New Flex-2400M owner observations.

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I have had my 6400M for two weeks and I love the receiver.  Best noise mitigation I have encountered in a radio.  That said, I believe that Flex has missed the mark on a stand alone system.  
I agree with the QST review that the lack of front panel jacks(8 pin microphone, headphone, CW key) is a nuisance.  Others who have reviewed the M series have pointed this out.  There is plenty of room where the speaker grill is located and that can be moved over or bottom mounted.
CW operation may have been an after thought. Flex and Icom are the only major radio manufacturers who do not have a CW decoder installed.  I have an Elecraft KX3 and the decoder really helps when working a faster station in contests. I was surprised to hear a relay when operating CW.  I would have expected a solid state relay in a Flex. 
The need to use amplified speakers shows the computer mentality in the designers. I saw a recent add from Flex on the 3.0 release and it was stated "the radio is the software".  Yes, I agree,  but there is also the physical interface with the operator.  
One more question, where is the UTC clock?  There is plenty of space under the Menu box.
I consider my 6400M to be a transition design that needs considerable tweaking to bring it to the level of the competition in the operator interface for a stand alone design.
I am happy with my decision to purchase the Flex even with it's misses.
Leo NK8L
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Leo Nessing

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Posted 7 months ago

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Bill -VA3WTB

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I consider my 6400M to be a transition design that needs considerable tweaking to bring it to the level of the competition in the operator interface for a stand alone design.
I am happy with my decision to purchase the Flex even with it's misses.

You think the 6400 is not at the level found in other radios for the operators.

Can you list the things you like, that makes you glad you purchased the 6400
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WW1SS - Steve

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Well I guess it is a double edge sword. I have both sitting here in the shack and the Icom will kill my noise that the Flex won't touch. So go  figure.
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Burt Fisher

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I have not found my 6400M to do anything worthwhile to kill noise. The M does have an internal speaker much to my surprise. I would buy an upgrade if it had a CW decoder.  Then there is the S-meter which reads S-7 on a dummy load.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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It should read S3 on a dummy load.
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Burt Fisher

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Every other rig reads zero.
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Gene Duprey

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Mine reads S 2.5 on a dummy load.  My S-Line and Icom 775 read S 0.  Go figure.  My noise floor on 20 & 40 is -120 dbm, which is very good, so why the S meter disparity?
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KF4HR

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Interesting.  Not long ago I've heard someone complaining about the 8-pin mic jacks on the Flex 6300, 6500, and 6700 because they found them too difficult to wire up.  Perhaps someone will eventually come out with a mic multiple adapter box with all the various types of mic jacks: RJ-45, XLR, 3.5mm mono, 3.5mm stereo, 1/4", 8 pin, 4-pin, 2-pin, PJ-068, etc, so everyone can be happy.

There is a clock and date in the lower left corner of the screen when using SSDR with a PC or laptop, although it not on the Maestro and M screens. 

Perhaps Flex's design logic behind the Maestro and M screens are, odds are most people will be using a computer [of some sort] with their M rig or Maestro to handle after-market digital communications, logging, etc, so their computer provides an abundance of CW and other digital communication decoding via after-market programs, along with nearly every clock imaginable.  
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Leo Nessing

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The 6400M is advertised as a stand alone system - no computer required except for updates.  I use a computer for logging but not interfaced with the radio.  Third party software should not be required for a stand alone system.
As far as the front panel microphone connector , it can be of any design, just front panel mounted.
Leo NK8L
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Leo, can you name any stand alone radio that needs no 3rd party software to do everything we do?
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Leo Nessing

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Elecraft  will do all basic operation plus many complex operations without 3rd party software.  As I stated at the beginning , I am new with the 6400M and I can only compare it to radios that I have used.  I wouldn't have expected to have to use third party software for CW decoding in this class of radio or use a program to bring a clock into use. Most of the reply's I am getting are very defensive and are missing my whole point, which I shouldn't have to keep repeating. 
The 6400M is a good radio and I am enjoying using it.
Leo NK8L
(Edited)
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Gene Duprey

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I do not use a computer with my 6500/maestro combo.  My computer is a Mac which is not compatible with most 3rd party software.  I would love to have a clock and cw reader.  The clock was the first thing I missed, I mentioned this to Matt at Flex, as when I am operating remote, I have no clock to use for UTC time for logging, which I do with a paper logbook.
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Gene Duprey

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It would also be nice to have a video out connection with the Maestro.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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It takes very little expended ham spirit resources and $ to make up(or buy)  some pig tales so you don't have to reach in back to plug anything in if your environment requires it. that includes 1/8 inch headset, mic and cw paddles.
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Ted VE3TRQ

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I simply assume Leo meant that he had his 6400M connected with an HDMI cable AND to his router. Makes sense - many would run it that way.
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Leo Nessing

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My mistake on the cable. It's an Ethernet Cat 6 cable.
Leo NK8L
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Contrary to some opinions, I consider having the connectors on the back an advantage - it makes it much easier to construct a separate connector box for the front of the radio. Let’s face it, if you want connectors on the front, it is because you connect and disconnect often (why else care about connector location?) Most (many) radio connectors these days are either not of the greatest quality, or are board edge connectors exposed through the radio case. These are not designed to withstand frequent connect/disconnect operations, nor even the stress of flexing cables. Replacing these connectors on the radio is not convenient, and probably not cheap. Plugging in your own connector box once saves stressing the radio’s connectors, and allows you to use connectors of whatever quality you wish.

And if you just plug the external equipment in once and leave it, rear connections make everything much neater.
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Gene Duprey

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I have noticed the lack of quality in connectors these days.  The plug from my West Mountain speakers to the 6500 fits loose and causes problems loosing ground quite often and I have to fiddle with it to make a good connection.  Even Pl-259 connectors are poor these days.  I just put up a 80 meter antenna the other day and the Pl-259 would not properly mate with the SO-239 connector without forcing it to go in.
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Bob

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Gene I also have had trouble with poor fitting PL 259’s. I started buying Amphenols and tho they are more expensive they have worked for me. Also like their barrel connectors vs the inexpensive ones that often gave me grief as well.
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Roger, W6VZV

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I like just about every thing about my Flex 6400M.  I am fine with the MIC connector and key jack being on the back.
The things I love about the Flex:
1.  The on-computer SDR software is very very good.  First time I've found computer control that I like better than the rig panel.
2.  The Receiver is great.  I especially love the narrow filters for digital and CW operations.
3.  The SDR software is very portable between computers.  No hassle installation.
4.  I uniformly get outstanding transmission reports on CW, SSB, and digital.  A very high quality rig.
5.  Love the menus both on the "M" front panel and the SDR software.  Very intuitive and easy to learn and use.
6.  QSK with CW is the best I've ever used. 
7.  It is SO nice using DAX and CAT instead of some hard-to-wire-and-install interface box.

de Roger W6VZV
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Leo Nessing

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You must not have operated a Elecraft on CW. 
You have just supported my argument by stating you are using an external computer. 
The 6400M is sold as a stand alone design.  You and others are missing the point of my discussion.  I do like operating the Flex.
Leo NK8L
(Edited)
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Roger, W6VZV

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True, I have not used an Elecraft.  Nor would I want to given that I have a Flex.  :-)
Seriously, I don't agree that the Flex 6400M is supposed to be a "stand alone design."  It can certainly function as one and it does so with panache and elan.  However, it is very slick to run it with SDR on my computer along with other software such as DM780 and WSJT-X.  It does very well either way.
(Edited)
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John N6NTM

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I’m with Roger.....GO FLEX....here you have the Most versatile Radio on the market.....leading the charge in the future of radio......and the majority Of comments are minuscule complaints...why ..?....do you think negative opinions encourage designers to improve ....its my first day here ....I’m somewhat disappointed.....with all the great attributes From Flex and still so many quick to point out dislikes......might I suggest a different approach to suggestions ...something on an upfull note.....help Flex people WANT.....to keep coming up with even more evolutionary ideas....GO FLEX.....I love your ideas...
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Thanks, Leo, for your observations. Truly we all have different opinions and expectations, and it is helpful to hear yours. I am sure the Flex team will take note and use them (and others) for future development. Not that everyone’s wish list will get met, but the feedback is listened to.

As for a CW decoder, I cannot disagree more (sorry). There is no need for such a gimmick in any radio, especially one designed to function as a radio server, meant to work with client applications. For CW, the beat client will always be a good set of ears, anyway. Heck, I knew a fine operator who was deaf/blind, and used CW exclusively with a transducer at 20+ wpm. M y point is, I believe that such helper applications are best left outside of the main radio client. Client bloat should be avoided anytime possible.

Have used both Elecraft and Flex in CW contests. Both are fine radios, but I do prefer the interface and ergonomics of the Flex platform. Those two brands probably represent the best in class for the amateur market. To each his own preferences, though.
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Burt Fisher

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A CW decoder is not a gimmick it allow me to copy higher tham my code speed on a good fist with a 579+. Ear is better if one is capable of higher speeds.  
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John - AF3K

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George - Thank you for your great response.  I couldn't have said it better.  
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Leo Nessing

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Sorry to disagree, but a CW  decoder is an invaluable tool during contest.  If it wasn't I doubt that Elecraft would include it with their radios and also the new high end radios from Kenwood and Yaesu. PJ2T contest station has put in Elecraft's and they all decode CW. How many contest stations run Flex?
Leo NK8L
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Leo,  George speaks with wisdom here, with some opinion on the decoder and you have shared yours.  I use flex, and prior to flex I used Elecraft.(8 years) as technical lead at N6RO, one of the largest multi-multi contest stations on the west coast,  we have migrated our primary operating positions to flex after many years on the Elecraft platform.  Both are best in class.   I am sure you have read about K9CT as well, who migrated his contest station as well.  Both platforms are competition grade.  the Flex SDR technology offers advantages to the competitive operator that cannot be overlooked and have been adopted by many.

There is not a decoder on the planet that can decode with the efficiency of an experienced CW contester.  I am sure decoders like the one included in the K3 are useful to some, but its not in any way necessary with either platform and a trained cw ear, particularly in a contest environment. 

But if you wanted too,with flex, you can have cw skimmers, plugged into 4 dax iq channels decoding every dit and dah of cw on 4 bands without any audio cables needed. this can be setup in minutes.   There are just things the flex can do.. that the others can not.

I can safely say I am an expert on both platforms.  I can safely say I have won contests on both platforms.    Right now I am using my brain to copy cw, and the capabilities of flex to keep me on top of the pack in serious competition.

Some of the TOP cw operators (in the world) are using Flex transceivers to win contests. They were recently used in WRTC. Lots of contesters are using flex.  lots of contest stations are using flex.
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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Elecraft's built-in PSK31 is yet another complete waste of space.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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AS I thought, you really wanted to see what response you would get from your comments. I was interested in what you said and some of your comments are confusing, almost as if you don't really own a 6400.

I am not argueing with you, just trying to understand your thinking behind your opinions.

I know you did not say great,,, I asked what radios do you consider have great  ergonomics? you didn't answer.

Why I find that interesting because the front controls on the M models are about the cleanest and well layed out compared to any readio.

Some of the biggest contesters use Flex radio. And many very serious CW operators give Flex high marks for CW.

Anyways thank you for your comments, very ineresting opinions.
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Ted VE3TRQ

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If you are serious about CW, a decoder in the radio does not add much to your operating experience. What you really want is high-end capabilities available with cwskimmer and a contest logger / macro facility - and those demand a computer, you can’t run those from the radio alone. The same applies to psk31 and rtty - the facilities you get in the radio firmware are not really all that helpful - and the size of the display and what you can see on the K3 are not adequate, and not even available if you are actually using the second vfo (the decodes show up on the VFO B display).

I own both Elecraft and Flex gear - the built-in decode does nothing for me, although I will concede it may help others in some way. I will also concede that if operating without a computer, it is possible to do basic RTTY on a K3 by using a Morse key, but to do more requires a P3 Panadapter with VGA card and a keyboard - not exactly portable, so you may as well have a computer along.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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The Feature set of the 6400M is rich enough that people are opening them wallets to buy.  

With the amount of reviews and information out one's decision making can be handled well in advance of any purchase.  

If a clock and CW decoder are significant barriers to a new rig working in your shack, then your choices are to not select from radios that lack these features or figure a way around what you feel are shortcomings.  

I tend to do a matrix where I evaluate different equipment options when I am making a purchase decision.  In complex buys it is useful to score the desirability of each option.

Some options are go/no-go - the potential gear HAS to have the feature to be included in further consideration. In some methodologies these are termed "needs." 

The rest make working through selection choices better defined by evaluating what some methodologies term as "wants."

It appears that neither the lack of a clock or a CW decoder ruled out buying the 6400M on the basis of not meeting "needs" and is irksome if your perceived "wants" favor these features.

Personally I am all for future version of SmartSDR, especially the M-model/Maestro-centric SmartSDR for Maestro, to include more regular shack functions.  That desire I am sure is tempered by the available hardware resources in the M-Model/Maestro embedded system.  Unlike the old 5000C which included a full PC within the radio, the M-Model/Maestro have an OEM IO/Touchscreen Unit that may be already largely utilized with its intended purpose.

Here I am guessing, as for GPSDO equipped radios accurate UTC time may just need to be presented in the GUI.  Doing localizations may be more involved.  

Decoders expect a lot more resources and may be contraindicated by the available hardware resources after doing the rest of SmartSDR.

My present personal solution is to run a Laptop or Tablet alongside.  This gives me a decent platform to running logging, digital and other shack tasks.  Less elegant than an all-in-one solution, but then I hadn't expected either my Maestro's or my 6600M to have enough accessible hardware/software excess to handle the things I wanted to do.

YMMV but as of my writing those are the facts - in March of 2019 SmartSDR for Maestro/M-Model doesn't have a clock or a CW decoder.  

73

Steve

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Bill -VA3WTB

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This has been a nice tribute to Flex, Thanks again Leo. This shows that even with any short comings of the 6400 it is still one of the best.

I hope you continue to enjoy it....
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Leo Nessing

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I also made the decision to buy the 6400M based on the complete features of the radio. Even though I would like to see certain features added, the radio is fun to operate.  The clincher for me was the way AGCT-(What I call Flex's secret weapon against noise) helps to eliminate the serious local noise problem that I have.
The rig is almost FM full quitting and signal just jump out.
This my last comment on this thread.
Thanks to all, Leo NK8L 
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John N6NTM

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Amen........
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Bob

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When I received my Flex 6400 M I also missed the clock and the front connections for the mic, key, phone, etc. I quickly realized that it was only because it was what I was familiar with. I now really like the rear connection jacks because the front is much cleaner sans all the wires all over the place that actually always annoyed me with my other radios. I also have QRZ or other software running UTC and I intend to get a UTC clock in the shack just for aesthetics so that also quickly became a non issue. I am sure that adding all these features would make the radio more expensive (but maybe not) I too am getting great audio reports from the hand mic and great signal reports running barefoot. Plus the fact that the rcv audio and filtering are superb the 6400M is giving me all that I could ask for. The only question I ask myself is whether I should have sprung for the 6600M for the increased operating versatility. That said I love this radio.

Bob W1AGC
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Gene Duprey

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The other night I found the the UTC time on QRZ was 1 hour off, using WWV as a quick check.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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The computers in my shack are set to UTC. For local time I have this unique invention I wear on my wrist called a “watch”.
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Roger, W6VZV

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I know what you mean, Bob, about the 6400 versus 6600.  I am at that stage in my life where I can own any radio I want.  I went for the 6400 because I have no prospect of having a big antenna farm, and I only work single operator.  And above all, I like simplicity.  The 6400M is plenty complex for my blood, grin.  6600 is a nice rig though.  I have been uniformly pleased with my 6400M.  It is the first radio I've ever had that doesn't have something about it that irritates me.

de Roger W6VZV
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Bob

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I agree Roger. Plenty enough radio for me too. I could spend a lot of time getting to know all it can do which is part of the fun, right? 
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Doug

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Owning a Flex 6400M has been a real problem for me. It has taken all the lust out of my life for another radio. What am I going to do now, no longer do I look at the HRO catalog and wish I had this or that. Yep I have been ruined for life !!  BUT WAIT what about this new Flex-2400M that is the title of this thread. Maybe I can get all the specs on it (.)(.)
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Vapor ware?
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Burt Fisher

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The 2400M is the 6400M minus the bugs.
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John N6NTM

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Yes ....as with I.....finally H A P P Y......not a single complaint.....If I could only get the wife to agree to a FLEX tattoo for herself......6400 the last radio I’ll ever need......that why I went with the 6600.....just to make sure.....THANK YOU FLEX....