Flex 1500 Review
In short, it's not ready for prime time.
I've had it for a week now and it's already slated for a return trip to the factory for repair.
The first issue was setting it up to work on my desktop. Vista is not a good OS to use with the Flex 1500. I spent a couple hours trying to make it all work together and eventually gave up. I grabbed my Acer One netbook that is running XP and had everything up and good to go in about 10 minutes.
Then I plugged in my Heil Traveler headset and discovered the next problem. KC5HCS did such a good job of describing it, I'll let him do so here again:
I have 3 distinct spurs in the sideband passband and 6 in AM as one would expect. I can turn the mic gain all the wall down to no avail. Now if I disconnect the mic from the front panel it will go clean in the passband but here's whats strange. I'm using a Heil traveler with Yaesu adapter cable. I can disconnect the adaptor cable from the headset and leave the adapter cable connected to the 1500 and still get the spurs. Now this is effectively an unterminated or open cable from the mic input to the adapter connector.
This lead me to believe the cable to be suspect so I ordered another one from AES in Milwaukee as it would be in my hands the next day with standard UPS shipping. Guess what? The cable wasn't bad. So the next thing I tried was to order a replacement Yaesu microphone from AES as the FlexRadio site claims that the pinout is the same as it is for the FT-817, 957, and 897. So a day later I had in my hands a MH-36e8j microphone. Same problem. After a day long exchange of emails the conclusion is:
There is an issue with the bias current not being “clean” enough that is powering the condenser element in the FLEX-1500. The problem is the 1 kHz noise on the mike bias line. It will appear on any Yaesu or Yaesu equivalent mike that connects the mike bias line to mike high. All Heil mikes/headsets, other than the Traveler, work fine.
All pure dynamic mikes will work fine.
I wired a Cobra HG M73 dynamic mic to it that I had in a junk box and miracle of miracles, it worked brilliantly. I got on the air and worked a few QSO's with it and got good reports.
Additionally, the phones jack is scratchy if there is any movement of the cable that is plugged in to it. I've tested with multiple cables with the same results on all of them.
The next issue is the power switch. If I power it off, then next time I want to power it up I have to remove it from the power source or shut the power source off and turn it on again before I can power the Flex on again.
So far though it seems to be a fairly brilliant receiver and I'm enjoying listening to it. I haven't tried CW with it yet. I may give that a try later today.
The software that runs the rig, PowerSDR is as well not ready for prime time. If you want to run any digital modes, you can either cable to another computers line in and run your choice of soundcard based digimode software like MixW or DM780, etc, or you can purchase a program to enable virtual audio cables. As far as I'm concerned until PowerSDR incorporates bring able to TX/RX the digital modes from within itself it is an incomplete system.
In summary, neat rig, but the FT-817 or the IC-703 are far better radios out of the box.
Amateur Radio In The News
- World Amateur Radio Day 2013 - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- IARU announces frequencies for Korean Ham Radio CubeSat OSSI - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Amateur radio enthusiasts flock to La Porte for annual event - The Herald Argus
- Ham Radio in Alabama newspaper - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Ham radio club to celebrate Legion birthday - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Ham Radio in upcoming episode of Last Man Standing - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- More Cubans active on Ham Radio satellites - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Ham Radio 100 years old at ISU - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Ham radio team activate PJ2T - Southgate Amateur Radio Club
- Local amateur radio enthusiasts looks for ways to give back - Savannah Morning News