I see Maestro has become quite popular but I don't quite understand why, so I'm asking. I'm running a 6300 with a second monitor and I consider it my favorite radio of all time, and I have had a LOT of radios. So what advantage would Maestro give me that my current setup does not? All opinions and suggestions welcome.
73, Bill W6WRT
To me, if you need another piece of hardware to run the client, and you do, you may as well use a laptop.
That way you can also do 10k other things as well!
My guess is it's for the old timers that need knobs to turn. Who knows.
It's just a lot faster to contest or chase DX with knobs. Plusyour hands do not need to grab the mouse to do things.
You can schlep it anywhere.and operate. Mine sits on the living room coffee table when watching "family" TV
However I still prefer my much lighter iPad when traveling.
My technology challenged friends think Maestro is cool but Flex with PC is not. I demoed it at a couple. Of club meetings to very positive response while showing the same functionality on my iPad drew yawns.
I have been using my Maestro in the shack a bit. Although I have a PC with a fairly large monitor running all the time, I find running the Maestro frees up space on the PC monitor to do other things. The applications on the desktop can be run full screen or at least large enough to be easy seen while the Maestro carries on the task of displaying the 1 or 2 panadapters and providing somewhat more convenient control.
I don't usually contest, but just for grins I did operate CW during the IARU contest this past weekend. It was nice having the Maestro running SmartSDR and leaving all of the space on my monitor to run all of my other programs. The combination worked well and I'll most likely tend to continue using this combination for normal activity. In the past I've used a laptop with SmartSDR and the FlexControl programed with a few simple functions. This combination worked quite well too. It also gave me a bit more versatility - more panadapters, slices, and a backup to the main computer as well. With this combo, I have SmartSDR on the laptop with FlexControl and large PC and screen for logging and other applications.
I guess its just personal preference. The Maestro is a single purpose appliance most other solutions are multi-purpose but do not provide knobs and buttons....
The biggest gripe I have is that the Maestro will only run 2 panadapters and only 2 slices - expandable in the future? Who knows. 4 slices would have been much much better. Even better yet would be the ability to use the Maestro as a control unit like the FlexControl, leaving SmartSDR running on the desktop computer. The Maestro it has no provisions for a mouse, wireless Bluetooth headset, keyboard, monitor, etc. Can you imagine if you could connect a monitor (extended display), keyboard and mouse to it and load other applications in a sandbox area? Maybe the next generation?
All in all, I think Flex did a wonderful job in designing the Maestro. Its easy to look back in hindsight and think of better or different ways things could have been done to provide more functionality or better utility. All in all though, I think the Maestro is a pretty cool device and I'm looking forward to seeing what additional features Flex has in mind for it.
Norm - W7CK
I will never have use for Maestro. I love my office/shack. One monitor for the computer, a 27" for SSDR surrounded by two 24" ers for all the DXLab apps. Clearly I am a computer geek and SDR has been heaven sent for me.
With Maestro FRS has tapped a new market and, I hope lots of new revenue to provide all the rest of us with new toys for years to come. :)
That said, there are benefits for non-contesters, as others have mentioned. Many of us are anxious to use it via the internet (mine has not arrived yet) while others just want to sit by the pool and operate. Still others just like knob radios and the Maestro makes them happy while operating the best in class radio.
The Maestro has great potential for many styles of operating.
A side bonus - younger folks (and my friends who still act that way), upon seeing the Maestro for the first time seem to have the same look on their face as I did seeing a Collins S line station for the first time as a kid.
I use mine quite often. I have one at the office connected to a Raspberry Pi for remote operation while I am at my desk during the day. The other Maestro is in a Pelican case and I've brought it in the field. Ran it from a hotel in Chicago for two weeks. Definitely easier than using a laptop or the iPad. It is not as easy to carry around but it does work well with the RS60 headset.
Here's a shot from the hotel. Using the Maestro freed up the laptop for logging, web surfing, email,etc.
The Maestro is an innovative product that broadens the appeal
of the Flex 6000 platform, especially for those who want traditional controls and
don’t want to employ a conventional PC to operate their radio (although the Maestro incorporates a custom, embedded Windows PC). And, it apparently works very well in a contest environment with a companion PC.
However, the Maestro has important limitations, some perhaps
permanent and some that may be addressed with evolving software. For now, it
cannot alone handle logging/spotting, QRZ page lookups, digital modes, remote
operation over the Internet (coming soon) or accessory equipment control. If
you require any of these capabilities, as I do, the Maestro will need to be used
with a complementary Windows PC. However,
that makes for an impractically bulky package of equipment for casual remote operations.
A capable Windows tablet, combined with the Flex Control is a decent solution. I operate remote over the LAN or Internet (via OpenVPN and Netgear 7800 router) with an Acer Alpha Switch 12 (i5 processor) – a knockoff of the Surface Pro 4 at about half the cost. It easily runs SmartSDR with four panadapters, DDUtil, DX Labs Suite (all modules), Flex Control, Fldigi and supports Ethernet to serial adapters (Startech, Moxa, etc) for remote control of amplifiers and other accessories with an RS-232 interface. Of course, you need a fairly fast and stable internet connection at both ends for reliable remote operation. I also use a Digital Loggers Web Power Switch for AC/DC power control and remote switching of my Flex 6500. Everything runs seamlessly on the Acer tablet -- just as it does on my desktop at the shack. Also, a running computer is NOT needed at the shack.
I built an adjustable acrylic stand to hold the Acer tablet
and Flex Control and provide a stable platform for comfortable laptop operation
– pictures below. It can accommodate a second Flex Control (interfaced with DDUtil) connected to a second USB port on the tablet or you could add a Behringer DJ controller. Industrial Velcro secures the Flex Control and adjustable kick stand.
Good luck and 73,
CW Remote -- For the CW OP who also want to run CW Skimmer there is not a single device solution currently. About 2 years ago FRS said they had plans to support a paddle connected to a laptop or tablet. This would be a good solution as you would have a small package and could run all of the other programs you need on one device.
- Laptop running SSDR, CWS, spotting program, logger, etc
- paddle connected to laptop
- FlexControl if desired
Here is the link to the Q&A on connecting a paddle to the laptop.
This was before the Maestro and hopefully it is still planned, I haven't see any comments from FRS to the contrary.
Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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