Here we go again!

  • 2
  • Problem
  • Updated 3 months ago
  • Acknowledged
This is getting ridiculous!

I sent my radio in to Flex for a frequency stability issue that was preventing FT8 decode. They got the radio on 5/13/19. They tell me I would hear from a tech within 10 business days. After no one contacts me after 10 business days I request an update.

The response was an apology but not update. Another week goes by and I ask for an update again. I also leave a voice mail but no one ever calls me back

I am told that there is an issue with the SWR bridge and that it is not related to the frequency problem that I send the radio in for. I am also told that at least three techs are working on it and they are swapping out components. No one ever asked me if I wanted it worked on. They did it without my authorization. That was not what I sent the radio in for.

Then I am told that the issue with the SWR bridge is actually merely a symptom of the original freq problem that I  sent the radio in for.

Then I am told that once again they believe the SWR bridge problem is separate from the freq problem.  Then I'm told the rig must go to an outside lab for chip repair. They x-ray the chip and all looks well.

Then I am told  it was generating spurs all over the place. Well I had many QSO's just prior to sending the rig in without a single comment or complain from anyone on the air.

Then I am told that they cannot diagnose the problem so they ended up replacing the entire transceiver board.

Then I am told that they have over $4,000 invested in this repair but will only charge me the 1.5 hours for replacing the XO and the cost of the XO plus return shipping - total of $257.58

Now today 7/1/2019 I finally get my radio back that Flex had since 5/13/2019. I fire it up and after having to reset a lot of things because it was rest to factory specs I get on the air.

I manage to make a few FT8 contacts and 2 SSB contacts. Then I just monitored FT8 for a few hours. Then I notice that nothing is decoding anymore - exactly the reason I sent it in to Flex.

I check the waterfall and it looks like a bunch of snakes just like it did before (see attached video).

So after all that it is exactly as it was when I first sent it in! A 2 year old $7,000 radio that does not work right!

All that time and money wasted because the problem still exists even after I was told by Gerald that they took care of the frequency issue

Is Flex not able to diagnose and fix their own radios? Gerald told me they could not find the cause of the problem. How can that be when they designed the radio?  Something to think about when you're plunking down $7K for those long sought after PGXL amps. Will they be able to fix those?

So here we go again. I now have to open up another ticket and only God knows when I will get the radio back this time! Thanksgiving? Christmas?

How will the cheerleaders put a positive spin on this?

Enjoy the video!



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Pat N6PAT

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  • very very frustrated!

Posted 3 months ago

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AH0U

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Just a quick look but looks like you have the gain set way too high.... on your WSJT where is the signal level when no stations on the Flex just the backgroubd
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Pat N6PAT

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Always about 40 in the green. When it happens it happens on all the bands. I usually have 3 or 4 WSJT-X sessions open at the same time with all of them around 40 in the green

I never had this problem until around the beginning of the year. I also have the parameters set to the same values with no issues before this
(Edited)
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AH0U

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40 is high... you might want to review that section in the instructions but 39 is really the max
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Pat N6PAT

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I've been using it at that level for nearly 2 years without a single problem. That is not the issue. Before I sent it in I ran tests with Tim and he said it was definitely a frequency stability issue and so did Gerald.

Gerald said in the ticket that the frequency issue was caused by a failure of the OCXO which is what they replaced. But the problem is still there.

Now it's doing it all over again. I had to pay $90 to ship it via FedEx with insurance and had to pay for return shipping - all a huge waste of money!!!!
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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To clarify:

When I said

"Is Flex not able to diagnose and fix their own radios? Gerald told me they could not find the cause of the problem."

I was talking about the spurs issue but now I wonder if they also did not correctly diagnose the frequency issue as well because it's still there. I don't know how they verified that it was fixed when clearly it still has the same problem.


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Dan Quigley N7HQ, 4O7HQ, Service/Support Manager

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Hello Pat, 

I'm new (since May 1) at Flex Radio as Director of Amateur Product Management.  As of today, I am also responsible for Service and Support functions. 

Gerald pointed me to this specific issue as a worst-case example of what can go wrong.  We failed multiple times, at various points along the way with this problem.  I'm sympathetic to your frustration, and I'm here to help.

From what I read here, and in the original support ticket this is an extraordinarily unusual outcome for our repair department. Our leadership and technical staff takes the service and support mission very seriously and understands their functional role in protecting the good faith and investment you and all our customers make. In this case escalating to Gerald, who designed these systems, did not resolve this issue.
I appreciate that you took the time to write about your experience, sharing it with the community and for submitting a new service ticket. I'm going to copy this response and add it to your service ticket. I'd appreciate setting a time for a phone call so I can speak with you about the next steps to make this right.

My cell number is 206-225-8008; we can trade messages off-line to find a time that works.
Sincerely, 

Dan Quigley, N7HQ
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Pat N6PAT

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Dan,

I did not expect a reply at this late hour so I want to thank you for that. I prefer off-line discussion and only resort to the forum when my frustration boils over.

Is your QRZ email good for this purpose or do you have another email you would prefer I address my concerns to?
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Dan Quigley N7HQ, 4O7HQ, Service/Support Manager

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Hi Pat,

Understood - I firmly believe that the vibrant community FRS has curated is a significant differentiator and strength - and that transparency is a central component of maintaining it. 

You can reach me via email at dan@flexradio.com, my QRZ email routes to my personal email.  I'm currently in Seattle - so it's not too late here.  My wife and I are selling our home and moving to Austin in the next few weeks if plans go as expected. 

Looking forward to our discussion. 

73,
Dan
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N5LB - Lionel B

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I don’t use any of the wsjt or ft modes so the video doesn’t tell me very much. That said, what do you see when measuring the audio heterodyne when tuned say 1khz off WWV? I think I’d run that audio into FLdigi or similar and screen capture to identify the extents of the frequency stability issue. Clearly with a flex, I would expect no visible shifts.

What you are reporting seems like very fast frequency shift in the hz range. I use several ocxo sources in the shack and have never seen one do this, but of course they are analog and the frequency trim voltage source amplitude is very stable.

I’d devise as many test procedures as possible, collect the data, video, audio, and have an engineering discussion with Flex.

It’s an approach I have used a couple of times over many years with success. I’ve found flex to be interested in tech discussion despite them being busy when it comes to the odd issues.
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Pat N6PAT

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And just how much of my life do you expect me to devote to getting this radio fixed?

I've gone through all this with Tim and FRS has had a number of techs crawling all over this rig. They swapped out component after component looking for the source of a problem I wasn't even aware existed and was not the problem I asked to be addressed.

The frequency stability issue that I sent it in for was declared fixed after just 1.5 hours of labor even though they had my radio for 7 weeks.  How could someone say this is fixed when it's doing the exact same thing again?
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Burt Fisher

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Sometimes these things happen and you have to devote time. Flex admitted they screwed up and sometimes even good companies make mistakes. They are willing to work with you, unlike some companies. If I were Flex I would simply send you a new transceiver and if the problem continues you will have to look at the power supply etc. I had a problem with a 6400M I was sure the problem was with the Flex, it turned out it was the power supply.  I had another issue with network access, Eric spent a lot of time and that turned out to be a local network issue. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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My first guess is that if it worked on the bench at Flex but you have instability at home after it heats up then possibly have instability in your power source or power supply at home.

Have you put a scope on the power leads and compared stability of power over time at home?

Second thought. - something spurious gets into your power leads - likely from the supply after it heats up

Third though. Assuming you have friends nearby with a 13.5 V supply or a large battery bank, try a different power source.
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Cal Spreitzer

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Pat,   the "snakes" you refer to and see on your video are actually normal and what you should see for a FT8 signal on the Flex waterfall.   Has anyone taken the time to go through your WSJT-x setup and confirm all your settings are correct for the program?  I suspect you have some sort of time issue or computer related issue.    I'm willing to work with you on that off line if you like.  Just email me through my QRZ page email.  Here's a snap shot of my waterfall.  73 de Cal / N3CAL


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Pat N6PAT

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The problem is due to a failure in the XO as Gerald has stated. I've been using FT8 for about 2 years. I know how to configure WSJT-X.

The decoding issue has been happening for a while and I've posted about it in this forum in the past. It's been getting worse until it no longer decodes anything.

I've tried different brand new PS, completely replaced my coax run. Bought a brand new antenna. I even went so far as to purchase a new windows 10 computer and migrate off my windows 8.1  It happens on the Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 computers.

I've checked every single coax and power connection. Shut everything else off in the house. Even removed and reinstalled SSDR and WSJT-X many times. 

I use Meinberg just to make sure it isn't a timing issue.

I'm sick and tired of messing around with this. This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby but this is turning into a royal pain in the butt. And the poor customer service I've received is the icing on the cake!

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Cal Spreitzer

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Pat  I was just trying to help you with the problem you posted on this thread but based on your last post I may be wasting my time.   All it takes is one obscure setting and you could have issues.  For instance under the WSJT-x menu bar "SAVE" if you have "Save All" selected you are saving the Flex RX audio to a .wav file on your computer.  If you have multiple slices running that eats CPU power and disk storage space each FT8 cycle.  Your computer could be slowing down due that.  Ensure that is set to "None".   73 best wishes,

Cal/N3CAL
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Pat N6PAT

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I appreciate the help. Unfortunately the frequency issue is a physical problem with the radio according to Gerald. 
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Bill W2PKY

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Hello Pat-
Do you think adding a GPSDO to the radio would help?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/10MHz-1PPS-GPS-Receiver-GPSDO-GPS-Disciplined-Clock-with-Antenna-Power-Supply-US/382986423822?hash=item592bc50e0e:g:2PMAAOSwPH9c9NDj

My 6700 is super stable with this one, had a near perfect entry in the last ARRL FMT.
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Pat N6PAT

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Do you think a $7k radio should need an external device to work properly?
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John - K3MA

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Pat.

Only my opinion.  Dan Q made a excellent response and you should now take this offline.  I have worked with Dan on the PGXL 6M SWR issue before it was known to be a issue.  He walks his talk so you will be in good hands.

Continuing to post online will only waste more of your time and get you more frustrated as more of the Cheerleader (your words) chime in with opinions and you have to relive all the past events to explain.

Try to find a way to play radio while yours is away and then once it is resolved come back and post the details good, bad or otherwise.

John K3MA

(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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Yeah, I'll buy an $8K radio just in case my $7K radio doesn't work even after it is declared fixed by FRS.

Maybe I should also buy a $9K rig as a backup to the $8K rig?
(Edited)
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Bob G W1GLV

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Pat, it would be nice to see how you have the radio setup for FT8 signal decoding. The video shows normal FT8 signals.
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Pat N6PAT

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It's set up exactly the same way it's been set up for the last 2 years and it's been working until this problem started
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Bill -VA3WTB

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At least your screen shop looks like the rest of us, so that does not show a problem.
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N9LB

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Take the radio to a friends house who is running WSJT with a FLEX transceiver successfully.  Use his power supply, interface, computer and see what happens.  I'm guessing it will work fine.
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K3DCW

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What version of WSJT-X are you using?

Any of the older pre v2.0 versions don't work with the post v2.0 FT8 used by the JT/FT community now.  Just a thought because, like others have suggested, the video you show looks perfectly normal for FT8. 

Also, you have your slice muted and I believe that would keep WSJT-X from decoding if you have it connected to DAX.
(Edited)
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K3DCW

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Just checked and muting the slice does NOT prevent WSJT-X from decoding.  I wonder if your slice is losing its DAX channel somehow.
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K3SF

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well

here is pic of my 6600m on two bands 20 and 17m which very similar to Pat's video. very similar squiggly lines. The variation to me appear to be the normal modulation of the FT8 signal of a few hz's.  In addition, i have WSJTX running natively on my mac mini and has perfect copy on ft8 on both bands simultaneously.

I have run into problems at times when i would not get a copy on one or two instance of wsjtx and found it to be a computer issue of managing shared memory by the OS causing the ft8 decoder to fail and another time where audio routing internal to the computer is not what it appears to be as shown by the interfaces of the audio devices this happens because some software does not properly clear up shared  memory it has used.

For me, in both cases a simple reboot of the computer cleared that up.

Based on my experience, i would say there is not a issue with the radio but with the installation of wsjtx or overall computer configuration.  Note i do not run windows so i am not an expert in any way in the PC world.

i would recommend a review of posts in the wsjtx io group to see what conditions cause FT8 not to decode beside the obvious 'time sync'. 

https://groups.io/g/WSJTX/

yea...sometimes my pics go upside-down but in this case  makes it easier to see the squiggles

i am running v 2.4.9 on the 6600M at this  time

i am just saying the decode issue may lie elsewhere  other than the radio and that should be investigated as part of the trouble shooting process.

Paul K3SF




(Edited)
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Bill W2PKY

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Hello Pat-
Have you tried WSJT-X in "FreqCal" mode on a close by AM station to see if the radio is wandering very much. My 6700 with external GPSDO is stable within .01 Hz on a nearby AM station.
Hope this helps.
Bill
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Pat N6PAT

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You folks all keep saying the same things over and over because you're not bothering to read the posts so I'll say this one more time:

The configuration I have is correct. I've been using it for 2 years. I have WAS FT8 on 8 bands, 187 countries FT8 etc. etc,, etc. The FT8 configuration is not the issue.

I've replaced everything. PS, Computer, Antenna, Coax, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. so please stop suggesting I change the PS , computer, etc.

Gerald confirmed that the OX had failed and was causing the problem. It was replaced and declared fix. Now the same problem is back. It is not a configuration problem. It is a radio hardware problem

And to the ever present agitators - all you want to do is stir up trouble. You call yourselves Elmers and Champions. What a joke! Flex does itself a great disservice by associating itself in any way with you.


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Eric - KE5DTO, Official Rep

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Official Response
Pat,

We can appreciate your frustration with the situation.  Dan will be working with you per his comments above.

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.