[CQ-Contest] Flex Radio Question

David Siddall hhamwv at gmail.com
Tue May 6 12:02:40 EDT 2014

Tod *et al*,

I used the Flex-6500 in two SSB contests single-op  this spring, one in
Europe and one in the U.S.  I both ran stations and searched-and-pounced
for many hours.  I used my work laptop, which now is old (dual AMD
processors) to run both the radio and N1MM with no problems, including no

My only regret is that upon returning to the U.S. for ARRL DX SSB after the
OZ/K3ZJ CQ160 operation I had to substitute my FT1000MP Mark V for the
Flex-6500 when the Flex wouldn't transmit. But this was operator error.
 After a day of travel and then unexpectedly having to repair an antenna in
below-freezing weather on the mountaintop as the sun faded into dusk, I
hurriedly hooked up equipment as the contest was beginning and forgot to
switch the 12v PS to 120v from the 220v used in Denmark.  Flex received
fine on what must have been very low voltage, but wouldn't transmit when I
went to make my first QSO.  After the contest when I went back to diagnose
the problem it took about 2 seconds to remember to check the PS input
voltage.  No damage done, except to my ego.

FWIW, I like the Flex-6500 receiver better in SSB contests than the
FT1000MP Mark V with all the extra filters.  Hope to try it out on CW in
WPX if I have time. My only regret is that FlexRadio has not released the
software for full remote control without having to use a PC or other
interface in the shack. Hopefully they will implement that ASAP.  They are
losing this market in the meantime.

I think you also asked about SO2R, which would require two Flex-6500s, or
perhaps only one Flex-6700.  I don't think Flex has implemented the
software for dual receive for the 6700 that appears would permit some type
of SO2R, so whether that will be satisfactory is unknown.

After your comment about not hearing about contesters using the signature
series Flexes, I reviewed the draft of an article I wrote about the OZ/K3ZJ
operation and found that I had mentioned it once -- simply in the
description of equipment, like any other transceiver that might have been
used.  The advantage for me was that it is a top level transceiver for
contesting which, with a switching power supply, totaled only 21 lbs.
bubble-wrapped. They were transported with all my clothes in a single
checked suitcase back-and-forth across the Atlantic with out any problem.

73,  Dave K3ZJ

On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 12:16 AM, Tod Olson <tod at k0to.us> wrote:

> Stu,
> You may be correct ― I think the thing that I felt was coming through in
> the email I received was the mechanics of logging entries and controlling
> the radio. I am curious to know the call of the person in the Bay area to
> whom you are referring - the one who chose to replace their K3.
> You certainly are correct that successful use of any type of radio in a
> contest requires thoughtful consideration of workflow to maximize your
> personal effectiveness.
> I have only briefly used a K3 at Ken Kopp's, [K0PP] in Anaconda, MT. It is
> a nice radio with good ‘properties’ but I would expect it might take a
> couple years for me to get everything working together well <radio,
> switching, antennas and operator>. I would certainly expect the same if I
> were to start using a Flex Radio.
> Perhaps there is a difference in ‘ease of use’ that depends on logging
> programs or maybe I just don’t understand all the details. I can imagine
> that if one is running stations there might be one operating
> characteristic and if one were doing ‘search and pounce’ there would be
> another. I don’t have a feel for how quickly one can change frequencies or
> swap radios or swap frequencies in SO2R etc. Somehow, correctly or
> incorrectly, I would expect slight delays [command latency] between things
> that I might not expect from the non-SDR equipment. Also, Stu, there were
> only a few responses and only a couple from people I generally associate
> with long term, skillful contest operation. Please note that I am not
> focussed on the people who ‘win’ contests; there are a lot of very good
> contest operators who will never win a contest from their current
> location.
> It may be that the cost of the Flex Radio relative to a K3 is limiting the
> number of persons who have elected to use them to contest ― that might
> also reduce the number of responses to my question.
> Several years ago I looked at SDR’s for contesting and felt at that time
> command latency would be unacceptable. With Moore’s law working I would
> suppose that the hardware is at least 8 times more powerful and perhaps
> command latency is no longer an issue. Certainly the A/D conversions are
> faster and a lot of software has been written to take advantage of that.
> The idea that a single Flex Radio can operate as several independent
> radios on different frequencies and modes simultaneously [ OK, time
> multiplexed ] is interesting too. But why do you suppose that we don’t
> hear more about SDR’s being used as contest radios? Are we at some sort of
> ‘Spark vs. CW‘ or ‘SSB vs.AM’ technology change? I wasn’t around for the
> Spark change but I remember well the SSB/AM transition and as an early
> adopter [1955] remember folks on 75 phone making us SSB guys operate from
> 3990-4000 kHz if we wanted them to leave us alone. It only took about five
> years and folks recognized that SSB was a much better choice than AM. The
> same does not seem to be the case for the SDR’s. What do you suppose are
> the considerations that seem to be slowing the adoption of the technology?
> Tod, K0TO
> On 5/5/14, 8:33 PM, "Stuart Phillips" <stu at ridgelift.com> wrote:
> >Really?  Who fed you this line?
> >
> >This is just utterly wrong - computer control of any radio requires some
> >consideration for workflow.  Note - ANY radio.
> >
> >I successfully contest all modes with FlexRadio products and I¹m delighted
> >with my 6700.  At least one other serious contester here in the Bay Area
> >sold his K3 after buying a 6700.
> >
> >You never responded to my email offering comments - standing offer to you
> >or anyone else - I am a serious contester with a FlexRadio 6700 and very
> >happy - even happier to answer questions!
> >
> >Sorry Tod but you didn¹t get the straight scoop.
> >Stu K6TU
> >
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