Flex-6000 Series – Newsletters, Armchair Speculators and My Impressions

Flex-Radio has released two “Insider’s Newsletters” for those with Flex-6X00 pre-orders in their system.

The pdf flyer on their website is now updated as version #2 to do some updating and minor corrections.

The corporate discipline is impressive in that they are not giving out guesses, hunches, maybes or other unofficial signs of the Flex-6000 series progress or ship dates.  I know, as I have tried getting a bit more information with the results being carefully told  what was just repackaged official information.

Yet a few things are out there – if you are not in the pre-order list of Flex-6500, Flex-6700R and Flex-6700 Limited Edition radios with a deposit in place you are now being told you won’t see your radio until early 2013.

And the official company reflectors have had some really important bits of information, like this recent post about combining signals from several Flex-6X00 series receivers:

There are many forms of combining signals for better reception.  In the 6700(R), the two SCUs are completely synchronized (ALL LOs are synchronous).  This is not a trivial assertion — there are very few radios that can make this assertion and no other commercially available amateur radios.  This gives rise to some exceptionally easy combining that gives immediate benefits in terms of sensitivity and dynamic range.

The 6000 series also has an optional GPS module that is designed to help in the synchronization of receivers that are or are not next to each other.  Combining signals that are generated with a separate LO/sampling clock, that have not been synchronized is a harder problem.  The GPS makes this easier, but also allows us to send signals across the Internet and combine signals knowing both where and when they originated.  The benefits from this will come later as the software is developed.

Incidentally, our CDRX-3200 is a blade-architecture receiver that can synchronize 32 receivers.  It also costs in the mid-five-figures.  The cost of developing and build a blade-architecture system is significantly more than what we came up with in the 6000-series.  We did consider a blade system, but every time we added up all the connectors, separate PCBs,
hardware and sheet metal we would realize that the ME’s in the office weregetting more than their fair share of the product cost.  We want product cost to stay in the EE/SW side of the house.  And we wanted the radio to be as affordable as we could make it.  ;-)


Stephen Hicks, N5AC, AAR6AM
VP Engineering
FlexRadio Systems

Just think about the possibilities of synchronizing multiple signals, and the HUGE importance that Flex-Radio has already done this task in their commercial products.

Remaining a silly a part of our hobby is the forum trash that you can read at a couple of the famous ham websites, where with the exact same official releases, reflector postings and official statements, these forums allow imagined negativism to flow unbounded.  The forum trolls, without any superior sources, without hands on experience (remember the Flex-6X00 hasn’t shipped), or any superior expertise in this new brave world of amateur radio, liberally slather (and outright slander) in some sort of madness.  It is unfortunate that some of our fellow hobbyists find their only bit of personal joy in making baseless doomsday speculations.

Sorry killjoys, but I just don’t think the Flex-Radio folk are doing all this as some sort of MLM or Ponzi scheme….  With the product technology being established in their commercial line (which none of these killjoys ever claims to have even seen, much less have operating experience with) the Flex-6X00 is an exercise in bringing established technology to a price point that radio amateurs will pay.  Not every radio amateur (and I couldn’t recommend a highly complex radio as the starting point for each & every ham, rather for the few who have the technical prowess from other related life experiences) is going to either aspire or be able to afford the new series.  For most of us this new series is a heavy savings, selling excess gear and scrape & struggle effort if we want to have one.  At least let me tell you it is all about saving, scrape & sell, and looking for loose change in the sofa – anything you can manage – if you have two in college and one a high school senior likely to successfully finish a semester early. ;-)

But then even the loftiest of the series, the Flex-6700 with GPSDXO and every possible feature is no more than a new quad-runner, or a decent riding mower with a blower & all the other attachments.  Well at least in the general range.

Is it needed to have one of the elite top model transceivers to enjoy the hobby?  No way – plenty of us also find joy the couple hundred dollar used (vintage preferred) transceiver or even the $50 kit we soldered up.  This makes so much sense.  You don’t need a Silver Plate new professional saxophone to have fun playing either!

Yet is is a blast if you get a chance to either operate as a guest or operate your own Tier-I level rig.

The forums are also full of the fearful prophecies that the Flex-6X00 series will obsolete 99% of other gear out there (usually the forum armchair guru’s add their further killjoy of “if Flex ever can make them” or some other baseless cheap shot).

What a load of rubbish.  Every new wave of amateur radio technology has been similarly bashed baselessly by those either too scared, not will to change or just crabby sorts.  And yet we have not seen every old tube radio put out on the curb for recycling despite 40+ years of solid state transceivers.  Unlike the dire predictions we’ve not seen CW (and even some claimed AM & RTYY) go the way of the of teh Dodo Bird when these forum hacks predicted these modes would die out.

I’m off focus wasting time about the anti-Fun crowds – what is really going to happen when the Flex-6X00 series ships is that a whole lot of hams will be having a blast working with technology never before widely available to any radio amateur willing to plonk down the coin.  Will everything work perfectly?  Secretly I rather hope NOT perfectly but good enough to make each wave of new software & firmware a treat!  “Dancing on the Leading Edge” even if by checkbook proxy is still a rush for many folk.

And to the killjoys and naysayers, I hope we connect in an on-the-air QSO so I can extend an invitation to come visit and join in the fun when the Flex-6×00 day arrives!



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