My new 6500 - what a surprise

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  • Updated 2 years ago
I received my 6500 about three weeks ago and, while poking around and learning about my new radio, I stumbled on a very minor problem.  I talked with the folks at Flex to see if there would be a simple fix.  Flex customer service wouldn't hear of me doing even "simple fix", they wanted the radio back and they were going to make it right.  And they did!  One week, Illinois to Texas and back, fixed and working perfectly.  Highest compliments Flex!  Curiously, my wife couldn't care less about the radio, she was pleased that Flex paid for the shipping both ways . . . sigh, go figure.

Funny thing happened in the week the 6500 was gone though.  I figured I'd just go back to using my trusty TS-850.  Trouble was, after only two weeks (or so) of owning a 6500, I looked at the 850 and missed the panadapter, the filtering, the noise mitigation, the whole Flex thing!  In only two weeks I had gotten spoiled!  Hmmm . . . maybe after 50 years in Amateur radio it's kinda nice being spoiled. :)
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Tom, WA9QQI

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Posted 2 years ago

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Jim Gilliam

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Part of the joy of owning a Flex is hearing from satisfied hams. Thanks for the warming story!


Jim, K6QE

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Frank Allen

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I have not had to send my 6500 in for anything, but I can relate. I have had more than a few ask me why I like the 6500 so much, why not brand xxx or brand yyy. And what justified the cost. Why. Why. Why. Some of these were serious questioners, who had the money to get a 6500, were in the market for a new radio, and just want to know what makes the Flex so special. You can explain and explain, but they just glaze over. My answer finally gelled a week ago. One, it certainly depends on your style of amateur radio. A little rag chewing, casual CW, a little digital, means almost any of the newer radios will do fine. And if you don't get along with computers it probably is not yet the right radio. Bottom line is, I have had and played with the other radios. I had a Flex 3000, and now a Flex 6500. And I could not go back. It isn't one thing. It is the whole system. It works, works well, you see stuff you never saw before, you hear stuff easier than ever before. I just couldn't go back. This is amateur radio to me now , not the old way.
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Tom, WA9QQI

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Ya know, it really startled me at just how fast all of the 6500's features (and I've only explored a handful) went from "sorta cool" to "wanna have"!  For example, with the sun spots declining, checking if 15 meters is open used to involve cranking a dial back and forth (not too fast or you'll sweep right across a cw signal) hoping to hear something.  Now, I just click on the band, check the panadapter and I've got a pretty good idea what, if anything, is there.  Just one small example.

As i said in my original post, I've been doing this for about 50 years.  Can't say I miss the buttons and knobs all that much :)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Welcome to the club!

After owning a TS-850SAT with optional filters for 20 years, I upgraded to a 1500 and then ordered a 6500 three weeks later.  The 850 sat on the desk virtually unused from January 2013 until August 2013 when the pre-release 6500 arrived.  Most of the time it was more fun using the 1500 at 5 Watts than the 850 at 100! 

When the 6500 arrived I was finally able to let go of my "old friend" TS-850.  I have never looked back. .  

in 2 1/2 years, the 6500 has never had to go back to the shop.  But I did need to send the 1500 back for repairs due to a user-generated failure.  (I accidentally shorted out the audio output chip with a poorly soldered audio cable)  

FRS Service was quick, effective, and reasonably priced.  Tim, Dudley, and all the others in service and technical support are the best!

One of my greatest fears, equipment-wise, is that the 6500 will someday take a lightning hit or for some other reason need to be returned, leaving me to use my backup IC-706MK2G from the camper.  It is a nice mobile rig, but I am thoroughly spoiled by the "Big Kahuna" as my wife and I have grown to call the 6500!

Ken - NM9P
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Dave -- W7IWW

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As a Ham now for 55 years, my journey of 1 1/2 years with a 5000A and now for 2+ years with a 6700, has been the more fun than all previous years. All the accolades expressed above clearly express my sentiments. Can't imagine playing radio any other way!
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Jim Jerzycke

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Had the same "experience" happen to me when I bought my 5000A.

My main rig was a Kenwood TS-950SDX with a boat-load of INRAD filters, including the roofing filter.

It was, and really still is, an excellent "analog" radio.

But after using the Flex a few weeks, I began to appreciate what moving to newer technology meant.

The one thing that totally blew me away was running the Flex in a contest. I'm not a big contester at all, but thought I'd try. I found I could crank the bandwidth on the Flex down to about  ONE kHz, and still get decent audio fidelity!

Sure, it was a little "pinched" sounding, but waaay better than my Kenwood could possibly do.

I still have the big Kenwood, and use it regularly. I kept it because there's times I just want to hit the "ON" button and play radio, rather than booting up the PC, but when the going gets tough, I use the Flex.

I'm still saving my pennies and dimes to get a new 6000 series Flex, but I'm sure that radio, too, will be a revelation!

73, Jim
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Once you play with the 6000 Panafall and SSDR's much simpler, mostly intuitive interface, and even better filters, you will almost say "What 5000?"  And that is saying something!  
Ken - NM9P
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Jim Jerzycke

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That's what I expect!
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Tom, WA9QQI

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You know, I looked at the 5000 long and hard but the "minister of war & finance" wasn't too receptive.  On her behalf, I do have a lot of pricey interests, Amateur radio being only one.  My approach to get the 6500 was the TS-850 20-some years old (I'm the original owner) and the state of the art may have improved slightly in 20 years...maybe.  So the 6500 became my retirement rig...sorta.  She doesn't know it yet but my "retirement rig" is going to include a solid state amplifier.  But that's a battle for another day...har!

One thing that I'd like to stress is the trip back to Flex for a small repair doesn't reflect badly on the radio.  Using my 6500 I feel like one of those kids in the add with the burning goggles and colander on their head.  I have the goggles but the wife wouldn't let me have her colander.
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Jim Jerzycke

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Well, I bought mine long before I'd met my current wife, so as a bachelor, it was no big deal.

The only "bad" thing was that my new 5000A failed after about several hours of use. Dudley and I did a Skype session, and he determined it would have to go back for a board replacement.

I had a prepaid UPS label within minutes, and the radio went from California to Texas, and back, in less than a week.

Man, talk about service!

It hasn't missed a beat since then, and the only thing I've done to it was to upgrade the RFIO board, as I was thinking of getting the VHF/UHF module for it.

That never came to pass, but the radio never fails to impress me. It took me quite a while to get comfortable digging into the menus to 'improve" and understand things like the noise reduction and the AGC, and additional time to get it set up for digital modes, but it was time well spent.

I'm certainly no expert on all the workings of the radio, but I understand it well enough to make me want a 6000 series!

73, Jim
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KK9W - Steve

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I just got a Acom 600 to go with the flex. Its a nice amp
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Tom, WA9QQI

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Jim, I had the same experience.  My problem was a howling fan (it quieted down after a few seconds of being started so it really wasn't that big of a deal) and Dudley sent the UPS label so fast I think it flew out of the printer and stuck to my forehead!  I'm really impressed with flex and their customer service.

Like Ken, I loaded my TS-850 with filters and, in its day, it was a pretty decent radio.  Even today it can hold its own against a lot that's out there.  But it's no 6500.

Let's see, I've had my license for just about 51 years and had the wife for 45 . . . radio wins!  Actually, between radio, scuba diving trips, wood working, hot rod cars, and boats she's a pretty understanding gal.
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Jim Jerzycke

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Same thing here. I had my K2 and Buddipole set up in her backyard one afternoon and talked to a guy in Hawaii, which really impressed her.

She's since gotten her Tech license, and helps me work on the Project Car when I need a second pair of hands to do something, like bleed the brakes or clutch.

She's cool with the radio stuff, but still not used to going around corners at warp speed when we take the car out!
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Tom, WA9QQI

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Yep, Steven, I've read quite a few positive posts from people who paired up Acom amps and Flex radios.  Definitely something to look into.  But first gotta let the cash cow "moo" a little.  :)