The top opinions are:
- A newbie should not get a QRP radio
- Don't spend to much money on your first radio
Thanks for any advice.
My suggestion is go for the 6300. I would not get the 1500.
Super radio...very easy to use. NO REAL MENUS.
Lots of support here too.
Why not start with one of the best.
You will love it.
It does not take a real high end PC.
If you don't get the Flex...get a Ten-Tec Eagle...Awsome radio as well)
If money is an issue, one thing to consider is that if you find the Flex 6300 isn't to your liking, you can probably recover most of your cost selling it. You shouldn't have any problem finding a buyer, since FlexRadio has a program for transferring the warranty.
Some folks may suggest you buy a knob radio first, kind of like learning to drive stick before graduating to automatic. They do have a point. Some might go as far as suggesting a tube radio, to get that intimate experience. Also a good point. In the end, it's up to you. I suspect if you're like me, your first rig will ultimately be one of many over the years, each with their own personality and features. I still have a very fond place in my heart for my old Drake 2-B receiver and Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitter. Together, they weighed over 100 pounds and warmed my shack very satisfactorily. Would I go back? Not a chance.
Again, welcome. Ham Radio has plenty of room for everyone, their favorite equipment, modes, bands, antennas, etc. The joy is discovering YOUR favorites.
or even extend a little. Plan to use it for several years or more, so in a way the expense
gets spread over the years. Don't buy in to technical obsolescence. What will happen
is that if you buy an older product, you will soon want a newer, state of the art model and
will be faced with having to sell it (a pain) and inevitably lose money on it. Get what at
the time seems state-of-the-art and meet your needs. Then when the sate-of-the-art
advances enough to offer significant advantage (about half a solar cycle) go for the
newer rig, but keep the older one as backup.
QRP is fun for those experienced enough to seek further challenge. They have the
skill sets you need to develop.
Warning: Once you get into the SDR domain, you might not want to go any other way.
Whatever you decide you will be very happy with a Flex.
Can only agree with previously well stated comments.
I started out in ham radio in 1961. Dipped toe in SDR water with used Flex 5000 2-1/2 years ago. Now have had 6700 nearly a year. For a 70 year-old with limited computer skills, getting into SDR has had some challenges. However, the learning has been fascinating and I have never had so much fun in ham radio. PwrSDR with the Flex 5000 and mature software are terrific. Getting a 1500 can bring you a lot of joy. Now having SmartSDR in the 6xxx series, even though its software is still maturing, is even more remarkable.
Welcome to ham radio, Ian. This reflector has a lot of great contributors so you are very wise in seeking ideas and opinions here. You will have fun regardless of your ultimate decision.
The 6300 isn't terribly expensive - less than many box radios. It's not difficult to learn or use. You can get on the air within an hour of opening the box. As time goes on, you will learn more of the capabilities of the radio and your operating skills will increase. The radio will be ready when they do.
Plus, you get the fellowship of a great Flex community with all of the support and advice that comes with it. I am on my third Flex radio and still loving it.
History: I was licensed in 1952 as a Novice, WN4YXU moved up to Tech 3 months later. Just before the Novice ran out I passed the 13 WPM and got General class.
At some point in the late 60's my work interests took over and I was inactive for about 25years until I read an article about the "New SDR radio" About 7 years ago I got my Extra and ordered a Flex SDR1000. Then I found a good deal and moved up to the Flex 5000 with 2nd receiver option. About a year ago I moved up to the 6500. Traded the 5000 for a 3000 and some cash then after a while I sold the 3000 to a friend.
The 2nd receiver option worked beautifully but I just rarely used it. Therefore the 6500 was a better deal for me.
As others have said, it depends upon your budget and your commitment.
If you are committed to HF, want a first class station, and are committed to the time and effort required for the learning curve to operate the FLEX, get a 6300 or 6500. Then you will be on the cutting edge of ham radio for many years. And as a beginner, you wouldn't know anything else BUT a flex in which case you don't need to "unlearn" anything in order to learn it on a FLEX...... (If you really want to splurge, go whole hog for a 6700, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend that for a beginner.)
If you are not sure how deep you want to get into this hobby or into SDR and are just "trying it out" then try it out with a 1500 or used 3000 (a great buy if you can find it) until you get addicted and need to move up to a 6000 series.
On the other hand, if you want to jump in with both feet, go big and get a 6000 series, as big as your budget will stand. But beware the mistake that others have made.... don't blow ALL of your radio budget on a rig and a big amp so that you have nothing left over for your antenna. Without a good antenna system, extra money spent on a rig will leave you frustrated... like buying a multi-thousand Dollar surround system and putting cheap speakers on it, or getting a blu-ray DVD player for a 19 inch TV. After purchasing a great rig, I would put my money into a quality antenna system BEFORE investing into big amplifiers. You will improve BOTH your receiving and transmitting signal much more than adding an amp to a poor antenna. And high power amps bring their own RF-in-the-shack problems that 100 watt stations don't usually face.
I have been a ham almost 41 years and have a long list of rigs I have owned, the last one being a Kenwood TS-850SAT that I kept for 20 years. Then I started the FLEX radio stuff with a 1500 and that lasted 3 weeks until I was severely hooked and ordered a 6500... best ham radio decision I have ever made. My 1500 is now my backup/monitoring rig. I occasionally play with it just to keep up on PowerSDR so I can help others in this group and some of my FLEXer buddies who gather on 40 & 75 meters.
Good luck and have fun!
Ken - NM9P
To be honest......in the last few days I used my Drake R-4C (Full Sherwood modified) T-4XC, and L-4B amp and left the Flex off.....had a ball.
Also the R-4C can virtually hear anything the Flex or any modern radio can...and the audio is nice.Full Passband tuning, Notch, selectable IF filter AND front end roofing filters..WOW for 1974.
I also run Collins (KWM-2, S-Line), Hallicrafters(SR-400 Cyclone, HT-32B, SX-115) and Johnson/National (HRO-60/Ranger II) vintage gear here as well.
All of it does the job quite well.
The thing is I really like the visual way of running the radio...and that is a big draw as to my Flex 6500.
Fun to use it all......If I had to choose between modern vs vintage...well there would be some sleepless nights before that decision would be made. But I would probably go with the Flex as I am getting older and the vintage takes lots of room, some ongoing Maintainance (I do all my own) and someday my wife will have to dispose of all this heavy gear!
So, once again my recommendation for a new guy is: Get the 6300, try it for 25 days...then upgrade to the 6500 if you love the way it works. If you only want to spend $1500...go get the Ten-Tec Eagle package deal being offered right now. It is in my opinion..the very best radio in that price class...because if you can't hear em...you can't work them and it has the legendary Orion II upgraded Receiver.
Welcome to Ham radio...and a world of equipment choices!
Welcome to ham radio!
Assuming you want an SDR and that you're happy to control your radio with your computer (not ever single ham is... unfortunately for them): by all means, get a 6300. It's a terrific radio.
You want 100W. You want the antenna tuner (really, you do). You'll get a ton of flexibility, good ergos in the software, and the ability to talk to folks all over the world.
QRP isn't a newbies game. It'll force you to develop really good habits, that's for sure, but I'm afraid it'll do so at the cost of the ability to jump on 20M any time and have a QSO. This is a hobby: I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't want to "work" for my fun... in such cases it's fun to just hop on the radio, tune up some band (digimode or SSB, whichever I feel like) and answer a CQ. With a 6000-series radio, you can do this easily, any time of the day or night.
PLUS, the 6000-series is starting to develop a vibrant developer community that's creating extensions, additions, and various add-ons for the radio using the (openly published) FlexLib radio API.
As NM9P pointed out, don't forget to get a decent antenna. This doesn't have to be a yagi on a tower. You don't have to spend a lot of money. If you have the space, get an OCF Dipole up in the air and you can work any band.
Whichever you do have fun. And, whichever way you decide, don't hesitate to post here with any questions or comments you might have. Flex-related or just radio-related. We're here to help.
However, I am going to throw something different out there. For a first radio, which is just a great little device I would get a Yaesu Ft-857D. 100W on HF, 50w on 144 and 25w on 440 SSB, AM, FM on all bands. Very portable and can become the radio to run in your car/mobile/field day. Once you move to a "better" HF radio, such as the 6300, then you can keep the Yaesu to work VHF and UHF (local repeaters) and even do some satellites. You can find used ones for less than $600.
I will invest in a hexbeam antenna, small rotor (you can move a hex with an inexpensive tv rotor), get a 500/600w HF amp and a x200/x510 vertical for VHF/UHF. You will have a blast with that setup.
The Yaesu is a bit of a pain with a small screen and sub-menus, but if you connect it to the computer and use software like Ham Radio Deluxe, you can easily access a lot of those options.
And once you have a few contacts under your belt, a few months down the road, get the Flex 6300 and keep both. The Flex will greatly benefit from the multi-band in one feed line nature of the HexBeam antenna and you will keep a second radio that will cover any local VHF/UHF needs and give you a portable radio to boot.
Just my 2 cent.
Welcome to the hobby.