General Praise...

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  • Updated 2 months ago
I started with a 1500.  That didn't last long.  Bought a 6300.  Was talked into the upgrade to a 6500.   Then a family crisis caused me to sell that, downsize to an Icom 7300.  That lasted about a month and I placed another order for a 6500.

The 64/66 series radios came out and I decided on an ordered a 6600.  Had a minor issue with the fan but FRS made good on that.

When the Maestro was first announced I jumped on the order list but later I realized 99% of my operating I would use a computer/laptop for.  So I cancelled my Maestro order.

I watched the forums and saw a number of people report Maestro issues.  For a while I was happy I canceled.   When the M series radios came out I had a number of people contact me privately to ask what I recommended.  My recommendation was always the same.  Buy the radio and the Maestro separate that way you can pull the Maestro out to the patio if you want.

A number of people I talked with made that same decision.  Some based on my suggestion but in each case I was clear to advise them that I did not own a Maestro.

I started pretty much last Field Day in preparing for a real field day effort in 2019.  I decided that I wanted a flex so I bought a 6300 to act as my "portable" radio.  My plan had been to use my laptop running SSDR to control the radio and do logging etc.

As this idea started to blossom I realized I also wanted portable radio in the car.  I have an Icom 7100 that really sux for HF work.   

I started to look into small HDMI monitors, etc and after much thought and analysis I decided that perhaps the Maestro might be an ideal solution.

My goal is to build a nice ventilated holder for the 6300, my small 200w amp, a WiFi access point, battery, and have a place in the car where I can connect DC from the car to charge it/run it while mobile and easily pull the box out and run it from my generator when portable.

The Maestro seems to stand out as the ideal way to control the stuff in this box.  So I purchased a B series pre-owned Maestro, my first one.  It arrived yesterday.

This morning I set it up near my op position.   The initial boot freaks me out a little because there is almost zero indication it is really doing anything.   Perhaps in the series C a very small led should turn on when you press the power button.

But once it was booted I got it on my WiFi, downloaded and installed the 2.4.9 Maestro software and it was up and running.

I must totally admit I was very pleased.   The Maestro is a very nice CW workstation supporting head phones and key just fine.   This means with a small battery I can be out on my back patio with less hassle than I have with my laptop.  

The the really cool thing was that I tested running DAX, CWskimmer, Slicemaster on my main computer while using the Maestro.   And I have to tell everyone just how cool this is!

Once you get everything setup slicemaster, DAX, and Skimmer just run.  Your Maestro magically gets spots and it all just works.

So my portable setup will still include my laptop for this very purpose.  I'll run slicemaster, skimmer and DAX (when contest allows it) for spots.  I'll use my logging program on the laptop which reacts to the spots automatically and use the Maestro as the primary radio controller.

It is wonderful that all these things work so well together.

Very nice work FRS!
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Mark WS7M

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Posted 2 months ago

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Clay N9IO

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Sam here Mark, love the combo of Maestro, Slicemaster, DDUtil, Skimmer, WSJTX, N1MM. This has all matured nicely with the MUCH appreciated contributions of some excellent programmers that have great passion in their vocations and let's not omit the Top Shelf programmers at Flex who clarify the direction to follow.

All this just to make your and my Flex Radio experience the very best available in the market today.

IMHO all others are kidding theirselves.

Guess you could say I too drank the cool-aid, really looking forward to the next advancements of SSDR Ver 2, i.e. multi-client and a whole lot more to come.

The fall/winter contest/dx season is coming on quick. Just need to repair a couple of RX antennas and I'll be set.

Sorry to get long winded Mark, thanks for the praise comment, I felt like chiming in this morning.

73' Clay N9IO
(Edited)
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Mark WS7M

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Glad you did chime in Clay.  Your inputs is always great on this forum.

When I decided to buy my 6600 I *ALMOST* bought an Icom 7610.  There were several things that swayed me back to flex:

1) I like to program.  I do it for a living so I'm pretty good at it.  Flex programming is easy.   If I switched to Icom I'd have to redo a bunch of stuff to use their CI-V stuff.  So it would have been a lot of work.

2) I'm not normally these days a knob radio guy.  The Icom 7610 is a knob radio with some SDR features behind the knobs.  They really don't have a create software client.  I looked for videos on how to use 7610 via PC and there were not many.  There were even less about using it remotely like we do with Smartlink.  It is funny to say this after I just bought a Maestro but it is true.  Most of my radio work is computer based.

3) Flex remote ability.  This is quite frankly how I use my radio 90% of the time.  I just do not sit in front of the knobs and operate.  I might be at work.  I might be at a friends.  I might be on the couch watching football.  It really doesn't matter where, I can use my flex.

Lastly, flex is 2 days away via UPS.  A friend of mine with an IC7300 had his keyer die.  It was 2+ weeks to/from the US repair center.