Tag Archives: SmartSDR Preview

What is SmartSDR Preview Edition

What is this FlexRadio Systems “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program?  That seems to be the first question any ham I talk to asks about the new FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700 radio.

Especially as not everyone has followed the new FlexRadio Systems Flex-6000 Signature Series program from the start, there seems to be a fair bit of confusion.

Then when you add Limited Edition Signature Series to the equation – well even those of us who have followed things get a bit rushed.

Subject to revision (and correction) here is the deal as best I know:

  1. All of the new Flex-6000 series radios will be “Signature Series” radios.
  2. If you ordered in 2012 up to the pre-order cut-off date, your radio is also “Limited Edition” and will carry that on its face.
  3. Alpha/Beta Testing process, along with constructability input from FlexRadio System’s manufacturing partner were completed with a production ready version of the Hardware slightly ahead of software.
  4. FlexRadio Systems offers an opportunity to join a wider Software testing group to the “Limited Edition” pre-order holders.  To participate a pre-order holder had to sign up.  This group is called “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program.

That “SmartSDR Preview Edition” software is a subset of the eventual production software, with many features not yet “turned on” for the test group.  Software revisions are very Frequent (every week or so).

Participating in the “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program with a new Flex-6700/GPSDO radio, it has the feel of being at a “tech rehearsal” for a play.  The plot is all there, you can see exactly where things will eventually fit, but the focus is on adjusting the music levels, lights, props and all the parts that make the play happen.

  • Circling back the “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program members are volunteers from the “Limited Edition” Pre-Order place holders.
  • The “Limited Edition” group committed to purchase and placed deposits on their radios ahead of radios shipping by as much as 15 months or more.  This group receives the specially marked radio, a second year of software support, a discount, and a few other perks for committing so far ahead.
  • “Limited Edition” pre-order holders who did not volunteer for the “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program will receive their radios next, when SmartSDR version 1.0 is ready.  Their hardware is the same as the Preview Edition, only the software is different.
  • “SmartSDR Preview Edition” program members will receive SmartSDR version 1.0 at the same time.
  • The software support clock starts when SmartSDR version 1.0 ships.
  • The next waves of buyers will receive “Signature Edition” radios, differing by faceplate markings with the latest SmartSDR version.

All sounds more complicated than it is.  And to tell the truth, once SmartSDR version 1.0 ships it won’t matter either.

Hope I’ve helped answer the question!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Amazing Sensitivity of the Flex-6700

Amazing Sensitivity of the Flex-6700


Okay, FlexRadio Systems asked that while the software was in Preview Edition that the program participants avoid putting performance numbers out, as the expectation is they will soon be surpassed.

But you can figure them out yourself.

This is a typical 20m band view.


This is received (and I worked this DX station) of a weak DX Station. Again you can work out the numbers, but be careful as I have expanded the scale to give the signal some definition.


I worked this DX too! I majorly expanded the scale to try and see a signal that was workable. Only gave this one a 55 and received a 57 in return.

Working this station reminded me of working digital modes, where stations you cannot even see can still be worked.

I don’t think my Flex-5000A would have heard this station in the first place.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Updating a Flex-6700

Updating a Flex-6700 (Major Update with Software & Firmware Updates)


The start of the process is a single yellow button click.


The LED goes Purple and the OLED says updating software.


Typical moving bar tracks progress. Leave the dang thing alone until done. Only takes a couple minutes.


Radio repeats a calibration process after a reboot, then reboots again.


Also a moving bar on the OLED display tracking the progress. Can invoke a couple automatic reboots.


Radio Selector Screen goes “Green Button” and all is ready to use.


Radio is updated, as is the client software. Ready to go on the air.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Photos from Flex-6700 Unboxing June 21st 2013

Photos from Unboxing FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700 serial number 11.

Unboxing took place on my correspondence desk.

Boxes arrive

Boxes arrive

I  wanted another K6TU/K6TD FlexControl, which was in a separate box.

I wanted another K6TU/K6TD FlexControl, which was in a separate box.

Radio was doubled boxed.

Radio was doubled boxed.

Signed Letter from Gerald K5SDR

Signed Letter from Gerald K5SDR

 

Radio Free of the Boxes

Radio Free of the Boxes

 

The backside

The backside

 

Signatures on the bottom.

Signatures on the bottom.

 

Installing the optional handles

Installing the optional handles

Installing optional billet machined handles requires opening the top cover to loosen two phillips screws during the swap.

With both handles and rack-mount ears

With both handles and rack-mount ears

With just the handles

With just the handles

With just the handles, which is how it is my radio room at the moment.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Is “Preview Edition” really such a hard concept? What SmartSDR Preview Edition is and isn’t.

FlexRadio Systems has been crystal clear that the present June 2013 software is a voluntary participation “SmartSDR Preview Edition.”

Any pre-order slot holder who participates in this Preview Edition has volunteered to do so with the understanding that the software is basically a wide spread beta.

yet for many hams this seems to be confusing and hard to understand.

Despite stating that as a volunteer using pre-release (Preview Edition) software I received several emails daily asking questions that should be directed to FlexRadio Systems on schedules, performance data and comparison data.

Every ham has their pet feature that matters a lot to them, and the scheduling questions or “what is included in Preview Edition as of this moment” questions are really neither ones that any SmartSDR Preview Edition user can answer or really matter as the availability is limited to Preview Edition volunteers, as subset of early pre-order holders.

So let’s try this again:

SmartSDR Preview Edition is:

  • Not a general release
  • Being distributed to Limited Edition deposit holders who have taken a second set of volunteering
  • As prerelease software is inappropriate to review in detail
  • Being updated with new features and tweaks on FlexRadio System’s schedule

SmartSDR Preview Edition is not:

  • Software a non-program participant gets
  • Wouldn’t run without a Flex-6700 or Flex-6500 even if a non-program person had a copy
  • Distributed in a demo mode form
  • The Production Product (hence “Preview Edition”)
  • Part of any annual support (that starts with the first full edition)
  • Software that is ready to be reviewed, or formally comparison test.

Reviewing software than is being rapidly upgraded/updated and that is not available outside the volunteer group, especially when any reviewer knows the software (and hence radio) will be different with the next download, is unfair to the software as the persistence of Internet posts will linger one while the software will have been modified many times.

Impressions are fair comment, details and hard comparisons are not.

That of course all changes when the production software releases.

One interesting thing though is the radio challenges the hardware/firmware/software mental model I held. It seems to make more sense if the idea of a “Radio Server” is used.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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SmartSDR Preview Edition Flex-6700 – First Software Update, The Process

As a participant in the SmartSDR Preview Edition program my FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700/GPSDO Transceiver is only days old and an updated SmartSDR Preview Edition release was available.

I want to comment on the slick process.  FlexRadio Systems will certainly have more detailed instructions and description, but basically it worked liked this:

  1. Read the Announcement and the Update Notes
  2. Download the new Software
  3. Start the Installer
  4. Read the Release Notes
  5. Turn on the Radio
  6. Start SmartSDR Preview Edition
  7. Click Update
  8. Watch it all  happen – very quick, with one radio reboot in the process
  9. SmartSDR Preview Edition Notes the Radio is Ready
  10. Use the Radio

Very straight forward and automated.

There is no point in discussing the release content with updates making anything I write obsolete in days.

Enough new features were added in this release that the sound bite I would like to leave you with is “I never expected receive a new radio each simple download!  Like a book of the month club for this radio, on ‘roids!”

Even though I had other things to do, I quickly ran a few QSOs “just to make sure” – at least that is the excuse I gave the better half.

Kudos to FlexRadio System for a slick update system.  Wonder what new radio the next update will bring to my shack?

73

Steve
K9ZW

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