Take the plunge and go for the 6600 or stick with the FTDX5000?

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I've been debating changing over to FlexRadio for a while now.
After being off the air for a number of years I did trade my trusty 1000MP for a 5000...however , somehow I must have missed the FlexRadio while doing research for a new radio.
I've been playing with the LP-PAN2 and SDRPlay2 as a panadapter in combo with the 5000 and CW skimmer....and so I got hooked on SDR.
With the new 6600 comming to the scene in a few months I wonder whether I should take the plunge?
My main interest is low band DX , weak signal DX in general , digi modes , 6m DX and occasionally taking part in a contest.
Any suggestions , advice...are highly appreciated.

73 - ON7NQ - OP2R - Danny
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ON7NQ - Danny

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Posted 2 years ago

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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Take the plunge.

There is absolutely nothing like seeing the station you want to contact, and the QRM around that station, on a big screen... and visually being able to adjust your receive filters to be precisely where you want them. It's crazy powerful.

Wanna see the whole band? Easy. Wanna see one station? Trivial. If that station is a PSK station you want to talk to... and there's another station 100hz up... no problem, just pull you receive passband where you want it, and the precise width you want. 50hz wide? 72hz wide? 200hz? No problem.

Don't listen to those who are whining about what they don't have. They take for granted what they do have... like brick wall filters. It's because the radio is so good that people whine about stupid stuff...

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Michael Coslo

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As Peter says - take the plunge. I'm rocking this, with the entry level signature series radio. And I cannot imagine what would get me to part with it. Well, maybe a 6700. Then I'd need to get another big monitor. Some days its hard to get me out of the shack

46 inch Sharp monitor. HP Envy laptop my dear old Monsoons, sadly discontinued,  my Flexcontrol, and  Bencher paddles. Running N1MM loger on the laptop. and we can see what's running on the big fella.
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Rick - N4RZ

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I think you should stick with the FTdx5000.  The big benefit from my perspective is that there will be one less FTdx5000 on the market when I put mine up for sale to pay for the new 6600M I have on order!
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ON7NQ - Danny

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You may have a point ;)
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Mark WS7M

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Shop for a radio like you shop for anything else.

If you are buying a car, buy the car that does what you desire.  You would never by a "SmartCar" hoping one day they come out with the pickup bed add on right?

On this forum you'll see lots of whining.  Well that is what forums attract.  They attract both good question answer discussions and how to discussions but also a lot of whining about this didn't work, I don't have that, why is everything taking so long etc...

As a computer / software professional for over 35 years I've had my fair share of neighbors, friends, relatives asking me what computer and software to buy.  I always say the same thing:

First understand what you want to do with it
Second buy something that gives you that ability plus a little growing room

It is foolish to try and stay on the bleeding edge.  It is frustrating and often very unproductive.  

One of my relatives didn't listen and bought a super hopped up computer that the vendor claimed would do everything my relative wanted for the next 10 years.  They forgot to add that it will only do that when it was not crashing and overheating.   It turned out to have so many incompatibilities that it was almost useless.

So I posted first. I am going to maintain my stance:

I like flex.  My reasons are I like computers, doing radio with a computer makes total sense to me.  For some others not so much.   

The flex company is far and above anyone else out there.  There is not only this forum but a crew of people to help you keep your radio on the air and healthy.  In your case I think being over seas you will still have the forum but likely deal with a distributor for support.  I've never needed support and I've had 4 different flex radios.  All have worked amazing.

I like to "see" the band.  I often spend more time just watching signals than working them.  For years I tuned my old Kenwood across some squeal.  I was told they were artifacts of the radio and called "birdies".   Now that I'm into golf I wish I had more birdies but that is another discussion.  Now with my flex I can see "birdies" and I'm convinced they are not artifacts of my radio.  In most cases they are some other thing in my house or neighbors house that is making noise.   I find the shape of signals on the display to be fascinating.  For example there are these sweep ionosphere things out there that rapidly run a signal up and down the band.  I can see that where as in years past it was just a momentary beep on my current frequency.

As Peter says the ability to zoom in and filter is unmatched.  During field day I often found two CW stations almost on top of each other.  With a quick zoom and pulling the filters around I could isolate the one I wanted.  I don't even use the tracking notch filter.  I just don't need it for what I do.

Remote operation.  To do remote operation with any other radio you will need to buy a few things.  When Flex releases V2.0 which you would get for free as part of your purchase remote op will be built in.  This means you can sit at your laptop at a starbucks and monitor or work the bands.  No special equipment required.  This may not appeal to you but it comes as part of the package.  With FT radio you will probably need to do something like RemoteRig and that will be the purchase of a few things to get it working.  Alternatively you would spend money on something like remote ham radio.  Cool big stations but it costs a lot and there are no panadapters to "see" the band.

Remote "local" operation.  Get a reasonable Windows laptop, a headset with a mic and you can run your flex COMPLETELY from anywhere you get a reasonable WiFi signal from your router.  I've operated from my great room chair watching TV.  I've operated from the back deck in shade.

Unlike Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu the flex is an open API system.  By this I mean Flex publishes the API to control the radio over the network connection.  This opens the door for people to hook programs into the flex and that means you have more options.  I've already built a few programs for the flex and will continue to do so.

If you still want knobs then go for the version with the attached Maestro.  Or get one without and buy a Maestro along side.  With either of these options you can still run SmartSDR on your computer or a laptop or use the Maestro knob interface when you want.  So many ways to use it.  Many more than with any other radio.

So ya... I could keep going... but I think you get the point.  It will be different, but it will be better in my opinion.

Mark - WS7M
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ON7NQ - Danny

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Looks like you're on a roll ;) but thanks for all info....

A separate Maestro is something I may want to buy instead of the 6600M.

Remote from the back deck in the shade sounds like a plan !
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Rory - N6OIL

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Hello Danny, let me share my experience with you. I'm a little pistol barefoot hexbeam and a 6BTV I used to run a IC-718 with two or three boxes hanging off the end of it. I had talked myself into getting an Elecraft K3 line but after comparing the Flex and the K3 it was and easy choice for me, it was the Flex 6500. If I want to play with knobs I have my "toob" radios. Also, I just love having a clean desk to work from. But I will share my dirty secret with you, all the hardware is tucked underneath the desk. The wiring mess is temporary. 

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Zack Schindler - N8FNR

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Of course your wiring mess is "temporary". I have been telling myself the same thing for ten years. 
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Rory - N6OIL

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Trust me this is on my priority list, just waiting for my remote antenna switch to be fixed and then I can neaten up the mess. Most of the wires are for USB stuff I have hooked up to the computer plus my Rasberry Pi weather station is sitting onto of the Flex for now.
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Charles - K5UA

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Just commented to a friend yesterday who asked about my Flex 6500 the following:

After 58 years of contesting and chasing DX, my current priorities are as follows:

1.  Resolution/Usability of the panadapter
2.  Machine/Human interface
3.  Weight and size
4.  Specifications

You might wonder why specifications are listed last.  That is because any of the top 10 radios on Sherwood's list have specifications adequate for DX and contesting work.  It is more important to me how to bring these specifications to the DX and contesting battlefied than whether or not one radio has an additional 2 or 3 dB advantage in any specific area.  I was a hardened "knob" guy until I realized the advantage of band awareness using my vision instead of my ears to determine where I should position my receiver in crowded band conditions.  To a casual operator, this is not a big deal.  To a contest or DX operator, this is a paradigm shift in operating style.

I have great respect for the Yaesu FTdx-5000, but within weeks of using my Flex 6500, I removed the Yaesu from the table and sold it, not because it was not a great radio, but because my operating style had been altered so much by the 6500.  Sure, I had the LP-Pan and PowerSDR-IF working pretty good on the Yaesu, but I did have to jump thru hoops to make that combination work.  Then when I had to send in a 45 pound Yaesu FTdx-5000 back to the factory, my back and my wallet paid a significant price.  That is why weight and size in number 3 on my list.  "Big iron" is a young man's game.

The other epiphany I had after using the 6500 was that I did not have to make a lot of mouse movements in a contest.  Using the 100hz CW filter I could burn through the band in the search and pounce mode using the Flex Control and rarely reach for the mouse.  No adjusting the width or IF shift by ear as in conventional radios, just LOOK at the panadapter and put the cursor where it needs to be.  The shape factors of the Flex CW filters are so steep that it is rare that two CW stations can not be separated.  Where else can you find a 1.08 to 1 shape factor 100hz CW filter?

Yes, I have whined as much as anyone about V2 being delayed.  But everytime I put my backup high performance transceiver on the desk..... I am reminded of all the advantages of my 6500 and it is not long before I'm back on my 6500.  4 years is a long time for me to keep the same radio in operation, given by past history of a new radio just about every year.

The result.... 3 top ten Multi-Single finishes in ARRL and CQ DX contests in the past 4 years with a modest station.

Charles   K5UA

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