Tags: Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, SmartSDR
add a comment
If you read the various forums and reflectors some hams are having a difficulty with the concept that SmartSDR will have an increasing feature set program with various features being added by distinct milestones and many other features rolling out as they are ready.
Details on the SmartSDR Beta Release are that it will be the basic radio with full transceiver functionality.
The SmartSDR Beta Release is expected to have one-half of the final number of Panadapters (4 for the Flex-6700) though they will be much larger bandwidth (14 Mhz vs the pre-production specification of 384kHz).
There will be no remote facility in the SmartSDR Beta Release, nor will it have Waterfalls.
The SmartSDR Beta Release is likely to be short the other digital mode settings as well.
When the SmartSDR Beta Release gives way to the SmartSDR Initial Release additional features will start to roll out as available.
The SmartSDR Initial Release will likely follow the Beta by a month or two. Limited on the same router remoting is expected in the SmartSDR Initial Release.
The clock for paid SmartSDR support starts with the SmartSDR Initial Release.
SmartSDR Release Updates will in a series of steps add:
- Greater Remoting Capabilities
- More Panadapters
- More Modes
- Many other features, tweaks, fixes and options.
As a milestone FlexRadio Systems has promised the Waterfalls during the first paid support period (the one that included in your purchase).
The additional Panadapters were also scheduled for an early implementation.
Features not publicly put on any timeline, but discussed include:
- Tablet/SmartDevice Control
- Dedicated I/O Unit for use with remoting
- Onboard digital mode processing
- Wide Area Remoting
- Slice Sharing
- Radio Datastream Combining and Processing
Some features, like a dedicated Contesting Module, are likely to be purchased add-ons by either third-party developers or FlexRadio Systems.
To be clear the radio will continue to work with the most current version of SmartSDR if an owner chooses not to subscribe, and to receive the features/enhancement upgrades a SmartSDR user will need to either be a subscriber or purchase a one-off upgrade.
The specialty add-on packages will be at additional cost.
With FlexRadio Systems licensing access to SmartSDR and the Radio itself’s APIs you will eventually have opportunities to purchase third-party software.
And to dwell on the point and repeat it – the feature set of SmartSDR in Beta and in Initial Release will be less than the feature set 6, 12, 18 and 24 months from now.
If missing one of the phase in items is a deal breaker for a ham, they could ask for their order to be pushed back until their needs would be met.
For my part I think SmartSDR will bring so many opportunities and features that I’m happy to start with the early software. YMMV
Putting it all on the Air – Pondering Station Design for K9ZW 23 - May - 2013Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Shack, W2IHY
Radio gear is like rabbits – when you are not looking they somehow seem to breed producing more (and more!).
Doing some sketching trying to work in a multi-station format into too small of a space and budget.
Minimally I would like to be able to switch easily between my present main Transceiver (Flex-5000A), the future Flex-6000 (which with its features is a bit trickier to configure into a multi-station configuration) and a “Guest Transceiver” position which will either be filled with vintage gear (the Swan/Dentron station or the Collins S-line Station) or a modern transceiver.
The plan is to use Julius W2IHY’s 3×1/1×4 Switchgear Combo as my solution.
http://www.w2ihy.com/one-3-x-1-controller-two-1-x-4-switches.html is the configuration I will start with.
Looking over Julius W2IHY’s new switch gear at Dayton it is obviously as rock solid as his audio products. It is easy to admire the build and technical quality, as well as his W2IHY Dayton team. Great product, great specifications and great people – quite a combination.
Julius was able to fix me up with 90% of what I wanted at the show, and within days of Dayton had dispatched the 3×1 Switch with Rack Mount Ears and a Cable needed to round out my configuration.
The attention to detail in his gear is impressive. Much of the gear has two relay banks to select from – a high power relay for QRO use (I think I heard 5KW rated) and a high-speed reed relay for QSK & Digital use. The end user can select between with internal jumpers.
Even the 1×4 boxes come in more than one pre-configuration depending on whether the desired state when a port is not selected is Grounded or Open. My design needed one of each. Again I understand I could have opened a box a reconfigured, but Julius has it covered from the get-go.
Julius was even so kind as to do a marked up custom Configuration Sheet for my shack – see: W2IHY Switch Gear Config for K9ZW pdf data sheet. Have a look and let me know what you think!
On the Audio side I will be using Julius W2IHY’s 8-Band Equalizer/Noise-Gate, EQPlus Compressor/Downward-Expander and IPlus Audio Switch.
It may be a couple weeks until I have all the gear in place, and I’ll have a user’s setup report then.
Dayton 2013 – Recap 21 - May - 2013Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Dayton, Dayton Hamvention, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, KE9V
Following on the sage comments of Jeff KE9V Dayton 2013 was a mixed experience. Here are some of the things I noticed:
The Day of the SDR – everyone was showing SDR radios, many of them technically faux-SDRs with very limited control by the software. Pulling a intermediate RF product off a tap for other processing isn’t SDR folks. Flash Upgradable bandplan data isn’t SDR either. Having the control and audio handled by a vendor configured I/O package isn’t SDR as well.
The Meek Shall Inherit – QRP Fantasy – the other overused term was QRP. Even saw marketing slogans misusing QRP like “Our 100w amps will add some fire to your QRP experience” or something like that… 100w isn’t QRP, nor is 20-30w… but is is a Marketing Buzz Word and sells gear.
Log Periodics are back – with much more mention in forums/banquets and new products showing up. Some providers are working on wide band Log Periodics designed to pair with the latest radio gear.
Long live the King – dinosaurs in a modern age – there were plenty of vendors showing very long in the tooth arguably obsolete technology hoping their well established good brand name would carry them another year. I mean who buys station accessories anymore that lack USB or Ethernet connectivity? Expensive rotor controllers with DB-9 serial connection to allow some command line access is stuff that should have been out in the flea market, not on the show floor.
Big Vendors who didn’t show – where was AES? Where was the owner of MFJ? Someone said that Ham Radio Station was AWOL too? I know I wanted to look at a specific headset and was told by the vendors that were there “to look on our website, we have it there” – what crap!! If I had wanted to browse their website I didn’t need to come to Dayton. Something fundemental is happening here.
End of an Era – But who are the old timers giving way to? – in an Internet World many of the well known in our hobby are Internet Personalities – and some don’t carry as well in person as they do on the world wide web. Just like the famous “Peggy” mystery support person in the TV ads, the public really doesn’t have a connection with these web personalities. Few of the elder icons in our industry seem to be interested in groom heir apparent team members to eventually take over as they age, retire and leave us. Who will run Gordon West’s enterprise when he retires? Does the ham public know that person? Ditto for Bob Heil’s audio world, or any one of our valued icons.
Hello Zigbee, Raspberry-Pi, Arduino, and Beaglebone – the embedded processor and PC on a board seemed to be everywhere. Lots of devices were available that you programed, plug in and run one of these project boards as the “brains” of the final system. Even radios were using the Arduino-compatible as their marketing “buzz.”
Marketing becoming a Vaporware Game – Who shows a new transceiver so far from production that the sales guy is waiving his hand saying “eventually the RF deck will go here?” … There were many mock-ups making second or third year appearances with no real products ready. Even many of the “hot” buzz catching products were mockups “available soon.”
Some class acts – be certain in the midst wading through the unwashed masses there are some class acts. Several were from overseas and really had their presentation & act together. Some standouts in my eyes were in Audio Alley (W2IHY, Heil), Hilberling, the FlexRadio Systems hands-on demos, Array Solutions on-going mini-forum demonstrations) – there were quite a few more.
Composting or Recycling? – the improbability of the Flea Market – if you haven’t found the Thingerwang XT-1000/J14 Mod 7 you’ve been searching the flea market for since 1967 will you ever find it? Who cares if you do? And why are you living in the past?
It Stinks, it’s dirty, it’s unsafe, and that is the upside of the Hara – there is not enough parking and it’s past its prime – Dayton is not a place you’d be proud to show your XYL. There is NO security and the carnage if even a drill were attempted to evacuate the building would likely be large. The place just makes me feel dirty and at risk.
Feast or Famine – events were either standing room only (the most popular forums needed twice the seating) or other opportunities were ghost towns ( did any guest operators make contacts at the Special Events Station? Heck they didn’t even have a chair for a guest to operate from)
Paint Drying vs Rapture – always an interesting observation that stuff that is painful to me is held in nostalgic regard by the next ham. Once does need to remember one size doesn’t fit all.
Fake Grandiose - right down to “Imported Beer” claims for beer from New England at the Hara Pub! Or how about the dirty linens on the banquet table Dayton not-so-Grand, or the flea-btten Ramada telling banquet attendees “we’re short of forks” and “our computer system is down today, so we can’t check you out”, or don’t you just love the ubiquitous car-eating potholes?
What trips my Dayton Trigger?
I do get a chance to meet with and eyeball QSO (face time) with some really great folk. First I get to spend time with my traveling partner George W9EVT, which is always a privilege. Next I get to meet with my cousins, who have made Dayton one of our annual gatherings. Then I get to spend time with a lot of great hams – many who I not only have a great time with on the interpersonal side, but who are kind enough to share their experiences and mentor.
Like all experiences YMMV as I react in my own way to the limitations and features of the event.
FlexRadio Systems Banquet 2013 – Highlights 21 - May - 2013Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Flex-5000, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, PowerSDR, SmartSDR
add a comment
I enjoyed the 2013 FlexRadio Systems banquet though the Dayton Grand needs taking to task for not measuring up. Over 180 hams attended!
Announced was the end of Flex-5000 series – see other article I just posted.
We’re told a new PowerSDR version 2.7.x expected over summer. PowerSDR development will continue.
Flex-6000 roll out will ship 6700′s ahead of 6500′s, with a voluntary Beta-Software program available. The 6700 firmware/software is a few weeks ahead of the reduced set of the 6500.
Annual Subscriptions for Beta-Software will start with the release of a non-Beta software package, expected to be some weeks (not many months) aftr the Beta-Software gooes live.
Demonstrated remote access to a Flex-6700 with a Windows Tablet by handing it around for all 180 of us to have a chance to play with it!
InnovAntennas developing an optimised Log Periodic to work with the Flex-6000 Series and it’s enhanced reception capabilities. They also will have some optimized antennas for exploiting the diversity reception capabilities of the 6700.
The Flex-6500 and Flex-6700/6700R are SDR “Radio Server Appliances” in the new lingo.
FlexRadio Systems is moving towards being a software house that happens to also provide “Radio Server Appliances.”
The gap between the PowerSDR Flex-3000 and the SmartSDR Flex-6500 will eventually be filled with a new SmartSDR radio below the Flex-6500/6700 in both ultimate capabilities and pricing. This new radio won’t start development until the 6700/6500 are released and established.
SmartSDR is only one GUI/HMI offering and is not the meat of the high value software. Other GUI/HMI programs are highly likely over time.
API developer licensing will be available and some 3rd party development is underway under NDAs.
Expect a hardware Remote Station I/O Manager Device to work with SmartSDR – a way to hook your headset, PTT and key to your remote tablet/pad device. FlexRadio Systems did not put a timeline on this accessory.
Expect SmartSDR apps for more than Windows devices – iPod and Android were mentioned.
Initial Beta-Group Flex-6700/6500 software will expect a direct connect to the SmartSDR computer, later upgrades will allow remoting within a workspace and eventually full remoting should be possible.
There is substantial professional interest in the Flex-6700R for other than Amateur Radio useage.
The data time-stamping from the GPSDO option will open up a lot of opportunities to combine data streams.
These topics will be fleshed out and discussed over the new few months.
Flex-5000 Gives Way to the New Flex-6000 Series 20 - May - 2013Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Items For Sale.
Tags: Flex-5000, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled
add a comment
The speculation I’ve read in various amateur radio forums and on reflectors about FlexRadio Systems discontinuing the Flex-5000A has been concerning.
No concern over FlexRadio System’s commercial decision to discontinue the Flex-5000A, rather it has been concern for the highly damning actions of some of the community of radio amateurs who post to forums either complete wild-guesses or outright deliberate false statements. Some of the forum folks even have taken upon themselves to fabricate alternative speculative reasons with no basis outside of their fantasy world. Shame folks, shame.
The real story on the End-of-Life for the Flex-5000A is very simple.
FlexRadio Systems has discontinued the Flex-5000A earlier than expected (note the timing) due to the H-Case Enclosure becoming uneconomic/unavailable at the current production volume of Flex-5000A radios currently being sold.
These lower levels also made it costly and mored difficult to source some other select components needed for the Flex-5000A at production acceptable costs.
Together these were problems that would drive the Flex-5000A sell price up unreasonably or require a product redesign with all those costs, neither which are viable options for a product that was already long in the tooth.
These were the items forcing the accelerated timing for the end of the Flex-5000A production, but perhaps by what might be less than a few months earlier than expected.
Because the Flex-5000A occupied a product position in the overall line too close to the new Signature Flex-6000 Series though the phase-out timing originally had been suggested to be many months after the new line was shipping in bulk – provided the Flex-5000A was still selling. Anyone who had listened carefully at the 2012 Dayton FlexRadio Systems Banquet would be clear that the PowerSDR hardware range would loose the 5000 series at some time once the SmartSDR 6000 series was established.
The Flex-5000A sales had already fallen off in favor of Flex-6000 series orders.
The old radio was been seen by the market as old technology at a price point too close to the new technology to maintain significant new sales volume.
What are the Marketing Price Points for Popular Multi-Price Point HF Brands?
In May 2013 roughly present price points are:
Flex-5000 base $2800 now discontinued
Flex-5000 loaded $3800 now discontinued
- Brand-T has four USA Built HF rigs at $1000, $1800, $2800 and $4400
- Brand-K has price points for HF rigs at $1000, $1100, $1540, $1600, $2000 and $8000
- Brand-Y price points are $1000, $1500, $1900, $2700, $6000, $10100, and $11350
- Brand-I features price points at $700, $900, $1000, $1100, $1500, $1900. $2600, $5000, $6000, $10,500 and $11,800
Comparing that to other brands FlexRadio Systems could be argued to lack a super premium like the IC-7800 and FTdx9000 rigs, and there would appear to have an open market price point slot between the Flex-3000 and Flex-6500 with the Flex-5000A having been discontinued.
Now to be fair for each Flex you need some sort of computer. ( Interestingly the capabilities of the PC needed drops in specification from the highest grade PC needed for Flex rigs 1500-5000 which use PowerSDR which is “Thick Client” needing a significant machine – like an entry level game machine, where 6500/6700 use SmartSDR which is a “Thin Client” GUI/HMI only.)
With most stations having a computer in them already the bump-up in ownership costs may not be as dramatic for FlexRadio Systems now as it was when the Flex-5000A was first introduced.
Again listening to FlexRadio Systems statements as they transition to a Software Company that any new radios would be Thin-Pipe SmartSDR products. They said this last year and again this year, that the new architecture is the framework for new products.
Now what about the values of used Flex-5000A’s?
Mine isn’t going anywhere, not for sale. Arguably the most capable fully mature amateur radio SDR transceiver it has a long term place in my radio room. Having been there for nearly six years I would expect it to be part of my station for another 4-6 years at least.
There is a new PowerSDR version 2.7.x due out this summer and the Thick-Pipe structure is robust enough to weather a few more Windows upgrades at least.
Other hams need to sell their Flex-5000A radio to part fund their new Flex-6000 radio.
Overall the market for used Flex-5000A radios is healthy and pricing seems fairly stable.
Pricing should reflect that mixture of economically forced sales by upgrading hams and retention of value by multi-Flex equipped stations.
————— Official FlexRadio Systems “FLEX-5000A End of Manufacturing Announcement”
I should be 100% clear that the preceding article was my own take and the following is FlexRadio System’s official announcement to handle all the speculation on the internet. 73 Steve K9ZW
Dear FlexRadio Systems customers:
The FLEX-5000A began production in 2007 as our flagship Software Defined
Radio product. It has been highly successful and its chart-topping
performance is enjoyed daily by thousands of customers around the world.
Recently, we’ve been faced with procurement challenges related to
subsystems and components used in the FLEX-5000 product that would force a
product redesign. These challenges plus the dramatic customer shift from
the FLEX-5000 to the FLEX-6500 for new purchases make it economically
unfeasible to continue manufacturing the FLEX-5000. Here are the important
We will continue to support and service the FLEX-5000A in our US,
Canadian, and EU Service depots for many years to come just as we?ve done
with all FlexRadio products.
We will continue to enhance and support PowerSDR? as we have done for
the past 10 years. Four new releases of PowerSDR have been delivered in
the last 12 months and more enhancements are in development now.
We will continue to sell the RX2 second receiver and the ATU autotuner
upgrades for the FLEX-5000 as long as there is a meaningful demand for the
We sincerely appreciate our loyal FlexRadio customers and it was great to
see so many of you this weekend at Dayton Hamvention 2013. We thank you
for your support and understanding as we make this necessary product
Greg – K5GJ
KE9V Smoke Curls – Nails Dayton 2013 on the Head 20 - May - 2013Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Dayton, Dayton Hamvention, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, KE9V
add a comment
Make sure to check ouy fellow writer Jueff KE9V’s Dayton 2013 Recap at:
I have additional comments which are embargoed until after this evening’s W9DK Mancorad Radio Club presentation on Dayton 2013.
Jeff KE9V paints a very accurate background to my summary.