Category Archives: FlexRadio Maestro

The Flexer’s Advantage Series: Do you See what I hear….

Do you see what I hear?   Strange question, or is it?

a real Flexer’s advantage is the superlative implementation of multiple highly flexible Panadapters letting an operator visually evaluate the band(s) before listening.

I typically use less than the eight Panadapter “Slices” the Flex-6700 allows, though I often use about five or six.

My preference is the Panafall configuration and my first two will be where I am working as “slice A for Active” works for me.  Then the next slices will be sized for an overview of the segment in each of the bands I am thinking of operating.

I do not tend to drop very many receivers unless I’m planning to pop back and forth between bands.  Rather my style is to instead change frequency on my first slice Panadapter and receiver treating the other Panadapters as sort of big spectrum scope.

what is very neat – the real advantage – is your style of setting up slices and receivers doesn’t have to be anything like mine.  Upcoming SmartSDR versions allow undocking of slices, potentially sharing the visuals in even more effective ways.

To be certain other radios have had Panadapters for many decades.  But it has been in the SDR software offerings where this useful tool has been taken to new levels.

It is easy to visually recognize a DX operation, especially if running split by the fainter DX – sometimes barely showing – being answered by massive calls.  In the SmartSDR for iOS Panadapter it is possible to map the DX cluster directly onto the Panafall.

Once you see it, it is simple enough to drop a slice receiver on the signal, set up split if appropriate, and see if you too can work the DX.

73

Steve
K9ZW

The Flexer’s Advantage Series: The Casual DXer Advantages of SmartSDR for iOS and SmartSDR via Maestro

The Casual DXer Advantages of SmartSDR for iOS and SmartSDR via Maestro

While some of us have the ability to block-off large chunks of time to be on the air, many of us have to grab our radio time when we can – usually while on the fly.

Sometimes being on the air involves multi-tasking – perhaps food prep while waiting for UPS to deliver and expecting a business call… hard to go down to the shack and ignore the world in situations like that.

Sometimes that slice of possible radio time means you don’t get enough outside time as you really want to be outside.

In winter sometimes it is nicer to stay in front of a fireplace if you can.

I’ve found a way to get a few QSOs in during these slots of time I just cannot go down to my main operating station in the shacks.

I’m saying the plural shacks, as at both my main home QTH and my Washington Island QTH 115 miles north I have a Flex-6700 station in the homes’ basement. Home I coopted what was intended to be a “wine cellar” room when we moved in as my main operating station location.  On the island there was a really nice workshop area in the semi-finished basement that was a natural for both a Flex-6700 and a Collins S-Line setup.

A long time ago George W9EVT recommended never putting your operating position more than 10-20 footsteps away from where you otherwise would be. W9EVT’s thought was you would be able to operate a lot more if it was convenient to your regular life.  I’ve kind of violated this recommendation at both QTHs by being 2-3 times further away.

So my problem is I could not allocate shack space at either QTH that is truly in the main living area.

This cut into my on-air time. In the case of the home QTH the cool wine cellar room simply is uncomfortable for much more than an hour.  The air is too chilly, plus it has bone chilling cold hard tile flooring, and in the end is too tucked out of the way. On the island the only time it is desirable to be in a basement is when it is super hot outside.  Otherwise I’d rather be in eth main area or outside (eventually I will have a Garage with workshop changing things).

Since both stations have a Flex-6700 there is an easy solution.

Go LAN-Remote. As long as the Flex-6700 and a remote client are on the same subnet block of internal IP addresses you can go wireless as far as your router will let you.

If I am going to be on the air for more than an hour or repeatedly in the same spot, setting up a Maestro is the way to go. Both QTHs have one, and a computer to use with the Maestro if wanted.

But if I am truly on the run, using SmartSDR for iOS on my iPhone 6plus or iPad Air is simply magic!

Example, earlier I had about 20 minutes I would be waiting for family before leaving for an appointment, and using the iPad I quickly grabbed several DX QSOs, including the Spanish African Enclaves (EA9) and the South Cook Islands (E51). Slick, quick and a blast!

I occasional use a Raspberry Pi powered VPN setup with a Maestro to extend off my home Flex-6700’s LAN to my office 3 miles away, but that hasn’t worked so well due to the dynamic office environment. Thought I might get quiet lunch hours in of operating, but if I am here people need decisions and the interruptions are too many.

So my recommendation if you are a Flex-6000 owner is to check out SmartSDR for iOS to increase your casual DXing time, and you will pick up more DX QSOs as a result.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Evolution to the Flex-6400/6600 and Revolution to the Flex M-models – why we should expect innovation

Perhaps some of us have missed how important new models are to an organization, as the new products predictably will not only incorporate enhancements that may better fit end client expectations but as importantly they will hone & optimize production.

The production per unit advantages are important to capture both to enhance revenues, but as critically to avoid non-value-added production costs (waste) that increases vulnerability to more efficiently produced competition.

This is more true when the new products replace existing production rather than expand the product line produced.

I’d argue the Flex-6400 and Flex-6600 are updates to leverage everything FRS has learned and cost optimize for both production cost and marketplace sell price reasons.

Further the M-models (Flex-6440M and Flex-6600M) are the true product line expansion models, as they leverage the Maestro product through update & integration with the otherwise needed new 6400 and 6600.  The M-models brilliantly expand product line appeal at a much lower cost (or resource drain) than a completely new product would have used.

In the transformation to a software defined company the hardware still must be state of the art in effectiveness on both performance and cost-value.

Remembering that there are industrial dynamics that simply require an effective producer to innovate or risk being replaced in the marketplace by more effective competitors we cannot be “High-Tech Luddites” expecting innovation to stagnate because we imagine we can artificially maintain marketplace supremacy for our purchase through stagnation.

Kudos to FRS for redesigning a few models to better fit the marketplace’s needs and improve margin on a unit production cost basis.

And more kudos due for combining developed products with enough enhancement to carve out new marketplace positions with what arguably are largely already amoritized product development costs in the merged products.

Hope I haven’t bored too many of you as I wanted to wait until the usual emotional stuff started to settle before explaining why FRS needed to innovate core models, and how brilliant the M-models are from the product expansion aspects.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Updated after Hamvention 2017 review of my FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Product Launch Predictions!

Okay here is what I’ve gotten right/wrong in my  2017 new product predictions:

Partially correct – (Some of) SmartSDR for Windows v2.0 will be shown, and anticipate at least a few weeks delay for public beta or a limited release  (later June ) . The WAN Feature is being called SmartLink (TM) and will be shown at Hamvention.  The Multi-User/Simultaneous User GUI feature does not have an announced name and will NOT be shown at Hamvention.  A general release of SmartSDR Version 2.0 will first happen some point AFTER Hamvention – when it is ready.

Correct but too obvious to be a winning prediction – SmartSDR for iOS v2.0 will follow suite with an implementation of the Windows v2.0 product and possibly will work with both SmartSDR v1.x and v2.x servers.

Got this wrong – SmartSDR for Windows v1.1x will also get an update, mostly to make upgrade/downgrade between v1.x and v2.x products possible and so everything else on the hamshack computer doesn’t breakdown when switching between versions.

Nailed it YES – PowerGenius XL – a close to production configuration of the joint 4o3a/FlexRadio System solid state amp will be shown and a start of shipping date will be announced. I’m guessing beginning of Q3 (July) if product hasn’t already arrived & cleared customs.

Partially correct as  YES it was shown, but more it will be included for preorders and other 2017 orders – TunerGenius S XL – will be shown in preproduction form, and likely will be available at the same time as the amps. A version that can be added to pair & controlled from the PowerGeniusXL is happening is a possibility.

Sort of Right, as they are working to do this – SmartSDR/4o3a Control Pad Software – hoping to see a significantly better integrated offering intended to run on a pad (iPad or WinBook type) alongside a Maestro or PC running SmartSDR

Sort or Right, but not Shown – RotorGenius/StationGenius/AntennaGenius and other 4o3a products will likely have upgrades to work better with the SmartSDR/Flex-6000 product line. (NOTE:  Aa a reminder, all of the 4o3a gear works in a non-FRS station too.)

YES but not Ready for ordersthough a headset to work for this use is ready – RadioSport iPod SmartSDR for iOS Dock – will be shown in a Mark II prototype. They showed an early prototype with a new headset design, so that may be a package at the Hamvention too.

Couldn’t Find them, but was “told it is in the works” – DogPark may have/show their SmartSDR v2.x compatible DogparkSDR upgraded version

No, got this wrong replaced by other developments – FlexRadio Systems SO2R box may reappear intended for the Flex-6500/6300 making those radios SO2R while the Flex-6700 as produced is already SO2R (actually SOnR).

Yes on new models to replace the old Flex-6300/6500, come in server and with faceplate (not removable) configurations and have more options. – EDIT:  A premature product datasheet release shows several new models of radio – Flex-6400, Flex-6400M, Flex-6600 and Flex-6600M.  The context didn’t give any insight into what these new models are and my guess is the Flex-6300 and Flex-6500 are being replaced, and that the “M” models are mobile optimized. Whether a new feature/price slot Flex-6×00 radio launches is doubtful beyond the 6400/6600 products.

Didn’t Find them, but keep hearing these are “in the works” – Several Antennas will be shown optimized for the characteristics of the Flex-6000. Most will be based on the Log-Periodic or mixed Log/Yagi designs.

No got this half wrong – Table talk only unless you are Uncle Sam as FRS does this for them but at a very non-Ham price point, but a ham version could be readied for the right price – There will be discussion of a many-SCU (Spectral Capture Unit) radio (Flex-14000 with six or eight SCUs) or a way to slave several Flex-6700’s together to bring larger scale multi-antenna diversity to the shack.

Didn’t Find Them – Possible accessories – a single unit Ethernet-fiber-Ethernet network isolation box to electrically decouple a Flex-6000 but not require the ham to roll their own isolation doesn’t sound like it is being shown yet.

Couldn’t Find them, but was “told it is in the works” – But some simpler Ethernet and SmartSDR/DDUtil aware antenna switches may be at the show.

Couldn’t Find them, but was “told it is in the works” – Possibly we may hear of a 4-square or K9AY style SmartSDR aware receiving array.  There may be software to add-on around SmartSDR to manage things like Shared-Use Flex-6000 Stations, Logging/Spots, Digital Modes, maybe even slice-sharing for RX now that the time stamping of packets has started.

Heard confirmations, but not really a firm commitment – Thinking more software will be announced over the net after FRS clarifies its forward direction and timing.

No I got this one Wrong – Maestro II as the M models have integral faceplates and production delays were technical – What I don’t think we will see is a sub $800 SmartSDR unit (a Flex-1500 direct replacement) or a Maestro-II (see comments below, I have changed my prediction to that we will see new Maestro II launched) as some folk have suggested. Unlikely that we would see a Flex-6000 with a permanently attached Maestro front-plate (like the TenTec Pegasus -> Pegasus FP -> Jupiter metamorphous years ago) though there would be no reason to not have a removable faceplate unit (like the old Kenwood 2000 did).  Not very certain that we will see a “SmartSDR for Linux” given the costs of doing that port.

One thing I really missed was the Emotive Outbursts from FlexRadio Owners who somehow (one or many of these):

  • Never Imagined New/Improved Hardware could happen.
  • Feel FRS owes them forever upgrades/support at no cost.
  • Feel FRS owed them to protect their purchase price by artificially pricing higher than mark for new radio models.
  • Somehow think that they would be better at running FRS for no obvious reason that they can share.
  • Forget they several dozen SmartSDR releases since the first version widely shared, claiming SmartSDR has been stagnant since 2013.
  • Attribute successful/better/more-advanced actions/communications/prices/features to other SDR manufacturers where they either are limited instances or simple are not reality.  
  • Don’t even own a Flex-6000 but feel they are experienced in operating one.
  • Feel their Flex-5000, Flex-3000, Flex-1500, Flex SDR-1000 were the penultimate SDR and nothing newer is any good.
  • Haven’t seen the new products in the flesh, but know all about them.
  • Say FRS taking reservations and deposits is BAD, but other manufacturers doing the same – some without even a price commitment – is somehow OK.

A lot of these folk need to get on the air more, or at least read the spec sheets…. more on this phenomena in a later post.

I’ll also have a Dayton Wrap-Up from my view point in a couple days.  Put on cover 700 miles (1100 KM) today driving home and running George W9EVT to the Washington Island ferry dock, so off to catch up on chores.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Updated after the Banquet- Hamvention 2017 – FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Product Launch Predictions!

Okay here is what I’ve gotten right/wrong in my  2017 new product predictions:

Partially correct – (Some of) SmartSDR for Windows v2.0 will be shown, and anticipate at least a few weeks delay for public beta or a limited release ( later June ) .

SmartSDR for Windows v1.1x will also get an update, mostly to make upgrade/downgrade between v1.x and v2.x products possible and so everything else on the hamshack computer doesn’t breakdown when switching between versions.

The WAN Feature is being called SmartLink (TM) and will be shown at Hamvention.  The Multi-User/Simultaneous User GUI feature does not have an announced name and will NOT be shown at Hamvention.  A general release of SmartSDR Version 2.0 will first happen some point AFTER Hamvention – when it is ready.

SmartSDR for iOS v2.0 will follow suite with an implementation of the Widows v2.0 product and possibly will work with both SmartSDR v1.x and v2.x servers.

YES – PowerGenius XL – a close to production configuration of the joint 4o3a/FlexRadio System solid state amp will be shown and a start of shipping date will be announced. I’m guessing beginning of Q3 (July) if product hasn’t already arrived & cleared customs.

YES and will be included for preorders and other 2017 orders – TunerGenius XL – will be shown in preproduction form, and likely will be available at the same time as the amps. A version that can be added to the PowerGeniusXL is a possibility.

SmartSDR/4o3a Control Pad Software – hoping to see a significantly better integrated offering intended to run on a pad (iPad or WinBook type) alongside a Maestro or PC running SmartSDR

RotorGenius/StationGenius/AntennaGenius and other 4o3a products will likely have upgrades to work better with the SmartSDR/Flex-6000 product line. (NOTE:  Aa a reminder, all of the 4o3a gear works in a non-FRS station too.)

RadioSport iPod SmartSDR for iOS Dock – will be shown in a Mark II prototype. They showed an early prototype with a new headset design, so that may be a package at the Hamvention too.

DogPark may have/show their SmartSDR v2.x compatible DogparkSDR upgraded version

No – replaced by other developments – FlexRadio Systems SO2R box may reappear intended for the Flex-6500/6300 making those radios SO2R while the Flex-6700 as produced is already SO2R (actually SOnR).

Yes new models replace old6300/6500, come in server and with faceplate (not removable) configurations and have more options. – EDIT:  A premature product datasheet release shows several new models of radio – Flex-6400, Flex-6400M, Flex-6600 and Flex-6600M.  The context didn’t give any insight into what these new models are and my guess is the Flex-6300 and Flex-6500 are being replaced, and that the “M” models are mobile optimized. Whether a new feature/price slot Flex-6×00 radio launches is doubtful beyond the 6400/6600 products.

Several Antennas will be shown optimized for the characteristics of the Flex-6000. Most will be based on the Log-Periodic or mixed Log/Yagi designs.

No – Table talk only – There will be discussion of a many-SCU (Spectral Capture Unit) radio (Flex-14000 with six or eight SCUs) or a way to slave several Flex-6700’s together to bring larger scale multi-antenna diversity to the shack.

Possible accessories – a single unit Ethernet-fiber-Ethernet network isolation box to electrically decouple a Flex-6000 but not require the ham to roll their own isolation doesn’t sound like it is being shown yet.

But some simpler Ethernet and SmartSDR/DDUtil aware antenna switches may be at the show.

Possibly we may hear of a 4-square or K9AY style SmartSDR aware receiving array.  There may be software to add-on around SmartSDR to manage things like Shared-Use Flex-6000 Stations, Logging/Spots, Digital Modes, maybe even slice-sharing for RX now that the time stamping of packets has started.

Thinking more software will be announced over the net after FRS clarifies its forward direction and timing.

No Maestro II as the M models have integral faceplates – What I don’t think we will see is a sub $800 SmartSDR unit (a Flex-1500 direct replacement) or a Maestro-II (see comments below, I have changed my prediction to that we will see new Maestro II launched) as some folk have suggested. Unlikely that we would see a Flex-6000 with a permanently attached Maestro front-plate (like the TenTec Pegasus -> Pegasus FP -> Jupiter metamorphous years ago) though there would be no reason to not have a removable faceplate unit (like the old Kenwood 2000 did).  Not very certain that we will see a “SmartSDR for Linux” given the costs of doing that port.

 

I will update once the show opens and I meet with other vendors.

73

Steve K9ZW

Updated Hamvention 2017 – FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Product Launch Predictions!

Updated Hamvention 2017 – FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Product Launch Predictions!

Okay here are my UPDATED (Monday  – and Wednesday – before) Hamvention 2017 new product predictions:

SmartSDR for Windows v2.0 will be shown, and anticipate at least a few weeks delay for public beta or a limited release .

SmartSDR for Windows v1.1x will also get an update, mostly to make upgrade/downgrade between v1.x and v2.x products possible and so everything else on the hamshack computer doesn’t breakdown when switching between versions.

The WAN Feature is being called SmartLink (TM) and will be shown at Hamvention.  The Multi-User/Simultaneous User GUI feature does not have an announced name and will NOT be shown at Hamvention.  A general release of SmartSDR Version 2.0 will first happen some point AFTER Hamvention – when it is ready.

SmartSDR for iOS v2.0 will follow suite with an implementation of the Widows v2.0 product and possibly will work with both SmartSDR v1.x and v2.x servers.

PowerGenius XL – a close to production configuration of the joint 4o3a/FlexRadio System solid state amp will be shown and a start of shipping date will be announced. I’m guessing beginning of Q3 (July) if product hasn’t already arrived & cleared customs.

TunerGenius XL – will be shown in preproduction form, and likely will be available at the same time as the amps. A version that can be added to the PowerGeniusXL is a possibility.

SmartSDR/4o3a Control Pad Software – hoping to see a significantly better integrated offering intended to run on a pad (iPad or WinBook type) alongside a Maestro or PC running SmartSDR

RotorGenius/StationGenius/AntennaGenius and other 4o3a products will likely have upgrades to work better with the SmartSDR/Flex-6000 product line. (NOTE:  Aa a reminder, all of the 4o3a gear works in a non-FRS station too.)

RadioSport iPod SmartSDR for iOS Dock – will be shown in a Mark II prototype. They showed an early prototype with a new headset design, so that may be a package at the Hamvention too.

DogPark may have/show their SmartSDR v2.x compatible DogparkSDR upgraded version

FlexRadio Systems SO2R box may reappear intended for the Flex-6500/6300 making those radios SO2R while the Flex-6700 as produced is already SO2R (actually SOnR).

EDIT:  A premature product datasheet release shows several new models of radio – Flex-6400, Flex-6400M, Flex-6600 and Flex-6600M.  The context didn’t give any insight into what these new models are and my guess is the Flex-6300 and Flex-6500 are being replaced, and that the “M” models are mobile optimized. Whether a new feature/price slot Flex-6×00 radio launches is doubtful beyond the 6400/6600 products.

Several Antennas will be shown optimized for the characteristics of the Flex-6000. Most will be based on the Log-Periodic or mixed Log/Yagi designs.

There will be discussion of a many-SCU (Spectral Capture Unit) radio (Flex-14000 with six or eight SCUs) or a way to slave several Flex-6700’s together to bring larger scale multi-antenna diversity to the shack.

Possible accessories – a single unit Ethernet-fiber-Ethernet network isolation box to electrically decouple a Flex-6000 but not require the ham to roll their own isolation doesn’t sound like it is being shown yet.

But some simpler Ethernet and SmartSDR/DDUtil aware antenna switches may be at the show.

Possibly we may hear of a 4-square or K9AY style SmartSDR aware receiving array.  There may be software to add-on around SmartSDR to manage things like Shared-Use Flex-6000 Stations, Logging/Spots, Digital Modes, maybe even slice-sharing for RX now that the time stamping of packets has started.

Thinking more software will be announced over the net after FRS clarifies its forward direction and timing.

What I don’t think we will see is a sub $800 SmartSDR unit (a Flex-1500 direct replacement) or a Maestro-II (see comments below, I have changed my prediction to that we will see new Maestro II launched) as some folk have suggested. Unlikely that we would see a Flex-6000 with a permanently attached Maestro front-plate (like the TenTec Pegasus -> Pegasus FP -> Jupiter metamorphous years ago) though there would be no reason to not have a removable faceplate unit (like the old Kenwood 2000 did).  Not very certain that we will see a “SmartSDR for Linux” given the costs of doing that port.

About ten four days from now we’ll know on how many guesses I am right, how many I blew, and what others thought of that I didn’t!

BTW FRS will likely announce the majority of its new products Thursday Evening at their Contesting/DX Banquet.

73

Steve K9ZW