New series radio fan failures (my two 6400s both died)

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I have two 6400s bought at different times (one a pre-order and one in November 2018).

Both are down due to fan failures.  Both are kept in pristine environments separated by approximately 200 miles (i.e. this isn't environmental).

Anyone else have fan failures on the new models?  Since flex is making me pay the return shipping for these is there a home-fix for this?

I have owned a 6300 (fan died within warranty)
I owned a 6700 (fan died within warranty)
I owned another 6700, power output issue - died within warranty

I owned a 6400, came DOA
I own another 6400, fan failure within warranty (backup radio - probably has been used a dozen times)
I own another 6400, fan failure within warranty (backup remote radio - probably has been used a dozen times)
I own a 6600, is ok so far.
I own a PGXL - had to be returned to be fixed in the warranty period.
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Matt (K0KB)

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  • frustrated and abandoned

Posted 3 months ago

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Joe N3HEE

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Hi Matt.  I had a fan failure in my 6600M.  It was DOA when I bought my pre-loved radio in August 2018.  Although it was under warranty and Flex would pay for everything I replaced the fan myself with approval from Flex.  I didn't want to send the radio back and wait for a new fan.  I actually purchased the fan myself and installed it.  Very easy to do.  You will need #8 Torx head driver to remove screws from chassis top and bottom covers.  

I bought fan from NewEgg.  https://www.newegg.com/aerocool-shark-140mm-black-edition-case-fan/p/N82E16835129057?Item=N82E16835129057

New fan has been running nearly 24/7 for the past year without issue.  So maybe there was a bad batch of fans?

Joe
N3HEE
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Matt (K0KB)

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Joe,

Thank you.  How do you know which fan has gone bad?  Is there anything special about that fan or will any high end 140mm case fan work?

I'd rather replace myself than have to ship it off.  What do they do about warranty status if you're breaking in there installing your own fan?
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Joe N3HEE

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Matt.  My radio would shut down after a couple of minutes because it detected the fan was bad.  The power light would flash red one time.  The fan was also making a noise as if the bearings were bad. I used a AeroCool Shark fan which was the same fan used in my radio.  See the link above.  You will have to make sure that you have the same fans in your radios.  I suspect they will be the same.  You cant use any other fan because Flex uses a fan controller that works with this particular fan's specs.

Check with Flex for approval before you proceed so you don't void your warranty. 

Not sure why Flex is charging for return shipping if you are under warranty ?
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Matt (K0KB)

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They have some CYA in their warranty I think.  They only cover shipping if your failure is within 90 days.
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Craig Williams

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1 and 1/2 year old 6400 fan still running fine.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Mat of coarse you are talking to Flex about this? they will suggest the best step. There have been others who replaced the fan them selves. The new radios have one fan only. They need to be the proper spec in order to work, just any fan will not work.
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Matt (K0KB)

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Yes I have two separate tickets open for the two dead radios. 

They suggested I ship them back but didn't say replacing the fan yourself was an option.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Ask them about that.
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Matt (K0KB)

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I think I'll just bring my problems here first so that I can find out all the possible solutions and then contact flex about them.
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KF4HR

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I've owned my 6700 since October 2015 and haven't had a fan failure, although every year or so I remove the top and carefully clean any dust away and also keep a small air filter running beside my rig.  I purchased spare fans (research this forum for information) but so far, knock on wood, I haven't needed to use them.
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Joe N3HEE

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The 6400 and 6600 use different fans.  One large 140 mm fan for the whole radio.
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Matt (K0KB)

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My radios are in very clean rooms already.  My shack is a small dedicated building and hard cell spray foamed walls, ceiling and even floor.  There's almost no dust to be found in there anyhow.

 


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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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How is the space on sides of radios? That is where air intake is.

Dave wo2x
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Matt (K0KB)

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Quite a bit of room I'd say.  A good few inches either side and the shack is kept at 68 degrees in the summer and about 60 in the winter.  The second radio with the problem is kept on a desk and there is nothing on either side of it.
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Matt (K0KB)

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Just opened FR stack and it shows A-TMP and PA are both at 24 C on the 6600 as it idles.

Radios are always run through the amplifiers (i.e. < 50 watts) except if running a QSO party.  The 6400 has probably only transmitted a few times as it's just a hot-backup for the 6600.

Here's what my log looks like... these don't exactly see a lot of use.  Yes my last contact is from June 2019 and October 2018 before that

.
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Joe Conover

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Dam not good I got 6400M month ago did Flex fix problem on new ones now ??
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Mark NS9N

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Wow I have owned both a 6500 and now a 6600 and run them full out even in RTTY and have never have a problem. OK all supplied parts have some issues some of the time so maybe we are only hearing from those who have had problems. I do keep my shack at 72 degrees so maybe this helps. The good news is that it looks like Flex detects that the fan has failed and shuts down before there is costly damage. Not sure any of my other radios did that!
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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My 6600 is on almost 24x7 since I got it (alpha testing and received before released to public). Still going strong and not one hint of a problem with the fan.

Dave wo2x
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Joe N3HEE

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My fan was dead the day I received my radio !  The radio would shut down after a couple of minutes.  I've heard others with fan failures however it may be a small percentage overall.  My new fan is still running after a year of near 24/7 operation.  I have several 140mm fans in my PC that have been running for over 5 years at nearly 24/7 !  
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Ted VE3TRQ

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6600M received April 2018, on 24x7 since then, and I still can hardly hear the fan - I have to lean in to the radio in the shack to even know there is a fan. Full disclosure, I always run less than 50W.
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Dan Quigley N7HQ, 4O7HQ, Service/Support Manager

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Wow, Matt, I am speechless at the number of problems you've had with our radios and especially fans.  Other than offering an apology, I can certainly understand your frustration. I'd be frustrated too.  The number of fans that fail in the field is very small overall. But they do occur. 

We have no trouble sending replacement fans to customers confident in their ability to replace them. It saves everyone time and cost. For the 6400/6600 series, installing a replacement fan is a straight-forward task that can be completed with simple hand tools. All 6400/6600 radios are under warranty so currently, no customer that owns that genre of radio will have to pay for a fan. Provided we supply the fan, replacing one in the field will not void the warranty. Note that simply stating there is a fan problem is not enough, a service ticket needs to be opened and one of our support techs will need to verify the diagnosis.

One of the things we have to do regularly is deal with components that move to end-of-life. This happens on a regular basis with lots of components in our radios including passives, actives and mechanical parts. It is simply a reality in the electronics business. The existing fan for the 6400/6600 went end of life (EOL) a few months ago. When that happens, engineering performs a search for a replacement and tests several candidates. They qualify the candidate against specific requirements that for fans, go beyond voltage, current, speed, and cfm specifications.  So please don't think you can replace any of our fans with something you find elsewhere. That will void the warranty and could end up being a costly error.  BTW:  Engineering has selected a new fan and is finalizing the mounting requirements for it now. 

I hope that answered some questions and concerns you may have. 

Best,
Dan

P.S.
Replacing fans in the 6300,6500 and 6700 radios is another thing entirely, and though we will ship fans to customers with out-of-warranty radios that ask for them. I recommend sending the radio back to us for that repair.  Replacing them is still straight-forward, but more skill is involved and you will need more specialized tools.
(Edited)
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I concur about the 6300, 6500, and 6700. Not for the faint of heart. Getting the shield back on the cage around the CPU and FPGA is a tedious process to get all the "fingers" aligned properly.

Dave wo2x
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k3Tim

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I would respectfully disagree, aligning the shield up isn't to difficult as the fingers are preformed and stiff so they are hard to improperly seat. I found it easiest to start the corner that is hidden under the rail that holds the bottom cover then work the visible sides in place.

In anycase, the 6500 is a great rig and the s/w is tops...

k3Tim
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Matt (K0KB)

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Well, I have two tickets open and would prefer replacing the fans myself.

Ticket: 32864
Ticket: 32820

Can you please look in to that for me?

Thanks,

Matt
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Matt (K0KB)

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Here are the two radios doing a factory reset and still coming up fan error.  Not sure if you need anything else.

Radio #1: https://youtu.be/I86ifQsNLrg

Radio #2: https://youtu.be/BWVkYwe80n8
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Matt K0KB

Really a great looking setup your built.  Congratulations!  I like what I don't see - that is the lack of clutter my radio room seems to end up with.  

On your help ticket correspondence the guess is you are posting what you already posted to FRS through the help ticket process?  The help ticket process changes the interaction from passive to active (and tracked with metrics for managerial review), and anything you put into that system gets to the right person right away.  In addition to just doing a  reply with your added comments above the line as they say, you can also log into the help website and add information there.  Expect you know all that but not everyone reading the community will.

Fans are bothersome troubles - I've replaced failed fans on a 6300, but haven't had any more failures on the other radios (a 6600M on 24/7 and several 6700s).  

Had other failures as well - one TenTec add on fan died (it was also a computer type fan) and in the last batch of Dell machines bought (eight in that group) one lost a fan within the first two weeks and one after a few months.  

I'm wondering if the supply chain for small electronics fans is being affected by varying levels of Quality Control, introduction of non-spec fans (possibly incorrectly labeled or outright counterfeit), age/transport/storage induced problems, over-specifying OEM games (where the claims are made but the field performance is less) or other issues?

Again a great looking shack!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Blog:  http://k9zw.wordpress.com  
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Matt (K0KB)

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Thanks Steve!

I try to keep the clutter in one of my outbuildings where I have spools of cables, boxes of spare parts, diagnostic tools, etc lining the shelves.  I just keep a small inventory of that stuff in the cabinets in the shack.  I'm no fan of clutter but since the shack is so small I had no choice but to keep it clutter free which has worked out well.

I submitted the tickets and passed along videos for each showing the fan errors but I got RMA numbers and shipping addresses to send the radios.  I haven't re-addressed the tickets yet since Dan responded here and I replied to him.  Hopefully he can jump in the tickets to remove the RMA and change them over to "shipping customer fans".  If he doesn't get around to it today I'll reply to each ticket individually asking if that's a possibility.
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Joe Conover

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I live in Eskimo village we keep heat at 48-55 in winter in house I hope Radio can run on at low temps 6600B
I have Codan NGT SRX back up that runs 50 below
In fish camp
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bahillen

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Matt, very impressive shack.

I had two thoughts based on my PGXL temperature and on my current activities on lightning. You may want to consider putting your amplifiers well above your Flex radios. Mine amplifier generates a lot of heat and goes straight up. It would cook my 6600. Doesn’t look like a lot of room for airflow. The bottom plate of the PGXL is a thick piece of aluminum that does get quite warm so I give it space on bottom as well as top. May also want to consider an additional rack fan connected to a thermostat. Heat is the enemy of semiconductors and electronic components and directly affects the mean time between failure.

That said your fan failure is a component issue or possibly a component in the sensing circuitry.

The second question relates to your lightning arrestors on the wall. I am just setting up my lightning protection plans. PolyPhaser has some great articles that are on their website. I have a vision of 50,000 amps being applied to that area. You may also have arrestors at your towers but was curious if they get connected to a single point ground with copper ribbon/strap?

As a side note a 2kw PolyPhaser unit has a 600 volt +/- 20% trigger point. With higher VSWR, the voltage gets much higher. I put in the 3kw PolyPhaser units that trigger at 1200 volts. You may say your VSWR is 1.15:1 but put a load of ice or other abnormalities you may get a higher limit. Last week a friend just got a direct strike. It can be painful when it happens.

I moved my radio and amplifier to a different room and love it. Even with the door open my shack is quiet. Too much heat to put it in a closet.

73
Bill W9JJB
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Matt (K0KB)

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Bill,

Thank you.  They aren't used enough that heat is an issue.  If it is I do keep a fan in my shack that I point at the rack if I want to run a contest.  Fortunately my kids keep me busy enough that my time isn't preoccupied with contest at the moment.
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Matt (K0KB)

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I had a lot of response to this off-list for whatever reason, but thank you to all who reached out.  I was told by someone who would be in the know that FRS has done some MTBF testing done on fans and that there is currently or will be a new module in the near future to replace failed fans.  Hopefully that one does the trick.

I have heard from others that the fan N3HEE linked to above is the fan that flex had them install in their radios.

Barring flex asking me to keep quiet about what fans they want me to install I'll share the information when available so others can self-fix when they have problems.

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KC2QMA_John

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My 6600M fan is failing on me also. However I'm moving to a new QTH so the radio is packed up right now but when I get settled in at the new QTH I will replace with the new fan then.

My fan started to make a strange noise as if the burring’s having gone bad.
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Matt (K0KB)

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I am not in my shack often, but I don’t recall ever hearing these fans.

Still no word from flex yet on the fans.
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KC2QMA_John

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Mine makes a warring type sound and then a few moments later the radio shuts down so absolutely a bad fan not software.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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John, have you removed the cover yet, there have been times when a support for a wire was not installed correctly and draged on some fans. It can be moved out of the way.
I'm sure you have started a Help Desk report anyways as you should. If it is the fan going they can send you a new one that you can install yourself.
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KC2QMA_John

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Yes I did and confirmed that the fan is bad. I tried to replace with a Noctual fan and it worked better than the stock fan at low speed but unfortunately due to the way FRS has programmed the fan control software if the radio see the RPM’s go over 1500 it will shut the radio down.

You can read more about that here: https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/6600m-fan-speed-questions

So when I get done with my move to my new QTH I will have FRS send me the new “Approved” fan I will install it then.
(Edited)
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Matt (K0KB)

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John,

FYI They have decided not to send the fans to me. 

They think the failures are my environment and don't feel i'm competent enough to fix them myself without damaging the radios more than they already are.
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KC2QMA_John

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@Matt

So let me get this straight you own (2) 6400 (1)6600 and (1) PGXL. That’s more than $15,000 worth of FlexRadio product not to mention the other flex radios you have owned in the past and they won’t send you a few fans???

That’s just crazy! Replacing the fan in the 6400/6600 is as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Remove top and bottom covers.

2. Unplug the fan connector from mainboard.

3. Separate fan from rubber mounts.

Then just reverse procedure to install new fan.

This is not any more difficult than changing a fan in a PC.

If they won’t let you do it they should at least cover the shipping cost.

Maybe try contacting them again and see if they will re consider?

(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Must be more to this story Lol
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Matt (K0KB)

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Bill,

Are you sure you don’t work for flex? You opine on every post with an official-like-response and have never publicly said anything bad about them. Then when a customer has a problem you assume it’s the customer’s fault and laugh at them.

Sure seems like you are a customer support employee.
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Matt (K0KB)

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Copy of my helpdesk ticket for those who just have to know.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DDoi_5HVzN8IDa2vVWiCm_RGvI2rgCnh/view?usp=sharing
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HCampbell WB4IVF

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I also would much prefer to change the fans myself instead of having the radios bounce around again in long-haul tractor trailers and delivery vans, not to mention tossed around by package handlers and drivers, falling off moving belts, etc. etc. 

I’d keep pressing for them to send the fans.  If FRS wants to see the original fans, they could be shipped back separately. 

A few months back someone posted a picture of a PG XL that had a bracket holding a subassembly literally torn off the chassis in shipment.  There are probably other cases where damage is not that apparent, and might take time to manifest itself. 

Howard

(Edited)
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John KB4DU

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Well, I guess I get to join this group. Came home from work today and the 6400 is offline and flashing the one red light on the power button. It did this once before about a week ago. I cold booted and restarted with no errors. It's been on continuously since then, so kinda weird to me that it would shut down during the day with no usage. Guess it good I saved the box.
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Matt (K0KB)

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My previous signature series radios did this.  It was the first indication of the later complete fan failures.  Hopefully not the case for you, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Are you on the new version John? What Flex found out is the way the fan is told to start was causing some false possitives and causing a fan failure signal. In the new update they made a change to the fan start up to fix that problem.
See if it happens again.
(Edited)
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John KB4DU

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Thanks. I will try the new version over the weekend. I usually wait a few days for the rush to be over, and unforeseen minor problems to be discovered..
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Clay N9IO

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Ditto John.
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John KB4DU

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Well, the upgrade didn't fix the fan issue. I didn't really expect it to since my fan issue occurs after a few days of running, rather than at startup, but I was upgrading anyway so I was hopeful.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Suggest following the September 6th RMA and getting the radio(s) back to FRS.

It isn’t possible to distill exactly why they want to do the repair themself other than they believe the best fix involves bench work at their end.

I’ve always been appreciative of any of my radios sent in getting their full test treatment as part of the service routine.

I’m thinking I wouldn’t have lost a couple weeks prevaricating and attempting to renegotiate downwards the high level of service actually included in my radio purchases. Might have picked up the phone to see if they might have a loaner to keep me on the air while my radios were off being serviced.

GL and 73

Steve
K9ZW
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Matt (K0KB)

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The reasons are actually stated clearly. They want to see what environmental factors played a role in the radios dying and they don’t think I’m competent to repair them myself.

I’m afraid we’ll disagree about being appreciative of our radios getting a checkup. I’d much prefer my radios to come without defect and therefore not need to be sent for a repair and checkup. When defects are found I expect the manufacturer to treat me graciously and to correct their short-comings without further expenses. It’s enough that I have to dismantle that portion of my station, box the radio up, ship it off, unbox it, and then put the radio back in to service.

We’ll also have to disagree about prevarication and whether the service level I seek is downward or upward. I think that would be clear enough without having stated it, though. I also think its clear that your post is nothing more than another veiled jab at me and defense of FRS. Gaslighting would be the term.

Fortunately I have no immediate need for either radio so there is no rush in reaching a resolution. Sometimes the right path isn’t the quickest.
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John - AI4FR

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Matt protect yourself. Since the radio's are under warranty let Flex make the repair. If you do it and something goes wrong, dropped screwdriver, spilled coffee, etc. the damage done may not be covered. Any accidental damage might not show up until a much later date and it sure would suck to hear from Flex after their inspection that XYZ was done/modified in the past which will not be covered. Flex might also be in negotiations with the Fan manufacturer in order to recover damages from their defective product and will need to carefully document each failure. Since new fans are being installed, there could be other changes besides the mounting hardware that needs to be done at the software level. I'm not taking sides and sure do wish that my radio was still under warranty. Whichever way you decide to go I wish you the best of luck as I feel your pain and fear the day that my radio goes down.
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Matt (K0KB)

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Thanks John! Good suggestions!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I fear the day my radio goes down as well, It would really be missed.
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John - AI4FR

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Exactly Bill, and Matt is going thru it times TWO!!

And here we all thought Flex withdrawal syndrome was band with one radio down...How does one cope with having two down at the same time? I doubt it gets much worse than that.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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The odds of that happening must be stagering. Bad Bad luck.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Expect that the extraordinary coincidence may be part of why FRS wants to bench the radios?

We’re all guessing here.

Sorry offense was perceived where none was intended. I actually wanted to avoid taking a poke by relaying what I would be doing, and actually have as some of my radios have needed repairs/updates.

Hope you get your radios fixed soon. Would be interesting to learn what the issues are found to be.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Blog: http://k9zw.wordpress.com
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Matt (K0KB)

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Update for all.

I've been busy with stuff not radio related.  I bought the shark fans from amazon nearly a month ago and replaced them in the 6400 at my QTH today.  The radio booted right up and is functioning fine.  The other radio I'll hopefully get around to fixing in the next few weeks.

Shameful IMO that I had to pay to fix it in the warranty period.
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Joe Conover

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Can I have fan part number and model I need order
A few
If my 6400M fan fails I live in Bush Alaska
Joe
KL4QG
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Matt (K0KB)

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Hi Joe,

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00432R068/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

That is what I ordered and it is the same as what I found when I opened the radio.

Regards,

Matt
K0KB
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I read the communication between you and Flex and I think the answers they gave you were prudent considering the very strange failure rates you were having. You could have sent them back for inspection and repair. But now you have gone around Flex and your on your own now going ahead.
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Matt (K0KB)

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BIll,

You can try to simplify it any way you want, but the fact of the matter is that these failures have occurred in three different shacks with three different antenna systems.  I don't think it's unreasonable for anyone in my shoes to be pretty damn sick and tired of it now.  If (as they say) they want investigate why they failed they can pay for the shipping to experiment with my radios.  Since they did not, it naturally leads one to believe that the failures aren't that uncommon and that they don't really care.  The e-mails I've received support the idea that the fan failures are exponentially higher than publicly reported and specifically people have told me that they don't report them because the cult of flex users (of which you are a board member) attacks them.

Go be unhelpful somewhere else.
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Joe Conover

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How fans are in Flex 6400M
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Matt (K0KB)

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Joe: Just 1 fan