error fpga fan speed

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Is there a fix for this problem or do I have to send it in? I see others have had this problem.

Don...w2xb
running a flex 6500
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Don

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Posted 2 years ago

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Ross - K9COX

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I can't decide if all this talk blows or sucks
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Lol Ross, this is were we comment if we have problems as well as happy times with our radio's

I keep reminding myself that when reading someone venting or simply asking about a problem they have, they do not represent most of the customers. Such as the fan issue, there are some with problems,,but by far most have not had problems.
But it does bring up a good point. What happens if those fans can't be found anywhere soon, then what?

I know Flex will support these radios as long as parts are there, but?
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Kevin K4VD, Elroy

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Seems like more than one fan issue.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
The engineers at FlexRadio read the community, but we're busy and don't read all the posts.  Tim does read most everything here and if he feels like we need to weigh in on a topic, he shoots us an email and asks us to do so.  Such is the case with this thread.

First, I suspect that denying that we're the kind of company that would do something to increase service revenue probably wouldn't dissuade those that think this is the case.  It is, of course, not the case.  We are all "craftsman" that design radios and any failure reflects on our design and disappoints us.  We want the customer to get any problems fixed quickly and inexpensively.  This is true of most engineers regardless of any management directives to the contrary (which also don't exist at FlexRadio).  There are numerous cases that can be found that demonstrate this (including the recent high profile diesel emissions problems).  Engineers are generally more likely to be incompetent or accidentally make a bad choice than they are to actively "cheat" a customer in my experience.  FlexRadio's management team is also honorable and would not ask customers to pay for a problem just to charge a customer.  We have a demonstrated history of fixing problems that most would consider to be our responsibility at our own expense (FLEX-3000 preamp, FLEX-6700 performance enhancement [PEN], etc).

We discussed the fan failures that have occurred and our preference, generally, would be to give a customer a part number and suggest they fix the problem if it is easy.  Internally, we have been fixing the issue by replacing the integrated fan and heat sink assembly.  Removing the heat sink from either the CPU or the FPGA is not a job for the faint of heart.  The adhesive is strong and is designed to firmly hold the heat sink to the chip.  Each of the chips are connected to the PCB by either 464 or 1031 solder balls, depending on the part.  If you were to break any one of these loose, you could have a failure or intermittent radio.  Sometimes customers that cause issues like this do not feel obligated to tell a company what caused the problem (I'm not accusing anyone in particular -- just saying I've seen it happen as a radio repair tech).  This results in hours of bench time trying to find the problem and then customers sometimes suggest that we should pay for the time it took to find and repair the problem.

I'm sure it seems odd, but it never occurred to me (or anyone else at FlexRadio that I know of) to remove the fan from one heatsink/fan assembly and screw it into the already attached heatsink.  We buy them as an integrated unit.  But, having seen this here, this is a simple enough fix that I think most of our customers could do this.  Opening the cage, who's sole purpose is to prevent radiated emissions from the processors, memory and power supplies from reaching the radio, is not too hard -- but putting it back together correctly is much more difficult.  If the cage isn't closed properly, RF from the cage will end up in the receiver.  Many of the developers at our office run the radios with the cage open because we need to take measurements, etc. and we see first hand the effects of this and you do not want to run your radio without the cage.  *I* do not close the cage myself, but instead have the service team do it and I'm very comfortable doing SMD rework, etc.

So the official FlexRadio position will remain that we consider opening the cage to be a "non-customer serviceable item" because of the difficulty opening/closing the cage.  If you open the cage, it will void the warranty.  If you are out of warranty and want to replace the fan and you feel comfortable spending the time learning how to close the cage effectively, I think it is something that many people could do -- but it's not terribly easy.  If you get stuck and call service, I would expect our service team to charge you to teach you how to get the cage closed or deal with any issues you have.  I don't feel that this is in any way unreasonable.  It's really no different than fixing your car: if you buy a Chilton manual and it looks like you can accomplish the repair yourself, great.  You buy the tools and the parts and perform the repair.  If you get into trouble, you have to get your car to the dealer or local repair shop and pay him to help you get out of trouble.

Please note that the fan must have a tachometer.  The fan we use is also available without a tachometer and if you purchase the incorrect one, it will install fine, but the radio will not enable the power to the chips because the fan is apparently not spinning.

Not to frighten you, but I have a funny story along these lines.  The first vehicle I bought myself was a Honda XL-350R motorcycle in 1986.  I wanted to perform all the repair and maintenance work myself.  The first thing I did on my new bike was to change the oil.  I bought a service manual that said I really needed a torque wrench to properly tighten the bolts on the bike.  I went to Sears and bought a torque wrench, an expense I didn't want.  I changed the filter and went to tighten the three bolts that attached the oil filter cover to the block of the engine.  I looked up the torque which was expressed in Nm.  I tightened the first bolt and couldn't get it to the required torque so I continued to twist the wrench.  Of course, it has a long handle and a lot of mechanical advantage.  Suddenly, it got easier and before I knew it I was holding the bolt head in my hand and the shaft was sheared off inside the engine.  You can imagine how I felt.  I called the Honda dealer who was puzzled.  He asked what value I was torquing to.  I replied with the value and he said "Where did you get that?"  I said "Right from the service manual on page <whatever>.  It says torque 8mm bolts to 18Nm." (values are no longer accurate as my memory has faded).  He said "it's a 4mm bolt tough."  I said "No, the socket says 8mm."  He laughed and said that the bolt size is the size of the shaft -- not the head.  You can see how I made the mistake and you can also see how it's a stupid newbie mistake.  The dealer offered to fix it for me by drilling out the bolt, but said "I can't guarantee that it will not destroy the bike -- the engine is magnesium and if it catches on fire while I'm drilling it will just burn to the ground."  It all ended well and the drilling was successful with even more money out of my pocket. 

My point in telling this story is that the service department at Honda could not have predicted the stupid mistake I would make.  And I did not expect them to pay for my stupid mistake when I made it.  My advice to those that want to make this repair themselves is just like it would be for someone repairing a car, etc: feel free to do it if you feel qualified.  If you mess it up, it could be expensive to get out of trouble.  I know this sounds a little like I'm trying to scare you off of doing the repair yourself which is not the case.  I just want you to understand that you're dealing with an area of the radio that could be expensive to repair if you make a serious mistake.
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Manuel - W4SSB

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Thanks Steve. For those of us that feel comfortable changing the fan can you please provide us with a part number as the current fan has been discontinued.
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Delbert McCord

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This is a relief to read, I was very uncomfortable with the silence from Flex on this issue. 

Still did not get the part numbers that are available and compatible and recommended for the Flex fan replacements. Will Flex sell them to us or do we buy them from other sources? 

I would be willing to pay for a little video of showing the correct way of doing this repair and re assembling the rig correctly. 

I want to say thank you for the engineer taking the time to put this reply together for us. I myself was getting so paranoid that I only would turn the rig on for nets and when I was going to activity operate, I stopped monitoring just in the background and I really enjoy list listening when I am doing my paperwork in my office / shack. If the parts are available then I will be able to relax and just enjoy the rig again. I will not ever leave it on 24/7 again, I just do not need to, why risk it?
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KC2QMA_John

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First I would like to say my comments may have been a bit harsh and would like to apologize if I was out of line, I may have just got caught up in the heat of the moment. But like many other flex owners this is due to the lack of response which if left UN-answered can lead to all kinds of speculation and conjecture. We would just like more transparency and more more timely responses to these types of issues after all what is the point of having a User Group Site if we are just on our own, we can use yahoo groups for that.


Now you cant please everyone but in this case please understand that your customers have invested a lot of money in your company and have even given you money (deposits) for products that are not even available and good communication is the minimum we ask.


Clearly looking at this thread there is a problem with these chip coolers, weather it is the fault of the fan manufacture of the fans or a mistake in the design by relying too much on these fans to allow the radio to operate there is a problem, technology is not perfect and neither are humans.


It seems to be that you realized that this was a flaw and that's why in the new radios the chips are cooled passively.


So for those people that want to DIY repair on their own simply Sell the replacement fan OR Give the part number for the fan and add a disclaimer letting the user know that they do this repair at their own risk and any damage to the radio as a result may make the radio not repairable or very expensive to do so, witch it looks like you kind of said in your last reply.


The other option is one I have suggested “If FRS took a little time with some clever CNC machining of aluminum or copper a one piece chunk of Heatsink could be made to fit over both chips inside the cage that would have more than enough mass to dissipate the heat from both chips without fans. Then we would never have to worry about those fans or the dust they accumulate.”

Yes I understand the Tach issue but that can be handled in the radios firmware and the temp sensor can be dealt with as well. This would be a “Factory Upgrade Only” that can NOT be done by the end user.

You would charge for this service and I'm sure everyone would be more than happy to pay for it knowing that this eliminates a problem and makes the radio even better than it was to begin with.


Consider this a hardware upgrade sort of like what Elecraft has done with it’s optional Heatsink Upgrade for the KX3 see here :http://www.elecraft.com/manual/E740254%20KX3HSMDKT%20Heat%20Sink%20Installation%20rev%20A.pdf


Let me end by saying this I love my Flex and wouldn't want any other radio in my shack and that's why I have a 6600M on order. Again I apologize for some of my miss placed comments with that said FlexRadio is In my opinion the best radio available today hands down!
(Edited)
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Scott N8UMW

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I think I can speak for most when I say we thank you for giving us some answers. Having dealt with similar setups in computers and other electronics, I have worked with heatsink adhesives and rf cages before. Those who haven't should consider sending in their radios for repair for the exact reasons you mentioned. If mine dies again soon, I'll send it back in while I still have warranty left. It would be the second time for fan issues. You certainly confirmed most of my thoughts on this, so again, thank you for the information.
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Gene - K3GC

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I would love to know what the failure rate is for these fans.  I suspect that it is quite low.  Satisfied customers with no problems are not likely to post to a forum such as this or even read it for that matter.

If FRS were to post the actual failure rate for these fans I suspect it would alleviate concern for all who are concerned about possible failure of fans.

Thanks
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Delbert McCord

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The fact that they have not to me says they do have a problem.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I think they have, Steve said above they discussed the fan failures in a meeting. His reply was very good and honest.

For me, I know some have had problems, but I never think about,,I just use my radio the same every day, I feel the probability of a fan failure is remote. But possible like anything else.
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Harold Rosee

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Steve,

To use your analogy when a vehicle has a problem the vehicle is recalled and fixed with a different part or firmware. It is usually covered if it's out of warranty.

It appears that the repair FRS is performing is o install the exact component that was the problem in the first place.  I see that several have failed more than once.

I would think that FRS would come up with a fix that would use a different fan even it it required a firmware change that worked for either fan.  To me, it is unacceptable to fix them like they are currently being repaired.  I mean no disrespect but it makes no sense at all to me to do that.

I have not had this problem with my 6500 but I don't operate that often.  Mine is still in warranty but it sure give me pause as to whether to keep it or not.

How about a better solution.  I think that is really the point of all this discussion.  Even if we have to pay for an out of warranty repair it would be easier to swallow if we knew if was a proper fix.

Thanks for your consideration and comments on this.

Harold
W5ZZT
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Douglas Maxwell

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It would be cool if this was a passive fix with a falsified fan rev input mod.
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Gene - K3GC

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Failure of a part per se  does not mean that the part is overly prone to failure.  If they fail at a rate of 5/thousand per example that would most likely be the luck of the draw. Moving parts WILL eventually fail. If the failure rate was 50/thousand then a new part may be in order.

The recall analogy is that a general recall is done due to either safety concerns or a part that fails way too often.  

We do not have that information.  The fact that a large number have posted to this forum  does not really tell us anything except that people with problems are most likely to complain. I suspect that there is a very large number of satisfied Flex 6xxx owners out there who do not even use this forum.

If I had the data that the failure rate of these fans was very low I could go about happily using my radio without another thought.  If, on the other hand, the failure rate was high I would want to have a couple of fans in reserve.

Steve's letter does not deal with actual failure rates and that is what I would like to see.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I think you mentioned that before Gene
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Gene - K3GC

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Just a bit more specific :)
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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I do not know the current failure rate in terms of failures/radio.  We've not taken the time to go compute that number yet.  This came up for discussion because it rose to the most common failure (outside of lightning) in the service shop.  We keep an eye on things like this and if it seems odd, we go investigate if there is an issue.

Someone from FlexRadio will post the part number next week when we get a minute to do so.  I don't have it handy this weekend.

We always look at any failure with a mindset of questioning the root cause of the failure and discussing if it is a design issue, a supplier issue, etc.  If it is a supplier issue, we address these directly with the supplier and generally arrive at a joint resolution that works for us, our customers and the supplier.  In the event of a design issue, we decide how serious the issue is and if it warrants a change in the design, a retrofit, etc.  We've done a few retrofits after ship in the field for issues we considered significant.  We're still "studying" the recent uptick in fan failures.  In terms of raw percentages, I believe the numbers are fairly low, but again we've not computed them yet.  After doing some analysis on the "why," we will decide if further action is warranted.  
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Steve,
On the most common repair issue ( Lightning damage) can you share what are the common types of part failures you see?  

I'm curious if you have seen any issue with the radio USB ports.

If the radio is off (powered down) and the antennas are disconnected then I would suspect the ethernet port would be most likely.  It would be interesting f you could share any numbers of the types of failures.  

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/dead-ethernet-port

I addressed the ethernet port with a fiber link a few years ago and I disconnect the antennas and power when it is not in use but recently someone asked me about the USB ports.   My current thinking is that powering all the USB devices from a UPS (to address power line surges) and using a (sacrificial) USB hub between the devices and the radio USB port is adequate.  

Thoughts? 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
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Gene - K3GC

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Thanks Steve,
Your response is most helpful.  I will look forward to the followup 
Gene K3GC
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Manuel - W4SSB

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Did the part # for the fan ever get posted?
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Gene - K3GC

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Not yet
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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The part number for the fan we're using is AP0512HB-J96(S)-4P-TA-LF.  This part is at end-of-life (we've used it for about 6-years now) although we have stock.  We have an engineering project to investigate a suitable replacement fan or other technology to keep the parts cool for the future, but for us this is not urgent since we have replacement parts.  As you might imagine, parts go EOL on a regular basis and part of sustaining engineering is to find replacement parts that work in the design so this is "par for the course" as an electronics company.

The fan is currently attached to two parts: the main CPU and the FPGA.  We have two mechanisms for ensuring that we are in temp specs.  We have a tachometer on the fans (both are monitored and the radio will remove power from the chips if the fans stop) and the FPGA has an internal temperature sensor.  With the FPGA we provide a warning if it's getting too hot and an error/shutdown if it gets to the temp that we want to stop operation.

FYI For the newest radios, the FLEX-6400 and FLEX-6600, we've moved to a single, larger fan and mechanicals to direct the airflow across the proper parts to reduce the number of moving parts in the radio.  So neither of these radios happen to use these smaller device fans.  This doesn't alter our need to look for a longer term solution for replacement parts for the 6300/6500 and 6700, of course, but is just provided to answer the curiosity question should it arise.
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k0eoo

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@Al,

On your USB port question regarding lightning issues, about 3-4 years ago I experienced a hit to the tower while all my antenna's and ports were connected.  The 6500, PC, rotor controller, DX engineering Remote ant switch, Steppir controller, LP-100A and Alpha 87A were all connected to the PC via hub's and serial to USB adapters.  All the gear was turned off.  

After the lightning strike, ALL the serial to USB adapters, hub's and PC were blown.  Anything connected to the USB was seriously effected.  The LP-100A, rotor controller and 6500 were not effected.  The DX engineering remote control switch box was blown as was the SteppIR control box.  The RS232 chip in the Alpha 87A was blown as well.

I guess this is the long way around to my point, and that is, if all my USB stuff had been connected to the 6500 instead of the PC I think I would have probably blown the 6500.  Since that incident I have added an isolated USB Hub that provides about 4kv of isolation to the PC.  If you're interested in the model number let me know.  

I was out of town when that lighting incident occurred and unable to disconnect everything like I usually do.
(Edited)
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Douglas Maxwell

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Could Flex also consider a mechanical clip to stop the heatsink and fan assembly becoming unstuck from the chip due to its own weight and it's inverted orientation. This would increase the possibility of me taking my flexradios out portable.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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@Dennis,
Thanks, here is the USB hub I'm using, it's advertised as having "industry level protection."   Not sure how that compares to the one you are using.  What model are you using and do how do you think it compares?

I'd rather replace the hub than send in the radio since it is only $26 from Amazon.  I also have the hub power supply and all the USB connected devices connected to a UPS for power surge protection.  

I asked @Steve H for feedback since I was curious if FRS had any other recommendations for USB protection and whether they have seen any USB failures.  In another related thread Tim indicated they weren't going to reply about the lightning failures other than to say that the ESD diodes were the most common one. 



Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
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k0eoo

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@Al,

Here is the one I bought, UHR304.  http://www.bb-elec.com/Products/Datasheets/UHRx04-2512ds-pdf.pdf

Its a USB port ISOLATOR.  The PC provides power for the HUB side and a separate well isolated power supply provides power for the USB inputs.  In between it provides 4kv of isolation and 15kv of ESD protection.  It was a bit pricy but USB port isolators that will work at FS are hard to come by, at least 3-4 years ago they were.  The one you show does not say it provides ISOLATION between the PC and the USB port inputs so I'm not sure it will protect your rig.

I might add, if you get a direct lightning strike and all your ports are connected 4kv of isolation won't help, this will only help protect in static discharge situations, at least I hope it does.  So far I have had NO port issues since installing the USB isolator, knock on wood....
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Dennis / K0EOO,
Agree the hub I have advertises "industry level protection" but doesn't say what that means and I don't see any specs on isolation numbers on their web page.   My assumption was that it would be better than directly plugging into the radio USB ports and act like a $25 fuse.  

The hub you got is clearly better and looks like a great USB 2.0 hub but it sure is expensive at about $300.  They also make a 3.0 USB version for $375.  

Are you using yours with the Flex radio USB ports?   What devices do you have attached?   I'd want to be sure there are no glitches before spending that much.








Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
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k0eoo

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@ Al,

Hi Al, my UHR304 USB port isolator has been connected to my PC for around 3 years now.  NO issues with it hurting the PC or anything.  When the day comes that I switch over to using the Flex USB ports I'll use that same HUB.  As far as issues go, once or twice a year I have to reset the HUB by powering it down for a couple seconds, it always comes right back up and all works great!  Normally I leave it powered up 24/7.

As I mentioned before, because USB data streams are not symmetrical, they cannot easily be isolated, like with a capacitor or transformer.   Consequently, there is no cheap way, I know of, to isolating USB data making the HUB's quite expensive as you've mentioned.  For example, Ethernet ports on everything are DC isolated to about 1500v because Ethernet data protocol, simulator to 8bit/10bit coding, is symmetrical and can be easily isolated

You mention a $25 fuse, in my previous experience the old cheap HUB I had passed on the lightning surge and took out the PC USB ports and PC, it did not protect the PC so I expect it wouldn't protect the Flex.  Part of the problem might be how you power the HUB.  If you power the HUB from the PC like I was doing any glitch on the ports would pass right on to the PC, but, if you use a separate PS for the HUB like Flex recommends, that might add an unquantifiable level of protection?

I don't know Al, do you think we have beat this dead horse long enough, LoL?
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Dennis,
I found your earlier post on this topic about the USB port protection and moved my comments there since this thread is really about the fan failures.  Also posted about a less expensive hub from Tripp Lite for comments.  

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/pc-radio-port-protection-from-esd-and-other-out-wor...

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
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Delbert McCord

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Ok so Flex has some fans still is stock. Can I buy some? That was one of the original questions knowing that they are discontinued and I have 2 6300's I do not want to be stuck with expensive paperweights in a couple years.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I think Steve made it clear that Flex will not let the radio turn into a paper wight. He said they are looking to other options for cooling,,  So I don't see the panic here.
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Delbert McCord

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I am not panicking I just want to have some spares. I already had to send one of them in for the fan problem and I have a friend that is about to send his in for the second time.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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@Don / W2XB
I hope you don't mind the discussion about the USB ports here.  I know this was intended to be a post about the fan failures.   It started when Steve mentioned that the fan failures were second only to lightning failures.   Anyway I should probably have copied that comment and started a separate thread.   I originally thought it would result in a quick answer but it evolved to much more.  

So I apologize for that....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
 
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G8ZPX

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interesting sentiment and anecdotes from N5AC, but lacking any facts about reliability, MTBF figures, part numbers, why they are failing so early and repeatedly, what is valid technical solution for the end-of life-part code in a raido only 3 years old?

Did I say part number?

(Edited)
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Gene - K3GC

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I contacted Mouser last week regarding a replacement for the obsolete fan.  They sent me data sheet for the replacement.  They have to be ordered in lots of 20 at $13.12 ea.
The first thing I noticed was that the fan only has 2 wires (no tach)
For those of us who would like to have spare for later self install the only option appears to be Flex unless someone can find another source.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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2-wire fans will not work.  The radio will not boot without the tach line.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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See G7BCX's post a week ago in this thread. There is a fully compatible replacement. Same rpm monitoring function. Plug an Play, just that it uses a newer "hyper bearing" internal design. PN AP0512HX-J96

They are not normally stocked by the distributors (Mouser, DigiKey, etc). 

As I mentioned earlier in the week, if there is enough interest, I can do a bulk (100pc) purchase direct from the manufacturer. Price will be just below $15 each, plus postage.  


Eric
K2CB

(Edited)
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Gene - K3GC

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The data sheet I got from Mouser does not show the 
Tach line which as Tim said will not work.
Link to data sheet: http://www.mouser.com/ds/2/6/adda_ap5008-608356.pdf

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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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That's because that is not the correct replacement.  The PDF referenced above is for the J90 version which is a two wire design. The J96 version has the third-wire rpm monitoring circuit.


Here is the correct version. 

http://www.mouser.com/ds/2/6/Adda_AP0512HX-J96-A-347536.pdf



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KC2QMA_John

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Eric I think you might just have to take a chance and order the fans. I’m sure once you have them you can just sell them on ebay as a replacement part for the 63/65/6700. And at that point you can just charge around $20-$25 each.

And as time goes on with such a high failure rate you will have no problem selling them.
Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have confirmed availability and am getting ready to place an order. They will be $15 each, and flat rate shipping to you will be approximately $9 regardless of quantity.  Email me direct with your desires, and once I have a total count, I will place the order. Quoted lead time is 1-2 weeks.


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Gene - K3GC

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There is a link at the bottom of that data sheet that shows obsolete, not available.
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KC2QMA_John

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Gene they are special order from manufacture. Meaning they are made to order.
(Edited)
Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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According to Mouser, yes. 

However, if you commit to a large quantity, you can still get them direct from the manufacturer. I have already consulted with the manufacturer, they have stock, lead time is 1-2 weeks. They are ready to ship, once we have enough interest.

If I don't get enough takers to cover the minimum, another option is to up the price slightly per unit to cover my total cost of the minimum buy requirement, but let's hope there are enough takers as is.

There is a large minimum, so I need enough takers to make it worthwhile. Believe me, it is not really worth the aggravation or time involved. I am only offering to do this for the benefit of my fellow Flex owners, and to have a few on hand for my own two radios.

Any remaining units after the group buy will just go into my parts inventory, and as John NY suggested, may be available down the road as needed.

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Manuel - W4SSB

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Eric,  I sent you a PM to your ARRL email address.  Let me know if you didn't receive it.
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Gene - K3GC

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I sent one also
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Bill W2PKY

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Would it be a good idea to start a thread for those who want to purchase fans?
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Eric / K2CB,
I appreciate your effort to help make the improved fans available for us.  I'd jump on the offer but would like to hear more about the concerns Steve H. raised about the cage re-install.  It would be great to have someone document or video the process so we can determine whether it is something we want to do.  Steve makes it sound difficult.....or risky. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10


From above.....
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have received everyone's emails. I think I have replied to everyone so far. It looks like we will make the minimum. I will wait till Monday to get a final count, then I will place an order Tuesday.

Please let me know by Monday at the latest if you want in. I'd appreciate the PayPal payments by Monday evening, as I don't want to get stuck "holding the bag" on this!   I'll be ordering just enough to cover all the "paid" requests, and maybe a handful more "just in case".

 I'll respond to those who emailed me directly as well.

Thanks,

Eric

 

Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I agree, Al.   My own 6300 and 6500 are fine at the moment, so I really don't want to open them up for no reason at this point. Therefore, I also would appreciate someone else picking up the "documentation" portion of this "project", or whatever you want to call it.....But from past experience with similarly designed equipment, I think as long as one is careful, it should not be too difficult to properly replace the cover.  One just needs to pay close attention to the overall alignment before snapping it down into place.


(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I wonder how much the fans are from Flex, but I think they are the complete set, heatsink and fan together, Steve says they have stock of them and they are not in trouble of depleting the stock as yet.

Eric, perhaps if you order a few more then you have commitments, you will still have some to sell later on.
Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Same deal. Fan and heat sink combo. You can simply unscrew the fan off the new heat sink and swap it with the existing fan.
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Delbert McCord

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Thank you Eric for doing this. I know I feel a log better knowing I have them coming and will not have to worry about it anymore.
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John - K3MA

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Jeez for the $24 shipped Eric is asking for this spare part it should be a done deal.  I applaud Eric.  Finally someone is doing something other then typing comments on the forum.  Heck even if you can't install the fan yourself or have trouble with the cage the $24 to have a try is less than the insurance you will pay to ship your Flex back to the factory.
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Delbert McCord

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Bill Buchanan-VA3WTB

When I had mine fixed Flex replaced 2 fans and they charged 30$ each.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Luckily my 6300 fan failed within warranty, Flex honoured all costs for it to be fixed so no beef there, however the cooling arrangement used (IMO) is something I would expect to see on a Xilinx development platform laid flat on a desk with no ruggedness specification and not as in Flex usage for inverted orientation in a high end transceiver likely to be used in the field. I am surprised it even survives shipping reliably. I have grown to love my Flexradio and it's currently the only radio I want in the shack, so hopefully the new radios passive cooling solution doesn't completely rely on tape to hold the heatsink onto the chip.
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Delbert McCord

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Thank you for the info, I also love my FLex and am spoiled its all i want to use. When it was in I was at my cabin and had to use the Icom 746 there (backup rig) and it worked I was able to check into the net but is was not a Flex...... Tape hu? I am underwhelmed! 
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Doug, they don't use tape to secure the heat sink to the chip. They use a very strong adhesive. It would be very hard to remove the heat sink without damaging the chip. It would never just fall off.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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If anyone has any photos of the opened cage, original fan, and actual pin connector where it plugs into the board, I would greatly appreciate an email with a photo or two.  I want to be 110% sure the mfg is supplying me with the correct connector and lead length, so it is truly a plug and play swap.  They have asked me for a photo of the original unit and connector so as to verify.


Also, with the photos, I could possibly photo shop them and prepare some sort of how-to doc to enclose with the fans when they ship.


BTW, we have met the minimum, but there is still time to get on the list, as I can increase the quantity if needed.


Thanks,

Eric

K2CB

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Douglas Maxwell

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Bill, I wish that were true, my limited edition 6500 fan and heatsink arrangement simply "fell off" and had to be "stuck on" again. Hence my comments here from experience.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Wow never ever heard of that happening, well, see anything can happen...
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Douglas Maxwell

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Just finished a thorough clean out of the 2 side fans and the FPGA and processor active heatsinks. I removed the fans from the heatsinks to aid cleaning using a small brush and a vaccum. Tip here is to support the heatsink when removing the fan screws to prevent the heatsink from twisting off the adhesive tape that holds the heatsink to the chip. Removing the RF screen was easy by ensuring a small upward movement on each of the three sides available thus lifting the top off without using force. I found re-installing the RF screen difficult as there are 2 rows of metal tongues which the lid edge needs to be secured between. The tongue rows are interleaved and the ones with holes in them go on the inside of the lid edge and the solid tongues go to the outside of the lid edge. The problem is that the fourth side of the rf screen box is located under an aluminium chassis bar and its difficult to see in there. The trick seems to be to ensure the 4th obscured side of the rf screen box lid has located correctly between the tongues. Start with this edge first, then align the other 3 sides and push down evenly on all 4 sides in turn till pushed fully home. A check round the box can then be done to ensure no tongues with holes are visible. It really was rather simple but obviously you do so at your own risk.
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Douglas Maxwell

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I took some measurements when I was in there. The rf screen box is 20mm high
the heatsink is 50mmx50mmx8mm and hovers over the pcb by about 4mm. So there is approximately 8mm gap between the top of the FPGA active heatsink and the rf screen lid. There is a 13mm gap between the top of the rf screen box and the aluminium bar. The FPGA fan is directly in line with the side fan.
I wonder if Flex would consider engineering a mod something like the following:
A 16mm deep aluminium block can be taped to the top of FPGA then a thermal gap pad to the rf screen lid. This would provide a massive passive heatsink (block & rf screen). An additional heatsink could then be secured to the top of the rf screen box and the side fan would provide airflow through it. The RPM lead from the processor fan could then wired in parallel to the FPGA RPM lead meaning the firmware thinks it has 2 fans when actually it only has 1 fan. This would double the reliability by removing one of the fans. The FPGA is the real heat problem anyway as this should always draw way more current than the processor.
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Gene - K3GC

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Thanks for sharing Douglas,
Was there sufficient dust and crud in and around the fan/heat-sink to justify removing the rf shield and fans?

A sufficiently dirty fan can easily cause premature failure.  Blowing compressed air through the shield to the fans will be helpful but in my experience  compressed air will will blow some but not all of the dust adhering to the surface.

 I look forward to your observations.
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Scott N8UMW

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No dust in mine. No radio online. Fan must have died again. Time to send it in while I have a month and a half of warranty left.
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Michael Aust

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How many of these fans are in 6500 compared to a 6700 on the FPGA

Assume 1 Fan for 6500
Assume 2 Fan's for 6700

If FRS had an cooling upgrade kit for the 6700 that was Fanless, I go for that !
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Michael Aust

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How many of these fans are in 6500 compared to a 6700 on the FPGA

Assume One Fan for 6500
Assume Two  Fan's for 6700

If FRS had an cooling upgrade kit for the 6700 that was Fanless, I go for that !
(Edited)
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Each radio has a CPU and an FPGA, one fan for each regardless of model.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Gene, my 6500 was opened up before, approx 2 years ago to reattach the active heatsink to the FPGA, it was also cleaned out at that stage. This time there was only a light dusting over the blades, but 1 hours effort for peace of mind was worth it for me. There are 4 fans visible when you open the underside of the 6500, 2 large fans on either side that you can see from the outside and 2 fans within the rf screen box which you can't see from the outside. The ones in the rf screen box are mini fans mounted within heatsinks that are "stuck" onto the Xilinx virtex 6 FPGA and the TI Da Vinci processor chips.
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Douglas Maxwell

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Gene, my 6500 was opened up before, approx 2 years ago to reattach the active heatsink to the FPGA, it was also cleaned out at that stage. This time there was only a light dusting over the blades, but 1 hours effort for peace of mind was worth it for me. There are 4 fans visible when you open the underside of the 6500, 2 large fans on either side that you can see from the outside and 2 fans within the rf screen box which you can't see from the outside. The ones in the rf screen box are mini fans mounted within heatsinks that are "stuck" onto the Xilinx virtex 6 FPGA and the TI Da Vinci processor chips.
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Michael Aust

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So does the 6700 have Two CPU's and Two FPGA's with a fan on each ( 4 Fans) 
or just Two Fan's to cool the CPU's and FPGA's

Seem we know there are only Two Fans for the CPU/FPGA on the 6500,
asking does the Fan Count go up by twice  ?  Four Fan's ?? for the 6700

From what I hear, but not sure from Steve only Two of these fans 
on CPU/FPGA for Flex6300, Flex6500 and Flex6700

Not Counting any side Fan's just those needed for CPU's and FPGA's
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Each radio has one CPU, one FPGA, one fan on each (two total).
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Gene - K3GC

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Thanks Douglas
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k3Tim

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I pulled the bottom cover on the 6500 here and peeked in the EMI cage to be sure the fans were secure. I've taken this radio backpacking, portable and  mobile - the fans look to be stuck in place pretty well. Didn't pull the cover as the portion under the bracket looks like it would be a lot of fun to get it all lined up. Should a fan replacement be required I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Blew out some dust using the recommended procedure. On the chassis fans had to use a brush to loosen the dirt. 
Radio is over 2 years old, has many hours on it and NO problems at all.

Thanks of the interesting information and also a special thanks to Eric for  putting the fan order together.  I'm in for several. I have a '76 Camaro that the thermal vacuum trip valve in the carb filter snorkle cost like $5 back in the day. Today that little plastic piece will set you back $200, if you're lucky enough to find one. Will stock some fans just to be safe!

Regards All,
TiM
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Michael Aust

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Well, On the list for 4 fans from Eric K2CB, just as insurance
if ever needed or if FRS runs out !
Thanks Eric !
73 Mike
WB6DJI
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Al / NN4ZZ

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The TOTAL number of FANS varies by 6xxx model per the "help desk."  See snapshot below about the fan cleaning process. 

But all models have 2 fans inside the cage which are the ones Eric / K2CB is offering. One for the CPU and one for the FPGA.   I ordered 2 and figured if I have to remove the cage to replace one, might as well replace them both.   (although the only error I've seen reported is the FPGA error so wonder if there is a CPU error as well or do both get reported as the same FPGA error)

 


@Eric, what about replacements for the other fans?   Should there also be a supply of the other one (1) or two (2) main cooling fans at the front of the chassis?   Assume they are a different model, is that correct?

I haven't seen much about the failure rate for them or whether they generate any specific error codes.   But in a few posts there have been references like  "FRS replaced all 4 of my fans."    

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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The engineering sample arrived Friday.

It is a full drop in replacement. Same OEM manufacturer, same wire color coding and connector, same heat sink, and the same thermal adhesive pad. The only difference is the bearing technology, as the oem no longer offers the older style design. I am told the Hypro bearing is better, but I'm no fan design expert!

Most will opt to just unscrew and swap the fans, but for the purist, this is a complete replacement. No cutting corners. See pics below.

For those who preordered, I expect the fan order to arrive here Wednesday, and they should be in the mail and on the way to you by Friday. Watch for your shipment notification email.

For those who may wish to purchase fans in the future, I will have a limited stock on hand for $20 each, plus $10 flat rate shipping in the US. Inquire for shipment rates outside the US. If you think you want to purchase a fan, don't wait too long, as I don't foresee ordering another 100 fans anytime soon!

Thank you to everyone who preordered and made this possible!

Eric
K2CB

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Delbert McCord

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Thank you sir for all your effort on this. It will be a lot of work for you to package and sent all these out and I for one appreciate all your effort for us Flex owners.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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UPDATE-

The fans arrived yesterday, and were shipped out to everyone last evening.  Everyone should have received their tracking notification emails by now, and those in the US should expect delivery by Saturday. Outside the US, allow a week or two.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this "group buy" possible.

For those who missed out, I have approximately 8 fans left at this point in time.  $20 each plus $10 shipping. Once they are gone, that's it! 


Eric

K2CB

(Edited)
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Terry Tankersley

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Thanks Eric, great job. I received mine today.
Terry
K7NY
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Delbert McCord

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Thanks!
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Larry Williamson

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Eric,

I would like to purchase one please?

Thank you
Larry
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Email me direct. k2cb@comcast.net
Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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As of this afternoon, the fans are sold out.

Should there be significant interest in the future, I'll consider another pre-order list.

Once again, thank you to all who participated.

Eric
K2CB
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Paul Burton

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Eric - I received mine today.  Many thanks for your efforts.
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Scott N8UMW

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They work perfectly. Thank you Eric.

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