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TOPIC: Flex radio vs MB1 !

Flex radio vs MB1 ! 02 Aug 2019 06:53 #1

  • OH7XM
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Have one Flexradio 6400M in my hamchack...
Tested just Flexradio 6400M and found why it boot up very slow ....
Believe or not it boots up with microSD card :shock: , so no wonder :(
Believe version 6700 is just same "empty mostly box" from inside
Well believe going to stay on MB1, if they get next version work some day in future
Comparing MG 1 didnt find anything better in performance so far,, quess windows version on it is embedded very light ...looks bit W8 havent checked, but USB device regognition is poor...
MB1 is booting lightning fast in 5 seconds even Windows 10 pro is full of nonsense crap which is not needed in ham use...
Arno
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 02 Aug 2019 16:08 #2

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Good to hear, Arno!

I was actually looking a little on the pro's and con's FLEX vs MB1. I'm very satisfied in general with my MB1, but this wait for transverter function and some other things is killing me.

73
Hans Christian LA9AKA
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 02 Aug 2019 20:17 #3

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  • Erik EI4KF / G0CGL
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I'm already dead.....

From the grave, yours well and truely fed up, Erik.
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 03 Aug 2019 17:53 #4

  • OH7XM
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Well guys
I must say that software develomemet is very important and hope that Expert get more speed for stable version of 1.3 SDR2.
Roman told that fex. alc is coming in ver 1.3.1 which may be next winter...well good that can use carefully my expert 1.3k and new one is coming from Germany 2KW version
from RF-kit!!
I dont have any clue, and was dissapointed very much that Flex havent answered my quetion too.
They charge 200 usd of next 3x version , and didnt even answer also that may i get free last version even just bought unused new radio.
So believe should buy it too.
I dont understand why they are using so slow version processor/ micro sd in in Win core, and if we look results in sherwood tests , there is big discussion going on,
why Yaesu 101 is ranked much better than flex...
I havent find notiseable difference in radio permonfance comparing Flex and MB1,, will continue checking ..so Flex is big emty high priced box...
DSP processor speed is one of key components to get better results in receiver and believe that in software side windows security improvements slow SDR software development much too.
Maybe it is good idea to keep Microsoft in embedded small size, but that cause hardware compability issues on external devices
Flex users have been also dissapointed of very slow software improvement,,
I suggest that we wait still , and hope to get faster responce than flex . Roman and guys know that that will be the key to get sold more radios...
Main market is is in US and Japan still , so it is not easy to beat it with foreign radios
meanwhile ,, check this too
www.crowdsupply.com/lime-micro/limesdr
Arno
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 04 Aug 2019 12:01 #5

  • OH7XM
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Hans
Where you are going to use transverter?
2m or 70cm?
Arno
ps I have icom IC-9700 and Kuhnes TR144 Pro here, but havent tried to use MB1 for this.
Arno
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 06 Aug 2019 06:49 #6

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Arno,

I was going to use the transverter on 4m. Tired of waiting I bought a IC-7300 for use on this band... :wall: I operate mostly remote, and having two radioes complicates things a lot. Thats why all bands in a single radio would be best for me.

73
Hans Christian LA9AKA :D
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 06 Aug 2019 09:45 #7

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Flex rigs are another kind of beasts.
When they boot up "announces" themselves on the net then try to register their ID on Smartlink server (if it is enabled). These are time consuming tasks that have nothing to do with overall performances of the rigs. Anyway (as I owned a Flex rig) I find EESDR2 system much better then SmartSDR. I like the multiplatform feature and a lot of features that are missing in the Flex system.
The only thing I am missing is a direct CAT system from the rig. If only the RS485 port was enabled integration with any other device would be possible 8-)

73' Enzo, iw7dmh
Last Edit: 06 Aug 2019 09:46 by iw7dmh.
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 06 Aug 2019 10:59 #8

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I do not know what a RS485 port is but the MB1 has a RS232 port that is easily sent CAT data (from the CAT tab in ESDR2 or via TCI). I can from it interface the radio with a CAT enabled amp, auto-atu, my Ultrabeam controller and very likely any other device. Maybe better to dispense with RS485 and make full use of RS232?

"A lot of features that are missing in the flex system". Please state what these are. Comparing Smart SDR with ESDR2, I cannot find anything of any importance that does not exist. However, i am more familiar with ESDR2 so would appreciate qualification of your assertion.

A Flex 6400M with SSDR 3.0.27 that I used at Martin Lynch of London took 55 seconds to boot, practically the same time it takes my MB1 to boot into Windows 10 1903.

Erik
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 06 Aug 2019 18:32 #9

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Hello Erik,

there are different points of view about features. Mine is purely personal and based on the personal experience of both radios. (I owned a Flex for 4 years)
I think that in standalone mode both are very similar, as you already sayd, but in SmartSDR, for example, it is not possible to change digital processing filter's settings like on EESDR2 (unfortunately I never used the version 3). Anyway in a high end radio I would like to do it.
Many of us (Flex owners) during several years, found both NB and NR not very effective while the EESDR experience was been much better.
In remote use, the one I most like, the radios are quite different. Smartlink doesn't offer a real advantages other than simplify access to your radio without a home (tricky) VPN. Furthermore, until version 2.4.9, the last one I used, I/Q stream was not supported, therefore a VPN was required. Then, enabling the I/Q stream, the network usage was comparable to that of any other SDR. I did a test about it and also in this aspect no tangible benefit.
On remote mode, moreover, it is not possible to use a telegraphic key unless you have Maestro, while in EESDR it is possible just connecting it to one of the pc serial ports. In addition Maestro does not eliminate the needs of a computer (for the local cw skimmer and for the station log, just for example). With EESDR, all you need is a computer, a key or microphone and, if you like, the E-Coder. This makes a big difference in terms of usability.
There are other features related with the way software is designed. With Flex you need a different client for each platform but Linux is still unsupported, while with EESDR you just choose the right version for your os.
Lastly EESDR tries to get rid of serial ports and virtual audio cables through the TCI protocol, something that is not possible with SmartSDR. In the past, DAX drivers caused great issues (I still remember the Win10 - 2018 Spring update when all the radios became unusable).
On the integration side, the MB1 has its own serial port and it is enough for any needs. Actually it is the embedded pc serial port. On the others Expert rtx, this option is missing (of course). In the EXT-CTRL connector there is the RS-485 port which is an advanced version of the RS232, but at the moment it is not working yet. With it, it should be possible to implement a control system for external peripherals without having to go trough the computer.
While the TCI port is an excellent alternative it has the drawback that you need the IP address of the computer on which EESDR2 is running. A self-announcing system (which is not present) would allow connection to the TCI endpoint without having to know the IP address (I asked for it some time ago on the forum and I hope one day it will be considered eesdr.com/en/forum-en / software-ss2 / 7748-how-to-get-ip-address-of-the-running-expertsdr2-pc-using-tci-protocol).

I hope this can clarify my point of view. Consider also, my English language skill is far away from perfection.

73' Enzo
iw7dmh
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 06 Aug 2019 20:23 #10

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Hello Enzo,

It does clarify your point of view. It is always better to stand apart from those on here who like to blow in the wind and make pointless unsupported claims. I fully understand you and thank you for taking the time to answer my question. By the way, in asking the Flex dealer about ongoing issues with Smart SDR v3, I found out that DAX had the same issues with W10 1903 update this year as you saw with the 2018 update. They do have some way to go to overcome basic problems. But I have to also say, in order to give the whole story, that in a Flex 6400 v MB1 test I could do for 30 minutes, the Flex was the clear winner. The dealer is located near London with higher than normal local noise. The MB1 could not cope especially with weak CW whereas the Flex with SSDR v3 was very adequate indeed. On 50mHz for the Flex with its +32dB preamp there were signals and decoding in FT8 that the MB1 did not hear at all. Better than both radios' receivers was the new Yaesu. Use that radio and you just know Expert Electronics have it so wrong with ESDR2 1.3

I would have bought the Flex 6400M for a number of reasons: its receiver is better than the MB1 in what matters (as in what can be received - if you cannot hear them you cannot work them), ESDR2 1.3 (I will not repeat the obvious as you know my feelings already), the Flex customer support is excellent. But I did not for these reasons: the recurrent DAX fiasco, general reliability of the 6400/6600 which is less than perfect and that the dealer would not take the MB1 in part exchange (citing lack of demand on new and used).

It is always a matter of personal taste though. What is best for one operator will not suit another. But it is always good to get different points of view.

Erik.
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 13 Aug 2019 02:52 #11

  • LA9AKA
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I might be nuts, but I have ordered a Flex 6600 and a Maestro. I want to compare it to the MB1 and see what rig I like the most...

73
Hans Christian LA9AKA :D
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 13 Aug 2019 11:15 #12

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Hans,
I wish you the best of luck. Before they came out with the 6600 or 6600M I was considering a 6500 and Maestro.
But after reading all the software and firmware problems that people were having I decided I would wait.
I am a member of the Frankford Radio Club.
We had a person who was involved heavily in the development of the hardware and software of flexradio.
I asked him a question regarding my hesitations of the flexradio not so much the hardware but the software.
And he said that the flexradio is not for everyone.
You have to be very open minded when it comes to software development.
That hour presentation should be on youtube by the way.
To be honest I am very content with my MB1.
Version 1.2 is working fine for me, other than the occasional burps with Windows Upgrades.
I could go on and on, but don't want to be too verbose.
Mark Griffin, KB3Z
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 13 Aug 2019 15:02 #13

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I think Mark sums it up quite well. What I would add is that I believe that Windows updates have to be taken out of the equation. They cause trouble no matter what brand of SDR that uses Windows software you have. Flex consistently have trouble with their DAX after a major Windows update for example.

Hopefully Hans Christian, whom I know to be a very articulate and knowledgeable SDR user, will report to me his findings after a reasonable time comparing the two radios. I do not want to, nor can afford to, jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Nevertheless, after 3 years of the MB1, some negative aspects are severely disappointing me.

1. After the failed PSU episode (not the failure itself as that can happen to any equipment), I found that i was lucky to get a replacement because there was only one available. Therefore I fear for the long term serviceability of the MB1.

2. I could not trade it in to a dealer, not even as part-exchange for a Flex 6600M. The dealer cited lack of demand for new and used.

3. I could not sell it on eBay and the resale value of the MB1 is much lower than I expected. This value will continue to fall as time goes on.

4. EDSR2 1.3 is an unmitigated shambles and for DXers who care about receiver performance, it is unusable. As Mark says though, 1.2 is working fine. But it is a kick in the teeth for those that have spent a lot of money on an MB1 (and it is an expensive radio here in Europe), that we are not treated to incremental improvements rather than a glimpse into a bleak future for ESDR2.

5. My comparison Flex v MB1 showed the Flex was better (but it was only a short test and I may yet stand corrected).

6. I used to be highly in favour of the monoblock SDR/computer design, led most commendably by Expert Electronics. Flex use a different system whereby the radio is a server doing all the SDR processing which leaves the computer free for everything else. Any computer bottleneck through high CPU % has less impact on the radio. I am now not so much in favour of monoblock - I would be still were it not for ESDR2 1.3 with its high CPU usage and the significant number of basic configuration MB1 users who have problems because of it.

7. ESDR2 benefits from Yuri's (UT4LW) SDC. Other 3rd party support is limited. Flex benefit from a host of 3rd party software add-ons which effectively do a lot more. Even my favourite logger will release a new version soon with Flex CAT and panorama support.

8. Related to the above, TCI is another commendable EE creation. But totally undersold, promoted and marketed thus the number of software authors adopting it is small. That is another EE failing. Flex on the other hand actively promote their API, devote web site space to 3rd part apps and generally have a significantly more complete user support infrastructure.

All of which are not worth a tinker's damn if the best alternative, a Flex 6400/6600 with their SmartSDR, has significant issues too. And there are some, no doubt about that. So for me the jury is still out but the Judge is sitting. I await the verdict.

Erik EI4KF.
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 15 Aug 2019 08:16 #14

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g0cgl wrote:
...
8. Related to the above, TCI is another commendable EE creation. But totally undersold, promoted and marketed thus the number of software authors adopting it is small. That is another EE failing. Flex on the other hand actively promote their API, devote web site space to 3rd part apps and generally have a significantly more complete user support infrastructure.
...
Hi Erik,
I am out of the Flex world from awhile, but I can't remember "one" software that used "natively" the FlexRadio API. When I built the Arduino FlexRadio controller it was one of the first device that used the straight network api. The other one was from John G3WGV. Flexradio rigs integration goes through DAX and CAT drivers that are the same as Virtual audio cables and Virtual Serial ports. Form this point of view, using a FLex doesn't have any additional benefit vs another computer controller rigs like IC7610, ANAN, etc.
I remember that using CW_Skimmer was a pain: I need a DAX channel, SDR Bridge or Slice Master in addition to CWSkimmer to receive a datastream that was already available on a native network socket (I sniffed all the time that traffic).
At the moment TCI is more limited vs Flexradio Api, but it is a great feature because it goes over Operating Systems differences and mostly doesn't need any native driver to be used. You can't say the same for any other rig out there. It only needs to be better understood.

Having that said, the perfect rig doesn't exist so let's play 8-)
73' Enzo, iw7dmh


tcidifferences.jpeg
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Flex radio vs MB1 ! 15 Aug 2019 09:49 #15

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Hello Enzo

I did not mention "natively". I am referring to 3rd party apps. I did not list to save space. But these are some of them:
DogPark SDR
FR Stack
Slice Master
N1MM
Swisslog
SDR Bridge
DDUtil
DX Lab
K9DUR (various utilities)
N4PY Flex control
DFX Bridge
Flex Meter
SDR Auto Centre
and others not specifically to control Flex functions but to do other things like logging.

TCI has been adopted by yourself, Swisslog, 5M Contest, and SDC. A better understanding would come from better promotion and marketing.

Regarding CAT and DAX, I cannot see where I claimed that from this point of view Flex has any additional benefit. In fact I highlighted the consistent drawback of DAX when it comes to Windows updates and the mangling of DAX naming that the updates cause.

I understand the brand loyalty that drives contrary opinion on here. I have no judgement to make yet and just state the facts. In support of that I will be liasing further with EE to try to overcome the shortcomings of ESDR2 1.3. Whether or not I change from the MB1 to a Flex, I hope to help with development before that decision is made one way or the other.

My list of disappointments stands. I have just re-read it and yet I stand by it. As I wrote some time ago there is still time for things to change. But these negatives stack up and should be a consideration for any prospective purchaser of an EE product just the same as it is necessary to consider the negatives surrounding a purchase of a Flex, or any other radio brand for that matter. Not that it necessarily points to a disadvantage, but my disppointment list has grown by one more having discovered that the EE programmer is not a licenced ham and is without actual on-air experience. Flex hardware and software design and development are exclusively handled by licenced technicians.

I bought my MB1 from a pension pay-out as a 60th birthday present to myself in 2016. It has been my most prized ham radio posession. I regarded it so highly that I devoted much time to writing the UMA and personally providing solutions to ESDR2 users' queries. I still am, my last actioned support request was only 2 days ago. But responsible people should not stick their head in the sand, know of significant failings and not try to influence things for the better. In the final analysis I shall either have succeeded to some extent or crashed and burned. But at least I tried. If you don't care about it, or if no-one else does either, that is fine. But what if there is that change that I and many others crave for? So, no let's not simply accept that the perfect rig does not exist. Strive for it to exist and get as close as possible. And if it can be an EE product then great, but if not then my emotional attachment to my MB1 will not save it from being sold.

73 de Erik EI4KF.
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