My recent thread

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  • Updated 1 year ago
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Guys,
The recent thread (that I started couple of days ago) has proven beyond all doubt that there are many unhappy customers with regards to V2 before some of the basics for V1 are in place. I am sure that the massive amount of noise and displeasure within that thread has been read over and over again by those at FRS.

Tim says they have been listening and will act accordingly. So now let’s give them a chance to respond with direct actions, not just words and promises for the future. Let’s see what they come up with to set the situation of unfinished v1 straight. Below are a few helicopter observations from that thread:-

-Most users want FRS to succeed, and like the hardware platform greatly.

-Most will happily pay for new feature (benefits) in V2 as they become available.

-The cost of V2 is not really an issue for people.

-An annual subscription is not unreasonable, provided that they deliver against promises made – for that I would expect an annual roadmap of deliverables in exchange for my subscription.

-FRS are still a young and overly eager business. They have to evolve a better more joined-up approach to product release strategies and marketing to their new, and more importantly their existing user base. Some focus groups will help a lot.

-FRS cannot afford the cost of unhappy customers, or to get a bad reputation. Remember MFJ? It takes many years to remove dirty stains from your shorts!


I believe that deep down we all want FRS to be successful, and constructive criticism is a good thing for all. Those that label us as “the same old complainers” are wrong. Complainers without passion would only tell the rest of the world how crap things were. They certainly wouldn’t hang around for years helping FRS make happier customers and better products for us all.

Remember we talk, a lot, we talk to friends, we make recommendations at clubs and DX conventions, QRZ, Twitter etc. We offer insider awareness to prospective new buyers. We are (potentially) their best sales people and their hardest critics. FRS knows this. The ball is now firmly in their court.

73 and QRT de Steve G1XOW
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Steven G1XOW

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Posted 1 year ago

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Lino Lombardi

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Time has been granted and even so, but they have used it badly and do new products not to improve those sold.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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That is an uninformed statement.  There are many previous examples where we have investigated a problem for the 6700 and the fix was applicable to all radios (6500 and 6700).  That dynamic will not stop due to new radio hardware but will increase because there are now 7 radios in the FLEX-6000 family rather than 3.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I just keep on agreeing with Steve! Spot on again.

I have been following Flex and this forum for a while now. Owner of Flex gear for 4+ years. My comments come with my most sincere respect to all.

There is a sense of "us" versus "them".

Any criticism is always met with a barrage of comments from Elmers that do not really answer or present facts to alleviate the concerns... not only that, they exacerbate the discomfort of the persons criticizing, upsetting them and ultimately alienating them from voicing their opinion. Many owners of Flex gear outside the USA do not even post (you have no idea how many people that do not speak/write English fluently are afraid of even posting here).

I personally feel like the alpha team, the elmers and a close group of sympathizers (some of them, not all of course)  *allow me to refer to this group as the flex insiders* are doing a great disservice to FRS by always replying to any criticism instead of allowing Flex to reply first. Tim is always on top of the threads and Gerald and co. do respond from time to time. Let FRS respond to criticism.

Please, allows for this dialogue to happen. Allow even the disgruntle ones (baring personal insults) to voice their complaints. There are interesting nuggets even in the most odd posts.

I also personally feel that the flex insiders and FRS are living in a bubble. By removing any type of Road Map we (outside of that bubble) cannot provide feedback until it is too late. And of course, it feels like criticism... that is what happens when your only option is to complaint after the fact. The forum is always a reaction to the software and gear that gets introduced. Reading through the critical posts is how the majority of us get a glimpse of what to expect.  Reading the posts from those in the "know" it feels like FRS is not getting the necessary criticism and advice before hand.
If all the feedback for new software features and hardware comes from the people who are fine with whatever FRS comes up with, you are not getting the best advice. Had you asked the forum at large what do they prefer, I feel comfortable stating that the vast majority would have preferred to get features in v.1.0 of the SmartSDR vs new gear that replaces (*and devalues) their own. 

We vote for the Ideas through this forum and that gets almost no traction. We request basic functionality  and we are told the ultimate childish come back "well... the other brands do this or that" "try to get kenwood owner to reply to you" "try to get any software releases in a timely fashion from Yaesu" ... how lame is that?? I could care less what Microsoft, GM, Yaesu or Icom do poorly in the context of these criticisms. The fact that some other brand sucks at something doesn't justify FRS sucking at it too. 

On the other hand, if some brand does something well, it is logical to copy it. We should strive to improve not call our own shortcoming "good enough" because others' shortcomings are worsts that our own.

Back to our current situation. A large percentage of us feel we are not getting what we thought we would be getting before new gear was announced. It is that simple. We feel betrayed because the original expectations have not been met.

Steve has pointed out in a very clear manner some of the basics, I would like to add my own list.

  • DStar, FreeDV and all WAVE forms..... completely forgotten.
  • Diversity, not even close to finished.
  • GUI strange behavior....  i.e. countless times I go back to saved profiles to find the waterfall all the way up in the panadapter.... I then proceed to drag it down and it jumps back up... very odd behavior. It takes a few tries to get it back to where it is supposed to be. 
  • No RF Gain on FM.
  • Auto Black ( in the Display gain section)... works poorly.
  • Pre-distorsion... where is it?
  • The piece of hardware that was going to make the 6300 and 6500 SO2R viable... not an option anymore *info we just found out about on a Q&A published yesterday.

And we will never get those in version 1. That is it. FRS comes up with new hardware so they can fund new software, and we all have to pay for new software in version 2 so FRS can afford to develop new software. Which one is it? I thought that my $200 for version 2 was paying for the software development. 

And what am I getting on Version 2 for $200? As far as I can gather I get SmartLink and dockable windows. Multiclient, at a later date TBD. Noise Mitigation Improvements, Predistorsion, Diversity, waveforms, etc... not even mentioned. There is no road map, no clear feature list.... when am I supposed to pay for 2.0, when FRS is done adding all the features in 2 years time? Or am I supposed to (again) trust FRS and pay up front hoping that 2.xx will get me what I want?

FRS can do hardware.... I do not feel they really know how to do software. Not in a timely fashion. Not well enough to be a leader in this market space.
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Clay N9IO

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Sorry, I mean this respectfully but this sounds like round 2.
Your point was made.
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Steven G1XOW

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Clay, that was not my intention at all. After 60+ contributions it just needed a summary and a reconcillation of emerging "sides".

Guys, respectfully, please please let the dust settle now. Hold back on the flack until we get to see some action from FRS.

Thanks,
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Salvador,

I respect your opinion but I think your opinion on the elmers and Alpha team is pretty much dead wrong.

I will tell you why - 

We have inside information of improvements that will be in the next release. But due to NDA we cannot disclose them. In any case I would never, out of respect for them, disclose something that Flex isn't ready to. 

This is why sometimes we really don't sympathize with the endless complaining. Guess what? We complain about stuff too! Not just the bugs but also features. Flex may then decide to make an improvement. We test it and provide feedback. We find new problems. They fix it or decide to change it. And eventually after this cycle repeats enough we come up with something usable that ends up in the final product.

But then some on the community come with a vicious tone and choose to attack people and attack Flex. Some are just fed up of it. How is insulting people going to convince them to help you? I just usually put a giant deep WNB on such people and tune them out. I don't see constant criticism, attacks to be constructive at all. 

Then there is the issue of new hardware having better capabilities than old hardware at a lower price point. That is just how it works in the tech world and I thought it was pretty well known that new hardware would be out and old hardware would lose value. I am frankly astonished by people who think that Flex should cease all hardware development just so that their radios can hold value. That makes no sense at all.  Even my Icom Pro3 has been severely devalued by the Icom 7300 so if I sell it I get a small fraction of the money paid for it. That's just how it is. Electronic gear especially has this problem.

I also don't know of any radio manufacturer other than Flex who takes trade ins, even of their own equipment. Some dealers do but the prices they offer are mediocre. If you know of one, let me know. I realize this isn't available in Europe, so maybe that should be taken up with them rather than Flex. I believe that due to regulations and customs duties etc it is much easier for Flex to use dealers in Europe than sell direct and ship there. I know European hams tend to always get the short end of the stick when it comes to buying US made gear. 

In the end I think we need to step back, be a bit more constructive and if you really want to make a decision it is your money. If you think Elecraft, Anan or Icom can do better for you, go ahead and buy from them. That's your choice, your money.

I will always help people here no matter what. But I do think that attacks on others are not really helping.

Ria
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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BTW I really don't think it is "a large number" of people. I think it is a significant, but vocal minority. That's the vibe I get anyway. 
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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@ Ria, 
I think you meant  to post after my rant and not below this one, but I will continue here so it makes more continuity sense. 

First, I am not a native English speaker and it is sometimes tough to convey the exact "tone" and "meaning" in a different language. I really would like for you and other native speakers to be kind with posters from other countries that try their hardest to express themselves in a language that is not their mother tongue. I have seen several instances where foreigners are treated unkindly because they had trouble expressing correctly their opinions and their comments come across harsher that intended. I just cannot write with the polished accuracy of Steve.

I started my post with a  "sincere respect for all". I do not think I insulted anyone.... "But then some on the community come with a vicious tone and choose to attack people and attack Flex. Some are just fed up of it. How is insulting people going to convince them to help you? " I am hoping you are not referring to me or the other few that are critical but do not try to undermine but build greatness for our gear from the criticism.

New Hardware
I have no problem with new hardware. I love new hardware. Had FRS come up with a 6100 I would have put my own pre order..... or a VHF-UHF SDR radio!! Oh man... do I want one of those. And cheaper new hardware is great! Flex needed this hardware are a more attractive entry point. Seeing 2 xvrt ports in the 6600 and not in my 6700 stung a bit bit I will get over it. :)

My personal issue is the PERCEPTION from the outside of the priority of new hardware (Maestro, Amp, 6400, 6600) over FEATURES in the software for the last 2 years. After a vocal few display our displeasure it is when we start getting information. We get information about the need for hardware to get software, we get information about a couple of the features in the upcoming 2.0, we get a glimpse at SmartLink (which looks awesome!)...... but we get this info TOO LATE.

"In the end I think we need to step back, be a bit more constructive and if you really want to make a decision it is your money. If you think Elecraft, Anan or Icom can do better for you, go ahead and buy from them. That's your choice, your money."

This (that I can do whatever I please with my money) will always be the case. I find this statement (which is made over and over and over and over) insulting to the people posting here. And check this out, when the statement is made over and over but on defense of Flex no one comes here to say "This is why sometimes we really don't sympathize with the endless complaining. " There is a double standard... statements about what other brands do wrong are endless in this forum as means for a defense for FRS. I find them not needed and ultimately childish (but I already made that point in the previous rant).

Lets end with a more positive tone. I appreciate someone (you, Tim) replied to my post and I think us "endless whining complainers"  ;) , have at least started a dialogue with Flex that had been lost for a while. I appreciate that Gerald came here and has posted a bunch of really insightful info and maybe good things will come out of this dialogue.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Salvador, 

re:"
I personally feel like the alpha team, the elmers and a close group of sympathizers (some of them, not all of course)  *allow me to refer to this group as the flex insiders* are doing a great disservice to FRS by always replying to any criticism instead of allowing Flex to reply first. Tim is always on top of the threads and Gerald and co. do respond from time to time. Let FRS respond to criticism."

I waned to (respectfully of course) disagree with your statement regarding the this.  As you know I have volunteered to represent an aspect of the community via sharing feedback both directions, on my own time with no real direct benefit other than trying to help my colleagues and the community.  Im hoping your statement does not refer to the unpaid champions who attempt to help the community.  if so its also somewhat misinformed as to the not being critical reference.

just to be clear, I represent my colleagues far more vocally than I share on this community sometimes quite forcefully and passionately.  I will leave it at that, but were you to ask Gerald, Steve, Tim, Eric I am sure they would all say that I am not a "cool aid drinker".   I am not always the most popular alpha team member.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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We are very blind to all of these interactions that you speak of Chris. But I am really enjoying the last 2 days of forum activity, I am getting a clearer idea of what to expect in the near future. Unlike Tim and Clay I think this had been a great thread.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Salvador

I have to agree with Clay, this post is just picking up where the previous one regarding this thread left off.  It is the same people reiterating their same points again.  As I posted previously, your complaints, feelings, and concerns have been adequately expressed and received by FlexRadio Systems.

We get it.  Your expectations, however, established have not been met.  What I see in this topic is a group of users that want nothing more than for an excellent radio to reach it's potential and achieve a high level of perfection.  We want the same thing.  And as we continue on the journey, we will get closer to that goal. 

There is a lot of very reasonable wisdom in Steve's Idea post above.

I have received a lot of off list posts from users who feel the same way you do and others that are becoming very weary of the repetitive rehashing of the same points over and over again.  There must be a balance to the Community for it to work as intended. As with the previous post, the passion you feel is real and we hear you loud and clear.  Reiterating the points already made and received will not benefit anyone.  It becomes fuel for argument and violations of our usage policies. That is a recipe for anarchy and FlexRadio cannot allow for that to happen.
(Edited)
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Ken Hansen

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As a new 'Flexer' I don't know the history (and am not asking for a review of it), but it seems to me that, reasonably, Flex is introducing a new set of features and called it V2 of the software, people ASSUME (or don't trust) that any development will continue on V1 of the software - only time will tell if that's true.

It would be nice to see a public roadmap document, for both V1 and V2, but I can understand Flex's reluctance to put one out that was specific enough to appease most critics/supporters.

I suspect the issue may be that until V2 was announced, many/most flexers just assumed that everything ever discussed to that point was intended to be included in V1, and to find out that isn't the case has left them understandably upset. In hindsight, maybe Flex could have done a better job laying the groundwork for V2 software earlier, explaining that some new features enhancements would require paid software upgrades.

There also was likely some confusion between discussion of future product 'possibilities' and promises of future product 'features', only more disciplined communication in the future can change that.

No amount of review/discussion will change the past, and only time will tell if things are improving at Flex with regard to communicating future plans.

Anyway, that's my take on it.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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Steve,

Thank you so much for your reasoned comments heading this thread.  I try to read and consider constructive and respectful feedback as much as I can allocate time to do so.  

There is nothing I would rather do than to be able to share a public road map.  However, that has two fundamental problems.   

First, we learned the hard way that not everyone understands the inherent nature of a road map.  It is just like a battle plan.  It lasts only until the first shots are fired and then you have to make changes.  The problem we learned the hard way with the public road map is that some people believe that if it goes on the road map it is a commitment to both the feature and time frame.  As a business, we must have the flexibility to change priorities based on business realities at any given moment.  For example an intermittent bug might take man weeks to isolate and results in some feature getting dropped from a release.  We must have the flexibility to spend those man weeks when warranted.  In the mean time we have to generate revenue with those software resources to pay for ongoing development.

The second problem is that you must know our competition will read the road map.  We choose to make some things public for strategic reasons even though the competition will know.  It all depends on what we think best serves all involved.

There is another fundamental problem that I struggle with how to handle.  It goes back to the joke, opinions are like belly buttons - everyone has one.  Well features are like belly buttons - everyone has their must have feature.  Your pet feature is not my pet feature so your pet feature doesn't count.  Remote is one example.  There are many of you who say they must have remote and many of you who could care less.  We are about to deliver on the promise of remote with the new SmartLink in June.  It kills us all that it has taken us so long to deliver on that promise but there were many decisions along the way that delayed it, which I would make again the same way.  There are other decisions I would clearly change looking back.  However, someone else would be mad if we changed that decision.

If someone says to me in Dayton, you need to do "X" because it is very important to me.  I may nod my head and say that sounds like a very good feature.  I wish I had that too.  I can almost guarantee you I won't remember that conversation out of the hundreds I had over last weekend.  That person thinks, "I just spoke to the CEO of FlexRadio and he said he thought X was a good idea.  Next year I see that person.  I might remember the face out of thousands I meet but unlikely the name/call.  That person says, "Why haven't you done "X? that you promised"  I say explain to me "X."  I might not even remember "X" but to that person "X" was a commitment.  This happened to me this weekend.  I said, yes that sounds like it is important to people like you.  I don't know when that will come to the top of the priority list but it should someday.

Charging $199 for Version 2 will not fund our software development for any material length of time even if we were to be able to sell software for one of our competitors radios as well.  We must remain competitive selling new radios to fund ongoing software development.  

By the way, it is an urban legend probably propagated by some competitors and/or their customers that we charge a subscription fee.  That is just and has been false.

We have also made mistakes because we are visionaries who see all the possibilities of the platform we have built.  Our vision gets ahead of our execution because software is not a crank you can just turn.  We are optimists.  Shame on me for being one.

I have much more to say but this is getting too long to read.  Let me end with this:
  • In the new world of true SDR, it is in your own self interest that FlexRadio sell the most radios we can, gain market share, and be able to generate revenue from software so that we can deliver more software.  
  • Free software forever without new competitive radios to sell is a going out of business strategy.  
  • Innovate or die.  Where are Collins, Heathkit and Hallicrafters today?  Some are more recent examples I won't mention.
  • SmartSDR is the radio.  That means as we release new versions of SmartSDR, the FLEX-6300 and FLEX-6500 will get new features and are thus not obsolete.  That's a better deal than any last year's model car I ever owned. 
  • We will listen all constructive feedback and will do our best to incorporate it within our resources and ability to do so.  
  • Sales of the new radio models already have been everything we hoped for and more.  SmartLink was demoed to rave reviews in the booth at Hamvention.
  • Given what I know today vs. what I knew last Wednesday, the one thing I would change is to have a detailed FAQ posted Thursday evening.  This fell through the cracks at the last minute and I apologize.  
73,
Gerald
K5SDR
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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Peter,

I wouldn't say I am proud of a "no subscription fee" policy.  Some of our competition or their customers claim we have a subscription fee as a way of spinning a negative light on us.  We hear it every day.

We want a mutually beneficial model.  Those are the only ones that work.  A subscription fee model would definitely speed software development - guaranteed.  You can scale the development expense proportionately with the revenue stream.

How many people would get upset if we used that model instead of the major upgrade model?  

73,
Gerald
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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@Steve, G1XOW
It reminds me that my F5000+PSDR did it so much better
FYI, I personally started development of PowerSDR(TM) (then called SDRConsole) using VB6 in 1999.  I put 4 years of development in it as a hobby project before launching the company in 2003.  Eric started a complete rewrite in C#.NET in 2004.  Fourteen calendar years and many more man years of full time development were invested in PowerSDR by FlexRadio so that other companies could build on top of our work and use it to compete against us.  PowerSDR was not built in a day.  ;>)

Gerald
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Gerald, I remember the road maps,,please don't do them again. I remember the mud slinging and name calling, terrible things said about you and staff, all because of being a couple weeks late. that was a very sad time for all.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Gerald,

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my post.

>You can scale the development expense
>proportionately with the revenue stream.

My point exactly. Recall I run a software company. We tried the model Flex currently uses. It didn't work for us. In talking with Howard KY6LA, it didn't work for his company either. Doesn't mean you can't make it work... different products, different industries. Just saying funding forward dev AND bug fixing out of current sales is a tough row to hoe. Of that, there can be no doubt.

>How many people would get upset if we used that
>model instead of the major upgrade model?

Get upset? Or not buy the radio because of it? That's the $64,000 question, isn't it. :-)

I'd easily pay $110/year (or $10/month) for faster software refinement. That's the cost of a streaming music service to people these days. Several people earlier this week said they'd be happy to pay monthly. One guy offered to pay $500 a year (OK, I don't know if he was serious).

Buy a radio, get free upgrades and updates for a year. After that, pay the subscription fee and get updates (bug fixes, minor improvements) while you continue to pay the fee. Stop paying, you can continue to use what you have... just you get no updates. New software version comes out with major new features? Anyone can buy it... people paying the annual fee get a major discount (like 70% off). You still pay the maintenance fee.

I wonder if we could run a poll somehow?

Peter
K1PGV
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Reggie

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Here is the link to a free online poll maker...

https://www.poll-maker.com/


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Steve Gw0gei

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Good summary Steve

Thanks for the further comms Gerald. As someone who stayed up late here in Europe last Thursday hoping to hear about new features in 2.0 and a timed maintenance release to fix the radio hang up issue, the lack of official communication, other than the brochure release, was a disappointment.

However, the 6600 and 6400 look very competitive, and as someone who still loves his 6300, even with the random hang ups and dax corruption, after contesting with it for last four years on hf and vhf, I am pleased flex is going to give icom a run for their money. As the previous owner of ic7400 and pro 3 I know the 6300 is a better dx and contesting radio, and icom never admitted to their screen, pa, or ssb drive issues. They lost me as a customer who regularly used to upgrade radios every few years.

I understand that you have to react to the competition, and a detailed roadmap is difficult to continue with.

Hope the change of strategy with the m radio fronts builds the user base and enables you to deliver enough new features in 2.1 2.2 or 2.3 to tempt me up upgrade. Wan and demountable windows is probably not enough to tempt me, but better anf and nb along with sorting out the hang up issue and other bugs will see me upgrading the 6300 and buying the non m 6600 for contesting. Better integration of my antenna genius plus and the new power genius may well make me upgrade sooner as my priorities are all Contest orientated.

73

Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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Steve,

You do understand that charging for the software motivates us to create cool features that cause you to want the upgrade.  It puts our interests in alignment.  

By the way, there were many people who came to our booth in Dayton who initially were not interested in SmartLink and were blown away when they saw it.  We were able to run any of a dozen stations across three countries from Maestro, iPad, and SmartSDR on a PC as if we were sitting at the station.  We could launch a station and it was up in a few seconds.  I think you might be surprised.  You haven't seen anything like this before.

Note, we are committed to fixing the random hands as soon as we can recreate the problem here.  We are also committed to resolving the DAX issue but we have to integrate new third party drivers to do that.

73,
Gerald
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Dave Gipson

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As one who is a working RV'r traveling around the country, SmartLink is exactly what I am looking for. Having done the RigExpert remote thing, and I'm not bashing it here, I'm anxious to move up. Way Up. Who knows... maybe one might show up in a compartment aboard the RV someday. :)
(Edited)
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W9TVX

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As a relatively new 6700 owner, I just wanted to say that it is absolutely fantastic to see such open and honest dialogue between the community and FlexRadio staff over issues that are passionate to all involved. I can only be optimistic about the future
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Well Ross, you will never see this kind of dialogue with any other radio company....
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Jon - KF2E

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Gerald,

I have previously complained about SSDR not getting the same level of updates that Darin is doing with PSDR. If a subscription service would make that happen...sign me up!

Jon...kf2e
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G7BCX

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...and me. Send me your bank details!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Personally I am against a subscription service, at least not a monthly one. If I can pay a lifetime subscription fee I'd pay that instead. I just find subscription fees annoying. I have to deal with it for creative cloud now and a few times my CC bounced due to fraud and I was stuck with non-working software until the credit union could send me a new card. I also hate having to pay monthly for a radio that I purchased. For things like TiVo I bought lifetime service, one and done. If you're going subscription, I'd rather have that option available. 
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Here's one reason why that won't work - unless you commit people to a steady subscription, they will just subscribe only when the new features come out so they can get it. It's like the debate over pre-existing conditions and health insurance. Why pay $900 per month on health insurance if I'm not sick? I'll just take out a policy when I need it. That's why either it has to be a license for the software or the current policy of major version releases incurring a charge.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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To work, you pay up or your radio stops working, seems to be the only way to keep people invested?
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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That seems to be the only way a subscription would work unless you collect the subscriptions up front on an annual basis and make them nonrefundable. That's how most other software maintenance agreements work. 

There is the issue of paying "rent" to use my own radio, something I'm vehemently opposed to. 
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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No, Ria... I don't suggest that's now how it should work. It can be a little more sophisticated.

You pay continuously for support. You can pay $10/month or $110/year. This entitles you to updates during that time. Your support expires, your radio continues to work. You just don't get updates.

You want updates AFTER your support expires, you have to BUY SSDR again. Or perhaps you can pay the maintenance fee from when it expired to the current time. So, if I stop paying in January but I all of a sudden want the updates that come out in April, I have to pay support for January, February, March, and April.

i think having to pay a monthly fee or your.radio,stops,working,would be VERY unpopular. That's not a model I would support, that's for,sure.

Peter
K1PGV
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Steven G1XOW

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Peter, not often we agree, and you know I am vocal on the rate of development, but...

I ENTIRELY AGREE WITH YOU, SIGN ME UP!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Really though, the amount of updates that Flex had last year were not to bad,,about 12 of them.
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Jon - KF2E

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Sure but how many were related to support for new hardware and contesting? I just want to get caught up on basic features and....yes, dare I say it...eye candy.
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Michael Coslo

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You have to remember though. Your eye candy might be something someone else will hate. Some of the features demanded by some people would cause me to think seriously about a different radio.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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Michael, therein lies the fundamental problem that we struggle with every day.  What one person can't live without another hates and vice versa.  It is a no win situation for us for many decisions.  Every decision we make is a trade off.  
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Bill -VA3WTB

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We know what you mean Jon.
As you read above were Gerald explains some of this, what features to bring in or not,  even then you still mention it. It is what it is.
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Jon - KF2E

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The problem with the current model is that Flex apparently needs to continually develop new hardware to generate the funds to keep the doors open. With all the new hardware, programming resources are needed to support the new hardware. This seems to have us in a continual cycle where there is no financial reason for Flex to work on the feature list that customers are asking for. At least those customers who are not interested in contesting. 

I understand completely that Flex needs to make decisions that are good for the business. Really, I get it. I'm just trying to find a way that we can provide support to the boring old hams who work a little DX and rag chew so they can get some of the features they want. That's why I said I would support a subscription. It seems the only way the features I(and others) want to have will ever see the light of day.

Jon...kf2e
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Jon - KF2E

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Personally, I would like to see a noise blanker that worked on the noise at my location. I would also like an ANF that worked. I would like an s-meter that was more readably. I would like automatic adjustment of the agc threshold. And yes, I would like to see spots in the panadapter. DX is not all I do, and I would also like to see band markers and integration with logging programs. I could go on but I doubt you really care.

Jon...kf2e
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Steven G1XOW

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If your need is just to chat on 75m to your buds then an FT-101 will do, nobody should be buying Flex with that usage in mind.

Licensed for over 30 years, I have owned 8 SDR radios in the last 10 years alone, most of them Flex. In the past 5 years I have logged over 34,000 contacts, mainly obsessive DX chasing and the odd contest which I don't play at either.

My point is that I buy the best radio because I want to suck out those last dribbles of RF from the noise, I want to hear and work what no other radio can. I want to bag the rare DX at the lowest part of the solar cycle when bands appear dead.

I want SSDR to be operationally, ergonomically, tactically and performance-wise better than anything else.  This will enable me to do what I couldn't otherwise do. That is why I buy Flex.

The fundamental hardware is the best we are likely to see for many years to come, but does anyone feel that we are even close to that point with SSDR?

So, if Gerald needs subscriptions to make it happen quicker then sign me up right now.

SOFTWARE, underpinned by great hardware makes my goals possible. It's as crucial as the FPGA in the hardware.

What I don't want is a $200,000 Ferrari that I cannot race hard just because the steering wheel is a bit loose and likely to curtail my best performance.
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Ross - K9COX

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I say this with a sarcastic smile...since when does a contester need an S-meter?
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Steven G1XOW

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59 TU
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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>And many of those features I don't really need,
>such as DX cluster in the panadapter. It goes
>back to what Gerald was saying - my feature may not be your feature

Right. Which is why funding software development and maintenance out of current sales isn't likely to provide enough funds to make you happy.

Because there are a wide variety of "must haves" you need to have a significant investment in forward development to get to a good number of those "must haves" done. Enough investment that you get some of your pet features, I get some of mine, Steve gets some of his.

Because there's more overall investment, more features get done, and more people get satisfied. When the funding for forward development AND maintenance is limited, it forces you to triage too severely. Little stuff remains undone because it never rises to the top of the list. It becomes "COULD we do this feature? Sure. But we have these 16 other items to do that have higher priority."

The only way to overcome this... the ONLY way... is to increase the level of funding. That's what it takes to get more features done.

The question we're trying to pose/answer: How can Flex generate more revenue that can be directed to software development, so we can all have the *best* SSDR... not just a *good enough* SSDR.

Peter
K1PGV
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Ron W4RDM

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How about a kickstarter project for funding the next generation of software after V2?
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James Whiteway

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I think Flex Radio would have left the Amateur Radio market a long time ago if their current business model did not work. I have no problem with paying for a full version upgrade. Subscriptions (the kind that run out and no longer work if you stop paying for one reason or another) would not interest me at all.
All these suggestions of doing otherwise, forget that not all Flex owners have a lot of disposable income and could turn away potential buyers of new hardware.
James
WD5GWY
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Michael Coslo

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A subscription model would fail pretty quickly.  I'm irritated at the Adobe creative cloud subscription model, it works by you paying the monthly fee, and once you stop, it does too. 
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Steven G1XOW

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Michael, Adobe is a "product rental" (aka software as a service), that is not the same as paying for an quarterly/annual update plan which is more akin to a maintenance agreement. i.e. If you stop paying in, then your product stops moving forward, but it still works!
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km9r.mike

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I think V 2.0 is way too inexpensive. In order to remote other brands , I am seeing close to $1000.00 in costs . I think $400.00 or $499.00 for V 2.0 is not unreasonable and a great deal considering the leading edge performance of Smartlink. 

Again congrats with the breakthroughs with the 6400 and 6600. I hope the rigs sell like no tomorrow. Thinking hard if I want to have a bunch of external filters for my 6700 (if even needed) or have them inside a 6600M along with it's amazing display and hdmi out.  Now only if maestro had an hdmi out , I would be very interested in the possibility of trading the 6700 for a 6600m plus a maestro w/ hdmi out. If maestro does not get hdmi out , then I would be content with controlling the remote 6700 w/ SSDR on the home pc.
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Michael Coslo

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Where did you get those figures?
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Wayne VK4ACN

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I think US$200 is very reasonable.  That comes to AU$267
US$400 or US$499 is getting a bit expensive, that would come to AU$537 and AU$669.  I think that would leave a lot of people out who have limited incomes. Also after 1 July the Australian govt is putting 10% gst on everything coming into Australia, so that would make it more expensive. Not sure how they are going to do that with downloadable software though.  But im happy to pay the US$199, for more features to come.
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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I have no issue with the 200 dollar model - I was wondering where that 1000 dollar price came from. 

One of the things that I think we get stuck on is the update process. We have it drilled into us form day one that we need all the latest updates. This is a little different.  We actually don't need to do this with the signature series. If your radio is working for you on V1.XX you don't really need to upgrade. 

I understand some folks frustrations, but that's the world of software. I'm itching for V2. Hopefully it will survive  the W10 update process better. I really hope we can detach the slices. The remote ability concerns me - I predict a lot of angry people expecting to use their radio remotely from places with not enough bandwidth.

But regardless, I'm excited.

Hey Flex? Take my money!! 8^)
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Rick WN2C

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With all the feature wants out there, I think some people need to have been there when you transmitted on a frequency and had to tune the band to find an answer. Those were the days! 
Man, you all want to make it to easy. No work involved. Look at a screen and see where the signals are and pounce on them. 
What I don't get is this...if the DXers and contesters get those features they want, wouldn't they be good for the "boring old ham" too?
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Cliff - G4PZK

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There are folk who think that DXers and contestors are 'boring old hams'. Fancy spending all that money just to shout '59001' every 20 seconds. Each to his own and for whatever reason. Over the near 40 years I've been licensed the equipment and technology has improved massively yet the technical knowledge and dare I say interest of the operators has diminished to almost nothing.
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Hey! I resemble that remark! hehe. Well all but the technology part. I'm intensely interested in both the computer and radio end, and as well with the contesting end. The best contesters tend to be really technically savvy too. 

This isn't to say I disagree with you, because you are pretty accurate in many respects.  I never had the experience of novice crystal control communications. That must have been a well earned skill. 
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James Watts

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I still say the software portion of FRS is not profitable and can't be profitable in it's current pricing structure from FRS. Therefore the software development from them will never be fully implemented to it's fullest potential. My opinion, but I think the best way forward is FRS concentrate on great hardware, and release the software development to the open source community.

Jim, W8GN
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Bill -VA3WTB

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You are correct to a point I think, Gerald mentioned the other day that they could never make money on software, and could never charge to offset cost.
They will never go open source so the sales from hardware is the only way to sustain the company.
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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>"I still say the software portion of FRS is not profitable and can't be profitable in it's current pricing structure from FRS."

As users, neither you nor I know anything about FRS' business plan, capitalization, current income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows.  Without knowing each and every detail, nobody here is in a position to judge current profitability.  Let's all stop pretending that we can -- even those of us in the "IT/Software Development Business."  

Most importantly, it's none of our business.  I am not sure why there's been such a critical focus on FRS' sustainability as a going concern.  That's their issue to resolve, not ours.

Paul, W9AC
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I really appreciate it when folks take a more positive slant on things. I appreciate the innovation flex brings to the market.

What we have going on here is change.  Change in the way radio's are developed, change in the way radios are sold, change in the valuation model of radios, change on the impact of the firmware/software on the radio.  Ham radio in its current model has been around so long that the change perhaps for some is difficult to process.

  Change comes from innovation, and innovation comes with certain risk some flex realized and some their customers realized.  but out of that risk comes reward.  There have been some stumbles, there have been some priorities that don't line up with the masses, but overall the products being released are taking their place on the highest tiers of amateur equipment. 

The things FRS represent IMO are flat out the future of our transceivers and how we operate them.  They are cutting edge and a first. Im hoping everyone can take a step back, take a breath and appreciate what is going on here, we are all learning through this process. im hoping all can try and be as understanding and helpful and enjoy what you have and your involvement in the cutting edge of amateur radio.  
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Steven G1XOW

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@Steve K9ZW

...I agree with this to an extent. But don't agree with the notion that FRS always knows best and we are just being overly critical. Being a good engineer doesn't automatically make you a good technical marketeer, being a good sales person doesn't qualify you for the post of VP of sales - needing entirely different skills sets and experience.

Recognize too the potential value that this forum can offer FRS by way of experience, insight and feedback from others in similar roles and industries.

That experience coupled with enthusiasm when harnessed properly can be very powerful. A collection of like mind people from differing backgrounds forming a kind of steering committee [hate those words but it makes my point]. A collection of highly experienced people that FRS wouldn't want to carry on payroll.

I know there are certainly 5 or 6 people here that could help FRS in this way, even if only to bounce ideas around in confidence.

Without this forums input, FRS would be flying blind to a large extent, that is until they gained after-market feedback post product launch. This forum is one massive pair of ears, and well done to FRS for listening.

We won't always agree, but we certainly should respect our vastly differing backgrounds and experience.  Many here do run their own successful tech businesses, and are thus well aware of the essential nature and mix of financial management, strategy and market positioning.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Steve G1XOW - I do believe you have valid points. 

FRS assembled an exceptional team of advisers and Alpha Team members drawn up as you correctly point out as being useful. They perhaps don't tell us end users enough about how these folk do so much, but it has never been a secret how they tapped into the amateur community for advisors. 

I know some of use wondered "why not me" when FRS assembled these sage groups, but reality is two fold - they picked based on those they had (or could form) a relationship with and second for many like myself we only imagined ourselves qualified. 

Is FRS 100% correct 100% of the time?  Do they even need to be?

They say the difference between an amateur and a professional is the pro recognizes and fixes their mistakes. 

FRS wisely considers the community as part of their information gathering, but I will completely disagree with you on the assertion that without it FRS would be flying blind, if for no other reason that other successful amateur radio products get by without an open community like this.  Also FRS has explained how they use focus groups and at times go out to see amateurs as they study how their radios can be made better.  Feedback loops are important, but we cannot say this sort of community forum is unbiased or even an absolute necessity.

I think we agree on much more than where we differ.

We also should never forget that a polite personal email or letter to FRS is a useful way to pass on thoughts as well.

73 & all the best,

Steve K9ZW


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James Watts

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Paul, this will be my last comment on this topic. I'm expressing my opinion and based on other models I've seen. I'm not bashing FRS, I love FRS and want them to succeed. I also agree this is the future. However, we all must be able to digest constructive criticism. I don't know if you've ever been on a project development team, but if you had a room full of "me too" or "Yes" team members, you would never have the diversity of ideas to make a fully rounded product. 

I'll add a quote from Gerald from above:
Jon, hardware sales are the only current revenue model to pay for software enhancements. No hardware sales no software development.

Jim, W8GN
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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That quote really needs timelining - as it reflects where FRS was at, and less where it is going. 

Nonetheless the hardware-software interaction/interdependence is the Symbiosis I've been pointing out, as it flows both ways.  The opposites are both true - Without Flex-6000 hardware there would be no market for SmartSDR....without SmartSDR to run there would be no market for Flex-6000 hardware.

Allocation of costs or profits in symbiotic business situations is at best arbitrary.

73

Steve K9ZW

73

Steve K9ZW

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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I am going to take the opportunity to close this Idea post as follow up comments have taken it off it's intended track.  Feel free to start another topic that is more on point with how this discussion has evolved.  Thanks to everyone who replied.
(Edited)

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