Flex 6700 and its four way switch

  • 1
  • Question
  • Updated 1 year ago
  • Answered
As the F 6700 begins to age rather rapidly, my question is about the purpose of its four way switch on its front panel.
Will it have some use in coming V2 and subsequent versions of SSDR?

Tom, SP7WT
Photo of Tom

Tom

  • 97 Posts
  • 19 Reply Likes

Posted 1 year ago

  • 1
Photo of Al / NN4ZZ

Al / NN4ZZ

  • 1735 Posts
  • 590 Reply Likes
Hi Tom,
There are a number of suggestions and ideas for using the front radio display and 4-way switch.  Here is one idea with a number of uses that was suggested 4 years ago and has 17 votes.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/front_panel_display_an_idea

Here is another idea also from 4 years ago with some additional suggestions for display data by Steve Hicks.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/how_do_the_fans_operate_in_the_flex_6000?topic-repl...


IMHO,  these were all good ideas and at one time there was hope they would happen.  However with the current evolution of the new hardware and so many other features that would likely have a wider audience I doubt we'll see them.   Since FRS doesn't provide feedback on anything that may be in the works it's unlikely to get an affirmative answer anyway.  But maybe we will be surprised...

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.16
Win10
Photo of roger na4rr

roger na4rr

  • 83 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
I think FRS puts all these in that big round file cabinet

roger

Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3014 Posts
  • 665 Reply Likes
They read them all, but impossible to act on most of the ideas. I think sometimes someone comes up with a really good one and it is discussed with the engineering team to see what is involved with doing it.

With the Flex,,there seems to be endless possibilities, ideas just keep coming.
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4025 Posts
  • 1248 Reply Likes
Another one of my crazy ideas........

If they were gong to do something with the 4-way buttons, they could implement a "Fail-safe" operating access.  Perhaps give the operator the option of scrolling through the last frequency used, and several stored memories, each remembering the Mic Profile, Transmit Profile, and active RX/TX slice.  Perhaps let the RT/LT buttons scroll through the memories, and the UP/DN could scroll through a short, basic menu that includes speaker volume, mic gain, transmit power, etc.  Using the center button as an OK switch to select the function and/or return to the menu scroll.  or even slice frequency tuning.

There have been a few times that this wold have been handy when a power glitch or other error crashed my computer, leaving my rig on, but without access until a double reboot restored control of my computer.

It could also be handy for "quick check-ins" to favorite net or rag chew frequencies without the need for the computer.

Perhaps a Global "Failsafe" Profile could be enabled by holding one of the direction buttons down wile powering up the rig, or by simply holding the button down for 5 seconds if the rig is already powered on.  This would enable a few simple memories, or step through the different bands and allowing VFO control.  The memory profiles would remember all of the different parameters and settings for each memory or band.

Would I suggest spending a lot of time on this option?  4 years ago, perhaps, but not really any more.  Because the need has been reduced due to the ease of using things like SSDR-IOS for iPhone or iPad.  V.2.0  is going to make it even easier to do these things from a distance, too.

The buttons were a nice "we might need this someday" option.  But I'm not sure that the use cases ever really caught on.  

But, now about that "Failsafe" mode.........<drifting off into mumbled internal conversations>....

Ken - NM9P
Photo of Neal - K3NC

Neal - K3NC, Elmer

  • 451 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
I would rather have some other new features than worry about the buttons but thats just me!
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
Aging rather rapidly!? Mine is less than a year old!
Photo of Al / NN4ZZ

Al / NN4ZZ

  • 1735 Posts
  • 590 Reply Likes
Hi Ria,
I guess that  "aging"  is relative.  I've had my 6700 for 4 years now.  It does seem like a long time for those of us that have had our radios for 3 or 4 years.  Especially if you have been waiting for some of the enhancements that have been on the "idea" list for years.  There are literally hundreds ideas for features that are 2, 3 or 4 years old.    

Don't take this to mean I'm down on the 6700, it is still the best radio I've owned and it looks like it should have many more years of service before something dramatically better comes along that would entice me to trade up.   

The delays are understandable and priorities change.  With the introduction of the new hardware (Maestro, 6400, 6600) maybe many of the the ideas that we thought were on the horizon won't happen at all.   The front switch and display idea is still a good one and Steve H. even offered up some additional uses for the display so that is probably why some thought it would likely happen one day.  

There are even better ideas on the list with more votes and are almost as old.   After 2.0 gets out maybe we'll be surprised and see more of those popular features show up.  

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

 
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3014 Posts
  • 665 Reply Likes
I know they use the buttons for diagnostics.
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

  • 2270 Posts
  • 904 Reply Likes
It was more tongue in cheek than anything. As a 100% tech head I am fully aware of rapid technology obsolescence (although the 6700 or other 6k series is hardly what I'd call obsolete). 
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9152 Posts
  • 3478 Reply Likes
There are a few diagnostic options the toggle is used for now.  We had the thoughts of implementing other capabilities, but they have been relegated to very low priority feature requests.  We have no immediate plans to add features of this nature to the toggle button for 2.x
Photo of W9YU

W9YU

  • 7 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Why were the display and buttons put on the unit to begin with?  They must have cost something.  The only use I currently see is to display my call and to dim and brighten the display.  Seems like a big waste. 
Photo of Peter K1PGV

Peter K1PGV, Elmer

  • 541 Posts
  • 315 Reply Likes
You know, as the saying goes, "It seemed like a good idea at the time!"

That's the way it goes sometimes when you build stuff. If it was software, we'd just delete a few line systems of code and the buttons would be gone :-)

Peter
K1PGV
Photo of Lee

Lee, Elmer

  • 677 Posts
  • 285 Reply Likes
Why would you use buttons on a radio designed to be operated from 100 miles away?

73  W9OY
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 648 Posts
  • 195 Reply Likes
To give it a fixed IP address?
Photo of Lee

Lee, Elmer

  • 677 Posts
  • 285 Reply Likes
Why do you need a hardware button if you're going to give it a fixed IP address so it can behave like a virtual button to the software?  I can understand something that performs testing outside the virtual envelope, and generates an error code for example, but not something that just ties up resources and complexity and possible software error generation and service desk calls,  just to access an API function.  There are already ten dozen ways to do that.  

73  W9OY
(Edited)
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4025 Posts
  • 1248 Reply Likes
My thought was for use as a "fail-safe" in case your computer dies and you still need to make emergency contacts until your backup computer is ready....
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9152 Posts
  • 3478 Reply Likes
That is what the new "M" models are for.
Photo of Lee

Lee, Elmer

  • 677 Posts
  • 285 Reply Likes
LOL!  
Photo of Rich McCabe

Rich McCabe

  • 1051 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
At this point I think Flex should just refine them to user diagnositics/monitoring and include it in the manual. Temp, Volts and whatever else is available. 

Course I want all this information on my new 6600m when its in smart SDR mode :)
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4025 Posts
  • 1248 Reply Likes
As much as I would like to see a failsafe mode, I don't really think it is likely any time soon, especially since the buttons only exist on the 6500 and 6700.

With the 6500 being discontinued and no buttons on the new 6400 and 6600, the 4+1 button cluster is likely to be about as functional as a hood ornament on a Mercedes for the average user. But it looks cool!
Photo of Lee

Lee, Elmer

  • 677 Posts
  • 285 Reply Likes
I DO NOT GET THIS FAILSAFE MODE CONCEPT.  Let's say you're a Flex designer and you code software across the present 7 Flex 5K radios.  2 of those radios have a 4 way switch.  (I own both of them.)  You want your code to be as consistent and compact and efficient as possible across platforms without introducing much "unique" code since that causes software maintenance issues because you now have special cases to support, it wastes resources  and it can cause extra Dudley time with phone calls and confusion.  You own an iphone or ipad or some kind of second computer like a laptop and maybe a Maestro.  Why would you take resources from your radio to construct some kind of crippled "FAIL SAFE" mode where you could access maybe 1 frequency while waiting for your new computer to get going, with application to only 2 of 7 radios?  

If you NEED 100% 24/7 radio access just buy: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Intel-Compute-Stick-Single-Board-Computer-w-Intel-Atom-x5-32GB-Flash-Memo...

This will take care of your 100% 24/7 needs and not encroach on my system resources.  

I don't mean to be harsh but this example points out the problem with the "vote it into existence, radio as a democracy" open ended kind of approach to system design.  It's easy to dream up some "benefit" 17 people on some list somewhere want, but I basically never see the analysis of the cost that presumed benefit imposes on everybody.  The thing I especially don't like is the perception that if Flex would just get off their dead ass and code up my bright idea...  with absolutely no apparent understanding of the consequence of that bright idea on the rest of the community.

73  W9OY
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4025 Posts
  • 1248 Reply Likes
No biggie, Lee.  I wasn't screaming for it or even lobbying hard for it.  As I said above, it isn't likely at all, for the very same reason you mentioned....only 2 rigs even have the buttons at all, an only one is in current production, so the 4+1 buttons will soon be the radio equivalent of the human appendix.  

My statements are more intellectual exercise than practical feature request.  
FRS has a lot more important things on their plate.
The Original Post asked a question about what the 4+1 cluster could be used for, and I provided a possible scenario, even if it is impractical from a programming standpoint.

It is possible that they may add some more simple diagnostics, as Tim said.

However, if the WERE going to do something more creative and useful with the buttons, a simple user interface could be handy in certain situations....

1) Field/portable operations when the computer and/or ethernet switch dies, ... or the CAT cable gets damaged.....or the rig's ethernet port becomes inoperative, and replacement parts or equipment may not be quickly accessible. 

2) Emergency operations when it may be desirable to limit battery current drain for a period of time, in order to stay on the air until emergency power backups are in place, and/or backup computer equipment is available.

3) Situations when even iphone/ipad links may not work. (see #1 above, or in the event of battery or WiFi failure of the iPhone/iPad) 

4) Situations when untrained or under-trained operators may not be able to figure out how to run the whole shebang, but can be told - "turn the rig on while holding the up arrow; This will boot the rig up on the emergency net frequency...."

5) When testing/repairing a remote installation without benefit of a working computer at the remote site. (desktop/laptop failure, internet failure, etc...)

Sure, it would be easier to fire up my IC-706MK2G.  or "appropriate" someone else's router/switch in order to make a direct connection with another computer or WiFi to an iPhone/iPad.

I don't really expect this to be implemented.  
But it COULD be done.  And it COULD be useful in some circumstances outside of the standard ham shack.

As far as your last paragraph...it certainly doesn't not reflect my attitude towards FRS or any of my expectations for this, or any other idea I propose.  

I am a "dreamer" by nature - a brainstormer.  I love to come up with the crazy ideas of what COULD be done, and leave it to the "Realists" to sort out which ones are practical, and which ones SHOULD be done and when.  The engineers and programmers at FRS are doing a superb job sorting out the hundreds, if not thousands of ideas, feature requests, and bug fixes.

Have a wonderful day!

Ken - NM9P
Photo of Lee

Lee, Elmer

  • 677 Posts
  • 285 Reply Likes
Not giving you a hard time Ken.  I have a million "brain storms" for the radio, but the engineer in me keeps bumping up against the probable design constraints.  PSDR is pretty open ended constrained mostly by hard disk size RAM processor speed and I/O constraints but SSDR is more closed ended and needs a different analysis IMHO, and all possibilities are not equal or even desirable.    

73  W9OY
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4025 Posts
  • 1248 Reply Likes
But the cool thing is that we can dream this stuff up at all!  The whole SDR concept has given birth to a whole new world, and a new wave of creativity for me, and for a lot of other folks.  I think yourself included.  (I have seen some of your other posts!)

Even though software design can be a pain in the backside.  It is ultimately more painless than all of the solder burns I inflicted on myself as a dumb JR Hi & HI School kid dismantling TV's and building "radio projects."  Not to mention the time I almost killed myself at age 16 by touching the plate cap of a 2E26 (VHF version of a 6146) when I ASSUMED the HV power was turned off when the rig was in STANDBY!  

Those were the days!  hi hi.

I still have hopes of getting back to my MIDI controller software project.  The problem is that I am having too much fun operating, testing Alpha software, and spending time with my wife and 10 year-old son who has NO interest in ham radio at the moment.

(When I asked him last week if he might be interested in learning Ham Radio, he told me "No, Daddy.  I like watching YOU do it, but I don't think I would be interested...."  Then after a pause, he added: "But I MIGHT be interested SOME day..." as if he was afraid that he might have hurt my feelings with his answer!  I love my son.)

Ken - NM9P