Is it just me feeling like this?

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  • Updated 3 years ago
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Is it just me?

Contrary to the joy of FRS releasing nice new products, I feel like we’ve been dumped on from a great height.

FRS have been promising great headline grabbing features from SSDR for over 3 years now. Whilst we have been spoon-fed minor tweaks, we are still missing out on lots of basic must-have stuff.  By basic I mean things that almost all radios over $1k had included from shipment of serial No 000001.

For examples:  a proper useable S-meter, programmable RX filter profiles, all mode squelch, ability to assign antenna selection by band, ability to assign TX RCA amp switching by band, a lacklustre Noise blanker, a terrible ANF, the ability to quickly and simply do A <> B, A = B, split etc from on-screen buttons without needing numerous mouse clicks. And that’s without my long list of GUI shortfalls that are still lacking elegance, configurability and ease of use.  All these things subtract user pleasure from what could be a first class system.

For me just a handful of essential basic features would have been enough to make me happy. It would have enabled the excellent RF deck of the F6k to be used without feeling that SSDR is somehow the limiting factor in an otherwise great product. Even now we have no certainty nor confirmation from FRS that important missing functions will even be included with SSDR v2.0, which of course we will now have to pay for too.

FRS tell us that they are a software company, yet in the past 3 years they have developed the Maestro, co-developed the XL amp, developed the whole USB interface functions, and now they have managed to somehow design and develop 3 new radios!   All this time SSDR has lacked fundamental usability features, and has some serious bugs, lock-ups and GUI limitations.

I didn’t want WAN remote or other fancy ideas like diversity and S02R, just a solid radio deck that works as well as, and gives the same operating pleasure as any other radios in the $5k+ class.

If my soon to arrive Icom-7610 had a poor ANF then I’d send it back under warranty, expecting it fixed without charge, not a chargeable upgrade”. But, I suppose if I had to, I’d pay $200 again, even if it was for functions that really should have been included and/or worked properly from the get-go...but it had better have them ALL working A1 this time around.

For the past few months, I’ve been poised ready to decide if I should dump Flex. This would have been subject only to functionality immediately accessible from V2.0, and without having to wait / buy-in to more V2.x/V3 mañana promises.

And now the final nail in to coffin, it looks like my financial investment in Flex has just taken a big hit thanks to the new models.  Yes I know those in the USA can do a trade-up but what about the rest of the world?   I have been a loyal Flex user since SDR-1000. Are we second best, and does FRS only want our cash without the same level of commitment it gives to the US market?

I feel like FRS have strung us along for way too long with SSDR not moving forward with alacrity. Yet covertly they’ve been developing new radios instead that use up that precious and expensive payroll in other areas.

It looks like my trust and commitment in the FRS sales pitch and F6k has now become old-hat before it’s even reached functional maturity.

I had expected better from a small US company but I ended up very disappointed. So, no thanks FRS I will not be buying another prototype from you - I am not going to be that naïve and trusting twice.

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Steven G1XOW

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Posted 3 years ago

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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Steve,
I too have been waiting to see many of the enhancements on the long list of SSDR improvements that are on the idea list. Since they no longer provide road maps and only announce changes when they are ready, we don't know how close some of them are. However the number 1 idea on the list by votes is the dockable panadapters and that will be coming soon. It was demoed in Dayton. CONCURRENT clients is also coming in 2.x.

The decisions to prioritise Wan, the amp, and the new hardware were good ones even if they don't address what many of us are waiting for. More customers and growth will provide $$$ that can be used to expand the development efforts.

I am hopeful that with a lot of those efforts behind them we will start to see many of the SSDR gui features coming our way in V2.x . And while it may be 2018 before we see them i'm still impressed with the work they are doing and willing to wait for the features I hope we see in the year(s) to come.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Tony Hateley

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At last someone else agrees with me on what I said over a year ago
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Lee - N2LEE

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I wonder how many of you have seen this interview with Gerald talking about the features that ALL the 6000 radios will receive ?

This appears to dispel a lot of the myths stated here about the current flex.

https://youtu.be/UGNVjGKdvbM
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Clay N9IO

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at 3:22:06
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WW1SS - Steve

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That is why I dumped mine . . . Promises . . . Promises . . . Promises. Nothing has changed. Horrible noise blanker along with other things and always a 1/2 finished product. Been hearing about all these features that never get added. Hearing about 2.0 for almost 3 years now I think. 

They half finish a product . . . Start on a new product and take in cash with reservations for the new product. I am waiting for the 7610 to come out. I have a reservation in for a 6600m but not sure yet if I will purchase it when my time comes in 6 or 8 months from now.

I don't have an issue with any company coming out with new stuff but finish the current stuff 100%
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Rick WN2C

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If I am not mistaken, Icom or rather the dealers were taking reservations for the 7300 and 7610. These are just the one I remember recently. I am sure their were other manufacturers doing it also for some models in the not to distant past.
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Andrew O'Brien

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While I like the Flex SSDR software, I do agree with your points about its lack of gee-whiz features compared to things like SDR-Radio Console by Simon Brown  SDRUno , SDR# , and even KE9NS's version of PowerSDR. I think we would be further along the software cutting edge if somehow Flex enabled their transceivers to work with third-party software more readily. Let Flex design the transceiver while third part developers go to town on innovative software.

I am also getting a little tired of radios being "launched" but then having to wait months for one to be delivered.  It seems an odd concept, but perhaps I'm a bit behind the latest marketing trends. Seems to me that it is OK to announce a pending new product , but once officially launched I think the supply chain should have a first run production to supply several thousand customers within a few days of placing the order. I am really shocked to read here that there are people waiting several weeks for a Flex 6500. 

Andy K3UK
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I think we would be further along the software cutting edge if somehow Flex enabled their transceivers to work with third-party software more readily. Let Flex design the transceiver while third part developers go to town on innovative software. 


The signature series radios simply do not work that way. They are thin client radios. This means that the radio does all of the processing. What you are describing is a thick client radio. I had a chat with the lone person at the Anan booth and asked him how much data the radio would haul over the network. He showed me something like 90GB in a few hours (half day). That is incredible. There is no way you're going to do that to enable remote operation, for one. Secondly, that means that you need a good computer to run the radio. The guy at the Anan booth said emphatically that the better the computer, the better the radio experience will be. Now why on Earth would I want to have to buy a top end gaming machine for $2000 to run their "cheaper" $4000 radio? I have an old computer from 2009 that works pretty good.

Here's the other thing - if you want to run third party software to receive you can do so. How? Using DAX I/Q. You can't transmit on it but you can absolutely receive. 

And finally, you're talking about this enabling faster release of features. Not really. You may get some features that you wanted but others may not be developed. 

Ria
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Marc Lalonde

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i agree a bit on that , i have preferred have V2.0 or even V3.0 for some time before flex devaluate it own radio whit same or better receiver specification and less expensive new model. 

i knot it may got part sourcing challenge but still may make a MKII model

have expected  probably i my dream that FRS  what to show new software on hamvention 
instead like all other do and show new radio  , and V2.0 fall right under the carpet (again)

so flex look now like all other  ,doing new "Hardware" every year instead of doing future-prof radio platform , that redefine itself by new software that  is SDR definition after all  ,and wly we put lot of money for buy a 6700 platform  and before that a 6500

so now i just wait for my new ordered 6400  to ship .....  , but have prefer put my money on V2.0

quick Googeling and find old road map that show V2 for 2015 !!!!    ,so yup it may easy to tell that it do hardware instead of focus on software .

Marc  VE2OLM
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I find it interest, how some say they have dumped their radio and Flex, but still continue to post their disatisfaction here every time there is room for a dig.

I suppose they have that right to, but it is clear regardless what they say, they are really not done with Flex,,,it's just talk. I think for me,,I would just go another direction, instead of spending so much time telling people here how unhappy they are over and over and over.
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WW1SS - Steve

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Yes right now a 6500 is 2 to 3 weeks out. A maestro is 8 to 12 weeks out. I have a Maestro and 6500 on order and was gonna pay when shipped. I placed the order 1-9-2017 and was told then the Maestro was 8 to 12 weeks out and it is still that. Wanted everything shipped at once.The 6300 is 4 to 6 weeks out. 

I confirmed this the other day with Flex.

It is downright ridiculous
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Paul Bradbeer

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Hi Steve.  Nope, I don't think it will be just you that is feeling a bit bruised/bewildered etc by recent events. Here's my thoughts - hopefully readers will see this as it is intended...a piece of reflective thought, not a rant.

For my own part I have just realised that owning a 'proper' SDR means that my investment is more like a PC than a radio....what a fool, I should have seen that coming.  Afterall, it has always been referred to as a Radio Server.

Yes, I get it that my 6500 will still work with SSDR 2.x etc but that is cold comfort when the value of my investment takes the inevitable tumble and the 'cost to change' becomes so high.  It would have been easier if I had high confidence that SSDR2.x will deliver the changes that many of us are hoping for, but I'm not sure it will.  I know that the platforms are different, and that FPGA programming brings different challenges, but my long ownership of an Elecraft K3 (and K2 before that) has spoiled me in terms of what to expect from software updates - yes, Elecraft not only fixed the bugs, tweaked things to customer requests, but with every new release there always seemed to be some excellent new functionality.  By comparison, FRS' updates seem to be advancing the platform at a much slower rate.

The US-only trade-up programme will surely make it easier for US-hams to stay brand loyal and trade their 6300s and 6500s for 6400s and 6600s. Here in the UK I guess that only the hardiest of FRS supporters will stay brand loyal; afterall, it appears we're in a different paradigm now in terms of 'rig' longevity and resale value.  I'd have thought that this was something that FRS would want to address by extending the trade-up programme....I wonder if the business case stacks up?

Regards

Paul M0CVX (and ex-AC5NO....I used to be an honorary Texan  ;-)   )

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Hi Paul,

You might want to do a review of the firmware release for the other radio you mentioned.  I just did.  The latest beta release has a macro bug fix and a new CAT command.

Trade in programs across the ocean do not make economic sense for either party but our UK dealers do offer local trade in programs.  You should contact your dealer after the dust settles.

In the US, we take trade ins of all of the competitors radios.  This means that we have daily visibility into the resale value of those radios, which have almost all dropped dramatically in the last year.  Our trade in partner says it is very hard to move the "big iron" radios.  It is also really hard to get much of the original purchase price if the radio had a lot of hardware options installed.  One competitor pre-announced a model replacement for a still shipping model.  The retail price through distribution dropped about 30% overnight on the still shipping model to be replaced.

Asking a radio manufacturer not to come out with new models, guarantee the value of the earlier models, and give its software development away for free is the effective equivalent as saying I want the company to go out of business.  Imagine a car company that did that.  

Respectfully,
Gerald
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Paul Bradbeer

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Dear Gerald,

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and respond.  Well, to be fair, the K3 is now (I guess) about 9 years old - so I'd expect the software updates to have reduced; I was recalling the earlier years of the K3 and making a comparison to the 6300/6500/6700 at the same sort of 'age' . 

I guessed that it wouldn't make economic sense to try and replicate your well-received trade-up programme here in Europe.  Though I hope you can see that, for some, its absence adds to a potential barrier to brand loyalty this side of the pond. Perhaps that is because, rightly or wrongly, here in Europe we imagine the FRS trade-up centre to be a beacon of 'standardised' fair-pricing for traded-in FRS hardware - I think that would harder to achieve among the various FRS dealers in Europe.

Finally Gerald, despite our moans I'm sure that people want to see FRS thrive, and I realise that good business/economic sense has driven your new product decisions.  I've reflected (and reset) my expectations on how I should expect my SDR ownership to pan (pun intended) out in the future, and I guess it'd be the same regardless of whether it was a Flexradio, or an Anan, or Expert MB1; equally, perhaps the last few days has added to the data points on the 'customer experience' angle for FRS too?

Best Regards

Paul


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Peter EIER

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Spot on!


Peter - PH0PPL
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Paul Bradbeer

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Steve, just thought...maybe we should just chill out, Listen to some music...

Let's see, how about a bit of The Who?  (selects appropriate album on British-made Cyrus HiFi)

(sound builds up - wailing guitars...loud screaming..)....oh hang on, what's this?.... 'We won't be fooled again'.

It's just not my day....  (dons flameproof suit...)


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Jim Gilliam

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Perhaps the platform of the 6000, though innovative, is much too difficult to maintain and improve with a reasonable profit margin. We forget those guys have to "eat" too. Perhaps this has been a market decision so Flex can maintain a profit to continue the task of firmware/software updates.


Jim, K6QE

(Edited)
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Giulio

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They have to eat yes, but please, there are many ways to do it. I feel terribly duped. Speechless.
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Marc Lalonde

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hardware development = money pit   ,software cost only wage
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James Watts

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I personally think FRS underestimated the cost of development. They've found themselves in an unsustainable financial situation. If you add up their market share along with cost to develop such a feature-rich platform and deliver on their promises, they've had to release hardware (presell with prepayment; sort of like a kickstarter campaign) to keep revenue incoming to support staff and R&D. Almost like a Ponzi scheme. Remember the 6000 series was announced in 2013 with a roadmap of development. Now it's 2017 with software that's half-baked. Part of the selling pitch to get you into the 6000 line back then was upcoming features in the roadmap that would be released with v2.00 slated for 2015. However, v2.00 never came but the hardware has been replaced and new hardware announced. This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul while ostracizing your current customer base. I don't think this is sustainable for FRS.
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WW1SS - Steve

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I think realistically using Flex past timelines these new radios probably won't be out till summer 2018
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Mark WS7M

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I read this with interest and I feel for those of you overseas. 

One major difference is that Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom while Japanese have pretty much setup infrastructure world wide so they don't quite feel foreign.  FRS has only done a little of this so the support and programs don't reach overseas.

For Steve, the main thread starter, I hear you.  It seems like SmartSDR has been in small bug fix mode for a very long time.  Had they addressed basic functionality you mention people like yourself could be much happier.

I hope you decide to stick it out and see what happens as I've enjoyed reading your forum interactions.  Same for the rest of the group here.  But I do get it.

For me it comes down to choices: 

I'm not a power user ham.  I don't do SO2R, diversity, in fact I don't even use all the features my 6500 has.  In my HOA I can barely put up an antenna and the idea of having two for diversity receive makes me laugh.  The HOA Nazi would be here in minutes.  How I've skated by with my end feed 130 foot wire is still amazing.

I am a professional software developer, so the Flex API intrigues me.  It means I can solve some of these issues myself if I could ever find the time.

I do believe and at least it was this way in my experience that when you by a knob radio from one of the big three you might plan on 2 or 3 firmware updates but whatever features the knobs support is pretty much all you will ever have.

A short time back I had some very bad family news and decided I need to sell my flex gear and amp.  I sold my flex 6500, put my SPE amp up for sale and ordered an icom 7300.

The little icom was cute and the little panafall was pretty useless in my opinion.  I also had to be in my shack to use it at all which was in a dark corner of my basement.  In 2 weeks I began to regret my decision.  Also my family news turned out not to be so bad, so I ordered a 6300, then a month after getting that I took advantage of the trade in (getting full price) and traded other gear back to a 6500.

At that time I ordered a maestro but later cancelled it because I realized I can just use my laptop.  From what I read about some maestros I am glad I did.  I am not convinced it is a stable product yet.  But then again, I'd probably not even have mine due to the part and board re-turn issues.

Anyway just rambling here.  I like the flex API and that is what keeps me on the radio.  I hope Flex listens to everyone here and does put some effort back into software.  It could sure use it.

Mark - WS7M
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Jerry WA9UKB

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For what it's worth I did notice no XLR Jack, Aldo in the radio comparisons chart of the new models no mention of the Flex 6500?
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Ken - NM9P

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Information from Gerald in another thread...Mic input on 6400 & 6600 is a 1/8 inch TRS (mini stereo) in pseudo-balanced format.  Wired with Mic+ on tip, Mic- on Ring, and Shield on the Sleeve.  It will function as a balanced input for dynamic mics but has the added bonus of being able to supply bias voltage for electret mics.

The 6300 and 6500 are bring discontinued and upgraded to the 6400 and 6600 respectively.  Both will have performance improvements over the rigs they replace.

BUT, FRS will still support the 6300 and 6500 as part of the 6000 family.  SSDR will still run on them, limited only by hardware limitations specific to each rig.  They are being replaced with better units at a lower price, but will not be obsolete.
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Jerry WA9UKB

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Now on the used market where I could have sold the 6500 for $3000 or so now it will drop to $1000.00 or lower a very steep drop due to the cheaper prices on the 6400, that's my issue as being retired and saved money hard to get dollars purchase the 6500, it's my fault for not being wealthy so no body to blame but me, Being a electronics Tech and working various jobs in the Computer Industries raising families in this day and age has not been easy, but I take full responsibility for my own condition, if I had some insight after a prostatectomy, I would have not retired at 62 per the surgeon and worked on until the end of this year at 66,.

What I'm trying to say most products, Cars Motorcycle s, Computers due devaluate over time at a sliding pace, not like a sudden free fall overnight.

Jerry WA9UKB
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Jim Gilliam

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Try an XLR to USB converter. Works great and can't see any difference plugging the microphone in directly to the radio.


Jim, K6QE

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Ken - NM9P

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A simple XLR to 1/8 inch TRS should work fine.
Or if your balanced mic is wired with a 1/4 inch TRS on the radio end, then a 1/4 stereo to 1/8 stereo adapter cable would work well.  I wouldn't recommend simply using an adapter without a short length of cable between the ends, because it might put too much torque strain on the rig's 1/8 inch connector.

I am looking for some right-angle 1/8 inch stereo plugs so I can wire up several different adapters in anticipation of trading up my 6500 to a 6600.

Ken - NM9P
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Ken - NM9P

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Using a XLR to USB mic adapter into your PC would work for the casual op.  
But there is a trade-off of latency, as the computer must convert your audio to digital before sending it to the rig.  It is not a great deal of delay, but noticeable, and for competitive stations in a rapid-fire contest or DXing situation may be objectionable.  

The other possible drawback is that some computers sound cards or drivers have routines that may change the fidelity of your audio unless you are careful with your configuration settings.

With these in mind, I would say try it and see.....
But, I plan to grab a few connectors and make a few adapters.

Ken - NM9P
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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I find it interesting that people complain about having to pay for a new release of SSDR. Do you get new versions of Windows for free? 

Keep in mind that the software in an SDR is as much a part of an SDR as hardware is in a conventional radio. With that in mind would you expect other manufacturers to provide hardware upgrades for free? 

I really think some of you are so used to conventional radios that you simply cannot break free of the knob dependency and cannot adapt to SDR. Perhaps SDR is not for you.

I love my 6700 and will never go back to conventional radios again. Every single knob, meter, switch and dial is a potential problem. The more you depend on hardware the more restrictive upgrades will be. SDR offers far more opportunities for expansion. Show me a conventional radio with the ability to monitor 8 different band/modes at the same time.
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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I only mentioned paying for SSDR because Steve mentioned it in the initial comment:

"...with SSDR v2.0, which of course we will now have to pay for too."



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Paul Bradbeer

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Oh ok, but don't forget Steve also said:

'But, I suppose if I had to, I’d pay $200 again, even if it was for functions that really should have been included and/or worked properly from the get-go...but it had better have them ALL working A1 this time around.'

So I don't think that's the biggest issue here.  Regards  Paul

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KD7CAO

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"I find it interesting that people complain about having to pay for a new release of SSDR. Do you get new versions of Windows for free?"

Actually yes. Most everyone that took part in the program received a free upgrade to Windows 10.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Special case. One of America's largest corporations trying to shift an entire market for their own reasons doesn't really count.
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Steven G1XOW

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Pat, I certainly wasn't complaining about paying for a new version with new features, and to be honest the cost is not the issue.

What is clearly upsetting lot of people is the blurred line between bug fixes/performance issues, and new cutting edge developments.

Flex need to have 2 entirely separate development lists:-

List 1) (required in v1) stuff that doesn't work right, or is missing, or is lacking in performance and/or configurability. In other words the remedials. Bug fixes, performance and lock-up fixes, usability fixes etc. etc. this will get SSDR to finally provide the kind of radio that we all have a right to expect it to be, without additional cost. Get the basics functionality at least to the level of performance for other $5-7k radios then that is it done - the end of v1.xx   End result: a great solid radio deck with no complaints from average hams who don't want the wizz-bang features.


List 2) (for v2) features that are clearly over and above what is normal in current radios. Things like So2R, Internet remote, Diversity. You know, the advanced cutting edge stuff that only a select few want, and those people who do want it should expect to pay for its development.
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Walt

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I find the software development to be too slow to my liking and run-of-the-mill operating.  There are more daily-use featiures on my old ts-590s than in the 6500, which is why the 590 is still on the desk runiing 24/7 and doing some important things.

Have had my 6500 for three years - was hoping for a different type of Dayton presentation - less hardware and lots of new software features - like a finished version 1.

Time to cut the losses and move on.

Good luck to Flex and their contest radio path - I hope they do well.  Just not my cup of tea.

Cheers!
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KF4HR

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No, you're definitely not the only one feeling this way. 

One of my biggest fears of spending $7,000+ on my 6700 in late 2015 I that the hardware platform would be superseded in a short period of time, so I specifically asked that question before purchase.   I was assured by FRS that the cost to develop of their three 6xxx hardware was very high and I could expect this hardware to be around for several years. 

Fast forward 19 months and now I'm hearing the 6600 will have better receiver performance than my $7,000+ FLEX-6700?!  Sure I can upgrade (upgrade?) to a 6600, but I'd loose 4 receiver slices, which is the main reason I bought the 6700 in the first place.  Talk about a sick feeling!  It's probably wishful thinking, but I'm hoping FRS rewards its 6700 series customers by offering a receiver hardware improvement retrofit package. 

As for the new larger 6400/6600 larger hardware, personally I think FRS has ventured down the wrong path.  One of the main aspects I enjoy about the original 6xxx series transceivers is its slim size so it can be hid away and a PC or Maestro could be used for control.  And I'm curious how the 6600M will display 4 slices on the small Maestro screen?  Two slices sure, but four?  If this built-in Maestro platform is the path FRS has decided to go, I suspect the 6700 model will eventually get dropped from their product line up, especially now that the 6600 has better receiver hardware.

While there are certain operational aspects of my Flex I enjoy, I feel this latest hardware release has let this 6700 owner down.  FRS's disappearing road map and their wait-and-see business model has me now wondering if I went down the wrong path. 
 
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Steve Gw0gei

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I feel your pain . Twice in the last twelve months I have been in the telephone discussing purchasing. A 6700 to replace my 6300. I tried a 6500 afte r my first 6300 and found it didn't offer enough for so2r. Hf and vhf contesting due to the single. Scu. I bought another 6300 and have been happy with the ssdr developments for icontesting until. The hang ups and dax driver corruptions soured the experience. I could live with the poor anf and nb etc but the radio hanging during a contest. Is a big no no for me. I win the rsgb hf championship. Series last year with my 6300. And am competing in the series. Plus other s this year.

Luckily. In both occasions. Something has made me hesitate before. Going ahead with the. 6700. Upgrade and I have spent money on antennas and. Upgrading Amos instead.

The. 6600 looks good to me in non m mode and I can live with the bigger box. If it means it will be easier and cheaper to fix if it goes bad. I have had no interest in going back to knobs. Via maestro or the new m versions. (Which look ugly. And cheap like knobs similar to. K3)..

I have been trying to sell my 6300 in recent weeks as I anticipated that flex would be bringing so,e new models out. I have no chance of selling it now - not a major problem. To me as I can afford to keep it for /p. Or multi two contesting. Use. However I will not be buying a 6700 or 6600. For my main so2r hf and transverting needs until such time as ssdr. Issues have been sorted and the. Improved performance discovered via the recent sherwood tests are rolled out for all. 6000 model radios. In the meantime. I will be sitting in my hands and cash.

One of the things I liked about flex. When I. Bought first. 6300 four years ago. Was the roadmap and the. Good communications. With customers. It's still better than icom an others who don't even admit they have a problem , but I am starting to look again at the elecraft offering even though I have never liked their ergonomics and quality i of the case etc.

I sincerely hope that flex can get a maintenance release of ssdr out. Next week , even if it's a public beta , as I a goingto have to do a re install anyway due to another dax corruption this week. I will be happy to pay for 2.0 if it offers lots of new features, and when it is a stable product, but in the meantime I want my 6300 to be a reliable joy to operate. With my flex knob. And not. An unreliable pain in the butt .

Steve gw0gei / gw9j
(Edited)
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NM1W

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Couldnt agree more! Fix the dax corruption and rig crashes..And better honest communication with the current customers.
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Ned K1NJ

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   It might be a good idea to return a "roadmap".  It would do a lot to restore
faith in those, who in fact, *want* to have faith in the direction software will
go.  A few detractors can be ignored, especially considering what has already
been accomplished.  I think it would do a lot more good than harm.  Remember
that the new radios will also live in the same software environment, and software
will still define the radio.

                        Ned,  K1NJ
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Steve, your concerns are reasonable.  Our engineers have been trying hard to recreate the v1.10.16 crashing problem so far unsuccessfully in the lab here.  The problem is very intermittent and not everyone sees it.  They have been applying resources to attempt to isolate the problem but they need to be able to recreate the event.  This will be provided in a 1.x maintenance release when fixed.  You can back up to v1.9.13 revision if this is causing you problems.  Apparently, the problem has not been seen in alpha testing of v2.0 so it appears isolated to the v.1.10.16 release.  Diagnostic data that will allow us to recreate the problem is what we need most.  

DAX incorporates third party drivers, which apparently can experience buffer corruption on some PCs with high DPCs.  We plan to incorporate new drivers and provide in a 1.x maintenance release when completed.  

We consider both of these high priorities for resolution but due to the nature of intermittent problems, we cannot predict the timing.  

Gerald
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Rory - N6OIL

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You know Gerold and Steve I did have maybe two instances of lockups with v1.10.16 but after I did a factory reset all was fine. But I really think a lot of it has to do with the OS, as much as we say our OS'es are clean I can't put my faith in saying that, we throw so much software at our computers and things get knocked out of wack but we can't see it by running diagnostics. One thing I did do was run my 6500 using Dogpark and never had issues. So I really don't think SSDR is the root of the problem with the huge delta of Microsoft installs out in the wild, I would put more blame on the users' systems.


  You may ask how I can say this well I work for a school district in IT and we build our images the same for all computers and it's not long before we get problems because of some software will not play nice with Windows, Java and Flash have been our biggest pains, now that more developers are moving away our error rates have gone down and we are re-imaging less and less. 

I know Steve in a perfect world it would nice if you could just pack up your setup and send it to Texas. Software and hardware is a fine line between bliss and chaos.

Good luck Steve and I'd say hang in there, so many threads on here claiming the sky is falling.

73 
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Jerry WA9UKB

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I did the same thing, although my son has the talk 590 now, I do use a Flex 1500 most of the time to listen, has a better noise blanker easy to record with and screen capture utility power line noise and plasma tv interference, since I have had no resolve since 2001 with incidental RF interference from the utility power line distribution poles . Sometimes 30 over 9
And my neighbors Plasma TV , I'm considering selling everything as being retired and on a fixed income and keep a portable HF rig when away from home.

No resolve from the ARRL when I originally sent a complaints to Ed Hair ARRL or the FCC back in 2001 and on and of thru the years

Licensed since 1967.

Jerry, WA9UKB
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Feel very different and continue to have a blast both with what is out and what is coming.

If something else trips your trigger, go for it.

If you are too impatient or something in the works is critical for your station, then fill that gap.

The present products are awesome fun and the new ones simply rock.

Glad I've a 6700 and Maestro at each QTH.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Arnie

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Steve and all:
I have been with Flexradios since the 3000. I pre-ordered the 6300 when they were announced at Dayton. I waited 15 months before the delivered a nice radio but with horrible rudimentary software. A had assumed it would be an upgrade the PowerSDR, not a stripped down software lacking even a panadapter. Though they have obviously improved SmartSDR since it lackluster beginning, it still lacks many useful features of PowerSDR, which even now is being improved by a third party and far surpasses the features in SmartSDR. Even something which my Icom 751 purchased new in the 80's had, like squelch. 
When I voiced some skepticism about FRS  delivering the 66oo/64oo in August, someone on this board jumped on me as being so negative. I replied that I was not being negative...just being realistic based on past performance. 
There is obviously a lot more profit in bringing out new radios than there is in bringing out state-of-the-art software for existing radios.
Even the IC-7300 radio has been operable natively over the internet for a long time.....time in which FRS has yet to fulfill that expectation, let alone bring SmartSDR up to even the level of PowerSDR. IN fact, FRS has gone backwards and removed such basic features as keyboard shortcuts and CAT control for many features that were/are in PowerSDR...like being able to adjust the TUNE STEP. WHen I asked to have the features returned, I was told "it's not a priority" by Tim.
I like my 6500, but am sorely disappointed in the pace of fulfilling expectations about the software, which is, after, what the radio is.
73 de Arnie W8DU
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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I personally think FRS underestimated the cost of development
To the extent that they did any estimating at all, I think Mr. Watts is probably right.

Running a software company is difficult.  Running one in which you're trying to fund both your bug fixing and your forward development solely with current sales requires *lots* of current sales, and *very* healthy margins. 

In my own, personal, experience, I have never been able to make this model work.  Maybe it works for others who are more talented or who have products of different levels of complexity.

It is *my* view that the only thing that can save you in this model are periodic "re-ups"... people paying to trade-up to your new version.  So you need a rapid (almost annual), compelling, paid, upgrade path.

Just as an example, my company develops and licenses some highly complex (another way of saying very expensive) software packages.  We charge about 20% of the cost of the initial license fee per year for support.  That support ONLY includes bug fixes. It does not include upgrades to new versions or new features, on which licensees get a 70% discount if they're under support at the time they want to but the upgrade.

Some years we break even on support costs...some years we lose money... some years we lose a LOT of money.

Software engineers are expensive. They are craftspeople, not really engineers at all. Their care and feeding is complex.  Despite all the hooey about project planning, it is difficult if not impossible to know when they will deliver a feature that has been properly finished and if that feature will meet with near universal acclaim.

And software product planning and management is almost as hard as software engineering.

Flex are unquestionably good people, smart engineers, and dedicated to doing right by the community... even to their own detriment sometimes. Of this there really can be no doubt.  Those of you who think otherwise really haven't been paying attention. Flex have stuck to their fundamental promises and continued to deliver free software upgrades in V1.x for years.  Enough upgrades?  Probably not enough to satisfy some of us... including me.  But upgrades and fixes, nonetheless.  And these haven't cost any of us a penny.

Now comes V2.x -- for which they've unfortunately boxed themselves in to charging $200.  This isn't NEARLY enough money.

Having a bunch of nice upgrades isn't optimally helpful if it puts Flex out of business as a result.

If I was Gerald, I'd announce the cost of SSDR V2 was $550... just under the cost of an entry-level transceiver. Because that's what you're getting: A new radio. I might also considering individually licensed features (you want WAN?  That'll be another $200, thank you... multi-client?  That'll be $75 per simultaneous client attachment, please pay the cashier, thanks).

I'd also institute an annual support fee... say $110 per year.  Heck, that's less than the $10/month people pay for their streaming music service... it's GOT to be worth it to folks.

Let's be clear:  For this kind of cost, there would HAVE to be *really* good SSDR releases happening frequently, with lots of forward-moving, cutting-edge features.

But I bet you won't see any of those changes.  Because Flex long ago told the community they'd do something else and they want to be good to their word.

TL;DR
Here's the bottom line:  Good software costs a lot of money to write.  The current model used by Flex almost certainly does not allow them to aggressively move SSDR forward and give us the chrome we all would like. They should value, and charge more for, their software -- and issue periodic, for cost, upgrades.

That's probably not the answer most want to hear.  And, ultimately, it's really neither our problem nor even our issue to solve.  But I bet that's the underlying reason you see for what happens at Flex.  Somebody's got to feed the beast.

Peter
K1PGV
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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>I have to strongly disagree with the statement, specifically
>the "not really engineers at all" bit.

Not wanting to derail the thread, we will have to agree to disagree.

I've been a software engineer, writing kernel-mode OS level software (device drivers, file systems, OS components) for many years. I'm not saying there isn't a difference between implementation, design, and architecture. I'm not saying results don't need to be tailored to meet specific needs and requirements. And I'm not saying that in software there isn't good and bad "art." These are all traits of good craft, and not necessarily engineering.

Like all art, there can be substantial disagreements over what's good and what isn't.

It's not "real" engineering because practically nothing we do is either provably correct or provably optimal.

Yes, I agree that you CAN create high performing organizations of like-minded crafts people, who do consistently excellent work, on time and budget. But it is very, very, hard and requires both mature talents (not necessarily in age) and some type of exceptional management (there are several styles that work... but all are exceptional).

Apologies for the thread detour.

Peter
K1PGV
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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@KF4HR With all due respect... even if it only adds WAN and undockable windows, that is enough to make it qualify as a "new radio" to me. I wouldn't expect my TS-2000 to suddenly develop similar features, for instance. If I wanted such enhancements, I'd expect to have to buy a new radio. That's all I'm saying.

Peter
K1PGV
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Steven G1XOW

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Hey Peter,

I know what you are saying, but kind of take a different view.

Putting SSDR v3, v4 etc. on old hardware whilst doing something useful certainly would not give us "a new radio",  just new functionality.

The hardware will be same, the components will still be aged in the same way both chronologically and through electronic aging. We will not be getting a new warranty, or any new components therefore calling it "a new radio" is something of a misnomer.

If I loaded Windows 10 on to a 15 year old Windows XP machine, would I get an new PC from it?  Chances are that it will still go bang some time soon, and more importantly it will run like a dog with two wooden legs.
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Arnie

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Steve:
I agree with you on most points. However, not this one. In this case, the software IS the radio. Software DEFINED radio. SO that is not really comparable to the windows situation. In my view, therefore, the software should have been priority ONE for Flex, and not just something secondary to seemingly their main efforts being directed to hardware development. They have not come close to exhausting the capabilties of the current hardware and they should have focused on maximizing those capabilities. Like I said, the software IS the radio. SDR. I could be misguided but that is what I expected when all the hub-bub about SDR was being put forth, particularly by this company.
73 de Arnie W8DU
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James Watts

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I totally agree. You can't draw parallels between Flex SDR and the big 3, other than maybe now ICOM. FRS sold the 6000 series with the promise of software development to bring the features advertised. SOFTWARE IS THE RADIO. They even touted this fact when taking your presell dollars. FRS even stated they were a "Software" company. However, since 2013, by their own actions, that has not been the case.
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Michael Aust

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Your not alone in thinking this.
73 Mike
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Brian Bedoe WD9HSY

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Yes!

I had a chance to talk to Eric (Software) at the Flex Banquet Thursday night at Dayton.  I mentioned to him that the average ham pays the bills so they can do all the new R&D and add special features for the "Specialists" Hams

I hope that the message will be voiced back to the top. Take care of the Regular Ham .... Features = Benefits ---  Who (and how many) will benefit from this feature?

For Example -- AMSAT missed the boat on Phase III / IV satellites and the average Ham walked.  They did not want small micro sats with 3-10 minute orbital passes, but a bird in a fixed spot in space and long talk times, that promise was never filled.

73 Brian

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K4MT

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I know I am wasting my time with Flex fan boys but the 5000A history is easy to see. My high dollar purchase dropped 50% overnight. And trade in they would give me 800 for it on trade. What a deal.  You guys amaze me.  Go ahead and see how quickly your 6300 and 6500 value drops. Just like the 5000
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Pat N6PAT

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Your Flex didn't drop one red cent unless you bought it with the intention of selling it.

I purchased mine with the intention of keeping it. Who would buy a radio that they didn't intend to keep?
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Mike W9OJ

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Do you still have every radio you ever bought?
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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Apples and oranges...the 5000 was superseded and obsolete upon the release of the 6000 Series, though PSDR was still supported for a while afterwards., the old flex line was left behind with SmartSDR.

In the case of the 6300 and 6500, even though the have been discontinued, they are still part of the surrender series, and run the same software.

Will the 6300 and 6500 lose some value? Certainly.
Is it going to be as catastrophic and rapid as some are predicting? I don't think so.

Even if it does, how has FRS wronged anyone? By developing even better equipment for less money, based upon the past five years of experience? By adding features to a rig at the 6500's price point that previously were available only on the 6700 (which was $3200 more expensive)? By finding a way to incorporate a simple control surface into the new models in order to bridge the gap for people who have a hard time adapting to a knobless interface?

Fan-boys? Rose-colored glasses? The way some people are getting hysterical about this, you'd think their lover had been unfaithful to them....

If my rig loses value, fine. I have enjoyed it for four years and have had more fun with it than I have had in 43 years as a ham. I got to be on the cutting edge. Just like I was when I bought my own first generation DirecTV for $530 back in the 90's, before the company started providing them free to new customers.

If a user is worried about resale value, they can keep it, like I do my cars, and run it until FRS abandons SSDR for a new software and hardware line. Until then, it will continue to receive updates and upgrades, and continue to be a very functional top-line rig.
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Clay N9IO

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Ken, I couldn't agree more!
My 6300 is an excellent radio, I don't NEED to do anything with it.
Since when is a radio, auto or home in this market an "investment"?

I choose to trade, the loss in that trade is being GREATLY compensated with a much lower price on a VERY high end rig. Plus the antenna tuner is standard, SSDR Ver 2 is also standard, about $400 right there alone.

I like the current noise blanker it is greatly improved, am I living in a different world?
This 6K series is the greatest thing to come along in amateur radio "ever"

No doubt in my mind the other brands are in trouble here.
FLEX radio did exactly what they should have done, the 6400 / 6600 / Ver 2 nailed it.
I am so surprised they were able to contain themselves and not let the cat out of the bag, cudos to them, their group is tight and on track!

If anything some bargains could be passed on to newcomers bringing them into the higher end 6K SDR market, the 6300 is no slouch.
The same thing happened with every legacy radio ever made.
(Edited)
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KD7CAO

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I am very much in the same thinking. We purchased for our agency four Flex 6700 radios to be strategically placed around the county to provide diverse use of the HF spectrum for emergency communications, to be able to contact the Texas State Operations Center or to communicate with our Mobile Emergency Operations Center when deployed for major disaster response. We also figured we could use them for noise hunting with steerable antennas. A minor part of this was also to help our ham radio community by providing access to the HF spectrum when they would otherwise be unable to utilize HF due to restrictions in cost, location, or rules and regulations.

Our purchase was made with funds provided by the Department of Homeland Security a grant. FlexRadio Systems sold us a bill of goods that has never come to fruition. They sent me a set of SSDR V2 cards with serial numbers so that we could upgrade when the software comes out. It has been almost three years and still we have not received what we paid for. 

We also ordered the Maestro because the way we were sold on it was that it too would be able to utilize the remote options to work anywhere an Internet connection was available. Let me tell you this Maestro is pathetic. Basic features that should have been included with a thousand dollar computer would be the: battery pack to use as intended, an adjustable foot, and an adapter cable so that you could use purchased accessories for your FlexRadio with the Maestro. By the way I still have not been able to use the Maestro or the computer with the radio without having to first upgrade or downgrade the software in the radio. The computer and the Maestro are both running Windows 10 there is no reason for this.

I thought it would be awesome to drop a cellular card on the Maestro and take it anywhere cellular service is available and have access to the radio, but who knows if that will ever happen.

As it happens to be, we purchased a lot of promise and learned a few lessons that we will not repeat again. I am now very cautious on purchasing from companies that can not show it to me before we purchase. The vapor ware has got to stop.

Finally, three of our Flex 6700 radios and Maestros are still sitting in their boxes awaiting deployment all because the software we paid for is not yet available.
(Edited)
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Jerry WA9UKB

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Would have been fantastic if that had worked out.....

Jerry WA9UKB
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KD7CAO

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I probably should clarify that with grant funds we often have to purchase on the word of a vendor. This has been 3 years since the actual purchase, but this project has been almost 5 years in the making. Keep in mind we had to have local, regional, state, and federal approval to make the purchase which took years to get. We have to spell it all out on what we want to do then ask and wait. I even had to do environmental historical studies for these. I just want what we paid for to work as was promised. We were initially told it was coming with v2 by the end of 2015. Now when asked they use stupid word play, it is scheduled to come after v.1.1.3 ask again and now it is after v.1.10.5. Let me tell you answers like that may be accurate but really p!$$3d me off. They know exactly what I am asking.
(Edited)

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