Thinking of buying a Flex 6400M

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I'm getting my ticket soon, and do not have ANY experience with amateur radio at all, and I'm seriously considering the 6400M as my first transceiver. From the research I've been doing the last few months, this seems like the rig for me. I'm wanting something that I won't grow out of after a few years, and something that will last a long time. Any hints, suggestions, ideas for this first timer?
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Posted 2 months ago

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Gene Duprey

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I sure love the auto spell check that messed up my post. Anyway, I chose the 6500 and Maestro so I could go remote with the radio at home and use the Maestro at the remote site. I also like knobs and not need a computer. I now also have the ap for the iPad and it is also really nice.

Have fun getting to know your new Flex which ever version you get.

Gene, K1GD
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Eric-KE0WMX

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The remote function at this time isn't that important to me, which is why I'm leaning towards the 6400M. I think it suits my wants and needs better right now.
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John - K3MA

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So now that you have seen all the discussion and just to make sure you have not understood something incorrectly.  Go ahead and list what specific needs you think the 6400M meets that the 6400 plus Maestro does not?

Then if you have something wrong we can correct it.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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It pretty much comes down to wants, I would prefer a radio that is a self-contained unit that doesn't require any peripherals, but has the capability of interfacing with a computer if I so desire. I can always buy the Maestro later if I want to, then I'd have the best of both worlds. (Which is the direction I'm currently thinking)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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More as a reminder to my fellows in the community - we collaborate to help each other, rather than manage each other.  The only tests we're challenged to in our hobby are first the licensing steps and later being a good operator including respecting the rules.  

The only justifications any of us need are a self-justification - if we want to have a hundred radios ready to operate but only use one at a time, that is only our own business, if we want to home-brew our own, or run an antique radio - perhaps even pushing it to modern uses, that is something we justify only to ourselves (unless we bust the rules of course).

IMHO Eric's purchase question has moved from helping him with his self-justification to the impossible tasks of jumping our own individual justification hurdles.  

Our own individual justification hurdles truly are not universal nor should anyone else be challenged to jump them - they are something we own.

Again IMHO I am confident that Eric has his stuff well thought out, and will be thrilled to see him join our amateur ranks, and doubly thrilled that he is considering joining us in a Flex-6000 operators world.  More than anything I am very taken with his desire to expose his young family to our hobby.

Kept in balance with active pursuits our hobby creates an atmosphere of lifelong creativity and collaboration.  

His idea of a 6400M seems a good fit against his goals, but it is more awesome that he's looking to join our hobby ranks.  

With an avionics background and enough moxie to venture into a protracted community discussion like this thread, he will succeed with a 6400M, or for that mater with whatever radio he starts his amateur radio adventure with.

Wishing Eric all the best in his new pursuit!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Blog:  http://k9zw.wordpress.com  
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thank you for the kind words Steve, they are greatly appreciated!

When I first decided to get into this, I visited the local ham radio store in Derby, Kansas. It's about a 15 minute drive from my house, and I took my 6 year old daughter with me. I told her that I wanted to look at radios and get some advice about getting into the hobby, test dates and locations, antenna options, etc. We spent over TWO HOURS at the store, got to look at the store's antenna setup, and I had many questions answered that I didn't even know to ask.

On our trip home, while pickling up our customary shakes, I asked my daughter what she thought about all that. She thought it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen and was really interested. I think she was more excited than I was!
On the way out, I bought a copy of the July 2019 issue of QST, to look through when we got home. I read through the articles, then started looking up the ads for radios that I'd never heard of before, then I got to page 25.

Up until then, I had done a Google search for "most popular amateur radio", and kept coming up with the Icom IC-7300, and they Yaesu FT991A, and between the two I liked the Icom more. My reasoning was, why buy a radio that does two things mediocre when you can buy one that does it's one thing really well. Well, that lasted until I discovered the Icom IC-7610, which to me sounded like the bee's knees.

Until that page 25.

So, I got onto the Flex website and poked around, then did some more Google searching about Flex radios, and I thought, man, this is EXACTLY what I'm looking for in a radio, and there's one that's cheaper than the IC-7610, and does more than it as well.

Then it was onto reviews, user problems, major issues, etc. Not finding anything that either A, I couldn't fix myself, or B, hasn't been fixed at least a year ago, I decided to register here and ask the question.

I knew that I wanted to purchase just one radio for HF, then a VHF/UHF radio later, and limit myself to just those two. Understanding that I don't have unlimited funds to buy the really big boy stuff, I limited myself to about $3000 for just the radio, starting with HF, then moving on to 2m and 70cm later. (Yeah, I know that it's backwards from what most people do, but I'm left handed so I'm used to being backwards) I knew I wanted a standalone unit, with the ability to hook up to a computer if I ever wanted to in the future. So, that's when I decided that I want as future proof a radio that I can possibly get for the money that I want to spend. That's when I noticed that quite a lot of amateur radios are at least two to three years old, and there isn't much updating in the hardware department in this hobby.

Knowing my luck, as soon as I bought something, two months later a newer version would come out, and there I'd be stuck with a 2016 model in 2020. Since I plan on only buying one radio for the next 8-10 years, I wanted to make the best decision that I could, and buy the most future-proof radio that I can afford. This is what led me to the 6400M. So, here I am, poking the bee's nest looking for honey!
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Joe Conover

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Best comment of Thread so far below

More as a reminder to my fellows in the community - we collaborate to help each other, rather than manage each other. The only tests we're challenged to in our hobby are first the licensing steps and later being a good operator including respecting the rules.
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Michael N3LI

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Okay Joe - looks like the 6400M is your leading candidate. 

What are you planning to do for an antenna? How much room do you have?
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Bill Carnett

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Bingo...a lot of these comments are right on.  However, spending $$ for an antenna is much  much much more important...well, not spending$$ but having a good antenna. Then worry about the rig.  Without a decent antenna you might think you've made a wrong choice...particularly in this lousy sunspot cycle.  But, the 6xxx/M is an amazing radio
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I ended up buying a used Elecraft KX3 with the ATU, battery charger, and roofing filter for less than the kit KX3 costs by itself. It'll be here this Monday.
That gives me more money to spend on antennas at this time. With me wanting to go out into the field, the KX3 makes more sense at this time. I WILL be buying a 6400M for a home base station eventually, but this gets me on the air now, and the KX3 has excellent reviews and stats.
I think I made the right choice at this time, and I couldn't turn it down at the price it was.
(Edited)
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Bill Carnett

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KX3 has a decent receiver, so good choice.  Once you play radio a bit you'll have a better feel for what features you like...you might end up NEEDING a 6700, hi hi.  But antenna is #1, that is what will do more good than anything else.....with band conditions the way they are now, get something with 3 - 5 elements on 20, or 2 elements on 40....you'll have a blast.  (this might get groans)....learn CW if you don't know it, lots of fun!  Good luck!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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That's what I like about the KX3, the awesome receiver. That, and the fact that you can add the panadapter and the 100w amp and have a complete full power base station I figured I couldn't go wrong.
I'll probably start with a dipole at first, then work up to different antennas.
Going this route gives me more money to spare for antennas, which is a good thing with a QRP radio.
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Joe Conover

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Good Luck Eric I’m getting-used K3s for back up for my 6400M
Joe
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Elecraft seems to make some good gear, don't they?
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Brad Steffler

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I HAVE to reply.

I am 70 years old and a physician who still teaches in a medical school. In a former life, I programeed on an IBM System 360 system with Fortran IV. (C, C# and C++ are much better - no spaghetti code) My BS is  in mathematics, which may prejudice me a bit. I think that SDR is the way to go and that Flex is the best in SDR. I started off with a Flex 5000a, moved to a 6500 and now use a 6700. I was first licensed in 1979 and have seen many analoge rigs. IMHO,  Flex SDR is the pinnacle, even if I didn't have a math/programming background. 

A 6400M is an excellent choice and the front panel will get you on the air more quickly. 
go for it!!!
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Craig Williams

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If you are not comfortable with Windows computers I would not recommend the Flex. You are going to run it remote and once you run a Flex Radio remote you will never go back to knob radios.
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Ted VE3TRQ

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I use exclusively Mac and a 6600 and am perfectly happy! Only use SSDR for updates (although the M backend does that as well).
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I'm planning on going with my Mac Mini to use with the 6400M. Although we have a couple Windows laptops, I just like the Mac better.
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Michael N3LI

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I would certainly commend the Flex community for this very long, very civil and very productive thread. 

(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I agree, you guys are awesome in helping me make my decision!! Many thanks to everyone who has posted here!
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Joe Conover

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Agree I have question my friend sending me Acer computer not sure spelling write but it has windows 7 is that ok use with my flex 6400M if not how do I upgrade to
Windows 10 ps no computer store within 500 miles from Bethel AK
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Oh Lord! Stick with Windows 7. You’ll have a lot less trouble.
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Michael N3LI

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Windows 7 is so much better than Windows 10. It will work great. 

Now how do we get you SSDR without a connection? Or did you get a CD with the radio?
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Joe Conover

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Ok cool my just said wife has enough window wash at house lol that great on on windows 7 good for 6400M
My bet my wife will use the computer to internet shop till she drops lol right now she scared of computers -life in Eskimo village
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Erika - KØDD

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sigh....  Support for windows 7 is going bye bye.  That means Security UPDATES are also going the way of the DoDo.  Win10 Pro x64 is what I have running on my workstation.  Once I shut off Microsoft's personal intrusion via their Personal assistant, and loaded Firefox as my Browser instead of edge, I have ZERO ISSUES, Nor ZERO complaints with anything windows related.

I have had run a full blown installation of WIN10Pro x64 on ONE stick of 2Gb memory with a core II Duo... 3Ghz machine from 2007, it wouldn't scare anybody but operated fine.  There's no way you'd get that sort of performance on Win 7...  and I would Only consider Win 7 Pro and the x64 versions of it in the first place.  Ihave also utilized 8.0 and 8.1 and while 8.1 was OK... The changes in the page where the programs icon sat is what got everybody riled up...  Win 7 looked like XP if you desired.

All the negatives about Win10 are from people who got stuck with win 8....  that was junk.  My 4 Gb Acer mini laptop runs x64 of home...  anyway,. You can update to 10 right on the Microsoft website.  It will seem virtually painless.  Cleaning up the START MENU is highly recommended...  Erika DD
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Joe Conover

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Now how do we get you SSDR without a connection? Or did you get a CD with the radio?
My Flex 6400M had too upgrades on screen I’m using one now starts with 3 cannot remember rest numbers
I just put Antenna on Flex 6400M put 35 amp power supply on it and was talking on 14292 ssb in 5 mins
What’ is SSDR ????
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Win10 is an absolute disaster unless you can prevent updates. And if you use Win 7 only for your Flex and don’t go surfing, you really don’t have security issues.
(Edited)
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Michael N3LI

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It's great when people have no problems ever, but W10 has been plaguing a huge number of users, not just Flex owners. I had to go to Enterprise to stop Windows 10 updates renaming my audio drivers. 

I've been doing this since mainframe and MS-Dos days, and I find I have to treat Microsoft as as much of a bad vector as I do with other viruses and malware. 

Definitely true about Windows 8. After dealing with it's whack-a-mole administration for a year, I refused to support it. 

Regardless, I find my other setup, W7Pro on a Bootcamp partition to be rock solid. AV, Ad Blocking, and Ghostscript keep it pretty healthy.
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James Charlton

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I have 2 PCs, one on win7 and one on win10 which I use for logging etc.  Win7 is definitely better.  But this is why I operate the radio via a Maestro and not a Windows PC.  The PCs may be troublesome, but the radio always works.
Jim Charlton  AD0AB  
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Michael N3LI

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Hi Joe, SSDR is just the initials of SmartSDR, the Windows version of the radio software.
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Joe Conover

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Ok SSDR I have see what SSDR does with my 6400M I Got rooter just now
(Edited)
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Joe Conover

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Got RadioSport Headset today have on 6400M wide range setup on radio to my ear sounds best adjust inch mic gain now not sure is EQ needed

Dam first headset mic works with my behind ear hearing aids these RadioSports going open need world for me sounds great on receive
Joe
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Ok, after doing some thinking between the 6400M and 6400, I have a question for anyone who's done this before.

I'm really interested in participating in ARES and RACES, (with Kansas and tornadoes I think this is a really good idea) and let's say I want to take my Flex into the field. With the 6400M, being a single unit, I don't see much of an issue, other than increased power consumption because of the display.

With the 6400 and Maestro, having a Wi-Fi router will require more power, and therefore lower battery run time. But, with an Ethernet cable connecting the 6400 and Maestro, this will be avoided.

I plan on building my own power supply using a Bioenno 30ah battery and their foldable solar panel and charge controller.
I'm thinking that with the 6400 and Maestro, I'll have better run time because of the Maestro's self contained power supply, and it won't be using the Bioenno battery. Connecting them with an Ethernet cable cuts out the Wi-Fi aspect, and I don't see anything that says the Maestro uses power to maintain it's battery through the Ethernet cable when it's connected that way.

So, my question is, how well does either radio work on 12vdc compared to 13.8vdc? I would think that the 6400M would consume more power because of the display, compared to the 6400. This alone is making me consider the 6400 over the 6400M.

Anyone have any experience with either in the situation that I'm envisioning?
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Ted VE3TRQ

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One datapoint: the Maestro will also need charging eventually, and I believe you will have to do a bit more work charging a Maestro battery - I think it is a USB-style charger. So charging it from the solar panel / battery setup will need a 12 to 5 volt converter (although that’s not the end of the world - they are cheap).

In the end, you need to run the GUI interface, whether bolted on or not.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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The Bioenno BSP-28 has a USB port for charging directly from the panel. I'm thinking that having two or three extra batteries for the Maestro would be ideal, and allow you to charge a dead one while still continuing to operate. (Provided you have a charging adapter for the battery)

My goal with this is the least power consumption possible while in the field. Thus, no external computer, display, WiFi router, etc. But yeah, having a GUI of some sort is a requirement, I understand that.
At home it's obviously a non-issue.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Depending on the battery pack you buy for the Maestro you may experience issues using the Ethernet connection while on battery. The Ethernet requires slightly more power than using WiFi.

I bought the 6600 and Maestro rather than a 6600m. My reason is if I operate remote for extended periods from one location it is easier to use the Maestro. Multiple different mic inputs, PTT and CW key input, controls are easier than navigating SmartSDR for IOS.

On the other hand for temp or quick remote operating I use the iPad or iPhone.

Dave wo2x
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Eric-KE0WMX

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That's interesting, I figured it would be the reverse, more power on Wi-Fi than using the Ethernet.

Your reasons for the 6600 are great reasons, and having those inputs would be far better than the iOS app.

This is the battery I'm considering:

https://www.bioennopower.com/collecti...
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Joe Conover

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Anyone have some good setting RadioSport Headset with wide range Condenser mic - I setup 6400M profile -wide range on 6400M and Mic gain 65-70 and trying with DX setting too I have not talked anyone bad bands tonight
(Edited)
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Ted VE3TRQ

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I have no information to provide, Joe, but I do have a suggestion: For better responses to your questions re. microphones and headsets, start a new topic / thread. You will more likely get responses, and those responses will be more useful to folks who later look for answers before asking questions.

No disrespect intended, just a suggestion to help you get an answer. Also, do a search on the Community - there are many discussions on this topic.
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John - K3MA

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Just my opinion.  Taking the Flex out to the field to run portable is a poor idea.  Sure it will work but it is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  In addition to the powering/interfacing issues you need to resolve you also need to get the MARS mod for the Flex which costs $400.  A far better solution would be to buy a rig like a Icom 7100.  You can make it Mars capable yourself.  It is smaller.  You do not have powering/interface issues.  You get additional VHF/UHF capability.  And you can pick one up lightly used for $600 +/-.
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Ha Gei

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I second that.  And at that point we come back to the initial question raised:

Does the 6K4 make sense for him ( or any newcomer) . I still do not recommend it. As i already stated, ham radio life brings in so much things in the first couple of month ́s if not years. A simple all purpose radio will not be a wrong investment.

A 6 Series Flex is a gear for the serious DX Hunter or  Contester or Traveller (remotely used ) . Mostly all other purposes can be served by simpler Radios too. 


 
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Ted VE3TRQ

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I’m a (relatively) new Ham, and a software / firmware / hardware developer - I don’t want a “simple radio” :-) I’ll leave that to the guys (and gals) who dislike computers.
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I'm gonna have to agree with Ted.
Generally, when someone tells me that something can't be done, that generally makes me want to prove them wrong. Must be the Scotch/Irish in me...
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James Charlton

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Hi Eric,
I, too, live here in Kansas so I'm interested in what sort of setup you actually use.  As far as radio battery power is concerned, you can buy booster/regulators that convert a battery's voltage to 13.8V as the battery runs down.
But another question is, are you sure a Maestro will connect via its Ethernet port when it is running on internal battery?  I had an issue with this some time ago and found that the Maestro had to be operating on external power in order to use its Ethernet port.  On battery power, only the wifi was useable.
Jim Charlton  AD0AB 
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Speaking of WiFi and Flex radios, if you need a way to do WiFi to Ethernet conversion cheaply and conveniently, consider one of the “travel routers” for that job - use almost zero power and have adequate Ethernet and WiFi bridging capability. Who cares whether your device does Ethernet or WiFi?
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Eric-KE0WMX

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James, I have no idea, that's why I'm asking. As for setup, I'll make something that's as self contained and self sufficient as possible.
Wi-Fi would be beneficial in emergency situations, as you could step away from your BoO for whatever reason and still be able to make/maintain a contact.
If the Maestro won't work on battery power while connected to the Ethernet, then Ted's travel router sounds like an ace in the hole, depending on what range it has.
Worst case scenario I'll have to buy a little larger battery, not that big of a deal, depending on total power requirements.

This has got my old grey matter grinding....
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Ted VE3TRQ

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My favorite travel router is the GL.iNet AR750S - does VPN / USB tethering / Modem tethering / WiFi extender / Nikon camera control - Swiss Army knife!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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John, why would I need the MARS mod to work ARES? They're two different things, unless we're taking about Greek and Roman mythology, which I'll happily discuss anytime.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Ted, I like that one, can be run off of a USB power supply. Really nice!

https://store.gl-inet.com/products/gl...
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James Charlton

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Hi Eric,
 I have no experience with a travel router, but from others' comments, they sound like a good idea.  I may try one just to see how they work.
As far as remote operation of a 6400 (non M) is concerned, don't worry, they work fine.  One guy brought his to the last Field Day and operated FT8 right up until the storms kicked us out.  It worked flawlessly even with flakey power and a wire-in-a-tree antenna.

Incidentally, congratulations on starting the most interesting and long thread I've seen here.
Regards,
Jim Charlton  AD0AB 
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Eric-KE0WMX

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James, thanks for the congrats! I like to think outside of the box!
I just can't help but think that a Flex radio with it's awesome ability to "see" transmissions with that huge display would be extremely valuable in an emergency situation, as compared to a non-SDR radio. A portable, self-contained radio that outperforms nearly everything out there would be an invaluable tool in a disaster.
Coupled with Ted's little travel router and a self contained, solar recharged (or off of a vehicle's charging system if solar isn't available) box containing it all would be extremely handy, especially if you could leave the 6400, battery pack, router, and solar panel in one spot, and essentially walk around a little with the Maestro in hand, you'd have the portability of basically an HT with the power of a base station.

I think I'm going to build exactly that.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I use the GL.iNet AR150 travel router for both the Maestro when there is a network with captive portal and my SharkRF OpenSpot version 1. No issues. Does WiFi to WiFi routing and WiFi to Ethernet.

Here’s a link to Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/GL-iNet-Pre-in...

Dave wo2x
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Comparing the two on Amazon, the AR150 has an 80 meter range in an open area, and the AR750S has a 100 meter range. I'm thinking the extra range is worth the cost. Thanks for the link!
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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You’re welcome! The 750 has additional features you may or may not use but nice to have them.

Dave wo2x
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James Charlton

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Eric,
Go for it!
But, you should probably get your license first  ;-{
Jim  AD0AB
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Eric-KE0WMX

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That's my plan, going this Friday night before I go to work. Going to try and at least get my General, time permitting. All of the replies to this thread kicked my drive into high gear to get this done!
Thanks for all the support everyone!
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Still on the travel-router as connection to 6400 from Maestro:

Your statement, Eric, of “leave the 6400, battery pack, router, and solar panel in one spot, and essentially walk around a little with the Maestro in hand, you'd have the portability of basically an HT with the power of a base station.” Can be easily replaced by “Use an iPad or iPhone to access the 6400[M]” instead of the Maestro - even more portable, but won’t work for CW :-( Your remote in this case is within range of the WiFi router, but you can extend that to anywhere cell coverage is available also. Look for iPad / iPhone remote on the Community site, and you will find many happy campers. Maybe complicating things a bit more, but it sure is handy to be able to use an iPad.
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Good point, lighter and easier to carry around.
I knew this radio was a good choice! So many options!
TRY THAT WITH AN ICOM IC-7300!
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Ted VE3TRQ

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One more data point :-) The battery on a Maestro will last maybe 3-4 hours. The iPad or iPhone should last quite a bit longer. Can be used with 6400 or 6400M. Just depends on how much you really want knobs to operate the radio - only the Maestro gives you that remote..
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Eric-KE0WMX

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The less weight and distraction during an emergency would be better. Using my iPhone would be a better idea. Besides, if it gets damaged it's only $100 to replace with insurance.
Not so with the Maestro.
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Ken - NM9P

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Eric,
One thing I would suggest, now that you have decided to go with the 6400 non-M version, is to order the FlexControl Knob. It is a solid little accessory that gives you a single large Knob and three buttons, all programmable, so that you can control a few functions easily. I have mine set up to control the main frequency tuning, and the. Shift to a few other functions with the buttons. It is worth its weight in gold.

I have had one on my 6500 for six years and wouldn’t be without it. It would be really handy until you can afford the Maestro.

Good luck on your exams Friday.
If you have time, take a shot at the extra. It doesn’t cost any more, and you might get lucky! If you don’t have time, enjoy your General!

When I took my General back in 1978, I also took the Advanced test just for fun. I missed it by one question! But the experience was very useful. I went back the next time the FCC examiners were back in Indianapolis and crushed it.

Ken - NM9P
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I'll look into that, but it won't be long before I get the Maestro as well, just have to get through the holiday season, priorities, ya know.

As for going for the Extra, I plan on it, as long as I have time to. Worst case scenario I'll just have to take it again in October.
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Joe Conover

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Well have done great news I been using RadioSport Headset with M350 -ADJ wide range electret Mic the setting on DX profile The -6400M auto set EQ setting for me getting best every reports from about 30 people on AK HF SSB nets I had about 4 HF Radios before-
For hearing impaired I use two behind ear hearing aids works with hearing aids and without my aids has lots volume I have 90 percent lost I left ear and 80 in right ear - best sounding headsets also I had in 30 years - no RFI feed back when running 1500 watts like I had with Heil’s
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Joe Conover

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Eric here my email conover1956@gmail.com
When u get setup email me I’m new also we can share information - I been blessed with good area in AK I talk on 14292 SSB net 7 days week from 830am-9am and night net Tripe H net 7190 SSB let’s try making a contact
Joe KL4QG
Come up see us in AK
(Edited)
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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Might want to get to work putting up your tower and antennas.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Joe, I'd be happy to!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Neil, I still have to go get the tower, it's 130 miles one way from me.
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Joe Conover

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Anyone try a hex beam on 20 meters
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Joe Conover

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We talking antenna
I have question I’m using Endfeed muiti band
10-80 it’s at coax feed end height is 30 feet at end of 133 wire it about 18 feet on pile caribou horns I getting my 50 foot push up mast next week
What difference will I see with Ant 30 feet and now 50 high will extra height help my receive and transmit
No trees here just Tundra
I’ll be on 14292 in few mins net till 9am AK time
KL4QG
(Edited)
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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Eric,

Without a halfway decent antenna (even an outdoor dipole), you are unlikely to have much fun with a Flex radio.  Without a computer, you will not be able to work the digital modes, which are often buzzing with activity during the many stretches in which the bands appear dead during the current phase of the sunspot cycle.  
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Where are people getting the idea that I don't have a computer? I've stated several times that I have a Mac Mini that will be dedicated to this radio. The antenna is no big deal either.
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Neil, I must respectfully take exception to your remark above: “Without a halfway decent antenna (even an outdoor dipole), you are unlikely to have much fun with a Flex radio”.

In fact, I think the opposite is true. With an exceptional radio, a compromise antenna is likely to provide a better experience than with a poorer radio - it does make up for some of the deficiencies. Granted, to make the best of a great radio requires a great antenna (or rather, antennas). I (and many others) live in HOA-controlled areas and are required to make do with compromise antennas (if not having the benefit of a remote radio location). My receive antenna is 60 ft of wire buried under the sod, and I hear quite well - the signal level is low, but the noise level is lower, and anything that intrudes is well taken care of by the WNB. Even the antenna in my attic, which is in proximity to the electrical wiring of my house, is usable only with the Flex and its WNB - it is totally unusable as a receive antenna on 80m with my K3.

If someone wants to buy a Flex radio, do not discourage them because they do not have a great antenna!
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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Ted, going to have newcomers with MFJ indoor antennas and $3K radios who wonder why they hear nothing (or next to nothing).  
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Michael N3LI

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So is the Cheap radio going to be better than the Flex? Sounds like the bad antenna advice that I got when first starting out that almost had me giving up on Ham Radio. I was told so many different best antennas, and each person had a reason why all the others were bad. GOtta be a resonant dipole for each band at a particular height. 

Gotta be  a Yagi-Uda on a Tower. Now gotta be running legal limit on each band you have the correct antenna for. Gotta be anything that I couldn't put up, and a noob gets the impression that if they don't do that, they might as well use a dummy load. 

Finally, I expressed my imminent abandonment of the hobby to my Elmer, and he told me just put up as much wire as you can, feed it with ladder line, and work the world. 

I've done that, and never looked back.
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Joe Conover

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Here my input on cheap Ant I’m not kind that can build things with my hands - So I buy best my money
Can buy- I’m using Holland made resonant dipole Hyendantenna pricy buy never changes SWR in Alaska weather - my friend 1/2 mile made fun of me
Paying $200 and using LMI 400 coax he using MJF baluns same height as my Dipole his SWR goes nuts in rain and snow I’m getting way better signal reports on all Alaskan HF ssb Nets than him too he not laughing at me now-
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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So what would you guys recommend for a good antenna for me? I'm highly mechanically inclined, and eventually I am going to be making my own antennas.
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Ha Gei

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That highly depends on your property, as well as on the bands you want to use.

160/80/40  :  wires as long and high as feasible.. fan dipoles are good .
If you have a big space, go for four squares..but then you don ́t need the flex as all your time and money will sink there...hihi

20/15/10  ( and warc )  go for a cobwebb , easy to make and works fine as a horizontal omnidirectional anrtenna. Later when sunpots come back you can go for beams . If you like to build your own, moxon designs are good and easy to build. 

by the way..yes the HighEnd Fed from netherlands are perfect, I own one and have a seconed one as nat2 at the clubstations flex6k4 . Average performance with one single wire on ALL HF bands. Not SWR hassles, just a long wire that works . 

As long as you want to stay on 100Watts, you can find them as DIY projects too. Just make sure the Toroid is not to small . Legal limit is not really remakable..there is some mystery in the grey box. 






 
(Edited)
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Ted VE3TRQ

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As long as you are building it yourself, you have the luxury of trying almost endless designs, especially wire antennas. Put up, and leave up, what works for you. There are more antenna designs than you can shake a stick at out there! And most will claim one of them is “their favorite”. There are almost as many favorite antennas as there are hams.

I’m mostly talking modest power here, no amps. (Edited to add this)
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I'll be sticking to less than 100w for the time being, low power long distance communications really interest me.
This is why I like the idea of an SDR as opposed to a conventional radio, the ability to see the signals before you hear them.
My antenna situation is that currently I have more vertical room than horizontal room. I could just stick an inverted v antenna on the roof, but where's the fun in that? I could do an indoor antenna, but no HOA requirements so my antenna options are pretty good.
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Joe Conover

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Eric give me email it’s getting little indifferent here
I have lots know-age antennas
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Sent ya an email!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Well guys, I took all three tests tonight, and got my General! I didn't pass the Extra, as I haven't studied that one as much. I'll be trying again in October and hopefully I'll get it then.
Now it's time to get antennas up.
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Congratulations, Eric, and welcome to the world of amateur radio!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thanks Ted! I'm happy that all the hard work over the last three weeks paid off!
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Ken - NM9P

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Congratulations! Well done. Now get that radio ordered and start reading the manuals! Ha ha.

Good luck!

Ken - NM9P
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Joe Conover

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Lol Eric don’t Read Manuals lmao like Me /just come back
On Here and ask lots questions like me lol gives these guys a reason to post answers lol
Have nice weekend all
Great news you passed Eric
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thanks Ken! Like Meatloaf said, "two outta three ain't bad"!
And I have been reading the manuals, and I'm saving up for the 6400.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Gotta keep the forum interesting, right Joe? ;)
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Joe Conover

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Yes Eric with 5 woman. every man up here in Bethel AK
Who has time read manuals ???
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Eric-KE0WMX

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FIVE??? I can barely handle ONE!!
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Joe Conover

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80% pop are woman this village went from 2300 in 2003 to 7300 2019 it’s hub in area for all Eskimo villages
New schools most teachers are woman / new hospital=Nurses Etc -woman up here work local men hunt and fish 365 days year -Bethel AK holds world record for Cabs per population in USA/World - woman own cab companies here -5 dollars any place town for Cab ride 5 miles dirt road - 2 Ham Operators here that all -
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Sounds interesting, I don't think my wife would want us to move there!
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Congrats!

You can check the FCC website for your license. If the VE files electronically the license is issued pretty quick.

To search for your record:

Go to http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls.

Click the Licenses button.

You will then get the search form. In the drop down box, choose to search “By Name“, then type in your last name, or your last name and first name separated by a comma. (Use your legal name as you entered it on your application.)

If you get a match, you will see your name along with your callsign.

Once you know your call you can start operating.

Dave wo2x
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Nothing yet Dave, I just checked. I'll let y'all know when it shows up and update my username with my call sign.
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Gene Duprey

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Congratulations Eric!! Now you need the 6400/M radio. Let us know your call when you get it.

Gene, K1GD
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Gene Duprey

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Usually takes about a week, sometimes less, but at least a couple days minimum.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I'm not expecting it to be quick, they said it may come tonight, or by Monday. Either way, I'm very happy right now!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Well, got my call sign, so I updated my name here. Feels pretty good!
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KC2QMA_John

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Congratulations Eric, You are going to love your 6400M!

Welcome to the hobby.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thanks John! I'm still up in the air on exactly what I should buy, so many great options out there it boggles the mind.
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KC2QMA_John

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If you like State OF the Art Tech you will love Flex!

The 6400M is great if you would like to use without a PC but if you will be using a PC exclusively then just a 6400 would be fine as well.
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Joe Conover

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Good news Eric
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John KB4DU

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Congratulations! This is a major accomplishment!
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Roger, W6VZV

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Great going!  
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thanks guys!
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Ken - NM9P

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Congratulations, Eric. Welcome to the Amateur Radio world!
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thank you Ken!
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Johan / SE3X

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Congratulations, Eric! Hope to work you from "over here" in the future, Well done
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Thank you Johan! Where may I ask is "over here "?
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Joe Conover

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What is Binaural Audio setting enabled do ????
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Johan / SE3X

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@ Eric-KE0WMX   Sorry, I missed you question until now ..

if you look at qrz.com and my call SE3X you will be taken to a place called Are, a skiresort up in the midwest Swedish mountains.  A bit "offside" in many ways, but after living in Stockholm, Swedish capital" for many years, moving up here and working from home is a blessing. Still travel a bit, but not as when being in the middle of my career.

If you like skiing and/or any kind of outdoor activities .. give me a ring if you are coming this way :)

73  Johan
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Sweden! How funny, my mother's side of the family were Swedish, Ahlquist & Carlsson.
One of these days I'd like to make a trip there, just to see the homeland.
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Joe Conover

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I love go Sweden see sights and chocolate I hear great
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Johan / SE3X

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You are both welcome and give me a ring if ever this way :) 

And Joe, we have a local  chocholate factory here. I hardly dare to go by their shop .. I always walk in and out with to much of their delicious stuff :)
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Joe Conover

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Yes K3 group nice group K3s needed for receiver up grade Etc not sure difference on KX3 QRP rig if that has S upgrade only thing u need is a well rounded external speaker as receiver a little hard on ears stock
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Ted VE3TRQ

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I could never listen to either my K3 nor my KX3 without headphones - their speakers are awful. But the receivers are really good :-)

The “binaural” capability on the Elecraft receivers also works very well - makes listening for long periods of time much easier. That said, the WNB on the Flex makes listening on 80 and 160 possible here - without that (i.e. on the K3 or KX3), I can’t listen to 80 and 160 - too much local noise.
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Eric-KE0WMX

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I have a plan for sound on the KX3 at home, I'll hook it up to my Kenwood surround sound system. (Which I had also planned on using no matter what radio I got)
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Ted VE3TRQ

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Be _very_ liberal with the application of toroids (mix 31 or 43) on the wires going to and from your audio and control systems. That includes power leads. The more complicated the wiring setup, the more you will need that suppression.

Pay special attention to the common mode choking on your antenna feed lines - those can be the source of much grief to your sound system and computer system. Each wire going anywhere is an antenna :-)
(Edited)
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Eric-KE0WMX

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Good to know, I hadn't thought of that.