Why did I go with FLEX????

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  • Updated 9 months ago
Back in 2017 we were shown a lot of new radios to be hitting the market place in late or early 2017/18. Some were European radios and some were Japanese, some made in the USA-Flex,,, As an owner of a Reuter RDR-50 SDR radio for over 4 years, my expectations and needs were set Very High,, the RDR50 is a very nice instrument, German Made, $3K receive only, 7" touch screen, very advanced SDR radio for 4 years ago. Still own it!!

I have a variety of transceivers in the shack, Yaesu FT-1000MP MarkV, Yaesu FT-991, and a brand new ICOM IC-R8600 receiver.. It is safe to say that the radio that was getting all the attention was the new ICOM IC-7610 radio.. And the Flex 6400-6600M series.. So like so many others, I placed a deposit down on a IC-7610,,, but decided when HRO called me to confirm my order, I told them to Remove me from the list.. I just wanted more time to evaluate radios once they hit the market place, and not be a beta tester..  So I had joined the 7610 and Flex groups and decided to sit back and read the emails, the Good-Bad & Ugly (Sounds like a movie)...

However something began to show up in these groups, was the level of technical understanding most Flex folks have and the LACK of technical understanding the ICOM ham radio operators had.. Don't get me wrong,, Engineers and technical savvy folks reside in both groups, as do the Yaesu and Kenwood groups,, but the emails posted, and the responses one would receive was totally different.. When folks ask how do I hook up a monitor to a 7610, how do I do this, and how do I do that,, these questions were so basic, one wonders who are these people purchasing these radios? So when the 7610 hit the marketplace my mailbox began to fill up with hundreds of emails with folks asking a lot of very bad and in some cases stupid questions.. I wanted to hear the technical aspects of the radio, and one would dig deep to find those...

Now comes the Flex Group... It made me feel that everyone who owns a FLEX radio is an Engineer, Scientist or Amateur Radio Operator who enjoys the hobby due to the engineering side of the hobby, rather then it is just a TOY to play with... As some bugs began to show up in the Flex,,, the Flex folks dived in as did the community to ask questions and most would get a polite response where to look in the manual for further information, or take the bug report for further evaluation, better know as Factory Support... 

In the end my decision to go with the Flex 6600M was based on support from the community and support from the FLEX team.. Not to mention the quality of the product itself.. Spending $5K rather then $3600 for a Icom radio was not even part of my decision,, as the Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu ham community always fight over the price of any product,, expecting that somehow a radio that cost $3600 should work as great as a $10K,, then they get disappointing that some shortcuts were taken to keep the price low (No HDMI port on a Icom and no 1080P resolution)... 

My 6600M is not due till May,, and I am reading the operational manuals and watching videos to better understand the radio.. One year ago I would not have thought that FLEX would be on my want list,,, but things do change when one does their homework... Thanks to the FLEX engineers who helped answer many questions I had about the radio.. BTW, I mentioned Reuter Radios, German Made,, not sold or shipped to the USA, but I know the owner and was able to get one,, this is their new POCKET radio,,, very sophisticated for a small radio .. Thanks FLEX for stepping up with a radio that meets my needs for next generation SDR  with remote software that works and a M model that satisfies my knob turning requirements :-) !

Robert  WA6PHN

http://ratzer.at/empfaenger/reuter-pocket
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Robert Lonn

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Posted 9 months ago

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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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I'm glad I kept my "old" Flex TRX 3000 and 1500 from 7 years ago, because with Flex you can get an experience, which you can get nowhere else: Darrin KE9NS gives PowerSDR a whole new life!

The same happens with my Flex 6500: SSDR development and the great programs for the API (SliceMaster, FRStack, SDR-Bridge), the Flex forum and the great customer support... a whole new ham radio world.

It all started with my friend Peter and his Flex-5000. I had never seen something like this before, a waterfall on a big CRT monitor ;-) 

Alex - DH2ID
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I like how Flex software keeps evolving, never finished. I look to updates. The updates are a little slow, but if that is all I have to complain about?
I could write a long time about all the good reasons to Buy Flex, but there just is not time and space to mention them all.
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Clay N9IO

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One sip of the coolaid is all it takes to be hooked Robert.
Welcome to the fold.
Best decision I ever made.
Could NEVER go back!
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Mark WS7M

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Hi Robert,

A nice post.  I wish I could say you will not experience a problem or two with the Flex as they are not perfect but you will have a lot better support both from Flex and this forum.

I just paid for a Flex 6600 to upgrade from my 6500 which is still doing just fine.  I looked long and hard at the 7610 as it is supposed to be remote-able.

The strange thing was I could not find any really good examples of people doing true remote operation.   I found a few examples, but nothing seemed to answer all of my questions.

Then I ran across a video of a british guy operating his 7300 remote.  In this case he had to install the icom server software on a computer as it was not embedded in the 7300.  Supposedly the 7610 does not need this.  But then I watched as he connected and there was a lot of setting this com port, selecting that audio device, picking this thing or thing and finally after like 10 clicks he was hearing audio remote while on vacation. 

Like most examples he did a voice contact.  He had no way to control any of his other home devices, antennas, amps.  And there was no demo of remote CW or digital modes.

I quickly realized that if I bought one of those radios I'd be stepping into a brand new environment where I'd have to setup everything for remote kind of from ground zero and I could not even verify that some of the things I wanted to do could be done.

So for me staying with flex was a simple matter of comfort as I can already do most things I want to do including my favorite thing which is to operate some CW from my office very early mornings.  

I am also a software developer for many years and I find the API for the flex to be quite easy to use. So I've written some software to do the things I want to do and once again all of that would be throw away going to any other platform.

Since the 6400, 6600 models have come out there have been a number of problems reported in this forum.  I think it is safe to say that Flex is doing their best to address them.  People with the problems are at times frustrated but in the end they seem to be getting taken care of.

I ordered an icom 7100 for my car back last summer.  The first one arrived and worked for 15 minutes before it refused to power own.   So problems are common across the board.
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Jim, VE6JF

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Robert - I had also posted here a short time ago regarding my decision to go the Flex route this time around and for many of the same reasons you just listed. And I also noticed, but did not write in my post, the observations you mentioned above regarding the technical understanding level in some other groups. On a certain forum, I sensed a certain irrational bias and even saw some derogatory terms used for Flex advocates I found disturbing as well. In the end after an awful lot of research into the design aspects of radio internals, the culture and the interest of how things work in this community combined with the high level of customer support, the Flex was an easy decision. I agree with you re: the  Flex group. In addition to operating, what I like doing is actually designing and  building my own QRP radios and I saw a similar interest in experimentation in the community here too. Before retiring I did system software integration work including  networking, writing communication drivers in both Unix and Windows etc so the Flex was a particularly good fit for what I want in a radio. I don't have it yet, but won't be long.
Nicely stated...

Jim - VE6JF
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Lou Dietrich

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Welcome!...and do not hesitate to ask! 

73

Lou N2TU
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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You're in good company here... enjoy!
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Alan KB5CUS

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Great post Robert ...  And I agree about the post you may see on other sites other than the Flex Community. I have had 3 Flex Radio's. The 6300, 6500, & now the 6600. Leading edge technology. As for the price of the Icom 7610, it is  way to high for what you get... example : 2 - year warranty , Quality of product, Many more features & the best tech support out there.  I know a ham that sent his back (6600M) simply because he didn't understand how to run the radio. I had offered him help & he Never asked for help. If he had I'm sure he would still have it.  I'm sure you're going to have a blast when you get yours....
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Elliot Skultin

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My 6400M blew me away from the moment I tuned up my antenna. I posted earlier about an impossible QSO with a low power station in Japan that I am certain would not have happened on my Yeasu or Swan before that. Although my radio is back at the Flex factory for a few adjustments, the support has been aggressive and timely. I amconfident that I made the right decision with Flex.
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Larry Anderson

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My father often gave my brothers and me some very sage advice "back in the day" and I pass it along here:
"The bitterness of poor quality lingers LONNNNNNNNG after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!"

That's why I am a happy owner/user of Macintosh -- and my beautiful Flex 6600M!!
Major high fives to Gerald (we both are graduates of MS State University!) and his amazing team!

--Dr. Larry S. Anderson, NN5O (ex-WB5EIN)
Tupelo, MS
Assoc. Professor (Ret.), MS State University
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Brad A. Steffler

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My son-in-law is a veterinarian and graduate of State. He likes Gerald. I am a native Texan and I love Gerald. Just waiting for my PG XL to mate with my 6700.

Glad to hear from a REAL doctor. I am just a trade schooler (plumber).

Brad A. Steffler, M.D. KE4XJ (ex WN5VYC) (Not retired but envying those who are.)
Assoc. Professor, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile, AL
(Edited)
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Larry Anderson

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How very terrific, DOCTOR Brad!  It's been so interesting over the years to make contact with people who attended MSU at the time I lived there, or even taught there...and sometimes, the parents or relatives of students whose paths I might have crossed.

Once, I even had a person to begin telling me about his male relative who had studied this very highly precise and complicated subject matter at MSU...and, as it turns out, that young chap was one of my advisees!!  Oh, what a small world, indeed.

Thanks for tapping me on the virtual shoulder.  Have fun in Mobile--a beautiful city.

--Larry Anderson NN5O
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Robert Lonn

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I know Larry,,, recently over on the ICOM IC-7610 they posted that Kenwood is going to introduce a new mid range radio in Dayton.. Folks are already saying that they hope that it does not come with a UNFAVORABLE introductory price like the Icom Did.. Same old PRICE issue..

Sort of saying, GEE, I like that new V8 450 HP BMW coup,,, hope it does not come with a high price, hope it is in the same price range as a Chevy Malibu!!!! Now the ICOM 7610 is down to a new sale price of $3450.. So $500 less then those that jumped in first,, but that is OK, ICOM like any manufacturer needs to cover engineering and startup cost..

I am sure that FLEX will offer some specials along the way if they feel the need to boot production or sales,, but with the wait still being around 2 months, nothing will probably be offered any time soon..  I am sure someone, somewhere is walking into HRO, Gigaparts, Universal and DEMANDING that they get some sort of refund on their 7610 radio..

Some places like Best Buy have a 30 day Price Match,, so folks think that 3 or 4 months with HAM gear comes with the same type of guarantee  (I use to know someone like this, drove me crazy) ...

My 6600M is not due till late May or early June.. In the mean time I am learning about a new area of interest, Satellite Communications!!! Now that I am up to speed with WSJT-X, on to something new!! 

Robert WA6PHN 
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Johan / SE3X

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Robert, I have done your journey.

Ordered and paid for a 7610 november last year. Already had, and still have, a 7300 and was very happy with it. So the big brother 7610 was of course a natural choise. But I had already my eyes on Flex, but very few around and it wasn't my first choise.

But then after several delays in delivery of my 7610, late december it was, I got an offer from a dealer to buy a slightly used 6700 Signature series. Loads of money, even compared to the 6710 that is much more expensive in Sweden than the US. But after receiving the news that the first delivceries of the 7610 was delayed again! I decided to go for the Flex.

I have several friends using the 7610, they sound great, they are very happy with ther radios. But they are more of rag chewers and not so much into exploring their radios; trying out software, doing experiments. If I should ask most of them if they been considering trying diversity RX they wouldn't even know what I was talking about.

Do see some questions on here as well, as I think could have been solved by a little bit of Googling. Most seems to come from new Flex owners that might had been better of with a 7610. Say that due to the tech knowledge they shows (or lack of knowledge). But overall I'm so impressed by the tech knowledge shown in this forum by 99% of the participants.

I love my 6700 Flex! Probably will take the rest of my life to experience everything it can do. And in addition Flex comes with a stream of never ending enhancements. Should it not be onough, there are plenty of other software to play with. Or i'Il could brush of my programingskils and write something of my own.

I'm today a very very happy Flex owner and very happy to be a new member of this community.

73 de  Johan / SE3X