Why did FlexRadio decide to go with a RJ45 microphone connector for Mic1 on the Maestro?

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Why did FlexRadio decide to go with a RJ45 microphone connector for Mic1 on the Maestro? As I understand it, the RJ45 was intended primarily an Ethernet connector and, in my experience, often provides insufficient cable strain relief for a typical hand-microphone w/coil cord application. Also, some types of RJ45 female sockets are rather fragile and easily damaged by tension on the cable - deforming or breaking the thin latching lip on the socket face. I've experienced a number of RJ45 failures under light cable tension; for example on my Ameritron solid-state mobile HF amplifier that uses ethernet cable interconnections to the (optional) remote control panel. Slight tugs on the cables while in mobile service eventually required that I replace all four RJ45 sockets due to latch failures. For that reason I prefer the far more-robust Foster 8-pin (round) style connector for mobile or portable microphone service.
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Mike Smoot

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Posted 3 years ago

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Dave - W6OVP

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Oh, ****! You mean the factory supplied 6300 FHM-1 mike (and the Heil I replaced it with) won't work with the Maestro which was designed specifically for the 6000 series? How'z that again? Was the left hand not paying attention to what the right hand was doing?

I am not pleased. FLEX should supply the necessary adapter at no cost.
(Edited)
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George Fenwick

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Howard: Apparently not yet up on the website. The only adapter for sale by FRS presently adapts the Foster to an RJ45. And prior exchanges I've had with FRS mentioned nothing but the current adapter. It was suggested I use a cat5 cable! Where is the coiled RJ45<>RJ45 cable? Also, where are the Maestro accessories with prices?
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George Fenwick

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AH! Must be the ACC-CLV-310 for $12. Too bad there's no picture!
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Dave - W6OVP

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Tim- This discussion is about FLEX changing a major connector in the middle of a product family launch. IMHO that probable "green eyeshade" decision will cost FLEX a lot more in unhappy customers and complaints and perhaps in product returns and sales not made than could ever be saved by such a short sighted decision. And telling customers about the problem at the time of sale has all the charm of buying a new car and at the cashiers desk being told "Oh, but the new car doesn't include tires and rims. They are extra. But we can sell them to  you here. Or you can buy them elsewhere."

Looks to me like the cheapest way out (both financially and in saved face) at this point is to just put an adapter in the box with every Maestro delivered and forget about it. But that first requires acknowledgment of the problem.  TNX. -Dave
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Michael Coslo

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I agree with Tim re a PC headset. In fact, Howard even touched upon it writing of the Apple earbuds. Regular Amateur Radio mics in my opinion, just aren't very good. I have a Logitech H800 bluetooth headset that not only sounds better than my Heil Proset Elite, but I have been guilty of forgetting to take it off after wearing the headset ll night! No way that would happen with the Heil - after an hour, they gotta come off. 
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@ Dave W6OVP  RE: "Tim- This discussion is about FLEX changing a major connector in the middle of a product family launch. IMHO that probable "green eyeshade" decision will cost FLEX a lot more in unhappy customers and complaints and perhaps in product returns and sales not made than could ever be saved by such a short sighted decision. And telling customers about the problem at the time of sale has all the charm of buying a new car and at the cashiers desk being told "Oh, but the new car doesn't include tires and rims. They are extra. But we can sell them to  you here. Or you can buy them elsewhere.""

I didn't catch where the Maestro was ever going to have an 8-pin Foster?

Unless they did promise Maestro would have the 8-pin not paying attention to the published and shown video specifications is more the problem than anything FRS is responsible for.

The emotiveness over needing an adaptor for your favorite microphone isn't really in the amateur spirit.  I sure don't see any ill intent by FRS in using a decent grade RJ45 for a microphone connector like you do.

Like you I like the 8-pin Foster, but it is in no means a deal breaker.

Demanding an adapter be automatically included seems a bit of a stretch, more so when you consider others may well want different adaptors than a 8-pin-to-RJ45 one.

Then there is always that problem of pin-outs being inconsistent with the same 8-pin Foster.

Let's not keep missing the obvious as well - FRS has said they will be confirming payment, any added accessories wanted and delivery schedule with each ham before shipping. 

If a ham ignores ordering up what is needed to feed & care for their Maestro when FRS calls, then basically tough luck. They need to have some ownership in station setup.

I hope like myself you are eager to try the various ways to do audio-in with the Maestro, and compare them.

It is going to be fun!  Yeah!

73

Steve K9ZW


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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Most likely they felt the need to provide some sort of legacy connector to backup the BlueTooth connectivity.

They also have years of successful field experience with the modular on other FRS models, so rather expect they will have selected a decent grade connector for the Maestro.

FRS has offered an adaptor for years - and lists a "Mic conversion cable for FMH-1-8P (8-pin Foster) to RJ45" as a Maestro accessory.  (Like you I want to use some of other microphones with a Maestro as well.)

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Michael Coslo

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Of course, if Flex used a standard connector, instead of an RJ45, someone else would be angry. 

That's the never-ending problem. Can't please everyone. I can't say I'm fond of the RJ45, although I do have some mics with them already. Heck, I had to make an adapter for my boom mic. And some of my other mics have different pinouts. But I'm a Ham, and know how to do that kind of stuff. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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There are so many options for using a Mike with the Maestro

The Maestro comes with two Mike Ports - RJ-45 and a 3.5mm TRRS

But you can also use a Bluetooth Mike and, of course, you can also use the 8-Pin Foster and the Balanced Mike inputs atyour 6000 Series.,

If you have the Flex Hand Mike you can order a RJ-45 Adapter cable

If you are using a RadioSport Headset you can order a TRRS Adapter cable with right angle connectors so you wont have stress issues from connecting in the back of the Maestro

I have had superb audio reports using Apple Ear buds that came free with my iPhone.. and a 3.5mm TRRS to dual TRS splitter that I found on Amazon for $6


(Edited)
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k3Tim

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Hi Howard (or anyone)

Thanks for jumping in and clarifying (~NDA).  I am a tad confused however. The TRRS connector should have mic + L-R audio on the 4 connection connector. Why was an adapter required for the ear buds?
I assume an 'Android' TRRS ear bud set would plug directly into the M-box, correct? It seems odd the latest TRRS wiring standard puts the mic connection on the sleeve rather atna ring-2.

BT headset - does M-box support Bluetooth / version? I thought reading previous posts i would not at first release.

A suggestion to FRS (if I may be so bold) to include information as to "what's NOT in the box" as opposed to "what's in the box" so users can hit ground running and not have to wire up connectors / batteries.
Speaking of batteries, this is another item the user must supply ahead of time.

Anything else?


Thank you for you time / expert help.

k3Tim
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Barry N1EU

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The specs currently up on the Flex Web site say nothing about TRRS.  They say TRS mic and TRS headphone jacks.  What am I missing?

Thanks & 73,
Barry N1EU
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Your r right Barry. I got it backwards. The earbuds are TRRS but the adapter goes to separate TRS for the MIke and TRS for the stereo audio.
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k3Tim

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Hi Barry

Thanks for pointing this out. I should have checked the FRS main site before posting but now read the "specs" menu addresses most questions. Will assume Howard meant to type TRS and not TRRS and used a Y cable to convert the TRRS headset to TWO TRS plugs.

The specs page also shows a AC to DC power supply is included. Hopefully this is RFI clean!

Many Thanks

Tim
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Dave - W6OVP

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Thanks for that info, Howard. The trick is to be informed of all this ahead of time, BEFORE the box appears at the door. (Who knows what else is lurking out there?)  -Dave.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Didn't FRS say that new Maestro owners would be contacted prior to shipping for their accessory requests/order and for payment?

I think they also intended to confirm schedule with each person as well.

What would be helpful is for the Flex-Insider to include a checklist of things to think through prior to the FRS order confirmation call, and another list of the minimum configuration & added items to have on hand to get your Maestro on the air.

Those two lists could go a long ways to reducing worry and making sure the best possible out-of-the-box experience is had by a new Maestro owner.

73

Steve K9ZW



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Walt - KZ1F

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Good idea Steve.
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Gary F

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The Heil Proset Media is an excellent choice.
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Dave - W6OVP

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>If a ham ignores ordering up what is needed to feed & care for their Maestro when FRS calls, then basically tough luck.

Steve- I don't have any problems with fanboy comments but am sorry that you miss the whole point of my posts. There aren't many other ways to indicate the concern here is not about technical choices or standards, but the care and feeding of the emerging 6000 product line, and, of it's paying customers. (>They need to have some ownership in station setup...)

The thought that a customer would voluntarily add another major item in an emerging Premium product line and then have to buy a different microphone (or adapter) than one that was already purchased for that same product line in order to compensate for some design hiccup along the way is hilarious on its face. It's the sort of thing that technical lore and joke books are made of. (Most of us with serious experience have great stories to tell.)

But it does raise questions about who is in charge of what? Where is this product line going? Is anyone really watching the store? Potential competition is watching for sure, and making decisions based on what it sees. Regards. -Dave.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Knock it off with the fanboy comments. Like you I like 8-pin but unlike you I respect the professionals at FRS to do their jobs, including picking connectors. I haven't belittled you for having no situation awareness and like rip van winkle waking up to needing a trivial accessory that was obvious for nearly a year.

Show me the radios you've brought to market and perhaps you opinion will have some weight, but you are coming across as a whinny and petty old man pissing and moaning about a $20 accessory to select in with a $3500 to $9800 Flex-6x00 plus Maestro setup.

I'll send you, as a fellow game, connectors if being ready to ask for the right connectivity connectors when FRS calls is such a big deal. You can make up the adapter yourself.

Pissing and moaning almost a year after announcement when the unit finally is in prerelease production just seems a sad way to greet a significant new product.

Skip your Meastro is needing the connector is such a spoiler, but don't look to sympathy from this court as guess what? You are going to need other accessories to use the Maestro well too!

Figure battery packs, feet rather than a bail, connectors, Chargers and Bluetooth accessories.

To get the best experience you might need a couple hundred in accessories, and gee whiz some of your old stuff might just not work.

Needing the customization stuff isn't a rally cry to play "sad panda" - it is just life as usual as it has been for the 60+ years your had your ticket.

I will say I think taking FRS to task suggesting bad motives was a horseshit nay to ask questions that needed no leading answers or innuendos suggest. Crabby old person stuff doesn't make for facts. You were within bounds to ask them why, they rest was shamefully insulting FRS.

YMMV, but when you call me a fan boy and question my motives when I'm trying so hard to not point out your shortcomings you can piss off.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Michael Coslo

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I think Dave might not know that to computer people, calling a person a fanboy is like one ham calling another a LID.  It tends to get emphatic reactions. I kinda cringed when I saw that. 

At least I hope so. Because if he meant it in the way we use it,  that isn't nice at all. 
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Walt - KZ1F

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Mike, now you're just making me feel old. I've been intimately involved with software and computers for just about 50 years now.I don't believe I'd heard the term used until I joined this forum. I do recall the cartoon for iPhone vs HTC EVO. Which, BTW, if you missed it, it's a must see on YouTube, specifically iPhone 4 vs HTC. But they never used the term, fanboy.
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Oh, if you go over to Slashdot, the forum for nerds, and call someone that, riots may ensue. Even worse if you use the deliberate misspelling "fanboi"
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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"Fanboy" or "fanboi" are both popular internet terms.... Used to dismiss somebody's opinion as coming from bias or strong personal preference... As opposed to dispassionate analysis. Or fair comparison.

I'm accused all the time in Internet forums of being a MSFT fanboy. There are Apple fanboi's galore out there ("oooohhh... Apple made it... It must be AMAZING!" -- and there are surely Flex fanboys.

It's not that the term is inherently offensive. What's offensive about it is having what you think is a st one logical analysis being dismissed as blind brand loyalty.

I now return you to you microphone connector argument.

Peter
K1PGV
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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I suppose one could make the argument that a microphone should be included with the Maestro, but complaining about what is arguably the most common standard microphone connector for "transportable" rigs seems pointless.  Looking over my shoulder at my secondary operating position, I see three radios, one from each of the Big-3 Japanese makers, all equipped with RJ45 mic jacks.  
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Dave - W6OVP

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>seems pointless

You are right, since it totally misses the point of this thread.

 >Looking over my shoulder at my secondary operating position

Looking over my shoulder at 4 new stations, Kenwood, Yaesu, Elecraft and FLEX I see 4 different mike connectors. But again, that isn't the point of this thread is it?

The subject of this thread goes in the Technical Product Jokebook in the Chapter titled:  But Boss, the plug don't fit no more!
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Michael Coslo

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I think after hearing all of this, you would be much better off with one of the other radios you mentioned. 

And they even have the right connector. And the mics are all interchangeable, correct? 

And at this point, I'm not certain what the point is. Seems to have been a combination of the RJ45 is a weak connector (I've replaced many more Fosters)  and that Flex is bent on corporate suicide for  daring to switch connectors. 


You want strength, a Foster is not even remotely the way to go - get a Mil-Spec circular connector.

And does anyone seriously use the stock mic?

I have a Kenwood TS-480, a Icom IC-761, My Flex, and a bunch of VHF radios. All have a different connector. Of the several Kenwoods I own, I have three different connectors. The wiring is different between the individual microphones. I have a number of adapters I've made up to connect the different mics to the different radios. And a lot of us find that no issue at all. 

And for a Maestro? I would use a computer mic and headset - many are much better than even the Heils.
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Walt - KZ1F

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As far as 'seeming pointless', what can possible be served by bitching about a vendor decision for what subcomponents were chosen for a new product ? The product is rolling off the assembly line. If one doesn't like a design decision Ford made with Mustang subcomponent choices don't but a Mustang, the Sun will still continue to rise in the East. I believe they use the same subcomponent on the 1500, still in production.
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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I suspect the issue is not the question, but not accepting the answers. It is FB to ask why Flex settled on RJ45 and small jack instead of a Foster. But after getting the answer, it was off to the races, including some insults along the way. 

Eventually it was no longer a question, but just anger directed at Flex, and those who disagreed with OP's opinion.
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Jim Jerzycke

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Well, I wondered when this was going to turn "nasty", and it has.

Personally, I don't have a preference in mic connectors, but to NOT include a $5 adapter in the box with a $1000 accessory seems a bit cheap to me.

Carry on, guys.....

Jim
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Dave - W6OVP

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Hi Michael. No anger for sure. Just increasing amusement. Some of the responses are quite entertaining. (Wish I knew how to put grinning icons on this board as I would have used them extensively... <ggg>.)

Regarding Fan Boy: Merriam-Webster Definition of fanboy
  1. :  a boy or man who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something. First used in 1919.

Works for me. Right on target. Every forum has them. Usually bring more heat than light.

But with all the fuss and feathers the original question by Mike in the very top line still hasn't been officially answered has it? I believe that is what we are all waiting around for:

"Why did FlexRadio decide to go with a RJ45 microphone connector for Mic1 on the Maestro?"

Maybe there really is a good reason. If so, I must have missed it.

-Dave
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Dave, a Lid was first defined a long time ago, also. If you call a Ham a lid, they won't like it. So okay, I'll say you were ignorant of computer geek use of the word. 

If you come into comment boards of a computer geek radio, don't be too surprised if you call one a fanboy and he or she gets upset. It is rude,  If I accidentally insulted someone, I'd be contrite and upset with myself.  

What manner of official answer do you want? I'll bet they did it for the same reasons any other company changed to RJ45 connectors. They just did it. If that isn't good enough an answer, perhaps there isn't one forthcoming, and you are either going to just annoy people here.

Have a good day, Dave. This conversation has become pointless. Carry on.
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Dave - W6OVP

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Isn't it amazing how a simple question like Mike's on line 1 can grow into all this nonsense? There seems to be a lot of free floating hostility here looking for a place to squat. Maybe it's the election. Maybe it's just indigestion. Maybe it is because Maestro is so late, but I'd much rather have it right than right now.

But is Mike's question really that difficult? Seems like FRS could end all this collective outpouring of angst in a heartbeat by simply answering it. <GGG>. Their  answer is the only answer I have any interest in hearing.
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Walt - KZ1F

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So, if I understand you correctly, you want FRS to to enter the mode of feeling obligated to explain, and perhaps seek customer buy in, for business decisions they make. Remember, we are the customers, not the board of directors.

Maybe they will get around to answering why they make the decisions they make. I would certainly understand if they don't.
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Maybe FRS wanted to get rich by having us all buy a new Mic! LOL. I got three just in case. $16. Now I'll have to skip Starbucks for a couple of days. damn FRS.

http://www.amazon.com/Microphone-Yaes...
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Reg

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A few weeks ago I purchased a RadioSport RS60CF from FLEX.  I ordered two cables with the headset:  (1) the balanced input cable for the FLEX-6700, and (2) the RJ-45 connector cable for the Maestro when it arrives.  It's that simple.

Reg
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Reg, see if Flex will exchange the RJ-45 cable for the dual 1/8" TRS cable with right angle connectors. It plugs into MIC2 and should be more durable over time. When I ordered my RS60CF from Radiosport, Dave recommended the dual TRS cable for Maestro.
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WW1SS - Steve

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Some of you are just too anal with too much time on your hands. Why does Kenwood or Yaesu make some radio's with an RJ-45 and some with a Foster. WHO CARES. Don't like it don't buy it. I'll just go and buy the cord for my Radiosport and enjoy it while some just BITCH about it.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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I'm sorry if I raised the heat level of the discussion with the use of the word "pointless".  it seemed harmless enough at the time.  It seems obvious to me, but apparently not to the OP, that the RJ45 jack was likely chosen because of its form factor, just as on my Icom 7100 and FT-817 both of which are relatively small.  From an industrial design standpoint it should be an easy and clean fit.  As I said earlier, a case could be made that a microphone should be standard equipment, but given that our individual taste in microphones is so widely varied, I don't see it as a problem.  My FHM handheld mike has never been out of the box, and the Foster connection unused, as I prefer a studio-grade balanced setup, even though only 1-2% of my time is spent on SSB.  I'm much more concerned about the CW capabilities of the Maestro.and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of mine.
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k3Tim

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Answer to QuestionWhy did FlexRadio decide to go with a RJ45 microphone connector for Mic1 on the Maestro? 

I would conjecture it was due to SMT versus hand soldering. Consider producing, say 500 units. With all external connectors solder directly to the PWB, the boards are ready to go.  With a 8 pin foster, a skilled tech has to cut / strip / solder 5? wires to the PWB as well as the connector. Think about that task closely compared to a pure SMT build (where pure means all solder mounted components). The time savings for the hypothetical pile of 500 units is rather large, let alone possibility of a bad solder connection.

Who hasn't built a QRP kit radio with "100" wire leads going to controls / jacks and found what a pain that was to deal with and also making a mess of the pretty PWB?

Tim has mentioned unplugging the RJ 45 cable from the one supplied with your 6000 series radio. I have tried this with a very flexible ethernet cable that wassupplied with a wireless router. Said cable is 3 feet (about 1 meter), flat and very flexible. It looks like it will work well. His (Tim) other comment about using a small headset is on target.

Be cool / be calm....


K3Tim
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Mike Smoot

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As the perpetrator who asked the original question, I'd like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to kick a hornet's nest, and that I fully appreciate the numerous responses!

Having experienced RJ failures, and after reading of others (e.g., Flex-3000 connector separation) I was puzzled by their choice.  I greatly enjoy using my Flex-5000 and Flex-6700 radios, and I wish FRS every success with the Maestro.  I'm looking forward to receiving mine....and soon, I hope!

After looking again at the Maestro front and back photos - and giving it more thought - I suspect the connector location - on the rear panel, lower right side, may have been one factor in their decision.   I'm thinking any coiled-corded mic attached to that location would have a tendency to pull the unit forward from the (operator's) left side.  A Foster connector at that location would also project further to the rear - increasing the lever moment and worsening the tendency, while possibly stressing the board if soldered directly.  Perhaps FRS was thinking more along the lines of a flat flexible cable, or thin round one from a headset, etc,  that would make the 180 degree turn around to the front more gracefully.  

Whatever their reasons, I'm sure it was an informed decision.  Maybe one day we'll know for sure.

FRS must, however, proactively inform Maestro purchasers that the Flex-6xxx hand microphone will require an adapter. I suggest they toss one in for free (or offer it at cost) for Maestro buyers who purchase(d) a foster-style mic from FRS.  With RadioShack gone, some folks might have trouble finding a male Foster to build their own adapter in short order.

73,

Mike - KB1MH
(Edited)

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