Should contest rules allow and act upon 599K QRM reports?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Flexradio 6300 review v1.6.17

Hurrah! After a 3.5 month wait for the sw/fw update v1.6.17, I now have a working radio! Not only that, the new sw has a winkey emulation function which works great with N1MM but is pants with Wintest (can't have it all). The cat port emulator is much improved except for the omission of having ptt and cat on the same port. I suppose this doesn't matter as all rs232 ports are virtual, so there are hundreds available (no cabling). I have eventually found an advantage to going down the SDR route, the back of my K3 is stuffed with cables and ferrites to such an extent that any alteration involves a full dismantle. The Flex however for the same functionality has only 5 cables attached which are well spaced out and easily accessible. I setup my 6300 for SO2R with N1MM+ and it thinks that 2 separate radios are attached (each slice has it's own cat and ptt port). The radio was nearly in the bin after the first 3.5 months of ownership including 2 separate hardware faults from new (missing screws/disconnected BPF board and a new cpu fan fitted) and crap sw/fw faults (cold startup problem leading to bad tx). It's been a rough road with Flexradio and I have to question the companies quality control, customer service and speed of debug/development of sw/fw when dealing with my problems. If you haven't got the patience of a saint, then I would not recommend the company (i.e. if you expect to buy a radio from them and for it to work out the box). The rx performance of the 6300 during a contest is predictable, the noise floor bounces around with various degrees of apparent blocking going on. In short the Elecraft K3 wipes the floor with it. Not really a fair comparison though as the 6300 isn't meant for contesting (6500 and 6700 will be better with their preselectors). So advantages: 1) Much less cabling 2) Brilliant for data modes 3) Simplicity of hardware (one set top box and a pc does it all) 4) SmartSDR is a visual treat 5) Great rx with typical small antenna setups (outside of contests) Disadvantages: 1) Poor selectivity for contests 2) Poor integration with 3rd party contesting software. 3) Poor company quality control 4) Poor customer service (Technical information flow from company to customer about hw/sw/fw faults are heavily sensored. Expect to ask technical questions and have them directly ignored. Instead the answer given will be that the fault is confirmed and that it will be fixed when it suits them. Your issue will then be promptly closed even although it has not been fixed). Very very frustrating! My experience was exactly the above and then a 3.5 month wait for the eventual solution.....poor! 5) Arrogant and stubborn attitude from the company (they are doing you a favour with their brilliant product). This isn't helped on the community by a band of american cheer leaders who won't stand any critism of the company.

4 comments:

Andyk3uk said...

Thanks for your comments. I just purchased a 6300 and will do some casual contesting with it. I've found the customer relations at Flex to be quite positive over the years (I also have a Flex 3000). I have however experienced some heavy censoring of negative comments when using their "community" forums. Your BLOG did not spend much time on how the 6300 actually integrates with contest software. You did mention SO2R , how did the software perform with 6300

GM0ELP said...

SO2V worked with N1MM, then they broke it, now confusion. I gave in after a year of dissapointment. Only use it SO1V now. N1MM steals focus back to allow logging after touching a SSDR control, this allows less faffing with the mouse. Problems with the winkey emulator when sending before finishing typing the call and pressing ESC doesn't stop sending immediately. Problems with no separate PPT in CW so have to use qsk delay so miss start of fast callers calls. Basically it's fine for playing CW contesting but serious contesters will just hate this text.

chris scheiner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stem Nozzel said...

Hi. Meet one American who's not a cheerleader for this company. The Flex products are mysteries to me. They are insanely expensive, require the user to own or purchase a new computer to use the radio, or they charge you an extra $1200 (the price of a solid, entry-level transceiver) for their "Maestro" interface. On top of that, there seems to be a remarkable tolerance for bugs, crashes, or compatibility issues that the Flex community ignores or tolerates; with everyone giving these products "5/5" ratings on eham.

I've politely questioned these people online along the lines of: "this product seems like its perpetual beta testing - but they're charging you an insane amount of money - why do you tolerate this?" The answers I get are utterly lame. Like its a "new technology" and bugs need to be "expected". Huh? They all drank the Kool-Aid.

The reason why you see so many cheerleader reviews is a phenomenon called selection bias. Its the same reason all mothers think their bratty kids are angel - because its hers. Considering a lot of Flexers dropped thousands of dollars on their set up, they'd feel silly too admitting that virtually the entirety of high-end transceivers today are de facto SDR's without the Flexy problems.

Still, you've got to hand it to Flex - the 6700 just came out on top of the Elecraft KS3 for best receive on Sherwood's page. To experience this nearly infinitesimal difference you just need to spend $8200 for the 6700+Maestro instead of the $2500 KS3. Hope any Flexer can hear the difference, I know I couldn't.