What advantage does Maestro have?

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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


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Bill Turner

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Posted 3 years ago

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AH0U

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At present ... None... I have a similar set up but I also have the Maestro and find I use it mostly to hold down the days mail until I can read it...
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Michael Coslo

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As for myself, having tried a Maestro, I think it is a very nice little device, but have no need for it. I think that the Maestro is aimed at people who don't particularly like computers. And I am a computer geek. As well, I use a lot of differerent modes, and like large screens. I've got dual 27 inch monitors, and have fldigi running on one, and SmartSDR on the other. I can't give up the real estate, and I can run remotely with other computers.

But as a friend once told me, "The Problem with your Flex Radio is that it isn't a radio.", shows that there is a market for a head such as the Maestro. 
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K1UO - Larry

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Maestro is still a paperweight here also until the vpn feature is unlocked then I can actually use it.  But that's just because of my remote situation and not wanting to buy Raspberry Pi's in the interim firmware development period.  I still use SSDR on the PC for now but itching for the day I can connect using the Maestro. WAN connectivity is another "purchase" I see coming also. Of course that is what I need/want for my operating style... ymmv.

BTW, I did schlep it out to the remote to connect up so I could at least test it out.  Did the 1.8.3 updates on everything and all went/worked well.

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Philip KA4KOE

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Right now, I'm sitting downstairs on my comfortable couch, drinking coffee, in the living room. The Maestro is running on 40m via a 5 GHz house network (the extender is upstairs in the shack) while it's situated on the coffee table, and I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro. If you like to do all of your operating in the shack and absolutely nowhere else, then perhaps the Maestro will not fit your operating style.
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Philip KA4KOE

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It's not for everyone as everyone is different.
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Rob N4GA

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I'm doing ALL that on a MacBook AIR. Including typing this, while tuned into 20m..

No Maestro required.
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Philip KA4KOE

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Operating preference, again. I have software to do the exact same thing on this laptop. Everyone is different. I find I prefer a separate operating appliance. No one is wrong, no one is right.
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Michael Coslo

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Yup - it's 100 percent preference. While I can't say that I only prefer to operate in the shack, since I like multiple big monitors so I can access a lot of features of SDR, I'm a little tied to that. The Maestro is  a little jewel that works to bridge the gap between SDR and legacy radios, and adds a few twists of it's own.
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Rob N4GA

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I don't own one but I can give you the reason I don't.

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.

N4GA
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Brian - W9HLQ

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I sit on the patio in the shade and operate my Flex6500.  I use ear buds so I don't bother XYL sitting nearby.  With remote power on, I turn on the Flex when I am in the mood to give a listen to the bands.  No longer do I go to the basement hamshack to operate, I enjoy the delightful weather by the pond.  In addition I don't have to boot up a PC to operate, just kick on the Maestro.  It is a cool box.
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Philip KA4KOE

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Shade here is still unbearable in Georgia......when the sunlit area is 100F @ 75% hum-e-diddy.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Speed


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.


Portability.


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.


Coolness

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.
(Edited)
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KF4HR

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Basically anything you can do with a Maestro you can also do by running SSDR on a laptop and wandering around your LAN network with it, but after using both remotely around the house, I much prefer the Maestro.  Compared to a laptop and mouse control, the Maestro is much more fun to operate, and there are certain functions where knobs and buttons have an advantage (compared to  mouse control).  Is it necessary?  Nope... but nice to have. 
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Norm - W7CK

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I don't think I will ever take my Maestro on a vacation or travel with it in any way other than maybe while traveling in my 5th wheel.  Its just too cumbersome and can't be used for anything other than a front end to my Flex.  When I travel, I only take devices that are multi-purposed, like my phone or tablet and occasionally my laptop.  Lately, I've even been leaving my laptop behind because my phone now has such a large screen, I can generally do everything I need to on it.  For the few times I'm on the air while traveling, I've been using RCFORB on my Android phone.  It lets me control my rig, amplifier, antenna matching unit and for those who have rotors on their towers, it will let you control those as well.  Good enough, right?

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
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Norm

Much of your extra functionality is on the future release list

Bluetooth is there in hardware.

Everything else is "A SIMPLE MATTERIF PROGRAMMING'
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Gene - K3GC

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What a refreshing thread.
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. :)
73,
Gene K3GC
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Burt Fisher

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I won't have a use for it either as long as I own a laptop, but Flex sure did a great job engineering it.
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Walt - KZ1F

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What I think is the most interesting thing about Maestro is what it says about the ergonomics of the 6000 line in general, or perhaps the bulk of the people that bought one. Oddly, this is essentially the defining characteristic of the Flex in general, "look ma, no knobs". Is what people really flocked to is a tactile front end? Before those seeking to defend FRS's honour flock to this post...

The programmatic interface to the SSDR (radio)....phenomenal!
The ability to have multiple front ends (SSDRfX)...phenomenal!
The technical merits of the backend (SSDR/radio)...phenomenal!

The default human interface....not so special. (IMHO).

So did the 5X people that ordered one subconsciously, or even consciously, weigh in on that hypothesis? I kind of think so. If this is the case, then Maestro offers a peek at the future of SDR in the Amateur spectrum. It even offers a peek into the popularity of the latest, "reimagined" SDR, despite it's apparent technical handicap.  Reimagined being the latest marketing buzzword for 'I have a different product differentiator".

If all this holds, then the question is where is the sweet spot?
(Edited)
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Ross - K9COX

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#MaestroMatters
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Rob N4GA

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and.... Maestro Lives Matter (MLM)
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W1IMD

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Bill, to perhaps amplify on what Howard has said, the Maestro was originally designed to be an adjunct for contesters such that they could operate their Flex radio while their computer maintained focus on their logging program. Many contesters had complained that tuning the radio with SmartSDR caused them to have to re-acquire Windows focus for the logging program, wasting time and causing confusion. The Maestro provides the ability to run the radio and leave the logging computer alone.

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.
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AH0U

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I think you are spot on... The ads for the Maestro stress contesting and I think it is perfect for a contester.... For most of us the Flex remote is a much better choice.... I used the Maestro for half an hour and found the computer was a better way to go for me..... I run everything off HRD so Maestro has no use for me other than holding down the mail
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John - AF3K

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I have to agree - the main advantage of using Maestro is in contesting. I tried going back to 'non Maestro' during this weekends IARU contest and that lasted about 5 minutes.

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.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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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.


Dave wo2x



(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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So while you're at work you play ham radio? Are we understanding that correctly? Tsk tsk sir.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I do have break and lunch :-)
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Larry Benoit

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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,

Larry KB1VFU





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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Larry,
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.

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

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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