My Take on SSDR v3

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This is my take on the new v3 update to SSDR as compared to another recent (same day I think) update I've done to another product I have which is a Sony A7III mirrorless camera.

I have the Flex 6400 with ATU... Cost around what... $2200

I also have a Sony A7III camera that also cost around the same as a 6400 at $1999

When I purchased the Flex 6400 less than a year ago, we were on some version 2.x.x of SSDR. In less than a year of ownership we've seen a couple point releases of v2 and now a full release of v3. The upgrade to v3 as we all know is $199 US. In this release I can honestly say that there is nothing that really makes me excited or enhances my use of the radio. I think there is a lot of polish and other little features that many of us would like to see but it's just not there.

I know, I know... did I read the release notes?... I didn't have to buy it... bla bla bla..... Save it.

Now let's talk about the Sony A7III, a new camera model released in 2018 like Flex 6400. I've owned this camera for less than a year just like the Flex but actually several months less. In that time the camera went from v1 to v2 and now, just this week Sony released v3 of the camera firmware. All of the upgrades were free. Each of the upgrades added new features and especially v3 which added 2 new major feature adds/updates which add new functionality to the camera that was not previously there. This is a win and make the camera even more enjoyable and functional.

So in the end I now have a Flex 6400 that has cost me around $2400 over less than a year and no real improvement or added functionality that makes it a better product and more enjoyable to use than when I first purchased it.

The Sony A7III on the other hand has cost nothing extra in the time I've owned it (other than buying more lenses) and the company has added valued updates to it's functionality that probably 90% of its uses can enjoy.

This is the frustration I have with Flex. In the short time I've owned the radio it's cost me more $$ for software updates but has not improved the functionality nor added any polished features to the software.

I know I'm going to get the flaming arrows my way, just like other times I've expressed my thoughts but that's ok, I can take it because it seems to be the way of this community. But I wanted to share my thoughts and make a comparison to another equally priced piece of tech that I own.

Now before you say... sell your flex or x brand does or doesn't do this or that... Dude don't waste your time. We've heard it all enough already.

Saying all this I still like the 6400. It's a nice radio. The hardware looks cool but the software (which drives the whole thing) is not the best out there and that's disappointing.

Hopefully someone at Flex reads this and accepts the criticism and then does something to remedy it. In the meantime it's just another radio. Nothing really special like I thought it would be before I bought into the system. Hopefully we'll see more improvements in the software and some of those features others have suggested will make it into the product.

At this point I, can only hope.

Scott, N1SER
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Posted 5 days ago

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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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Sounds like they launched the Sony camera with half-finished software.
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Much like Flex?
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Burt Fisher

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I echo Neil and Scott. Elecraft sold me a KX3 and a PX3, the updates cost nothing (such as increasing power) and they didn't kill some earlier functions. Plus it all worked from day one. Didn't Flex sell transceivers with no FM?
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Wayne VK4ACN

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I too own the Sony a7iii, and in the short time ive owned it, theyve added impressive new features at no cost
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K5ROX

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Neil   You saying Flex software is finished?  So many bugs and still not a half decent ANF and no squelch in V3......
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Bob G W1GLV

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Scott, if your not happy sell the radio and keep taking pictures.
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Predictable Bob... I actually said that in my post.
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Henry Sung

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Scott, I could not agree more.

I also got Flex6400 almost more than 1 year ago. I have very satisfied to operate Flex so far However with this kind of not free update which means 10% price up every year.
I do not want to purchase Flex anymore in the future. 
It is hold up customer to ridicule I think.

DE HL1BRU

(Edited)
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jerry stern

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Its not about being unhappy with the radio, its about good customer relationships.  Lots of great products never had long term customer retention because of short-sighted marketing decisions.  I bought my 6700 from Flex exactly two years ago.  Three months after purchase, v2 came out and Flex would not give me a free upgrade and I shelled out $199.  Now another $199 for v3 in just 2 years from purchase.  I love my Flex but perhaps not enough based on this track record that I wont give another manufacturer a whirl in the future.  BTW, my previous radio was an IC-7800 and Icom gave out free firmware/software upgrades (many with substantial improvements) for free over the almost 10years I owned that rig.  
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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I'm with you Jerry.
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Don

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How much did the IC7800 cost?
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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You get what you pay for. 

The craftsmanship of the 7800 is like a Ferrari. Second to none as far as amateur gear is concerned .The craftsmanship of the 6400/6600 is more like that of a Chevy. Not bad, but nowhere in the same league.

Rx performance numbers aren’t everything. The 7800 has a transmitter that is one of the cleanest out there, barring ADP. Ergonomically it is second to none.

So while the Flex is a decent performer with lots of eye candy, a wide ESSB transmitter, and nice remote capabilities, it is NOT the best radio since sliced bread, like some make it to be. It has it’s pluses, but is also has a whole heck of a lot of negatives.
(Edited)
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Dave - W6OVP

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Bravo! Right on targetS.

My concern is that the clock is quietly ticking and you know there are elves working overtime elsewhere to enter this emerging market. And if they offer a decent product FLEX will drop. May be too late then to spend the needed money on software customers actually want.

The business horizon is strewn with corpses of once prosperous businesses that failed to listen to what customers want and insisted on telling them what they want instead. Ham Radio has many such examples.

There is nothing wrong here that listening more to customers and less to sycophants and noisy fan boys won't cure.


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Scott Russell - N1SER

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You know it!
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James Del Principe

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Scott, I can't fault Flex for wanting to charge for a substantial upgrade in software even if it has not helped my operation. Release 2 gave remote operation and release 3 multi-operator operation, neither of which I partake. The issue I have is that the noise reduction and blanker do not work very well at my release 1 level compared to my TS-990 S which is clearly superior in that regard.
I paid nearly twice for my 6500 than what you did at $ 4300.00 for the Flex transceiver and $ 100.00 for the Flex control.
It would be nice to have noise reduction that does not distort a signal badly at a level that begins to reduce the noise.
The two respondents referring to your camera were not helpful. Such sarcasm is not warranted for Scott's observations.
None the less, let me state that I am committed to using my Flex 6500 and I'm spoiled by the features it does have. Right now I am unable to go downstairs to my basement shack due to a recent surgery so I'm operating "couch mobile" on my laptop courtesy of WiFi......at release 1.
Would anyone like to buy the TS-990 S?    HI HI.     73 All, Jim     KD1I
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Receiver performance isn’t everything. Most hams wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between radio 33 and a few in the top 5. Especially with a mediocre antenna system. There’s more to enjoying a particular radio than just Sherwood’s ranking. Bob would be the first to tell you that. There’s no perfect radio ; that’s why many of us own multiple radios.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Receiver performance isn’t everything. Most hams wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between radio 33 and a few in the top 5. Especially with a mediocre antenna system. There’s more to enjoying a particular radio than just Sherwood’s ranking. Bob would be the first to tell you that. There’s no perfect radio ; that’s why many of us own multiple radios.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Eric, intersting yes. If you were to line up 10 radios all set up the same, in a blind test, could we pick them out to make and model and get them right?

This is what bothers me about many so called reviews, they don't cover very much that really makes a difference.
(Edited)
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Don

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  I'm a competitive contester/DXer and have owned/operated several competition grade radios over the years.  Presently, I have a Yaesu FTdx5000 and a FLEX 6600.  I am a regular guest op at K9CT & WB9Z...usually RTTY or CW.  In the past, at K9CT, we used four K3's & four Alpha 87A's.  With this setup, as the S&P station on 20M, I was able to operate within 10KHz of the run station without ill effect.  With all FLEX radios, I was able to do the same thing within about 2KHz...both of us sitting side by side running 1500W.   Either lab measured or operated in the field, FLEX has the lowest phase noise and consequently, the cleanest transmitter on the air.  Neither Icom, Yaesu or Kenwood are as clean as the Elecraft or FLEX.
  That being said, the performance of these two American brands has brought pressure to bear upon the other three to improve and they are indeed improving.  Competition is a good thing!
  FLEX presently enjoys a substantial performance lead over the field.  That brings us to ergonomics.  Here, I like my Yaesu better.  I have always disliked the imprecise and klunky feel of touch screens in everything!  Humans function best with tactile feedback.  And as a contester/DXer, I want all controls immediately accessible on the front panel...no nested menus!  Menus are great for configuration but lousy for operation.
  I know others who disagree with some of my observations and that is OK with me as I have considerable respect for them.
  
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Don, It will be interesting to see your comments on V3 mostly the new Tx and Mic on the fly settings panels.
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Gary Schulz

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I must say that I also agree with the original poster... I have a 6700 and I like the general concept of the radio HW but the SW seems a bit uncooked. Almost like it is lagging behind what I think the ultimate capability of the HW is. This release doesn't do anything that would cause me to want to spend an additional $200 so I can't complain about the lack of features or polish! It does appear that whenever anyone says anything the least bit critical that the antibodies come out of the woodwork to protect the mother ship. No need in this case because I think it is an impressive product, but my background is in industrial/commercial wireless data products that cost at least as much as this consumer product and we never charge for SW upgrades even when they bring in new modulations and significant performance enhancements. Just my 2 cents...
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Right on!
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KD7CAO

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Spot on. I bought 4 Flex 6700 and Maestros with the understanding we had full remote capability at time of purchase. It took about a year longer to actually get v2. It was kinda better but not really what we wanted. My multiple critiques posted over the years has been met with flaming arrows. We were not hams buying radios but a government agency for Emergency Communications. Not sure we will buy yet another software upgrade. I was under the impression upgrades were going to be regular and free. Guess not.
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Really? Commercial company that does not charge for software upgrades, really
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Kevin

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Nothing more can be said that wasn't already covered above. I agree with the original poster and feel it's a poor selling point , that Flex feels they need to maintain proprietary software at such a cost with so little too gain for the average user.
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steven

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Scott,I’m in the same mind set. I put my money down at Dayton for a 6600 and the New App. Also paid for the extended warranty. I’ve had the radio maybe 14 months now upgrade charges. Would have been nice for a discount? I will say with all said my experience with support has been outstanding. Maybe if we knew of a annual charge it would not seem So over the top.
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James Del Principe

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Software, by its very nature, is never static unless a manufacturer gives up on the product. There is always a possibility of making improvements or adding features - some with value to the customer and some marginal. I worked in medical x-ray for 43 years with a major manufacturer of cardiac labs that started at 1.2 megabucks. When they became software based, there was an effort to make a new release every 6 months...a mistake to be sure and that fell by the wayside.   But, big improvements were made over the years and some amazing things were created.  Some we gave away (mostly bug fixes) and some we charged. That's the nature of the software beast.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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This Topic/Debate has been around since 2012 when Flex first announced an annual $200 software maintenance fee. That quickly changed from annual to Version fee which come out every 2 years or so

HAMS ARE CHEAP. ANYTHING OTHER THAN FREE IS TOO MUCH.

The issue is that Flex unlike Sony is a tiny company with a small product base over which it can amortize costs of software development. Hence the need for a fee.

Interestingly enough, in spite of the disappointment expressed by a small number of vociferous users of V3 , multi client as delivered in V3.0 was by far the most asked for new feature requested
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Howard I think your wording in this reply has been around for just as long. Don't you have anything better to say or assume that because I'm a ham I'm cheap? Remember what they say about assuming.

I have to call BS on your last statement, I think the number of disappointed users is larger than you think and where exactly did Flex ask what the most requested feature should be? I don't remember getting a call or email or seeing anything regarding Multi client. I would have never voted multi client as the most wanted new feature.
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Burt Fisher

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I do agree hams are cheap and I am cheaper than most hams. 
V3.0 multi client was by far the most asked for new feature requested? You know this how?
Look at the comments in this thread, look at the likes. The community usually kisses up to Flex and Howard you are one of the more active cheerleaders. It is rare for there to be the kind of discord expressed in this thread in the community. You really think this is a small number of vociferous users ? I wonder how many upgraded 3.x compared to 2.x.  The fee for 2.x was a bargain, not at all so with 3.x.
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Pat N6PAT

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@Howard,

I certainly don't recall asking for MultiFlex. Exactly how many customers did ask for that particular feature?
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Dave - W6OVP

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>HAMS ARE CHEAP. ANYTHING OTHER THAN FREE IS TOO MUCH.

I think this old saw is mostly a false flag. Happy Hams spending $200 are not cheap. It's when they are unhappy at not being listened to or feel they have been short-changed they complain. They are not "cheap".
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Gene - K3GC

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I would spend $200 in a heartbeat if it gave me anything I want.  V3 gives me nothing but it does leave plenty of bugs that have been there for years.
I actually researched the Apache offerings.  Their hardware is very impressive but the software is worse than Flex.
Oh well, the one thing we can depend on is the marketplace.  If there is a hole someone will fill it.  Flex are you listening?
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Duane, AC5AA

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You wrote it off in the original post, but if you didn't want what the new release offered, why did you buy it?  Another fine radio company, which used to reside in Tennessee, made the mistake of offering DSP based (heavily software derived) radios and FREE upgrades.  Pretty soon everybody wanted many different things - too many to try to develop at once.  They offered updates, more complaints because, as happens, bugs creep in while adding code.  Update after update, and no income stream - but everyone wanted new stuff.  That operating model surely didn't do that fine radio company any good.  And now it is gone, for all intents and purposes.  You or I may disagree with what Flex decides is important for their next release of software, but telling you what is in the release and allowing you to choose whether to purchase it or not is not a failing - it's a strong point.  Perhaps more research on what customers want prior to defining contents of a release would help, but the purchase model is one that will help sustain the company.  Something we all want.

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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Duane, why did I buy it? I don't think I wrote off the reason, more so it isn't relative. But since you ask. Because I can. While at this time I don't have a good use case for multi client I still like to see what it's about, how it works and what all the hype was about. I'm different than others in that I like to upgrade to the latest whatever. I guess it's curiosity. Also what was my option, really. Don't upgrade and have an outdated version for the rest of the time I own this radio? Never move ahead because I don't like something? I purchased the Flex because of the software updates and all that it can be. I'm just disappointed. I'm fully aware of the Ten Tec story but I doubt it was all because of free software. I agree, there should be more customer input on new features. Or at least a good way of passing on the ideas.
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Duane, AC5AA

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Just a quick comment - if you don't upgrade to Ver 3, you're not stuck forever.  I believe Flex is going to offer an update for 2.x to cover some bugs (don't know about any new features), and when Ver 4 comes up, if it has content you want, just upgrade to that for $199, assuming that's still the upgrade price.  You'll get Ver 3 and Ver 4 contents then.  Simple.
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Yeah that’s true Duane. I’m just a sucker for new software and updates. I like the experience and knowing what it’s about. That way I can be a better mentor to someone interested and be able to discuss it knowing first hand. While expensive I guess in that regard it was worth it.
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Leo Nessing

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Duane,
Ten-Tec stopped releasing new products because of greed and company stripping of assests not because of free updates.  Ten-Tec  just released another update for the Eagle this year.  There may be ashes in Severville, but they are smoldering.
Leo NK8L
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Kuby, N6JSX

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Scott you're a breath of fresh air vs. the zealots that worship all things FLEX. All to often I see sound meaningful critical viewpoints harshly ripped (as you will be soon).  I've had 3K & 5K and got a 6300 ~8mo ago - it is still in the box, why?

Well here is where FLEX fails newbies - WHERE are the easy HOW-TOO setup vid's or PPT in setting up our 6K on the specific OS / PC & Network? Then all the other stuff that is needed to make the 6K's sing - virtual this or that, extra pgm this or that, add on hardware this or that, special OS mods to do this or that?

There are NO newbie SIMPLE 'quick-to-air mode' to any of the programs.
Such as a less featured bare-basic mode that will take a newbie one-step at a time growing you into your large radio investment - notta.Then a vid on HOW-TOO add each special extra program(s) letting the 6K's sing louder and better - notta.     

Just after getting my 6300 they came out with V3 that will cost me even more - that is a complete turn off to me and why I never bought into HRD. Besides I don't give a rats about sharing my station with anyone and so far that is what V3 is all about. If I'm wrong then FLEX is doing a piss poor job of educating newbies - one-line brevity does not always educate.  Plus with all the MSGs flying about V3 this week it reminds me of MS-Windows and why you always wait +4mo AFTER the first Service Pack comes out before upgrading/buying - or suffer their poor QA.

So my 6300 sits in its box as I just don't have the desire to take on another technical struggle just to key-up the darn radio. I'll continue with my simpler, easier, no frills IC-9100 (that has 2m/70cm), until "FLEX" creates REAL support and not by just tapping their worshiping guru's.  
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@kuby

While Flex Radio's may not be appropriate for those who are computer challenged, there are many videos both on the Flex site and on YouTube

GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND

Here are but a few aimed at Newbies from the Flex site

https://www.flexradio.com/videos-flex-6000/ 

Youtube

https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+flexradio&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:IE-Se...=


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Delbert McCord

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I have a 6400 sitting in the box. I have owned it almost a year. I purchased it to back up my 6300's with fan issues. I opened the box once and learned they changed the mic connectors (yes I did not spend time reading everything about the rig before I purchased it, I purchased it before it was ready, like 4 months before). So back in the box it went and I put the 6300 back until the cable came and when it came I was busy. It sat in the box for another 4 months before I had the down time to play with it. It would not work at all installing the software. Computer would not communicate with it (same computer that has been working fine with the 6300. I called Flex and I can not say enough good about them! They connected with my computer and made some changes and it worked. While on the phone with them I learned some of the first 6400's made had a problem and needed to be sent in for correction. They paid the shipping both ways and I did not have to pay for the repair. (I got stuck paying 175$ for the fan problem with the 6300). So back in the box the 6400 went and shipped back to Flex. They had it back to me in a week! Fantastic but guess what, its still in the box. I am not excited to connect it because I just do not need the hassle. I guess it will sit there until the fans die in the 6300 again. I only use the 6300 anymore to check into a net. I do not leave it on very long at one time because I do not want to cause another fan failure. I believe that the Flex rigs have the BEST receivers out there or at least the best I have ever used (coming from Kenwood 2000, ICOM 756 ProIII). I do not mind paying for a software upgrade I do not need the remote or multiple people using it because at this point I am gun shy of leaving it on because of the heat/ fan issues I had and may have again. I may buy the upgrades and just not install them because I do want Flex to make money so they will be there for many more years down the road. 
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Doug

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You don't need a Flex, you  need something with one knob no menu's and no computer hookup. My suggestion to you is sell your Flex's off for your own peace of mind. Honestly I am not being critical of you, but to me it's crystal clear you don't need the frustration of owning a Flex. 
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Gene - K3GC

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Actually fans tend to last longer when they run 24/7.  There are several threads to that effect in this forum.  The annual cost of doing this is far cheaper than the replacement of even one fan.  As I recall the cost of running my 6500 24/7 is something on the order of $17 per annum AND you don't have to wait for it to boot.
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Craig Williams

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Every bad fan I had in enything had a bearing failure. Bearings fail due to run time. If you are done with your stuff for the day, turn it off!
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Michael McGinty

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I’ve been a software engineer since computers had vacuum tubes. Flex has not done a great job of running their software projects since they started. The 5000 software was so poor they abandoned it. Fortunately the open source community rescued it and turned it into a pretty good program. I had hoped that the experience might have shown Flex what is possible when you open up the software to the community. Sun bought a poor Unix office product and released it to open source. It’s now LibreOffice, a great software product. Sun might still be around if listened to it’s customers and become more open. They had good ideas and good severs, but they had arrogant management that cost them their leadership of the Internet and their company.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Michael.. I too have been working with computers since 1958.

BUT you have your history of Flex a bit backwards. 

Flex developed the original open source software PowerSDR and supported it for free for years.  Unfortunately for Flex they made the investment which basically benefited their competitors who spent no money on software development.  When Flex stopped working on PowerSDR it languished for a long while until a single developer took up the cause.


To better leverage their investment, Flex, like Apple iPhone, decided that the new product SSDR would be proprietary.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Flex did not stop support for PSDR because it was poor, they wanted an intire new direction. PSDR was not and still not able to do what Flex wanted to do going foreward. PSDR is Geralds creation.
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Michael McGinty

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Apple system software is based on open source software. OSX and iOS is based on Berkeley (BSD) Unix macro kernel version taken proprietary because they could. Jobs based NEXT and OSX on BSD Unix because it was free and had a large core of developers behind it. The main programming language for Apple is Objective C which is open source. Carbon, the great Graphic UI is derived from Xwindows which is open source. Apple owes its existence to open source software. They could never have afforded to develop this great product on their own. Their new modern programming language, Swift, is open source. The best software for the Apple is open source and they rely on independent developers for almost all the great apps on their iPhone. Why must Flex do it all themselves. Open it up and let us help.
Regards,
Mike W6MVM
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Sorry Michael, SSDR will never be open sourse.
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James Whiteway

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Flex has made their API's open to all interested parties. While it won't give you access to SmartSDR (the PC client) it allows you to create external programs that can work alongside SSDR. And with MultiFlex, you can now use the GUI elements(Panadapter and Waterfall) of any panadapters etc. that are not in use by SSDR (or in the case of the M models, the front panel of the radio). In fact, if you want to, you can create your own Stand alone client that can use all the radio's current features that are available thru the api's.
  Personally, I don't want direct access to the internal firmware of the radio. Developing that sort of software is challenging and could be problematic. I'm happy with being able to create my own version of SSDR if i so desire. There are some here that have even ported the FlexLib api's to LInux. (which he has never wanted to share since, it would be a support nightmare for one person. And there was at one time, a ported to iOS a version of the  FlexLib api's as well. (I don't know if that is shared anymore or not as I have not been much of a fan of Apple products)
So, Flex has made a lot of info available and there is plenty of people on this forum that are willing to help someone wanting to roll their own software.
It would be, in my opinion, a mistake for FRS to open up all of SSDR (both the client and the firmware in the radio) to third parties. If people complain about issues with SSDR now, (and there are several things that need attention) imagine FRS trying to determine if an issue with SSDR is something they did or that of someone releasing an offshoot of SSDR. For a small company like FRS, it would be a support nightmare.
James
WD5GWY
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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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I will never understand the resistance to trying to hold Flex to a better standard. Those people complaining are the same ones that are still paying up to $7000 for new radios and $100/yr average for software and hoping that, for the money, they will be heard and some of their issues will be addressed.

Are you hearing that there are people out there that just want old problems fixed?

Then the cheerleaders - what are they saying?
  • You don't have to buy it! Yet if you don't...
  • You should be supporting all the good Flex and company have done! Yet when you do...
  • You shouldn't complain because you bought it and you knew what you were getting into.
Well guys, when I buy something I feel vested. I feel like I have a say. Don't make useless comparisons to cars, software or anything else out there. Flex has created this ugly situation and it seems quite unique in the market. Great hardware, lousy software (or old, or tired, or focused on the few, whatever) and you need to pay up AND shut up? NO ALTERNATIVE.

Get off the high horse and let Flex answer for themselves and maybe grow in the doing. If the most requested feature in the past two years has been multi (I have serious doubts), and this is what Flex comes up with, then everyone should be upset.

Bill... no need.

73,
Kev N4TT


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Kuby, N6JSX

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So, guru, you're telling us that FLEX did not do their market research well when creating the 3/5/6.3/6.5/6.7 ?

"
using the knobs on the Maestro and M series as a mirror control surface for SSDR"

Did FLEX not learn any lessons from TenTec - and the first SDR 'Pegasus' (that I still have) later to become the knobbed 'Jupiter' ?

Now you really have me concerned about FLEX. 

FYI, when I saw that FLEX required 1394/Firewire port I knew that 3K/5K products were doomed (I just never thought FLEX would kick them off the cliff so FAST). If for no other reason than few if any PC MFG's would carry Firewire ports into their future models.
6K's had to go to an on board CPU (with proprietary firmware (to keep their lock)) as the Firewire speed could not accommodate any expansions. The 3K/5K got them setup for the big contracts getting them to 6K's. Hey, it's just business.  

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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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Sorry guys... my conspiracy theory post was meant in fun. The alpha/beta part was a bit more serious.
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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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I'm curious where this shadow list of most-requested features exists if not here in the community. I wonder if that other list might show multi as #1 because nobody else knows about that list? Maybe it's an Alpha list?

Can someone check the shadow list and let us know what to expect in V4? I can't wait to hear what's the next most wanted.

Kev
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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NDA
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Pat N6PAT

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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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I think this is a valid view (after all, it came from someone who bought and uses the product!). One of the reasons this community is so valuable is that it allows customers to directly (and politely) give feedback to Flex. The people there do care about how the customer feels and will read it. Thanks for taking your time to document it.
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Burt Fisher

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Bottom line, did a single person say 2.x wasn't worth it? Hams will vote with their feet, they will walk away.
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James Eastham Jr

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I’m hoping Flex will add more enticing features to V3 ....the multi op feature is not of interest to me. If they add something else I might be tempted. What would really be disappointing is having V3 stay the same (except bug fixes of course) and then along comes V4 with something I really like and I have to have V3 already installed. I ran a training software company before I retired. Product development is a wonderful thing for customers but customer satisfaction and loyalty is Equally important. From what I’m reading V3 May be a real tax on the considerable loyalty satisfaction level Flex has earned. The bad press had clearly started and coupled with the PGXL debacle FLEX needs to tread carefully. I hope the revenue from V3 is worth the cost.
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James Whiteway

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You can skip versions. For instance if you have V1.x and didn't want V2.x or V3.x, and along comes V4.x, you can purchase it (when it's available) and have all of the features and bug fixes from previous versions.
The only reason I have V2.49 is because I traded my 6500 in for a 660M when they were announced. If I still had the 6500 and the Maestro I had, I may very well still be on V1.x as I really have no need or desire for SmartLink.
I do plan to purchase V3,,,,,,after V2.50 comes out and I can see if some features and bugs that are currently in V2.49 are finally addressed. And the reason for V3 purchase is because I want Multi-Client so one of my home made apps can have a full GUI display ( Panadapter and waterfall) alongside SSDR or the display on the M model radio. I have no interest otherwise in V3 for sharing my radio.
I'm a long haul trucker and when I'm not home, the radio is disconnected along with the antenna. (don't need a lightening strike to take out expensive equipment)
James
WD5GWY
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Bill -VA3WTB

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James, one of the big problems for me is that you can't hear the other client transmit audio from the radio. Not at this time, if they soon allow that them I do have a need for V3.
I am in a group most mornings, a few of the people I can't hear, I want to log onto one of them so I can hear eveyone because he can. But when he transmits I would not be able to hear him, nor would he hear me. That is holding me back at this point.
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James Whiteway

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Bill, I see what you are saying now. At first I was thinking you wanted to hear the audio from a second client using your radio as you were using it at the same time.
That might well be something that Flex can add/refine in a point release in the near future. I can see where it would be useful in the case you described.
My only want for Multi-Client is to allow me to play and compare my app(s) with SSDR running at the same time. (and have my app have a full GUI as well) I was told when I mentioned this a few years ago that would require a multi client feature like the  Radio Server that the radios are supposed to be. And that was before SmartLink
was released. So, it's finally shown up. But, as I stated, I'm holding out for v2.5 in hopes of seeing some improvements in things I feel are not working up to their full potential. (and you know what that is!)
 Hopefully, v2.5 won't be long in coming. And, hopefully, it will contain improvements to many current issues. I know several people besides myself, that will be very happy when FRS finally addresses these issues.
James
WD5GWY
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Homer1952

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Hope Flex names the update 2.5 vs 2.95. 
- Bob W8RMV
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Pat N6PAT

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One thing is clear. With each new version released the division between satisfied customers and unsatisfied customers is getting more clearly defined.

One point in particular stands out - ops that purchase upgrades not for the features but to just support Flex. I wonder how much they "donate" to Kenwood or ICOM?

Flex radios are just radios and not a portal to Heaven. I refuse to bow down before my 6700 or offer up a sacrificial goat no matter how many lighting bolts it tosses at me.

.










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Delbert McCord

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I support Flex because its an American company. I have owned many ICOM's and I like their equipment but its not American. I am American, I try and support Americans even when I am not always happy with them.
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Pat N6PAT

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I'm starting up my own American company as a professional blogger . How much should I put you down for?
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Bill -VA3WTB

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News Alert!! I am not buying V3 either. My staion operation will not benefit from it. But I am not going to complain about, it's just not for me.

But I will say congrats to Flex for a release that puts Flex ahead of the competition again. This is no small feat, very complicated to pull this off.

For the remainder of V3 I would expect Flex to continue building on Multi client and allowing it to do even more things.
Nice thing is I can maybe buy V4 and get V3 as well under one price.

That's about all I want to say, A few people here are venting their anger at Flex and that's perfectly fine, why not? So continue as you were..lol.
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Pat N6PAT

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I just had to upgrade to windows 10 from 8.1 because they told me they are not supporting 8.1 any more.

Also, I was told that new releases are not tested on 8.1 - I don't know about windows 7
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Pat is right, It would be very hard for Flex to support a Windows version that is no longer supported by Microsoft. 8.1 fell into that catagory.
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ZENKI

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@Bill, you may want to make sure you know your facts before making authoritative statements.

Windows 8.1, just like Windows 8, is supported thru 1/10/2023.
(Edited)
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Lance Rasmussen

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Well... technically 8.0 and 8.1 are in extended support period where M$ is only doing security patches. They are not doing anything else to those OS's. Some software companies will begin to make moves when an OS reaches that point.
My software company usually will limit testing at that point and once they reach end of life we no longer test against or tech support customers on those OS's.
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Burch - K4QXX

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Microsoft might be supporting 8.1 for a few more years but some software companies are not.  I work at a CPA firm and our tax software is only supporting Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and 2019 after November of this year.  I have a bunch of 2012 R2 servers to get upgraded this summer.
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Russ Ravella

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I've got a slightly different take on this so I thought I'd throw it in with the others.  Given the size of the company I'm actually ok with paying for the upgrades under one very strong condition.  And that's that Flex uses the revenue to provide the s/w improvements the customers paying for it really want.

In my case, I actually would have voted for the remote capability in V2 and MultiFlex in V3 as my first choices.  I use my 6600 remotely a lot and I've already integrated MultiFlex into my workflow (there were some important bug fixes in V3 as well).  Coupled with some neat things in FRStack, it's pretty cool.

But the DSP functionality is in desperate need of work and has been for a long time.  It seems to me that should be the LAST thing customers routinely say about Flex radios.  And it seems to me that nothing could benefit Flex sales and customer satisfaction more than being able to honestly advertise:

 "By far the best DSP in the Industry"

and they're definitely not there yet.  And based on lots of postings here, it seems clear it's the feature/ improvement that paying upgrade customers want most.  I'm hoping Flex is going to focus on that next.  It seems obvious that they should and given that the entire signal chain is accessible within software, very smart and experienced people with the resources paid upgrades and lots of sales should provide could achieve that if Flex set their minds to it.

Also, it seems obvious that voicing the desire for it everywhere possible including in this forum is necessary to get their attention - which us customers don't seem to have yet.  However, I've got to say I find the "anti fan boy" population on this forum almost identical to the "fan boy" population, only in reverse.  It's like two flavors of the same thing.  It seems the exact same people show up everywhere on the internet no matter what the topic is.  You'd think we'd eventually learn to focus on the arguments and not each other but that doesn't appear to be human nature.  Anyway, that's my contribution - flame away...
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Lawrence Gray

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Scott,

You are expressing the frustrations with Flexradio that many Flex owners have expressed over the five years I have owned a Flex.

It interesting that so many Flex owners seem to verbally attack anyone who dares to point out an area of relatively poor performance, software bugs, or any issue viewed as negative commentary.

I operated an electronics company that built sophisticated, firmware driven products. I am an EE and have a PhD. I have a fair understanding of the development and updating cycle. I also have a fair understanding of providing customer support to worldwide customer base. When our customers pointed out areas that needed improvement, bugs, or asked for changes, we listened—we did not adopt a defensive posture. We learned a lot from our customers that resulted in better products and increased sales. In my opinion, Flexradio has not learned this lesson.

I have an ACOM amplifier. It failed in a manner that indicated a design issue. I contacted the factory in Bulgaria, exchanged a few technical emails, and they paid to have the amp returned to Bulgaria, completely updated it, and returned to me. No defensive behavior, just great customer service.

I have commented on the poor DSP functionality at some length over a few years, as have many others. I have willingly paid for the V2 and V3 major updates, assuming that some of these long standing issues would eventually be fixed. Apparently, customer inputs do not carry much weight in the Flexradio development process.

I own a Flex-1500 and a Flex-6500. The 1500 has better NR. I have owned an ANAN 100D and an ANAN 7000DLE Mkll. Both have far better recovered audio and cleaner transmit audio than my Flex-6500. This is interesting to me, as the ANAN uses open source firmware and software, written on a part-time basis by volunteers.

I like my 6500. I use it everyday and I use the remote and iPad features. It is a good radio, but it would be so much better if Flexradio adopted a more customer focused update process and addressed the long standing issues customers have repeatedly requested to be fixed.

Larry, W1IZZ
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Homer1952

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To add to your comments Larry, I already paid for the less than world class DSP in my 6400.  So any improvements to the DSP should be as free UPDATES, not via paid UPGRADES.

Bob  W8RMV
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Homer1952

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To expound further, I guess the thing about V3 that upsets me the most, is that Flex spent all the time & effort on a feature that is useless to me & many other owners.  Instead they could have worked on the DSP to the benefit of ALL owners.
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Don

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I purchased my 6600 with my eyes wide open.  I understood what I was paying for.  I understood what would be free and what would involve a charge.  I expect both sides of the agreement to be honored...nothing more, nothing less.  An increase in my expectations would be unreasonable.  I downloaded and payed for V3.  It offers features that are useful to me.  I had been looking forward to it.  If it offered nothing of interest to me, I probably would have passed on it.  There were no surprises in this transaction.  I do not feel taken advantage of.  I am not a mouthpiece for FLEX.  That is their marketing departments job.  Just my observations.
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Burt Fisher

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That was well stated.
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Pat Hamp

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As someone who works for a software driven hardware company I can tell you this is a dilemma many companies face. You build hardware with a software/firmware platform and its sort a catch 22 because you first have to fix errors and make the hardware operate as promised, then of course comes the improvements where you essentially make no profit if you don't charge something for them. Programmers do not work for free, and thus the smaller the company the more critical overhead becomes. We all want new features, and if we had to buy hardware for them, AKA a new radio, we would groan but ante up. Is 199 a fair price? The market is actually in the process of determining that right here right now. I have been pleased with Flex support and the 6300 I own, and would hope they survive in the market to support it into the future. At some point once I see a rev of V3 that addresses some things, I am willing to pay something because I see value in the product as is and hopefully in the future. In the end each person has to make a value-cost judgement and we as owners will have to live with the company going forward or not. This just some observations having seen companies come and go and live by the market forces they actually create. It is in the end up to each owner to value or not.
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KF4HR

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I suspect Sony just might have a few more employees and products than Flex, so perhaps Sony can afford to give away software upgrades, along with the man hours required to development the software, documentation, etc, and all that easily gets absorbed into Sony's massive company profits.  (Save that.)

Rather than having the option to spend $199 on a software upgrade perhaps Flex should adapt the policy that ICOM, Yaesu and others use.  No more long term software enhancements but instead just supersede the 6400/6600/6700 models with a whole new radio every 2 or 3 years.  And like ICOM and the rest, no trade-ins.

Some people don't know when they have it good.
(Edited)
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KF4HR

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What are you talking about!

Ah, the newbees.  Yes, ICOM does provide an occasional software update, but odds are the IC-7300 will be superseded by the IC-7310 in a couple of years.  Consider these superseded models:

IC-706, IC-706II, IC-706IIG
IC-756, IC-756Pro, IC-756Pro2, IC-756Pro3
IC-7600, IC-7610
IC-7800, IC-7850, IC-7851

... and on and on.
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Homer1952

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Exactly...kinda like the Flex 1000, 1500, 3000, 5000, 5000A, 6300  and on & on & on...
Ah, the oldies....
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ZENKI

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The newbie first purchased a Flex 5000A only to find out that it is useless as a serious CW rig. In an act of desperation the newbies purchased a 5000C thinking that the embedded PC will make a difference.

A few years later the newbie purchased a 6500. Disappointed again. Last try- a 6600.

All along the way the newbie made over 50,000 QSOs annually and qualified more than once for WRTC. Thank God for his K3, Pro III, and 7610 (plus Acom 2000a amplifiers) that never skipped a beat.
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KF4HR

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Exactly...kinda like the Flex 1000, 1500, 3000, 5000, 5000A, 6300  and on & on & on...

Yes, only two generations.  And each had a fairly long term period of improving software upgrades, PowerSDR and SmartSDR. 

To compare.  Is there any chance ICOM is working on a firmware upgrade for say... the IC-7600?  Probably not as the last update was nearly four years ago.  So if someone had an urge to update their IC-7600, the cost is $3,000, the IC-7610.

I like the fact that all Flex 6xxx series transceivers, even some models that are no longer being sold, are still enjoying software support and periodic improvements.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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KF4HR,,there's a point!! even my old discontinued 6500 still gets all the updates if I want them,,,heck even my Flex 3000 has had tons of updates to PSDR thanks to Derin. What's not to like..?  That is really hard to beat.
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Pat N6PAT

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I would like to see Flex set up an online form to allow customers to request the features and bug fixes they want and allow all customers to view the results.Then everyone can see if Flex is really offering the features and bug fixes that the majority of customers are asking for.

If anyone agrees with my suggestion then please press Like - that includes Flex employees.


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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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There is no mysterious list of proposed features to my knowledge. The guys do an incredible amount of customer communication (I actually do not know a single person in the company that doesn't talk with a customer every week.  Tim, Eric and the rest of engineering work on all trouble tickets and monitor this community. Shipping, repair, Lori Hicks, Matt Youngblood, Steve Hicks, Abed, etc. etc. On top of this, they attend almost every major hamfest and major conventions. Gerald spends an incredible amount of time working with major customers. You may not agree with their priorities but they have their finger on their market.

I am a developer (and former Director of IT at a major network) and I just have never seen a formal feedback process that isn't open to this type of criticism. Remember that this is a very small company without many products to support a misstep on one product line. These guys are basically betting their paychecks on getting things right. I have seen the stress and attention to detail surrounding major releases of software and hardware.

This community is functioning basically the way it should: provide feedback. The guys at Flex are doing the best possible with the resources they have. Lets just step back a bit, let V3 play its course and see where things lead. I am not suggesting snarky dialog back and forth.  We are adults (heck most of us are grandparents!), plus we are talking to people with the same desires and interests we have. Stay constructive and let Tim work on his ticket load and do ham fests instead of moderating the community!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Phil, it is fee based option now. you look at it, if it does not apeal to you then don't buy it. Why would anyone buy an new version knowing it does not improve your station, why? And if you do, then stop complaining. Their are lots of people still using V1 and are very happy with things as is. Their is no preasure to buy,,,none.

The bottom line is, the busness model has been very successfull for Flex.
New versions will not be free.

Some time ago Gerald wrote a long explaination as to how features and bugs are sellected for a release. There are hundreds of things that come into play in deciding this, And Flex is very aware that they just can't please everyone.

Also there is nothing wrong with anyone commenting negatively on the community, they should. However some feel that their comments reflect the vast majority of customers and I really question that.

Keep in mind that people commenting here have no skin in the game, we don't have the company to run, people to pay, we are just customers. And we have no say in the choices Flex makes, in anything. Some think because they buy a product that they have some say, sorry,,nope.

Flex has their finger on the customer pulse, even though at times it does not seem like it, but they do. They read here when time permits, Gerald talks to hundreds of customers at shows, looks at emails. They hear us, I think It is just silly to say they have no idea.

Phil, all these comments were not directed to you, some of them were general comments.
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Phil Stephenson

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You obviously have no understanding of product features and release management. I was NOT complaining I merely pointed out an option that is a software approach that is a quite common practice among software vendors.
Of course, as a consumer, I always have the last right of refusal. I understand the value and cost of production of development efforts and understand Flex needs to recover its engineering effort. I haven't seen a major software release from any vendor that contains so few significant changes and I suspect others have come to the same conclusion rightly or wrongly.

Your conclusions about my post do not characterize it properly and clearly you didn't understand it I qualified that I did not know Flex's user profiles and therefore revenue model but it is apparent from all the negative comments that a substantial number of users don't find value in the new release so the market will determine the winner or loser.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Phil, I'm sorry, did you not read the last line?
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Michael McGinty

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The problem with this approach is you must have the latest version if you want the latest bug fixes. Many of us will pay for it for this reason only. If this functionality was an added feature to a strong base software, then we could skip buying it.
Regards,
Mike W6MVM
(Edited)
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James Del Principe

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Which would probably reduce the number of people purchasing the newest release.
In my past career, we offered bug fixes to previous releases which is what I would like to see. I know this would take an effort but if a feature is sold but does not work properly, it needs to be resolved. I don't need releases 2 or 3 and if I did buy them, it still would not improved the DSP which is all I'm asking for.