What is wrong - before turning it on

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  • Question
  • Updated 6 years ago
  • Answered
I haven't even turned on the Flex 6500 - I need to go pay for cables first.

Here is a short list of disappointments:

1. Connections have changed. One great thing about other manufacturers, ICOM for example, is I can buy a new ICOM radio, and move every pluged in item from the old radio to the new radio. On a rare occasion when a plug/outlet has changed, ICOM provides or at least sells as an optional converter plug:

1a: I can not connect my 10 Mhz GPS clock, because the plug has changed from BNC on the flex 5000 to RCA on the flex 6500.

1b. I can not connect my TNC because the flex accessory port has a different connector. I don't even know where to buy a MALE connector for it.

So, you may find a better way, a better connector, or some connector which saves you money. But, you should include a one dollar adapter with an expensive radio like this. Or at least, it should be an option during purchase.

2. Your ethernet cable is too short for my needs. Again, when purchasing the radio this should be an option.

3. I suppose it is nice that the Flex radio power connector is Anderson Power Poles, but the included cable should have been Anderson power poles on both ends. If I connect the provided power cable to my power supply, then my entire rig runner power bar will be without power. Not hard to remedy, but if you are catering to all of us who use Anderson Power Poles, then we naturally are using a Rig Runner power bar.

4. I received a phone call from Flex that the radio will be shipping soon, but never received any EMAIL with tracking number identifying the package as coming from Flex Radio. I was on vacation when it arrived, and would have taken some more care to make sure it was taken care of - if I had an email from flex radio saying it is shpping, tracking number, and estimated date of arrival. I had many low cost (under $100) items arrive that week. If the email doesn't say the package is from Flex Radio, I don't know the Flex Radio is coming.

5. The quick start guide mentions a CD with SmartSDR software, but no CD was included. Fortunately I went back to the saved emails from Flex Radio and found the link to download SmartSDR. I think it would be better if this was more clear.

6. I provided a copy of my MARS license to Flex Radio, but received a response that I have to jump through hoops with customer service AFTER I receive the radio.

So, in summary, I need to go to a store or mail order additional items before I can use my radio. And since 99% of my radio use is MARS, I have more phone calls and steps to perform before I will be able to actually use it.

None of these items are major problems, but could have made my initial experience better.

So, today I am going to drive to the RF Connection, to see if they can modify the flex power cable and sell me an adapter for the GPS clock. Odds are they will be too busy to do any work while I wait, and will require another trip in a few days. I found a longer ethernet cable in the house I can use - hope it is up to whatever specs Flex recommends.

Flex Radio can make this more pleasant experience for the next purchaser.

Regards,

Howard
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Howard Z

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Posted 6 years ago

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Greg - K5GJ, Elmer

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Official Response
Howard:

I'm sorry that you've had a less than desirable Out-of-Box experience. Thanks for taking the time to provide such a detailed post. I appreciate all feedback and especially ones with details. I've tried to answer as many of your issues as I can below: Look for the >> next to my responses.

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I haven't even turned on the Flex 6500 - I need to go pay for cables first.

Here is a short list of disappointments:

1. Connections have changed. One great thing about other manufacturers, ICOM for example, is I can buy a new ICOM radio, and move every pluged in item from the old radio to the new radio. On a rare occasion when a plug/outlet has changed, ICOM provides or at least sells as an optional converter plug:

>> This is a brand new architecture and radio implementation. When possible, we attempted to maintain compatibility with the existing FLEX-Series but there were situations where space constraints made that impossible.

1a: I can not connect my 10 Mhz GPS clock, because the plug has changed from BNC on the flex 5000 to RCA on the flex 6500.

>> This is one of the connections as mentioned in Item #1, If you have trouble finding adapters, a good source is Mouser Electronics: Part # 601-27-8110 http://www.mouser.com

1b. I can not connect my TNC because the flex accessory port has a different connector. I don't even know where to buy a MALE connector for it.

>> We expanded the capabilities of the FLEX-Wire accessory interface in response to feedback from our customers asking for additional features. That drove a connector with more pins. The DB-15HD connector is a widely used interface for VGA etc. Mouser Part # connector: 636-180-015-103L001, housing: 636-970-009-010R011

So, you may find a better way, a better connector, or some connector which saves you money. But, you should include a one dollar adapter with an expensive radio like this. Or at least, it should be an option during purchase.

>> In general regarding bare connectors and adapters, we really struggled over this. We asked quite a few folks about just throwing the connectors in the box and we were surprised to hear that most folks felt like that IF the connector ever made it out of the box, it would end up in a junk drawer, never to be found when it was really needed for a special interface project. If we got this wrong, I'd like to hear from others.

2. Your Ethernet cable is too short for my needs. Again, when purchasing the radio this should be an option.

>> Howard, this a tough one for us to win. The 2m CAT6 Ethernet cable is far and away the most popular cable and that felt like the right length for us. For some it will be to long - for you it was too short. Please note we selecting a cable, you should purchase a high quality CAT5e or better NON-SHIELDED UTP Ethernet cable. The specification allows for up to 100m. If we get more feedback about the length, we can look into offering optional cables.

3. I suppose it is nice that the Flex radio power connector is Anderson Power Poles, but the included cable should have been Anderson power poles on both ends. If I connect the provided power cable to my power supply, then my entire rig runner power bar will be without power. Not hard to remedy, but if you are catering to all of us who use Anderson Power Poles, then we naturally are using a Rig Runner power bar.

>> We selected the DC cable that was included with your radio for maximum flexibility for all shacks. In the US, PowerPole style cables have become very popular but some countries have not yet jumped on the PowerPole bandwagon. The selected cable will attach directly to your high current supply or be easily modified to add PowerPoles to the other end for the folks that have embraced this new standard. I will look into the possibility of offering a PowerPole - PowerPole DC cable.

4. I received a phone call from Flex that the radio will be shipping soon, but never received any EMAIL with tracking number identifying the package as coming from Flex Radio. I was on vacation when it arrived, and would have taken some more care to make sure it was taken care of - if I had an email from flex radio saying it is shpping, tracking number, and estimated date of arrival. I had many low cost (under $100) items arrive that week. If the email doesn't say the package is from Flex Radio, I don't know the Flex Radio is coming.

>> Howard, I've checked and our records show that your invoice including the UPS tracking number was sent 8/16/13 to your email address on file. You may want to check your spam folder.

5. The quick start guide mentions a CD with SmartSDR software, but no CD was included. Fortunately I went back to the saved emails from Flex Radio and found the link to download SmartSDR. I think it would be better if this was more clear.

>> This issue is ongoing during the PREVIEW project. The releases have changed faster than we can have bulk CDs published. The email you mentioned with the download link was our attempt to make this more clear and less painful. Sorry that didn't work for you. We have purchased a system for duplicating CDs in-house so we will be shipping CDs with every radio starting with SmarSDR v1.0.

6. I provided a copy of my MARS license to Flex Radio, but received a response that I have to jump through hoops with customer service AFTER I receive the radio.

>> I'm sorry you found this process cumbersome. The MARS unlock facility is part of the "Internationalization" code the engineering team has just completed. Until now it's been a very manual process. The reason we asked you to open a HELPDESK ticket was so we could track your request to completion without losing track. I've checked to make sure your request is active and in process.

So, in summary, I need to go to a store or mail order additional items before I can use my radio. And since 99% of my radio use is MARS, I have more phone calls and steps to perform before I will be able to actually use it.

None of these items are major problems, but could have made my initial experience better.

So, today I am going to drive to the RF Connection, to see if they can modify the flex power cable and sell me an adapter for the GPS clock. Odds are they will be too busy to do any work while I wait, and will require another trip in a few days. I found a longer ethernet cable in the house I can use - hope it is up to whatever specs Flex recommends.

Flex Radio can make this more pleasant experience for the next purchaser.

Regards,

Howard

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>> Howard, again I'm sorry you haven't had the startup experience you were looking for. We will take your feedback and see how we can make it better for others.

73,
Greg - K5GJ
VP - Sales and Marketing