Would someone from FRS care to comment?

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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I have been a long time Flex supporter. I've owned an SDR1000, Flex 5000a and now a Flex 6500. I, like many of you, would like some answers from FRS. You might say, well, we don't owe you any explanation, but you do. I'm your customer and have a right to know some details about a system I've invested in based on company statements of future development. We've all actually invested in a beta system that has non-developed standard features and with a promise from FRS to add those features in a timely manner. 

Would someone from FRS answer:

  • Not being able to stick to your date schedule development timeline, we now have no firm calendar as to when features are going to be added. It could be 2 years between releases based on your latest rollout criteria of "when bugs are gone and the software is ready". Please publish a roadmap. We have to know when to expect standard features and updates.
  • How many people do you have dedicated to software engineering and development? (please don't include administrative staff)
  • How are future communications going to be handled with your customers about features and timeline for deployment of software?
  • Is FRS willing to employ additional software developers and engineers to ensure your product gets out the door in a timely manner in the future? A lot of us have invested a lot of money in FRS and the very least you could do is show us you are addressing the problems incurred with this 6000 software rollout debacle. 

I'm sure others have questions as well. I would appreciate your honest answers to my above questions and concerns.

James, W8GN
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James Watts

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Posted 5 years ago

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response

We appreciate that you have been a long time supporter of FlexRadio.  

There is not a great deal that I can add other than what Steve and I have posted here before.  I will, however summarize a few points that have been made here on multiple previous occasions:
  1. We first published a public road map for SmartSDR in the summer of 2013.  V1.0, v1.1, and v1.2, were exactly on schedule from the first dates published.  v1.3 was only two weeks later that the date originally published over a year earlier.  
  2. v1.4 is the only release that was materially later than the first published road map.  That is based on the original estimate made in the summer of 2013!  
  3. The reason v1.3 was two weeks late is that we applied engineering resources to perform preliminary research for v1.4 in the area of LAN remote data compression and the Waveform API/FreeDV during the v1.3 release cycle.  
  4. This past October we announced our intent to do a v1.5 release that focuses on noise/interference mitigation enhancements along with system performance enhancements. 
  5. As we went into full development of v1.4, we decided that we should perform end to end system performance tuning that we had originally planned to do in v1.5.  As Steve reported a few days ago, this is a real time, multiprocessor client/server system with over 40 parallel threads.  We performed significant surgery under the cover that has radically increased end to end system performance as well as decreasing the PC power required for the client.  When you do that kind of surgery, it requires significant stability testing and debug cycles.  This cannot be rushed.  
  6. v1.4 is running now on low end PCs that completely choke on v1.3.8.  My i7 went from 70% loading on 8 cores with v1.3.8 to under 15% loading on only 4 cores with the v1.4 test release.  That is running with 8 panadapters, 8 slices, and 8 DAX streams.  Network loading with 8 slices running remote LAN without DAX is running only ~8 Mbps.
  7. We have been unwilling to release v1.4 until we are satisfied with its stability and reliability.  I stand by that decision unequivocally.  
  8. The current test release of v1.4 is now very stable but I will not give a date for release.  On the day we release we will put out a public announcement through the Flex Insider.
  9. The engineering team has now moved to planning and design for the next point release.
  10. We are planning to move to shorter release cycles beginning with the next release.  That means more frequent but smaller releases (a.k.a. Agile).  It also means that there are likely to be more point releases than in the past.
James, I will not answer the specific internal business questions you posed because I am unwilling to give that information to my competitors.  However, I will tell you that the gross margin generated from the radio you purchased only paid for a very small fraction of the engineering team overhead within the specific month you purchased the radio.  At this point adding resources will not speed the process just as 9 women can't have a baby in one month.

This will be the last post I make on this subject until v1.4 ships.  ;>)