Help with Model Selection

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  • Updated 1 month ago
I am looking at taking a job that will be heavy on travel and I think a flex will be a great way to scratch my ham itch on the road. My issue is that as a relatively new operator I’m not sure what model is right for me considering the very large price differences between models. I know for sure I don’t need an M model as I don’t mind being PC based (could always Maestro down the road too).

Basically I like to mess around with digital modes such as FT8 and FT4 with only a little SSB. I am not a contester nor do I think I ever will be one. Do you think I will be happy with just the 6400 with tuner or is there something I am missing about the 6600 that makes it worth the extra cost considering my needs.

Regarding antennas, I am moving to a new QTH and probably will only have a inverted L Multiband. Maybe I can squeeze in a receive only antenna too at some point down the road.

Any help everyone can provide would be awesome.

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Michael KD2RPE

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Posted 1 month ago

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Traveling a lot for work?  Maybe consider what Flex has as pre owned radios? A 6500? A new 6400 would work.
Then all you need is your device, laptop, Ipad to remote in.
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Steven Linley

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I would start with a 6400.  It may be all you'll ever need.  You certainly don't need a 6600 right now.
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Michael KD2RPE

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Thanks for the replies. I thought that was the case but just wanted to make sure. It looks like the presented 6400 is only a $100 difference from new so it probably makes sense to buy new unless they have a significant sale.
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With your  antenna farm being a single multi-band implies a single SCU like the 6400 has is sufficient
Being on the road ( aka staying on hotel/motel mode or work location) as you main time for ham activity, most likely be operating remotely.
Smartlink operations with multi-flex right now only supports two simultaneous users.

With those two constraint and following use case scenarios ,
I would say a 6400 would be a good choice.

You could log in as two users, one on a laptop doing FT8 and the other on maestro doing ssb or cw with each having it sown slice.

Another scenario is laptop doing FT8 and ipad doing cw/ssb  with each device having its own slice....

Now if you are more mobil (aka car or truck or bus or just walking about BUT NOT on an airplane), iphone or ipad is another way to connect to the flex
the data usage will be limiting factor ($$$$)
This scenario is also good in airport terminal while waiting for next flight.

For example, i do pedestrian mobil with my iphone when walking the dog and I listen to various nets on 20 or 40m ssb.

When operating remote, be sure to to have way to disconnect antenna and a way to power off 6400 via the web. There are some good ideas here on this community for both.

As a side note i run 6600m. I love having 4 slices simultaneously doing FT8 on multiple wideband antennas.

i am there to catch almost any short duration band know like 6m  E's ;-)

if you plan anything like that with multiple antenna then 6600 with two SCU's maybe a better option but that may be much further down the road for you right now.

here is pic of my setup

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If I'm reading your post correctly and your plans [also] include mobile operation (could always Maestro down the road too), I would definitely opt for the early (smaller) design (i.e., 6300, 6500, or 6700), especially if mobile mounting space is a concern. 

Unlike most amateur radio manufacturers, Flex provides repair support for their older models, so if you purchased an older model and it ends up needing a repair (unlikely), Flex should be able to fix it.  Also if you buy a used/certified unit directly from Flex an extended warranty transfer may be available, and extended warranties are available for purchase too.

Personally if I were trying to decide between a new 6400 or a used 6500, I'd opt for the 6500 with 4 slice receivers. 

Whichever model you decide on, you can't go wrong.  Good luck.
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John KB4DU

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I have a 6400 and use it much like you propose. It's a good fit for this. For me, the digital modes are on the laptop, and SSB is on the Ipad. If you get an Ipad with cellular, you won't be confined to the local (hotel or whatever) WiFi. A Maestro might be nice for some, but I have never been able to determine that it would improve my ops.

I use an external automatic tuner (MFJ929) because it has a much wider matching range than the internal tuner. Works really well with the tune feature in SmartSDR. I set the tune power to 10 watts. Just click on the Tune button and watch the SWR go down.