Having built the mcHF and really enjoyed the using it and having a visual representation of the band, In July 2015, I decided that I wanted to try a "proper" SDR (Software Defined Radio) and spent considerable time researching what was available.

Although there are a number of manufacturers who offer commercial SDR transceivers, most people seem to fall into either the Apache Labs or Flex Radio camps. I know that they aren't the only people making SDR radios by any means (Elad, Elecraft and soon Yaesu have SDR offerings) they seem to be the most popular. 

After quite a bit of reading, it became quite obvious to me that the Flex Signature series were the most technologically advanced and although the software used by the Apache Anan radios was much more mature (having originally been created by Flex Radio) I wanted something that represented the 'leading edge' of SDR transceivers.

Therefore on-or-around my birthday (21st July) I decided to order the entry-level Flex Signature series radio, the 6300. As I already had a perfectly adequate external ATU, I didn't shell-out for the optional internal one for the Flex.

flex 6300What an exciting day the 22nd of July was when my shiny new Flex arrived! I must admit, it isn't much of a looker! If you are looking for a radio festooned with knobs, lights and buttons then the 6300 definately isn't for you!

On the front panel, is just a single button with a power LED above it and next to those are MIC, PHONES and KEY sockets and that's it!

The back is a little more densely populated with all of the connections that you would expect from a high-end transceiver like this, including Ethernet! This is one of the major selling-points of the Flex Signature series, although you need a Windows PC to control it, unlike almost every other transceiver, the computer doesn't need to be next to the radio. In fact as long as it is on the same physical LAN (local area network). The transceiver can be located anywhere. In fact the next major version of the software/firmware for the Flex Signature Series (which is expect to be released sometime this year) will allow WAN (wide area network) connection so you can be anywhere in the world and operate your radio!

The software that is shipped with the Signature series radios is called SmartSDR and it is a very nice, well written program which allows you to exploit every feature of the radio. The recently released 1.6 version has added some nice features like integrated Winkey compatible keyer within the radio firmware so you no longer need a seperate hardware Winkey. I have found since using the Flex than my Icom IC-7100 has sat unused, as have many of the accessories that I bought for the Icom. Never mind, I have it as a backup! 

to be continued.....

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