Upgrading SDRs in Perspective (with Pro-Tips)

Writing this late the week FlexRadio rolled out a new version of SmartSDR v 3.3.29 and some radios had problems completing the update.

Per Facebook and Flex Community postings the internal SD Cards in a limited amount of mostly older original series radios (6300/6500/6700) are vulnerable to fatal corruption.

The solution is a replacement SD Card from FlexRadio, which they can either send to the operator or the radio can be sent in for an SD Card replacement.

As usual the posts about the small percentage that develop this temporary problem are emotional. Bluntly some folks are “drama queens” or worse.  Their core need and problems are exactly the same though from reading of their woes the certainly have personalized the problem.

About these SD Cards:, first a FlexRadio discussion about SD Cards:

Personally, I have had a SD Card fail in one of my radios. This one failed in Alpha Team testing, so it wasn’t at the same time other groups of radios had problems.

A bit of background, while a robust technology SD Cards are designed to be read and wrote to, over and over. The SD Card market offers a lot of claims about performance and durability not always achieved in field use.

So as a part of upgrading there is a bit of Stress Test through all the upgrade manipulations that can identify iffy SD cards, and some SD cards simply will fail.

Inconvenient but not horribly catastrophic – if the SD card fails you open a Help Desk ticket and FlexRadio sorts you out a fresh SD Card.

Your radio usually will be inoperable until the new card is installed, but it is NOT permanently bricked as many hand wringers lament.

Some lament why doesn’t FlexRadio offer an image that could be downloaded so the operator could roll-their-own new SD Card?

FlexRadio Systems is all about their customer’s experience, and their served customer base includes hams who understand every nuance of the radio’s design, have the techniques to deal with every level of repair – a the way through to – customers who on their own shouldn’t be inside the radio.

The image files appear not to be one-size-fit-all, and have evolutionary differences. I am uncertain if they are the same across all the world wide market of FlexRadio.

FlexRadio is using high grade SD Cards selected to best perform in their radios. While the SD Cards you buy from Amazon or other vendors could be the same, they also might not be at all the same.

So FlexRadio has kept the variables to a minimum by being the image-loaded SD Card supplier for the radios.

Not working for FlexRadio I am not privy to how big is the SD Card matrix they work with. The impression I have gained is that there are a lot of considerations for what version SD Card image is the right one for your particular radio.

My theory on why SD Card problems show up despite a huge testing processes is simple – there are radios which had SD Cards out in the general user population, where the test team with all their upgrade/downgrade/test processes largely have weeded out the suspect SD Cards long ago.

I think that is what happened to the SD Card I lost.

So in summary, if your SD card breaks during an upgrade:

  • Open a FlexRadio Help Desk Ticket
  • When you new SD Card arrives, install it
  • Then you will be able to complete your upgrade process.

Additionally (or Pro-Tips learned the hard way):

  • When an update comes out, unless you want to be bleeding-edge up to date, consider letting others “break trail” and wait a few days.
  • Never Ever – REPEAT NEVER EVER – even think of updating right before (or during) a contest you are participating in, or if you are about to do some important operating like a special DX chase or a shack tour.
  • Think about when in the week you want to run your updates – I try to do them late Sunday or on Monday, just in case.
  • If your budget allows, consider having a second radio (Flex-6300s are at a nice price point secondhand).  Some hams have a full set of duplicate gear so they can plug-n-play if anything goes down, though that strategy requires deep pockets.

Hoping your updates may always be successful and easy!

 

73

Steve
K9ZW

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