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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N5LB - Lionel B

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What is the link to the. “Mythical” list of user wants? There should be a big bright flashing link on this site.

The DSP improvement thread has been covered before, but, yes the NB needs some work. My old TS850 NB1 and NB2 knocked the tar out of typical in band noise. The Flex NB could do better but I have nothing else current to compare. NR works on some signals but at the cost of desired audio. Needs work. WNB being.a different animal, I don’t know what to think, sometimes it works great, others - nothing.

Been covered before.

It seems like the entire suite of NR, NB, WNB could stand upgrading if the hardware will support. Someone posted the impression that post processing audio with an outboard box (bhi?) was more effective than V2 SSDR. That doesn’t feel right.

But, this has been over flogged for a long time.

I really like my 6400 and hope for some upgrades, regardless I’ll stick with my Flex.

Like many, I have not found a compelling reason to upgrade to V3, though I am looking for one.
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Jay / NO5J

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Lionel

I'm pretty sure that link is on the website.

https://community.flexradio.com/Flexradio 

You just posted to it.

Use it wisely.

     SDRgadgets

#FlexRadio IRC Chat

   73, Jay - NO5J

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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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We're in The Twilight Zone.
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Pat N6PAT

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LOL!!
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Lance Rasmussen

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I think some of the misconception is that the Flex is just simply a firmware only device. It's actually two parts. The software on the radio and the software for the computer.
Compared to the cost of the radio, the cost of the V3 upgrade is reasonable. If paying to help assure development continues is what is needed, so be it. I have the choice as a consumer to not purchase the upgrade if I dont feel the upgrade is worth it, being it new features or bug fixes.
You compare the tiny little company called Sony to the tiny company called Flexradio., with one making photography equipment and the other making amateur radio. My guess is there is a magnitude of consumers far more than amateur radio operators. I can be pretty safe in assuming the team size of developers for one company is far more than the other. Not to mention, one is focusing on a small degree of focuses (no pun intended) than the other.
I've had way to many pieces of equipment where I would have loved to spend a couple hundred for upgrades vs having to do a full replacement. And the advantage of software defined radio is that it provides that opportunity.
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Roger J. Buffington

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I was reading through these comments and the last one was Lance's.  He stole my thunder because I totally agree with him.  This is a Software Defined Radio.  By definition its major strength is that it can be significantly improved--for many years-- by revised software.  Like it or not, no ham radio manufacturer could ever afford to do this development for free.  $200?  It's a restaurant bill or two or three.  It's nothing!  Oh sure, Flex could have charged an extra $1,000 or more for the original hardware in order to provide for future updates being paid for in the purchase price.  They probably would have gone out of business, too, because most hams would not have understood that they were paying not just for a hunk of hardware but also future updates.  So cheaper, essentially "frozen-in-place" foreign made legacy radios would have put Flex out of business.  Like has happened to other American radio manufacturers.
Sure you can buy a foreign-made legacy radio with lots of shiny knobs -- that will basically stay the same forever.  You can buy a Flex and not pay for the new-integer updates.  Personally I appreciate being able to make a choice, and for me the choice will very likely always be to buy the upgraded software.  Frankly, I feel lucky that I am in a position to make that choice.  You don't get that choice with most of the competition.  Sorry if I sound like a Flex fanboy, but that's how I see it.

de Roger W6VZV

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Roger, did you buy V3?
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Roger J. Buffington

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Yes.  The first day it was available.
de Roger W6VZV
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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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Elecraft regularly provides software updates at no cost. The updates add new features and fix bugs. They have other issues but nobody is complaining about their responsiveness, openness, or added features. Eric's and Wayne's open participation and mediation on their mail list is a breath of fresh air. Betas are for all to test. I seem to remember a recent thread, partially instigated by one of the owners, asking what we would like in a new (hardware) version. I have little doubt that every one of the comments are being reviewed by Elecraft. They engender that much confidence. An Elmer there is someone that really helps others with setups and issues (Ken NM9P is our shining light in this community) instead of the typical Flex Elmer / Champion / Cheerleader found here. Look at some of the dismissive comments that come from those with "Elmer" in their signature.

Here: little inside participation in the community (hey Mike, it's a huge job), little collaboration with the community, hidden agendas, high tension discussions, divided users (not just different focus but actually us vs. them), long term issues either not acknowledged or not fixed. The best we get from the inside is a lecture or an excuse. Most common, silence.

The comparison simply points out the difference between two companies with generally similar products and their respect for their customers beyond the paycheck.

What is really telling is how long this has all been going on. The current discussions are repeats of previous discussions years old now. Why? Because people just like complaining?

As for significant improvement for many years... that's a promise I've not really heard voiced by Flex. Yep, we can infer that if it is software then it can be upgraded but I think the typical lifespan of a desktop computer is 3 years. Hams hold on longer but that's on the ham, not a commitment by the company. I guess you could say that if they release something significant once every 2 years then maybe these radios can last a long time. On the other hand, there are people out there using an EF Johnson Viking Ranger... probably not because of the new features being added.

I think there's a lot more that needs to be fixed than the stuff we talk about in these threads. What we're seeing here is the frustration from inaction and apparent unconcern for the ham radio customer base.

Multi? Most asked for feature?

73,
Kev N4TT
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Michael McGinty

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Kev has a point here. The base software not being improved. Features that most of us don’t need are being added at the expense of bug fixes and features every one can use.
Why not maintain and improve the base software, version 1 or maybe version 2 and sell the enhancements as options added to a solid base product. Everyone would benefit from the fixes and features and those few who want multi- user could purchase it.
Modularity is a part of modern software development. A good, strong design can accommodate this, but I’m not sure Flex’s software team is up to it.
Regards,
Mike W6MVM
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Bill -VA3WTB

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How large would you say the Flex company is? take a guess.
If flex never came out with another update i would be just fine. Why?
Because my radio is just fine as it is. I may not buy V3 and who cares, my radio continues to perform tops either way.

It is not feasable for Flex to keep working on V1 and V2 indefinetly. The code is different in each. Not the man power to do that. So Flex moves ahead.
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Burt Fisher

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18 employees?
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James Del Principe

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Never the less, if a feature is offered but does not work, such as DSP, it needs to be resolved at any release level.
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WW1SS - Steve

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It's not gonna get fixed. We've been dealing with the crappy DSP and NB for years. Fixing it does not make the company any money. It is what it is so we have to live with it.
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Simon Nash

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I have recently been testing a Sunsdr2 pro alongside my Flex 6500 and have to say that the Expert Electronics software is much more refined and configurable. I have also discovered through real world testing that the DSP actually works, the NR is not that great but the NB1 and NB2 work perfectly without any menu tweaking. 
(Edited)
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Scott Russell - N1SER

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Simon, I've been using the SunSDR2 Pro since November as well and ESDR while it doesn't have multi client (not a big deal) it is a more refined and configurable software package. It's a free download and works without having the radio (you can launch it) and check it out. Perfect, no but nothing is. Once you use something like ESDR you realize how much is missing from SSDR.
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Tim N9PUZ

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I work in the Embedded Systems industry. Software is one of the most expensive components used in a product today. I don't have a strong opinion one way or another on whether there should be a charge for a major upgrade or they should be free forever. In fact, there is no feature I've discovered in Version 3 yet that got me excited. I upgraded solely because I bought the radio, with a few minor warts perhaps, recently enough that it was included in the price.

I'm amazed to see so many complaints about policies you were made aware of before you made your purchase. Vote with your wallets folks -- if you want lifetime free upgrades then refuse to purchase anything until they offer them. You'll either get them or you can buy another manufacturer's radio. Or, accept the conditions in place, write your check, and enjoy the Flex radio.
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KC2QMA_John

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 I too will pass on V3.0 as there doesn't seem to be any value in it for me at this time. Maybe a later version of 3.x will be more appealing?

I also would like to see significant improvements to the core of SSDR such as DSP (NB,NR,WBN) as well as improvements to the UI (User Interface) and other basic things like bugs/defects that not have been addressed since V1.0.

In my opinion $199 is very fair for software updates but I will not upgrade till I see some value in it for me.

On the “ Ham’s Are Cheap” comment I would hardly call spending up to $7000 on a radio and $7000 for a PGXL HF amp “Cheap”! And when you look at hard core contesters many will spend well over $100000.00 on their stations. So while some ham’s may be on a small budget other hams the sky is the limit. My guess is since contesters seem to be the big spenders FlexRadio caters to them.

I still love my 6600M and Maestro and will continue to enjoy it as it is today and look forward to a software update that is compelling enough to encourage me to upgrade.
(Edited)
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KC2QMA_John

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One final note, Although I did have some issues with my purchase of my new 6600M and Maestro, In the end not only did FlexRadio correct my problems they went above and beyond to restore my confidence in the company and for that I applaud them!
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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@Lionel B.

RE: "Don’t we vote on feature requests in the community? That’s the list of interest. Does it exist?"

Yes, there is an idea list here on the community.  You can add ideas to it, vote on ideas or just view it sorted by the number of community user votes.   There is also an internal FRS list of ideas we can't see or vote on.  FRS is of course free to decide which ideas on which list get priority.  Although some of the most popular user ideas have been on the community list for years, there is the hope that someday we'll start seeing some of them implemented. 

Regards,  Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com













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Ed - W2RF

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Al,

Thanks for the filter config. Very helpful. Makes the results useful!

73 Ed W2RF
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Kevin N4TT, Elroy

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Spend a little bit of time reviewing some of the old comments - both requests and responses. You may find nothing much has changed - including the players. You may find the same us vs. them split community and hands-off approach by Flex. it appears to me Flex has backed further away from the community instead of being more active. I'd go so far as to say there's no lack of hot-headed responses from all sides.

Something has to change. It's hard to maintain a community when we're not communicating.

One enlightening response from Flex is this analysis of their customers.
I genuinely appreciate your concern, which I also share.  We at FlexRadio are caught in a major dilemma.  We want to have an open forum but the downside of all social media is that it is very easy to cause hurt feelings either intentionally or unintentionally.  There are also those who live to stir things up or just like to be king of the hill.  There are those who have too much time on their hands or are lonely for attention.  There are those who simply take up too much bandwidth.  Some defend FlexRadio too much and some want to cause us harm and thus harm the entire community.  There are even some I can call by name who have for some reason dedicated the rest of their life to our demise.  This happens in all types of social media - not just ham radio.  However, it makes this job a lot less fun and a lot more challenging.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Kevin, nice find, I remember reading that a long time ago.
Many months ago I sent Flex an email that I sensed something happening to the community, they replied saying yes, we are making changes because some employees are best needed in another capacity.

I know I get in a lot of trouble on the community with those that complain a lot. It is not my intention to be a Fan Boy blinded bye the light, drinking cool- aid, ..and I know it sure must look that way. I know, I have been called all kinds of things. but I can tell all that we can all be part of this,,keeping information good information. I for one never mind criticle comments of Flex, it should continue I think, there is always a place for that. Let Flex know were they can improve, but it is all in how we say it.

What I try to do is help correct uninformed and just poor information that some people say out of frustration that becomes very misleading. But I get it, many feel that they are forgoten. I will many times repeat statements made By Flex to correct this. It is not done to shun people from commenting,,just to keep information in keeping with Flex policies. And reminding people of the Flex long term vision.

After I received this email I decided to try and help with this regard and I know how it comes accross at times, but I don't want this community to fail. it offers things not found in any other radio community anywere.
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N5LB - Lionel B

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Tnx
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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The purpose of the community is: 1, allow customers to help other customers on issues from new owners or owners exploring new areas (i.e., FT8); 2, customers helping out with work-arounds to problems experienced with a release; 3, Flex to monitor the ideas and tone of discussions surrounding their products. This is a moderated community so if the guidelines are being flaunted, Flex intervenes but as gently as possible. The dialogs are not emails to Flex. If you want that, send an email to Gerald, call them or open a trouble ticket.

I am not writing this to do anything other than explain my understanding of  the forum, not point a missile at anyone!
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Doug

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Why don't folks here GET IT. The 3.0 wasn't written for anyone but multi op contest people. Trying to make it anything else, trying to justify buying for any other reason is mute. This is why we have 2 pages on this topic and more to come until someone ends it. If you bought this software for any other reason WHY. Let this be a good lesson personally I didn't and don't see anywhere in the release notes where Flex made any false claims. But here we are at the altar trying to make it something it isn't that Flex never claimed it was. Nothing more, and nothing less. Please don't label me a Flex cheerleader I am anything but, but i can read and understand what something is and isn't.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Doug, can you remember the same conversations took place when V2 came out, nothing changes..lol

And just think, this V3 is just the begining. They will build on this release with all kinds of stuff. Multi Client is simply the first building block.

Example, if they come out with a way to monitor the client that is connected to you so both parties can be part of a group, that would be very usefull to me. In that way much more can be done outside of contesting.
I have a feeling Flex is on that right now already.
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Burt Fisher

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I don't remember any conversions like this on Version 2. Virtually all users could have use for its features. 
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Robert Lonn

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WOW, their are a lot of comments on this thread!!! I guess I need to go back to reading about the ICOM IC-7610 Display Problems, or the ICOM IC-9700 not having an external 10MHz input to maintain high stability!!!!! Those are real issues,, Not the $200 upgrade, that I have yet to install!! Flex is not twisting my arm, so in due time I will decided what is best for me..
Robert
Flex 6600M utilizing the 10 MHz input Lock...  :-) 
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James Del Principe

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Robert, the number of comments reflects just how strong people feel about this latest version. The fact that another manufacturer has had issues does not excuse the problems that uses feel concerning Flex. No one is twisting our arms but many feel this new release targets only a minority of users and does not address the items most owners want. In my case, I just want better DSP. That would suit my needs best. I don't begrudge others wanting remote or mulit-operator.   ....and, yes, I would pay to have my concerns resolved.
I'm sure you will enjoy your 6600M as it is a fine rig that will serve you well.   Jim
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Ross - K9COX

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Anyone out there ever spent $199 on a really good meal or a nice Hotel?
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WW1SS - Steve

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No and I never will . . . But I spent 200k to sleep in my own bed where ever we go.
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James Eastham Jr

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The question is will I have to spend 400 to get V 4 and get stuff I would want and also be forced to buy V3 which has nothing I want. Pay them now and/or pay them later I guess.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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James, to answer you question,,,you can chose to buy a later version if you want to, V4 for instance will be $199.00 and will give you everything in all the past versions.
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James Eastham Jr

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Now that is Good News. I have no problem buying software upgrades as long as they have features I want.