Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio Gear Reviews

Flex 1500


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 way 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.

There is a hardware fix for this and will be done under warrenty.

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. From the reading I've done on the web this is also a known issue
that has troubled others.

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.

I believe the future of radios will be in the software radios.  A lot of what we think of as "standard" radios are really software radios with a front plate that just controls software.  That said, full software radios like the flex 1500, 3000, and 5000 are all a little challenging to get working right.  I have all of three radios and really like the 1500 to take with me traveling.  It's a nice radio to get experience with software radios and fun to listen to when traveling.

At the present time, I tend to use my traditional radios when it's important to make the contact and during contests.


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