FIRST SDR - Brand New 6500 Owner: What do I need to purchase other than the box?

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SDR Beginner - The 6500 is inbound, what should I buy to make it work great?
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Big Hammer

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Posted 1 month ago

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Richard Albright

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A good antenna system is first and foremost with any radio.
Rich   W3OT
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James Del Principe

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a megawatt amp, a 100 foot tower and a huge beam to impress your neighbors!!!    OK, just semi-kidding.    But as W3OT pointed out, a good antenna is really first.    Put up the best you can afford. That does not mean you need a beam and tower but do try your hardest.   I have an OCF dipole and an end fed half wave. They are NOT ideal but I do have a lot of fun. I'll never afford a tower but that does not matter to me.
Also, don't forget it is a hobby and supposed to be a fun activity.   Hope to work you sometime.   73, Jim
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Bill -VA3WTB

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As your question was Flex related, consider how your going to connect you mic. Make sure you have all the right connectors to wire to you mic. It all depends what your want to do. You need a set of powered speakers. Most of the things you may need may be laying around your shack already.

To get started,,really nothing,,it comes with a hand mic as well.
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Mark WS7M

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While we are at it, along with the good antenna and megawatt amp, get a 2000' tower to put that good antenna on!  That will really impress the neighbors!

Ok all that aside:

You will need a reasonably good Windows computer.  The primary app for Flex radios runs on Winsows.  Windows 10 works well expect you have to put up with regular updates and perhaps some reinstalls of SSDR.

If you are not a Windows guy there is a Mac app called DogPark SDR but honestly if you don't know SDR I'd go with the Windows version first.

Do you plan to put the 6500 on your desk?   If so you will need a hardwire network cable to head over to a switch or to the switch part of your router.

If the 6500 is on your desk then cables for mics and keys are pretty much standard and ready to go.  It is when you move the 6500 like most of us do, off the desk, into a closet or a shed where you need to get cable creative.

You'll need a minimum of a 30A 12V power supply.  35A would be better.  You could run it from a dry battery but you don't want the battery charger trying to charge while you are transmitting.

One of the big benefits of the radio you have purchased is its ability to remote.  By remote I mean both on your LAN and over the internet.

With proper connection to a good router and a reasonable ISP providing you good internet you can use your 6500 just about anywhere in your home on a laptop, exactly what I am doing right now.  I'm sitting in my kitchen with SSDR running on my laptop.  My radio is in a shed a good 75 feet away.

As long as your internet is reasonable and your router is ok you can register for SmartLink and connect to your radio from a Starbucks either with a laptop or if you have an iPhone or iPad you can use the iOS app which is for sale in the App store.

These LAN and internet remotes work extremely well.  I love this about my radio.  I can run CW at starbucks or my friends house and I've even done on Airplane WiFi traveling from Denver to LAX.  It just works.

So welcome to the club.  This is great place to ask questions.

Mark - WS7M

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KENT HUFFORD

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Elecraft KPA1500 amp. JBL Control 2P powered speakers. 
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Big Hammer

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Thank you gentlemen for taking the time to post your advice/comments.  My station now as far as antennas (look up WT8V on QRZ for pictures), radios (Yaesu FT5000MP) and amps (Alpha 9500 & 8406).  SDR is the future and this is my first bite at the apple so to speak.  Anything you can help me with or point me in the right direction to read will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Bart
WT8V
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Mark WS7M

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Ok Bart, I'm sending ICBMs to your GPS coordinates that antenna system is simply awesome and I'm very jealous!

the 6500 will do you well and a good place to start but with your antenna farm you might eventually look to upgrade to a 6600.  I think its a little hotter receiver.

Anyway you are going from knobs to computer.  I hope you are ready.  The 6500 can do everything your other radios do and much more.  One area it may not do as well in is noise reduction.  But from the looks of your antenna farm I doubt noise is much of an issue.

So after you get your 6500 if you find you miss your knobs, buy a Maestro then you'll get the knobs back.

I could not wait to lose the knobs.  I love running my radio from the keyboard and mouse.  Some don't however so you will need to ease into it.

Come here regularly and ask all the questions you want!

Mark - WS7M
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Bill -VA3WTB

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If I were you I would read the manuals over a few times mostly the SSDR manual.,,but really you will find setting up fairly simple.

Nice radio, I have the 6500 and love it. Boy are you ever in for a treat,,,
We are always around if you need anything...have fun
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James Del Principe

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Lots of good responses here. I do recommend a good mic, however. The hand mic is typical of all others. Several of my friends have Flex 6xxx and we all agree the hand mic is not so swell. I use a Yaesu MD100 which is not an expensive mic but works well. I have even used an ancient D 104 with surprising results. Find a decent mic you like and can afford.     73, Jim
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KF4HR

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Welcome Big Hammer!  I'll assume you're not a new ham, just new Flex/SDR equipment.  The Flex Knob is a nice option, and if you enjoy operating remotely, consider running the SmartSDR program on a laptop, or a Maestro, or the iOS SmartSDR App on an iPad device.  You will need a set of powered speakers.  There are many to choose from; a few suggestions: Bose Companion 2 Series, Audioengine A2+ or A5+.  Odds are your 6500 will come with a handheld microphone.  You may want to upgrade to a desk microphone of some sort, such as the Heil 781, Heil PR40, EV-27, EV-27, or something similar.  And if you're interested adding VHF/UHF/ and higher Transverters, check out the options at:
http://www.q5signal.com/

Hope this helps.  Enjoy! 

Butch
KF4HR 

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Dennis Terry

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Welcome to the club.  Great antenna for sure, although with my 6300 I have a end fed wire and an 80M sloper and they work great,  USB cables for external units (if any).  Keyer/Paddle if a CW operator, good power supply, if a refurb with V2 Software a remote computer or Ipad to drive it.  Lifetime subscription to this forum as I have learned so much just by "reading the mail" and watching what is going on.  Do not be afraid to ask any question here, the members are gentle on noobies. ;-)

73 Dennis W4SG
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Mark WS7M

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Bart,

If you are a voice user you have a few options.  As others said here the hand mic that comes is pretty simple.

Your options are as follows:

1) A replacement mic designed for communications which can be wired into the connector the hand mic uses.

2) A studio mic like you can get at Guitar Center.  If you go this route get a mic pre-amp to go with your mic.  There are some that have some EQ and those are kind of nice.  You will wire this directly using XLR mic cable to the back of the 6500.  The audio from these kinds of setups is OUTSTANDING.

2) USB mic.  the 6500 can take audio from the computer "recording" device.  So you can buy nice USB mics, RODE NT makes some very nice ones.  You plug them into your computer, select them as the recording device in SSDR you get your audio from the PC.   This works well although not quite as well as option 2.

The 6500 does have RX and TX EQ and it works well but you can achieve better results with option two and an external pre-amp/EQ

If you are a CW op, then the radio has a nice built in keyer and you can do keyboard CW right in the SSDR software.  This is nice if like me you want to do CW while sitting and watching a football game!
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Rick - W5FCX

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Get your audio system ready. If you’ll be using a PC, here’s my recommendations:

https://community.flexradio.com/flexr...

The Flex has tremendous modulation and audio quality but only if you get the outboard audio right.

Get ready for some awesome digital modes.
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Larry - W8LLL

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Learn how to create and use profiles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdz1GRbg9Y&t=8s
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Dennis Terry

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Yes, Yes.  Profiles make it so easy to set up your Flex Radio.  Just click on the global profile and load it.  Everything is ready to go.  I only have a few set up: Nets, FT8, CW copy, etc.  One click and the radio is ready to go to work.  Took a while to learn but so worth it.
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Duane N9DG

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For sure. And it is easy to create new global profiles. Just start from an existing one that is setup the closest to what you want the new one to be. Typically just few setting changes, and then save it with a new name.

Updating existing profiles is just a matter of making the setting changes you want and then re-saving it with the same name.

Think of global profiles as memories on steroids. They save everything about how the radio is setup.

I have dozens of them for the things I do. And various band / mode ones that I generally use as a "band switch". And some multiple band mode combinations. For example I have one for 6M that sets up DIGU modes on 50.313 and 50.323 in one panadapter, plus the entire SSB/CW part of the band on a 3rd USB RX in its own panadapter.
(Edited)
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Big Hammer

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Thank you gentlemen for taking the time to post your advice/comments.  My station now as far as antennas (look up WT8V on QRZ for pictures), radios (Yaesu FT5000MP) and amps (Alpha 9500 & 8406).  SDR is the future and this is my first bite at the apple so to speak.  Anything you can help me with or point me in the right direction to read will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Bart
WT8V
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Bob Gerzoff, WK2Y

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By yourself a cup of coffee in a quiet cafe somewhere and read the manuals. Then, after you have played with the rig for a week or two, by another cup of coffee and read the manuals again. You are going to be thrilled.
73,
Bob, WK2Y 
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bahillen

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Bart

I would suggest a couple things. I bought a Flex Control not so much for frequency but function buttons , audio, RF gain and changing focus on receiver. I use mouse in right hand and Flex Control with left hand. I use the wheel on the mouse for frequency adjustments.

Second down load Slice Master 6000. It allows 3rd party software interface without setting up all kinds of ports. It also has a mix tab that allows muting audio of any receiver without being on your screen as well as audio and RF slider with mouse. It communicated with radio thru API. It will save you a lot of time.

FRStack is good for displaying you active slices and a Memory Recall Utility (MRU) that shows past 4 frequencies on each band in a stack. It also allows having a memory of frequencies you use regularly.

These are developed by Flex Community members that are operator oriented. By being outside the Flex product software they can be improved quickly just like an amateur breadboard.

One recommendation I suggest is to operate your radio. Sounds silly but you can get hooked into studying, reading and improving but not operating. It will take some time to get use to where things are without thinking about it which is really the reason you got the radio in the first place. I leave a couple manuals loaded but minimized and use search/find when a question pops up.

I have a 6600 and love it.

73
Bill
W9JJB
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WX7Y

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Of Course a good Power supply, and a good computer , if your going to run the radio remote with SmartSDR V2 you may want to get a way to control your Antenna's, Power the radio up and down and Switch the Amp on and off, and of course as others have said a good Mic and proper cables.

73's 
Bret
WX7Y
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Others have mentioned a lot of things.
But I highly recommend the FlexControl Knob.
Also, a mid-range vocal or studio mic can help, if you like a boom.
I run a Heil PR22UT without a preamp and have more audio than I need.
Other mics in the $75-150 range are also excellent. Just don’t get one with a lot of proximity bass, unless you are really into that.
I would suggest trying without outboard audio equipment first to see if you like it, and then adding other audio stuff if you think you need it.

Make sure you have the correct XLR or 1/4 TRS (Stereo headphone type) connector for the balanced Mic connector.

Prieview some tutorials about connecting to digital programs via DAX, and about setting up your mic profiles. You will need to tweak your audio levels and tx EQ for maximum performance.
You will likely need a good set of computer speakers, as the 6500 has no internal speakers. A good set of headphones is also helpful.

Best results seem to be achieved by having your rig and computer connected to your router, directly or via a switch.

If you plan to take advantage of remote operation, there is a longer list....

Have fun. Welcome to the wonderful world of SDR!

Ken - NM9P
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Bill English

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Read the SmartSDR manual a few times, that will show you what you can do with the Flex, download the third party software programs, DDUtil would be the first one I would recommend. It will be very nice with that Alpha 9500 to set your drive levels by band. It is one nice program. As others mentions Stacks, Slice Master, but no rush, take your time. I got my 6300 in April and I still run across new things it will do. Lot's of helpful folks right here too! 
The Flex Control is very nice, great for working split pileups, with that and the panadapter, it makes finding the listening freq and the ops patterns very easy. 

Have fun.  
Bill
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VE7ATJ

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I second Bill's suggestion of reading the SmartSDR and hardware manuals.  Especially if this is your first foray into SDR, it will be a big change from the knob radios you are used to.  I especially recommend reading through the section on using the AGC-T function, as many of our newbies (and even some of the 'oldies') get confused with this, thinking it's a replacement for the RFGain knob.  And spend some time with the various Noise Reduction filters, etc.  They take some getting used to, since they are much more flexible than the preset ones on most knob radios -- but they can also be VERY effective when used properly.

Welcome to the wonderful world of SDR!
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Dave Spencer

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Bart, firstly welcome to the club and congratulations on your purchase - a wise choice indeed!

Here's my tips.
1. This is only an option, but if your radio comes with v1 software, the best thing you can do is dip your hand in your pocket and upgrade it to v2. It will give you the smartlink option if you want to operate over the internet with ease, as well as the most up to date software for your radio. This license is valid for the whole of the V2 software series.

2. Learn how to use profiles. These will make your life so much easier! For example, you're operating Data and have seen a rare DX pop up on the cluster on SSB. Do you fancy wasting time changing all your settings to operate SSB, or would you rather select a menu option and have the software do it for you, with all the equalizer settings for your voice already in place? Mwahahah..... :-D

3. Talking of voice - there's some really good videos on YouTube for getting set up. I can't remember the OM's call, but he's on here and his tutorials are excellent. Take the time to set up for your voice and different mic options - remember to save them in different profiles so you don't have to go through it again!

4. Hint: One of the often missed but very important functions is the AGC-T setting. Set it often and the DSP functions will work far better.

5. If you have any questions or issues, pipe up on here, you'll be sure to get good help. Don't be put off if you can't seem to get something working. The support from the Flex team is second to none too. In my opinion, you won't see the same quality of support from any other manufacturer.

6. Once you've got the hang of that 6500, sell your other HF base rigs. you won't be needing them ;-)

As others have said, have fun. You've just bought a fantastic piece of hardware - enjoy it!

73

Dave M1SKA
(Edited)
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Ernest - W4EG

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Best suggestion I can give you; since I did not read all the NONSENE. Get a comfortable reclining chair, layback, rest and enjoy the radio. 

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Ernest I don't know about nonsense but to your point all he really asked is what he needs to get to get started and most the comments were about explaining how to use the radio?
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Mike W9OJ

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How do you know it was nonsense if you didn't read it?
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Tim Ellam

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Think about a Genovation keypad and program some of the functions through DDUtil. I use mine all the time even with an M model.

73

Tim VE6SH
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Big Hammer

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Thank you guys for taking the time to post your comments and advice.  I have some questions in order to get prepared for delivery and I want to make sure I'm buying the right stuff.  I will be using the radio in the shack as well as remotely while traveling.  The below are items for comment/direction/advice:

  • I need to purchase a properly sized power supply, I would like to be able to remotely turn it on and off but that may not be practical.  What power supply do you suggest purchasing?
  • I need to purchase a Flex Control knob.
  • I need to purchase Bose Companion 2 Series Speakers.
  • I have a Heil Pro Set Plus headset and Mic wired for the Yaesu 5000MP, will that work, i.e, do I need to change the wiring or can I use them for both?
  • My plan is to plug directly into the high speed router from the radio, the computer is hard wired into the same router.
  • Do they make a cable that plugs into the accessory cable port on the 6500 and then has all kinds of plugs to accessories into, something like my MicroKeyer II interfaces with the Yaesu?
  • Install SmartSDR V2.3.9 on computer.
  • Install Smartlink for Remote
  • Install SliceMaster 6000
  • Install FRStack
Any comment and/or advice on the above bullet items or additional items needed is greatly appreciated and thank you again for all your help.

Bart

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Bart turning your power supply off and on is easy with Lan remote AC plugs controled from your phone as an example.
there are many power supplies out there and every one has one they like. I suggest an 30 amp supply.
The mic you are using with your Yaesu 5000MP should work fine as the wiring for your radio foster plug is wired for Yaesu

Your radio should come with V2 software.
Everything eles looks standard,,your good to go.
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