New to thinking about SDR radio, not sure what to choose, I need objective advice?

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Hi. I'm unsure what to choose in terms of an SDR radio.

My "local" radio store, Radioworld, has some Flexradios on demo and they seem nice.

But I'm not sure whether I should get a used Flexradio such as a 3000 or 5000, or should I go wholehog and get the 6300? Or should I look entirely at something else?

My ham activities consist of DX chasing on SSB on 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters and I'm just getting into digital modes now. I don't work any VHF or use FM, I don't get into contesting and I don't need multiple receivers (I can only listen to one at a time anyway).

I live in a high QRM urban area where outdoor antennas and clotheslines are not permitted so I'm getting by with an attic fan dipole connected to an automatic tuner mounted in the attic. My hamshack is in the basement. I'm presently using an FTdx3000 with good results but I'm interested in improving things more.

Background QRM on a good day in my QTH can be S9.

I'm still sort-of in the doghouse as it were for my purchase of the TS-990 which really proved to be a very expensive failure here despite the firmware upgrade to V1.10. It's noise suppression schemes remained utterly worthless when combined with high QRM and restricted antennas. I gave up on it 2 months after it's expensive purchase and only recently was able to sell it at a considerable loss.

My FTdx3000 and it handles the QRM quite well at a much lower cost than the Kenwood failure. I don't wish to repeat that costly exercise in seeking this SDR technology. I'm sure my wife would not understand.

For these conditions which SDR radio would work best and still save some money for me? I don't feel any need to possess the latest gadget, just something to help me overcome dreadful QRM and restrictive antenna issues.

73s VE3GZB
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VE3GZB

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Posted 3 years ago

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WA2SQQ

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I would definitely go with one of the 6000 series radios. I have a 6500, which replaced my 5000. The biggest difference is that the 6000 series uses a network connection to your PC which is less susceptible to rf issues. Regarding noise, remember that it comes in many flavor so, and no noise suppression system can alleviate all types of noise. I find that my 6500 is able to eliminate or greatly reduce any noise that I'm faced with.
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Bill / VA3QB

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George, send me a private email. It's available on QRZ.  I live 20 minutes from you. Your welcome to come and see my Flexradio 6500 setup and give it a test drive.   Bill VA3QB
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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This is the best offer anyone can do for you!! You can test it by yourself without spending any money (besides gas and a 6-pack for Bill) and make up your own mind.

Furthermore, in a noisy environment investment in antennas will do much more for you than radio equipment alone. If you have a lot of electric noise you might be a good candidate for a magnetic loop.

All said and done. If you decide to buy a Flex radio I would go for the newer architecture and get a Flex-6000.
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Cliff

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If you are interested I have a Flex 6300 with ATU installed in mint condition. all original boxes and still 10 months left on warranty from flex . $2800.00 canadian dollars.  I am in or near Montreal  thats 1400.00 cheaper than new from radioworld with taxes and shipping

  

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Mark - WS7M

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I can't help but suggest the 6300 at a minimum.  First because it is an SDR the things Flex & Company will do with this platform in the years to come is almost wide open. IE there is much more flexibility in this approach than going with say a TS-990.

So the upsides:

As software based radio the future is limited to the software you choose to run and what is produced but already there are some exciting things planning and happening.  One is full remote operation (if you have an internet connection) of your radio.

The downsides:

You need a computer to run it. This is not something you can pack and take in your car.  It is a base radio (in my opinion) and while it could go mobile, you gotta have a laptop or something to control it.  Now flex is coming out with the maestro which will probably make this comment invalid so we'll see hams with flex 6000 series radios in their RV and a maestro that they can move around and even take outside.   The maestro is like a kenwood (but better) front in for your radio.

Now I'm no expert but in my opinion the noise reduction in the flex hasn't been great and their are posts here complaining about such.  But one thing that I personally think is far better is the simple filtering in how you can so easily using your mouse drag the filter back and forth.  There is also the TNF (tracking notch filter) which I have not used much.   In short with just these two things I'm able with my limited skills to hear the signal I want to hear if it can be heard.  

To test this idea I went to a CW pile up which sounded like strange doorbell music everything someone would call.  I began to expand the display and work the filters until I found the dx station.  It took some doing but in about 5 minutes I was listing only to him and those exactly on his frequency.  All this with just filters.

I have confidence that if you go for a Flex6300 you will find it fascinating and enjoyable.  But it is a computer based radio.  So unless you go for the maestro then you will not be turning knobs unless you come up with some other solution. You'll be using your mouse a lot more for control of your radio.

That being said you will need a reasonable computer for this.  While there are guys here running it on the pippo low end computers I frankly think since it is "software" defined radio that you need a computer that can run that software easily.  This is not difficult to come by at all but if you don't have one now you are looking at added expense.

I also believe if you buy a flex6300 the resale will be good.  So if you get into it and find out it is not what you wanted after all it probably holds it value a little better than a kenwood.  I can't say this for sure, I'm only guessing.

So my recommendation is the 6300 but only you can decide if that is what you want.  I personally would not go for the older models.  The 6000 series is the current platform and software releases will target that.

Good luck and hope you find what you want!
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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+1 for the 6000 over 3000/5000. While excellent radios, the 3000 and 5000 aren't being produced anymore, and Power SDR software is pretty well mature. It will be a great experience to use, but probably you'll wish you went for the 6000.

As for noise -- Flex is actively working on noise mitigation technology for Smart SDR. While they have made nearly miraculous progress with correlated noise, some types are not so well handled. Your results may vary. It is likely - although by no means certain - that future advances will help your situation.

The best bet, of course, is to knock down noise at the source. I imagine you've done some work in this area. My QRZ page has some suggestions, and KY6LA developed an excellent presentation with even more good information (search the Community for a link).

Sorry there's no certain answer. I can say that SDR makes a huge difference in performance and operating pleasure. Welcome aboard!
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Tim Hill - KI6LSB

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Hi George, Knowing what I know, I would look at getting a Flex 6500 and Flex will most likely have some used 6500, the difference between the price on the 6500 is well worth the extra money. In my opinion the 6500 is better than any of the 15000.00 Radios out there.

Tim - KI6LSB 
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Dick B

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As for Flex radios, I just upgraded from a 3000 to 6300 and love the difference.  I also have an IC-756Pro3 that I love.  For local noise I find a Timewave ANC-4 indispensable.  
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VE3GZB

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My greatest worry is the price. My wife is still rather upset at the waste of the TS990 in this environment, the poor return on the dollar for functional value.

So ideally it would benefit me and make my wife happier if I could spend less. Hence my references to the 3000 and 5000 series Flexradios.

73s VE3GZB
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Varistor

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I think you are getting a lot of bad, biased advise here. Your QRN will not go away by simply buying a new radio as your TS990 experience has shown.  My recommendation to you is to deal with the noise first, by building a better antenna (e.g., a loop) and even buying a dedicated RX-only antenna. Only after you eliminate the noise you should consider buying a new rig.

Rudy N2WQ
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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Rudy I dont agree. No one here has said the 6000 would solve his noise issue. It has simply been said it might handle it better. Without any doubt solving the noise will make a big difference with any radio. But his question was not about noise but about if he should consider the 6000. The posts here have been related to that for the most part with perhaps some steying into antennas and noise. But i would not go so far as to say "a lot of bad advice". I think that is being a little harsh considering the original question.
(Edited)
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Varistor

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Here's the original problem statement:

I live in a high QRM urban area where outdoor antennas and clotheslines are not permitted so I'm getting by with an attic fan dipole connected to an automatic tuner mounted in the attic.I'm presently using an FTdx3000 with good results but I'm interested in improving things more."

and later:

My FTdx3000 and it handles the QRM quite well at a much lower cost than the Kenwood failure. I don't wish to repeat that costly exercise in seeking this SDR technology.

For these conditions which SDR radio would work best and still save some money for me?"
So the truthful answer is that SDR will not solve his problem. Keep the FT3000 and work on reducing the noise level.

Rudy N2WQ
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Mark - WS7M

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Yes but you omitted this:

"But I'm not sure whether I should get a used Flexradio such as a 3000 or 5000, or should I go wholehog and get the 6300? Or should I look entirely at something else?"

Don't get me wrong.  I whole heartedly agree that noise is an issue and nothing will help that until he solves it.  However it may not be totally solvable.  He mentioned solar controllers etc.  He may not be able to solve those things entirely.

So based on his first statement above many of us here said, hey... we think the 6xxxx is a superior system.  It will help.   Not it will NOT remove the QRM.  It many handle it a little better.   I don't remember anyone stating that if he buys a 6xxxx that his problems all go away.

Without any doubt there is passion here.  We all feel that he would benefit from a 6xxx series radio on many fronts.   It is certainly not bad advice.  Is it perhaps the best advice?  Maybe not as you suggest that he could use some other radio, solve his QRM issues and be happy.  Yes that is possible.  But he didn't ask for a solution to his QRM problem.  He asked whether he should buy a used 3k or 5k or go whole hog for the 6300.  The answers here are mainly based around that question.

I respect that you took his entire post into account and said, hey... if you have QRM maybe you should solve it first.  But don't call the advice here bad. It would be bad if we all were saying hey the 6300 will ignore your QRM and you'll be good to go.  No one here is saying that.

Anyway this is all moot as he seems to have decided after asking this very question to go and do his first option of buying a 5k.   Whether he does that or reconsiders for a 6300 he will still have QRM and he will still need to solve it.    I need to do the exact same thing in my QTH but it didn't stop me from getting a 6500.  I did not buy it assuming it would cure my noise problem either.
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Warren Gaspar

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George,

I have owned both a 3000 and a 6300.  The 6300 was amazing when it came to QRM and had ears like you wouldn't believe.  I could reach DX that I had not heard on the 3000.  I sold the 6300 to a friend I loaned it to while moving in preparation to upgrade to a 6500.  I am now planning on going all the way to 6700 and already have a Maestro on order.

Not sure if this helps but after having the opportunity to use all the 6xxx models at an all Flex field day I can tell you that I would own nothing else.  All 6xxx models are amazing on HF it just comes down to what you want for features.  It is really cool to have different band slices up so I can switch bands when that rare DX shows up.  The Flex also provides more bandwidth than conventional radios so I can have the entire band on the screen all at once.

I'm completely sold on Flex and so will you be.

73's,

Warren
NU7R
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Dick B

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For an affordable starter SDR the 3000 is a very good value.  They are typically available for <$1000.  Watch the Flex Yahoo group, eHam.net, etc.  Act quickly they go fast - mine went in a few hours after I posted it.  
(Edited)
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Larry Loen WO7R

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First, a 6300 is a fantastic radio for the money.  A Flex 5000 is also great.  I have owned both.  Sell your failures (you can probably get a good price) and then buy either a 5000 or a 6300.  If you are considering a 6300, you should only think about a 5000 as the alternative.  The 3000 is a nice radio, but the 5000 is so close in price to it, you'll get way more radio for the money with the 5000.

Pro SDR:  You will quickly love, love, love the Flex Radio Panadapter.  Whether it is the 6300's SmartSDR software or the 5000's PowerSDR software, the ability to _see_ and _react_ to a pileup will put many more stations in the log than you can imagine.  Compared to that, what follows is small change.  They also both have what amounts to "dual watch" which isn't quite a second receiver, but is close enough for DXing purposes.  That, too, is a great value and not typical in this price range.

Pro 6300:  You can successfully chase DX with this radio.  Since September of 2014, I have worked 252 DXCC with the 6300.  If that had actually be "starting over" I might have worked maybe five or ten more.  I have nearly 1,000 on DXCC Challenge (way more had I been starting over).  Also at or near WAZ on 10, 12, 15, 20 and 40.  All since September of 2014.   Great built-in support for digital.  No external devices or dongles.  Great ability to remote.

Con 6300:  Many basic features, such as setting up two slices for "split" as you would expect, are missing.  The new software has not been optimized for DXing yet.  It works well, but it takes a little added effort compared to PowerSDR, which is more mature.

Pro 5000:  Best value for the money anywhere.  You should be able to get one for between 1200 and 1500 dollars these days, perhaps a bit more if "loaded" with the added options.  Very mature software, sets up well for DXing.

Con 5000:  Uses Firewire (support will probably linger a long time, but it is a question). Also, not really suitable for remote operation.  Support for digial, while not requiring any dongles, needs third party software which some have found a bit rickety.

Basically, for both, it boils down to whether you can live without knobs.  There is the new Maestro product that should enable what we might today call "the best of both worlds" but if your money is tight, I suggest doing without and learning to embrace the software GUI as your radio interface.  If you can do that, you'll have more fun than you can imagine with this radio.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Great write up!!

However, I don't understand the part about the 6300 "Many basic features, such as setting up two slices for "split" as you would expect, are missing.

All you have to do is click on +RX on the left side of SmartSDR and it will create a second receiver 5 up from where you were on Slice A. Select TX on the new slice and you are set for Split operation.

S
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Larry Loen WO7R

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I've already suggested to the Flex engineers ways that they make it easier.  Speed counts here.  I didn't say it didn't work.  I said it wasn't optimized for DXing.

Most of the time, I have both slices of my 6300 deployed.  I imagine that even with a 6700, I would also be out of slices.

So, I end up using the "move slice here" function a lot.  The "Rx" is greyed out.

And, "move slice here" arbitrarily moves the incoming slice on the left or right of the "current" slice (there would usually only be one slice visible even if you don't own a 6300 I suppose).  Where it plops the "moving" slice seems to be based on the old frequency which is entirely irrelevant.  In any case, almost guaranteed to be wrong.

Even your "5 k up" example is great for SSB and almost always wrong for Digi or CW.  It should be 5K for SSB and 1K for the others.  10Khz for AM, for that matter.

It should also set the "TX" for you to the one with the higher frequency.

All this can be coped with, and I do. But the panadapter lets you do a lot of tactical things to beat the crowd; so speed counts.  So, the awkwardness of the setup slows me down when I first get there.  And, if I first get there in the early minutes of a pileup, it can be the difference between getting in and out or sitting in a pileup for half an hour.

What I've suggested is a "move the slice for DX" function that has a set of behaviors that is more or less as I describe. (It's more complex describing how the TX function moves as which slice ends up where because of digital and the tie of a given slice to some specific level of DAX that I don't want to see reassigned silently).

There is also no built-in equivalent of VFO swap and copy one VFO to the other. Alternatives would be to add VFO functionality to at least one slice or to effectively "tag" slices as VFO A and B (including as seen by external software).  A lot of software out there presumes true VFOs.  Some function in fldigi just plain doesn't work, for instance, because there is no true second VFO.  A slice is not really a VFO and doesn't act like one.  But, it would be helpful if we could assign a couple slices so two of them _could_.  Since the 5000 has the true VFO concept, all of this works.  It was also easier, because it was _not_ a slice, to set either VFO frequency where you wanted with the usual click-tune.  There wasn't all this "click on the flag" stuff to worry about.  With the SmartSDR, if you have the "wrong" slice selected (easy to do, especially when a new owner of the rig) you can be putting slices where you don't want them.

Swapping slices (like old style VFOs) would be really helpful when moving from simplex to split, especially for digital (again, because of the tie of a given slice to DAX -- it gets really awkward to reassign DAX all the time and I don't want to).  So some sort of "assign slice to VFO" and "VFO" emulation would help a lot.

Stuff like that.  Not the end of the world; I still work lots of DX.  But, I must say, the original PowerSDR was initially deficient in these things, too, and what they ended up with worked well.  Today's PowerSDR is pretty well optimized for DXing.  It also had many more software iterations.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Great points. I didn't think of it this way.
I just thought you meant the you couldn't work split with the 6300. Now I understand what you meant.

I want to point something out though, you wrote: "It should also set the "TX" for you to the one with the higher frequency." From 8P I get to create my own mini pile ups and in order to move from simplex to split it makes sense to create a new slice but retain TX on the current one. So it works for me.

I can see your point, but it is also interesting to see things from other perspectives.
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Mark - WS7M

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I get the spend less, but in the situation you describe I think spending less would be a bigger waste of money.  As others have said the 3000, 5000 are not produced anymore and if you are having noise issues the better receiver in the 6000 series will help.

I've never owned a 3000 or 5000 but I did own the 1500 flex.  Nice little radio but it had some strange gotchas that you only find after using it for a while.  I then took the plunge and got the 6300 and enjoyed the heck out of it for 26 days when Flex (dang them...) tempted me to upgrade to the 6500.  

I have not had enough time to learn to love the 6500 but everyone tells me I will. So far its so similar to the 6300 I have not noticed much however it does seem to hear a little better to my deaf ears.

So my advice.  Buy the XYL a new set of ear rings and a nice dinner and beg her to let you get the 6300 at a minimum.  I don't think you will be sorry.  And as George mentioned above, start doing what you can AFTER getting your 6300 to knock down your noise at the source.

Once you've done all you can perhaps the timewave ANC is worth it.

Mark
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Cal Spreitzer - N3CAL

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Hi George,    just over a year ago my primary rig was a FTDX-3000.  I sold it and purchased a Flex 6300.  I've had the Flex 6300 for a full year now and I can tell without a doubt the Flex is the better of the two radios.  The Flex is much easier to operate and adjust to my day-day needs.  The Flex has surpassed all my expectations and I could not be happier. I've been so happy with my 6300 I chose to go ahead and upgrade to the 6500 thanks to Flex's upgrade program. 

You have some challenging operating conditions which a Flex 6300 could help.  My recommendation would be to start with the Flex 6300 along with a Pixel RF Pro Magnetic Loop receive antenna.  That setup would cost less than the price of a Flex 6500 if your on a budget.  The Magnetic Loop antenna fits in most attics and could help in reducing your noise issues.  I've used one with my 6300 and it's amazing.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions.  I'd be more than happy to share any info. 

Cal/N3CAL
(Edited)
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Terry K8EET

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I would suggest you take up Bill's (VA3QB) offer and see a 6500 in operation. I think you'll be convinced. Funny that you would come on this forum and expect anything other than praise for the 6000 series SDRs. Having made that comment, I will say this radio just keeps getting better and better.  I live in a restricted area and have had my 6500 for eleven months. Just confirmed DXCC  with LoTW  100 countries confirmed, 148 worked. Not that I exclusively chase DX...not at all. I spend much more time rag chewing on CW and SSB.
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Dave -- W7IWW

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I started journey into SDR with used 5000A and got hooked.  Sold it and now have had 6700 for 1 1/2 years and love it even more.  Can add nothing that has not already been stated above.  Except, the following:  I got my Ham ticket in 1961 (now age 71), and I have never had more fun or enjoyed the hobby more since FlexRadio SDR.  I do SSB, PSK-31, RTTY, JT-65 and JT-9, contesting, and DX chasing.  The 6000 series Flex radios will knock your socks off !!

Would suggest 6500 over the 6300, but that's my opinion.  Once you get hooked, you will want more.  FlexRadio now has a "Trade Up" program, so it may be possible to get a certified used radio with full 2 year warrantee for a very reasonable investment.  BTW, you will not find a finer company to work with than FRS.

Now, maybe sell your knob radio, use your best diplomacy at home, and you will be a happy camper.

73, Dave
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VE3GZB

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Thank you.

I can do nothing about the QRM here since it is generated by local house automation in my neighbourhood and it's connected SMPS noise generation as well as solar panel inverters/chargers by neighbours and industrial manufacturing in the area.

Looking at the fund and weighing things, I do not see the 6000 series being in my future now. It is simply not something I can dare spend anything on despite it's apparent superiority.

I think I'm going to have to take Larry Loen WO7R's advice and go with a good used 5000 instead, it's probably closer to my price range.

Thank you for your good advice, everybody, and have a great day!
73s geo VE3GZB
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K0UNX

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Lots to consider here.  The  most important part of any ham station is the antenna.  Since you are in a covenant restrictive neighborhood, you might consider moving into the countryside with some acreage.  I have an acre, and it is heavenly.

Your wife's approval / disapproval is another matter.  Can you cook?  Consider cooking classes.  Can you work a washer / dryer?  Do you have any pre-nups restricting your options?

I really love my 6500!  It receives VERY quietly, but when I have noise, I haven't found the NB or WNB to be effective at all on the types of noise that I have at this QTH.  Other people have reported the NB and WNB to be very effective on their noise.

BTW: while I've lived in Colorado for over 40 years, I am originally from the Province of New Brunswick, where the Aurora Borealis made radio reception impossible frequently.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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The OP described a RX noise issue of the electrical nature and a RX only Magnetic Loop is a great solution. Magnetic in this antenna relates to the capability of the antenna to "ignore" the electric component of a signal and focus on the "magnetic" one. Not an antenna that will produce magnetic fields!

But even though there are great answers and solutions presented on this thread the OP seems very set on his ways or needs some type of justification for his, already made, decision.

If money is an issue.... why are you asking? If you can't afford the $2500 of Flex 6300 that is the end of the discussion you just CAN'T have any of the Flex 6000 series.

You just sold a TS-990S which retails for $7000 and let's assume you lost 30% of its value (not what I see on the used market but I will humor you), you still have $5000 which is plenty for a Flex 6500 and a Loop RX antenna.


You asked for advice for a QRM riddle QTH and restricted antenna space. You are told the 6000 is superior to the 3000 or 5000 series. You are given many reasons why that is the case.

You are also advised to look into a magnetic loop which coincidentally will solve your QRM issues and is a 3ft diameter circle which can be used even indoors.

And you even received an offer from Bill (someone 20 minutes away from you) so you can go to his place and TEST DRIVE the Flex 6500 at no cost to you. An offer that you haven't even thanked. Man, I would have jumped to that opportunity.

I don't get it and I really do not think you want any advice.
(Edited)
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VE3GZB

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The magnetic field from a loop, even during tuneup on 5 watts, has caused interference in the household electronics as well as my wife's medical assistive devices. Her medical assistive devices are non-negotiable.

The funds from the purchase and resale of the TS990 have been earmarked for other far more important priorities and purposes. Discussing the funds isn't really why I started my inquiry here and really is nobody else's business.

Right now and for the future, purchasing a 6000 series SDR radio is unaffordable so there is no other choice but to go towards a used Flexradio which can be afforded. It is not so hard to understand.

And regarding the offer to help, an arrangement has been made.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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The magnetic field from a loop, even during tuneup on 5 watts, has caused interference in the household electronics as well as my wife's medical assistive devices. Her medical assistive devices are non-negotiable.

There is no tuning of a fixed diameter RECEIVE ONLY antenna. This has been said in this thread several times.

The funds from the purchase and resale of the TS990 have been earmarked for other far more important priorities and purposes. Discussing the funds isn't really why I started my inquiry here and really is nobody else's business.

You brought it up... I am not sure why. You made it everyone's business when you posted about it. Why are you now telling all of us that your resale funds are earmarked for far more important things?... no one has asked! You are volunteering this information, again.

Right now and for the future, purchasing a 6000 series SDR radio is unaffordable so there is no other choice but to go towards a used Flexradio which can be afforded. It is not so hard to understand.

I totally understand and that is exactly what you should have written to start with. Something like I have $1000 dollars I can spend on a radio, which might get me an older Flex. I have lots of QRM and very limited space? Any advice? Is it doable?

And regarding the offer to help, an arrangement has been made.

Then I apologize for that and kudos to Bill to offer you to see a Flex 6500 in action even though it is pretty clear from your post that you cannot afford it right now and for the future.
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VE3GZB

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You are very hostile sir. No positive benefit can be gleaned from any further correspondence. I bid you a good evening.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Too bad you see it that way, I truly think I was providing very positive benefit to this thread. Have a good night and tomorrow, maybe, reread the whole thread, including your original post, then maybe you will understand my postings and you might then replace "hostility" with a more accurate "clarity" quantifier of my posts.

I also guess this will be your last response as you stated that further discussion provides no benefit.

I have the opposite opinion. It is through discussion (I prefer to call it dialogue) that anyone can achieve enlightenment.
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Robert -- N5IKD, Elmer

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VE3GZB,
The best thing you can do to improve your station is to address the antenna situation. Consider a "Flagpole" antenna, or a vertical in a tree or a long wire along the fence line.

You should definitely jump into the 6300 with both feet. You will be miles ahead of where you are now, but it won't make your noise go away like moving your antenna out from under your roof.
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Simon Lewis

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I would not be investing in anything less than the latest technology.... I work in IT ... buying old tech at a low cost is fine but if you can afford a 6000 series then grab one!

How can I 'sell' this ?

Well ... lets take last nights run on VK9WA (Willis Island) for example

On 4 bands I was able to bust big pile ups as I can see where the op is working, where he will 'appear' next in the pile up and where that corresponds to a hole ..

You can see the pile up swirling about it moves up and down with the DX

But I was able to put myself in a hole time and again and bust pile ups even a huge 10M pileup of JA NA and EU!

WNB/NR is great and I just LOVE the waterfall / pana - I will not go back to a radio with a tiny display .. even on my Surface Pro 3 its brilliant !

The 6000 series is not yet perfect ... lets be frank .. there are still some rough edges BUT .. its a hugely capable radio and one if you like SDR's that you would find a bad experience.

I had a 1500 and hated the damm thing ... I really had to take a leap of faith with the 6500 but wow its amazing! So much so I now own two and the TS590's are gone and I did think they were awesome!

So .. grab the 6300 .. its a lot of capability for the money, a 6500 takes you a step further ... 6700 is nice but a lot of radio ... I decided 2 x 6500's would suit best!

The rest of the feature set like IP based connectivity is great .. for me DAX is fantastic ... CAT ops are still .. messy ... but I have no doubt that will come right.

Overall I think you would not be unhappy with the 6000 ... go try the road test you got offered ... I bet after you run out and grab a Flex 6000!

Good luck!

Cheers

Simon ZL4PLM
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Mark - WS7M

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Gosh Simon, TWO 6500's!?!?  Wow...  I can't even figure out what to do with four slices not to mention two radios and 8 slices!!!

I agree with you on the pileups.  I don't have the ant to work them very often but I go and watch and what is cool is to fine one, expand the pan so you can clearly see everything and in my case most of the time the weakest signal is the dx station.  I drag my filter down to just him and it's very cool.

Being as US station I'm on the pile up side of things.  I think you being a ZL are probably on the receiving side more than I'll ever be.

I get your point on QRZ.  I get frustrated there too.  I'd love to see info on your station and use of two 6500s!
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Simon Lewis

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I do a lot of EME work Mark so one is dedicated to a stack of transverters :) and will act as a second contest station in my new shack

yeah I can create a mini pile up .. just by calling CQ !

So hence the 6500's one gets run on HF alone and 6m .. the other a stack of transverters for 144 thru 10 GHz from Kuhne and some dishes and a stacks of yagis .. or will be once we get moved into the new QTH after the builder has finished

My new station will be IP enabled as much as I can .. a real 21st century shack!

Cheers!
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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WOW! Anywhere I can go to see pictures of your setup? Sounds awesome!
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Ken - VE5KC

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Hi George...

When I first got my 6500 I was living in a seniors housing project, I had an antenna but it was very short limited space..  and a lot of QRM, often worse than S9. I went through a lot of radios before getting my Flex 6500. I tried Kenwood, ICOM, Elecraft and even the Yaesu FTdx3000. One of my main goals was to find a rig that could handle my severe QRM. The 6500 was the best radio for operating in this environment. The noise limiting & reduction was fantastic! Besides the the noise handling, it's great not being tied down to any particular part of the house...  I can operate on my laptop from anywhere my WiFi can reach and in future over the internet.

The money I wasted on other radios could have bought a few 6500s.. I should have bought the 6500 in the first place, it would have been cheaper.. I still like playing with some of my other radios from time to time but the Flex 6500, it is my favorite rig.  Now I'm waiting for the Maestro that I have on order.. 

I moved into my new QTH - I bought a house this fall...   very little QRM now.. no antenna restrictions...  I even had the power, phone & cable lines buried... Now I can play all I want, I'm a happy camper!

73..  Ken - VE5KC
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Mark - WS7M

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Sir, I think you've received a lot of input in this thread.  Quite a few people have taken time to tell you what they think and even offer you a chance for a test drive.

I would hope that your post was sincere and before you make up your mind at least go and do the test drive offered by the gentleman above.  I mean you post was asking the base question of should I go for 3000, 5000 or jump all the way to the 6000.

It seems to me the overwhelming response in this forum was do the 6000 series.  You won't regret it.  

Well no one of use can know your personal situation or financial situation so we all need to push that aside.  Only you can decide on those issues and you are right, they really are not any of our business except I think several people mentioned things like price differences and antenna costs etc.

Anyway here is my final point and I think if you are interested in this hobby and clearly you face not only noise challenges but also perhaps antenna and space and financial challenges that you do at least one thing for the benefit of yourself:

Take the gentleman that offered up on his proposal to come to his place and run the 6500.  That can't cost you much more than a little time and effort to get over there.

You might still come out of this deciding as you mention above about the 5000.  But before you lay any money down I think you owe it to yourself simply by making this post in the first place to investigate (at almost no cost) the 6500 running at a local hams shack.

In the end you will probably enjoy whatever you get but don't go into your 5000 series deal wondering if you should have at least test driven the 6000.

Mark
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Walt - KZ1F

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Regardless of which SDR radio the single most important issue is can you live with being tethered to a Microsoft Windows app in order to run it? The only way to know for sure is to take up Bill on his offer, or  see if you can 'borrow' one of those used Flex's you mentioned for a day or two.

You probably understand the people answering your question have a decided perspective not only on vendor but model. There are advantages to SDR and there are disadvantages. The only way you will know for sure what works for you is to play with one, either Bill's or one of the used 3000 or 5000 or even 1500's, which used are around $500. If you fall in love with it you can always get the 3000 or 5000 and the 1500 is a ''second rig". If you don't, you likely can sell it for what it cost you.
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Kevin Va3KGS

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Morning George


Hope your still following this thread you started. 

Read all the comments made and sort out the great advice given.  Everyone of us has unique situations, and we all seek out the best solution as you are trying to do.  Your antenna is doing what it is suppose to do, and that is receive noise.  Its up to the radio to filter out the noise.  To aid in filtering out the noise, a resonate antenna away from power lines is the best recommendation I give. 

I Googled Earthed your street, not sure if you are on the inside or out side where the green belt is.  However, for an outdoor antenna, think about using a SteppIR vertical (Put a British Flag on it!!).  As one person above said work on your antenna, then buy the 6500 or 6700.  (Also search out Youtube videos)

I run all bands on both the 5000A and 6500. My 5000A is now delegated to VHF & UHF SSB. The negative comments you hear in our local 80 meter chat groups are from people that 1) don't understand the new technology, or 2) maybe cant afford the radio and the extra stuff that needs to make a great station.  I will be updating my QRZ and internet sites soon and I do post stuff there. you are welcome to contact me for station setup......Good Luck OM

Kevin, Va3KGS

(Edited)
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VE3GZB

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Restricted environment, HOA, covenants. Flagpoles, clotheslines, antennas are not permitted here.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Mark Griffin

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George,
You might want to consider a Zerofive Flagpole Vertical. I'm sure it will be far less in price and you will get it much sooner than ordering from SteppIR. That would be my recommendation when it comes to a vertical that you don't want your neighbors complaining about it. I have a zerofive vertical, not the flagpole version, but the 33 foot model I have works quite well on 10-80 meters. Give them a try, you won't be sorry you did. Mark Griffin, KB3Z
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David Warnberg

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After everything you have been through and the money you've spent here is what I would suggest (being I'm in an HOA and feel your antenna pains).. spend 150.00 and get yourself a simple SDRplay, SDR radio but receive only... then see how it does with existing attic antenna, when you are done testing start playing with outside end fed wire antenna's (another cheap way to test), a simple balun with one end grounded and the other a random length of wire will do pretty well depending on where you have it, so again experiment.  Then once you figure out your antenna situation then check into an SDR radio, I chose FLEX-6300 but have upgraded to the 6500.

As Mark has suggested, a vertical disguised as a flag pole works very well.  I too have a zerofive vertical, I started with a 29' hidden in the back corner of my yard (spoke to neighbors first).  It was up for about 2 years, I have since graduated to the 43' vertical with fold over so that it can be easily folded down and hidden.

Good Luck

David
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Mark Griffin

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George,
My only other suggestion would be this. Seeing that you really can't hang anything outside, perhaps you might want to consider Dstar!. I'm sure you have heard of the mode. Icom manufactures the rigs and all you would need is either a local Dstar repeater or DVAP. You can talk to the whole world via all the Dstar reflectors.

I realize HF is great, and I agree with you that you would like to stick with it. But at least with Dstar you won't have to worry about interference or your Housing Community getting all bent out of shape because you do something that might destroy the supposed scenic beauty of the area. When you said that you can't even hang up a wash line with them getting their bowels in an uproar I can't believe a community would be that narrow minded.

I certainly hope you knew about all the restrictions before you moved there. Trying to be polite, but that would be too much for me to take, even if I wasn't a ham. George, best of luck with what you are trying to accomplish. There are HF antenna's that you can attach to the side of your house. But I get the gut feeling that you can't even do that. Not to be nasty but I'm surprised they even allow you to breath the air in the community because of the purity it seems they are trying to force on the people. I certainly hope I have not offended you.  If I did, I apologize with all sincerity! Mark Griffin, KB3Z
(Edited)
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VE3GZB

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Our move to such a restrictive area was not an easy choice. It was done for a lot of medically complex reasons surrounding my wife's fragile health. I knew there would be challenges in ham radio when moving here. Her health and well being trump any "CQ" I might like, but there's nothing in the covenant which states I cannot run an antenna in my attic.

73s geo VE3GZB
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Mark - WS7M

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I get health concerns. When i was a teen my mother was horribly ill and my father had to travel to keep his job at least 2 weeks out of every month.

This was very hard for a 17 year old to take. I spent most of my evenings caring for her and more than once i turned down a party or even a ham contest because her needs came first.

So i get you completely. But dont lose yourself either. Clearly you are passionate about radio and if you keep pushing you will find a workable solution that will keep you happy and sane!

Best if lick and let us all know how things turn out with your station options.

Mark. ws7m
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Being strictly indoors is about as strict as it gets.

If you stick with your attic antenna, I would have a long, hard look at JT65 and JT9.  These are also friendly to lower power and even indoor antennas.

I've also known that several other approaches that have worked are:

1.  Extremely low dipoles.  Here in Arizona, most properties are contained by masonary walls.  Some amateurs have had surprising success by stringing dipoles, quite stealthily, just under the top of the bricks.

2.  Some strictly operate low bands, such as 40m or 30m and simply put their vertical up by hand in (literally) the dark of night and take them down before morning.  What nobody ever notices, nobody can object to.

You might ask around the local amateur and DX community.  Or even spend a hundred bucks or two on the right lawyer.  These kinds of restrictions may not be as absolute as they appear.  For instance, if you do #2, it isn't a permanent antenna and that means the HOA can't really tell you (in Arizona anyway) you can't have it even if someone does notice.  You may have to roll the coax out the window and put it all away every night, but that may well get you more fun than just the attic antenna.  In winter, you can wedge in a board and run the coax through that to avoid trying to heat all of Ontario.

I do not have personal experience with rules that strict, but I know of members of my DX club that have done things like this with success.
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Mark Griffin

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George,
I fully understand. Your family comes first and amateur radio falls to wherever you want it to be. Best of Luck!