Will The 6700 Noise Blanker Ever Be As Good As The 5000 NB

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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The Flex 6700 noise blanker capability does not even come close to the noise blanker(s) capability on the Flex 5000. What is the plan and time frame to "fix" the 6700 blanker?
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W5UN_Dave

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Posted 6 years ago

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Ned K1NJ

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Also noticed this.  PowerSDR is remarkably better on several types of man-made noise.
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Larry Davis

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yes i have the 5000 and 6700 that has been one of my thought for some time now

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Tom Clark

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I concur -- the NB and NR are both pretty lame

Tom K3IO
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Larry Davis

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on the nb on a big slice the noise floor is higher too you look at a smaller slice goes down about 10 dbm but the noise  don,t change
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Michael - N5TGL

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Completely agree.  PSDR did an amazing job on impulse noise.  I get OTH radar here from time to time and SSDR does absolutely zero to the signal.  I hope the next release addresses this shortfall.  I didn't see any improvement with the last release.

Also, the current NB really pinches the audio, seems far more broadbanded than it should be.  Don't even get me started on the slider...seems more like a decoration than a setting!  :)
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W5UN_Dave

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Notice that Flex never answered my question concerning "when" will they fix this. I find that unacceptable.

Dave, W5UN
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Ned K1NJ

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   I was hoping that "this and other fixes" would be addressed in a "point release"
mentioned by Steve about a month ago.  That would have given opportunity for
a general testing before the major release at the end of July.  This is of particular
importance because noise issues are quite diverse across the user base.  The
common reference for many of us is how it was in PowerSDR, and the belief that
it could only be better in the newer, more powerful product.

Ned,  K1NJ
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Jon - KF2E

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Dave is right, as much as this has been discussed there has never been a peep from Flex. I'm afraid this might mean that we are going to live with the current noise blanker and DSP for a while.

Jon...kf2e
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W5XZ - dan

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I concur with Ned, also.  PowerSDR's 2 nb's worked reasonably well in my F3k.  My hope was than SmartSDR's nb would be even better...but, so far, this does not seem to be the case...

73, w5xz, dan

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Dave - WB5NHL

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The NB, NR and ANF (in ver 1.2.1) have been commented MANY times to Flex as needing work. I would be VERY surprised if we don't see significant improvement at the end of July. For me, I'm just going to hide and watch!
(Edited)
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Ernest - W4EG

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Very well stated Dave...

Some are still unaware of the Roadmap and impatience. They forgot what they purchased; B E T A radio. 

They (FRS) don't need to fix anything soon.  Why does anyone think FRS will steps back and leave things that worked well in previous software out.  Give then credit, they are smarter than that.

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Ned K1NJ

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     FRS seeks feedback on problems.  NB issues would be more troublesome
or even impossible to resolve without feedback.  FRS may not see the trouble
Dave (W5UN) has on 6 or that I have on 160-40. They could think NB is fine
in their lab and just step back.  A -software defined radio-  is not necessarily
a BETA radio just because it has the unique ability to be constantly improved.
While some of the newer features may be beta, many elements are well done,
stable and beyond beta.  I'm trying to say that just because the radio, by its
software defined nature, can be improved, this does not make it a beta radio.
Flex wants to know which features are most important to its customers,
encourage discussion, and "voting it up".

Ned,  K1NJ
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Ernest - W4EG

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FRS is aware of the difference between the operational abilities of the radios they manufacture.

Their capable and knowledgeable engineers and technicians has not changed. I know that the feedback we provide is appreciated. They don't need the continuous  harping about items that have previously been addressed. 

Besides, it is boring to continue seeing the same feedback complaints) over and over again. Or as a customer is currently complaining "when" will they fix this." 

In the last 13 years of owning Flex radios, it is usually the same individuals that continue to complain.  During the years of the F-5000A, I remember those that complained of the color of the LED.  I am just waiting to see the same complaint again!

Perhaps, if you and others would go back and read what was addressed at the beginning stage of the F-6x00 series and the approach they were taking: You might understand how issues are been resolved.

We agree to buy a unknown and unseen radio and software.  We took FRS at their word because of their history of producing and delivering a quality product. 

I would agree, like you. I would love to see  minor changes; that may improve my operation.  

However, after all FRS has the latest and best technological piece of amateur radio gear in the market.

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Jon - KF2E

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Ernest,

I've read most of the posts regarding DSP and NB performance. I've never seen any sort of acknowledgment of the problem or more importantly any indication of a fix. I would be happy just to see it show up on the roadmap. No one is trying to badger Flex. We just want to make our desires known.

Maybe we need to make this an idea and let people vote it up.  If it gets enough votes it will put it on the radar.

Jon...kf2e
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Burch Akin

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Agree on the NB being awesome on the 5000.  Really hope this gets fixed soon.  Some days 6 meters here at my location has a ton of power line noise.  My old 5000 takes out 99% of the noise but the 6300 only takes a little of the noise away and that's only if I have the slider at 100%.  I also notice that the little noise it does take away, it's not reflected in the panadapter.  On my 5000, the NB will drop the noise floor on the panadapter but not on the 6300.  Really makes it tuff to see the weak signals in the panadapter.  This is the only thing I don't like about the 6300. 

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Larry Davis

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i agree i am a 6 and vhf op nb is a must here they should get it fix i don,t think we are the only people that see it
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Roger Rockwell/na4rr

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If FRS wants to test NB NR or any other noise issue I'll put the up at my place, 3 empty bedrooms and all the noise you could ever want.....
roger
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response
Guys, we do plan to do more work on the DSP capabilities in SmartSDR.  However, they won't be in the release due out July 31.  If you want to vote specific features or improvements up, feel free to enter them as an idea and vote them up.  We have to weigh these requests against road map commitments that we have already made public and intend to keep.  

Noise Blanking is an area where direct sampling radios can  shine because of the wide band sampling capabilities.  That may require potentially significant work on the FPGA side so you will have to be patient.  

With regard to Noise Reduction (NR), properly setting the AGC-T threshold for optimal signal to noise ratio will in my opinion always beat any NR algorithm ever created.  NR algorithms use non-linear functions (LMS) to auto-correlate the desired signal.  Given their adaptive non-linear nature, they will always color the desired signal in some way.  Different types of noise will affect NR in different ways with varying results.  On the other hand, setting the AGC-T gain properly will give you the best SNR without distorting or coloring the signal at all.  My personal opinion is that NR will always be inferior to a properly adjusted AGC-T on any rig ever made.  





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Mike - W8MM

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Gerald,

I know you and your staff have a very full plate of things on which to work.  We all wish you the best of luck in accomplishing your goals.  But your response above sounds like improvements to noise blanking are in the far-distant future, and not on the published roadmap.  That's a real surprise and deep disappointment to those who were hoping that the "DSP Enhancements" released in V1.1 in January 2014 would have matched the PowerSDR levels of effectiveness.  Since the former level of noise blanking performance has not been carried forward, the "DSP Enhancements" bullet point on the roadmap seems unfulfilled.

I wish Flex would reconsider the apparent decision that the NB performance is "good enough" in its "enhanced" V1.1 form.  Particularly for 6-meter and up operators, impulse and power-line noise are very unpleasant facts of life that are in great need of mitigation in the receiver.  Flex has a chance to "own" the radio market for noise-mitigation receivers if a superior NB arrangement is developed.  As it is, I'll be relying on my Icom 7600 for what relief I can get from the "buzz".
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Gerald,
I agree with Mike on the compliments and concerns.  

I'm also concerned about the NR when I try to use it on CW.  Unless I'm doing something wrong, it often makes the copy worse.  The noise is reduced some but so is the CW I'm trying to copy.  Sometime it fades to the point that it is better to leave it off.  

I was hoping it would be better in V1.1 "DSP Enhancements."   When Steve asked  "what we felt was not being adequately addressed" about 2 months ago, the 3 DSP items that come up were NB, NR and APF.  Perhaps if the APF gain request was addressed, NR wouldn't be as much of a concern 

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

Like Mike I thought we would see improvement in the next release or a note to articulate the plan.    It seems like they should be part of the 1.x software at least and seem important enough to call out.  

I see that Dave / W5UN has submitted the NB idea again.  I think NR and APF have been listed a few times already but it you feel we need to submit them again we can.  Again, we appreciate all of the hard work.  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com   
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Ken - NM9P

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Guys, Let's read Gerald's response again...
I do not hear him saying that NB & NR are "good enough" as currently implemented.
I hear him saying that NB (Noise Blanker) is something that can be VERY effective on the 6000 series but will take a LOT of effort programming the FPGA (internal processors) to maximize it.
So it won't be in 1.3, but I am hoping that it may start showing up in 1.4???

Regarding NR - (Noise Reduction)  I think Gerald is correct in that finding the AGC-T "Sweet Spot" is the first step in noise reduction.  It is amazing how the signals can jump out of the noise when you carefully adjust AGC-T!  

That being said, however, I think that there is still much that can be done after that in improving the DSP performance of the Noise Reduction routine.  Yes, it will ALWAYS color the audio to some degree.  I doubt that you can effectively remove large amounts of high frequency noise without sacrificing some desired high frequency response, or adding latency or some distortion.  

I am much more interested in effective Noise Blanking performance than NR at this point.  I eagerly anticipate additional improvements to the NB in version 1.4 or 1.5, especially on my 6 meter operations..

I use the NR circuit mainly to reduce listening fatigue on noisy bands, and sacrifice the high fidelity to that end.  I also make good use of the RX EQ to make the voice articulation frequencies, or CW tones jump out of the noise (after properly adjusting the ACG-T).  I have found that this and the APF on CW can be extremely effective.  I am confident that the Folks at FRS will deliver.  But, I do encourage them to add this as a bullet point on the roadmap as soon as possible so that we will all be confident in the process.  If things go as they have in the past, they may put it on for v.1.5 and deliver it in v.1.4!

By the way, I seldom use ANF any more, now that we have TNF.  TNF is much more effective and doesn't color the audio nearly as much if you don't make the notch too wide.
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Lee, Elmer

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I think Gerald gave a very clear path to improving NB's status on the list of TODO's and perhaps adding it to the road map.

"If you want to vote specific features or improvements up, feel free to enter them as an idea and vote them up.  We have to weigh these requests against road map commitments that we have already made public and intend to keep."

So if we want NB's status improved do what he said.  

My personal preference is to improve any noise abatement we can.  I would prefer to be able to hear signals 6dB under the noise far more than I want the ability to operate my radio from the parking lot at the WalMart.  I realize that satisfaction of that desire however requires a entirely different kind of engineering commitment than WAN.  In addition to noise abatement things like diversity and steering signals using a coherent array of antennas may help.  The Flex family has incredible potential in this arena.

I have been playing with BPSK-31 and I do have a noise problem though its not an extreme problem like some have.  BPSK=31 does not require any particular fidelity it just has to be readable.  The same is true for CW.  So for me signal distortion is less significant than actually being able to hear (see) and demodulate the signal either in my digi program or in my brain.  Also loosing the buzz very much improves the operating experience in terms of fatigue.

Here is a pic of my digi program with the NB off and then on.



Clearly the ability to pick out weak signals is greatly enhanced with NB on.  I always run my radio at best AGC-T.  

73  W9OY  


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W5UN_Dave

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OK , I am not satisfied with the 6700 noise blanker. I think the same may be true for the entire 6000 line, but since I own the 6700 I can only speak for my radio. It is wonderful that Flex is coming out with new features and capabilities, however, a lot of work is needed on items that already exist; the primary one in, my opinion, is NOISE BLANKING! This should work as well or better than the noise blanking for the 5000. It doesn't even come close! Mine is essentially useless! Flex,why is this?

Gerald you addressed this in an earlier post of mine, however you drifted off into the area of NOISE REDUCTION. This NR feature is useless for me in my EME work, and I see no advantage of it in my  CW operation. Perhaps SSB is where it shines, but that is a seldom used mode for me..

Excuse me for being so harsh, however we have waited through several releases with no improvement of NB. I am so passionate about this that I hope you will hold release 1.4 until an improvement is made for noise blanking. WHAT SAY YOU?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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NB and NR are schedule to be a major science project in V1.5
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W5UN_Dave

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Howard when/where did you hear this information?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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In numerous pronouncements on this community from Gerald about the "Science Project" to improve NR, NB etc as the primary focus of V1.5
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W5UN_Dave

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I guess I missed the memo.
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Ken - NM9P

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Search for the October 2014 Flex Insider...Gerald describes the NB and NR "science project" as well as ATU memories and som "buff and polish" of existing features
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Jay / NO5J

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There wasn't a memo. Just info provided here. You do read whats posted here each day, every day, before and after sun up.

It's the excuse some of us use for getting out of bed each day. At least those that don't sleep with their iPads tucked under their pillows. ;0)

Jay - NO5J   
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I keep my iPad beside my pillow so I don't miss any of the gems from the curmudgeon crowd.

Hi hi.
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Jay / NO5J

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Also Google "Flexradio Insider NL" That link from flex-radio.nl seems to stay fairly current. For those times when your spam folder snags your Flex Insider email they send out from the mothership. Google is the real mothership.
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Jay / NO5J

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The gems from the curmudgeon crowd get used as a substitute for proper cardio exercise around here. I do have a IED/Pacemaker as a backup though. Can't depend on the nonsense from the Intarweb. But a thorough review of the Community, or on a slow day eHam's SDR forum do have the same effect as a brisk walk around the block. Beats walking in the rain ice and snow. Doc sez get a treadmill or an exercise bike. ;0)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Gerald - K5SDR, Official R


As I stated in the last Flex Insider, our goal is to up the game in noise and interference mitigation in v1.5.  There are many types and sources of noise so a single algorithm will not address all types of noise and operating modes.  We are not going for parity but to exceed what has been done before on any radio.  As I also said, this is a "science project."  We have a number of ideas that we want to try that have not been used in ham radio radio before.  We have a lot of options in the FPGA that are not available in legacy architectures.  

Regarding the current noise functions, you may find that you have AGC-T set too high.  You should adjust AGC-T for best SNR and then turn NR or NB on.  I find that I don't like NR on any manufacturer's radio I have ever used.  LMS based noise reduction algorithms always "color" the signal in my ears.  I much prefer to adjust AGC-T for best SNR since the signal is not distorted at all with this method.

Regarding remote, LAN in v1.4 is a prerequisite for WAN.  We have to get that right first.  We remain committed to v2.0 WAN in 2015.  Doing WAN right is non trivial.
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W5UN_Dave

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Thanks, this is good news. Guess this will take six months or so.
(Edited)
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Rich McCabe

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Is there a flex insider archive somewhere?  I am signed up now but since I have only been a flexer since December I have not seen any of the info mentioned above.
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Jay / NO5J

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Nothing "Official" but Google "Flex-radio Insider NL" That site seems to stay up to date. 
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Burch - K4QXX

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Agree, the NB on my 5000 is outstanding but on my 6500 is pretty much useless (at least in my noisy environment).  Playing with the AGC-T when you have 20 over S9 power line noise doesn't help much at all.  That being said, I have full confidence that Flex will fix the NB in v1.5.  If they can make the NB as good as the NB on PowerSDR, the radio will be near perfect! 
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Ken - NM9P

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My guess, and it is purely a guess, is that they will implement things possible with a 6000 that were not possible with the previous SDR's.  For example, with the wide frequency input they can sample impulse noise across a wide frequency input on a higher frequency band and use that information to do noise blanking on a lower frequency band.  (This was done decades ago with some Drake equipment, I believe.)  

Now that 1.4 seems to be reducing processing loads, they may have more horsepower under the hood to apply to other noise mitigation processes.  

If their "science project" does for NB, NR & ANF what it did for the Panafall (Which is the best in the business and extremely helpful for me)  then the new DSP should be a joy.  There are many ways in which the day to day interface on the 6000 series is easier and much superior to the PowerSDR, once you get accustomed to it.  the ease of click-tuning, or sliding the slice, or using the FlexControl Knob, or adjusting the pan with or height with simple mouse drags is much easier than PowerSDR.  At first I didn't think I was going to like it.  But now when I return to my 1500 to play I almost feel like I have taken a huge step backwards because it is so much more difficult to operate.  

I will agree that PowerSDR still beats SSDR in some areas involving the ability to adjust parameters like AGC timings, NB/NR parameters, CW waveform shape, programmable filter buttons, etc.  But there are going to be a truck load of 3rd party utilities to help make much of that happen in dock-able windows now that the API's are released.

I hope that 1.5 will also add some additional "flex-ability" to the science project.  Good things are in the works...  Call me a dreamer, but my hunch is based upon two years of experience being pleased with the progress of different releases.  

Ken - NM9P
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Ken, your assumptions are accurate. We can do "wide band things" in
FPGA Code that would never be possible in PowerSDR. NB is one of these things. It is a science project to up the game here but we have a plan.
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W5UN_Dave

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Gerald, most reassuring. Thanks
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Jay / NO5J

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I don't think they forgot how to write a functional NR, or NB. I don't think they forgot to put them in either. I think they had to include most of what we have first, now that thats been written it's time for the next layer. When your baking a cake, you can't start with the icing. but some of it's needed between the layers. Can't start with it or put it in later. 
Have to follow the recipe carefully, step at a time.

I bet it will taste good! 

Meanwhile we lick the bowl and spoon. And stand back and wait, and peak when the oven is opened, not too much or the cake might fall.

Mama's little helper want's to eat.

Jay - NO5J
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Tom

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Is there any improvements with v1.5.0 ? Is it now comparable with F5000 or still far?....I don't have access to my F6700 these days but curious what 1.5 finaly brought us.
Thanks,
T.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Depends on type of noise. For me, I get the primary circuit from the power company arcing on a pole right near my house. This only happens on hot sunny days and is sporadic. With the new noise blanker in 1.5 I can take a -90 dBM noise floor on 10 meters which was covering up all signals and bring it down to -125 dBm with no distortion of receive audio. It is the difference betenn the band opened or closed for me.

Others who have noise that is not wideband in nature but more pulses find the noise blanker not effective (plasma, router interference, etc). But for powerline and ignotion type noise, most people are having very good results.

Dave wo2x
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Dave the Noise Blanker here works great. It looks like a big confusion with people of what to expect from 1.5  I wonder if Flex should work on another NB bank to include other types of noise?
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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We are looking into that...
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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Yes. That would be a good idea. Seems the previous NB was effective for some against electric fence noise. Being able to select either one would cover more types of noise sources out there.

The primary powerline arcing here happened on hot sunny days. Now we are in autumn and it is cooler I do not have the issue (or the utility company FINALLY solved it...)

Haven't heard you on 40 lately. Will keep an ear open.

Dave

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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Once again, it's looking like there is no single magic bullet when it comes to noise blanking. Different classes of periodic noise will probably require their own blanking approach (the typical NB1 and NB2).

Peter
OSR
@OSRDrivers