Technology marches on

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  • Updated 4 years ago
I find the debate over SDR’s interesting. I’ve heard many comments that go something like this, “I want a radio with dials and a knob.” It reminds me of the days when SSB was beginning to replace AM on the HF bands. You would hear all sorts of comments about “the Donald Duckers” from those using AM. Yes, I am that old – grin. My first attempt at just a shortwave radio was a regenerative radio kit sold by Allied Radio called the Space Spanner. Back to the debate – anything new can be frustrating at first as you learn how to use it. I had to learn to use that first radio kit to get best performance out of it. When I finally got enough cash together to buy a used Hallicrafter’s SX-28, I had to learn how to use it as well. When I bought my Flex 6300, I had to learn to use it and I still am! I do not think I have figured out how to use one 10th of its capabilities yet. Like many of the advances in amateur radio, SDR requires a learning curve and it looks and sounds different just as SSB sounded and looked different from AM. Already you are seeing radios built around proprietary logic arrays that are in essence SDR’s configured to meet the needs of the buttons and dials boxes. In most cases, they do not fully exploit the abilities of something like the Flex series. One of the reasons I love amateur radio is it continues to change as technology advances. I would not want to go back to my Space Spanner regenerative radio as much as I enjoyed it. I will continue to enjoy my Flex 6300 and look forward to the day some new and unknown technology will replace it.
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Posted 4 years ago

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Dan Zimmerman

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Glad there are a few of the Knight Kit "Space Spanner" group still around.  I finished mine just after Sputnik was launched.  Couldn't read cw at the time but was mostly timed beeps as I recall.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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I remember tuning in my first shortwave stations on my Knight "Span Master" that I built if freshman shop class.  It started me on the path to ham radio
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Burt Fisher

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I recall my Zenith Transoceanic and hearing my name on Moscow mailbag
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I suppose in 10 years we will be saying, remember those old Flex 6000's? we sure have come a long ways since then!
Every so often something comes along and changes everything, at that time we seem to be in a little space and we think what ever it is has to be the all and end all, the second coming. Hey sounds like a new article for SDR Gadgets site.
But in truth, everything has it's time of fame and then turns old. Anything SDR will be that way also.

To me it looks like SDR technology is just really finding it's wind. I wonder how that will effect the radio market place as most the companies stay with older technology. Maybe just putting it all in an new shinny bigger box? I am not implying non SDR companies will not continue to make fine radios, I just wonder about staying competitive as SDR really takes off.

But even for all these companies, it will become very clear that SDR allows for more performance and features at a more competitive cost. If you look at the latest flag ship of Icom with that radio costing several  thousands more than the Flex 6700 it seems clear the cost of building that rig is more expensive than the Flex Radio even with the very expensive chips in the Flex.

But more to the point here, technology will bring better yields to the hobby and  performance with new feature will be more visible. Think I will continue this later.
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Burt Fisher

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In 10 years we will have the Flex 6000 that will not be able to be run unless you have kept an obsolete operating system. My DX-60 is 45 years old, you think your Flex will be running in 20 years?
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James Whiteway

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It will if you have the Maestro. It will run the Flex 6000's independent of a PC, since it has it's own operating system built in.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Burt, the FLEX-6000 Series runs Linux inside.  All of the heavy lifting is done in the radio.  The client is operating system agnostic.  Several developers are working on clients for other O/S.  As James said, Maestro runs without a PC as well.  
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Bob - WD8KND

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You can sit still and let the technology pass you by, or you can jump on board and have a blast. I bought a 6300 at Dayton, and I just can't get enough of it. I believe that this type of technology will broaden the hobby base, and cause it to grow. Man, I sure miss my spark gap transmitter and that ozone smell. :)