Flex 1500

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KC9ECI
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Flex 1500

Postby KC9ECI » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:36 pm

In short, it's not ready for prime time.

I've had it for a week now and it's already slated for a return trip to the factory for repair.

The first issue was setting it up to work on my desktop. Vista is not a good OS to use with the Flex 1500. I spent a couple hours trying to make it all work together and eventually gave up. I grabbed my Acer One netbook that is running XP and had everything up and good to go in about 10 minutes.

Then I plugged in my Heil Traveler headset and discovered the next problem. KC5HCS did such a good job of describing it, I'll let him do so here again:

I have 3 distinct spurs in the sideband passband and 6 in AM as one would expect. I can turn the mic gain all the wall down to no avail. Now if I disconnect the mic from the front panel it will go clean in the passband but here's whats strange. I'm using a Heil traveler with Yaesu adapter cable. I can disconnect the adaptor cable from the headset and leave the adapter cable connected to the 1500 and still get the spurs. Now this is effectively an unterminated or open cable from the mic input to the adapter connector.


This lead me to believe the cable to be suspect so I ordered another one from AES in Milwaukee as it would be in my hands the next day with standard UPS shipping. Guess what? The cable wasn't bad. So the next thing I tried was to order a replacement Yaesu microphone from AES as the FlexRadio site claims that the pinout is the same as it is for the FT-817, 957, and 897. So a day later I had in my hands a MH-36e8j microphone. Same problem. After a day long exchange of emails the conclusion is:

There is an issue with the bias current not being “clean” enough that is powering the condenser element in the FLEX-1500. The problem is the 1 kHz noise on the mike bias line. It will appear on any Yaesu or Yaesu equivalent mike that connects the mike bias line to mike high. All Heil mikes/headsets, other than the Traveler, work fine.

All pure dynamic mikes will work fine.


I wired a Cobra HG M73 dynamic mic to it that I had in a junk box and miracle of miracles, it worked brilliantly. I got on the air and worked a few QSO's with it and got good reports.

Additionally, the phones jack is scratchy if there is any movement of the cable that is plugged in to it. I've tested with multiple cables with the same results on all of them.

The next issue is the power switch. If I power it off, then next time I want to power it up I have to remove it from the power source or shut the power source off and turn it on again before I can power the Flex on again.

So far though it seems to be a fairly brilliant receiver and I'm enjoying listening to it. I haven't tried CW with it yet. I may give that a try later today.

The software that runs the rig, PowerSDR is as well not ready for prime time. If you want to run any digital modes, you can either cable to another computers line in and run your choice of soundcard based digimode software like MixW or DM780, etc, or you can purchase a program to enable virtual audio cables. As far as I'm concerned until PowerSDR incorporates bring able to TX/RX the digital modes from within itself it is an incomplete system.

In summary, neat rig, but the FT-817 or the IC-703 are far better radios out of the box.
Police, Firefighters and EMS are the most collectively dysfunctional group of people in existence and only we understand each other!

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Re: Flex 1500

Postby Wowbagger » Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:17 pm

I've been waiting for Flex to get the software running under Linux. I'd talked to the president when he was in town for the Central States Microwave society meeting (I'd persuaded work that it would be worth having a table there - and since we both do SDR, we talked shop), and they were supposedly working on a Linux version. That was 3 years ago.

Personally, I think they'd be better off working on a GnuRadio driver for their gear, and using that, rather than trying to develop their own software.
These opinions are mine, not Aeroflex's - if you want service info, manual, or other official support please contact Aeroflex directly.

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Re: Flex 1500

Postby KC9ECI » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:12 am

For a company thats supposed to be on the bleeding edge of the technology, the information on their website is pretty stagnant.
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Re: Flex 1500

Postby KC9ECI » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:58 pm

I have to share the response I got from one of the locals in reference to my 'review,' followed by my reply.

Tom,

I hope you didn't think I would let your "review" of the Flex1500 go without
a comment! "not ready for prime time." Now I think you mean it isn't like
sliding the styrofoam out of the box, sliding the radio out of the plastic
bag, plugging it in and away you go! For three years I didn't suggest that
anyone buy a Flex radio even though I had taken one look at the initial
advertising, sent them $2,500 and waited for nine months for the 5000A to
arrive. I didn't expect something that would operate itself and I was
right. I don't want to say how long it took me to learn how to merely tune
a station and I make no claims to have mastered this incredibly complex and
capable electrical machine even today. At the moment it is sitting in a
UPS warehouse in Austin awaiting an "upgrade" to allow operation on two
meters and 70 cm. I would never recommend purchasing an SDR radio to many
of the radio amateurs I know. But there are also many old ham friends who
I think are really depriving themselves of operating pleasure by not owning
one of these marvelous products!

This morning I had my usual Sunday morning sked with K2RIG in NJ and both
of us used our Flex3000s. We have failed to complete this connection only
a couple of times in the past year. We both know that without the
characteristics of the SDR radios the QRM; QRN and band conditions would
have stopped us frequently. Bill was chuckling because his buddy, Tom, who
lives a block away called him and said a piece of rare DX was on and
suggested that Bill try to snag him. It took Bill ten minutes to do just
that but he also told me that without the Flex3000 he couldn't have done it.
Friend Tom never did succeed.

My 5000A is operated by an HP laptop running Vista home. And the 3000 is
run by an eBay refurbished HP that I paid $140 for using XP.

But I suspect that my advantage is related to the fact that I have a
different mind set. A couple of years ago the ARRL sent me a pair of
certificates that indicated I had been a life member for over 40 years and a
member for over 50. I do have a Heil gold plated beautiful arm mounted
mike but I have never used it. It serves as a "prop" when I take photos of
my shack. My working mike for the 5000 is a D-104 that dates back to the
late '50s. and the Flex3000 shares the little hand mike that came with the
Kenwood TS-480. I got some wires and connectors out of the "junk drawer,"
found a little radio shack box and built an "adapter" that allows me to use
various mike plugs/jacks. Doing that sort of thing is part of the fun I
get from the hobby!

Now, with regard to the Virtual Audio Cable. Your comments absolutely
floored me. VAC is simply regarded by "Flexers" as we call ourselves, as
the way that one connects all of the third party software to PowerSDR!
Yes, I own it. Yes, I bought it. Yes, there are many things that you buy
to enhance the potential of the radios. Those "things" in my shack total
over $7,000. One item is the HP 3801 disciplined frequency standard.

If it wasn't for software defined radio I probably would have chosen
something else as a retirement hobby!

Finally, one must always remember that you gets what you pays for. The
1500 is not the 3000 and certainly not the model 5000!

73

Lee


To which I had the following to say:

Lee-

Thank for your input, but like the Duke, I said what I meant and I meant
what I said. You can compare apples to oranges all you like, it won't
make either one taste any different. How nice for you that your rig is
sitting somewhere getting some enhanced features. That's a lot
different from mine having to go back and be repaired fresh out of the box.

Again, how nice that you've been a member of the ARRL for 1000 years. I
don't know what relevance that has to my 'review' of the Flex 1500, but
you seem proud of that so I'll try to be excited for you. I'm glad you
have a gold plated Heil mic that you never use for anything but photo
ops. I can accomplish the same with a clod of dirt and a can of gold
spray paint. I have a nice NT9K Pro Pump straight key that I use often.
Remember those apples and oranges...well if you can compare them, so can I.

Congrats on getting your 5000A to work on a Vista system. I've heard it
was possible. Rare, but possible. Rumor is that the last guy to do
that was also able to part the Mississippi and lead his people out of
bondage. You're also using a firewire connection and not the USB
connection. Apples and oranges again. Ask around, Vista isn't a great
OS. It was on the desktop that I bought. I figured I'd give it a try.
That was a few years ago now. I think about installing XP in place of
it from time to time, but just never seem to get around to it as it does
most of the things I want it to.

As to VAC, there is no reason for that not to be a functionality of
PowerSDR. PowerSDR should also be able to create it's own virtual com
ports. Ham Radio Deluxe does a fantastic job of incorporating the N8VB
virtual com port functionality. In the meantime, like the rest of the
Flex owners, I'll have to cough up the cash and purchase VAC if I plan
to use any of the digital modes. The $30 isn't going to break me.

So you have over $7000 of stuff in your shack. I'm surprised you didn't
mention your penis size while you were bragging. Honestly, bragging
about the cost of your shack is pretty crude if you ask me and totally
unrelated to my 'review' of the Flex 1500.

I'm glad you chimed in with your 700000 cents worth though, because at
this point I wouldn't feel like a real ham radio operator if every time
I said something, some near dead didn't jump up out of their casket and
tell me I was wrong and then explained to me how they did it back in the
day using nothing more than stone knives and bear claws.

73

Tom
Police, Firefighters and EMS are the most collectively dysfunctional group of people in existence and only we understand each other!

http://w9idx.com/

va3wxm
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Re: Flex 1500

Postby va3wxm » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:51 pm

What an asshole. Awesome response. Good job!

I was going to add that I didn't think Vista as an OS was good for anything anyway.

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Re: Flex 1500

Postby Mong » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:16 am

I heard lots of anti-Vista talk until I bought a laptop with Vista Home Premium on it last spring. I was fully prepared to wipe/install XP but it worked well enough that I'm still using it as it came out of the box (minus a little bloatware).


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KC9ECI
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Re: Flex 1500

Postby KC9ECI » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:03 pm

Like I said, it does most of the things that I want it to do. At the end of the day I figured it was easier to scrounge around my collection of junked computers and build one from many. So, Vista will remain my desktop OS for the time being. The Flex box is a dual boot system, XP Pro for the Flex and Ubuntu for everything else.
Police, Firefighters and EMS are the most collectively dysfunctional group of people in existence and only we understand each other!

http://w9idx.com/


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