Surface Pro 4 versus Maestro ...

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Happy Thanksgiving! I am at my mother-in-laws in Eastern Oregon watching the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 advertisements sandwiched in-between football. Yes ... I have been enjoying Windows 10 thoroughly on the PC that runs my Flex 6500, enough so, that I needwant, must have a new Windows laptop. Let's assume that the Surface Pro 4 i5 and the Maestro are the same cost. I am not a contester and have turned the corner and actually find myself enjoying using a mouse pointing advice. Knobs don't seem the necessity I once thought they were. Did I mention I am also enjoying displaying 4 slices and having a PC to run ancillary programs such as Fldigi and JT65-HF? It would seem a remote CW keying solution is fairly straight-forward and within reach.

From what I have seen, it would seem controlling the Flex via the excellent SSDR on a laptop is preferable (for me) to what must be done on the Maestro through dialog boxes. I also like the idea of having a laptop for other uses in and outside the shack.

I understand the integration the Maestro affords ... what else am I missing that would weigh-in for the Maestro?

73's ...

W7NGA  dan
Pendleton, Oregon
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W7NGA

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Posted 3 years ago

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Mark - WS7M

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Dan

I have ordered a maestro but like you I wonder how much I will use it.

Today I had three slices going. One on JT65 another on PSK. And last was monitoring some CW and managed to pick up a belgium CW contact without losing track of what was hppening kn JT65. So I too wonder if i might enjoy the laptop more too.

I have been eyeing the surface book. I have a surface pro 4 but it is not very lap friendly.
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Norm - W7CK

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I've also ordered a Maestro, but now that I'm thinking it through a bit more, I'm not exactly sure how I'll be putting it to use....

There appears to be several advantages to a laptop or tablet over the Maestro.  Especially when traveling.  I very rarely ever travel without a laptop, tablet or both.

1) You can have your logging program running on the same machine.
2) You can run just about any digital mode you want to because it can be run locally.
3) You can setup remote control of your Amplifier, Tuner and Rotator.
4) You can control your Ethernet switches to power on and off remote devices.
5) You can remote into your home computer and do just about anything on it you like.
6) If you need a knob, you can use the FlexControl if you like.
7) You can get on the internet.  This may be a huge asset.
8) You can use Just about any application you want to.
9) You can stream the video to a bigger monitor or TV.
10) You can use them to watch TV or movies.
11) You can offload photos and movies from camera or phone to your laptop or tablet.
12) I very rarely ever travel without a laptop, tablet or both.  The Maestro is another item to cart along and it is pretty big.  I'm not sure how often I'll be taking it along - primarily due to its functionality being limited to strictly controlling the Flex 6000.
13) I'm sure there are a bunch of specialty apps that I haven't even thought of yet.
14) When a new program comes out, you'll be able to take advantage of it immediately.

I'm not sure how to run CW from a laptop or tablet but I'm sure it can be figured out.  Latency will be a real issue with cw regardless if one is using the Maestro, laptop or tablet.

I'll most likely still get a Maestro, but like others, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to be using it yet.  Back porch, work shop, living room, or maybe when traveling around in my 5th wheel.  When I'm in the shack, I want a large screen and I want to run several other applications at the same time.  Unless I fall in love with the Maestro, I will most likely not be taking it with me when traveling by plane. I try to travel as light as possible and usually only take a carry on.

I'm not sure if a touch screen laptop or tablet can be used with the Windows version of SmartSDR.  I just don't know enough about that technology.  Can anyone comment on the touch screen aspect of laptops and tablets?  I believe the application has to be specifically written to have this functionality.  I believe the Maestro is just a Windows machine in which case it would be nice to be able to run the Maestro software on any Windows touchscreen device.  Maybe even include touchscreen functionality in SmartSDR. 
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Andrew Russell

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I have ordered Maestro too and really think its worth finding out about. Won't know till then.
My Toshiba tablet runs SSDR OK but the touch screen is not precise enough for tuning.
A Bluetooth mouse fixes that. I haven't tried the flex control yet but don't use it much any way.
Andrew de VK5CV.
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Roy Laufer

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Well, I have my Maestro on order, and I wish that its initial release would be able to run simultaneously with SSDR on a PC, but for that, we will have to wait for a later software update.

I have an i7 Microsoft Surface Book. I bought a model with the separate graphics accelerator chip in the keyboard "just in case" SSDR's panadapters were too much for the integrated Intel graphics capability (they are not).

At this point I have the Surface Book's screen  detached and plugged into a dock, with a wired ethernet connection and power. I am using a program called Multiplicity, to control its keyboard and mouse thru my desktop. If I wish, I can run SSDR on the Surface book, but operate hardware like TMate2, FlexControl, as well as software on my desktop PC. If I disconnect the Surface Book, I can take my it anywhere in my networked house, using wifi, to listen and talk to any of the eight slices available on my SSDR. 

I find the touch screen too blunt an instrument for fine frequency control (Windows 10 does not do an iOS-like  "zoom"), even using the Surface pen. If the tablet half had a USB port I would use it for a wireless trackball for finer control. Unfortunately the USB connectors are on the keyboard part.

As I see it, the mechanical knobs will come in very useful on the Maestro. Yes, you can carry around separate mechanical controls, but that does not strike me as an elegant solution. More like an "I can do it!" kludge that once done, will not be repeated. I look forward to evaluating the Maestro fully.

I foresee the Maestro as being a bit bigger and heavier than I hoped and a bit more underpowered than I would wish, with its software a bit limited at the beginning. The software can be fixed, the hardware issues may not be that easy to do anything with. I am sure that the Maestro will become more and more useful over time. I hope that the hardware limitations will not be of too much importance.

I just wish the software would be more flexible than it initially is planned to be...
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Burt Fisher

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The Maestro as seen looks well made and nice to have but at what reason as mentioned above. Now that the price is $200 more for no good reason it is more questionable. I think the price increase is bad business but if it is selling well, I am WRONG. But if you see it "in person" that almost sells it.
(Edited)
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Burt Fisher

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I wish I had his technical knowledge
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Ned K1NJ

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   Burt's comments on the aesthetics of the "Maestro" are true.  It has to be the
best looking piece of equipment I've ever seen.  Someone put a lot of thought
into this design.

   Ned,  K1NJ

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Walt - KZ1F

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Burt, maybe you do and are just too modest to acknowledge it.
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Burt Fisher

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I can fix vintage equipment but writing software ended with BASIC in the late 80s
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Walt - KZ1F

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further along than some.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Dan, you ask a relevant question and the answer you get depends on who you ask. To be sure, some will get it because they can. Some will get it as the only reason they need is FRS is selling it to them. Some will get it for perceived work flow advantage in contesting.

I, too, preordered one. I cancelled the order as I decided I had no specific identifiable use for it and $1,000 in retirement is more than $1,000 preretirement.

One thing you might consider, will the logging program you use require a Flex 6000? Will the amp you use require a Flex 6000? Ditto with you rotor. The Maestro will require the Flex 6000. To be sure, to many, maybe even most, that question is irrelevant. It still is a question worthy of consideration.
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Walt - KZ1F

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To be sure, I originally thought, hey, when we go see the kids, the grandson, I can take it with me. Upon reflection, no, we are going to visit family not for me to huddle in the corner whispering cq cq like someone with zero social skills. I don't have vacation homes in Colorado and London. The reason I like a yagi/LP is I like to point the antenna to the station I want to work, esp DX. I can't do that from the front porch, nor can I log from there. XPSSDR will integrate logging and rotor control based on the station's call. At some point so might SSDR. If/when that happens I'll pony up the extra $200 but for right now I don't have an identifiable use for it. And XPSSDR runs on Android so when we do go to the Caribbean or EU I'll take the tablet maybe.
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Ned K1NJ

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Walt,

   Interesting question:
       " Will the amp you use require a Flex 6000?",
   considering Flex is said to be partnering in the production of an amplifier.
   One cannot make assumptions about what Flex will or will not do.

   Ned,  K1NJ
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Walt - KZ1F

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hi Ned, no, that was not my point. I try to not have dependencies in the shack. Maestro, by definition, requires the 6000. Nothing else in my shack does.
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Mark - WS7M

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Of course no one can tell yet what the FlexAmp will require.  I do believe however that it would be a mistake to make it work only with Flex radios.

On one hand that sort of makes sense... if you want the amp you are gonna need a flex to drive it with.  On the other hand it doesn't make sense as there are definitely some customers that will shy away from such a requirement.

I predict the FlexAmp will require/have the following:

Ethernet connection to control it (an API will be provided by Flex too)
Few if any knobs/controls on the face

I expect that will be about it.  So if this is true then I'd see it selling in two ways:

1) To the flex radio user.  A new version of SmartSDR and they can completely control their amp from that interface.

2) To the non-flex radio user.  They will use a program Flex will create to control the amp.  Sort of like the control program expert has.

For #1 I could completely see SmartSDR with some more controls in the right pane for the amp if you have it.

Anyway I can't believe Flex will design/make an amp that only works with a Flex radio.

Walt, I see your point... Dependency can be bad.  However in the case of Maestro I'm willing to bite and see if it is something I like/use.  I did jump into Flex Radio because it does NOT have knobs.  I am a software guy and believe that software makes it a lot easier to add features.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I also have a Flex Control, also dependent on a flex radio. At the time I ordered it I was told it was basically an interim crutch to wean people off their knob. I think the point of the Maestro is to give back the rocker switches and knobs. One can think of Maestro as simply a single application Windows tablet with rocker switches and knobs. In that sense there is a use case for Maestro but currently I am not willing to lose 2 panadapters for the privilege of adding 20% to the cost of the radio. Back to the knobs. so now it's been three years and there are very much cases where a knob is absolutely required. One in particular, working a pileup, you're watching the waterfall, someone parks themselves right on top of you so you move, perhaps even while keying, 20 Hz to either side, very delicate surgical movements that can not be done with a mouse. That may well be the absolutely must have use case for contesting. If you are the dx station a knob is mandatory I think.

It may come to pass that Maestro turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread. It's too early to tell. For those that travel on business a lot, have vacation property, or just like being curmudgeonly hermits at their children's homes, I definitely see a point to a small footprint (is it though?) physical UI to their flex. I am amazed the number of people who bought it, sight unseen and totally reviewless...just because it was for sale. Now I feel poor. Having said that, the best way to guarantee  a very comfortable retirement is not to spend it all like a intoxicated sailor at the outset. I am kind of planning on another 30 years. Mark, I am a software guy too.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I think the maestro makes a ton of sense for contest.
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KF4HR

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I like that the Maestro will provide mobility to move about my house, sit out on my deck, etc.  I attempted this once with a Kenwood's Sky Command II (TS-2000X & TH-D72).  It worked but  definitely wasn't a pleasant experience.   
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W7NGA

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Thanks for the responses. So, anyone use the Surface Pro 4 with SSDR, and if so, how does it perform? I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Microsoft Store at the Petronus Towers this Summer and I was quite impressed in the few minutes I spent with the Pro 3.
(Edited)
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Simon Lewis

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the Pro 3 and 4 are basically the same device - apart from latest processors and a slight redesign of case/pen etc

I use a Pro3 with windows 10 and it works great the touch interface is very good

I have used an i5 and and i7 - my wife 'stole' my i5 pro 3 after I loaned it to her for a weekend away - I never got it back :)

either work fine ...

I use the external dock and a mouse with Flex Control

I have ordered a Maestro .. and would like to think that FC and the Surface will come together with Maestro eventually

Cheers
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AB9UU

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I ordered a Maestro but plan to use it mobile.  I will stick it on a RAM / Vesa mount and place the 6300 in the back of the Jeep.
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Burt Fisher

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Texting is illegal in my state.
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James Whiteway

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I too have ordered a Maestro. And I have it almost paid for. BUT, I have been going back and forth with myself as to how much I would actually use it. Given that I have been attempting to write software for my 6300, I tend to spend more time trying to program than actually talking on the radio.
  One thing that has caught my eye and the topic of this thread brings the question I've had with myself is, would I be better off investing the $1,000.00 (plus tax for those of us living in Texas) in a Surface Pro 4 ( or even a Pro 3) with at least an i5 processor instead of getting the Maestro. (which I still think will be useful in itself)  Until FRS updates Flexlib to where more than one GUI client can work with the radio, then, if I had the Maestro, and I still wanted to mess with programming, the Maestro would sit unused more than it really should. I'm in the process of moving to Fort Worth and won't be set back up until the end of the year. So, that's part of the decision process as well.
Too much to think about with all the other things going on!
james
WD5GWY
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Roy Laufer

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Maestro vs. Surface Pro is more like comparing apples to pears as opposed to apples to apples.

Would you rather have two slices with all the knobs and buttons you might like, or all eight slices, but the blunt instrument like a touch screen?

I would like both (I guess I'm greedy), so I'll use them both.

Perhaps one of these days FRS will "open up the" the Maestro to increase its capabilities...
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Walt - KZ1F

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@James, well no one can tell you what you should do....or should tell you. However.. do this!. :-)

Prioritize your goals. If spending $1,000 is a good use of your money well, that might rate higher on the list of things you want to accomplish. If you spend $1,000 to have an expensive dust collector, that likely isn't ranking as high.

Another thought question for you. Did you buy the flex as a software development opportunity or to talk/ converse with other like minded people all over the country/world?

Don't necessarily think of Maestro as $1,000 if you conclude someday you'll get it. The decision may be more spending $1,000 now or deferring and spending $1,200 when Maestro becomes a critical path item for you.  Sounds a little like you spent $2600 and it is what is collecting dust now. You can always add a virtual knob in software.
(Edited)
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James Whiteway

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All sound advice Walt. The 6300 is not quite gathering dust, it's boxed and waiting in storage to be moved to our new home next month. The reason I am on the fence about the Maestro I am not certain I will use it as much as I initially thought I would. But, my wife, bless her, says I should get both the Maestro and a Surface Pro 4!
I responded to this thread as the topic seemed as though it might provide some insight into one or both devices that I had not yet considered.
thank you for your input.
James
WD5GWY
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James Whiteway

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As to your question about why I bought the 6300, one reason besides the great performance, is indeed the chance to write software for it. And to learn something new. (keep the old brain cells working)
James
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Walt - KZ1F

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YW. Vanilla exists because not everyone likes chocolate, although I cannot fathom why. :-)

Do what feels right to you. If it were me, I'd go with the tablet. If it isn't good enough to suit, you'll still have a tablet. If you aren't sure you have a sufficiently powerful use case to warrant spending $1200, consider waiting until you do.

That was a thought exercise James. I got XPSSDR working well enough to use because I did not buy the Flex for software opportunities. I've done just shy of doubled my dxcc counts.
(Edited)
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W7NGA

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I initially thought I could buy the Maestro and use it as a 'knobbed' controller for SSDR running on my PC. In other words, an expensive Flex Control. I was later told that this is not currently possible which has led me looking at the Surface Pro 4 to use with SSDR and other engineering applications.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi,
Looking for the same functionality here. Per Steve, this is planned but probably in a V2 release. No timing details given so maybe 2016 or maybe later.

Regards, Al
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Walt - KZ1F

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Maybe that is what I should do, write a Flex proxy. To the radio, it will appear as the single gui client. To the gui clients it will appear as the radio. If a slice is in use in one client it will be unavailable to the other(s). Not rocket science, no graphics involved.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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For those of you that already own an iPad. K6TU has 2 wonderful Apps that already work
1 K6TU Control that gives you a contest control surface so you can directly control SSDR with using a mouse

2. K6TU remote that provides a direct alternative to SSDR

Further COMMCAT is another iPad alternative that provides rig control.
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Ned K1NJ

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Well, I'd still like to see this:

   https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/flexcontrol_version2

   Ned, K1NJ
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Roy,
With 800+ active ideas in the community list now, it looks like they have many years of work already. And that doesnt even include the ideas FRS has on their internal list.

The good thing about SDR is that so much is possible.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Roy Laufer

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The greatest thing (as well as the worse thing) about SDR's, in general, are that they are never "finished". It is a never ending epic of perfecting it until economic factors cause people to drop it and expend their efforts on something else.

There's nothing malevolent or cynical in this. Every product has its own lifespan, and when it expires we will all 'move on'. In 50 years I seriously doubt that there will be Hams lovingly dusting and displaying their olde 6700 as our brethren do with their old Collins behemoths. No, by then something that will run rings around our ultimately fully realized 6700 systems will all fit into a package smaller than a pack of cigarettes and will cost as much as one.

It is much easier to fetishize a big, heavy iron box with loads of dials and meters and knobs, than a bunch of "state of the art" FPGA's. How many of you out there have a warm fuzzy feeling for a 486 chip?

FRS's customer wish list, in my humble opinion, is a lot like those old "push to walk" buttons on crosswalks that were probably not connected to anything, but gave pedestrian's a false sense of control.

FRS will focus on feature sets that increase the value of their products for a reasonable investment in resources. Right now FRS seems to be focused on the contesting community.

Personally, I don't see that as a big enough market, but I assume people in marketing think that if all the big contesters are shown using Flex's this will bring many more noncontesters into the product line.

I wish them good luck with that plan. A stronger FRS is better for all Flex 6000 Series owners.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Roy, your assessment is likely more correct than not. However there is option 3. To be sure, an awful lot of core radio functionality is in the black box. SSDR, the gui, is just a means to take a slider control event or button event to their equivalent cmd line directives to the radio, and the data, i.e. audio, waterfall, panadapter, meters, etc from the radio proper and present them back to the gui.

I suspect just economically it will make more sense to focus on new hardware for the masses (represented on here) to pay thousands of dollars for than a whole lot of software enhancements people pay $200 annually for. I suspect the later opens up a market for people like Stu, whoever does DogPatch, myself, perhaps others to do integrated graphical control surfaces such that upon, for instance, entering a call for logging setup get the grid square and compute SP and LP and turn the rotor. If the received signal is less than say S8 turn on the linear and set to the appropriate band and optionally tune or autotune the ext ATU up or down one KHz.

For $100/yr subscription and figure on a 10% penetration, that's worthwhile. Doing it for free, not so much. In my case, I did that for free with PMNOS, never again.
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Mark - WS7M

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Some interesting thoughts Roy.  I actually did meet a guy that inherited his fathers S-line equipment and still kept it up and running.

As I remember the S-line and I could be wrong you actually didn't have linking between the transmitter and receiver at least in the early models so you had to manually tune both to the frequency.

I remember with my crystal rig and receiver that everything was just hard.  Changing frequencies was hard and the filters didn't work well.  Then I saw my first S-line and thought how easy that would be to have.  Later I got a kenwood R/T599 twins and thought wow this is fantastic.  Now things we do with flex radios make even that stuff seem very difficult.

I think you are right that Flex will concentrate on things that make their product line profitable.

I do hope that Flex realizes that the more they develop their API the less they will have to actually do.  By this I mean us hams seem to be a mostly creative bunch.  With a powerful API in place the programs that can be dreamed up to make use of the flex systems.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Roy, FRS does have a commercial side as well.
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KF4HR

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Considering this SP4 vs the Maestro thread I came to the conclusion if I were to go with the SP4 I'd be constantly changing screens: Flex screen -> antenna control -> amp control -> logging -> return & repeat.  I certainly wouldn't want this scenario in my shack, which is why I display key control programs on separate monitors. 

I came to the conclusion that if Flex doesn't (or can't) come up with a way for the Maestro to control auxiliary shack functions I much prefer to see the Flex (Maestro screen) full time, then use a second device (Pad, laptop, etc) to control my aux functions and logging.   
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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That's kinda the point I made about being Contest focus. When you concentrate in typing in the info of the contact you just made and are concerned about your contest rate, focusing on the logging program makes sense. Currently you need 2 screens in one computer or two separate computers. That second option is not that useful as you have to consider having at least 2 mice.

The maestro makes sense for portable operation, so you can have a laptop for logging, etc... and the Maestro running the radio. 

It also makes sense for contesting as I explained above.

There is a 3rd group of users that will like the fact of having a means to operate a Flex radio without having to use a PC.

There is a fourth use case... which I am not sure if it will be possible, which is to tune 2 slices simultaneously, in case you have transverters and want to work sats.

For my particular case, not being able to have both SmartSDR and Maestro running simultaneously is an issue. That is the main use I will make of the Maestro, together with a bit of remote operating. I hope this gets clarify by FRS.

I already have a laptop (i7) so I don't need the Surface, so I never thought of the Maestro as an option vs a laptop. If I didn't have a powerful portable laptop I will most definitely put that higher in the priority list than the maestro.
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Mark - WS7M

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As I have said I bought a maestro and will keep the order in place.  Not sure how I'm going to use it yet but until I have it in hand I probably could not forecast that anyway.

What do I want from this?  Well that is a tough question as I am never quite sure what will tag my interest next...

I like SmartSDR and the computer interface.  I guess I do wish the maestro could be used while SmartSDR was up and running.  Maybe that will change in the future.

I think the maestro will be fun for a hot summer day on the porch where maybe a laptop just isn't that easy to use.  Really no idea yet until it is in hand.

I think in general for me the maestro offers the knob option to the flex radio.  Without it you are stuck on the computer interface which may be far superior.  But for those times I wish I had a knob the maestro will provide that experience.
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Mike - W7TUS

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I also have a Maestro on order but as I think about how I operate I would really like to look at Half-a-Maestro.  The right half.  All the knobs and buttons but not the screen.  I have two 27" monitors and one 24" monitor for all operating info to be displayed.  Just a thought...
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Walt - KZ1F

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For a little over $100 they have the Flex Control with 3 aux buttons to perform some limited functions with and a knob to control a user defined slider with. $100 vs $1200 if all you want are configurable switches and configurable dial/knob.
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James Whiteway

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Or, jump on Amazon and get a controller like the CMD Micro and have dual VFO support using William's excellent software.(which even works with my program!)
 
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Roy,
Regarding your comment above:  

"FRS's customer wish list, in my humble opinion, is a lot like those old "push to walk" buttons on crosswalks that were probably not connected to anything, but gave pedestrian's a false sense of control."

Things have changed since this community started.  At one time the idea statuses were frequently updated to "under consideration or planned or not planned or implemented."    Then this practice became hit or miss.  Many of the most popular ideas don't have any status currently.  Even the top 5 in votes don't have a status.  Some of the more recent ideas have been marked "under consideration"  or "planned" although they have just a few votes.   It's inconsistent.

Without FRS keeping the idea status up to date or a road map (which was also discontinued) it really is hard to tell whether a given customer request will ever be done or what FRS thinks about it.  Even if an idea is being worked on the status is not discussed until it is released.  So unfortunately, I'd have to agree with your assessment.

Maybe someday when they have some time, FRS will make a pass through all of the ideas and update the status.  It would help provide some confidence in the voting process.   The counter argument is do the customers want new features quicker or better status and feedback.  How would you vote? 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW......... V 1.5.1.70
SSDR / DAX...... V 1.5.1.152
CAT................... V 1.5.1.0
Win10  


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KF4HR

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Actually I'm amazed at how much feed back FRS provides to its customers.  When was the last time anyone has heard the CEO or VP's of ICOM, Kenwood, or Yaesu replying directly to any customer?  Or the other Flex staff responding to customers even after normal work hours and on weekends?

As for the Roadmap being dropped, it would be nice to know what future features Flex plans to implement, then again, assuming there are limited resources I prefer Flex focus on making the future changes happen.  You can't operate a Roadmap. 
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Walt - KZ1F

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One can't fairly compare a 35 person company with a large corporation doing business with municipalities all over the country / world. Kind of like buying a new TV from the local appliance store vs Amazon. The mgr of the local appliance store might sincerely be sensitive to your purchase experience, Jeff Bezos won't. That doesn't mean he doesn't care if his customers are happy, he just doesn't have the bandwidth to coddle them.

Too much sharing of information can blow up. I think it was important when the 6000 series was first being rolled out, 'here is where it is going'. Especially when some people were all too willing to elaborate on what features were missing, compared with offerings from the competition. I suspect FRS is past that growing pain. Plus, it worked so well for them over the last couple of years.
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Roy Laufer

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All things being equal, I would prefer FRS's resources fully focused upon implementation of new features, rather than shared between that and "hand holding" us customers...

But I could see other people preferring the latter option.
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Roy Laufer

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I would too...

But FRS has repeatedly advised us all, that they are WAY too busy to do this.

We've all paid for our tickets, now let's hope we all "enjoy the ride"!
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Walt - KZ1F

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I don't have any clue what ICOM will or won't do with the 7300 (they haven't discussed their plans with me) and I've never used one.

I completely disagree with you on the equivalency point. Big or small it doesn't take much to derail a company. Toyota would survive leaked plans for the Prius. Smaller companies are more vulnerable.

On your last paragraph kind of agree, a select few reenforced a decision likely already made. As you may recall I believe I was the singular voice trying to tamp down the cyclical temper tantrums.

One final thought exercise, going forward would not knowing alter your prior purchase choice?

On the technophobic geriatrics, careful there son.
(Edited)
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Roy Laufer

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Although I watched this company for more than a few years. I finally "pulled the trigger" on a 6700 purchase only a year ago, when most of the feature set was established or expected "any day now".

Turning my 6700 into an overengineered all-in-one required FM modulation capability. It is easy to rationalize pre-announcement of obvious features like FM modulation (I seriously doubt that any engineer, hearing that the 6700 would be gaining FM technology would race to their superiors to "start making plans").

If FRS released SSDR 1.0 and were silent regarding the future inclusion of standard features missing in 1.0 release, they would have shot themselves in their foot and risked the 6000 Series and their entire business. A roadmap made a lot more sense at SSDR 1.0 than now
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Walt - KZ1F

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You haven't been reading my posts, have you? :-)

And with that, I conclude my participation in this thread. I suspect few would concur with your assessment of ICOM. Comments such as your denote wishful thinking not empirically based evaluation. That's not to say the 6500/6700 aren't better in some categories, just the ICOM family of radios aren't steaming piles of pooh oozing down the wall.

I suspect FRS and Elecraft take them very seriously. Ditto yaesu and Kenwood.
(Edited)
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Roy Laufer

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They (Icoms) are the finest buggy whips that money can buy (tongue in cheek mode off).
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Mark - WS7M

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Just an update to this... I managed to pick up a cold so I've been lazying around and decided to watch some football but play around in the cqww contest.

So I fired up my laptop, smartsdr and programmed in a few macros into the CWX window.

My biggest issue was tuning using the laptop.  While the display was great sitting on my lap it was difficult to exactly tune a station in.  This is one reason I think the maestro could be fun.  

I am curious though if the maestro will support cwx like you can with smartsdr?  It would be nice to sit and tune stations and press buttons on the touch screen to send out call, report etc.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Mark,
Yes, and CW via key or paddle also...

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/k1el-winkeyer-in-maestro-what-are-the-implications-...

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW......... V 1.5.1.70
SSDR / DAX...... V 1.5.1.152
CAT................... V 1.5.1.0
Win10
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Walt - KZ1F

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Wouldn't it be cool is that automatic rst wasn't just 59 or 5nn but was geared to what the signal level was. I bet that would make Burt ecstatic. S3 signals are,by definition, not a 5 or 9.

I will call it 'True Report (tm)'
(Edited)
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Roy Laufer

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S numbers were never as accurate as the suggested published values, and contesters want an automatic response so that it doesn't interrupt their flow (the idea that the actual signal report is the original reason for all this contesting, seems beside the point).

I wrote an article for my local club's newsletter suggesting a "you're 4-6 actual" to be interpreted as "your RS is 4-6, actually, but feel free to enter "59" on your contesting records...
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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I said that somewhat tongue in cheek. To that issue Burt sort of has a point. But the larger issue is if software can deduce the state of the band and a signal, be it AGC-T or slice signal why not extract it programmatically.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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For typical RST reports, which were developed long before S-Meters, the S (Strength) component was originally supposed to be on a scale of 1 - 9, proportionally based upon 1=barely there, (or in the noise) all the way to 9=as strong as it gets.  Lately, (as in the last 40 years), we have all gotten lazy and equate the 'S' figure to our S-meter reading, thus now we have "You are 59 plus 20"  which on 20 meters would itself be a '9' while an S-9 signal would actually be a Strength of about 7 these days.   Whereas an S-7 signal on Six Meters during normal band conditions is about as strong as it gets at my place, except for serious band openings.  RST is relative, but S-Meters, at least for Flex radios, is a precise measurement that everyone can relate to.  (Except for those rigs whose preamps add 20 dB to every S-meter reading when engaged.)

I have also worked many stations, both domestic and DX, who were 10 or 20 dB over S-9 whose readability was a 2 or 3 because the audio was so poor . . . either severely over processed, improperly Equalized, or with amplifier ridiculously over-driven.  But none of them want an "honest" report, only an S-meter reading or a contest exchange.  In a contest, I understand this, even though if they would listen to "Old man, you are so badly over-driven that no one can understand you" their QSO rate would go up dramatically!

Ken - NM9P
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KK9W - Steve

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When one operates JT-65 it gives the true signal level and not a 59 or 5nn
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I almost ordered a Maestro, too, but decided to opt for an amp first (as soon as I decide which one and save up some more for it.)  Though I do hope to obtain one some day, I already have several options for remote operation - a laptop, an iPad, and iPhone, etc. 

The advantage for any serious remote op would be, as others have said, that using a laptop or Surface would allow using your favorite windows logging program and other accessories on the same computer.

The advantage of using the Maestro would be 1) Hot Dog! this thing is cool!  2) ease of use and smaller package than a laptop or surface 3) Built in mike interface, or Bluetooth interface.  4) built in display along with control knobs. 
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Charles - K5UA

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Ken, may I add a fifth justification.........

5) Independence from Windows for the 6000 series to function as a stand-alone radio.

For some of us, this is the most important reason to buy a Maestro.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Yes, that is also a good feature.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Charles and Ken,
My understanding is that Maestro runs an "embedded" version of Windows.  Maybe that means it's not as susceptible to constant updates like the desktop/laptop/tablet versions but it's still Windows.  Maybe security updates and other patches aren't needed in the embedded version.  

It would be interesting to hear how Windows updates will be handled on Maestro. 
  • FRS provides the updates periodically along with client software updates
  • The updates will come from Microsoft some way.
  • There aren't any plans to make updates to the OS.   (you stay with what was delivered when you bought Maestro)
  • Something else?
Perhaps someone with embedded Windows experience can share how this typically works. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW......... V 1.5.1.70
SSDR / DAX...... V 1.5.1.152
CAT................... V 1.5.1.0
Win10
 
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Mark - WS7M

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Al,

In my experience it is really up to the vendor to decide how to implement that stuff.  When we did embedded windows you could pick various modules to include in your windows build and one of the modules was an update module that handled windows updates.

If you were making a kiosk type device with no internet connection you generally left that out.  You could include it for other things if you wanted or you could provide the updates as part of your own update package (FRS Provided).

I think it will be your first bullet - FRS Provided when needed and when updates warrant it.

Mark
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Exactly what Mark said. 

Windows Embedded is a *wonderful* package. You can pick the functionality you want or need from the system at a fairly fine-grained level. That means you can create a system with no GUI... just a command-line interface. Or you can choose a system that's entirely headless (no display at all), and the system will have none of the user-interface components present.  It's not that the unneeded components just aren't *executed* or used... they're not even present in the system image.

It's sort of like being able to build your own Linux distro ;-)  Fewer components means fewer problems to potentially deal with.

The downside is that this flexibility results in a lot of complexity putting the system image together.

Because the system image is (typically) not changeable (loaded from a read-only disk), it's *much* harder to infect with viruses and such (and you just reboot to make them go away in any case). 

So, in general, the only time you need to update a properly integrated system running Windows Embedded is when you want to add functionality or, perhaps once every year or two, pick up a limited set of updates/fixes from Microsoft.  In either case, the vendor supplies an entirely new, fully integrated and tested, system image to be loaded onto the device.

Peter
K1PGV

(As a total aside, I've been running two Windows Embedded XP SP2 systems on  small fanless machines designed as a "thin client" systems non-stop for YEARS.  One is my private NTP server, the other streams audio.  The only time they die or reboot is due to power failure.)
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James Whiteway

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Ken, have you seen a Maestro? While you are correct with most of your comments, #2 I believe, is wrong. I've handled both the Maestro and a Surface Pro 4. The Maestro is very bulky compared to the Surface. As it should be since it has knobs etc. I like both and may well get a Surface sometime after my Maestro arrives.
I've been playing with a cheap Nextbook tablet from Walmart and it runs my test software pretty darn good.
But, it isn't a great development platform that I can use during downtime on the road. But, the Surface Pro 4 with an i5 processor, would run circles around it.
Either way, they both look to be fun additions to my growing collection!
James
WD5GWY