Flex Radio should (and eventually will) raise the price of major software upgrades

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  • Updated 3 years ago
  • (Edited)
A recent poster offers that he would like to see Digital Modes native to Smart SDR. Built-in as it were. The rationale seems reasonable. Digital Mode integration into SSDR is not "imminent" is the "Official" Flex response. Some community members supported the idea. Others were opposed. I'm comfortable with FL Digi despite it's clunky interface and a visual GUI that looks like a Compuserve screen circa: 1989

The Flex Radio Systems response seems correct to me. For a myriad of reasons.. The SDR ecosystem (across all brands) is fertile ground for development of 3rd party apps. And Flex has released developer API kits. The endless stream of "reasonable" software feature requests by users are often thoughtful and imaginative. But software development is expensive and time consuming. ( Even now, many flex community members are eagerly anticipating 1.4's release).

Flex should stay focsued on the Core App functionality and connectivity in the near term. If they do engage in "non-essential" development then I believe Flex should charge for such features inside the upgrades as is common in Enterprise level Software (vendor/customer) relationships. My "essential" features and another Ham's "Must have" functionality will diverge. I'd much rather see a lean SSDR with emphasis on a more elegant User interface and a higher uprgrade price. Optional add-ons are of value to some and not to others.

Mike/wa4d
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Mike Whatley

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  • excellent!

Posted 3 years ago

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Jon - KF2E

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I think this is why Flex has released it's API's. Developers can write apps and decide what to charge for them. That way uses can decide if they wish to purchase addon functionality.

Jon...kf2e
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Robert Allbright

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Flex sdr could become too expensive for the less wealth off!
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Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

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It's all relative. People have money for what they want and not for what they need.
(Edited)
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Jay / NO5J

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True. My relatives have money for what they want, and not for what I need. When I want, I'm quickly reminded that I don't need. My Flexradios are how I keep score. To paraphrase Mr. Jagger, I can ALWAYS get what I want !!! We only get to go around once, be sure and stand up in your seat, and raise your arms, and scream when you go over that last hump just before the ride is over. You might not get to ride it again. I'm hoping I see SmartSDR v3.0 and I spend $400.00 or more before it ends.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Guy,
You hit this one right on the head! 
And so did Jay.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Paying a 3rd party or perhaps FRS if they bring add-ins to market makes sense. 

I've purchased K6TU's app (and am giving the XYL a new iPad Air-2 so I can have her old one to use with the app on a dedicated basis) as my first add-in.

Huge potential for more parts to be integrated!

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Steve W6SDM

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I wouldn't want to see Flex become a swiss army knife of applications like Ham Radio Deluxe.  Flex should focus on what they're good at.  When you start adding digital mode capabilities there becomes the need to update them, maintain them, and add new modes as they come out.  They would be competing with developers whose focus is digital mode software.  Most of these apps are free,  so what's wrong with using FLDigi or some of the other apps that have been designed for that purpose?

Integrated features are one thing, but adding capabilities that don't have anything to do with the radio, or that can be more effectively accomplished through outboard programs just bogs down the program.   Look at WIndows - how many times have you used WordPad or Paint?  Most of us buy a word processor or a graphics editor even though Microsoft included these useless programs. 
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Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

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I use wordpad every day nearly even though I have Office 2010 available (and use it a lot) - it loads in about half a second on a bad day. It is very handy for saving copied text.

Paint I do not use.
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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Steve, I would take a slightly different tact.  As you used Microsoft as your analogy, I'll build upon it.  There are many word processors out there which run on windows.  None work as seamlessly with Windows than Microsoft Word.  Why would that be?   It is because Microsoft intimately knows Windows and how to exploit it to is highest potential.   The same would be true with Flex Radio Systems.  Steve Hick's team at FRS is going to know how to eek out the greatest performance, and to most highly integrate the new features into the their own product.  Likely much better than any other team on the planet. This is because the FRS development team has a more in depth understanding of the signature series which no outside team will ever have.  This is only natural.

As to using 3rd party external tools such as FLDigi. FRS via DAX has made 3rd generation digital mode programs (such as FLDigi) accessible with their 5th Generation Radio Server.  However, the Flex 6000 series begs for complimentary 5th Generation digital mode solutions to coincide and match their ground breaking radio.  Imagine digital audio data modes such as CW, PSK, RTTY, Olivia, etc. totally encoded and decoded internally within the radio!  Such a design would only require that the ASCII text be passed over TCP/IP to/from the SmartSDR client and not any high bandwidth digitized audio.  DAX, a relative bandwidth hog, could be turned off while using these internal modes. This will dramatically reduce bandwidth requirements for SmartSDR while utilizing these modes. Lower bandwidth requirement are a boon when remotely accessing your radio from the internet.

There are many good reasons for developing internal digital modes for such a WAN enabled Radio Server.  Other developers, via the API will no doubt be able to create wonderful internal solutions.  However, in my opinion, no one will likely be able to do it better than Flex themselves.
(Edited)
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wb4dwd

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I just purchased a Flex 6500, and much to my disappointment I discover the digital modes are NOT included.  It does not even decode received CW.  Already considering selling it after two days.  Guess I've been spoiled by my Elecraft K3
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Jon - KF2E

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Probably should have done a little more research before pulling the trigger.

Jon...kf2e
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Burt Fisher

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And I just ASSUMED it had FM.
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Jon - KF2E

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Probably should have done a little more research before pulling the trigger:)

ASS/U/ME

Jon...kf2e
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@wd4dwd. How did you come to such an assumption with FRS being so crystal clear what SmartSDR ( and PowerSDR before it) included?

I've never seen a marketing piece or review suggesting digital modes were native in the radio itself or SmartSDR.

Play with your radio a bit and you will find what it can do...

73

Steve
K9ZWn
(Edited)
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Mike Whatley

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Interesting and valid observation.
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Steve W6SDM

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That's why we have an online forum - to discuss ideas and examine both sides of the issue.  Not only do we learn from each other, but the Flex gods listen to us.  Sometimes they hear our prayers.  :)

Seriously though, it's great to know that discussions like this one are read and pondered by the company that builds our radio.  I can't think of another manufacturer who has as much user input and interaction.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Thank you Steve, you guys are excellent in this topic...
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Dale KB5VE

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As most of you know I am one who would like to be able to load a digital /logger program which works out of the box. It does not matter to me if flex makes it or a third party vender. At this time I have not seen a plug and play third party software packages. I am using dx lab which is a solid excellent package, especially for the price! But it was tough to get set up and I have yet to get the cw decode and send to work and no one answered my call for help on the community. If I am going to lay out cash for a program then I expect it to be plug and play. Now as I see it the only way that will happen is if Flex is involved in the development. Maybe a joint venture but without flex a part of the development it will just be a half a-- piece of software. The analogy of word vs the other programs is right on.

So there is no right and no wrong just a great platform with unlimited potential. I can only imagine what the future hold who know duplex video over the 6500????
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NX6D Dave

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Keeping the MS analogy going, for this idea to make sense, FRS should build digital mode software in a different division of the company, or sub contract it. Separate accounting will reveal if there is enough market out there for it to make sense financially. If there isn't, then the unit cost to the customer will be very high. Hams, in general, are cheap -- it won't sell.

Splitting the difference, FRS could approach FLDigi and encourage them to do a better job of integration, although what we have now isn't bad at all.  The complaint about the FLDigi UIX is certainly valid. It is free software with the emphasis on the modem components (which IMHO are quite good) but suffers from an individual's notion of what a good UIX looks like, unencumbered by sales figures.

I speak with some level of experience.  Over the last few weeks I have built experimental installations of FLDigi, DXLabs and HRD on virtual machine systems (all over SSDR) and experimented with them. My conclusion was:

1 FLDigi is far and away the best modem software. The UIX is drab, the configuration system is messy, but it works well.

2 HRD is a poor value -- the software is buggy, and non-intuitive to me. It also had a heavy feel. I don't mind paying money for good software, but I could not see that HRD was all that good.

3 DXLabs has the best logging software of this bunch, but like FLDigi, a clumsy UIX. WinWarbler is not competitive. DXLabs components do not have a uniform UI presentation, and all have peculiar UI layouts that go against the current norms.

With more study I learned that FLDigi has a weak logging package because they expect and encourage you to use something else. By the same token, DXLabs expects and encourages you to extend their work with other packages. I surmised that they are not very concerned with WinWarbler because packages like FLDigi exist.

Finally, I found a gateway program that allows me to use FLDigi over DXLabs. This works well enough, although it is minimal.

Where does this leave us? IMHO, SSDR is far and away the most complete, stable, professional looking, well maintained and supported of the bunch. Good software is hard to design and write. Getting the UI details right is very time consuming and painstaking. FRS is getting the job done. We help by pointing out bugs and making suggestions about the UIX. I hope they make money on the software, but I doubt it.

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Steve W6SDM

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You may want to consider Log4OM.  It works great with the Flex/CAT and when you make a contact in FLDigi, it automatically logs to Log4OM.  And its' shareware.  The U/I is as nice as I have seen on any commercial program.
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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I absolutely agree Steve! Log4OM by far has the best native Windows interface of the packages currently available. My absolute favorite logging software however is MacLogger DX.. It is simply elegant. It has native, multi-slice, Flex 6000 support via TCP/IP (not CAT via serial.) It's developer, Don Argo is cut from the same cloth as FRS where listening to its customer and customer service is concerned. Total class acts!
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Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

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Steve, Log4OM is freeware. It has its UI quirks, but is brilliant. Support is top-hole too. Also developers are very responsive.
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NX6D Dave

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I'll go set up another VM and give it a try. I like what I see so far and I like that it is written in C#. Thanks for the tip.