Possibility of a DXpedition Ready Flex-6x00?

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  • Updated 5 years ago

Pondering over my very positive experience taking my Flex-6300 out for portable use, I'd like to pose the question whether some or all of the models could be made available in a "DXpedition Ready" grade?

My concept would be repackaging to include an onboard router and power management strip in a robust case that would be dust resistant, when closed up in transport mode splash resistant, a no/low mar non-slip exterior, extra user replaceable fusing and with all interior pieces positively located, connectors upgraded to latching inside and whatever else is need to make a basically "military style" field ready version.

Thinking the dual SCU of the 6700 would be awesome for use with more than one antenna, and a "DXpedition lite version" based off one of the single SCU models would suffice for the rest of us.

I know I'd appreciate the unified package and the robustness. 

Anyone else?

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Posted 5 years ago

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W6RWC

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If you are seriously thinking of taking the 6x00 series on a DXPedition, make sure you contact support to see if your radio has had it's flash card secured.

My 6500 failed twice for a loose SD card.  Unfortunately, the design of the radio places this card under an RF shield on the radio motherboard at the bottom of the radio, and this shield is sealed down with a sticker that warns of voiding the warranty if removed.  Flex has since indicated that they have changed their manufacturing and testing procedures to resolve this issue, but it's a serious let down to have such an advanced and capable rig fail to such a trivial flaw 3/4 of the way through a major contest as the only active station in a DX country that weekend (VP2VGG).  Not much you can do to resolve, when you're on a remote island in the middle of the caribbean sea...  You just grab for the backup rig and keep going.

Even with the failure I experienced, I think the 6x00 radio is a FANTASTIC rig for DXPeditions.  It worked like a champ, pulling in the some of the weakest signals I've ever heard in a contest.  We received fantastic signal reports and more compliments on the audio quality than I can count.  We may have sold a few rigs along the way :)

One more thing to keep in mind regarding travel with the 6x00 series... the radios will not fit in any airline legal carry on luggage.  It's checked, or shipped, but you won't get it in the cabin of a commercial airline.  Happy to share photos and specs for how we transported the rig and its major accessories from California to the Caribbean.
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Jon - KF2E

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The max carry-on size is 22cm x 35cm x 56cm The 6500 is 10.2 x 30.5 cm x 33cm. It won't fit in it's box but you could pack it in a carry-on.

Jon...kf2e
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W6RWC

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Generally correct on the carry on dimensions, for some airline - but the carry on restrictions are based on outside dimensions of the bag.  When you look at the inside dimensions of a carry on legal suitcase, they don't fit the rig, or are extremely tight in the dimension with all the easy to damage connectors.

I guess you could hand carry the rig without any protection, or shoe horn it in to a legal bag, but I'm not sure I would feel comfortable carrying the rig without some sort of protection against the bumps of travel.
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Stan - VA7NF

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There are several Gator rack cases.  I have both a cloth 2U + Laptop case and a turtle shell 4U rack.  The 4U holds the rig, a 10Ah lithium ferrite battery, power distribution, and 12V net switch.  Open the ends and turn it on.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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A DXPedition Ready Form factor could be different than the present packaging - perhaps along the line of the 5000 though hopefully smaller?

Thinking it should have an integral case/protection enough to travel as hand luggage, though would expect to have an over-case if checked.

And things like the internal cards, SD-cards and such would all need to be drop proofed.

Semi-sealed unit with drop down doors for cabling access front and back.  When Turtled up with everything closed it should be dust/splash proof.

Could really be a neat unit!

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Having taken (long ago) an SDR 1000 on a DXpedition and done a few more of them, I definitely would _not_ suggest taking an unprotected rig.

Sooner or later, you tend to end up on some kind of puddle jumper where there is either no carry on at all or day pack kinds of dimensions.

Somehow, I managed to keep the SDR 1000 with me until the last leg in Belize where it went in the luggage hold on what amounted to an overgrown Cesna.  In Bonaire, my last flight was some American Airlines commuter and I was supposed to check the bag with the rig, but managed to forget and they didn't help me remember.  But, that could have ended up in the hold, too.

I've done Pelican cases and I've done standard carry on using socks and tshirts to pad the rig (something I now think is too clever by half).

When I go again, I think it's going to be Pelican cases even if I have to check it all the way (and I probably will).  Unless you are taking an end fed dipole or something, you're very likely to end up checking something anyhow.
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W6RWC

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Couldn't agree more on the Pelican is clearly the way to go with this rig.

Here are a few shots of the 6500 that I checked from SFO > EWR > SJU > STT.  This is the core of the equipment we used as VP2VGG in the last ARRL 10m contest.

This passed all baggage weight and dimension requirements down to the Cessna 403  from San Juan to St Thomas - and didn't warrant TSA special inspection at any airport.

To start, I used a 1610 Pelican case with stock 3 layer foam:
 


Bottom layer, containing:
  • Windcamp FT-8x7 Headset/PTT/CAT Adaptor
  • MFJ Dummy Load
  • MFJ Antenna Analyzer
  • RigRunner 4005
  • FlexControl
  • NetGear ProSafe Plus Gigabit Switch: GS105Ev2
  • Alfa R36 Router
  • Homebrew USB powered RaspberryPI SDR Receiver
Second and third foam layer containing the 6500 and required cables and adaptors - everything in the box is powered off of 12v, via the RigRunner, so no wall warts or transformers to take up space:

 
Note, there is a layer of foam between the top of the 6500, and equipment from the first photo.


Fully packed, and ready for the baggage handlers.
All of my gear (including antennas and clothes, but not including laptop and other personal electronics) were contained in 2 Pelican cases - and weighed in at 105 lbs total.



Nothing missing, and nothing damaged by the airlines.  With the exception of a flakey flash card, a near perfect trip.
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Great job!  But, one question:  How thick was the 'not pictured' layer of foam between the rig layer and the dummy load / analyzer / rigrunner layer?
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W6RWC

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A bit more than 1"between the rig and the gear layer below. Also keep in mind that the gear below does no exceed the foam height in the lower level, where it overlaps with the rig.

All other dimensions have a minimum of 2" of foam to another object.

After taking this on the road, I'm thinking of having a higher density foam insert, water jet to the correct dimensions for the gear. If I do, I'll be more than happy to share the design.
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Bill W2PKY

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What computer did you use?
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W6RWC

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For the contest, we ended up with an older HP laptop - I don't recall the model.  I cranked the frame rate down, left DAX off, and only had a single panadaptor and slice running at any given time.  It worked relatively well.