Flex-Radio Flex-5000A Computer Woes

Ok, the Flex-Radio works, but dang the computer side is giving me grief.

I have it running reasonably well from a Toshiba Laptop running Vista (32 bit).

Wanting to power up the system correctly, I bought an HP AMD Phenrom Quad Core desktop, loaded to the gills.  

BUT I didn’t pay attention to the couched Windows 64 bit operating systems don’t play well warning on the Flex-Radio website, and the warning completely lacked a statement like “and Flex Radio doesn’t play AT ALL with Vista 64 bit SP1 or other fully updated Vista 64 bit versions.”

There is no working & signed driver for Vista 64 bit for the Flex Radio.

So the suggestion is to dual boot with Windows XP until a signed 64 bit driver is available.  

Having a legal XP install bought for a machine since dismantled for parts, I set off to do this.

Bluntly it beyond a pain and after four-five hours of grafting at it all I have done is upset the original Vista install enough to ask if it should boot Vista on power up.

So off to “Plan B” and ordered a Firewire Card for the old Dell.  Figure that I could get it to play with the Flex-5000A enough to hold me over for a bit.

How about old Dells putting out different PCI Buss voltages than the modern card expected and XP failing to recognize – or apparently even sense – the new hardware card.

Another hour or so wasted screwing around.

So back to the new HP for another attempt, this time carefully researching the SATA drivers needed to install XP as a second operating system.  

While not a fiasco, it was another hour frittered for naught.

Having had enough of this rubbish – crazy Windows “Three Bears” fairy tale nonsense where the respective machines were either too new or too old, operating systems to advanced or too behind, hardware either too feeble to give any rear umph or too speedy to allow older hardware to be added…. and so on.

Rather than chucking it in, as the Flex-5000A really DOES look like the rig I want to do my next 5000 QSOs with, I broke down and ordered a new Dell Desktop to the Flex-Radio specification of what they know will work.  Intel Dual Core, lots of cache in teh version I upgraded to, lots of RAM, dual hard drives (with my hard drive luck the second one will be kept mirroring the first one), factory IEEE 1394 Firewire ports, running Windows XP Professional (32 bit) and so on….

Should be here this week yet.

The HP is going to my office to be my workstation/media center, replacing an old Pentium 4 box and giving me a chance to learn more about working with a Vista 64 bit machine.  

The old Dell will be retired once everything is up and going with the new Dell.  

The new Dell should be ready to go except for set-up, installing the software packages I use and installing a PCI card that will add a bunch of serial ports (shack control) and single Parallel port (many SO2R boxes use parallel for various reasons).

To think that I could have had upwards of 8 hours more on the air without all this bother.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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5 thoughts on “Flex-Radio Flex-5000A Computer Woes

  1. AL K3ROJ says:

    Yes, I presently run a SDR1000 which uses a separate Delta 44 Sound card but would love to own a SDR5000A. Putting it bluntly, any new computer out there now uses Windows Vista 64 bit which Flex Radio does not have permission from Bill Gates yet to sign the drivers. I suppose Flex Radio is attempting to make everyone buy their 5000C model. Onoly problem is, it has a Windows XP conputer inside.

  2. k9zw says:

    Hi Al K3ROJ

    The driver signing issue is a bit more complex than you have suggested. Flex does hope to have a Signed 64 bit driver very soon. The issue also applies to XP’s 64 bit versions BTW.

    As for buying a new computer with something other than Vista, I have purchased 6 desktops and a rack-mount from Dell in the last four months, none with Vista. The Workstations had the “Downgrade” to XP Professional pre-installed, and the server was ordered with a downgrade to MS Server 2003 in order to play correctly with existing software.

    I never considered buying the Flex-5000C model as I wanted the forward flexibility of an external PC.

    73

    Steve
    K9ZW

  3. AL K3ROJ says:

    OK, I am going to go ahead and order the 5000A along with the tuner and second receiver since I doubt the price will go much lower and hope the signed drivers do come out soon. The computer I bought to use with it is an ASUS Essentio duo 2200 with 4 GB ram. The ASUS computer is 1/4 the size of a regular desktop with special cooling since I want to transport the station to and fro for field days and our summer cottage.. The new 5000A will just have to sit there looking pretty until Flex tells me the new driver is realeased. Am looking forward to having this fine rig in my shack.

    • k9zw says:

      Hi Al K3ROJ

      I‘m far from a computer expert and unfamiliar with the ASUS computer you are planning. Make sure it has good Firewire and otherwise meets the specifications of Flex-Radio.

      I had been reflecting that by the time you have the Flex-5000A box (not trivial), an appropriate power supply, computer & screens, that we’re not really talking a small system, so I’ve considered buying a Laptop and a Flex-3000 to the transportable role you are looking at.

      I understand they have been beta testing 64-bit Firewire drivers, though I’ve not followed the latest. You can find more on their forums.

      73 & Good Luck!

      Steve
      K9ZW

  4. AL says:

    OK, I have my new 5000A now and installed the second receiver for possible dual diversity or full QSK later on. I did have some luck booting my new Vista 64 bit in safe mode which is a pain each time I boot up but just the other day, it no longer will run the 5000A even after redoing the firmware, console etc. I gave up on that and now using an HP XP computer with not enough power since when transmitting, using CW makes it burp often. Will have to revert to using my old antique ICOM 756 PRO and use the 5000a to listen to shortwave broadcastsit until Flex notifies everyone that they have the new signed drivers. I have many ideas using the 5000A, especially with a 10 MHz reference and their future transverters, also referenced. Wow, meteor scatter on 144.160000 Mhz plus or minus 1 hz.

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