Does No Comment = No Problem

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  • Updated 3 years ago
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It has been almost a week and I have seen no official feedback on the problems people have seen with the 1.8 version upgrade. I know Maestro comments were made but that was the end of it.  Why no official updates on what if anything is being done to look at these issues?

We users of Flex radios are a patient lot, and used to delays and disappointments where new releases are concerned. and not always getting full functionality of all functions on the radio. I can only speak for myself but my patience is getting a bit thin.

We are after all customers who put a big chunk of change into a technology with the promise of improvements and exceptional functionality. When release problems occur we deserve to be kept in the loop as to what if anything is being  done to correct these problems.  The silence has been deafening. 

The only comment I saw was a restating of the SWR foldback spec that we are all familiar with. It seems that this problem is not being taken seriously.  

I only ask to be kept in the loop the same way I would expect my car mechanic to let me know whats going on with my repair or any other company I do business with.  Silence only causes people to come up with theories and pages of discussion and hypothesis.

I know the Flex can never be wrong  guys will chime in and say there is no problem.  Their comments are expected and offer nothing to the conversation.  We are not Haters because we expect our radios entire feature set to be functional.  We are not haters because we want updates the work!  I would expect that from Icom. Kenwood, Yaesu etc so why cant I expect this from Flex without being labeled a hater?   

We have an investment in FLex and want to tell everyone we have the best radio on the market.  For that loyalty we ask we be treated as part of the team and not kept in the dark.
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Flex_Fan

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Posted 3 years ago

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response
Dear "Flex Fan,"

If you personally have a specific problem with v1.8.3, please enter a help desk ticket so that we can work with you.  

Here are the facts:
  1. We released v1.8.3 four working days ago on June 30th.
  2. Friday July 1, we had reports that a percentage of Maestro users who had attempted to upgrade to 1.8.3 failed and were unable to downgrade.  
  3. We immediately pulled the release, communicated publicly, and took action to bring in any affected units at our expense.  We are in contact with all affected customers.
  4. Monday July 4 was a national holiday in the US.  
  5. We received the first few Maestro units back for analysis late on July 5.  
  6. Yesterday, July 6th, we started performing forensics and working on a fix.  We are making good progress and will communicate more specific information when we have the details.  
  7. We have only two help desk tickets entered by customers related to SWR fold back as of this morning, July 7.  
  8. No problems were reported in alpha/beta test for SWR fold back.  We are currently unable to reproduce any problems with SWR fold back here in the lab.
  9. There is an acknowledged problem when using the XVTR port where it can fold back.  This is a bug that will be fixed in the next release.
  10. If someone has a SWR fold back issue, please enter a help desk ticket so that we can gather forensics that may help determine the problem.  Right now we have very little to work with due to only having received two help desk tickets.  
  11. Engineering is reviewing the code and customer support will gather any forensic data that is provided by the help desk tickets.  The problem may be specific to certain customer supplied external equipment.  We just don't know because the number is too small to tell at the moment.
When we have something concrete to report we will do so and not before.

73,
Gerald
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Jim

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My update to 1.8.3 went fine with no issue.
My 6500 and Maestro appear to operate fine. I also do not notice any fold back issues driving my Elecraft KPA-500. Thanks for the upgrade.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
Sometimes I think we all struggle to communicate effectively and often enough.  It seems like the biggest joke among hams is that we're communicators but have trouble communicating the right things at the right times.  I hear it all the time in radio clubs, etc.  Perhaps it's a universal problem.  Enough of the philosophizing.  In general, when we release and there are reports of problems, we go right to work looking into the reports and fixing the issues.  Sometimes the issue fixes happen very quickly, sometimes they are a bit more complex.  Sometimes what may look like we don't see the issue is that we are hard at work analyzing the problem or even sometimes waiting to see the reports from other people that will give us an idea for the exact nature of the problem.  I felt we did a good job of communicating where we were, but it seems that it was not good enough.

We have had two types of reports that I am aware of with v1.8.3 -- the issues with Maestro upgrading and an issue with SWR foldback.  We suspect that the issue with SWR foldback is simply the lack of recognition that some devices will provide a lousy SWR for a short period of time before presenting a good one.  At any rate, we are actively working this problem. and will undoubtedly have a fix for this soon.

The Maestro issue is a bit more complicated.  I discussed communicating where we were with our team yesterday evening, but everyone felt like we didn't have enough information yet to pass along anything of value.  I will say this -- we are aware of what is happening in these Maestros, but we are not yet entirely sure why it has happened.  We have three software changes we are making today that will detect and correct the problem, most likely without anyone ever seeing the issue.  It is likely we will discover the root of the problem when we get into this code as well.  My best guess is that it will be another week before we release an update.  If you are on v1.8.3, you should stay there and not go back and forth to other versions.  If you are not yet on v1.8.3, we will be providing an update in the future you can use to get there.

On the Maestro issue, as I mentioned in the original thread it was an unusual thing that has affected a small percentage of folks updating.  Because it was so infrequent, we did not see it when in the numerous upgrades from the Alpha team.  I don't have an idea for how we could have caught this in advance, but we are working hard to fix the issue.  The Maestros that arrive at our office will be quickly fixed and returned to their owners.  Again, thanks for the patience.  
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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What you may be forgetting is that on the 1500 (I had one for a couple of years) there was first the "mixer" gain setting that was adjusted before any of the console front panel controls were set up.  Using the standard hand mike, it could be very difficult to set the exact mic level at first, until you realized that there were about five or six different places in the audio chain that needed to be carefully adjusted to assure that there was no overdrive at any stage (mixer, mic level, EQ gain, Leveler gain, ALC setting, compression/DX setting, DEXP) ALL of which needed to be adjusted correctly to get the best sounding SSB or AM signal.

In any case, you are complaining that the 6000 requires the +20 boost to be used for a standard microphone.  That is what the +20 dB boos is for.  The rig was designed to be used with the +20 ON for Microphones and OFF when using line-level inputs to the front or rear panel.  There is no magic to the mic level numbers, as long as we are getting the proper amount of drive to our rigs.  I use a Heil PR-22 and have the +20 boost ON and a mic level of between 65 and 85 depending upon which profile I am using.  It is no big deal.  It is what is done in professional audio mixing equipment.  Each channel can be set for mic level or line level inputs.  Some with a switch, others with a variable control that sets the channel input gain.

Some rigs have such high gain in their initial mic stage, (BEFORE any mic level control, and with NO ability to reduce it) that some mics overdrive the first audio stage and then feed a distorted audio stage to the rest of the rig..... no matter how the mic gain is set after that point, and even when the ALC is reading the proper levels the audio is distorted and sounds like a cheap transistor guitar amp because of all the clipping in the first preamp stage of the audio line.  They are not wide and splattering.  They just sound terrible. I have helped several people reduce their desk mic gain in order to fix this problem.  But they said "I only have the rig's mic gain at 9 O'clock.  How Could I be overdriving the rig?"  Because of excessive pre-fader gain.  It happens all the time with poorly trained sound system operators.  They have the first stage gain way too high for an instrument, and then try to run the slider on that channel very low to keep the level consistent and wonder why the singer is distorted on the loud high notes.  Gain distribution is important.

Comparing mike level settings between different rigs is like saying "You are 20 over S-9 on my Kenwood rig, but only S-9 on my Flex, there must be something wrong with the Flex!" without realizing that the Kenwood measures the strength of the S-Meter with the preamp in line -- meaning that the 20 dB preamp added 20 dB to the S-meter reading, inflating it above the standard measurement for S-9.  (I owned a TS-850SAT for 20 years, also)

The Flex-6000 audio chain is designed to professional audio level standards, not the typical consumer grade inputs that most of the big-4 have used in most of their rigs.
It takes a little getting used to, but ultimately offers much more flexibility and higher performance..

Ken - NM9P
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Scott N8UMW

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I have purchased a couple different mics to try. On air checks have been described as slightly raspy with two different dynamic mics I've tried that work well on other rigs. not sure if this is a problem related to other 6300 radios that have been sent back for a fix of some sort, but will try an AKG and a new Rode and see e what happens. If that doesn't clean it up, I'll have to start a ticket and maybe send it in. The Rode sounds fantastic on my Anan 200D. Thanks for the info.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Scott...Not to toot my own horn, but I have recorded three tutorials that address Mic Audio profiles.  They are slightly dated on a couple of details (i.e. how to save the profile)  But as far as audio adjustments and a method of listening to your audio, they are still helpful.  you can find them at:

www.YouTube.com/nm9p

They might be helpful as you try to fine tune your audio profiles with your various microphones.

There are also some good documents available on the flex knowledge base. 

Here is one of them that I found very helpful...

http://kc.flexradio.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50114.aspx

W1AEX has also produced some good stuff about audio optimization.  You can search his call in the flow forums, knowledge base, and YouTube.

Good Luck,

Ken - NM9P
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Michael Coslo

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And your mic tutorial is tremendous Ken. I've used it to get even the hand mic working pretty well. It started me on the path of making all of my mics sound good.

But which radios have awesome hand mics? Pretty much if the Maestro is going to come with a good mic - it will need to have at least a desk mic.

As for 20 dB boost and needing set at level 80 to get good audio, should Flex maybe allow enough more adjustment range so people can get bad audio maybe at anything over 50?   Oh - I'm bad.  - Mike N3LI - 
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Scott N8UMW

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Hey, that's what the processor in the DX mode is for. LOL
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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There are a great many people who are using the latest V.1.8.3 SSDR for Windows without issue. But when an update is released that has a particular feature that is not satisfactory, we are all free to revert to the previous version and wait until the next one.  There are always new versions being tested by the Alpha Team. 

Unfortunately, the latest release V.1.8.3, which had improvements for BOTH Maestro users and Windows users, also had an unexpected error creep in that bricked a small number of Maestro units before the Maestro upgrade installer was removed from the website. 

V.1.8.3 for SSDR for Windows remains on the website for those who want to try it.  It hasn't hurt any of the Windows only users.  It has improved performance for many.  But the SWR fold-back seems to be a problem for some with certain amplifiers, or with particular common-mode impedance problems or other RF induced feedback in their systems.  If this is a problem, the user can revert to the previous release without issues.

Of course the focus of the FRS engineers is now focused upon fixing this problem, rewriting the software, and getting the affected units repaired and returned to their owners, as it should be.

Software development continues on updates to the current software, both Maestro and Windows-only versions, in order to correct problems and respond to feedback about the last release.

Development also continues on future Major upgrades. 

As FRS has already said... They are working on a fix for the Maestro installer error that caused a problem.  They are working on their next update to remedy CW, SWR, and other issues.  They are working on V.2.0.  Alpha Team members are constantly testing new versions of software that will be released when ready. 

Unless you are wanting inside details about how many alpha test versions have been tested, exactly what problems they have encountered which have delayed new releases, how many man-hours of programming and testing have been spent so far, exactly which features are being tested, who is on the Alpha Team and what their children's names are.......I don't know what else needs to be said to keep the users "in the loop."  Sometimes "We're working on it" is all that can be said at the moment.

The "car in the shop" analogy is not exactly appropriate in this situation.  We bought a product that is constantly in flux as the software is being developed.  We have been promised continual free updates and occasional paid upgrades to our software.  They will be released when they are ready, with as many features as can be made ready at the time of release, and hopefully with as few bugs as the engineering and Alpha teams can reasonably accomplish.

But the details of a proprietary operation are not a public "right to know" no matter how much money we have spent on the product.  Added features ad development details are the sole domain of the company and information related to them belongs to the company until the company releases them.

We have, however been blessed with more transparency and information sharing than most companies I have dealt with.  When my rig is in the shop, FRS service is very quick to tell me what is going on, what is being repaired, how much it is going to cost, and how long it will take to return it....just like my car dealer.  But I don't expect GM to tell me all the details about what their engineers are doing as they develop the next model of Corvette.

I think the Expectation Game, and the rapid expansion of features during the first couple of years has made us all impatient with the difficulty of solving the remaining issues.

Ken - NM9P

BTW...I am not an employee of FRS.
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Jay / NO5J

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Maybe, just a suggestion, (a thought I've been wondering about since last Friday,)

After the fixed/safe/retested version of 1.8.3 for the Maestro becomes a reality. Could Flexradio, maybe, hold off placing it on the download servers until the support folks are all present at work, on a Monday morning.

73, Jay - NO5J
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K6OZY, Elmer

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Or you could just wait until Monday to install it... /facepalm
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Ken ve7kwa

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Factual & Concise... and once again the voice of reason. Tnx Ken.
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Michael Coslo

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One thing that Jay's post and K6OZY's retort made me think of is to remind people that their radios don't stop working just because an update was released.

This even follows with older Flexes that don't have new software releases any more - they still work. And every legacy radio I have owned has some unresolved issues that won't ever be fixed. A IC-745 with a death star ROM that bricks the radio if the battery fails. An IC-761 with death star trimmer caps. A Kenwood D-700 that doesn't like really cold mornings and transmits a weird semi siren semi passing gas noise on occasion. Kenwood doesn't even admit that problem exists. Probably my most reliable radio is my TS-480 SAT - oh, and the Flex.

So I would suggest that people with less computer experience or little patience, hold off a few weeks on any update. 
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Jay / NO5J

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K6OZY

Or, the 2nd Monday after it's released on a Friday!
I slept late and survived, unbricked!
I'm hoping I'll be sleeping late again, real soon.

Nice Fireworks display this year Flexradio! 

73, Jay - NO5J