Maestro and Flex Question:Future Purchase

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This may have been a question that has been asked before. If I was to purchase a Flexradio with a Maestro, and only was going to use the Flexradio with the Maestro, which would be a good model to purchase?

The reason I ask is this, the Maestro can only accommodate 2 waterfalls/slice receivers. And to be honest that is how I do a majority of my operating both day to day and contesting. Would there be a significant difference overall between the 6300 and Maestro versus the 6500 and Maestro?

I'm sure the question is but what about the SDR program. I probably read the community posts to much and I must admit I am apprehensive of connecting my PC to a Flexradio. If I am over emphasizing the issue, please try to put my mind at ease.

The reason I am writing this is because Bob, N4HY came to the Frankford Radio Club Meeting on Tuesday evening and gave a fantastic demonstration/presentation on SDR and the Flexradio.

I welcome all comments. Mark Griffin, KB3Z
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Mark Griffin

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Posted 2 years ago

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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Mark,

I'm not the overall expert here but this is my opinion:

The 6300 provides great performance for the dollar.  I used to have one and it works very well.  I was talked into upgrading to a 6500 during FRS special and I love the rig but frankly I don't use it beyond what I used to use in a 6300.

That being said, if you are using one or two pans, one or two slices and you plan to use Maestro and you have no desire of diversity receive, more pans/slices then I see no reason that the 6300 would not be an almost ideal match.

Mark - WS7M
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Barry N1EU

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just to be clear, a 6500 won't do diversity receive either
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Ernest - W4EG

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Mark,
 I believe the Flex Insider mentioned something about that issue. I just can't put my hands where it was said.
But, I will keep on looking for it.
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Lee, Elmer

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If you feel you can afford it get a 6500. If not get a 6300. I have both. You may not need the extra features this week, but next week you may have an ephinay and wish you had the extra horsepower. Of the 2 I use the 6500 the most

73 W9OY
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Burt Fisher

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I have the 6300, I never wished I had the 6500 or 6700 and I can easily afford it thanks to Warren Buffet and Phillip Morris.
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Walt

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There are many differences between the 6300 and 6500 other than the 2 vs 4 waterfalls.   The 6500 has more horsepower and many more options for antennas and other stuff that I cannot remember.  Grab those spec sheets and also compare the back panels and smartsdr software guide to see all the other differences.  Then you can figure out what you would miss or not miss between the two.

As for problems, I just have not had any that were not my own fault.  The 6500 is connected through an ethernet cable to its own port on a mid-high I7 computer and it runs 24/7 with no hiccups.  I have never 'lost' the radio, failed to connect or had all these weird comport problems that others see.  I run digital programs a lot, don't do skimmers, and have the usual breed of logging programs - some using IP, and some using the com-ports. So maybe its the direct-connect IP that makes my life simple?  I really don't know.

But whatever reason, my Flex has been dependable and works as programmed.  Do I want a few new features, sure, who doesn't.  In the meantime, the Flex window sits on the second monitor (along with some other high-brow SDR receivers) - has for over 2 years - and all is well.  And I do not use up any extra desk space for a radio display, except the Flex knob that sits next to the paddles.

If it does go bad, I will have another pint . .

Cheers and good luck with your decision.
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DrTeeth

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@ Mark

I have a 6300 and my needs are basic* (similar to yours). When I did compare the models, yes the 6500 has more features and would be nice to have, but the price difference between the 6300 vs the 6500 was too great to justify them. The 6300 definitely hits the SDR "sweet-spot".

* You would not believe what some of the people here can do with 8 slices and panadaptors!
(Edited)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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This may be helpful, as FRS did a nice comparison page of the 6300/6500/6700:

http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/comparison-table/

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Ernest - W4EG

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Thank you Steve, That's what I was going to refered to Mark.
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Rick WN2C

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In the comparison chart it refers to (at bottom of page) the April '15 QST review as being the 6500 and 6700. That review was the 6300 / 6700. If you check the numbers side by side, the 6300 is almost right there with the 6700. 
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Jd Dupuy

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Quote: " I must admit I am apprehensive of connecting my PC to a Flexradio."

Then it's not going to work! Maybe the demonstration you watched left out the most important part.
You should learn how to operate the Flex radio from the software as well as the Maestro whenever it "Finally" becomes available. You will need a PC to perform updates or else you will be left with no new features. A one purpose, dedicated PC is the way to go when running SDRs in my opinion.
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Mark Griffin

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Tim,
Simply put Maestro to Flex and Flex to computer and computer to internet.
Thanks for the clarification!
Mark
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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No, that is incorrect.  Maestro to Radio and Maestro to Internet.  There is no computer involved in updating Maestro.
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John McCabe - KD8K

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So if I understand correctly, we will be able to update a Flex 6xxx to the latest firmware with only a Maestro that has internet access, no computer needed? 
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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That is 100% correct
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Jd Dupuy

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Try and find another radio community site that is monitored by someone 100% in the know. Elecraft is the only one that comes close. Forget about the big 3. Tim you always get us up to speed.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Mark, if you were to do that, I would not suggest buying more radio than Maestro can support, that being 2 slices (a 6300).
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Mark Griffin

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Walt,
I understand what you are saying. But there are many filtering differences between the 6500 and 6300. At least what I seen were the bandpass filters that are on the 6500 and not on the 6300. I will have to weigh the pro's and con's of each radio.
Mark KB3Z
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Lee, Elmer

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I've never found the bandpass filters/lack of filters to be important but I do find the improved pre-amp/attenuator choices in the 6500 to be extremely important in my day to day ops.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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And the improved phase noise characteristics the 6500 has over the 6300 is another important consideration for weak signal work
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Ken

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Don't forget the antenna tuner, that's what made the decision for me...
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Mark Griffin

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Ken,
I have a Palstar Autotuner which I only use for 80 and 160. All my other antenna's are pretty much resonant.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Remember the Palstar interfaces to a PC where the internal Flex-6x00 tuner interfaces to the Maestro seamlessly.

The future 4O3A Amp/Tuner we are told will also be "Maestro Ready" if you see QRO operations in your plans.

IMHO you are likely to expand your desires and goal once you experience the Flex-6x00 - I sure did! 

So don't make the mistakes I made by not thinking forward more than what would fill my immediate needs & budget.

I'd like to comment about a limitation you'd mentioned.  We were told the initial release of Maestro capability would be a two slice version.  That seems to be "FRS Flex-Talk" for what I would translate as "The initial version will do two slices, but while we are not making a promise that we will someday release updates accessing more slices, we also are NOT telling you that only two slices is a permanent Maestro limitation."

 If budget only goes to a 6300 (I'd have the factory put in the ATU option), so be it, but the feature set of the 6500 is so much sweeter that it is pretty hard to not go there.

I've a 6700 and a 6300 (second QTH).  The 6300 is going to be "toughened" for US Island activations and after much feature set study and thought I'll order another 6700 for the second QTH.  YMMV and really it should if you do a systematic analysis of where you are at and where you want to go with you new radio.

73

Steve

K9ZW

(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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I would be tempted to agree with you Steve, as you and I are so often in agreement, but, in the case of Maestro, there is a real estate issue
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Mark,
Many good bits of advice here. I own a 6500 (2 1/2 years) and am very pleased with it. I find that the longer I have it, the more I appreciate the extra features and performance.

I would like to comment on your apprehension to connect it to your PC. Yes, you may be listening too much to the "problem" posts. This is, in part, a "help" forum and you will hear a much larger percentage of people with "frustrations" than are actually represented in the actual user base.

The vast majority of Flex users have no problems at all with the computer-radio interface, once they get past a little bit of a learning curve. And you will notice that those who do, the vast majority are able to quickly resolve their difficulties with the help of a cadre of "elmers" in the Comminity, or the excellent staff at FlexRadio. I would recommend to "jump right in" and have fun. If you have trouble, we will all help you get it going. (If you can learn any of several computerized logging or contesting programs, you can learn to run SSDR!)

But in any case. The 6000/Maestro combo will be a lot of fun. If you decide to get a 6300/6500 and DON'T get a Maestro, be sure to get a FlexControl Knob. ($99) You will be glad you did.

Have fun deciding.....

Ken - NM9P
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Jon - KF2E

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Mark,

If you wind up on the fence you should consider the factory refurb radios available directly from Flex. Maybe if you can get a 6500 at a discount it will help you pull the trigger. As good as Flex's support is, there is probably no difference between buying a new one.

Jon...kf2e
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Rick WN2C

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Quote: " I must admit I am apprehensive of connecting my PC to a Flexradio."

Mark, every radio made today has a processor in it. All it is is one computer talking to another. They are just having a different type of QSO talking in 1's and 0's
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Mark Griffin

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I want to thank everyone who responded to my post. Naturally my school taxes are coming up so looks like the cost of a flex will be going to that. But once that is paid, I plan on getting a flex with a maestro. It may not be until September, but I will be anxious to read all the reviews of people with the new Maestro. As well as the upgrades to SDR. Thanks again for helping me to look at SDR/Flexradio in a different light. Mark Griffin KB3Z
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James Whiteway

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I got to see a production Maestro at the Belton Hamfest today! Very nice fit and finish. And after seeing the add on tilt feet, I'll probably be calling Matt Monday and having a set included with my Maestro when it ships! Very well made and seem to hold the Maestro at any angle. You won't be disappointed if you get a 6000 series and the Masteo.

James

WD5GWY

I will be using my Maestro with a 6500. But, even with a 6300, it will be a nice combo.
(Edited)
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Jd Dupuy

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Super! Since the 15th of April has come and gone, maybe we will get a new update on a ship date.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Debug, beta release, defect review, rinse and repeat until ready. It's very close.
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Jd Dupuy

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I'm not going anywhere, I hope! Very close is good enough for me. Thank you.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Keep in mind future operating considerations, such as transverter operation. But it sounds like for your operating you would suffice with a 6300.

Another thing regarding the PC issue - You can always install SmartSDR on the PC for DAX and CAT availability if you want to run digital modes. That will allow you to still use the Maestro for normal operating but run the digital software on the PC too.