To SDR or to not ?SDR
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To SDR or to not ?SDR Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 8:22 PM
Supreme Being

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et al,

I stumbled across this blog by Steve, K9ZW, and thought I would share it..

http://k9zw.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/to-sdr-or-to-not-sdr-follow-up-and-personal-observations/

There are some very salient points made by Steve, with reference to 'obsolescence and amortization' however, remember your PC now practically becomes your radio (80%) and we all know how fast that industry is changing - so be prepared to invest radio $$$$ into PC hardware on a probably bi-annual basis to keep up with technology!

That said Flex Radio offers a relatively easy 'turnkey' system with the top-line 5000c - which could be a good investment - at least for a couple of Years - presumably there will be a PC upgrade path as the PC component fails to keep up with the ever-evolving PSDR software?

There is no doubt that the 'Panadapter' Display is what 'hooks' people into SDR but check out
'LP PAN' (Google it) if you have a conventional radio and want to use a version of PSDR as a station accessory...

If you like knobs illuminated soft dial-lights and the warm-fuzzy feeling of operating a real radio, then check out the 'Sherwood Engineering' list to see where the various products fit into your requirements (and pocket-book) bear all this in mind and the make an educated decision!


73

Terry, VE3EGA/VA3IP






Post #3463
Posted Friday, January 14, 2011 7:02 PM
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Roger that -

4 months ago I finally convinced myself to upgrade from my ultra-venerable Pro III to a IC-7600.

I got a good price for my Pro III, but the new 7600 was $1600 more in addition.

I'm going to be frank here.

So, lands up the 7600's display is the same resolution as the Pro III- but a tad wider. The refresh-rate seems identical... very slow.

Net improvement on the display from the pro III is negligible. The RX on the 7600 is better than the pro III, but just a little
better. IP3 number is the same. Noise-blanker was supposed to be a big improvement. Ahh, not really.

I got about a week's fun out of it. I rate it a 7% improvement over the Pro III at nearly twice the cost to me.

Enter the Flex 1500 a month ago. Holy moly Batman- the display makes my Tektronix spectrum analyzer look like Edison owned it.
Its like you fumbled around the bands blindly stumbling over signals for decades - and then instantly got 20/20 HD vision of
everything that is there - live. I'm watching 20 signals at once -as an amazing modulated unknown signal drifts slowly across the nearly
100KHZ passband -creating a multicolored-mosaic visually displaying it's complex periodicity. OMG..as the kids say.

OK, I had to pull out 11% of my remaining hair to get it working on my laptop... but I was an early adopter.
They posted new drivers that fixed my setup.
I upgraded to the Flex 3000 inside the month upgrade window and I don't think I'll ever turn on the 7600 again.
I'm sorry, the display looks like a child drew it with crayons and the refresh rate makes it useless as a real-time scope.

If I was to be harsh on the 3000, I'd complain that the fans are WAY too loud and the use of a relay in the TX gives it
a real retro feel when you key up. Also, Windows still locks up on occasion. This is cutting-edge folks... and we know
how wacked-up Windows of any version is.

I come down to the shack every morning and fire up the Flex like it was Christmas morning and I'm 9. This is a whole 'nuther
world of performance. My 7600 is now a piece of technical furniture that just became completely obsolete.

Bob-AB5N


Bob-AB5N Hot Springs
Post #3737
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:44 PM
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Yes, I went the Flex Radio Route because of the great panadaptor display and remember thinking my IC756PRO had a good display back in the early 2000s.  I now use the 5000A and waiting for it to return with the new V/U addition.  Am sorta bored without it but do not want to use one of my now antique ICOM or Yaesu radios which would be like driving an old 1948 Ford instead of my new vehicle.  I was given an SDR1000 from the estate of a good friend and now use it for a rather crude spectrum analyzer but it does work well.  Am able to see the 2.4 WiFi/ham bands using a frequency converter and  have seen the AO51 Satellite a few times when they were in the correct mode.  I must say, the best advantage of using the 5000A is the ability to blank out noise which could never be done with my other radios with those protruding bulky knobs. 

We suffer from kleptomania and sometimes have to take something for it.
Post #3870
Posted Friday, April 1, 2011 8:46 PM
Supreme Being

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With computers evolving so fast and becoming much smaller that soon you will see the 5000A, 3000 and 1500 radios made as an entire package much like the 5000C.  Then Flex Radio can compete with the other radios on the market and be sold by HRO, AES and others.  I love my 5000A and the new panadapter screens are fantastic but the new V/U addition needs additional help to make it work.

We suffer from kleptomania and sometimes have to take something for it.
Post #4164
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:42 PM
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... so in other words we will be back to something resembling a much, much cheaper version of an IC-7800 (internal computer) but with no knobs no dial and won't work as well as a K3?

Ummmm, let me think about that one!


73


Terry
Post #4168
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2011 2:39 PM
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Guru,

The "three lander" must have "way to much" money. Perhaps he should look at the "sdrcube" and or the k3 which doen't require a pc". I'm afraid that "moore's law" does not apply to ham radio and does not seem to apply to pc's anymore. The price of these items keeps going up and up. A balance is hard to come by; if one goes cheap on the sdr radio a more expensive pc is required to get the performance and if one buys a "hardware" defined radio" and no pc is required the price is about the same. In short; your "hammed" if you do and "hammed" if you don't! I still love to build "qrp" rigs and still can not make up my mind on which "sdr" to buy. For now I'll enjoy what I have and dream about things to come.

Bert M. Thompson KB3MHB/0 in Denver ps: pray for sunspots.

Post #4169
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2011 8:07 PM
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Bert,

I went the QRP way, with the Flex 1500, for the simple reason, of understanding the technology. I later added a 50W amp and more recently a 150W amp.

I can honestly say that despite it being an absolutely 'crappy CW rig' (with my existing station PC) - because the PC really "IS THE RADIO") - It is absolutely awesome on SSB and for that reason alone I may well keep this little combo around!

With hindsight, for me, I should have gotten a K2 instead of the 1500 - just for the CW alone (I'd swap it in a heartbeat!) and knowing what I know now, upgrade later to a K3 but then I wouldn't have experienced SDR.

I have a bunch of other radios (I still find it hard to describe Flex as a 'radio') which range from Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu to Ten-Tec. Some I use in the shack for CW/SSB/Digi-modes, some for mobile/portable work and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses!

For SSB, I like using a 'Panadapter display' but for CW there is more to it and IMHO, RF gain, tuning knob and fingertip controls are a must have!

Personally, I don't ever plan on buying a 5000 - for that money, a K3 with a 'Panadaptor' would be a far better buy and more in keeping with my own 'hamming' requirements.

Like you Bert, I can 'dream' but my dreams often drift towards the 'number 7800' lol...


73

Terry










Post #4171
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2011 2:31 PM
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Terry,

I do almost exclusively CW, I've been watching Flex forever but the last software upgrade made me take the plunge. I also got the 1500 and the internal (actually software) keyer is totally worthless with my computer. I have an AMD Sempron 3600+ which is really a single core 1.8GHz processor and it just can't keep up on CW. Using my outboard memory keyer, I turn on the sidetone on the keyer and turn the sidetone OFF in the radio so I don't have to listen to the delay and it works great. The memories in my keyer are much easier to use than the software memories anyway.

Using it with the outboard keyer makes it a GREAT CW rig, the filters are great and the noise blanker handles the noisy power line down the street better than my FT-990. (Hopefully if we ever get any rain it will wash off the insulators.)

I made my first SSB contacts on my 1500 yesterday, I've made many CW contacts even with my old dog of a computer. Try the outboard keyer and I think you'll be happy with it on CW.

73,
Kerry, WD5ABC
Post #4220
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2011 9:44 PM
Supreme Being

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Kerry,

Thanks for the very useful observations on external keyer use....

As I ONLY use 'Straight Keys' these days (mostly vintage brass and occasionally a bug), keyers are just not my thing... I actually 'fixed' my CW problem. I have now totally gotten away from tx relays - thanks to the 'boys from Sevierville'

I still enjoy the 1500 on SSB, (used with a small amplifier) - but definitely not as a CW Radio - unless, of course I am prepared spend $700 on a new PC, put up with annoying relay clicking and try to live without dials and knobs - NOT!!!

73

Terry


Post #4222
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2011 6:37 AM
Supreme Being

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Luckily I purchased the 1500 after having my 5000A for a while and use it often on CW (barefoot).  It brings back that thrill of working someone using 5 watts, much like in my early ham days using a 6L6 crystal oscillator tramsmitter and a Mosley CM1 receiver.  I seldom use my 5000A now since am somewhat depressed about having the V/U unit installed and it does not function as advertised.  Luckily I have my FT847 for satellite operations and CW/SSB on 2 meters during VHF/UHF contests.  I must admit the 5000A will show the slightest signal on the band and have discovered many new beacons that way since the 5000A is great as far as eliminating noise.  I like the ability to use my 10 MHz GPS reference and log all beacons discovered on the bands.
What puzzles me is not seeing any information concerning the V/U unit and no matter how much I try, cannot get more than 22 watts on 2 meter CW and putting up with the rather noisy fan which runs at full speed everytime I key the rig on 144 or 440 MHz.  Surely Flex Radio will eventually come out with a remedy to make the V/U perform as a quality VHF/UHF transceiver?


We suffer from kleptomania and sometimes have to take something for it.
Post #4596
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