FLEX 3000 - Best harware, OS & Software match
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FLEX 3000 - Best harware, OS & Software match... Expand / Collapse
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 4:23 AM
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I recently received the Flex 3000 I had ordered at Orlando Hamfest. After reading many posts on the FlexRadio forums, Yahoo Groups, eHam and others about matching a computer to it to have an optimal system seems to be a major undertaking. I wonder what would be the best match to this new rig for my shack? Seems there is a lot of chance for RFI in cables, computer and other equipment sharing IRQ's and then the freeze=ups of the SDR software. The performance of computer and radio need to be carefully matched and I need all possible assistance to make sure I have a good match to the 3000.

As I read the various posts, it appears many of you have a handle on many of the better solutions. Whether from trial and error or experience, you seem to have tackled many of the problems I have read about.

However, the one area I have not read much discussion is where is the Flex Radio software and hardware are going in the near future. Most of today’s computer systems are using a 64bit platform and the software is lagging far behind. Many of the existing hardware attachments do not have the 64bit drivers to allow taking advantage of the new system. I have read that the Flex 3000 will work with the 64bit processor and Windows 7 64bit; however, the SDR software I understand while it works, it does not take advantage of the real capabilities of the 64bit system because of the coding and structure of the software. It only stands to reason that the SDR software will eventually be rewritten to better fit the 64bit structure. The question is when will it happen and what impact will it have.

With these observations, I wonder what would really be the best match to the Flex 3000?

What are the proven matches and failures for the Flex 3000? Is there any indication of a redesign to the SDR software?

Are the changes going to support the current configuration of the radios?

Would it be smarter to use a computer with the 64bit hardware and software to be able to accomodate the future?

What are the risks? 

What have you experienced connecting a 64bit system with Windows7 64bit to a Flex Radio, especially the Flex 3000?

Looking forward to also hearing from the team at FLEX RADIO.


73, Jim - KC4FWS

Post #2277
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 5:36 AM



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Welcome to the club. You are really going to enjoy software defined radios and the FLEX-3000 in particular.

The PC issue isn't really that daunting. Honestly, most problems come from laptops because they are not engineered for performance. Most desktops work fine. The majority of desktops that have problems, they are caused by the on-board Firewire port, because these interfaces are usually not engineered for performance; they are added at the behest of the marketing department. Using a PCI or PCI-E Firewire card usually solves those problems. But there also a few PC configurations that do not have their problems resolved that easily.

That is where FlexReady PCs save the day. A FlexReady PC is one that is engineered specifically to run PowerSDR and a FlexRadio Systems SDR optimally. You can read more about it here http://www.flex-radio.com/Products.aspx?topic=FlexReady_PC

Neal (K3NC) can either build you a PC or provide the BOM for you to build your own, taking the guess work out of it. http://www.abrohamnealsoftware.com/

Now for the other specific questions.

PowerSDR is not a 64-bit application, but runs fine on 64-bit operating systems. My current FLEX-3000 configuration uses a dedicated PC (my choice) running Win7 x64. The reason that PowerSDR is not a 64-bit application is that there are a few components used to compile PowerSDR that are not 64-bit. There are no risks using Win7 x64 because PowerSDR is supported using that operating system (http://www.flex-radio.com/Support.aspx?topic=PowerSDR_Compatibility). The real advantage of a 64-bit application is it can use more memory beyond 4 GB. PowerSDR doesn't even come close to using that much RAM, so that point is moot. A 64-bit app "should" run a little faster, but that difference might be negligible. I do not anticipate that PowerSDR will get a 64-bit "make over", but I suspect that the next generation of SDR software, codenamed "Deep Impact&quo t; (DI) will be both 32 and 64-bit. DI is being specifically designed to operate on FlexRadio Systems hardware, so you do not have to worry about DI compatibility with your FLEX-3000. It is more correct to say the FLEX-3000 was designed with DI in mind. Hopefully we will start to see parts of it showing up as alpha code later this year. You can read more on DI here http://www.flex-radio.com/Products.aspx?topic=faq#di

While PowerSDR will operate fine and dandy on 64-bit operating systems, the challenge is that other third-party programs you might want to use with PowerSDR may not. If you want to ensure compatibility, use a 32-bit operating system. If you don't mind tinkering with stuff to get things running, go the 64-bit route. Which every OS you decide to load, get PC hardware that is 64-bit "ready". The world is going that way.

Tim - W4TME
Post #2279
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