Flexradio Maestro hacking

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  • Updated 1 month ago
Interesting read :-) 

Flexradio Maestro hacking
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Roland HB9VQQ

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Posted 1 month ago

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Ernest - W4EG

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Been a ham for a few years. What does a hacking do?
Hope, the hacking stops and recovers  well.
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John - AI4FR

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Loved it, thanks for sharing!!! Looking forward to the next article.
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Joe N3HEE

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Fun stuff !  I bet Flex closes that back door with the next code release !  Can't imagine they want people installing third party apps on their radios ?
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KC2QMA_John

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Hopefully this is some of the kind of stuff Flex will integrate into the "M" series radios and Maestro in the future.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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John, that is a good attitude. I see this as a fun project and nothing else. Keep in mind any such work done on any Flex product will end all customer support and warranty for that product.
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N2WQ

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The Dept of Defense and Raytheon most likely will not find this project being cool or fun. On the other hand, the project would be of great interest to those seeking the means of gaining access to air-gapped networks.
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Ha Gei

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Well, even though i have no Maestro , it ́s interesting. I wonder when a custom firmware for the radios shows up. Seeing the proceedings at the open source front..like for the ANAN or HERMES , RED PITAYA based stuff, a flex owner feels a bit like SDR Vintage user.  

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Bill -VA3WTB

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I don't feel like a SDR Vintage user as you do. With the cutting edge features that Flex has released? Your kidding right?
I over heard a conversation yesterday a guy talking about the latest amazing Anan software. He said they can now slide the panadapter down to hide the water fall, and he said it's amazing. something we have been doing since  SSDR came out,,,lol
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K1ESE

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Not on my Maestro...
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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While the relevant paragraph is a little (perhaps deliberately) ambiguous, it seems that they were ultimately unable to log in to the internet to use the SSDR software, although they could log in with the Microsoft browser. 
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I thought Flex had created an option to input credentials to connect to internet in hotels and things a while ago? without having to have a hot spot. On the Meastro
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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Elegant hacks! Some of us have noted the tremendous untapped power of the Maestro platform before. It's understandable, but it's a shame FRS couldn't find a way to provide more open access. Same actually applies to the Flex radios themselves.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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martin, more open access meaning what? how much access? and to what?
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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Allowing user apps to run beside SSDR in the Maestro?  Providing a way to share the screen, etc.  Not easy, but not impossible.  Flex would say it's not worth their investment.  Maybe they're right, but some of us would appreciate such a feature.  Note that we do this every day in traditional PCs.  The tablet in the Maestro is just another Windows platform, after all.

It's like jail breaking your smartphone.  Right on!
(Edited)
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John - AI4FR

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Martin I like your ideas, I really do but I doubt Flex will incorporate any of them. They have already begun to dumb down SSDR in order to cut back on the amount of help desk tickets they receive. Adding more features like you suggest would mean an avalanche of additional help desk tickets.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@John AI4FR - not seeing this reduced SmartSDR myself, could you point out examples?

73

Steve
K9ZW

Blog: http://k9zw.wordpress.com
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John - AI4FR

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Steve I did so in a previous post somewhere on here including links to the comments made by Flex. A couple off the top of my head were something to do with FM in which Flex stated they purposely made XYZ not adjustable and the auto profile save feature which Flex implemented in order to again cut back on the help desk tickets from folks not understanding how profiles are saved. I really feel for Flex when it comes to the amount of help desk tickets they receive. I am pretty sure they create an SSDR manual for a reason.

I apologize as I do not want to get this great post off topic.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Question, what if Flex made it possible to install 3rd party software into a radio or the Meastro, and the software installed causes a problem with the SSDR operation in that device? Who would be responsible? Who would give customer support in that case? Or if the new software had any malware in it.
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John - AI4FR

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Yes, exactly. Well said Bill. At that point we'd get into a blame game. Flex would say to remove the software and the Maestro works fine. The software folks would state it is a problem with the Flex.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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John, I don't know. Because the maestro has worked all along till the 3rd party software was installed I don't see any grounds to blame Flex. But the problem is, Flex can no longer offer customer support after any software is installed. Flex can not assure that the software is compatible or has any problems, or that it can in any way effect the normal operation of the maestro.

I know Flex must have reasons for a closed system, and I can't help think this would be one of them. Not to mention the couple million bucks invested in software they likely payed out i don't know, and not want to even risk this.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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What do you mean share the screen? in what way
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Jason NR0X

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OMG I want a Maestro now!!!!
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Official Response
As a reminder.  In the Terms and Conditions, you did accept this.

Restrictions on Alteration

You may not modify the Software Product or create any derivative work of the
Software Product or its accompanying documentation. Derivative works include
but are not limited to translations. You may not alter any files or libraries in any
portion of the Software Product.
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KC2QMA_John

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Too late people have already done it?
Funny thing is It looks like it adds a ton more features to your product.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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That has been in there for some time.  So, it isn't too late.

However, consider the supportability of things like this.  As you add features it required staff to not only write them, but to also support them.  FRS spends a lot of time helping people to do things and this is paid staff that does this.  It contributes to the actual cost of the the product since people who support things for customers like to get paid as well.  

This contributes to if or if not you add a feature to a device.  Long term supportability.  There is no free lunch.  :)

73
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Clay N9IO

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Was wondering when this would finally come up.
Just because you are capable doesn't mean you're a genius if you do. This was a bad idea in my mind.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Mike, I know why you had to post this, but no one in there right mind would ever attempt this I'm sure. And now that the Maestro in this hack video is now toast.
Notice people are not hacking the 7610, or any other radio, because who cares?
It just shows Flex is the heavy weight in SDR technology and that's were the interest is.
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KC2QMA_John

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I fully understand not supporting a "Modified" device.
(Edited)
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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You can always reload the supported software - unless there's a brickable bootloader or some such.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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As a Maestro is NOT the radio, it likely largely overlaps with the same risk profile as any other GUI platform.

Genies usually don’t go back into the bottle very willingly. So the paradigm has been publicly changed.

The Maestro as a product was pregnant with underused capabilities, so if the natural father didn’t initiate development somebody else was going to.

Reading the blog description the hack is incomplete in terms of having features fully developed.

Perhaps a developer program might be a useful step into the future for the Maestro?

I know I am suddenly much more excited about my Maestros knowing they will evolve one way or another.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Blog: http://K9ZW.wordpress.com
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KC2QMA_John

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The strange part of this is the Maestro uses a DELL Venue 8 Tablet running MICROSOFT Windows 10. So I would guess the only thing FlexRadio has legal control over is SmartSDR, but I'm no lawyer.

It's just a windows PC tablet running a special version of SmartSDR for the Maestro with some custom hardware and drivers made for it by flex. I would say hack away if you want but just don’t expect FlexRadio to support it after you make any modifications.

(Edited)
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Joe N3HEE

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It wont be long until someone figures out how to hack into the M front panel.  At which point Flex will have a real winner on their hands for the experimenters out there. 

Take a look at this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfIo0R57ImA
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KC2QMA_John

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I don't care who does the "hacking" as long as it moves the development of the radio forward at a much more rapid rate!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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So as I understand this,,you guys that are hoping that hacking becomes a regular thing are ok with ending all customer support? and no warranty. Am I getting that right? Explain how hacking would be win for Flex?
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John - AI4FR

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Joe N3HEE I'll try this again. Thanks for the link that thing is amazing.

Why must I do this again? See below which is the second time that Michael Walker has deleted one of my posts. The first time I was told was an accident. Really Mr. Walker???? The second time can be no accident!!!

"Michael Walker, a moderator for FlexRadio, gave this reason for the change:
Promoting competitive products. Sorry. You are welcome to promote this on your personal blogs and emails."

Mr. Walker you make it appear that Flex is afraid of something? And that they are not confident in their products.  Some may consider Joe's post above to be on par with a Volkswagen post in a Ferrari forum. I doubt the Ferrari moderator would delete it.

This deeply concerns me and I'll make adjustments accordingly.


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Bill -VA3WTB

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If that is what Mr, walker said I fully agree with him. Promoting a competitive product is not in keeping with the reason this Flex forum is here. And it is un ethical. In my opinion.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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I have no issue discussing what you are discussing.  I do have an issue with promoting competitive products on a Forum that is managed for FRS.  This is different than an email forum on some other platform that is not vendor owned.

Consider it this way.  You build antennas for a living and you have a forum to help out your customers.  

Someone else comes along who builds a competitive product.  Someone else starts to talk up how the competitive product.  You don't want your competitor's product promoted on your forum.   It is just being respectful.

You will notice that we do provide a lot of latitude here with comments, etc.  Based on the emails I get from a lot of my customers, maybe too much.  

I will likely close down this dialogue later today since it has run its course and people have expressed their opinions.

If you wish to discuss this further, please call me at my desk.  512-535-4713 x222.   I look forward to talking to you.

Mike
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KC2QMA_John

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No Bill Hacking would just be for the experimenters that don't need or want support from flex. So if you just leave you radio stock and don’t mess with it flex will still support it.

Remember Ham radio was built on experimenters/hackers in fact that’s how the Flex radio was born!

I'll be leaving my radio stock as it works well for me as is at the moment. But who knows what the future will bring.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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All

This has run its course and we thank everyone for their input.

Happy New Year!

Mike 

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.