So, You’ve Just Purchased a Flex 6000

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  • Updated 3 years ago

Congratulations! Welcome to the Flex SDR community. There are a lot of great folks here, and many opportunities to “rediscover ham radio” using your 6000-series.

A few words of advice, if I may.

  1. You have not purchased a radio. The Flex 6000 Series is a radio SERVER. It is a very high-powered, network-grade computer server. That it provides radio services is almost incidental. Before you get truly comfortable with your new “rig,” you will need to have this epiphany.

  2. This means your shack computer is a client, running client software (Smart SDR). To be effective, your system must be support the client. This means hardware and software. Flex is really clear about the requirements. You must use a supported version of Windows for SSDR, with a computer of appropriate horsepower. It may be time to update more than just the rig. As with all servers, multiple clients can connect. Like DAX, CAT, Maestro, etc.

  3. Learn how to set an IP reservation in your router. Understand how traffic is routed in your LAN. Make friends with MAC addressing, firewall rules, port mapping, and – most of all – Wi-Fi network configuration and management.

  4. The 6000 series is very flexible, but not infinitely so. The difference between having one SCU (Spectral Capture Unit, or a fancy name for “the radio inside”) like the 6300 and 6500, and two (6700) is a big deal. With one, you have one receive antenna port active at a time. With two, you have two. Within those SCUs, you are able to create multiple panadapters (band displays) and slices ("channels"), in numbers dependent on the hardware. Buy what’s right for you. Take a long, hard look at the specifications, features, and requirements before you spend your money.

  5. The best and worst part of Flex radios is the waterfall/panadapter. Best, in that it changes the way you interact with the bands in a profound way. Worst, in that you will see – and almost certainly get anxious about – noise sources, birdies, and just overall radio junk you never knew existed before. It was always there, trust me. Now it’s in your face.

  6. There are a LOT of permutations you can work through using the various settings in SSDR. Take the time to explore and see what they do. This is a process. The 6000-series is a very complicated machine and takes time to master.

  7. It is likely that you will encounter RF-related troubles, either to your transmitted signal, received signals, or to your computer. Integrating a radio server with your station is not the same as hooking up a conventional radio. You’ve invested in a high-performance rig, ensure the rest of your station is very well grounded and shielded. All of your cables should be of top quality.

  8. There is an excellent manual. One of the best I’ve seen. Before you even take delivery of the rig, read the manual completely. I know most of us are men, and worse, all of us are ham radio operators. That doesn’t mean we can’t read the directions.

  9. Speaking of directions – follow all update, configuration, and troubleshooting directions explicitly. Don’t skip steps.

  10. If exploring on your own and reading the manual doesn’t help, search the Community. Use the search tools! Simple searches like “WNB” will lead you to probably thousands of results and quick frustration. Going to a library and asking for a “book on radio” will get you directed to a long bookshelf that will take all day to scan. Asking for “The Radio Amateur’s Handbook, 2016 edition” will get you going much more quickly.

I’ve had my 6500  for three years, now. It has been on the air almost every day, and has inspired me to try a lot of new things in my 40-year ham career. I’m not an alpha or beta tester (although wouldn’t mind being one!), and am not employed by Flex in any way. The comments above are my opinions only, and do not necessarily reflect those of Flex or anyone else.

Hope you have as much fun with your new rig as I have with mine.

Photo of George Molnar, KF2T

George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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Photo of Kevin K4VD, Elroy

Kevin K4VD, Elroy

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#5 struck home for me. At first the waterfall provided an excellent method of visualizing local noise sources and knocking them out. I was able to knock out a few things I had just gotten used to hearing in my old rig. Then, of course it got to the point where i was trying to hunt down noise sources on the waterfall that I couldn't hear in the headphones. That got to be a bit of an obsession for a while.

To me, the waterfall is the absolute best feature of the Flex. I don't think it is about knobs vs. mice, analog vs. digital, hardware vs. software. I think it's all about hearing vs. seeing and hearing. Seeing the band spread out before you gives a sense of control not found within a 250 Hz CW filter. Seeing a DX pileup +1 KHz above a weak DX signal - priceless.
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KC9NRN

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Couldn't agree more! 
Photo of EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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YES!
I would like to add that the way SmartSDR treats the panadapter and waterfall make it a pleasure to use. If you try "other" SDR applications you will see the differences. Starting with the QUALITY of the waterfall to the ability to move and have both Panadapter and Waterfall follow you.
Photo of W5XZ - dan

W5XZ - dan

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another vote for moving #5 to #1, george...nice job