is done in source code. It will behave identically on Linux, Raspberry Pi, Pine64, Android, Windows, Mac. There is another example where the look/feel of text fields would be externally controlled at runtime and/or individual fields could be controlled at runtime, i.e. all text fields are Verdana 20pt but only this particular field is colored red. Disclaimer, the ONLY reason I am doing this is because I said it was easy, Mark said it was difficult so now credibility is on the line. And you asked nicely. This should, should, in no way, be taken to imply how easy or hard it would be in some other environment in code I've never laid eyes on. OK?

Text t = new Text (10, 20, "This is a text sample");
t.setText("This is another text sample"); t.setFont(Font.font ("Verdana", 20)); t.setFill(Color.RED);
 But, again, and I cannot stress this enough. Any company has a finite sized development organization. Any development organization should have a laundry list of prioritized tasks that are market driven. If I were in an organization where my next assignment was to change Color.RED to Color.DARKRED, I would be in fear of a massive impending layoff.

I would not fault any company that feels a change of this magnitude will never preempt value added feature development or enhancements. For everybody that feels the color should be dark red there will generally be an equal number perfectly happy with red and yet another group vying for light blue.

So, again Guy, please let this one go.
(Edited)
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Eric - KE5DTO, Official Rep

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Guy -- this is a bit like when you decide a room needs to be painted.  It's easy to pick out a color, pick up some paint.  You paint a wall.  But then you look and you have to decide where to stop painting.  Do I extend into the kitchen?  It's the same wall.  Before you know it, you are painting the whole house without really having planned to do so.

This is what we're trying to avoid doing: jumping into something that looks like a simple task (redesigning the color contrast of the power meter), but that in actuality requires design work on a larger scale for a seamless design.

What I can say is that you are right!  We definitely need to improve the color contrast on the power meter (and some others).  This is why it is already in our system (#153).  We will address this.  But I can't commit to a time frame.  What I can commit is that when we do address it, it will likely be in a comprehensive manner that affects the whole application (even multiple applications -- CAT, DAX, etc).  We've learned that good design requires careful planning, time, attention and execution.

Thanks for your input and your patience.  We hear you.  I wish we could just respond in a snap, but producing quality software that has a design stretching across multiple applications requires that we approach things like this carefully.
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Mark - WS7M

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Walt, I think you misunderstand my first sentence.  That sentence was about making changes to a released product in general.  That was not about cross platform.  Regardless of the industry making changes to released software is difficult.

However I have to say that cross-platform in my opinion is certainly more difficult than just one platform.  How difficult is always a debate and depends upon your goals and preparation.  I will guarantee 100% I can create a well defined program that runs acceptably on one platform faster than I can do so and achieve the same exact functionality on multiple platforms.  I would never give the label "easy" to anything about software and certainly not to functional software duplication across multiple platforms.

Tools are certainly better. In the old days it was done by hand and it took a lot of work and if you had a goal of the software looking and functioning identically it became much harder.

As far as user docs, don't read me wrong there either.  I'd much prefer that FRS simply did the Wiki and kept it up today.  That way it becomes the authoritative document it should be for all of us to work from. 

But I sense they are pushing on other fronts so for now much of what is missing in the Wiki must be discovered and it seems senseless for me to work to discover something you, Don, or Stu have already discovered. 

It is a paradox because without a doubt you, Don or Stu could make a mistake and lead people the wrong way.  That is why I'd rather FRS just had it done.  Maybe instead of user written FRS could contract with one of the well versed users to bring the Wiki up to date.

What I can agree on with you in this is where FRS should spend their efforts.  Colors and look/feel seem ok to me.  I'd rather have work put in on the things that matter (plus getting the Wiki updated!!!   :-)
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Ken - NM9P

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@AL...Just to clarify, I do NOT have any inside information about GUI changes in v.2.0.  My intention was to preface it with a big IF...  I do seem to remember very early on, when timelines were still published, that there was talk about getting the functions up and running with v.1.x and then perfecting the GUI and other things, like adding dockable/undockable utilities and controls sometime in v.2.x.,  not necessarily in v.2.0 itself.  

Again, to avoid any appearance that I may be leaking any inside information, which I do not have, i was merely speculating that IF they are planning on renovating the GUI sometime in v.2.x  it would not make sense to make major changes in v.1.x  which would then need to be rewritten for v.2.x....simple changes, yes.  But at this point, with 2.0, I assume, under intense development, I don't anticipate any more major releases under v.1.x.  But this is purely my uninformed opinion.

Ken - NM9P
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DrTeeth

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@ Eric - KE5DTO

Thanks for you explanation and telling us what you have planned. It really does help in letting us know where Flex is going.

I have a feature that I would like so much that I would sell my children for - I lied, they are teenagers so I would give them away, hi hi.

Seriously, I would like any slider under the mouse cursor to get the focus and the wheel to be able to adjust it. I would also apply that to any possible changeable item. It would allow easy fine tuning of any control. And there are many adjustments that need to be made to get the best out of a Flex that making then as easy as possible has to be a good thing®.

I will do my best not to mention this any more.

@ Walt Corey - KZ1F

"So, again Guy, please let this one go"

I will do what I can mate ;-).

73 de Guy
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Unfortunately, doc cannot be an afterthought. The, well intentioned, we'll circle back on that later ends up as an arrow not a circle. However, the reality is the best source of definitive doc is the source code. That leaves school of hard knocks. This is why I suggested well defined Google searches rather than getsatisfaction's internal search engine. Google will actually find pertinent threads on here getsatisfaction never did., in my experience.

I've actually spent a lot of time designing software that was portable, dating back to early 90's when I was tasked with architecting my current employer's cross platform environment. This allowed software on IBM mainframes to be peer nodes with software running on aix or OS/2 or, yes, even lowly Windows, hpux, sun, etc.. We were an ISV, it was important to write our software only once. I don't mean peer as in connected via TCP, I mean identical classes and methods and source code. The development groups had a single framework and API set so they didn't need to learn multiple tools and frameworks. Riding a bike is hard if you've never done it before. You fall down a lot at first, eventually you stop falling down.
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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@Walt,

I have done so as well.  I have a number of products that were done both ways:

a) cross-platform (win, mac, linux) to start with
b) cross-platform (win, mac, linux) started with one, added the others

I did VAX programming for a while.  A little on CDC mainframes.  But went almost all micros in 1980.

I completely agree.  If you work in my example "a" then it is far easier than doing "b" unless you started "b" knowing you would add the other platforms.

I still will stand by the following:

If you break a program down into the following layers:

Interface - Interaction with the op
Core functionality - the guts
HAL - Interaction with the hardware

And yes this is HUGELY simplified, I will maintain the following:

If writing a program for ONE platform, Windows perhaps you will spend less time on Interface and HAL than you would if you tried to write the same program to achieve identical look/feel on cross-platform.

A simple case in point:

HAL - Access to serial ports:

In windows you refer to them as COM#.  In Mac/Linux they might be /dev/ttyxx or something similar.  In Windows there is an API to deal with a serial port.  In Mac/Linux they are devices so you deal with them a little more like a file with a few extra functions to control things.

I must beg for some leeway here as I've not done serial ports in Linux for some time.  But back when I wrote my own PacketBBS I did it on Unix and every serial port was a /dev/tty type device with some IOCTL thrown in for good measure.

In your core level you would never expose that low-level stuff to your program.  But as you say you'd have an API, perhaps OpenPort(), SendToPort() or whatever.  But at your HAL level YOU DO have to handle the two cases with more code and therefore... more time.

I do a lot of work in Qt.  It is cross-platform even to the point of running on small devices, iOS, handhelds etc.  In that nice framework they have QSerialPort and QTCPPort which all work nicely to shield my code from having to think much differently about ports, EXCEPT again differences in OS present different options...  Even Qt is famous for saying their functions still rely upon the core functionality in the OS so if that behaves differently then you will see different behavior.

I recently wrote a small test program to read data over serial from a optical sensor.  I had it running under windows and after an initial use the scientist using it said, hey... I have a MacBookPro... could it run on that?

Well again it was not designed from ground up to be compatible but since it used the Qt framework I simply fired up Qt on mac, recompiled it and it ran.  Unfortunately the serial port stuff was just slightly different.  When I plugged in my KeySpan USB adapter it showed up in the mac as some device and my little program had made some assumptions about windows com ports.

Anyway it took about 30 minutes to resolve that and I had it working only to be told by the scientist it was no big deal... he had a Windows laptop too... sigh...

Anyway Walt, I have huge respect for your background and it is ok to disagree.  It is the spice of life after all.  But I will stand by my words that adding cross-platform adds time.  Perhaps not much but it will take longer to achieve 100% identical operation across multiple platforms.

I have yet to find a framework that completely isolates you.  Sure one could be created but I think most people get to a certain point and figure beyond that you can just ifdef your way through the rest.
(Edited)
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David Warnberg

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Why did I purchase my FLEX?  I looked at others, sure and for one reason or another I didn't like either the layout of the connections, necessity for adapters, where connections where located, the software available to run them and the list goes on.  

I settled for the FLEX, because I like the fit and finish, functionality, easy integration, great product support (both software and hardware), flexibility.... and this list goes on as well.

At first I was also startled by the cost, but after having the FLEX I realized I actually have 4 radios (FLEX-6500), so to do what I'm able to do with a traditional radio I would need 4 of them, granted I would be able to transmit through each of them at the same time, but who does that? That's like owning 2 cars... Ya can't drive them both at the same time.

I'm 100% sold on FLEX radio and looking forward to all the new products and features I'm sure they have planned

David
KK4QOE
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PB Shell - k7shl

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Cost? If you compare the cost of the 6300,  at least, to Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu big box radios that approach having comparable features, it costs less (perhaps a lot less) and it does more, and the radio gets better over time with software upgrades.  I've gotten rid of my Icom IC-7600, a great radio, and have never looked back.

-Phil
 K7SHL
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David Warnberg

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Yep.. sold my ICOM-9100 and the Kenwood TS-590 now sits...
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Barry N1EU

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The excellent support of Flex Radio is admittedly a huge advantage.

Unless the user is a bit of an experimenter, the Apache/ANAN is probably not a good choice.
(Edited)
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Jim W3IPO

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I understand what Bill is saying, except I do not think FLEX is owned only by people who are members of the "Mercedes" class.  I drive a Toyota Corolla and operate a FLEX because its performance and ease of use.  : )
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I0JBL - Luc

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There is a little story about the owners of Ducati motorbikes. "Do you know why there are not many Ducati’s owners motoclubs? Why they meet each other every Monday morning on the mechanic workshop!" Same thing for the Flex. I am not able to lose a single message in the this group, waiting for surprise or tricks . You Flexers keeps me not alone in the world. They call it Flex therapy :-)

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Gary L. Robinson

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Software Defined Radios by their name are radios defined by the software available for them. Some of the newer SDR's don't have mature software even available and/or it is unknown if there will ever be any available from the company who made the radio.
And I am NOT interested in SDR radio with a built in panadapter screen as the only or main option.
I chose Flex over the Anan radios for 2 reasons. One is that I had a Flex 1500 so I know what PowerSDR can do - and I know Flex stood behind it as far as bugs and getting it to a mature state. And I feel that they will continue to add value and maturity to SmartSDR, especially because it is not totally free software.
And the Software API's convinced me that for my intentions this was the way to go.
I won't argue and discuss which hardware architecture is superior but I am sure my new 6300 is no "slouch".
If I had the money I would get numerous SDR radios but since I can only afford one major one I chose Flex for the above reasons and the faith I have in the Flex Radio Company and their entire staff of great employees.

---Gary WB8ROL
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Walt - KZ1F

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Interesting thing here. At first I, too, thought the 6500 was equivalent to 4 radios, the 6700, equivalent to 8. Wicked cool for those contest clubs as they could drive 4, or 8, seats with one radio. Nope, illogical equivalency. It's one radio with vfo c and D or c-h. Plus 4, or 8, can't even all listen at the same time, never mind talk. No, that's not bashing, it's being intellectually honest about what it is and is not.

I think what it comes down to, and I agree with Barry, does one change the mission parameters to match the equipment or change the equipment to match the mission parameters? Not everybody shares the same goals...and that's OK. I don't want to ascribe motives to other people's stmts but what makes me scratch my head is the completely hypobolic exuberance which some wax poetic about their adoration of their Flex and should one not feel likewise they were obviously misinformed. The flip side of that being the piling on against those not sharing that hypobolic sentiment.

Frankly, what I think the jury is still out on is when, and at what price point will SDR just pull away from the pack. Are all radios throttled by the same atmospheric physics that mean the differentiators will be manufacturing cost and marketing hype?
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KF4HR

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My Flex purchase decision wasn't a Mersedes (uh... Mercedes) vs Hyundai decision, in fact cost had nothing to do with it.  As for refinement, compared to PowerSDR and other radios on the market, there are certain features I'd like to see rolled into SmartSDR.  Contesting isn't a high priority for me so the idea that my Flex-6700 could be used by 8 different people never entered into my mind either, but I do enjoy clicking on a preset Profile for CW, Digital, or Phone, and being able to monitor activity on up to 8 band slices at the same time, and I no longer miss out on short 6m band openings.  Also I really enjoy having the ability to watch multiple bands as they open and close and I found I very much enjoy seeing and hearing control changes on a large spectrum display, rather than just hearing them on my other equipment. 

What drew me to the Flex is mainly its control flexibility and the dedicated folks at FRS who continue to improve the product.    
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David Warnberg

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Made in the USA
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DrTeeth

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David, that was my reasoning too. I could not bring myself to buy something made in India. I have many Indian friends and when I was in hospital for 4.5 weeks a few months ago, I also had many 'interesting' chats about that country and its infrastructure.
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Ken ve7kwa

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Why did I buy my 6300 ? Frankly... I would call it entrapment. This is my 3rd Flex(if you count the still unbuilt 1000 kit in the top drawer) I bought my 3000, had years of fun participating in and watching PSDR become mature. The radio rekindled the excitement in amateur radio for me and between on air use and the online group,  I had thousands of hours of enjoyment from it. Then after 5 or 6 years of use  I sold it for $500 less than I originally paid for it. IE: It cost me less than $100 a year to own it. That's extreme value in my books !   That... coupled with a very positive service experience from Flex, left me no choice really.      A clear case of Entrapment indeed... I love my 6300 (sorry Burt) and I'm still having as much fun as I first had with the 3000.  AND... there's plenty more to come...
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Kind of silly 40m conversation from my point, as neither my Flex-6300 or Flex-6700 (#11) are "luxury trophies" in terms of the car analogy. 

I really liked my Flex-5000A and was very quick to put a deposit for a 6700 when announced. 

The new Signature Series radios, from the earliest pre-release software onwards have been a blast.

Having that kind of fun is big big part of why amateur radio appeals personally. 

Currently I don't have a "trophy" radio having sold the Hilberling PT-8000A. 

BTW consumer car brands like Mercedes are just another choice in some of the countries I've lived, and a "Yank Tank" like a big Lincoln, Suburban or Caddy were the premium choices.  Even here the last several rental cars I've had were Mercedes (the 4-door with the turn-off-when-at-traffic-lights model) and were far less luxurious than my personal car.

Back to the Flex-6700 - I am very appreciative of an architecture, software (both delivered and potential), and end result rivaling what would have taken an unaffordable amount of money, space and personnel not so many years ago.

That I can so intensely dig out signals using simple amateur scale antennas is a massive pleasure.

Having in process the build of a second station, I've tried to fully integrate both the present level of the Flex-6000 (the 6300 at my Island QTH will give way to a 6700 once the build is far enough to make use of the added Radio-Server abilities), the near time pending (Maestro and next software step-ups) and the likely potential growth of the product capabilities.  I'm also pumped that can do DogparkSDR and run them from my iMacs. 

Even the XYL is pumped about the Maestro aspect of the Flex-6000, as the "guts" of this shack can be located in a secure but otherwise unused portion of the QTH and the Maestrocentric Operating Station can be in the main living space.  She has even asked why I am not doing it at our home QTH rather than having the operating position in the old wine cellar? Her question made letting her know I already have a Maestro for each location on the way,  argument free!

Not the most important takeaway I can offer any prospective Flex-6000 owner is YMMV.  Some products just do not "jell" for certain people.  No shame either in the person or product if something else ends up their first choice.  I'm going to guess that my first choice in pistol isn't going to even be close for a good number of pistol owners.  Nor is my current first choice when riding motorcycle going to do it for a lot of riders.  You might not even like my LPDA and Hexbeam antenna choices.

But they all work well for me.  And I have zero interest in claiming any of my choices is good, better, best.  Why?  Because they are "best for me!"

So pick what is best for you - whether a $250 investment in a vintage transceiver your repair, a $25K matched set of German conventional jewelry-grade TX/Amp/Power-supply in a neat color, the neat ANAN product group, or your new Flex-6000. 

For myself, here and now, the sweetspot is a Flex-6000.  YMMV!

73

Steve

K9ZW


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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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BTW I rather expect the Maestro, especially in end-user-released features, will evolve just like SmartSDR has.

It also will likely be found to be wanting some tweaks as initially released to a wide group, thought hopefully in nothing serious. 

And in the end it looks to be a huge step-forward in the Flex-6000/SmartSDR user experience opportunities.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Walt - KZ1F

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My first choice? H&K P30 LEM, yours?
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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You weren't asking me specifically, but: Sig P239 DAK... HK P2000 LEM a close second.

(Could it be that we actually share another hobby interest?)

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Walt - KZ1F

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I wasn't not asking you which, mathematically, means I was indeed asking you Peter! You pose an interesting question. We used to live very close to New Hampster, off 202.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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EDC Kimber Eclipse Pro II
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Not the right place for a sidearm discussion. I'm torn between a couple choices, depending on purpose. Often you will see a Steyr-GB in the field kit with the 6300. Not a choice for many due to scarcity and sizing. Fits me well and I've done well at league with a GB.

Here I am more concerned to have a way to deal with feral animals when in the field. Really dislike the folk who abandon dogs that end up in feral packs.

Less concerned with true game, as I've not had any grief other than losing the fish I caught to the bears and no issues with the wolves I've encountered. But the once tame now running wild former pets have been an issue.

I know many hams have no field provisions for problem solving, and I'm likely not typical with a first aid kit & those sort of things, as well as a GB in my field setup. Would recommend hams in the field have some idea what they will do in everything from an injury, to scattering a dog pack. Even a fire extinguisher would be more useful than climbing a tree!

Even looking at adding an AED at home and at the island, though I need to get more than myself trained to use one if I do.

Again email me direct if you want to talk pistols (or other shooting, reloading, motorcycles, cars, music or such) but I'll keep mu FRS community posts limited to this.

73

Steve
K9ZW
(Edited)
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David G4NRT / Z21NRT

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I'm very sorry but I really do not believe that this is an appropriate place for discussion of firearms! In this country they are banned and long may it continue!

I'd rather see my bandwidth used for talking about FlexRadio devices!

David G4NRT
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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David - I agree this is not the right place to discuss specifics.  

As a clarification Firearms as a whole are NOT banned the UK.  I've held a UK Shotgun permit myself, but gave it up when I moved jobs & country.

Handguns have become so, so they are not restricted to the Government(s) (legal hold) and Gangs (illegal of course).  I carried a pistol often while on active duty in Europe, even though I almost never wore any uniform.  

Unlike where only in the remotest parts of the UK do you have the self-protection needs faced in our wilderness, so yes many of us do drag something with us when we go to the field.  

One size doesn't fit all - YMMV - and while we agree that this community isn't the place for details (that is unless FRS offers FRS branded pistols....<grin>) remember your situation is also not universal.

BTW it is only in the UK where I had my cars stollen, my house broken into, and where knife wielding punks tried to mug me.  I also had three instances of plain old thugs physically attack in the UK.  I am please to say I left every one of them well punished on the personal attacks, something they didn't expect given the sheeple temperament of the average mark.  

I do not consider the UK personally very safe, and there are entire communities you could never go to and set your radios up in the park.   

That all happens for a lotto reasons, including the disarmament of the responsible portion of the society.  Sad political shitty thinking that costs lives.

YMMV & 73,

Steve K9ZW
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DrTeeth

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Agree 110% Steve. My father held a firearms licence before they were banned and it is a great hobby. I wish I could take it up now. But because the police did not do their job properly and let some nutters get a licence the responsible majority have to suffer. I have had so much firearms training that I actually taught one of my patients a few things - and he is in a unit that guards the Royal Family!

First and last post on this OT topic, but I could not resist this one ;-).
(Edited)
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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>I really do not believe that this is an appropriate place for discussion of firearms

I agree
that this is off-topic for this forum.  I apologize to the community for my part in propagating the discussion. It happens here sometimes... and I, for one, appreciate the gentle reminder that we should stay on topic.


Peter
K1PGV

P.S.  I *do* feel the need to tangentially add: The legality of a particular item or practice in a given country should not be a relevant factor when determining the suitability for discussion in this forum -- Ham activity on the 4 meter band is "banned" in the US, but that doesn't a priori make it an unsuitable topic for conversation here.
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DrTeeth

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I would just like to off-topically add that going off-topic is not a capital offence or even one that merits painful retribution or opprobrium. It is quite natural in human intercourse...just like looking up Fred Astaire in wikipedia and following ones nose and ending up in quantum physics - and that is without any medication ;-).
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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I was fortunate in that two of our club members are on the Flex Alpha team and I had the opportunity to actually make a DX contact using a 6X radio at one of our club fall picnics, followed shortly by the full dog-and-pony show at the ARRL Midwest Convention in 2013.  I'd been largely inactive for nearly 15 years and was in the market for a new rig.  Before seeing the Flex, I'd been ready to buy a new Yaesu FTdx3000, but actually seeing the Flex in action changed my mind.  Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked in communications intelligence for a certain 3-letter agency.  I saw in the Flex, the technology we would have killed to possess in the old days, and when I learned the history of the company, my mind was made up.  I ordered a 6500, and then at Dayton last year  pre-ordered a Maestro.  In 53 years on the air, neither Collins or Yaesu have given me as much fun, or as much success as I've had in the past 2 1/2 years with the 6500.  Right now I'm listening to LU1ZI in the South Shetlands on 10m with a signal level of about -126dBm which is almost strong enough to work if the band will just give me about 3 more dB to compensate for my modest antenna and lack of an amp.  I love being part of an on-going development project and look forward to each new release like a kid waiting for Christmas.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Did you ever get them Rick? I did twice, as I recall 12 and 30, but they show up as Argentina. 30 doesn't quite sound right though, esp at 200w. 12 for sure.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Not on 10, but I have them on 15, 17, 20 & 30, all CW.  They will be an ATNO for me if I can get the QSLs.  I'm at 290 confirmed on LoTW and they're getting a bit harder to come by, but this has been a good week.
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Bill-W9OL

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Why do I have a Flex....because it's a radio I could afford that still gives me the ability to work that occasional new band-mode I need.

There may be others, but my 5K was a solid performer. And I tend to dance with the lady I know the best.

And yes Judy and I just celebrated our 55th wedding anny in January.

(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Truly!!! Keep dancing indeed! Congrats Bill, to you and your bride.
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Mark - WS7M

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I'm addicted to the display! I have a subscription to RemoteHamRadio. Big stations, BIG antennas makes you feel all powerful and DX just falls often at the first call. But I really miss the display so I don't use RHR.

I also really look forward to the remote. I have a limited antenna setup due to HOA so I have this dream of getting a small plot of land where I could build a brick shack to house my radio and amp and a nice big tower with a LP beam perhaps. All this could be run from my normal home.

At least this is what I want to do. It solves my antenna problem. Gets RFI away from the home, perhaps a better location for the antenna, lower noise, all that.

The cost is somewhat high. First there is the land, the power, the internet. Ideally if I could get a place in line of sight I could use a dedicated wireless lan. That would be ideal.

But this is years off. Maybe I can get some others interested to share the station, share the expenses, etc.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I had the abolity to use an Anan 200D side by side with my 6500 and 6700. The Flex and Anan both have some feature that each does better than the other.

For me, the tight integration of the Flex tp the accessories and softare in my shack using DdUtil, DAX, and SmartSDR Cat maake it a breeze, especially for remote operation. This evening I am here 750 miles from home operating my radio with an iPad and Bluetooth earpiece. Reports are excellent and it couldn't be much simpler. Sure you can do it with the Anan but it is much more cumbersome.

Another nit but a big nit for me is the poor power calibration on the Anan. According to the manual you calibrate it at 100 watts out on each band. The issue is it does not track linearly from 1 to 100 watts out. I had huge issues tring to get the Anan to do a full 100 watts on 12 meters, thrn when I did, a setting of 20 would give me 68 watts out!

The Anan has a fun gactor if you want to experiment and tinker. It is highly customizable with the PowerSDR mRX graphics and there are other programs you can use. I do feel the panadapter on the Flex is much more detailed and pleasant to watch.

There is no right or wrong as to which is right when a person asks. It depends on what they want out of the radio. I prefer a solid radio that is physically superior in construction and seamlessly interfaces into my shack.

Dave wo2x
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Ken - NM9P

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I somehow mis-posted this to another thread, so I am reposting it here where it belongs.  
Sorry if the duplication is problematic...

Why did I buy the 6500?  
Well...I started SDR with a 1500 and fell "in love" with SDR.  (Yes, I know we are supposed to "love" people and "use" things.  Not the other way around....so perhaps I should say, I am EXTREMELY HAPPY with SDR.)

I was thinking about moving up to a Flex-5000, which at the time was my "dream" radio, when I saw the ad for the upcoming 6700/6500 "game changer."  Three or four weeks after receiving the 1500, in January 2013, my wife agreed that I should order a 6500.  (I really wanted a 6700, but negotiations and $$$ can only go so far!)

I wanted once in my life to have a top-line, high performance rig. My last one was a Kenwood TS-850SAT that I had for 20 years.
 
The selling points for me were:
1) absolutely crunch-proof receiver.
2) unparalleled transmit audio
3) fabulous receive audio
4) brick-wall filtering.
5) a panadapter that can't be beat - including extremely wide-band display.
6) a panafall that moves with the tuning, unlike on PSDR.
7) The concept of the major SDR "guts in the rig" rather than needing a high-power computer to do the crunching.
8) ethernet connectivity, with remote-ability in the future.
9) stunning CW performance capability due to fast internal processing and brick-wall filtering.
10) best in the industry service.
11) being on the "cutting edge" of amateur radio technology.
12) having a rig that would "grow" with me, not one that was becoming obsolete as soon as I purchased it.

I have joked with my wife, Dee, (N9FYE)  is that in my mid-life crisis, I was too poor to buy a sports car, and she (and my "boss") wouldn't let me have a mistress, so I bought a 6500!
When my dad left me a few bucks at his passing, what didn't go to finance my pension, and a family vacation, part of it helped finance the 6500 and tower/LP antenna.

This will likely be the rig and antenna I will retire with, albeit in a different location in 6-10 years.

I have had no regrets...Is it perfect?  Not yet.  But every new software update has brought me enhanced performance, additional features, and more fun.  I look forward to many more to come.

My wish-list for modifications, enhancements and new features is long and creative, like many others.  I have seen some of them already come to fruition.  Others will wait.  perhaps until v.4.0 even.  But every few months, it is Christmas all over again.  That has been part of my enjoyment.

I'm enjoying my 6500!

Ken - NM9P
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Mark - WS7M

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If Ken wasn't so "old" and had posted in the wrong thread we'd not be having this lively conversation!   :-)

I laughed hard about the paper shredder then laughed again when Ken mis-posted because guys... I think I do these things daily!!!  

The point in time when we can no longer laugh at our own mistakes is when we really are too old...

Keep on misposting Ken!   Keep on kicking the paper shredder Bill.  Just know that your actions made the day a little lighter and that is good for all of us.  I'll post my next mistake in a few minutes I think... LOL
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Since this praise topic has veered off course, I have decided to close it.

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.