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.
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
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%
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 .
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.
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.
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
I personally think FRS underestimated the cost of developmentTo 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.
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.
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.
That's exactly how we should view our purchases. I hope nobody among us is making a purchase as an "investment" with an expectation of financial gains. We should expect devaluation just as today's top-of-the-line Microsoft SurfacePro will devalue with the next release.
déjà vu: Icom 756, 756 Pro, 756 Pro 2, 756 Pro 3. Where was the outcry from EU ops during that decade of production? Where was Icom's trade-up program? Hell if I can remember it. Anyone?
How about the user-angst created when Kenwood released the TS-950SDX approximately 12 months after the release of the SD version? I owned the SD. Kenwood offered us nothing. Zero. Add the Ten Tec Omni 6 release soon after the Omni 5 as another example.
No trade-up programs. In each case , features and hardware fixes were evolutionary. It was their prerogative -- and duty as a company to enhance their products and do so without prior notice. Even with the model obsolescence of the 6300 and 6500, those owners still benefit from future firmware and SSDR upgrades, paid and unpaid.
The only company I know of that comes close to offering a trade-up program is Elecraft. They allow K3 owners to upgrade much, but not all hardware to become the equal of the K3s.
Just my opinion for what little it's worth.
Consider the fact that people are making down payments and signing up for an Icom 7610 and they don't even know any of the features or the PRICE ! How is that any different than the complaints about Flex ? People are betting on a promise without knowing anything about this radio.
Has anyone seen Icom's road map for their sdr products ? I haven't. And I can guarantee you won't see one. Japanese companies do not work this way. Yet I do not hear anyone screaming about Icom. What about Kenwood or Yaesu owners, those companies haven't even made a peep yet people are still buying their products.
With all the additional revenue I'm sure we will see additional software staff added. This is a good thing.
Like you I have run software and hardware companies. I totally agree with you that Flex is not charging enough for software.
For years (1960's-1990's) we operated on a project by project basis with sale of hardware (new projects) funding the software development costs of prior projects. We could get hardware maintenance contracts but the clients assumed that software was free. Finally we learned that the hardware Ponzi model is not sustainable. Software has a high continuing support and development cost long after the hardware sales and maintenance money has been used up.
In the early 2000's we switched to an annual software license fee model and like you, new features had additional license fees... Finally we had a sustainable model and in the long run the clients were much happier as they got the features they wanted by paying for them
Yes.. I know that Hams are Cheap... and an annual fee model with turn off Joe Ham
But for the rest of who want features - it is a small price to pay for an ever improving product
I'm very happy with my 6700 because the performance and features that convinced me to purchase it in January are still there and fully functional. The addition of new models doesn't affect my radio performance at all. It's the same radio I bought and the same radio I love to operate.
Why are so many 6700 owners upset because the 6600 has a better receiver? Do you get upset because a 2018 Chevy will have more features than the 2017 you bought? Do you expect to get the 2018 features magically added to your 2017?
You bought your radio because you liked the features and now you're upset because a new model is introduced with added features. You'd feel the same way if you bought the new 6600 today and in six months the 8800 was introduced with more features.
There is no reason you cannot enjoy your radio today just as much as you did the day before the new models were announced.
We are upset because version 1 is buggy and still lacks basic features. It looks like many didn't even bother reading Steve's post. He couldn't have described my own thoughts better. Steve you are spot on... Unfortunately.
There is software I use for logging and even though I paid once and supposed to get all updates for free, I sent the guy another full payment when he did the ethernet interface for the Flex, because I was so glad to get rid of CAT. Enjoyed paying for yearly fee for my contest software when they did the same and went total ethernet.
I think a lot of hams are ready for a pay-as-you-go software model as long as the improvements are feature-rich. What that means will be between manufacture and the focus-groups they use to set product priorities.
I do not know that Flex can change the business model at this point, but having different feature packs for dif. operators is something that would open my wallet.
Time will tell
Oh - there was a great presentation on W5KUB at the Flex booth that I saw this morning.
You may recall that after Trump was elected many of your more left-wing friends went absolutely insane with what is now called Trump dementia syndrome.
Reading the community website it seems that many have now been hit with flex dementia syndrome composed of wild speculation of the devaluing older models and unfounded concerns that their radios will no longer work with the SSDR software.
I have tried to refrain from commenting but it is hilarious to watch The INSANITY.
YES. Flex needs to add a bit of spit and polish to the V1 and it likely will happen
YES. V2 will likely be out in June with Dockable windows and WAN in its first version]. They showed it at Dayton
YES. multi-client (M and PC at the same time or many users) likely will happen sooner
NO your 6300, 6500 and 6700 did NOT lose major value because Flex will give you great trade-ins value when you buy a new model
YES the new hardware sales are needed to find new software development'
YES Your 6300,6500 and 6700 Will continue to work with the new versions of SSDR and to the best of my knowledge II do not see any features that cannot be implemented in the existing models.
I did very well in the markets from people suffered from Trump dementia syndrome and sold their stocks in a fit of panic. So if any of you guys suffering for flex dementia syndrome want to sell me your 6300s or $6500 for $500 /$1,000 I will buy all that your selling
Bottom Line. Take a deep breath. The sun will rise tomorrow.
A week ago, some group of people were happy with their radios. Now those same people seem to no longer be happy with their radios, because new radios came out. Nothing happened to their radios in the past week. My 6500 still works the same way it did last week at this time, the fact that there's now a 6600 and Flex doesn't sell the 6500 anymore doesn't diminish my 6500 one tiny bit. I still like my 6500. I still wish the UX was better. But I like it just fine.
It terms of value, did you guys think you could get your money back if you needed it for hospital expenses or something? Seriously? It's a friggin' RADIO people... it's not a bar of gold bullion, or a Krugerrand, or even a Rolex. You're not going to get what you paid for it a few years later. Be realistic.
Let me start with my bottom line advice. Buy on panic - sell on optimism.
If you have been waiting for a fantastic deal on a used FLEX-6000 buy right now! We were completely out of stock on all factory certified units before Dayton. We have not been able to keep them on the shelves and have a waiting list. If you want a factory refurb you may have to wait a little longer.
If some of you manage to snag a panic bargain, you can request our service department to run our full factory test for a basic one hour minimum bench fee. If any repairs are required we can quote those after testing. The warranty will be for repair parts and labor only and not the extended warranty we normally provide with refurbished units from the Trade Up program. If the radio is still under factory warranty we will include the warranty transfer as part of the one hour bench fee. We can provide this service from both our European and US repair centers.
Now let me set the record straight on regarding speculation and incorrect assumptions. I like to summarize facts because it helps me to organize my thoughts. I hope that everyone will appreciate our sincere desire to serve all our customers to the best of our ability and resources.
Here are the facts regarding the announcements of this weekend:
SmartSDR is the radio for the entire FLEX-6000 Series. Only a tiny fraction of our software development is unique to specific hardware including the new PowerGenius XL amplifier. That means that virtually all of our software development benefits the FLEX-6300/6400/6500/6700/6700R at the same time within the capability of each respective model’s hardware.
A very small portion of our engineering budget is for hardware development relative to SmartSDR development. Hardware is “easy” - software is hard.
We are committed to releasing SmartSDR updates that support common feature enhancements for all models concurrently. An example is that the new pop out panadapter feature on v2.0 will be available on all models simultaneously. For a variety of reasons from time to time there may be software features that are unique to a given model within any software software release.
Our full time software developers are and have been working on non-hardware specific SmartSDR. Software that is specific to the new models is extremely small relative to overall ongoing SmareSDR development and is primarily being done by engineers not dedicated to SmartSDR development on a regular basis. Oh, and we just hired another software engineer who starts next week working on SmartSDR development.
All the new models run SmartSDR and are based on a common scalable software architecture that sits above a hardware abstraction layer. Write once and test on all.
Version 1 is now feature frozen. However, there will be one or more v1.x releases likely to come after v2.0. ships. For example, we will include the IMD DR3 performance enhancement I discussed recently on the Community that we expect will benefit all existing models in a future 1.x release. We plan to address some other issues and bug fixes in those releases as appropriate.
Version 2.0 is in full testing now. We expect to release by the end of June. We demonstrated v2.0 in Xenia this weekend where you could instantly connect to any of a dozen stations across the country right from the radio chooser. Coming up will be a series of 2.x releases with a variety of new features that are in the works. At some point there will be a 3.x, 4.x, etc. There is no requirement to upgrade to any new release. Our licensing policy is published on our website.
Your current FLEX-6000 Signature Series radio is not obsolete. It is simply part of a growing SmartSDR based family of products. .
If you desire for FlexRadio to continue to develop enhanced SmartSDR features for all FLEX-6000 models many years in the future it is in your own best interest for us to be successful in selling new radios as well as new SmartSDR major versions. That is how the work gets funded.
We appreciate and listen to all constructive and respectful feedback. Thanks to all of you who have supported us over the last 14 years since the SDR-1000 was introduced We truly care about our work and your enjoyment of it. Thank you for helping us bring SDR into the mainstream in the small but fun ham radio market.
thank you very much for your kind and detailed answer. Also thank you for taking part in a public discussion that no manager would ever like to be in. Giving a face to a brand does you great credit.
As you may imagine, I am part of the big list of disappointed people that in Dayton days was expecting a new SmartSDR version rich of features while they found a new product line announced in a very questionable and cryptically way.
Disappointed not because my Flex 6300 today is worth less, but for the way the entire operation was carried out: the first reference to the 6400/6600 is in the last two tiny lines of the SmartSDR 2.0 flyer, published by Tim on 12/05/2017, while the official announcement of the new models was published only three days ago.
A correct (justifiable for me) hardware renewal policy would have seen a proper information campaign mostly oriented to people that was going to buy a new Flex, followed by a sell-off period. it happens for every mass oriented product. I hope it will be done in the next months.
In addition I read that SSDR 2.0 will be free only for new buyers while it will have a cost of 199$ for the old rig owners. In my country we say "oltre il danno la beffa" (after the punchline - I hope this is the correct translation). So all people that have an old rig model, will be forced to pay for the features required and promised from about three years. And in many cases, like mine, after having contributed for free in the check and test of dozens bugs in earlier versions of Smart-SDR. I can't agree with this marketing policy.
From a company like FlexRadio, I would also expect a actual global business policy: if I buy a Yaesu or Elecraft radio, I'm pretty sure I can get the same treatment both I live in Tokyo and in New York: in the first case, "Yaesu CashBack" in the last a K3 to K3S transformation (or something of very similar). Unfortunately this can't be true for FlexRadio, or at leat it is true only when I buy a new rig for the first time.
I believe that care and diligence are due to old buyers as well as to new ones: who still believe in FlexRadio technology should have the 2.0 release of SmartSDR at the same cost of the 6400/6600 owners, at least in the transition period; who still believe in FlexRadio technology should also receive the same treatment (read return policy) regardless of his geographical zone.
All this is part of the "politically correct" as, at the moment, I am not taking care of the technical aspects.
In the interest of Community decorum and to curtail any possible breaches of the Community usage guidelines, I am inclined to close this topic at this time.
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