Maybe we need a delay on the roadmap

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I would like to suggest that it might be time to take a break on the roadmap and focus a release on completing/fixing what we already have. LAN/WAN operation is going to be a big development project that will take at least 6 months. We have a lot of things that are not working well or are not fully implemented. If these items have to wait until after LAN/WAN, it is going to be a long year.

We are already several weeks behind from 1.3, let's use the next couple months to finish some existing features and add a few minor ones. Then pickup with remote operation.

Here are some examples that I hate to wait until after remote operation to see.

  • Useable NB, NR, ANF(my pet peeve)
  • Fully functional tuner
  • Band maps on the pan adapter
  • Color palettes
  • Improved S-meter
  • Spots on the waterfall
I'm sure others will be able to suggest others.

Jon...kf2e
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Jon - KF2E

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Posted 5 years ago

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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While all those features are important... and I was the original poster of requests for enhancements for  a few of those above myself (Color Palettes, Spots on Waterfall, Digital S Meter) ....

I also understand that Flex is in business to sell radios and make money so that they can stay in business

WAN and LAN remote is a HUGE marketing advantage which will not only differentiate Flex from everyone else in the market but more important it will sell a heck of a lot more radios...than those desirable enhancements.

I suspect that Flex is going to need those sales and Version 2.0 software revenues (LAN) in order to have the necessary resources to pay the costs of further enhancements...
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Jon - KF2E

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I understand what you are saying but there comes a point that basic functionality trumps new features. New users will be disappointed with the radio if they bought for the "oh wow" features and the basic functions work poorly.

Jon...kf2e
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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I would tend to agree with KY6LA.  

Have you noticed that there has not been a real, in-depth article by QST on the 6000 family of Radios?  I would almost bet, just basing what I would do if I were FRS, that this is intentional. I bet the QST writers and FRS Marketing folks are waiting to have LAN/WAN ability released and in use.  We'll then see a bunch of articles written on the 6000.  This ability is THE game changer in the Amateur Radio business and will be the talk-of-the-town.  We certainly don't want any of the big three (or Elecraft) to beat them to the LAN/WAN punch.  What bad press that would be!

Everyone has an opinion, but in the end, FRS must do what keeps money coming in the door. Everything in Jon's posting are wonderful ideas and over time i think that they will find there way into a release.  In my opinion, there are bigger fish to fry.

Stay the course.
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Jon - KF2E

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Jay,

Doesn't Icom already offer remote software for their radios? I know, the Flex will be superior, but I can't help but believe that the number of users interested in operating remotely is relatively small. I know all I want is LAN operation because my shack is in another building. If I was on the road, I would have my tower down and antennas disconnected for safety.

Jon...kf2e
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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Yes and no.  Icom's control is a subset and is not the ability for full native control of the radio.  The same can be said about Kenwood's Sky Command.  

Flex Radio's LAN/WAN control will be NATIVE operational radio control with 2 way audio.  This is a first in class capability.
(Edited)
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Jon - KF2E

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Jay,

There is no way Flex can send the same data stream to remote clients that they send to local ones. Start a ping session over an LTE connection and you will see 250ms(or more) latency. I'm sure Flex will do a good job dealing with this, but it will never be the same as operating your radio on your local network. SSB might be okay, but CW with a key is doomed.

Jon...kf2e
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Al / NN4ZZ

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IMHO an updated road map for 2.x would alleviate a lot of the concern.  There are 300+ ideas in the community list with a status of "no status."   Some of them are new features, some are for fixes to existing features (as already noted) and many of them have quite a few votes.   A lot of them are probably bonus fillers for the releases and not considered worthy of a mention on the road map.  But I think after a long wait people want to know if / when the little things like color schemes and S-meter improvements will happen. 

I'm sure an updated road map will come eventually but as V1.x winds to a close soon, its natural for inquiring minds to want to know.  Maybe taking some time sooner than later to develop and publish the 2.x road map would be worthwhile.   

Priorities -- As far as the currently published priority, although WAN remote is not the most important feature to some of us, I am fine with what is planned and agree that for those that have been waiting, it would not be fair to push it back.  I suspect most would agree especially if they had a better idea of where the other things fall.  

Just seeing where the other items fall on the 2.x road map would be great, even if some of our favorites are out 12-18 months.    

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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I don't think I have weighed in on this one, so to kick a dead horse some more....
I don't believe that we need any major delays in the roadmap to "catch up."
I have been very pleased and impressed at the progress over the past year since I got my 6500 in the second wave of "pre-release."  Each release has added important utility to my operation, and more enjoyment.  

While this is by far the best performing rig I have ever owned in my 40 years in ham radio.
I do agree that there are some important performance fixes and enhancements that should probably be on the list as they prepare V. 4.  Some are already on the roadmap, but others are what I might call "unfinished business" and "tweaks."

FM and Local LAN operation are major enhancements that are already on the "map" for 1.4.

I would also like to see programmable "sweet spots" for DigiU & DigiL that allows proper frequency readout and click-tuning on mark or space frequency.  Or perhaps a dedicated RTTY mode.  I can currently adjust my RIT/XIT up by 1415 Hz and get there.  I also set my TX Filter at 300, centered on the 1500 Hz sweet spot of FlDigi.  This way, I can use the 300 Hz Blue RX filter stripe to indicate my RX frequency and the 300 Hz Red TX Filter nicely indicates my RTTY TX frequency.  This makes it very hand in a RTTY split pileup.

After that, I would suggest that they make serious effort on the following:
DSP:
NB - is OK, but needs some more work before it is First Class, especially on 10 & 6 Meters and above.
NR - seems to lack much adjustment and could be tweaked.  I don't find it to be as effective as the one on PowerSDR
APF - is pretty good, but could use some additional refinement, perhaps addition of adjustable volume as well as 'Q'
ANF - is usable but still distorts the audio too much.  
Thankfully the TNF is awesome! and so effective that I hardly ever use ANF!
AGC - I would like to see a Custom AGC offered with several parameters such as attack, hang, decay, and pulse activation level that would allow fine tuning the AGC response for varying band conditions.  I wouldn't need sliders or up/down arrows, simply boxes to put numbers in on a set up page that define those timing elements.
Double Peak RTTY Filters, anyone?  This could help reduce some interference on RTTY.  It would also be a great visual cue to help tuning.  

GUI - This is what I will call "interfacing and metering."
There are several metering enhancements that could be achieved, for example:

S-Meter.  I really would like to see something similar to the options in PowerSDR, which include a larger meter, selectable formats & colors, and a digital readout integrated into the display, with options for peak hold, and averaging/dampening.

Power Output & SWR Meter - I would love to see a display with more contrast, especially for those with color sight issues, as well as a digital power output option with peak and average options.  I would NOT want the meters for Power, SWR or S-Meter to be replaced with digital ONLY.  Numbers are great for some things, but better to quickly visualize changes.

General Options and interfacing... There are several operating parameters that could be made adjustable with up/down arrows and numbers rather than sliders (just like CW Pitch, TX Low Cut/High Cut, etc .)  This is more precise and repeatable.  And they might take up less room on the display.  Click & Hold could allow for speedy adjustment of large number swings.

I would like RX EQ and RIT/XIT settings and status to be linked to the Transmit Profiles so I can set up custom RX EQ modes for different situations.  changing RX EQ, RIT/XIT and AGC settings every time I change from Rag Chew to DX to RTTY to CW consumes a lot of my time.  Having them linked to Transmit Profiles would let me customize all of these related operational parameters.   Global Profiles is not a good solution for this because the Global Profile also changes frequency, mode, panadapter, slice, and other things that I do not want to change "on the fly" in a busy operating session.

ATU - Needs to be much Smarter.  It should not require reactivating and re-tuning the ATU merely because I changed modes, or Transmit profiles.  (Bands, or Antennas, yes)  Please fix this logic.  If I haven't changed frequency substantially or changed the antenna port, the ATU should keep its current state.
Later, you can add more intelligence, i.e. frequency & antenna memories that will remember the last setting of the ATU for that frequency and antenna.  This would speed everything up greatly.

I would like to see better AGC Speed and AGC-T persistence linked to Band and Mode.  As it is, many times when I click on a spot it doesn't go back to my "default" AGC settings for that band & mode.
Perhaps there could be a global parameter default settings form where these could be entered?  I know that Global profiles should take care of this, but it doesn't seem to fully implement it.

I make all of these suggestions, not as gripes, but as enhancement suggestions.  As I have said, this is a superb rig.  I am only dreaming of additional utility that will make it a rig that so "leading edge" that the other guys can't even hope of catching up.

That being said... I do not want to see WAN remote capabilities delayed while these are being implemented.  As others have said, WAN Remote is an important feature for many of our owners and potential buyers.  I am away that many of us may never use it. But many users never use SSB, or RTTY, or CW either. WAN Remote paves the way to so many innovations that we have only begun to dream of them.

Keep up the good work, FRS.  You have a great product.  I look forward to seeing it get even better.

Since many of the suggestions may be of interest in another topic chain, I will post this in a new "Idea" as well. 

Ken - NM9P
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Steve N4LQ

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Why not just take all the nice features on PowerSDR and put them on SmartSDR and be done with it?
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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It's a Simple Matter of Programming - SMOP... however, there are many issues to consider such as totally different architectures, PowerSDR is mostly open source but SmartSDR is (appropriately) proprietary.

All things look easy until you understand the issues.  Then its difficult.
Stu K6TU
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response

A little humor - Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one.

I have followed this discussion with interest over the last couple of days.  Our whole team’s desire is to be as responsive as possible to our customers.  Like all businesses we must constantly balance competing priorities and opinions to achieve the best outcome for all our stakeholders.  

There are four basic categories of requests that I identified in your posts to this topic:

  1. Existing features that legitimately need performance enhancement.  We hear you and have already taken steps to address a number of these issues.

  2. Existing features that work as designed but some of you may want them to work differently.  We take that into account as we consider potential design enhancements.

  3. New feature requests.  As time and resources permit, we consider new feature requests as appropriate.  A recent example is the addition of Automatic Peaking Filter (APF) for CW.

  4. And the ~75% majority request - Stick to the Roadmap.

We continuously monitor the FlexRadio Community along with feedback from our Alpha/Beta team.  When defects or legitimate feature requests are identified, they are entered into our internal software planning system.  These are typically reviewed and dispositioned by the entire engineering team at least once per week.  There are three possible outcomes - now, later, or never.  We realize that there are those who would like for us to post those outcomes publicly.  Unfortunately, this is neither practical from a business standpoint nor wise from a competitive standpoint.  

FlexRadio is the first and only Ham Radio transceiver manufacturer to publish a public software roadmap.  We offer this as a service to you our customers.  The SmartSDR roadmap is our means of communicating the broad direction of our FLEX-6000 Series enhancement plan.  It does not communicate everything we are currently working on or all of our future plans.  

Here are a few things you should know about the SmartSDR Roadmap:

  1. We are committed to LAN and FM in SmartSDR v1.4 as planned.

  2. LAN functionality is a prerequisite to WAN.

  3. We have a strategic commitment to deliver WAN in 2015.

  4. We reserve the right to adjust the Roadmap content and/or schedule if we deem it prudent.  For example, we recently delayed v1.3 eighteen days to allow more test time for major new features.

  5. Near term Roadmap plans may be considered fairly firm.  The further out in time on the Roadmap, the more fluid the plan as it allows us to adjust for changing market requirements.

Software planning is not a perfect science.  Some projects turn out easier than we thought and some things turn out much, much harder.  Planning has to hedge for that uncertainty as well human resource variables.

I want everyone to know that we always welcome appreciate constructive feedback.  We constantly strive to improve our processes and our service to you.  We aren’t perfect but we sure do care.

73,

Gerald
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DrTeeth

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Gerald,

Any news on the reduced power outputs from RTTY and PSK31 noticed in the 1.3 build of SmartSDR?

I would like to see a custom designed narrow double-peaked filter for RTTY

Getting my 6300 next wee and looking forward to it.

73 de Guy G4DWV/4X1LT
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Bill -VA3WTB

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To me it is so wonderful that Flex communicates with it's customers they way Garald just did, I know of no other amature radio company that does as good a job. Flex does read everything on this site and are listening....
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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For the love of God....The horse is dead!   The time for further recommendations as to what should/will be released in 1.4 or 2.0 ended back in April at Dayton.  The strategic plan has been set. Flex Radio Systems must now have time to execute this plan. 

I have asked for new features myself.  However, I did not, nor would I ever demand when or how my suggestion would be built.  I don't expect FRS to drop everything to make my suggestion happen.  When and if it becomes a realized enhancement, I will be very appreciative.  I bought a radio from FRS, not controlling shares of company stock.

No other major Amateur Radio manufacturer has been so forthcoming as to their plans or allowed its user community help drive strategic direction to the extent FRS has.  A time must come where we stop throwing mud on the wall and allow FRS to go to work and actually build things.  That time is now. 

Yaesu, ICom, and Kenwood take 5+ years to make products with a non-changeable feature set.  There is precious little real innovation coming out of the big 3.  The products they are bringing to market in 2014 are all based on technology from the 1990's.  I dare one of you to go ask Yaesu, Icom, or Kenwood to add a new button or knob to one of your existing radios....all at no charge.  I can just imagine the laughter.

FRS is building a Radio Server.  A device which has never existed before.  We are the fortunate few who are getting to utilize real, cutting edge technology right now!  Some of the silicon being used is less than 2 years old. There are no canned algorithms, manuals, cookbooks, or guides which FRS can reference in building SmartSDR.  Development such as this takes innovative thinking, time, and many hours of hard work.  It also requires OUR patience.

Please....Let Gerald and his team focus on the tasks before them!  They have not disappointed so far.  I don't see that trend changing!

To Gerald and the FRS team, thanks for your hard work. I love my 6300.  Even if there were no new updates forthcoming, my 6300, as it sits right now, is by far the best transceiver I've ever had the pleasure of operating.  I do not regret a single penny spent on the purchase price for this rig.  I look forward to, with great anticipation, your native LAN and WAN feature set.  It will make possible so many new and exciting opportunities for serving my community and exploring my Ham Radio hobby.

Jay - N0FB
(Edited)
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Hey, Jay.  Thanks for "grokking" it.  It has been fun to participate in this thread.  Thanks to everyone for your comments.  73 de K5SDR dit dit dit da dit da

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