The 6300 is offered for sale starting Monday. I do not work for Flex but I have been a flexiando since the very early days of the SDR-1000. As such I have 1000’s of hours invested and intimate familiarity with the ins and outs various Flex radios and the Flex software. Since I was an alpha tester of the 6300 I thought I might publish my preliminary experience with the 6300 to help people understand what this radio represents in the Flex line up. My opinion is my own and YMMMV.
I received a phone call from Greg K5GJ and Steve N5AC in March asking if I would be interested in testing out a new radio code name Tempest from Flex. I jumped at the chance! The radio was still in prototype but soon enough would be released in a production format meaning the hardware decisions were made and boards were being populated. Soon enough my radio was ready for shipping. I had Greg swipe my credit card, load that sucker on the truck and send it off to central Florida.
It arrived and in 15 minutes of unboxing I had a carrier transmitting on 40m. It was dead easy to set up, in fact I was amazed at how easy it was. Flex sent me the latest alpha code for SSDR, since part of my mission was to be part of the team wringing out the bugs for the April release of the 1.2.1. Flex wanted to make sure its new addition would be every bit as battle tested as the rest of the Signature radios. One may ask how can Flex come in with a budget version of their flagship product? The answer is they put less stuff is in the box. Less stuff, but not less functional stuff! The 6300 is not a crippled version of its big brothers. This is the nice thing about SDR. The same experience can be maintained across several platforms. The 6300 does not have the front end/filtering/preamps/pads/antenna switching of its siblings. It does have a 20 dB preamp and it has a perfectly functional but not fancy antenna switch allowing for 2 antennas and a transverter. The transverter ant port can function as a separate RX antenna port if you have a K9AY or Beverege hanging around. It has the hardware to control one amplifier. It has a blank spot where the other radios have the LCD. It has a less powerful ADC. So practically speaking what does all that mean?
I drive a sports car. It will do 155 mph before the computer shuts off the motor. I've had it there twice and this is the point. My car is fun to drive, but I never need to go 155. In fact generally I DO NOT WANT to go 155mph. K.E.=1/2mv^2 so when your going 155 your kinetic energy goes sky high. My car has performance in excess. In actuality a Honda would do me just fine. My Flex 6300 gets the job done, and gets the job done in spades. What Flex has done is design a radio that performs in the every day tasks of working weak signal DX on a crowded or noisy band, or in a contest, or combining itself with third party software like Skimmer or WriteLog or a DIGI program without compromise. The brick wall filtering is the same. The butter smooth QSK is the same. When software upgrades come down the pike they are reflected in my radio the same as any Signature radio. I do give up on having the information provided by more than 2 slices, but then 2 slices float my boat just fine. I do give up not hearing to 72mhz. My SCU only goes to 54 mhz. No biggie, I get a nose bleed above 10 mhz anyway. I give up on a 14mhz slice receiver. My slice receiver is only 7 mhz wide. I can barely wrap my brain around 7 mhz much less 14 and if I really want 14 I can just open the other slice. The point is you get full functionality but just not the remarkable diversity the other radios provide. There is plenty of untapped overhead in the radio, so it can grow as SSDR grows.
This is the perfect "get your feet wet" SDR radio but it is also a perfect radio for the aficionado. I've owned every Flex since the very earliest SDR-1000. I've suffered all the growing pains and enjoyed the continual upgrade in benefits. There is no pain in this radio. It’s simply a matter of deciding what you want. You can choose this radio and still get full functionality. Your only limitation will be in the feature set chosen. There may be a specific situation, like you live next to the VOA, where you wished you had chosen a model with the fancy front end filtering but so far I have been unable to find a situation where I can crunch the receiver and I've been looking for that situation. I live 10 miles from a 50 kw AM and 5 miles from a 10kw AM and I am right in the perfect skip zone for Radio Havana which is the strongest signal I ever hear and still my receivers remains uncrunched. You may need to listen to 4 or 8 things at once. I can see having a extra slice or two as being very useful if you are into 6 meters but like to do other things beside listen to static. I definitely will miss not having diversity when it becomes available, but I have 2 kids in college and tuition to be paid and that $5000 will come in handy for that. I have been working with some folks getting some third party stuff going (which will be released tomorrow) so I know my 6300 will be right up there with the other Signature siblings when it comes to station design. So far I have had SDR-Bridge, WriteLog, CWskimmer, DXLab, DDUTIL, VE7CC client running and WinWarbler filling in on the digital modes without problem.
My box includes the built in tuner which is also an outstanding design. I was part of the FlexControl design effort a few years ago and my FC works fine with the 6300. At some point I hope to go into a more detailed review as I discover things but for now I wanted at least one mans experience available to assist in some way helping people to understand their purchase decision
I am really happy with this purchase! It's a ton of fun