Question from a new ham on what to buy first TS990s or the bundled 6700+Maestro

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I'm a new ham (General class atm) and am trying to decide on a first radio. What would be the advantage of getting the 6700 over buying a TS-990s?

 Thanks,
Richard K5RHA
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Richard Adkins

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Posted 3 years ago

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Jd Dupuy

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Night and day! The Flex being 20 times better. Bought one of the first Kenwood TS 990s when they were first released. The Kenwood is a pretty radio but beyond that it is a turd...period! Mine has been back 3 times for repair. And a lawyer was involved. Make the only "right" choice and buy a Flex!
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Richard, look here:
http://www.sherweng.com/table.html
6700 at the very top, 990 in place 20...
73, Alex - DH2ID
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Paul Bradbeer

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Richard. I have a TS-990s. I also have a 6500 and very recently a Maestro too. I absolutely loved my TS -990S (which replaced a loaded K3 and P3) and I actually think it is a very nice radio. However, since having the 6500 it has hardly been turned on, and now I have the Maestro I am seriously thinking of selling my TS -990S (offers, anyone?). The TS-990s has many nice features (some which the Flex 6k series still don't. ..like cw auto tune) but I'd say that it is one of a dying breed; I think the writing is on the wall for big superhet transceivers. If it makes no difference to you not having 200w, I think it is a bit of a no - brainer.... and if you do 2m DXing in addition to hf and 6m, even better. But it's a big, expensive decision...I think I'd have a play with the Kenwood at your local dealer, and see if you can find someone with a Flex 6500 or 6700 plus Maestro nearby, and do a comparison.

To answer your question in a nutshell: TS -990S is a legacy radio, 6700 plus Maestro is part of the new breed of SDR.
(Edited)
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Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

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Yes indeed. I own a 990 and after I got my 6700 I hardly turn it on. It has been relegated to being a "back up rig". The only thing the 990 excels at is something I cal "desk presence". Now with the Maestro I'm not sure that applies.
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Burt Fisher

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Backup for what?
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Kevin Va3KGS

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Morning Richard

Operating a legacy radio of some sort will get you into the HAM  fraternity.  Learning all about what you studied to get your ticket would be used and understood.  Then purchase a Flex after you have had sometime to understand what others have experienced in the past.  Without experiencing the legacy equipment you would not be able to give your two cents opinion on how things work or what you had to do to make it work..... Legacy radios are cheep to purchase these days, ands regardless if you by a Flex first, you should still get a "Boat Anchor" just to see what technology has done to this great hobby of ours. 

Good luck on your decisions, and we will look forward to your involvement in the Flex Community soon.

Cheers

Kevin, Va3KGS

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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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It also depends on what your interests are in HF. Being a newly licensed general that may be a tough answer.

The Flex combo will give you more capability, especially with digital modes. Sure the 990 can encode/decode RTTY but there is no interface to a logbook program so you would have to manually enter the call, signal report, and grid square manually into the log. With the Flex you can use third party programs such as DM780 and HRD Logbool=k. Then it is a matter of right clicking on the decoded callsign and select call. Same for the other fields of info.

Another thing to ponder. The Maestro will allow you to operate today anywhere on your home network (on the deck in the summer for example). A future software upgrade will allow wide area network access from the Maestro, meaning anywhere you have WiFi you can operate the radio at your home.

I had the 990 and while I did enjoy it, I do enjoy the 6700/Maestro a lot more. The Flex combo has a lot more upside.


Dave wo2x


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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Yes. I found the internal RTTY decode on the 990 to be excellent. But I could not right click on the person's callsign and select call to have it populate the logbook and do a QRZ lookup.
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Walt - KZ1F

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That's a function of HRD, is it not? Doesn't that just use cat? The literature indicates that does work.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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On the surface, it would appear that Dave is correct

Don't see anywhere in the command structure where you can access content of RTTY RECEIVE message.

http://www.kenwood.com/i/products/inf...
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Yes, Howard is correct. You cannot get the decoded info out of the Kenwood to a third party program such as a logger. So, if you want to take advantage of the twin peak filter in RTTY mode on the Kenwood you have to manually type in the info to the logging program.

You can use the USB from the Kenwood to PC to get the audio into a digital program such as FLDigi or DM780 but the decode is not as good. It is a shame since Kenwood's internal RTTY decode is excellent.

Dave wo2x

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Walt - KZ1F

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Ah, I thought you meant as in HRD spots with a rtty filter. I was going to mention the programmatic interface too. Well, as it is software it is able to be changed while still living in the same hardware. You know, like regular updates.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Performance wise there is no comparison. the Sherwood numbers show a significant lead for the 6700

The FT-990 is end of life legacy technology sort of like driving a Model T technology Car to which they added lots of knobs and buttons to make it look new. But under the hood its the same era 1910's technology as the Model T. No spectrum display so you get a BLIND RADIO. There is no easy way to add new features through software upgrades so you are stuck with an obsolete device that won't get better.

The 6700 is a beginning of life 21st Century SDR technology sort of like driving a Tesla. Fastest sedan on the road. Both my Tesla and my 6700 are disruptive technology that keep on getting better with astounding new features being added all the time The 6700 has much better selectivity and filtering, much better phase noise (signals sound louder because there is less noise) and much better close in rejection of nearby stations.

Bottom line: FT990 is not in the same performance class as the 6700

Don't. Take my word for it.

Look on the various ham auction, eBay, eHam. You will see people are always dumping FT990's but rarely if ever is an used 6700 offered.

We still own a few legacy radios at the contest station but their replacements will all be SDR. There is no good reason to invest in legacy radios anymore unless you are trying to preserve them as museum pieces
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Paul Bradbeer

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Howard, he was asking about the Kenwood TS -990S...not the Yaesu FT-990. I agree with you that the Maestro plus 6700 may still be better for him, but the TS-990s is a different kettle of fish to the FT-990.. Paul
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I stand corrected.

However the TS990 is an almost blind legacy technology radio Same 1910 era technology with even more knows and buttons. Ranked #20 on Sherwood list.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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As a first radio? As in never had an HF rig and it is your first one? I agree with Kevin, I would get a traditional radio and play with it before I jump into the "big" rig. Remember also that you need antennas and other equipment.

If you get a multi mode HF/VHF/UHF radio you can cover a lot of things and even if and when you buy the Flex or ts990 you will have VHF and UHF covered.

I would get a used TS2000. It does everything and it has a tuner, 100w on VHF, 50w on UHF and all mode for SAT work. It will be a rig that will stay in your shack after you upgrade.

You can find them used for $1000

Between the 6700 and the TS990S, I will definitely buy the 6700, I did.
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Walt - KZ1F

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If you want to be talked into the Flex, ask here.

If you want to be swayed into a Kenwood, ask the 990 reflector on Yahoo.

If you want to try one or both, go to ham radio outlet and try them.


You got advice to go to sherweng, Rob Sherwood owns a 990.

People on here, by definition, own a Flex, it's their website.

You have to try them, or at least on of them for your self.


Did you ever go to a Ford deal and ask which was better, the Ford or the Chevy?

Or ask Rob Sherwood.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Walt, he might have done that... ask in both forums. It is clear that the praises about the Flex will mostly come from here. I think buying either as the very first rig is not a great idea. Is like buying a Yamaha R1 1000cc sports bike as your first motorcycle but without the almost certain death outcome.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I am just awed by the notion some have for asking purchasing advice on one of the whatever they want to compare, on their website or store, as in the case of ford v chevy. Aside from that Sal, I agree with you, I would recommend neither. I also would not recommend a radio valued at over $6,000 and definitely not one valued over $8,500 as a beginner rig. I might actually recommend the 590SG. Or I'd recommend going to, for instance, eHam or QRZ where, yes, there would be fanboys answering but it would likely be balanced.

But if an HRO is at all a commutable distance, go there and get really unbiased advice. They may not sell Flex radios unless they have one on consignment, but they'll want that customer back for everything else. When I did my last pilgrimage there a year ago, they didn't kick me out or shun me for owning a flex.

In order to throw up 'go see sherweng.com', which is grossly misleading, one would have to understand how to interpret the numbers, "figures don't lie but....." and all that. Rob should really remove discontinued models and multiple entries for the same model. He should also state there, "anything 85 and over is good" which he has stated publicly. Also, buying an expensive item based on numbers, in no way, tells a complete enough story to spend that kind of money. And if spending that kind of money is a non-issue, get one of each and sell the one you decide you don't want, at a loss. After all, hey, it's only money.
(Edited)
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Barry N1EU

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I think the Flex (6500 in my case) rx performance advantage over a well executed superhet (K3s in my case) is WAYYYYY overstated on this forum.  No doubt the panadapter is much prettier though.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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That's actually a question I've repeatedly asked, given the numbers for the SDR and high end 'legacy' radios are identical, what actually is the differentiators. Best I can determine its cost of manufacturing...margin. Answering 'in 10-15 years..." is a deflection. I love the ui of the 990. It's weight, given my desk layout, precludes it as a viable rig here. This is why I advocate for a SSDR Flex with a 990ss UI at an affordable price would be totally kickass.
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Barry N1EU

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I think in the next few years we'll definitely see 990-like UI's paired with Flex-like radio architecture.  Unless other parties step to the plate, it will come out of Japan.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Unfortunately, I agree.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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You definitely will NOT get unbiased advice at HRO. They only sell Japaese Radio NOT American made radios.
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Walt - KZ1F

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One does not imply the other. The distributor relationship is not established at each store. The employees at each store are ham radio operators, not high pressure salesmen. When I was there they spoke very knowledgeably about Flex and did not shun me for owning one. Of course one could fly to London and ask a Flex distributor there that also sells Elecraft, ICOM, Kenwood, and yaesu.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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My experience with several HRO salesmen. In California Stores is they they earn commissions on sales and will ALWAYS push Japanese radios. Obviously you must have run into a very effective HRO salesman who got youTo believe otherwise.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Not about me Howard.
(Edited)
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Steve W6SDM

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Being a new ham, you're probably less concerned with performance and more concerned with learning.  SDR is, without a doubt, the future of amateur radio and radio communications in general.  With a Flex, you will be learning what is to come.  Also, everything is much more visible.  Seeing a signal bandwidth, for example, on a panadapter is more revealing than trying to grasp the concept in theory. 

As with anything, you should be concerned with the value of your investment.  (Yeah, Burt, I know.  :)  ).  A legacy radio will be obsolete much sooner than a Flex would.

Whenever I buy anything, I try to get the best that I can afford.  You will find it worthwhile in the long run.
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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For a beginner who wants to be on the right side of history, you could do worse than choose an Icom 7300.  :-)
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Paul Bradbeer

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You know what Martin, given that it is Richard 's first Rig, that is not a bad idea. Even so, let me go and get my fire extinguisher..... ;-) Paul M0CVX
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Walt - KZ1F

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Martin and Paul. Giving your suggestion could that be reworded to be a monetary ceiling, above which you do not advise for a first grade?
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Paul Bradbeer

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No, it doesn't have to be about money - not as some form of limit anyway. I'm glad that Richard is able to splash enough cash for a TS -990S or 6700 as his first transceiver; his cash and his decision. However, making the 'wrong' decision at that level will be costly, and im sure none of us have money to burn. Therefore, a more cautious approach may be to buy something like an IC-7300 or TS-590S and use it for a while to find out what modes he prefers, what his operating style is...or more's the point, what it isn't. With such experience under his belt he will have a far better understanding of his 'Requirements' and will know where he is, and is not, prepared to compromise. Buying a TS -990S may prove to be a costly mistake. How much would you lose on a 6-month old TS -990S? .....enough to buy a 7300 outright probably.
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Walt

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I agree - for a beginner radio, the 7300 is an excellent choice.  It allows you to explore the radio world with a radio that does a lot.  You can plug it in, hook up the antenna and play.

Use some of the extra money for a Really Really good antenna system that fits your situation.

And after spending the $1500, you can always sell or trade up, or keep and buy another bigger, costlier radio.  And with the experience from the little one, you will know what features you want and don't want in a radio and pick accordingly.

Cheers !
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Walt

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No disagreement there - if he also wants to explore the VHF-UHF world, there are plenty of radios to do so.  I have an 857 that I have enjoyed using for different things.  

Cheers
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Walt - KZ1F

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Consider also the radio is or can be the most expensive part of your station and provides the least bang for the buck. Buy the best antenna you can first.
(Edited)
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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One advantage of the '7300 and traditional radios is that you do not need to worry about software, operating systems, and PCs.  (Maestro to the contrary notwithstanding.) On this site, we tend to downplay all that (we're all geeks, right?) but it is an issue for many ops.
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SteveJ

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It is a big advantage not having to rely on a computer to use a radio. That is why the 7300 type radios is the future, not pc based radios.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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It is a great advantage having a radio that can work ALL THE HAM BANDS (HF, VHF, UHF and SHF). That is why the TS-2000 is the future of radio, not HF only radios. :)
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AA0KM

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The flexradio with a pc desktop or laptop computer is central to all my communications needs.

I can check out the radio bands.
I check spots for Dx .
I can monitor digtal modes.
Remote control of the radio and misc. hardware.
I check emails.
I have voip apps running.

Logging contacts.

etc etc.


With software the more there is the more to experiment with un-limited possibilites with software.

If you get along with computers Buy a Flexradio.

If you like things future proof buy a Flexradio.

If you want your radio control seperate buy the Maestro and the Flexradio.

73 Jeff My 2cts.

(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Back in 1992 I began rig. For an 18 month period of time I spent monthly trips to our and L electronics in Indianapolis to try out the three main competitors. I I evaluated there receive audio quality, filtering, transmit audio capabilities, and even more importantly the ergonomic layout of their control panels. The three rigs I examined were the ICOM IC-751, that Yaesu FT – 990, and the Kenwood TS 850 SAT. They were all similar in performance. But the Kenwood won out due to better dynamic range and a more contest worthy front panel. It was also an excellent CW rig.


I enjoyed that Kenwood 850 SAT for 20 happy years. But when I got the flex 6500, I sold the Kenwood with very few tears, because I was finally ready for the change, and had found my new favorite rig.


My best advice is to spend considerable time playing with a variety of new rigs, including the Kenwood 990, the 590 SG, comparable Yaesu brands, the Icom 7300, and the flex 6000 series. You will probably need to visit a ham station of a flex 6000 owner since they're not sold in stores. But only spending time with the various rigs, evaluating them according to your own individual needs will answer the question adequately.


Good luck and have fun. Take your time and enjoy the journey.


Ken - NM9P
(Edited)
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Ed Woodrick

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While I would definitely recommend the Flex over the Kenwood, I wouldn't recommend either for the beginning ham.
First thing at this time of the year, find a good field day site and go out and work the bands during Field Day. Most larger clubs will have a variety of radios and modes, you can go around and play with each of them. Look at the features that you use, those that you don't.
Not sure if you've gotten a VHF/UHF radio, but that's definitely needs to be a starting place as well.
A $10k radio is what most hams dream and work hard for. You can get quite spoiled by starting at the top of the line. There's generally a number of lessons to learn when you are starting out. And on HF, antennas are definitely one of them.

You also need to learn how you are going to use the radio. What are your other hobbies? Lots of activities on HF hiking the trails, Flex is a little unwieldy for the backpack. This year there is the NPOTA, a great use for mobile or portable radios. A $10k radio is a little more than people want to take portable.

There are many different facets of Amateur Radio, don't blow all your funds in one place. Digital HF, Digital VHF/UHF, D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, SSB, CW, Satellite, Back packing, repeaters, EME, Weak signal VHF/UHF, FM VHF/UHF, TV, slow scan, and probably a hundred more areas to have fun in.

Find a club, go to it. Find a Field day site, go to it. As someone suggested, this is a Flex site, so the general answer will always be Flex.

Get out, talk, play. Who know, you may find that the 6300 is good 'nuf for what you want :-)

Ed WA4YIH
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Spot on! Great post Ed.
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Mike - WB8CXO

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It's easier to learn from all the senses including sight. Everything I learned or didn't know about receivers became 20-20 when I could SEE what I was receiving on my first Flex5000. SmartSDR has perhaps the best overall GUI that will just get better. I know there are many other radios that have GUI's and like many here in the community have operated or owned those radios. Buy a radio designed in Austin, Texas and manufactured in Austin, Texas where you have access to all of the players and a 30 day money back guarantee. Good luck Richard!!! And 73, Mike WB8CXO
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DrTeeth

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The waterfall/panadaptor sold me on to Flex (as well as many other things) as the rig to buy when returning to ham radio after a long break.

I would say that way too much has been made out of comparing rigs. Just because somebody else can chuck a Ferrari round corners does not mean that I could. It is the operator that makes the rig sing and not the other way around.

The problem with these things is that no matter how much one tries something out, it is only when living with then that the annoyances appear. Be they cameras, telescopes or XYLs. The thought process to buying a rig does not have to be overcomplicated.

The *main* point is how many times does one thinks they can splash out on expensive ham gear without getting divorced. If it is once, make the budget as big as you can. If you reckon that it is more than once, one can get a cheap rig and then work one's way up.

It is more about domestic politics than tech specs.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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(now that we've all given the OP five-times as much information and opinions than he can profitably absorb, I'll add my two cents ;-)

When I became a new ham, my first rig was an SDR-1000 (the original Flex Radio). The advantage of an SDR with a big panadapter is that it allows you to SEE the spectrum. You don't turn a dial and tune into some mysterious signal (slowly, slowly, sounds funny, sounds less funny... sounds pretty good... sounds funny again, turn the dial back a bit). You can SEE what an USB SSB signal looks like. And how it looks different to an LSB SSB signal. And what CW signal looks like. And a PSK signal. You can see how close or spread-out signals are on the band. It gives you a visual reference, instead of forcing you to wander around in a dark room hoping to bang-into something interesting.

So... IF you're computer literate and happy to use one as a major adjunct to your ham experience, then I'd strongly encourage you to get a Flex Radio.

(Regarding the 6700 and the Maestro as a choice: You could probably do perfectly well with a 6500 and skip the Maestro for now, unless cost is no object. But a 6500 all by itself will give you plenty to play with as you learn the bands and make your first contacts. If, later, (hey... that could be a week, a month or a year later) get yourself a Maestro. If you want the extra features that a 6700 gives you, then upgrade to one. You'll have no trouble getting most of your money back on your 6500.)

I *do* want to comment on the issue of whether the folks at HRO are a good source of unbiased advice on which radio to buy. It's VERY dependent on who you talk to. Some folks are knowledgeable on some products, but not other products. I visit several times a year (they're only 45 minutes away for me). The sales people vary GREATLY in terms of their knowledge about... well... anything. The vast majority of guys I encounter working there are not able to give great advice. Heck, in my experience it's not unusual for the sales people to not be able to OPERATE the radios on display. Also, as Howard mentioned, these guys are on commission... and like most normal people will prefer to sell you what they have (and, in fact, what they get an extra "incentive' on at the moment).

Soooo... OP: There's yet another opinion. Get a Flex, see the band, and skip advice from parties who might have an agenda other than your happiness.

Peter
K1PGV
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DrTeeth

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I would not underestimate the great value that the 6300 represents. The 6500 is 75% more expensive than the 6300 in the UK from the dealer from which I bought my Flex. I will be happy with that rig until I go to the bottom of the food chain.

If you look at that sort of entry level rig entrance to the hobby, the 6300 wins hands down unless you are so minted the 6700 represents small change (no plane in your avatar LOL).

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