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Page Last Updated:
  Monday, August 01, 2011

 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Software Defined Radios (SDRs) and FlexRadio Systems' Transceivers

Welcome to the FlexRadio Systems frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers web page.   These questions and answers come from ham radio operators interested in software defined radios and FlexRadio Systems' products.

We hope you find the FAQ helpful and informative.  If you have a question that you can not find on this FAQ page, please contact usvia e-mail using our "Send Us an E-mail" web page for additional information from our support and sales teams.  In addition, you can visit our extensive Knowledge Center of KB articles that cover a wide and varied range of topics related to FlexRadio Systems' products and software defined radios.


Frequently Asked Questions Categories

Click on one of the categories below to take you directly to that categories' FAQs
  1. General SDR FAQs
  2. FlexRadio Systems' Products FAQs
  3. FlexRadio PowerSDR™ 2.x FAQs
  4. FLEX-5000C™ FAQs
  5. FLEX-5000A™ FAQs
  6. FLEX-5000 Second Receiver FAQs
  7. FLEX-5000 VHF/UHF Upgrade FAQs
  8. FLEX-5000 ATU FAQs
  9. FLEX-5000 HRFIO FAQs
  10. FLEX-3000™ FAQs
  11. FLEX-1500™ FAQs
  12. SDR-1000™ FAQs
  13. Miscellaneous FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions by Category

Click on any of the FAQs below to take you directly to that question and its answer

General SDR Questions
  1. What is a software defined radio?
  2. How are RF signals processed by a software defined radio different from a traditional receiver?
  3. What are the advantages of a FlexRadio SDR over a traditional transceiver?
  4. What are the major differences between a SDR and a traditional radio that I would immediately notice?
  5. What is a quadrature sampling detector?


FlexRadio System' Products Questions
  1. What is required from FlexRadio Systems in order to have a complete radio?
  2. What are the transceivers produced by FlexRadio Systems?
  3. What are the differences between FlexRadio Systems' transceivers?
  4. Are there any hardware upgrades and accessories for the transceivers?
  5. Where are FlexRadio products manufactured?
  6. How do I buy FlexRadio Products?
  7. Are FlexRadio Products available in other countries?
  8. Where do I get FlexRadio products serviced?

FlexRadio PowerSDR 2.x Questions
  1. What is FlexRadio PowerSDR?
  2. What are the main features of FlexRadio PowerSDR?
  3. What kind of computer do I need to run FlexRadio PowerSDR?
  4. Is FlexRadio PowerSDR really free?
  5. Does FlexRadio PowerSDR work with other radio hardware other than that from FlexRadio Systems?
  6. If FlexRadio PowerSDR provides all of the functionality for the radio, what does the hardware do?
  7. What operating systems does FlexRadio PowerSDR run on?
  8. Is FlexRadio PowerSDR available in languages other than English?

FLEX-5000C Questions
  1. How is the FLEX-5000C different from the other FLEX-5000 transceivers?
  2. Why isn't the FLEX-5000C loaded with Windows Vista?
  3. Other than the internal speaker, is the FLEX-5000C model for someone who doesn't have a computer where the FLEX-5000A would be for someone who already has a computer?
  4. What are the upgrades available for a FLEX-5000C?
  5. Can the system board in the FLEX-5000C be upgraded (BIOS, RAM, CPU, etc)?
  6. If a user upgrades the system board in the FLEX-5000C does that affect the warranty?
  7. If the Windows XP Professional operating system becomes corrupted, will it be repaired by FlexRadio Systems and how is it done?
  8. What is the preferred method to backup the computer in the FLEX-5000C?
  9. Can I load third-party software on the FLEX-5000C?
  10. What are the computer specific ports on the FLEX-5000C?
  11. My video display on the FLEX-5000C is showing weird colors. What is happening?
  12. Is the power supply for the PC part of the FLEX-5000C internal?

FLEX-5000A Questions
  1. What are the major differences between a FLEX-5000A and a SDR-1000?
  2. What are the standard features of the FLEX-5000A?
  3. Does the FLEX-5000A use a sound card like the SDR-1000?
  4. What are the specifications for the FLEX-5000A?
  5. Is there an automatic tuning unit (ATU) option?
  6. Is there an internal transverter option?
  7. Is the FLEX-5000A CE Certified?
  8. Does the FLEX-5000 address the issue of DDS spurs and the DC noise @ -11025 Hz that was prevalent in the SDR-1000?
  9. There is the mention of a second receiver in the FLEX-5000A advertisement. What information is available regarding cost and availability? Can you add a 2nd receiver to the FLEX-5000A at a later date if you desire?
  10. Does the FLEX-5000A need to use VAC or a second sound card for digital modes as the SDR-1000?
  11. Will FlexRadio PowerSDR and the FLEX-5000A support FSK?
  12. Does the FLEX-5000A have ALC control for external power amps?
  13. Now that the sound "card" is going to be built into the FLEX-5000A, could one get away with a less powerful computer than for the SDR-1000?
  14. Regarding the FLEX-5000A, can we assume that the basic RF sections will remain the same and that the major difference lies in the PC/sound card processing?
  15. Will the FLEX-5000A be upgradeable to the C model?
  16. Is the FLEX-5000A a "true" QSK transceiver?
  17. Does the FLEX-5000A have the capability to connect to an external clock source? Is it an option like it was on the SDR-1000?
  18. What changes were made to the internal (non software) bandpass filters in the FLEX-5000?
  19. Will the FLEX-5000A's low-pass filters prevent unauthorized operation outside of the amateur bands?
  20. Does the FLEX-5000A have firmware?
  21. Is the FLEX-5000 firmware going to be open source?
  22. How much of the FLEX-5000A's operation is controlled/restricted by the radio's firmware?
  23. Is there any chance that the TCXO is actually a VCTCXO (Voltage Controlled TCXO? If so, then it will be relatively easy to lock the internal TCXO to an external standard (like with something similar to the TAPR/CT1DMK REFLOCK?
  24. What kind of T/R switching does the FLEX-5000A use? Is it diode switched or relay switched, and is there any info regarding switching speed?


FLEX-5000 Second Receiver Questions
  1. How will the performance of the second receiver compare to the primary receiver?
  2. If the second receiver is installed in a FLEX-5000 will it have its own DDS and LO (local oscillator)?
  3. Will diversity reception be possible with the second receiver?
  4. With the second receiver, will I be able to TX on 40m and RX on 20m (no muting of 2nd RX while TX)?
  5. With the second receiver, will I be able to RX on 40m and RX on 20m, with stereo receive audio?
  6. Will the second receiver have its own Panadapter and be able to do MultiRX like the primary receiver?
  7. Do I have to send my FLEX-5000 back the FlexRadio Systems to have the second receiver installed?
  8. When will the second receiver upgrade be available?
  9. Will the primary and second receiver be able to run different sample rates simultaneously?
  10. Will other parameters, such as filters, demodulation modes, display modes, AGC delay, preamp, etc. be independently adjustable on both receivers?
  11. Is it going to be possible for both displays (Rx1 & Rx2) to show the split (and adjustable) Panadapter AND Waterfall for both receivers simultaneously?
  12. What impact will the second Panadapter have on CPU usage?
  13. Will it be possible to connect the second receiver to a separate computer?
  14. Will both receivers be able to share a single antenna - either a separate receive or transmit/receive one?
  15. Will it be possible to set different Panadapter widths and use the Zoom and Pan controls on each receiver independently?


FLEX-5000 VHF/UHF Module Questions
  1. Will the FLEX-5000 have VHF/UHF capabilities available as an upgrade?
  2. Will the FLEX-VU5K module be a user installable upgrade?
  3. What are the specifications of the FLEX-VU5K module?
  4. When will the FLEX-VU5K module be available?
  5. Will the FLEX-VU5K module work on the FM portion of the band, or is it only going to work for SSB weak signal communications?
  6. Are there any hardware prerequisites needed for the FLEX-VU5K module?
  7. What antenna connectors on the FLEX-5000 will the FLEX-VU5K module utilize?
  8. I have a single VHF/UHF multiband antenna. How would I connect this to the FLEX-VU5K?
  9. Can I listen to HF and either the VHF or UHF bands at the same time?
  10. Must you have the second receiver installed to get full duplex operation from the FLEX-VU5K?
  11. Will I be able to work FM repeaters with the FLEX-VU5K?


FLEX-5000 ATU Questions
  1. What are the specifications of the automatic tuning unit (ATU)?
  2. Will the ATU be a user installable upgrade or does it have to be added at the time I purchase a FLEX-5000?
  3. Does the ATU have a "bypass" mode so that it taken out of the RF signal chain?
  4. Can I use the ATU on any of the FLEX-5000 antenna ports?
  5. How do the FLEX-5000 ATU memories work?
  6. Is the ATU in both the RX and TX signal path when enabled?


FLEX-5000 HRFIO Questions
  1. What is a HRFIO?
  2. What are the differences in the HRFIO boards?
  3. Do recently shipped FLEX-5000 transceivers have the newest HRFIO board installed?
  4. How can I determine if my FLEX-5000 has a newer HRFIO board installed?


FLEX-3000 Questions
  1. How is the FLEX-3000 different from the FLEX-5000 transceivers?
  2. Will the FLEX-3000 have add on upgrades like the FLEX-5000?
  3. Does the FLEX-3000 need a sound card to operate?
  4. Is there a special version of PowerSDR needed for the FLEX-3000?
  5. What kind of computer or laptop do I need to run a FLEX-3000?
  6. Does the FLEX-3000 have an input for an external frequency reference?
  7. Why does the FLEX-3000 use a BNC connector rather than a SO-239 connector for the antenna connector?
  8. What cables and connectors will be included with the FLEX-3000?
  9. Since the FLEX-3000 will be using a modular RJ-45 type microphone connector, what is the connector pinout configuration?
  10. When will the CE version of the FLEX-3000 be available?
  11. Can the FLEX-3000 be used for MARS operation?


FLEX-1500 Questions
  1. Are there any technical specifications on the FLEX-1500 other than the price and it will be a QRP radio?
  2. Does the FLEX-1500 have a PA class A bias option or feature?
  3. How will the FLEX-1500 compare in receiver performance to the FLEX-3000 and FLEX-5000?
  4. The FLEX-1500 is stated to be a QRP radio. What is the output wattage?
  5. What facilities will the FLEX-1500 have for connecting to external devices, such as sequencers, transverters and preamps?
  6. Can you operate the FLEX-1500 off of the power provided by the USB port?
  7. What is the acceptable voltage range for the FLEX-1500?
  8. What type of receive filters are in the the FLEX-1500?
  9. Is the FLEX-1500 capable of transmitting outside of the ham bands for use as an exciter for microwave converters?
  10. Will I be able to connect multiple FLEX-1500s to a single computer?
  11. Since the FLEX-1500 is being marketed as an IF for transverter, what features does it have that makes is well suited for this purpose?
  12. Will I need a particular type of USB controller on my PC to connect it to the FLEX-1500, like a USB v2.0 controller?
  13. USB cables have all sorts of different connectors. What kind of USB cable is needed with the FLEX-1500?
  14. Is the 5 watt nominal output on the FLEX-1500 adjustable from 0 to 5 watts?

SDR-1000 Questions
  1. What are the standard features of the SDR-1000?
  2. Why do I need a sound card with a SDR-1000?
  3. Will any old sound card be sufficient to use with the SDR-1000?
  4. What are the supported sound cards for the SDR-1000?
  5. Is the SDR-1000 still available from FlexRadio Systems?
  6. Since the FLEX-5000 replaced SDR-1000, is it obsolete?
  7. How long will FlexRadio Systems support the SDR-1000?
  8. I bought a SDR-1000 the 1st of Feb., 2007, and now the Flex5000 is out. Will there be any special deals given to current SDR-1000 owners?

Miscellaneous Questions
  1. How do I get support for FlexRadio System's products?
  2. I did not originally buy my transceiver from FlexRadio Systems. Can I get manufacturer support?
  3. What is the Reflector and how do I access it?
  4. What is the Knowledge Center and how do I access it?
  5. I have heard that there is a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee. Is this true?
  6. What are "Flexers" and the Flexi Awards?

General Software Defined Radio Questions


Q1: What is a software defined radio?

A: A software defined radio is one where the RF signal is converted to a digital bit stream and all of the modulation and demodulation of the signal is done with digital signal processors (DSPs).  An SDR performs significant amounts of signal processing in a general purpose computer, or a reconfigurable piece of digital electronics.  The goal of this design is to produce a radio that can receive and transmit a new form of radio protocol just by running new software.

The SDR concept which led to the development of the first SDR experimenter's kit for ham radio was first described by FlexRadio Systems CEO Gerald Youngblood (K5SDR) in QEX during the summer of 2002.   Gerald's four part article on the concepts and techniques used to develop the worlds first SDR for ham radio operators is still the quintessential primer on SDRs for ham operators.
  1. Part 1 introduces DSP and how it is applied to SDRs along with describing a transceiver architecture.
  2. Part 2 describes the initial software engineering needed to define a SDR.
  3. Part 3 illustrates the use of DSP along with using a PC sound card to define a functional SDR.
  4. Part 4 is a detailed description of the three board stack that was to become the ground breaking SDR-1000.

Q2: How are RF signals processed by a software defined radio different from a traditional receiver?

A:A software defined radio differs from a traditional radio in several ways. The biggest difference is in how RF is detected and demodulated.  A SDR uses a quadrature sampling detector (QSD) that divides the incoming waveform into an in-phase or (I) signals and quadrature (Q) signal.  The in-phase signal is the first 90º of the RF sine wave and the quadrature signal is the second 90º segment of the RF sine wave.  Some simple math allows one to determine or recover the instantaneous phase and amplitude of the original signal.  So,  measuring the instantaneous values of I and Q, we would know everything we needed to know about the RF signal at a given moment in time.

In order for a sound card (the A/D converter) to digitize the incoming I and Q signal, the two signals are mixed with a local oscillator so that the resulting frequency is within the audio frequency (AF) range of the sound card known as the baseband signal.  The resulting baseband signal is passed through a low pass filter to remove the unwanted image signals that are a result of the mixing products.  Below is a block diagram of the process for converting RF (fc) to digitized I and Q signals.  The LPF and A/D converters are integrated into the PC sound card.

Once the I and Q signals are digitized, DSP algorithms perform all of the demodulation and signal enhancement eliminating the analog (and sometime digital) circuitry found in traditional radios which provide the same functions.  Transmission is just the reverse of the RX process.  There are no multiple IFs in a SDR.  It is essentially a single conversion receiver, but the mixing of the LO to create a 0 Hz IF makes it appear a lot like a dual conversion receiver.

Q3: What are the advantages of a FlexRadio SDR over a traditional transceiver?

A: There are many differences:
  • DSP code is not proprietary or "fixed" in firmware.
  • DSP hardware can be upgraded easily
  • New radio or operating features are easily implemented with a software upgrade
  • Radio is constantly being improved. It never becomes obsolete
  • Single step or conversion from RF to baseband audio
  • Low noise due to eliminated multiple IF conversions
  • Low distortion - distortion is introduced at every conversion stage
  • Does not require roofing filters to improve performance
  • 99% of the signal path is entirely in the digital domain

Q4: What are the major differences between a SDR and a traditional radio that I would immediately notice?

A:There are no knobs and buttons on the transceiver to manipulate.  All of the radio control is done via software, so functions such as changing frequency, selecting filters, changing bands are no longer initiated on the radio hardware itself.  The hardware is less complex due to the elimination of circuits that would normally be in a traditional radio which provide basic radio functions are now handled by the SDR software. Also, when very high quality A/D and D/A converters are used, an SDR will out perform all traditional radios on both transmit and receive.

Q5: What is a quadrature sampling detector?

A:The quadrature sampling (QSD) or "Tayloe" detector, created by Dan Tayloe (N7VE) is a detector and preamplifier. Its features are based on an extremely compact and simple design  The device's feature set includes:
  • Less than 1 dB of conversion loss
  • A high third-order intercept (+30 dBm).
The basic product detector is shown below.  Note the detector's simplistic design.  The incoming RF signals are routed via a common resistor, R, and a commutating RF multiplexer, to one of four detection capacitors, C.  This one-of-four multiplexer is commutated at a rate of four times the desired detection frequency.  The 4x commutating frequency causes each capacitor to see a quarter cycle of the input RF at the desired detection frequency.


Mixers generally produce sum and difference outputs.  In zero IF applications, the difference frequency is used, while the sum is thrown away.  Therefore, the conversion loss using an ideal mixer is at least 3 dB, with a typical conversion loss of 4 dB to 6 dB in practice.  Conversely, this design is not a mixer, but rather it can best be described as a “switching integrator,” producing only a difference frequency.  The input R and a particular detection C act together as an integrator, averaging the signal over the quarter cycle sample to the detection capacitor.
 
Performing an integration over the peak quarter cycle of this sine wave shows that the maximum detected voltage will be approximately 0.9002 times the peak voltage of the sine wave.  Hence, the detection loss is about 0.9 dB. If the frequency of the incoming signal is shifted slightly from being exactly the detection frequency, the resulting voltages on the detection capacitors will no longer be stationary, but will drift with time, following the difference frequency between the incoming signal and the detection frequency.  

In short, the first capacitor becomes a baseband product detector sampling at 0°, with the other detection capacitors detecting at 90°, 180°, and 270° degrees respectively. The 180° and 270° outputs carry information that is redundant with the 0° and 90° outputs.  Therefore, the 0° and 180° outputs can be summed differentially to produce a single composite in-phase (I) signal and 90° and 270° can, likewise, be combined to form a quadrature (Q) signal.  This differential summing can be performed using low-noise operational amplifiers (op-amps) or instrumentation amplifiers.


FlexRadio Systems' Products Questions


Q1: What is required from FlexRadio Systems in order to have a complete radio?

A:There are three basic components needed for a software defined radio; a computer, SDR software and hardware to convert RF into a digitized I and Q data streams.  The computer and software have inter-dependencies in order to work together as a cohesive logical unit.  For FlexRadio Systems products that would be an Intel or AMD based personal computer and a recent Microsoft Windows operating system such as XP or Vista.  FlexRadio PowerSDR is the Windows based SDR software from FlexRadio Systems that is the second part of the computer/SDR software combination.  Last but not least, is the SDR radio hardware needed to complete the triad of components necessary for a fully functional SDR solution. All three of these components together make up a functional SDR transceiver.

Q2: What are the transceivers produced by FlexRadio Systems?

A:FlexRadio Systems originally produced the SDR-1000, a first generation SDR that used an external sound card as the A/D and D/A converter. The SDR-1000 was the original and first fully functional SDR marketed for ham radio use.  It evolved from a simple three board stack of components initially designed to be an experimenters kit.  The market acceptance was so overwhelming that improvements were made, such as adding a 100 watt PA and internal 144 MHz transverter, which made it a full featured ham radio transceiver.  Since the SDR-1000 was never initially designed to be a high volume commercial product, it was superseded by the FLEX-5000 in the summer of 2007.

The innovative and highly advanced FLEX-5000 was the result of taking the best features from the SDR-1000 family and using feedback from the ham community to produce a SDR hardware platform that had the capability to be completely controlled by software, which in turn produced the one of the two highest performing amateur radio available at any price.   It took several years of study and design to produce FlexRadio Systems' flagship transceiver.  The FLEX-5000 comes in two models; the FLEX-5000A and the FLEX-5000C.

Both models share the same internal RF and digital circuitry so the performance characteristics are identical across all models.  The FLEX-5000A is the "base" model and requires an external PC to run the FlexRadio PowerSDR software.  The FLEX-5000C have a computer integrated in the chassis which eliminates the need for an external computer.

In April of 2009, FlexRadio Systems introduced the FLEX-3000. The FLEX-3000 is a "direct descendant" of the FLEX-5000. Engineered using the same core multi-channel Firewire infrastructure as the FLEX-5000, the FLEX-3000 offers ham radio operators a mid-range priced (~$1600) full featured software defined radio that has the performance characteristics of $4000 traditional radios.  The FLEX-3000 was specifically designed for portability and is about the same size and shape of a laptop computer.

Q3: What are the differences between FlexRadio Systems' transceivers?

A:All FlexRadio Systems' transceivers have at their core the QSD/QSE circuitry, but there are many different features and capabilities between the radios.  The differences are most easily delineated in the FlexRadio Systems Product Comparison Matrix available on the web site.

Q4: Are there any hardware upgrades and accessories for the transceivers ?

A:The FLEX-5000 Family has several current and planned upgrades to make it the ultimate full featured ham radio transceiver.  The three main FLEX-5000 upgrades are the ATU, the full performance second receiver (RX2) and the upcoming 144/440 MHz module.  Please see the FLEX-5000 Upgrades web page for the most current information regarding FLEX-5000 upgrades.

In addition to the FLEX-5000 upgrades, there are several current and planned accessories for the FLEX-5000.  The FLEX-5000 has a industry first FlexWire peripheral interface that allows external devices to bidirectionally communicate directly to the radio hardware.  This is not a glorified CAT interface, but a true hardware-to-hardware communications bus. There are also several different microphone options and pointing devices for FlexRadio PowerSDR.  Please see the FLEX-5000 Accessories web page for the most current information regarding FLEX-5000 accessories.

The FLEX-3000 is a "fixed configuration" software defined radio, therefore there are no hardware upgrades available.  The FLEX-3000 does come with an integrated ATU as a standard feature.

Since the SDR-1000 is currently not in production any more, upgrades in addition to the SDR-1000 itself are no longer available from FlexRadio Systems.  Some upgrades such as the 100 watt PA and the 144 MHz transverter can occasionally be found for sale on the Internet.

Q5: Where are FlexRadio products manufactured?

A:All FlexRadio Systems' transceivers, upgrades and accessories are 100% manufactured, assembled, tested and calibrated by FlexRadio Systems in Austin, Texas USA.

Q6: How do I buy FlexRadio products?

A:The easiest way to purchase FlexRadio Systems' products is by using the on-line store available from the web site.  You can also contact our FlexRadio Sales team either by phone or e-mail to place your order in person with one of our knowledgeable sales associates, all of whom are licensed ham radio operators just like yourself.

Q7: Are FlexRadio products available in other countries?

A:Absolutely. FlexRadio Systems has an international partner network world wide where you can purchase FlexRadio products.  For an up to date listing of our international business partners, please see our International Distributors web page.

Q8: Where do I get FlexRadio products serviced?

A:FlexRadio Systems has a state of the art service and repair facility at our headquarters in Austin Texas staffed with highly qualified service technicians.  We also have several authorized service centers place strategically world wide to accommodate out international customers.  For more information, please see our FlexRadio Service and Repair web site.


FlexRadio PowerSDR Questions


Q1: What is FlexRadio PowerSDR?

A: FlexRadio PowerSDR™ is the Windows software package that provides all DSP, modulation/demodulation and hardware control functions for FlexRadio Systems' transceivers. The complete FlexRadio PowerSDR application is provided in compiled form so that you can simply download and run it easily.

The original VisualBasic (VB) software developed for the SDR-1000 is described in the second and third parts of Gerald Youngbloods's QEX article Software Defined Radio for the Masses. The VB based software was re-written in C# and improved to become FlexRadio PowerSDR that is used today by all FlexRadio Systems' transceivers along with several other third-party SDR products.

Q2: What are the main features of FlexRadio PowerSDR?

A: FlexRadio PowerSDR is the "brains" of the radio.  All of the features you are familiar with that are available in a traditional radio are also available in FlexRadio PowerSDR.  FlexRadio PowerSDR is also the visual component of the radio; providing the same traditional radio functions such as a S meter and VFO readouts, but has the distinction of having the Panadapter which displays in very high resolution the portion of the spectrum you are currently receiving (sampling).  The FlexRadio PowerSDR console is where all of the radio controls are presented to the user, which would be buttons of deeply layered menu options in a traditional radio.  Collectively we call this the GUI or the graphical user interface.  You will see the terms "console" and "gui" used interchangeably to reference FlexRadio PowerSDR.

Below is a listing of a few features of FlexRadio PowerSDR1.x.  For a more detailed explanation of the features listed below, visit the FlexRadio PowerSDR Features web page on the FlexRadio web site.
  • Real-Time High Resolution Spectrum Displays with Click Tuning and "Drag and Set" Filter Settings
  • Panadapter Display - there is nothing that can compete with it!
  • AF Spectrum Display
  • AF Oscilloscope Display
  • Waterfall Display
  • Histogram Display
  • Two RF Phase Displays
  • Razor Sharp, Brick Wall, No Ring Filters down to 25 Hz and No AGC Pumping
  • Eleven Different Operating Modes & Multiple Bandstack Registers for each Band:
    • LSB
    • USB
    • DSB
    • AM
    • SAM
    • CW-L
    • CW-U
    • Digi-L
    • Digi-U
    • DRM
    • FM
  • Superior DSP Impulse Noise, Notch Filter, Subtraction and Noise Reduction
  • Continuously Variable Pass Band Filters for TX and RX that can be changed "on the fly"
  • Revolutionary "Click Tuning" and Auto Zero Beat for Extra Fast QSY
  • The Most Advanced Multilevel AGC Available in Any Receiver
  • Dual VFOs for Easy Split and MultiRX Operation
  • Diversity Reception using the second fully functional receiver using the FLEX-5000
  • CAT Control & Virtual COM Ports Allow Integration of Logging and Digital Mode Software
  • Record and Playback up to 192 KHz of Real-Time Spectrum over the air
  • Unlimited Memory Channels
  • Receive Incremental Tuning (RIT) & Transmit Incremental Tuning (XIT) Controls for Precision Tuning
  • VOX, Noise Gate, Leveler and Squelch Controls
  • User Selectable Meters and RX/TX Output Values
  • Graphic Equalizer, Compander, Prefilter Compression and Variable TX Bandwidth Filter for the Best Transmit Audio
  • Multiple Transmit Profiles that are Mode Independent
  • Built In Support for 14 Additional Bands to Support Transverters
  • Improved MultiBand Transmit and Receive Calibration Routines
...and many more options and features are being continuously added to FlexRadio PowerSDR that are a direct result of user input and not that of some marketing team with no real ham radio experience.

Q3: What kind of computer do I need to run FlexRadio PowerSDR?

A:FlexRadio PowerSDR will run on a variety of PCs.  The transceiver DAC/ADCs can operate at 48, 96 or 192 KHz which is known as the sampling rate.  This is hardware dependent, so a particular hardware platform may not support all sampling rates.  The higher the sampling rate, the larger the spectrum bandwidth you can sample, and thus view.   Also higher sampling rates also reduce the processing latency which is the slight delay between receiving the RF signal and having it converted to AF, which is what you hear from the headphones or speakers.  The higher the sampling rate the greater the computing resources needed to run at that speed. There is one other parameter in addition to sampling rate which can effect a PC's performance and that is the hardware/audio buffers. Smaller audio buffers produce less latency but require more computing resources.

A current model computer (multiple core CPUs), like any thing purchased today can run PowerSDR at the highest sampling rates with the lowest buffer settings. Older computers with less processing power will run very well, but may have to use lower sampling rates and/or larger buffers to achieve acceptable performance. Since this is a multiple dependency system, it is difficult to definitively state a "recommended" configuration. There is a Knowledge Center article that describes several factors that need to be taken into account when choosing a PC to use with FlexRadio PowerSDR. These suggestions can also be used to evaluate your current system. You can access the KB article What Kind of PC Should I Buy for the FLEX-5000A using the embedded link in this sentence. This KB article is applicable to all FlexRadio Systems' software defined radios.

Q4: Is FlexRadio PowerSDR really free?

A:Yes, it really is free of charge.

Q7: Does FlexRadio PowerSDR work with other radio hardware other than that from FlexRadio Systems?

A:Yes. FlexRadio PowerSDR currently has basic support for other third-party SDR hardware.Although this could change with future versions of PowerSDR

Q8: If FlexRadio PowerSDR provides all of the functionality for the radio, what does the hardware do?

A:This is a very good question.  The transceiver hardware can be thought of as a bi-directional radio frequency to I/Q signal converter.  It also serves as the physical interface between radio peripherals, such as antennas, microphones, keys, PTT control and the SDR software, which in this case is FlexRadio PowerSDR.  The transceiver is responsible for all of the RF processing and signal path switching. When receiving, it routes the RF signals through filters and OP amps to the QSD where is is converter to an AF signal.  The resulting AF signal is then passed on to the ADC where the AF signal is digitized and sent to FlexRadio PowerSDR for demodulation and processing.  When transmitting, the digitized I/Q signals are sent from FlexRadio PowerSDR to the DAC which then passes the resulting AF signal to the QSE where it is converted to a weak RF signal.  The transceiver is responsible for subsequent filtering and amplification the RF signal before routing it to the antenna.  So any process that acts on the RF signal path before or after it is digitized is processed by the hardware.

Q9: What operating systems does FlexRadio PowerSDR run on?

A:FlexRadio PowerSDR is a Windows application. For more information regarding operating system compatibility, please see the FlexRadio PowerSDR Compatibility Statement on the web site.

Q12: Is FlexRadio PowerSDR available in languages other than English?

A:FlexRadio PowerSDR was developed in English. You will need to load the appropriate language pack for your country which is available from the Microsoft web site.


FLEX-5000C Questions

NOTE: The FLEX-5000C is a discontinued product, but the radio component is still fully supported by FlexRadio Systems.

Q1: How is the FLEX-5000C different from the other FLEX-5000 transceivers?

A: The FLEX-5000C model has all of the core features of a FLEX-5000A in addition to a built in Intel Core2 Duo processor and comes with the Microsoft Windows XP operating system, wireless keyboard and mouse.  There is no requirement to have a separate computer to operate the FLEX-5000C.

Below is a summery of the FLEX-5000C Transceiver's features.
  • High Performance Intel Chipset Motherboard
  • Intel Core™ 2 Duo Processor Embedded
  • Windows XP Professional Installed Along with FlexRadio PowerSDR™ and a Collection of Ham Radio Software
  • Dual Channel DDR2 Memory
  • Advanced Graphic Display and Dual Independent Video Display Support
  • Serial ATA (SATA) Hard Drive
  • Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
  • Direct Internet Access from the FLEX-5000C


Q2: Why isn't the FLEX-5000C loaded with Windows Vista?

A:It’s a simple case of Windows XP having what is needed for FlexRadio PowerSDR and being a proven solution. FlexRadio Systems does not see a single thing provided in Vista that benefits FlexRadio PowerSDR over XP.

Q3: Other than the internal speaker, is the FLEX-5000C model for someone who doesn't have a computer where the FLEX-5000A would be for someone who already has a computer?

A:That is one reason. Another reason is for portability.  The FLEX-5000C is a ”single box" SDR solution whereas the FLEX-5000A does require an external computer.

Q4: What are the upgrades for a FLEX-5000C?

A:There are several upgrades that can be added to both the FLEX-5000C and FLEX-5000A.  They include the fully integrated internal ATU, a second independent full performance second receiver and an internal transverter that provides a full duplex 144 MHz IF usually used in microwave operation.

Q5: Can the system board in the FLEX-5000C be upgraded (BIOS, RAM, CPU, etc)?

A:The system or motherboard in the FLEX-5000C is a standard Mini ITX board, so it has the capability of being upgraded in the future.

Q6: If a user upgrades the system board in the FLEX-5000C does that affect the warranty?

A:As with any integrated computer system you purchase from a retailer, user modifications to the hardware will result in the warranty being voided.

Q7: If the Windows XP Professional operating system becomes corrupted, will it be repaired by FlexRadio Systems and how is it done?

A:On the internal SATA hard drive, there is a special "recovery partition" that can be used to return the FLEX-5000C back to it's factory default settings. The recovery procedure can be easily run by the user or, as always if you do not feel comfortable doing it, you can return the FLEX-5000C to the FlexRadio System Service department and have it done for a nominal fee.

If the system becomes corrupted either by viruses, user installed programs, Internet worms or any other process, the standard recovery procedure will be to reinitialize the system back to the factory default settings. FlexRadio Systems can not be responsible for any data loss in these circumstances, so doing regular system backups to external media is a "best practice" that is strongly encouraged.

Q8: What is the preferred method to backup the computer in the FLEX-5000C?

A:The FLEX-5000C does not come with any internal removable media disk drives installed, so the easiest way to backup your FLEX-5000C is to connect an external removable media device such as a DVD writer or an external hard drive using either the USB 2.0 or the Firewire ports on the motherboard. Windows XP Professional comes with basic backup software installed by default or you can choose to install a different version that may better meet your needs.

Q9: Can I load third-party software on the FLEX-5000C?

A:There are no restrictions on what third-party software you can and can not load on the FLEX-5000C as long as it is compatible with Windows XP Professional operating system and does not effect the prorper operation of the radio. If you do load third-party software on your FLEX-5000C and start experiencing problems running FlexRadio PowerSDR requiring customer assistance, the FlexRadio Support team is not obligated to provide help debugging adverse third-party application interaction issues. The problem resolution procedure will be to unload the third-party applications or use the recovery partition to put the radio back into its factory default configuration.

Q10: What are the computer specific ports on the FLEX-5000C?

A:Below is a listing of the external computer specific connectors on the FLEX-5000C.
  • One (1) 9-pin RS-232 serial port
  • One (1) PS/2 style keyboard and mouse port
  • One (1) IEEE-1394 Firewire port
  • Four (4) USB 2.0 ports
  • Two (2) DVI video ports (digital)
  • One (1) VGA port (analog CRT)
  • Three (3) 1000/100/10 BaseT Ethernet port
  • Audio input connectors: Line in (r/l) and Mic (l/r)
  • 7.1 Surround Sound audio output connectors: Speaker out (front left, center, front right, LFE, side left, side right, back left, back right)
NOTE: The on-board sound card is not connected or used with the FLEX-5000C transceiver.

Q11: My video display on the FLEX-5000C is showing weird colors. What is happening?

A:There have been reported problems where both video displays become corrupted when attaching a digital monitor to the DVI port. Please refer to the KB article Monitor Display Becomes Corrupted on the FLEX-5000C for corrective action.

Q12: Is the power supply for the PC part of the FLEX-5000C internal?

A:No, there are no internal power supplies in the FLEX-5000C for either the radio or the PC. It uses external 13.8 VDC power supplies exactly like the FLEX-5000A


FLEX-5000A Questions


Q1: What are the major differences between a FLEX-5000A and a SDR-1000?

A: All of the FLEX-5000 transceivers are second generation SDRs that build on the very popular FlexRadio SDR-1000™. The FLEX-5000A integrates all I/Q data and hardware control over a single FireWire® (IEEE-1394) connection to a user provided computer. Sound cards and multiple cables are no longer necessary. Convenience and ease of setup are built right in!

The FLEX-5000A is the base model of the FLEX-5000 family of transceivers and is the "workhorse" of the family. For detailed information on the FLEX-5000A, please see the FLEX-5000A Details web page. The same receiver and transmitter are common throughout the entire FLEX-5000 family, so no matter if you have the FLEX-5000A or the top of the line FLEX-5000C, you have outstanding performance and capabilities.

Q2: What are the standard features of the FLEX-5000A?

A:Below is a summery of the FLEX-5000 Transceiver features that are common to all models.
  • Better Two-tone 3rd order dynamic range at 2 kHz spacing than the SDR-1000
  • Ultra High Performance ADCs and DACs for incredible dynamic range
  • High Stability TCXO @ 0.05 ppm for Accurate SSB, VHF+ and Digital Modes
  • Optimized 11th Order Filters for all Amateur Bands from 160 to 6 Meters
  • Receiver can monitor transmitter spectrum
  • Internal antenna switching for up to 3 antennas plus a receive only antenna connector
  • RX path Input and Output for easy insertion of RX performance enhancement or filtering
  • Separate RX only antenna connectors for optimal reception
  • BNC connector for external reference clock for ultra stable XO
  • Optional full performance second receiver
  • SO2R ready with optional second receiver
  • Stereo headphone connector
  • General coverage receiver
  • BNC connector for external reference clock for ultra stable XO
  • FlexWire™ Peripheral Interface Bus for external control of rotator, antenna and much more
  • Redesigned 100 Watt PEP on 160-6m Power Amp
  • Single FireWire connection to computer
  • Transverter Ready - Full Duplex 28 MHz IF
  • Fully automatic internal test/calibration. No external calibration equipment necessary
  • Three TX Control Lines for Keying Amplifiers, Transverters, Sequencers and other Accessories
  • Balanced TRS line/microphone input
  • Audio Line-In and Line-Out Connectors
  • Quiet high volume fan keeps unit cool
  • True Full Duplex Operation for Simultaneous Transmit and Receive
  • Optional full featured ATU 160-6m

Q3: Does the FLEX-5000A use a sound card like the SDR-1000?

A:No. All of the digital to analog and the analog to digital conversion takes place inside the FLEX-5000.

Q4: What are the specifications for the FLEX-5000A?

A:All of the FLEX-5000 specifications are found at the bottom of the FLEX-5000A Details and the FLEX-5000C Details web pages.

Q5: Is there an automatic tuning unit (ATU) option?

A:Yes, there is an optional internal ATU that will match your unbalanced antenna from 160 to 6 meters at 100 watts. It is not the same as the one used in the SDR-1000. It has a higher power rating and more memories. It is available for order on the web site and is a field installable upgrade. For more information, see the FLEX-5000 ATU FAQ located on this page.

Q6: Is there a transverter option?

A: The FLEX-VU5K upgrade module will add the VHF and UHF capability to the FLEX-5000.  For more information, see the FLEX-5000 V/U Module FAQ located on this page.

Q7: Is the FLEX-5000A CE Certified?

A:Yes.  The FLEX-5000A received it's European Union Declaration of Conformity on August 23, 2007. You can download the CE certification declaration from the FlexRadio Web site.

Q8: Does the FLEX-5000A address the issue of DDS spurs and the DC noise @ -11025 Hz that was prevalent in the SDR-1000?

A:Absolutely. The FLEX-5000A was designed in such a way that the DC noise at the 0 Hz IF is minimized as much as possible. Also, there are new spur elimination algorithms for the FLEX-5000A will also apply to the SDR-1000.

Q9: There is the mention of a second receiver in the FLEX-5000A advertisement. What information is available regarding cost and availability? Can you add a 2nd receiver to the FLEX-5000A at a later date if you desire?

A:Yes, there is a second receiver upgrade for the FLEX-5000A and FLEX-5000C.  The receiver will be identical to the main receiver and will be a field installable upgrade. With the second receiver installed you technically can receive on two bands while simultaneously transmitting on another. For more information, see the FLEX-5000 Second Receiver FAQ located on this page.

Q10: Does the FLEX-5000A need to use VAC or a second sound card for digital modes as the SDR-1000?

A:The use of VAC or a second sound card is not a function of the hardware, but is a function of FlexRadio PowerSDR. At this time there is no change in the VAC functionality found in FlexRadio PowerSDR. The FLEX-5000A does make it easier to use an external sound card for digital modes with the line-in and line-out audio connections on the back panel.

Q11: Will FlexRadio PowerSDR and the FLEX-5000A support FSK?

A:There are no plans to support FSK.There is however a very comprehensive set of features to support digital modes using ASFK.

Q12: Does the FLEX-5000A have ALC control for external power amps?

A:No. The FLEX-5000A has external PTT control for sequencers and external power amps.  Due to the  accurately calibrated power output controls and internal ALC, an external ALC control mechanism is usually not needed.

Q13: Now that the sound "card" is going to be built into the FLEX-5000A, could one get away with a less powerful computer than for the SDR-1000?

A:No, not really. FlexRadio PowerSDR is still the "brains" of the FLEX-5000 and the SDR-1000 which is where all of the DSP processing takes place. The FLEX-5000 processes more simultaneous full duplex I/Q data streams than the SDR-1000 which adds computer overhead.   Also, there will be new features added to FlexRadio PowerSDR to support the FLEX-5000, so a less powerful computer is not recommended.

Q14: Regarding the FLEX-5000A, can we assume that the basic RF sections will remain the same and that the major difference lies in the PC/sound card processing?

A:That is not a correct assumption. The major differences are in both sections. The FLEX-5000 is a completely new design in the RF sections, although it bears some resemblance to the SDR-1000.

Q15: Will the FLEX-5000A be upgradeable to the C model?

A:No, the FLEX-5000A is not upgradeable to the FLEX-5000C.

Q16: Is the FLEX-5000 a "true" QSK transceiver?

A:This is a problematic question to answer. First what exactly is the definition of "true" QSK? Basically it means the ability to receive signals in between letters and words, and possibly between dits and dahs at a given sending speed. There are several significant dependencies involved with the process of evaluating and quantifying QSK when using a software defined radio. Computer speed and latency are just one factor, but a very important one. Other factors include the keying interface, sending speed of CW and the ability of the radio hardware to transition from TX to RX quickly.

The FLEX-5000 is capable of QSK operation.  When the computer and FlexRadio PowerSDR are optimally configured for low latency operation, QSK is possible at high sending speeds. Since the FLEX-5000 is a software defined radio, we will continue to improve and optimize  CW operation so that QSK operation is more predictable and less dependent on external factors mentioned previously.
 

Q17: Does the FLEX-5000A have the capability to connect to an external clock source? Is it an option like it was on the SDR-1000?

A:Yes. The FLEX-5000 family of transceivers utilize an external BNC connection for using an optional 10 MHz external clock source. No, it is not an option, but a standard feature.

Q18: What changes were made to the internal (non software) bandpass filters in the FLEX-5000?

A:First, the transmitter and both receivers have their own independent filter banks.

Second, all filters are low pass instead of band pass or "roofing." Direct conversion receivers, like the SDR-1000 and FLEX-5000, do not require bandpass or roofing filters as found in superhet receivers. The quadrature sampling detector (QSD) will not respond to signals below its passband but is susceptible to odd harmonics above its local oscillator (LO) frequency. A low pass filter blocks signals above its cutoff frequency and not below. This type of filter has much lower loss and is less sensitive to component tolerance than a band pass filter.

Also the QSD acts as a 400 kHz wide "tracking" filter centered at the LO frequency. However, no receive filter can remove real harmonics from a transmitter located at a harmonically related frequency below the received frequency. In other words, if you are transmitting on 7.0 MHz, there will be a real signal emitted at 21.0 MHz that can be heard in any receiver within range to hear the harmonic. A resonant antenna on the transmitter will help to attenuate those harmonics though.

An antenna tuning unit will also help to attenuate harmonics on the transmitter but will not help to attenuate real signals within its passband when in receive. Real signals are real signals, whether at the fundamental frequency or a harmonic. All transmitters emit harmonics that are real signals on the airwaves.

Q19: Will the FLEX-5000A's low-pass filters prevent unauthorized operation outside of the amateur bands?

A:The filters are optimized for the amateur bands but will operate over the entire HF spectrum. We lock transmitter TR relay in firmware and require a valid license to receive a key to operate outside of ITU recognized band plans.

Q20: Does the FLEX-5000A have firmware?

A:Yes, it does but not in the way you think of in traditional radios. Historically, firmware has been used to perform all functions of a radio including Digital Signal Processing (DSP), radio control, and user interface. The FlexRadio SDR-1000 was the first fully Software Defined Radio (SDR) transceiver for amateur radio. That means that all of the modulation, demodulation, and filtering as well as the user interface are delivered via software. This software, called FlexRadio PowerSDR™, is designed to run the SDR-1000 as well as the new FLEX family of SDRs. That means that existing SDR-1000 owners will benefit from many enhancements developed for the FLEX series. Back to firmware: the FLEX-5000 moves the functional equivalent of the sound card into the firmware on the FLEX-5000. These are the low level control and communications functions necessary to run the specific hardware. The FLEX-5000 also has a hardware device driver, just as any typical PC peripheral would (e.g. video cards).

Q21: Is the FLEX-5000A firmware going to be open source?

A: As stated previously, all DSP (modulation, demodulation, filtering, etc.) and user interface software is contained in FlexRadio PowerSDR software. Certain control functions are moving to firmware on the FLEX-5000. It is necessary to keep the firmware closed source in order to meet FCC requirements to properly restrict transmissions on unauthorized frequencies as well as to protect the property rights of third parties supplying technology to FlexRadio Systems. We have made provisions for MARS, lab/test equipment use, and differences in regional band plans that will give us the flexibility we need without compromising the integrity of out-of-band transmission controls.

Q22: How much of the FLEX-5000's operation is controlled/restricted by the radio's firmware?

A:The FLEX-5000’s low level hardware is controlled by internal firmware. The firmware responds to commands from FlexRadio PowerSDR and acts appropriately. The FLEX-5000 will have hardware (Firewire) device drivers that are to be separately installed similar to those provided with PC sound cards.

Q23: Is there any chance that the TCXO is actually a VCTCXO (Voltage Controlled TCXO)? If so, then it will be relatively easy to lock the internal TCXO to an external standard like with something similar to the TAPR/CT1DMK REFLOCK?

A:The FLEX-5000A uses an internal 500 MHz VCXO for very low phase noise. It is locked to an internal 10 MHz TCXO, which is switched out of circuit when you enable the external reference. It will lock the 500 MHz oscillator dead on to any external reference you provide. The PLL has a 100 Hz bandwidth so phase noise is determined primarily by the quality of the 500 MHz oscillator above 1 kHz offset.

Q24: What kind of T/R switching does the FLEX-5000A use? Is it diode switched or relay switched, and is there any info regarding switching speed?

A:The FLEX-5000 uses a single high speed relay for T/R switching with a ~4.5 ms turn around time. There is no IMD distortion in a relay as there would be when using diode switching.


FLEX-5000 Second Receiver Questions


Q1: How will the performance of the second receiver compare to the primary receiver?

A:The second independent receiver will be a very close replica of the primary receiver and will have performance characteristics equal of that to the primary receiver.  This includes its own filter bank of optimized 11th order filters for all of the amateur bands from 160 to 6 meters.

Q2: If the second receiver is installed in a FLEX-5000 will it have its own DDS and LO (local oscillator)?

A:Yes it has its own DDS and LO as well.  We can control the phase of each LO independently and in lock step.

Q3: Will diversity reception be possible with the second receiver?

A:Yes.  You will be able to assign independent antennas to the two receivers.  We also have a few software enhancements in mind that will greatly enhance the receiving capabilities of the FLEX-5000 when using two independent receivers.  More information regarding those enhancements will be forthcoming once the second receiver starts shipping.

Q4: With the second receiver, will I be able to TX on 40m and RX on 20m (no muting of 2nd RX while TX)?

A:Yes. It is a feature that will be available once the software is enhanced to do it

Q5: With the second receiver, will I be able to RX on 40m and RX on 20m, with stereo receive audio?

A:Yes.  As in the previous question, it is a feature that will be available once the software is enhanced to perform the function.  That is the great thing about a software defined radios - if you can think of a way to use the hardware, then it is just a matter of writing the software to implement it.

Q6: Will the second receiver have its own Panadapter and be able to do MultiRX like the primary receiver?

A: Yes the second receiver will have a separate Panadapter.  MultiRX will only be available for the primary receiver for the initial software release. Obviously the Panadapter is one of the most incredible aspects of FlexRadio PowerSDR and we are still working out exactly how the user interface will be constructed so that you will receive all of the same visual benefits you currently get with the primary receiver.  We also have to work out how to handle multiple audio output sources with stereo speakers since theoretically you could possibly have four or more audio channels active at once.  All of the possibilities we have planned for the second receiver will evolve in the software once the hardware is released.

Q7: Do I have to send my FLEX-5000 back the FlexRadio Systems to have the second receiver installed?

A: No, the second receiver will be a field installable upgrade or if you choose, you may send it back to FlexRadio Systems and we will install it for a nominal service fee.

Q8: When will the second receiver upgrade be available?

A: The FLEX-5000 Second Receiver is available now.   Please see the Current Product Inventory and Production Status for FlexRadio Systems' Products web page for the most current information regarding inventory status.

Q9: Will the primary and second receiver be able to run different sample rates simultaneously?

A: No, the second receiver must run at the same sampling rate as the primary receiver. Independent sample rates will not be possible due to the way the hardware interacts since they are both utilizing the same the Firewire interface.

Q10: Will other parameters, such as filters, demodulation modes, display modes, AGC delay, preamp, etc. be independently adjustable on both receivers?

A: Yes they will. This capability will be available in the initial release of FlexRadio PowerSDR that supports the second receiver.

Q11: Is it going to be possible for both displays (Rx1 & Rx2) to show the split (and adjustable) Panadapter AND Waterfall for both receivers simultaneously?

A: Not initially. The only split you'll be able to do with the initial version of FlexRadio PowerSDR that supports RX2 functionality is to show the primary receiver on top and the second receiver on bottom.

Q12: What impact will the second Panadapter have on CPU usage?

A: There will definitely be an increase in CPU demand when running with the second receiver enabled (note that it can be turned off). How much will vary depending on your system. Our lower end Intel Core 2 Duo systems in the lab haven't had a problem.

Q13: Will it be possible to connect the second receiver to a separate computer?

A: No. It is not an independent radio. The second receiver is integrated into the FLEX-5000 transceiver and uses common circuitry for power and audio routing just to name a few. All of the receiver's functional circuitry is independent of the transceiver, such as filters, RF routing and demodulation.

Q14: Will both receivers be able to share a single antenna - either a separate receive or transmit/receive one?

A: Yes. This can be accomplished by using the RX1 Tap setting on the second receiver RF input.

Q15: Will it be possible to set different Panadapter widths and use the Zoom and Pan controls on each receiver independently?

A: Initially no. This may however be a future enhancement to FlexRadio PowerSDR.


FLEX-5000 VHF/UHF Module Questions


Q1: Will the FLEX-5000 have VHF/UHF capabilities available as an upgrade?

A: Yes. There is an internal 144/440 MHz upgrade referred to as the FLEX-VU5K module. The primary use of the FLEX-VU5K upgrade is to drive higher frequency microwave transverters and for terrestrial and V/U satellite operation. The FLEX-VU5K module will fit inside any of the FLEX-5000 transceivers and will be fully integrated with FlexRadio PowerSDR to provide the highest performing full duplex 144/440 MHz radio designed for amateur radio use.

Q2: Will the FLEX-VU5K module be a user installable upgrade?

A:In order to have a FLEX-5000 upgrade deemed as user or field installable, the installation process has to be defined in such a manner that special tools, equipment or skills are not required and that the user has a high probability of installation success without the possibility of causing damage to the FLEX-5000 in the process of installing the upgrade. Due to the complexity of the high power FLEX-VU5K installation procedure it will need to be installed and calibrated at a FlexRadio Systems Authorized Service Center by a certified technician to ensure proper installation.

The high power FLEX-VU5K installation procedure is complex due to several technical reasons. 
  • All FLEX-5000s that have a FLEX-VU5K module installed will have to have the back panel replaced to accommodate the dedicated UHF antenna connector.
  • The FLEX-5000 needs to be mostly disassembled in order to make the necessary changes for proper installation of the FLEX-VU5K module
  • The internal RF connections needed for the operation of the module are not trivial to install properly
  • The PA modules output gain needs to be calibrated using test equipment that might not be available to all users
  • Modifications need to be made to the HF PA board to accommodate the installation of the high power FLEX-VU5K for FLEX-5000 revision "H" HTRX boards and below.
It may possible in future that a field installable procedure will be developed for the high power FLEX-VU5K, but at this time there is not one planned.

Since the very low power FLEX-VU5K does not have the same installation requirements as the high power version, it is a better candidate to be field installable by the end user and an installation procedure is being developed.  At this time there is not a date for its availability and may not be available until after the FLEX-VU5K starts shipping.

Q3: What are the specifications of the FLEX-VU5K module?

A:The specifications for the FLEX-VU5K module will be published when the FLEX-VU5K modules finish pre-production testing. The core features of the FLEX-VU5K module are listed on the FLEX-5000 Upgrades web page

Q4: When will the FLEX-VU5K module be available?

A: It is available for purchase now.

Q5: Will the FLEX-VU5K module work on the FM portion of the band, or is it only going to work for SSB weak signal communications?

A:Yes, The FLEX-VU5K has coverage over both band segments (FM and weak signal).

Q6: Are there any hardware prerequisites needed for the FLEX-VU5K module?

A:In order to use the FLEX-VU5K module, the FLEX-5000 must have the HRFIO-34 board installed that is shipping with all new FLEX-5000 SDRs. If you have an early version of the FLEX-5000, you will need to upgrade to the RF switching matrix board. See the HRFIO board FAQ below.

Q7: What antenna connectors on the FLEX-5000 will the FLEX-VU5K Upgrade module utilize?

A: Due to a redesign of the RF signal path for the FLEX-VU5K to improve the noise figure, there will be dedicated transceiver antenna ports for both UHF and VHF.To accommodate this change, a new BNC connector for UHF RF I/O will be added to the back panel of the FLEX-5000 which requires the replacement of the back panel.  The existing 144 MHz BNC will be used for VHF.

Q8: I have a single VHF/UHF multiband antenna.  How would I connect this to the FLEX-VU5K?

A: Since the FLEX-VU5K will have separate dedicated BNC antenna ports for each band, if you want to connect a multiband antenna, you will need to utilize a diplexer to multiplex both signals to a single antenna.

Q9: Can I listen to HF and either the VHF or UHF bands at the same time?

A: The answer is "yes" if you have the optional RX2 module installed. In order to receive signals from two different bands at the same time, two physical receivers are required. If you do not have the RX2 installed, you can only receive on one band at a time regardless of what band you are listening to.

Q10: Must you have the second receiver installed to get full duplex operation from the FLEX-VU5K?

A: The FLEX-5000 is already a full duplex radio in the default configuration without the RX2 installed.  If you add the RX2 (2nd receiver), it becomes a full triplex radio.  So to answer the question regarding the FLEX-VU5K module, the FLEX-5000 without the RX2 installed will operate as a full duplex radio on VHF and UHF -or- VHF and HF -or- UHF and HF.  If you add the RX2 to the radio, then you have the option of receiving two bands at one time including any of the HF/6m bands.

Q11: Will I be able to work FM repeaters with the FLEX-VU5K?

A: Yes. In order to work FM repeaters three things are required; frequency coverage, storing the split frequencies and the ability to encode CTCSS tones to open repeaters that utilize them. All of these requirements will be available with the FLEX-VU5K hardware and PowerSDR v2.0.23 (and above).


FLEX-5000 ATU Questions


Q1: What are the specifications of the automatic tuning unit (ATU)?

A: The FLEX-5000-ATU is an optional integrated state-of-the-art, processor-controlled switched-L tuning network for the FLEX-5000A and FLEX-5000C that provides fully automatic antenna tuning across the entire HF range including 6 meters.  It will tune dipoles, verticals, Yagis or virtually any coax fed antenna over a wide impedance range.

Below is a summery of the ATU features and specifications.
  • Continuous coverage 1.8 to 54 MHz
  • Power rating HF (1.8 to 30 MHz): 5 to 250 watts(CW & SSB)
  • Power rating 6M (50 to 54 MHz): 100 watts
  • Will match a 10:1 SWR to 1.5:1
  • Fully integrated with FlexRadio PowerSDR
  • Over 16000 memories for instantaneous band changing.
  • Tuning time: 0.5 to 6 seconds, <0.1 second memory tune
  • For Dipoles, Verticals, Vs, Beams or Coax Fed Antenna
  • Tunes 6 to 1000 ohm loads (16 to 150Ω on 6M)
Please see the FLEX-5000 Upgrades web page on the FlexRadio web site for more information.

Q2: Will the ATU be a user installable upgrade or does it have to be added at the time I purchase a FLEX-5000A?

A:The ATU is a field installable upgrade, so you can add it later or have it installed in your FLEX-5000 when it ships from the factory.

Q3: Does the ATU have a "bypass" mode so that it taken out of the RF signal chain?

A:Yes. There are several modes in which the ATU can operate.  They include Bypass where the ATU is taken out of the RF TX signal chain, semi-automatic mode that requires the operator to initiate the tuning process and automatic mode where the ATU will tune when ever it senses RF.

Q4: Can I use the ATU on any of the FLEX-5000 antenna ports?

A:Yes, the ATU can be assigned to any of the three FLEX-5000 antenna transceiver ports through the software configuration. It will automatically use the antenna port that is selected as the transmit antenna port as defined in FlexRadio PowerSDR for the particular band you are operating on.

Q5: How do the FLEX-5000 ATU memories work?

A:When the ATU is configured in FlexRadio PowerSDR to use Memory Tune, it checks its internal memory for a match based on the transmit frequency.  If no match can be found, then it will perform a complete tuning process and store that information for quick retrieval, usually in less than 0.1 of a second.

Q6: Is the ATU in both the RX and TX signal path when enabled?

A:Since the FLEX-5000 is a full duplex radio there are separate independent transmit and receive signal paths. The FLEX-5000 ATU is only in the transmit signal path when enabled since the primary function of an ATU is to impedance match the antenna system to the transmitter with a 50 ohm load. If you need preselection for the receiver, the RX loop capabilities of the FLEX-5000 provide a convenient way of placing those devices in the RX signal path.


FLEX-5000 HRFIO Questions


Q1: What is a HRFIO?

A: The HRFIO (sometimes abbreviated as RFIO) board is the RF input/output switching matrix board for the FLEX-5000. This is a small board mounted to the back on the FLEX-5000 that contains all of the antenna connectors for the radio. This includes the three (3) SO-239 (UHF) transceiver ports, the RX1-IN/RX1-OUT loop BNC connectors, the RX2-IN, the 144 MHz, XVTX/COM and XVRX transverter BNC connections.

Q2: What are the differences in the HRFIO boards?

A: There are multiple versions of the HRFIO board and the difference are explained in the Knowledge Center article HRFIO Capabilities by Assembly Number.

Q3: Do recently shipped FLEX-5000 transceivers have the newest HRFIO board installed?

A: Yes, based on our records all new FLEX-5000A and FLEX-5000C transceivers shipped after May 1, 2008 should have the HRFIO-34 board installed.

Q4: How can I determine if my FLEX-5000 has a newer HRFIO board installed?

A: The procedure for determining the current version of an installed HRFIO board is explained in the Knowledge Center article How to Identify the HRFIO Assembly Number.


FLEX-3000 Questions


Q1: How is the FLEX-3000 different from the FLEX-5000 transceivers?

A: There are several differences. First is the size of the unit. The FLEX-3000 is a compact software defined radio capable of being easily placed in a laptop computer bag for portable operation. Second is receiver performance. Although the FLEX-3000 out performs all other transceivers in its price class and its capabilities are on par with the FLEX-5000, its overall receiver performance is slightly below that of the FLEX-5000 but greater than the SDR-1000. The third difference is due to its small form factor; it does not have the wide variety and I/O flexibility that is found on the FLEX-5000. The last three points of differentiation are the FLEX-3000 is not a full duplex software defined radio, the maximum transmit bandwidth is 3650 Hz (SSB) and the maximum sampling rate of the high performance A/D and D/A converters is 96 KHz.

Q2: Will the FLEX-3000 have add on upgrades like the FLEX-5000?

A: No. The FLEX-3000 is a "fixed" configuration software defined radio.

Q3: Does the FLEX-3000 need a sound card to operate?

A: The need for an external sound card to provide the A/D and D/A conversions of the I/Q signals was a requirement only for first generation software defined radios, such as the SDR-1000 other SDRs that utilize the SDR-1000 architecture. All second generation and beyond SDRs from FlexRadio Systems, such as the FLEX-3000 do not require a sound card of any kind to operate. The A/D and D/A converters are integrated into the radio hardware.

Q4: Is there a special version of PowerSDR needed for the FLEX-3000?

A: As with the FLEX-5000 and the upcoming FLEX-1500, There will only be one standard version needed to operate all of FlexRadio Systems' software defined radios. Because of hardware difference between the SDRs, there will be features that are available for one radio platform that are not available for the others. There will be a major release of PowerSDR to mark the initial hardware support for each new radio that is released, but it will not require a "special" version of software to run the FLEX-3000.

Q5: What kind of computer or laptop do I need to run a FLEX-3000?

A: From a resource standpoint, the FLEX-3000 will require less computer resource than running PowerSDR with a FLEX-5000. How much less has not been measured, but it probably will be too insignificant to quantify from a computer hardware standpoint, given the computational power of today's current computers.

The PC requirements for all FlexRadio SDRs running PowerSDR is about the same with the FLEX-5000 being the greatest. Just about any new computer you buy today with a multi-core CPU (AMD or Intel) with at least 2-4 GB of RAM for a 32-bit operating systems and 6-8 GB of RAM for a 64-bit operating system should be more than sufficient for running PowerSDR. There is a Knowledge Base article, What kind of computer should I buy for a FlexRadio Transceiver?, that suggests what criteria you should look for in a new computer.

One of the more critical elements for determining if a computer will run PowerSDR with a FlexRadio Systems FLEX-3000 (and FLEX-5000 that that matter) is the throughput achieved from the Firewire host controller. Most computers today come with an integrated Firewire interface. In general, these integrated peripherals are usually not optimized for high throughput data rates. Using an a bus connected Firewire host controller card that is PCI or PCI-E based is recommended for optimum data throughput. For laptops, you want to get an ExpressCard Firewire host controller rather than a PCMCIA if at all possible. Refer to the following Knowledge Center article Selecting High Performance Firewire Cards for FlexRadio Transceivers for more information regarding selecting a Firewire host controller for your PC.

Q6: Does the FLEX-3000 have an input for an external frequency reference?

A: The FLEX-3000 is not targeted for use as an IF for transverters as is the FLEX-5000 and FLEX-1500. Therefore no 10 MHz reference input is included.

Q7: Why does the FLEX-3000 use a BNC connector rather than a SO-239 connector for the antenna connector?

A: The RF output is a BNC for the following reasons:
  1. BNC connectors require less space and thus allow for a smaller enclosure. The FLEX-3000 is intended for briefcase portable applications as well as fixed station so chassis dimensions are a consideration.
  2. A BNC connector can be assembled on the PCB with no wires, which is not true of a SO-239.
  3. BNC connectors are higher in performance than SO-239s from a RF perspective.
  4. BNC connectors have no problem handling the power levels of a FLEX-3000.
  5. BNC connectors are a lot easier to connect and disconnect. You can push a type N connector on to a BNC for "easy connect."
A BNC to UHF adapter will be included in the box to do the conversion if required.

Q8: What cables and connectors will be included with the FLEX-3000?

A: The FLEX-3000 will come with the following cables, connectors and software:
  • PowerSDR Software CD with all necessary software and documentation to run your FLEX-5000
  • 13.8 VDC power cable. One end terminated with the FLEX-3000 power connector and the other unterminated
  • BNC (male) to SO-239 connector for connecting coax with PL-239 connectors
  • 1394a 6-Pin to 6-pin Firewire cable (1 meter in length)

Q9: Since the FLEX-3000 will be using a modular RJ-45 type microphone connector, what is the connector pinout configuration?

A: The FLEX-3000 microphone connector pinout is available in the Knowledge Center. Please refer to the KC article FLEX-3000 Microphone Pinout Configuration for more information.

Q10: When will the CE version of the FLEX-3000 be available?

A: The final production version of the FLEX-3000 must be completed before CE certification can begin. It is estimated that the CE certified version of the FLEX-3000 will ship approximately 45-60 days after the US versions start shipping.

Q11: Can the FLEX-3000 be used for MARS operation?

A: Yes. Just like the FLEX-5000, you will need to show proof of your MARS license in order to get a special firmware upgrade specific for your radio in order to transmit on MARS frequencies.


FLEX-1500 Questions


Q1: Are there any technical specifications on the FLEX-1500 other than the price and it will be a QRP radio?

A: The feature and specifications of the FLEX-1500 can be found on the FLEX-1500 Features web page and on the Product Comparison Matrix.

Q2: Does the FLEX-1500 have a PA class A bias option or feature?

A: No.

Q3: How will the FLEX-1500 compare in receiver performance to the FLEX-3000 and FLEX-5000?

A: All three classes of the FLEX family of radios have different, but very high receiver performance characteristics. The FLEX-5000 is the top of the line SDR and has the highest performing receiver. The FLEX-3000, being about 1/2 the cost of a FLEX-5000 has exceptional receiver performance characteristics, exceeding radios in its mid-range price class.

Consequently, the FLEX-1500 will have receiver performance numbers that will be slightly lower than the FLEX-3000.  This is not to imply that the FLEX-1500 will not have a good receiver.  On the contrary, the FLEX-1500 will have the best receiver for a transceiver in its price class, but it should be noted that the FLEX-1500 is designed to be an affordable SDR and not an ultra high performance software defined radio.  You can think of the FLEX-1500, FLEX-3000 and the FLEX-5000 as "great", "fantastic" and "excellent" in terms of receiver performance.

Q4: The FLEX-1500 is stated to be a QRP radio. What is the output wattage?

A: It was originally slated to be a 1 watt SDR, but after receiving numerous requests from out users, we have re-engineered the FLEX-1500 to be a 5 watt nominal PEP SDR so that the QRP enthusiast can run "QRO".  There is also a very low power transverter RF output that will be rated at 0 dBm (1 mW)

Q5: What facilities will the FLEX-1500 have for connecting to external devices, such as sequencers, transverters and preamps?

A: Yes, the FLEX-1500 will have a FlexWire version 2 interface for controlling external devices such as the ones mentioned.For more info on the FLEX-1500 FlexWire interface, please refer to the KB article
FlexWire v2 Connector Pinout for the FLEX-1500.

Q6: Can you operate the FLEX-1500 off of the power provided by the USB port?

A: No, the USB connector does not provide enough voltage or amperage to operate the FLEX-1500.  You must connect a 13.8 VDC power source to the FLEX-1500 for it to operate.  See the FLEX-1500 Question #7 below for the power supply requirements.

Q7: What is the acceptable voltage range for the FLEX-1500?

A: The FLEX-1500 is designed to operate off of a 13.8 VDC source. It can operate over a limited voltage range. The range is dependent on whether or not you are using the FLEX-1500 as a receive only, very low power QRP transceiver or "high power" QRP transceiver. This information is covered in more detail in the KB article Voltage and Amperage Requirements for the FLEX-1500.

Q8: What type of receive filters are in the the FLEX-1500?

A: The FLEX-1500 has a bank of eleven band pass filters, which are used ahead of both the preamp in receive, and after the 0 dBm exciter in transmit. There are no band breaks inside of any ham band. There is also a separate set of seven low pass filters that are between the 5 watt RF PA final amplifier and antenna port.

Q9: Is the FLEX-1500 capable of transmitting outside of the ham bands for use as an exciter for microwave converters?

A: The FLEX-1500 can transmit out of band down to 1.8 MHz via the transverter ports.  The user must understand that the radio may not meet transmit harmonic filtering requirements outside of the ham bands, suitable for direct connection to an antenna. This is normally not an issue when used as an IF deck for a microwave transverter.

The FLEX-1500 will have to meet the F.C.C. requirements of being restricted to transmitting in the ham bands just like all FlexRadio Systems software defined radios on the 5W QRP antenna connector.

Q10: Will I be able to connect multiple FLEX-1500s to a single computer?

A: Technically, the answer is yes, but it is not a feature of PowerSDR.

We will not know all of the challenges of doing multiple connected FLEX-1500s until we start adding that capability to the software, but we have identified several limitations. The first limitation will be the performance of your PC and can it process multiple real-time audio applications (SDR software). The second limitation is that one USB controller in the PC can not handle more than about two FLEX-1500 USB data streams at the same time. There are multiple USB controllers in most PCs, but the challenge is knowing which USB ports are associated with which USB controller. The FLEX-1500 driver may have to be modified to be able to identify the USB controller to mitigate this limitation.

As you can see, this is not a trivial undertaking to allow multiple FLEX-1500s to run on the same PC, but operating multiple SDRs on a single PC is a future goal of FlexRadio Systems.

Q11: Since the FLEX-1500 is being marketed as an IF for transverter, what features does it have that makes is well suited for this purpose?

A: There are several reasons listed below.
  1. The FLEX-1500 utilizes a low noise, high gain preamp that will enhance sensitivity on the upper bands which are normally used as the IF for VHF+ transverters.
  2. The FLEX-1500 has a separate RF input and outputs for connecting to a transverter or you can configure one BNC connector to provide both RX and TX.
  3. The FLEX-1500 has an input for an external 10 MHz clock reference to ensure frequency accuracy and stability, both of which are critical for microwave operation.
  4. The FLEX-1500 will have a very low power RF output of 0 dBm for driving transverters.
  5. You get the features, versatility and functionality of PowerSDR along with the Panadapter and PanaFall™ for being able to find off frequency signals visually.

Q12: Will I need a particular type of USB controller on my PC to connect it to the FLEX-1500, like a USB v2.0 controller?

A: No, you will not need a specialized USB controller or "port" on your computer to operate a FLEX-1500. The FLEX-1500 is a "full speed" USB device operating at 12 Mb/s and it is compatible with all USB controllers no mater what type or specification they conform to.

Q13: USB cables have all sorts of different connectors. What kind of USB cable is needed with the FLEX-1500?

A: Your FLEX-1500 will come with the appropriate USB A-B cable to connect it to your computer. If you are interested in getting an additional USB cable or other detailed information regarding the USB interface on the FLEX-1500, please refer to the Knowledge Base article FLEX-1500 USB Interface Information

Q14: Is the 5 watt nominal output on the FLEX-1500 adjustable from 0 to 5 watts?

A: Yes. The RF output from the 5 watt PA will be adjustable with the "drive" control on the PowerSDR console. The value range for this control will be from 0-100%, but will not necessarily be linearly calibrated to exact values since the RF output of the PA is 5 watts nominal. Therefore 50% drive value will be approximately 1/2 of the PA's output.


SDR-1000 Questions


NOTE: The SDR-1000 is a discontinued product, as such there is limited hardware, software and technical support for the product.

Q1: What are the standard features of the SDR-1000?

A:Below is a summery of the SDR-1000 Transceiver features.
  • Fully supported by FlexRadio PowerSDR
  • 95 dB Two-tone 3rd order dynamic range at 2 kHz spacing (using the Edirol FA-66 sound card)
  • +26 dB IP3 at 2 kHz spacing
  • Covers all Amateur Bands from 160 to 6 Meters
  • General coverage receiver
  • Can receive all signals in a 192 KHz passband (using the Edirol FA-66 sound card)
  • 100 Watt PEP on 160-10m Power Amp
  • Easily upgradeable ADCs and DACs by using high quality consumer sound cards
  • Thermistor stabilized XO
  • 200 MHz low jitter Direct Digital Synthesizer (DDS) clock
  • X2 connector for external control of rotator, antenna and much more
  • Balanced microphone input with the Edirol FA-66 sound card
  • Standard 8-pin mic connector
  • Parallel control interface connection to computer
  • Option for an external reference clock source for ultra stable XO
  • Optional Transverter to provide 144 MHz IF
  • Optional Full Featured ATU 160-6m

Q2: Why do I need a sound card with a SDR-1000?

A:In order for FlexRadio PowerSDR to function, it requires that the I/Q data streams be in a binary or digital format. Consumer sound cards have the necessary A/D and D/A converters and low pass filters which allow the I/Q signals produced from the SDR-1000 to be digitized at a low cost that is easily affordable. The quality of the digitalization is a direct function of the performance characteristics of a sound card's ADCs and DACs and this translates into the dynamic range that the transceiver exhibits. The greater the dynamic range of the sound cards ADCs and DACs the greater the dynamic range of the SDR-1000.

Q3: Will any old sound card be sufficient to use with the SDR-1000?

A:No, not really. The most optimum sound card has a very high dynamic range, four (4) analog inputs and four (4) analog outputs.  Although there are facilities in FlexRadio PowerSDR to configure dual port sound cards rather than the quad port sound cards, it is highly recommended that you use one of the supported sound cards to get the maximum performance out of your SDR-1000.

No warranty is implied when the SDR-1000 is used with any sound card other than the M-Audio Delta-44 and the Edirol FA-66.  Unsupported sound cards may or may not work with the SDR-1000.
USE OF UNSUPPORTED SOUND CARDS IS AT THE CUSTOMERS OWN RISK!


Q4: What are the supported sound cards for the SDR-1000?

A: Currently there are two fully supported sound cards; the Edirol FA-66 and the M-Audio Delta 44.  There is basic support in FlexRadio PowerSDR for the following legacy sound cards:

 Presonus Firebox
 SB Audigy
 SB Audigy 2
 SB Audigy 2 ZS
 Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
 HPSDR Ozy & Janus
 SB Extigy
 SB MP3+

Q5: Is the SDR-1000 still available from FlexRadio Systems?

A:The production of the SDR-1000 hardware has been discontinued, but it is still supported by FlexRadio Systems.

Q6: Since the FLEX-5000 replaced SDR-1000, is it obsolete?

A:Absolutely not! This is the beauty of SDRs. Adding new features and performance to the SDR-1000 is usually not dependent on the hardware. It is the software that is the "brains" of the radio, so any new feature that is added to FlexRadio PowerSDR that is not hardware dependent is directly applicable to the SDR-1000. We know of no other radio manufacturer that continues to upgrade and improve on out of production products like FlexRadio Systems does. So, while the SDR-1000 may not be in production any more, it is still a great value and will continue to be so due to its incredible performance characteristics and the continuous upgrades facilitated by FlexRadio PowerSDR

Q7: How long will FlexRadio Systems support the SDR-1000?

A: FlexRadio Systems will continue to support and service the SDR-1000 hardware on a parts available basis indefinitely.  It will continue to be supported by a version of FlexRadio PowerSDR indefinitely, but not necessarily the current version of PowerSDR.

Q8: I bought a SDR-1000 on 1-February-2007 and now the FLEX-5000 is out. Will there be any special deals given to current SDR-1000 owners?

A:Yes.  All SDR-1000 owners will have their warranty increased from 1 year to 2 years provided their radio hasn't been modified.  The warranty will extend from the end of the original 1 year period for anyone who purchased a SDR-1000 for whom we have a sales record or other proof of purchase, for example the original invoice.

We will evaluate radios with user modifications on a case by case basis; however, if it isn't an approved FRS modification it will most likely void the warranty. The SDR-1000 is an excellent low cost, high performance radio that will continue to get better because of software upgrades.


Miscellaneous Questions


Q1: How do I get support for FlexRadio System's products?

A:FlexRadio Systems customers have several excellent support resources available. All FlexRadio products are directly supported by us from our Austin, TX headquarters and our world wide service centers by highly qualified support engineers who are hams just like yourself. You can either call or send an email to our Technical Support department. In addition to direct support, we have several free Internet based support resources, including our extensive, fully searchable Knowledge Center (another ham radio industry first) and Forums. We also have a user supported Reflector, which has over 1000 members who are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with new and seasoned FlexRadio users. If you can't figure out how to do something, you can be guaranteed that someone on the Reflector has done it before and is eager to share the information with you. For more information about FlexRadio Support resources including how to sign up for the Reflector, just visit out FlexRadio Technical Support Center web page.

Q2: I did not originally buy my transceiver from FlexRadio Systems.  Can I get manufacturer support?

A:Only original purchasers of FlexRadio products from an authorized FlexRadio distributor are eligible for free direct support from FlexRadio Systems. If you you are not the original owner of a FlexRadio product and require direct support, you can purchase a one time support contract which is good for as long as you own your radio for a nominal fee. Our Internet based support resources and the Reflector are always free of charge and can be used any time by anybody. For more information on support contracts, contact the FlexRadio Support Department using the FlexRadio Technical Support web page.

Q3: What is the Reflector and how do I access it?

A:The Reflector is an e-mail based discussion list where you can ask questions, provide answers or start discussions about anything related to software defined radios and FlexRadio Systems products. This is a very active list where on any given day there can be 20-30 posts or more, depending on the topics of interest.  Very rarely does a day go be where there is no postings on the Reflector.  You can sign up for the Reflector using the Reflector Management web page located in our Support area on the web site.The price is right too.  It's free.

Q4: What is the Knowledge Center and how do I access it?

A: The Knowledge Center is the place to start for all Internet based support information.  It is where you find FAQs, Expert Setups, troubleshooting tips, maintenance procedures and installation instructions along with other relevant resource material. Information is most easily found by doing simple phrase or "key word" searches. For more information on how to use the different features or "information zones" in the Knowledge Center, please refer to the KC article How to use the Knowledge Center - Introduction.

Q5: I have heard that there is a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee. Is this true?

A:Yes it is true for most FlexRadio Systems' products but stipulations do apply.  Refer to the product's Terms and Conditions of Sales for specific details.

Q6: What are "Flexers" and the Flexi Awards?

A: "Flexers" is the name that owners of a FlexRadio SDR have given themselves to show their pride in being an operator of FlexRadio transceivers. There have been other variations on the name Flexers, but this is the generally recognized term for FlexRadio users.

The Flexi™award is to the software-defined amateur radio world what the Oscars and Emmys are to the film and television communities – the highest form of recognition for an individual who has made a very special contribution to the field.

In May of each year, users and prospective users of FlexRadio SDRs will assemble at the Dayton Hamvention to share their pioneering experiences in this new realm of amateur radio and to help define the future path which SDR technology and products will take. Many users who are not financially supported by FlexRadio Systems have already made significant technical contributions that are enhancing the SDR experience for themselves and their fellow Flexers. It is these people who are recognized annually for their time and expertise. To see who were the past Flexi award winners and find out how to nominate someone for a Flexi award, visit the Flexi Award web page for more details.

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All questions and answers contained in this FAQ are subject to change without notice.

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