I’m dithering about which 6000-series to buy.

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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After years of dithering, I’m finally convinced that I need to use an SDR.  After Dayton I put a deposit down on a Maestro and I’m currently dithering about which 6000-series to buy.  I’ve read Flex’s description but I’d sure like some advice from current owners.

Here’s a bit of information about my operation:

Since the early 90’s I’ve used the same Omni VI, a decent antenna farm, and more recently, an elderly Heathkit SB-220 with an Ameritron QSK box (talk about three boxes that don’t want to play well together). 

Almost all of my operating is HF CW DXing, but I do dust off the mic from time-to-time.  I really don’t seem to enjoy digital modes much (maybe because I worked at a keyboard for many years).

I also try to put North Dakota on the air for most of the ARRL CW contests, but I’m not a serious contester. Serious contesters, however, do often visit and use the station for phone contests.  Since ND is a rare-bird, we can usually plant ourselves on one frequency and let people come to us.   

Although my station location usually has a very low noise-level, I do have a neighbor who is a fairly active RTTY ham.  Our antennas are only 200’ apart and when he is on the same band, my poor old Omni is compromised.  We try not to interfere with each other, but it happens.

Any advice regarding the selection of a 6300, 6500, or 6700 would be appreciated.

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Joe - N7IV

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Posted 5 years ago

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Photo of George Molnar, KF2T

George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Official Response
Wow - a tall order. The answer, of course is that "it depends."

I have a 6500 and am very pleased. I sometimes wish I had sprung for the 6700, though. The ability to operate simultaneously on two bands, with two antennas, would be very handy. For example, goofing around on 20 or 40 while keeping an eye on 6 for openings. Or watching for DX.

The 6300 is a pretty good "drop in" replacement for any modern transceiver. You get a nice performance bump, the advantages of SDR, and one of the best receivers out there. It is a very worthy radio.

The 6500 has changed the way I operate. When I started, I was strictly a VFO A/B kind of guy. As time progressed, I discovered using 3 or even 4 slices is a great advantage. Lately, I've had one on 6m CW, with CW Skimmer watching out for beacons, etc., while two other slices are open for ISCAT and JT65 operation. Every now and then I throw the fourth into the mix for SSB, but like you, don't get a huge kick out of phone.

If I had to do it again, I'd probably still buy the 6500. If money weren't an issue, definitely the 6700. If I were less active and just wanted a good, solid, day to day radio, the 6300 would be fine.

I do like the balanced microphone option on the 6500 & 6700. Probably a leftover from my broadcast days. The extra relay controls are also a plus, compared to the 6300. If you anticipate needing them.

One thing I have to say - buying a 6000 series is not buying a "radio" as much as it is buying a "radio server." Operating and interacting are different than with a conventional radio. It took some time to sink in, but I honestly say I look at radio and operating very differently now than I did before. As a nearly 40-year ham, it did take some getting used to! But I wouldn't go back.

Hope that helps!! Welcome aboard...

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Ken - NM9P

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Official Response
Tough choice.  They are all great rigs.

If your neighbor uses high power on RTTY, you might be better served with the preselectors in the 6500 than the 6300.  It might give you just a little more isolation from his signals if you are on a different band than he is.

If you are both on the same band, or on harmonically related bands, the limiting factor, once you are past the Blocking range of his signal, will be the phase noise on his transmitted signal.  Assuming that he is not overdriving his amp or audio inputs and creating spatter (yes, even on AFSK RTTY) there is not much you can do about that other than hoping he has a low phase noise oscillator in his rig.  Even the best receiver, which the 6500/6700 are, cannot reject that garbage.

The other consideration is whether or not you use 160/80/40 a lot and want the option of using polarization or geographic diversity reception in order to dig out the weak ones?  If you think you will, then the 6700 is the only one that will do that.  (I wish I could afford to get one!)

Do you want to use transverters for VHF/UHF?  All three rigs will work with them, but the 6500/6700 have more inputs on the back, making them a little more flexible than the 6300.

Likewise, if you want to have a transverter AND a separate receive antenna for the low bands, the 6500/6700 have more inputs and more flexibility.

The 6300 does not have a Balanced XLR/TRS input for the mike.  The 6500/6700 do.

The 6500/6700 have a more effective and flexible preamp/attenuator than the 6300 if you need it.  (For example, I use the 20 dB preamp on 160 receive with my homebrew tuned receive loop.  the 6300's preamp has a built in frequency roll-off for lower frequencies that will not allow it to work on 160 meters)

If you have none of these concerns, then the 6300 will be a great addition to your shack.  It performs almost as good as the 6500/6700 on CW and SSB, but only has 2 panadapters and 2 slices.  If that is enough, then get the 6300.  If you think you might want to have more visual display and more slices open at the same time, then you will need to upgrade to the 6500 or 6700.

Hope this helps.

Ken - NM9P

6500/1500 owner