Category Archives: Flex-6000

Maestro Versions – where’s the power button?

I’m often asked what is the external differences between current Maestro production and the earlier series?

Making the switch over between versions less clear cut are several field reports of Maestro units produced in the transition from what I’ve heard references as Maestro-A (the Early Production units) and Maestro-B (the current production units has of 2018).

Easiest external indicator is the location of the On/Off switch.

Maestro-A (Early Production) has the switch on the top, to the far left:

Early Production Maestro-A Top On/Off Switch Location

Maestro-B (Later Production) has the switch on the Left Side of the unit:

Early Production Maestro-B Left Side On/Off Switch Location

Internal differences haven’t been spelled out more than the improved resolution of the Maestro-B screen and assurances that the Dell OEM module of the Maestro-A was replaced by a better new OEM component.  (The original Dell module had product nuances that Dell may have considered “features” in their own use as a tablet, but were not the way FlexRadio users (or FlexRadio itself) expected the module to perform when used as an OEM component in a complex product.)

73

Steve
K9ZW

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FlexRadio Systems – Flex-6600 Heat Sink Replacement

I have one of the earliest Flex-6600M radios released, as I was added to the Alpha Test Team.

As such my expectations have been from delivery that this particular radio would be likely to need some updating along the way.

I have been running the radio 24/7 since delivery, and though no performance problems came up the Heat sinks on the ADC boards fell off or slid down (one fell and one slid).

Flex-6600M heat sinks, one fell and one slid. Easily replaced with new bigger heat sinks on the backside of the boards.

FlexRadio Systems had mailed a field repair kit and because I had no noticeable issues I put off installation until today.

Took me longer to gather my tools than do the job!

Basically you take the top of the radio off, remove a screw so you can pull each ADC board free, add the new heat sink while removing or securing the original heat sinks, reseat the ADC board, put the secure entry screws back, and put the top back on.

There are two heat sinks to deal with in the Flex-6600/6600M radios and just one heat sink in the Flex-6400/6400M models.

In my case I removed the original heat sinks completely, though some hams are securing them in place along with the new heat sink installation.

One wonders if there is a heat sink adhesive problem, as there are reports that some new Icom transceivers also have a heat sink problem. Not certain if those radios can be repaired in the field.

FlexRadio Systems released a PEN (Product Enhancement Notice) that covers the heat sinks and a preamp enhancement for 6m.  I’m holding off sending the radio in for the rest of this PEN.

BTW FlexRadio Systems picks up the tab if you’d rather send your radio in for this PEN.  My total time invested was circa ten minutes.

73

Steve K9ZW

 

 

FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M Transceiver and Power Genius XL Amplifier in early use

FlexRadio Systems extended me an opportunity to acquire one of the first production run Flex-6600M Transceivers and a few weeks back a PowerGenius XL Amplifier both early as a “Beta Team” participant.  (I’ll be abbreviate Flex-6600M as just “6600M”, Flex-6700 as just “6700” and the PowerGenius XL Amplifier as “PGXL.”)

As mentioned, I’d participated in a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.

The “Beta Team” really couple be considered “Late Addition Alpha Team” or “Temporary Alpha Team” or “Little Alpha Team” team members, as to handle the information flow.

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Radios, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program I had participated in.

In my case this new Flex-6600M it will temporarily displace a Flex-6700 at my main home QTH.   I’m definitely planning to retain that Flex-6700.  I have configured the station temporarily to allow fairly quick A/B switching from the 6600M to the 6700.  I have enough W2IHY switchgear to potentially hardwire the A/B setup, but for now the intent is to do plug and play.

My shack is compact – and is especially compact as the sanctity of my radio shack in the old wine cellar room has been encroached  upon severely by buying too much wine in Italy and from a long time Alpha team’s family’s California Vineyard, all arriving as I decided that personal health triumphs.  So those cases have filled what extra area the shack had.

To make room, after my personal testing of the PGXL I’ve decided to remove the Alpha 9500 Amplifier and the Expert SPE 1KW backup Amplifier physically from the operating area, putting them on my “shack reserve shelving” for the moment where they join my fail-safe Alpha 78 Amplifier and a 6M King Conversion Amplifier.  Actually I enlisted some help from my youngest son, Victor KC9NWB, as any college kid home for winter break should get a chance to lug his Dad’s ham shack gear around, right?

I still need to figure out where to move a few items to, especially the audio-amplifier that was going to help tweak my main Shure SM5B microphone’s voice signal but has ended up set so flat that it is really just isolation and audio signal gain.   That said, here is the 6600M/PGXL as of January 6th 2018:

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Overview

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Overview

 

I’ve found the 6600M/PGXL combination really awesome to use.  Reports “out of the box” have been so good that I’ve not spent much time optimizing settings yet.

My station is pretty simple, smaller scale, and gets ends up effective.  The6600M/PGXL combination have in two simple pieces of gear have noticeably improved my station.

I was having so much fun working DX on 20m, that I forgot to snap a photo to share until propagation changed enough that 80m was the lively band.  My present home antenna situation is limiting on 40/80/160m bands compared to 20/17/15/12/10 and the UHF/VHF bands.  So I turned things back on a shot a quick snap will running 80m figuring you all have seen a full panadapter screen before!

So here a quick “station selfie” snap:

 

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Up Close

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Up Close

As previously mention that like both of my Flex-6700’s, this new Flex-6600M was ordered with the GPSDO option.  If software eventually allows I hope to use the accurate time stamping on a station-mixing basis.  If that doesn’t happen the extra accuracy never hurts.

 

My “Late Addition Alpha Team” status came with my agreeing to not speculate and to not detail the exact Alpha Team’s progress & problem solving details, but I am pretty sure it didn’t have any agreement preventing my speaking to how absolutely engaged the FlexRadio Systems, 4o3a Team, and the Alpha Testers really are.  The efforts, feedback/update speed is truly impressive!!

More later this week, and as a teaser I’m going to add two more photos that I will explain in-depth in a later posting – with the SmartSDR versions improving I’ve run into a band situation where 160m was unworkable until I engaged the FlexRadio Systems exclusive WNB (Wide Noise Blocker).

 

SmartSDR no filters and a bad 160m band

SmartSDR no filters and a bad 160m band

 

SmartSDR with WNB making the 160m band okay

SmartSDR with WNB making the 160m band okay

Pay attention to the waterfall difference – the noise is gone I was in business, if RX a bit faint (55 to 53 – clear but weak).  As for the source of the noise, I’ll have to see if it reappears and track it down.

Much much more to follow!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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What is that holding up my Power Meter? FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amp!

 

Alpha Power Meter Stand?

Good News:  My FlexRadio Systems Power Genius XL Amp has arrived and is working great!

Not So Good News:  I am having so much fun that I won’t have much extra time to blog about the experience until next weekend.

I’m doing a lot of exploring with the new amp, given my time limitations.  As you can see in the picture there is no problem putting out the power.   I’ll post some statistics once I have a good systematic run through the bands.

I’m thinking I will also have a Flex-6600M very shortly to pair with the Power Genius XL Amp!

More when I get time.  Kind of wished I had more free time this week, but alas something has to pay for radio pleasures.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – arrived but still in the box….

Power Genius XL in its Shipping Box

Good News:  My FlexRadio Systems Power Genius XL Amp has arrived

Not So Good News:  I am still at work.

I’ve walked up to look at the box 3-4 times so far.

Guess I know what I will be preoccupied with at home tonight! Setting up the Power Genius XL Amp!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M Transceiver – also on the way

FlexRadio Systems extended an opportunity to acquire one of the first production run Flex-6600M Transceivers early as a “Beta Team” participant.

As mentioned, I’d done a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.  I currently have a FlexRadio System PowerGenius XL (PGXL) amplifier in transit on the same early-adopter program.

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Radios, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program.

In my case this new Flex-6600M it will temporarily displace a Flex-6700 at my main home QTH.   I’m definitely planning to retain that Flex-6700.  More when the Amp shows.

Like both of my Flex-6700’s, this Flex-6600M was ordered with the GPSDO option.  If software eventually allows I hope to use the accurate time stamping on a station-mixing basis.  If that doesn’t happen the extra accuracy never hurts.

Oh, in clarity the FRS expanded test team has been both called “Beta Test Team” and as temporary Alpha Testers.  This special status is expected to disappear in a few weeks, so basically FRS cloned the agreements from the established Alpha team and pressed them into service in the effort to get these radios (and the first PGXL amps) into  wider range of user’s hands.

Timing is interesting, as my piggy bank got spanked with two units of expense.  Glad I saved for these station components!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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