M Series Radios start-up advice

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  • Updated 6 months ago
There have been a few instances lately of M Series radios (6400M, 6600M) not starting up correctly.  These instances have sometimes left their owners wondering just what the radio should be doing, and how to tell that it isn't working correctly.

It's been pointed out that this information isn't in the M Series User Guide, and that is correct.  The Guide will be updated with much more detail the next time it is released.  In the meantime, this note will attempt to fill in the gap.

Pressing the Start button on an M Series radio starts up the front panel device and the radio itself. The Start button blinks green during startup.  Several "splash screens" appear indicating that the startup process is making progress.

About a minute after pressing Start, the Connect screen will appear.  This screen shows an image of the radio and three buttons:  Info, Connect and SmartLink Setup.  Tapping the Info button provides some detailed information about the identity of the radio.  Tapping the SmartLink Setup button starts the process of logging into SmartLink and optionally configuring the radio for use by a SmartLink connected client.

Tap the Connect button to continue the startup process.  The Select a Version screen will appear.  The versions of SmartSDR that are available to run on your radio are shown in a list, in reverse chronological order.  If the radio is connected to the Internet, the list is refreshed from the Flex Radio servers.  If not, the list shows the versions that are stored in the front panel device, ready for use.  Up and down arrow icons show which versions would need to be downloaded to use, and which versions would need to be installed in the radio to use.  One of the versions, usually the first in the list, won't have any arrows, indicating it has been downloaded and installed in the radio.

Initially, none of the versions will be selected and the button under the version list will be dimmed.  Tap on a version to select it.  If the version is ready to use, the button will change to a Run button.  If not, the button will change to an Update button.

Tapping the Update button will cause the software to be downloaded and installed in the radio.  These steps can take a few minutes.  Progress bars are shown.  When the update is complete, the radio will start running and the Select a Version screen will be replaced with a radio panadapter.  You are on the air.

If you select a software version that is installed in the radio, the Run button appears.  Tapping the Run button starts the radio, and the Select a Version screen will be replaced with a radio panadapter.  You are on the air.

In some cases, M Series radios will start up and go directly to the running panadapter.  In other cases, the software leads you through the steps described above.  This issue is being investigated and changes are being tried out with the Alpha testers.

If your M Series radio does not perform as described above, there are a couple of things you can try before asking for help.  First, understand that software updates can take a few minutes to complete, and sometimes "get stuck".  If a software update seems to be taking too long, wait at least five minutes before doing anything.  Second, if the update doesn't complete on its own after waiting 5 minutes, press and hold the Start button until the radio shuts down.  Turn off or disconnect the DC power, wait a minute, then reapply the power and press Start.

If you come to a point where your radio doesn't perform as described above, and won't start, submit a Help Desk ticket and get help.  The startup system is resilient.  If the radio won't start after a few attempts, then there is probably nothing you can do on your own to correct the problem.  The Help Desk people have seen all of the problems and know solutions for most and know how to tell that a radio is simply broken and needs to go to Austin for repair.  They will solve the problem and get you going as quickly as possible.
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NX6D Dave

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Posted 8 months ago

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Gary Johnson

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Thank you.  Dutifully printed and added to my printed manual.
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k0eoo

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why isn't flex printing a separate sheet and packaging it with each unit until its in the manual?
(Edited)
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KB4OIF

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Thank you Dave.   Got my invoice notification this morning in my email.  Short Question.  Should i have the 6400M connected to my router at first start up or does that have to be after that.  
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NX6D Dave

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The radio ships fully functional, with a recent version of the software installed.  You should be able to unbox it, set it up, turn it on and it should follow the path I've outlined above.  Since no Internet connection is present, it will show you the versions it has installed, probably just one.  You select it and off you go.

If I was setting up one of these radios for the first time, I think I wouldn't connect it to the internet at first.  I'd just fire it up and play with it for a while.  Then, once I had learned a few of the ropes, I would connect it to the internet and reboot and see if there was a new version to load.

It's important to understand that with the M Series, if you aren't using SmartLink, and you are happy with the software version you are running, you don't need an Internet connection at all.  That is the design goal of the radio.  You can connect the radio to the Internet only when you need to.

Some hams don't have an Internet connection in their shacks.  Although it would be a bit of a nuisance, they can run the radio without the connection, then when a new version of the software comes out, and they decide they want to run it, remove the radio from its installed position, take it somewhere where it can be connected, make the connection, update the software and then put it back in the shack.  Since the radio can store about 5 complete versions of the software, the risk of tripping over something in the new software is mitigated, even if the radio isn't connected to the internet.  You can back up to the previous version, or switch to any installed version, without making an internet connection.

Please keep in mind that what I've said here doesn't strictly apply to the other radio models (6300,6400,6500,6600,6700,6700R).  They can operate without an Internet connection in the same way the M Series radios do, but require an Ethernet connection to a PC, iOS device or Maestro, at a minimum, so that a client can be connected to operate the radio.  A 6600 and a Maestro and a single Ethernet cable between them is the equivalent of a 6600M.
(Edited)
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Wayne

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From what I seen and read Im going to try just using it total stand alone first till I get it all checked out.
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Wayne

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From experience ... If you want to first test the radio and get familiar stand alone then these are the DONT'S!

1 - DO NOT CONNECT AN HDMI CORD

2. DO NOT CONNECT ANY NETWORK CABLE even if the other end is NOT connected to anything!

DO's

As long as you start the unit without the above 2 cables connected then the ONLY thing you need to do is 1. Momentarily press the power button

         2. Wait until the power button is solid green and 1st selection screen displays with the buttons displayed. It should also display a people avatar in the lower right and network status on the lower left with a Yellow Exclamation mark.

         3. Press the CONNECT button ... you should observe it to make sure it fills in when pressed if it does not then you haven't pressed it you are either too far left,right,too low or too high so try again.

         4. Now the version screen shows Press the top most version to select it once again make sure to observe it fill in if it doesn't you have NOT selected it.

         5. Once the version is selected you see the CONNCET button change to RUN.

         6. Press the RUN button once again observe it fills in to make sure its been pressed.

Now the software in the radio will load and once loaded you will be presented with a default Slice A and default Panadapter this is the default startup condition explained in the manual.

You are good to go from here. Enjoy!

If you do anything else you are on your own, I know I am the loose nut behind the touch screen and thought I knew better and would take short cuts by doing the 1st 2 things I listed to NOT DO!

I figured out how to get it corrected but it slowed my progress for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy the Flex 6400M its a great radio but even if your a flex owner it has a learning curve :-)


(Edited)
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Bill Garfield W1BG

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It would be very nice to have the radio go directly to an operational condition with only 1 button press. (currently it's 4 steps to become operational).  Startup is already a somewhat pregnant pause while the O/S loads. It would be nice to thereafter have it automatically proceed with the rest of the *normal* everyday default startup routine.

I can certainly see the need to get to these other functions (version select, SmartSDR, etc.) so could that be added to a extended-long press of the power button, i.e.,
1. short press start the radio and let's go!
2. a 1-second press/hold to perform the next option
3. a 5-second press/hold to get to these startup option screens

73 - Bill
W1BG
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Eric - KE5DTO, Official Rep

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edit -- apparently this change didn't make it into v2.1.33.  Stay tuned for a fix in the next release.
(Edited)
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Elliot Skultin

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Mine goes to the "Connect" screen on every load and almost never goes to the radio.  It wants me to re-load the same firmware that is already loaded.   I just loaded the latest version of firmware this morning to see if it does the same thing.  

The highlighted statement below covers what is happening to my radio exactly: 

If you select a software version that is installed in the radio, the Run button appears.  Tapping the Run button starts the radio, and the Select a Version screen will be replaced with a radio panadapter.  You are on the air.

In some cases, M Series radios will start up and go directly to the running panadapter.  In other cases, the software leads you through the steps described above.  This issue is being investigated and changes are being tried out with the Alpha testers.

If your M Series radio does not perform as described above, there are a couple of things you can try 
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Wayne

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Mine always goes to v2.1.32 latest installed

Never connected it to internet only to local router in local network and never connected with another computer or computer program yet. Everytime after the 1st start I press power button radio loads and is ready to go in 40 seconds with no other key presses.

I love it!
(Edited)
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WA5GP

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I just received my 6400M Friday, and for the life of me I cant understand the 4 step process to turn on a radio.  Manual? what manual all there was was a sheet with not even basic startup. I did get it up but no audio because the front speaker was turned off    WHAT !!!!!  I did download finally the manual because the alleged CD that was supposed to be in the box, wasn't; to at least get started good. The ver that this unit has is 2.2.2.292 and 2.1.3 something I started the 2.2.2 thinking it was the latest is that not so (it was under the 2.1.3 ver )  Also cant understand why it always starts on 14.200 instead where it was last used on 80mtrs or any where else. That I haven't been able to find in the manual ether.  Coming from a "knobed" radio and using a remote headset I hit the on button on radio, grab the headset and head off to front to get coffee I really don't want to have to babysit something that cant start on its on when the on/off button is pushed to the on position.  This is only the second or maybe third day and the CON List is lengthy thus far; Pros not so much good looking screen and touch but so is my 7610.  Not fond of mic and external speaker setup either.  Seems as if Flex has dug back to the 50's and 60's with the plug style connectors.  I will of course call tomorrow to try and get some answers from Tech Support if I can.
At the moment the jury is still out on weather the 6400M will have a home or be returned.
Yes this is my first post and No I am not impressed so far at all.
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Wayne

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Profiles are backed up using ssdr for windows from the radio to your choice of hard drive location.
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WA5GP

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So to back up the radio in any fashion one will have to install the ssdr and attempt to consume the massive and confusing manual.  Which also means that the USB ports on the radio are as useful as digits an a gentleman swine with out assistance of an attached computer,,, So much for the clam of a stand alone radio I guess. Another Nail in the Coffin for me at least. 
Thanks
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W8QB

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I’ve been using the 6400M for the past three months.  There definitely is a learning curve, but it is beneficial to spend a couple hours studying the several available publications for these new radios.  For example, if you read the 6400/6600 user guide, while neglecting to read the Hardware Reference Manual, you will not have a full picture of what is happening with these sophisticated radios.  Anything worthwhile takes effort, but for these new radios there is nothing that cannot be mastered by investing a moderate amount of time and effort.

Many have remarked about the technical support available through Flex Radio Systems.  In my experience their support is superior to the  competition.  Flex is a smaller company, so I don't expect them to resolve every issue overnight.  They are a U.S. company, and that is a very good thing. I applaud their efforts to bring innovative products to market.  I also care a great deal about responsiveness, which Flex has in abundance.  Disclaimer: I have no stake in this company other than being a satisfied customer.
(Edited)
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Jay / NO5J

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Can't you just use a LAN connection between the rig and the computer your posting to the community with and store your profiles on that computer?
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Wayne

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The profile format is proprietary and i was told also encrypted stored in the rig. The only provided backup method is the import/export function in ssdr for windows.

Been there done that got the tshirt, but even though i mostly operate the rig standalone my profiles are backed up to an external hd attached to my computer with ssdr for windows.

I have developed an organized approach to profiles taking 3 days to do so to match my operating style and since that time I have not had to modify any of my created profiles therefore I only backed them up 1 time about 3 weeks ago and everytime I turn the rig on the first thing I do is load a global profile and it works very well. Since I use an amp on occasion I make sure that jack is enabled then all i have to do is turn my power down to 30 with the knob on the radio and turn on the solid state amp and press operate on the amp and im ready to go with 560 watts in 10 seconds the elecraft kpa500 is great and has auto bandswitch detection built in.
(Edited)