Should I get maestro and forget using the computer ... I have a Flex -6500. Advantages vs disadvantages?

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KA1RYF

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Posted 3 years ago

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KF4HR

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Why not enjoy both?  If you buy a Maestro you'll be able to switch back and forth between it and the PC as you wish.
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Walt - KZ1F

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That might pass as a viable alternative if you had a 6300. With a 6500 you'll lose 1/2 of what you paid for plus spend an additional $1300+ for the privilege.
(Edited)
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Mark Erbaugh

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The 6500 supports up to 4 slice receivers. The Maestro only supports 2.
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Jay / NO5J

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I have a Maestro and a 6500, I like being able to operate 2 slices, without using the SmartSDR GUI on the monitor. When working 20m Digital I tend to open up a slice for Fldigi at 14.070, and another slice for WSJT-X at 14.076. Not having SmartSDR displayed on the monitor, frees up a lot of desktop real estate for loggers, and spotting apps, etc. My Maestro sits directly under my monitors behind my keyboard.

Kind of like having a 3rd monitor to run SmartSDR on. It lets me control the radio without the mouse stealing focus from the logger.

When I need more slices, I use SmartSDR, But multitasking more than 2 slices is complicated. 

I like having both options.

 SDRgadgets

73, Jay - NO5J

(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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This pretty much parallels my operating position when I am not in "work" mode.  It is also convenient to be able to listen to the bands without having SSDR-Win running on my PC where I can easily turn or turn the volume down.
(Edited)
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Kevin

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Jay - could I contact you offline to ask some questions about your fldigi and wsjt-x setup? If so, is your address on QRZ.com OK? Mine is valid.
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Jay / NO5J

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Kevin

Sure, I'm good on QRZ.

 SDRgadgets

73, Jay - NO5J

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KF4HR

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Walt is probably eluding to the fact that the Maestro can only see 2 slices, so if you have a 6500 and use the Maestro, you can't access all 4 slices (at once).  Then again, 4 slices get somewhat crowded on a 12"-15" laptop screen. 

I change from my PC to my Maestro on a regular basis, depending on where I am in the house.  I find this is the best of both worlds.
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Brian Hemmis

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Unfortunately you can not use your big monitor and use the Maestro at the same time. That has been my biggest disappointment. I'm hoping they get this resolved and also the ability to easily use the Maestro as a remote ASAP. If not I'll probably sell the Maestro and go back to the 6500 and the FlexControl knob with my 27" monitor. Here's hoping or it's gone. YMMV. 73, Brian K3USC 
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Walt - KZ1F

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If you have a spare $1300+ burning a hole in your pocket and overbought your radio, buying 4 vfos when you only needed/wanted two, that the Maestro is a passable deal. It's that simple. Maestro only supports two vfos (a reasonable limitation since I rarely have used three vfo's much less four.

FlexRadioSystem will be more than happy to sell you as many as you like. Remember too, the ONLY thing a Maestro is good for is running with a Flex 6000 series radio. If you are true blue, not an issue. Should you decide at some point you'd like a different option as Windows 10 is just too painful, the Maestro has to be part of the deal, as it serves no other uses. Think of Maestro purchase as 'doubling down' on the vendor...any vendor. My Elecraft linear and ext tuner will work with any radio I buy, including a Flex 6500. The previous was neither an indictment nor praise for either product or the vendor.  Just go into this with your eyes open. If you are still w/i 30 days on the 6500....that decision can be revisited.

One last thought...some will say 'yes, but someday FRS may do <fill in the blank> with your Maestro". Don't make any major purchase on the hopes or promise that someday it may become a <fill in the blank>.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Kev,
No problem, I didn't take it as trying to jump ahead.  Actually many of your suggestions are also on the idea list.   Some examples: dockable windows, integrated skimmer and cluster spots, sliders, color schemes and more.    If you haven't already added your vote and comments to some of them it may be worth checking out.  

There is no shortage of ideas for improving SSDR 4 Windows but with all of the other efforts like Maestro, WAN, etc many of them haven't  been addressed yet.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................. V 1.9.7.85
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.9.7.169
Win10
   
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Walt - KZ1F

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Kevin, were you here yet when I put up some vids of XPSSDR? I ask as it sounds like that is precisely what you were describing to Eric.
But the flags don't include a filter setting, only an indicator so it's back down to the RX panel.
In the radio stack there is the graphic of the filter, which can be adjusted on the pan itself but there are something like 9 presets for filters available on the flag specific to the demod mode you are in. To be sure there is a fair amount of software to manage a graphical depiction of the head and tail of the filter. I believe, for myself, I used it once and, at that, what I ended up with was really really close to a preset. I think FRS did a very good job picking the presets.
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Kevin

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Hey Walt. I was here for that but I think it shot right on past me. It has been a very long time since I was anywhere near a Linux machine, RH 6.0 on a VALinux Xeon box I think? Basically I had been through all the OS wars and Gates beat me down.

I forgot all about the filter buttons under the mode dropdown on the flag. I agree, the default filter widths are a good selection but I often make use of the filter adjustment on the spectrum display to clean up some close-in CW. Thanks for reminding me they are there. Oddly, I just noticed the buttons in the flag provide more options than the buttons on the RX panel.

DIGU Flag: 100, 300, 600, 1.0K, 1.5K, 2.0K, 3.0K, 5.0K
DIGU RX: 100, 300, 1.0K, 1.5K, 3.0K, 5.0K

A little inconsistent.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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A limitation of real estate
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Walt - KZ1F

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And I am sure that's why they added that facility. I asked only because that's exactly what I did with XPSSDR, each Pan is it's own window (small w) and the radio control is in it's own window. Likely my favorite vid was when I opened two pans and stretched each window across 2 monitors, Then I had 2 20" monitor. Now I have 4 monitors the orig 2 20" which now flank 2 24". I discovered something interesting though. I can not stretch the pan beyond 2 1/2 monitors before the spectrum display won't increase anymore. I don't know who imposed that limitation. I suspect it is flex as once I breach that, for lack of a better word, max X, the updates stop flowing to the spectrum (upper) viewport, the waterfall works just fine at max width. I am guessing the updates stop when x exceeds 4,000 pixels. I don't recall seeing a published upper limit. Which is not to say it doesn't exist in print somewhere.

And you're right, the 9th is for the combo box. At the time I didn't recall whether it was 3x3 or 3x4.

Ah RHEL, I like RHEL. I used to be a regular at the RedHat Summit in Boston. RHEL 7 is, from my understanding, a fully flushed out Fedora 21.I have CentOS 7.1 as an image in my OpenStack cloud along with Fedora 21.

I did kind of smile to myself when it sure sounded like you were describing XPSSDR. For Linux, the pans default to separate windows but in Android they default to pinned as there is insufficient real estate to have separate windows but, they are tabbed so should I open 1+ there are multiple concurrently running pans.

My career went somewhat the opposite of that. I used to be very much a Windows Weenie. Once I got really comfortable with Linux, I severed my interest in Windows, professionally and personally. Actually it had more to do with MSDN.
(Edited)
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k3Tim

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I'm in the "both" camp and Jay hit the nail on the head.

The 6500 with Maestro displaying 2 VF0s is not equivalent to a 6300 as the 6500 specs are superior in addition to the 4 VF0s. I use both Smart-SDR on PC and carry the Maestro about the home mainly for SWL.

I believe FRS is looking at allowing a Maestro and Smartt SDR on a PC to "share" in a future release.

When I was exploring buying a 6500 I debated waiting for more software to be ready before throwing down for the purchase. Then it struck me, s/w updates will continue, they are free (till 2.0) so why wait? That was 2 years ago and I haven't regretted or looked back.

If you can see / try one in person that would be ideal.

GL / Regards,

k3Tim
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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"When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail."

I have a 6300, a Maestro, an IPad running SmartSDR for IOS, a PC running SmartSDR for Windows, and a couple Macs which run SmartSDR for Windows under Parallels and DogParkSDR running natively. So I have many options open to me.

SmartSDR for windows is my choice for when I want the full, no compromise Flex Radio experience for hunting rare DX. When I'm Contesting, running a special event station or SWL, the Maestro is the champ. When I want native Mac OSX experience with tight integration with MacLogger DX, DogParkSDR is the only choice (however I find DogParkSDR GUI surprisingly kludgy as compared to MacLogger DX.) When I want to have an insane amount of fun while relaxing in my living room's recliner or from a hotel room, DL8MRE's insanely great SmartSDR for IOS is my go-to client.

No matter the operating task at hand (or just my mood), I can pick the right tool for the job. No other amateur radio platform offers this amount of flexibility. The 6000 Signature series truly lives up to the moniker: Flex Radio Systems.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Ria, I asked this once before of someone. Given it is between 8 and 5 on the east coast and you clearly aren't retired yet, are you at work now? 
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Yes, I am at work. I work like 50-60 hours a week. 
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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TNF is the best thing ever on a contest. I can't live without it. It is not available on the Maestro.
Someone not familiar with TNF won't miss it.
I do.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Losing some features is one reason why I did not get a maestro but I did test drive Dave, WO2X's before I even had a flex radio. I can see the appeal for contesters where there is the need for focus and minimalist controls.  However I would like to see maestro improved with some features that are in smartsdr
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Me too
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Joseph, in my personal opinion (I have a 6700 and a Maestro) the answer is NO.
You cannot forget about the PC.

You can use your radio with the Maestro, no doubt about that, but these are the reasons why doing so, without a PC would be a limitation to the potential of your radio.

  1. You cannot use Track Notching Filters (TNF) on the Maestro. The single best thing of the Flex radios!
  2. You can not use Downward Expander (Noise Gate) with the Maestro, invaluable to me.
  3. You cannot work any digital modes. If at least Maestro would decode CW, RTTY and PSK you could do a lot of the digital modes currently used, so you might not miss the PC.
  4. You cannot communicate with external devices, such an amp, to switch bands. You rely on the amp having frequency reader (bound to produce hot switching). Now, this is supposed to be resolved soon, I have been hearing this for over 3 months :) . 
  5. You are limited to 2 slices. I understand the 2 panadapter limitation on the Maestro.... real state.... I really do not share the 2 slice limitation. In SmartSDR, with my 6700 I can have one of the receivers on the 2m band with several slices open listening to the local VHF repeaters (thank god for squelch on FM). Basically I have 1 panadapter with 3 slices opened, while I work HF with 1 and sometimes 2 (Split) slices open. That is a total of 5 slices that could be opened in the Maestro but can't. I don't know why I can't have 2 slices per panadapter and just limit the panadapter number to 2......
  6. The Flex 6000 radios are glorious in a large PC screen. Seeing so much of the spectrum in a 4k 40+ inch monitor is a sight to behold. Even in a 24 inch HD monitor its an amazing experience. While the Maestro screen quality is good, is just "meh!" when compared with a computer screen.
The good news is that, you do not need an expensive computer to run SmartSDR. You probably have a computer already in your QTH to do logging of your QSOs as that is another task you cannot do on the maestro. So you will end up like all of us, with both a computer and the Maestro and trying to figure out where and when the Maestro makes sense for you.
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KA1RYF

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Thank you!!
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Moose

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I don't think I would have bought a Flex 6500 if the Maestro wasn't available. Not to say it isn't great to use SmartSDR on a PC. Before the 6500 I had several different full size radios with every knob and button you could want. I like having a front end like the Maestro to control the radio. Using my hands to control the radio is more intuitive to me than using a mouse pointer. The Maestro has an awesome display you just have to see to experience.

SDR is the future of radio. You're starting to see it from Icom with the IC-7300 and IC-7610 where they are just self contained SDRs made to look like a regular radio. I think we'll see more and more of that until it is the prevailing technology. 

The other thing that is amazing is just how good the Maestro is for being a first generation device. Typically the first try at anything is rough around the edges and it is the 2nd and 3rd generation devices that really start to shine. The Maestro was very well thought out from the start and what you get is truly a first class product.

73 Chris AK4SK
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Maestro is more of a "2nd monitor and keyboard" set of tools where it can free your main screen for other stuff. If this is how you want to operate then Maestro is for you. It's advantageous for contesting, for example. 
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response
We are all about offering choice: Maestro, PC, Laptop, Mac, iPhone, iPad or combinations thereof. It's like Burger King advertised, "Have it your way."  Pick the "tools" that best suite your operating scenario at the given moment in time.  You can even create your own using the SmartSDR API if you are so inclined.  

We also offer Trade In and Trade Up programs so you are not locked in to your original decision if you want more.  No other transceiver manufacturer offers those choices or the ability to trade.  
(Edited)
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KA1RYF

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I can't thank everyone enough for all the replies .... It has been a great deal of help!

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