Welcome to Windows 10 Hell…

Posted: June 24, 2018 in Uncategorized


I have three HF radios in my shack. My 1990’s Yaesu FT-1000MP gets little use these days but remains one of my favorite all time radios. My venerable Elecraft K3 has travelled the world with me and has been to Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia, Myanmar and many other exotic places. This K3 has made somewhere over half a million contacts. While I have never been crazy about the K3’s menu and ergonomics, it is a very solid and reliable performer. On CW, there is no better radio in my opinion than the Elecraft K3 (or K3S)

My newest radio is the Flex 6500 with Smart SDRv2.2.8 and the Maestro. I like the Flex 6500 very much. The SmartSDR is dazzling to display on a large LED display. The learning curve for the Flex technology is quite steep. I have often wished that Fred Cady who writes “How to” books on the Elecraft gear would do the same for the Flex gear. My Maestro does not get much use as I prefer the larger display of SmartSDR. I look forward to that time when I can use my Maestro in conjunction with SmartSDR at the same time.

As great as SmartSDR is, it must rely on a Windows PC. As great as the Flex hardware is (and it is really great) the weak link in the system is the Windows PC. Currently, I am in what I call “Windows Hell” as the last three Windows10 updates have seriously modified my sound card configurations and I have spent considerable time and effort trying to restore them. If it were not for my “Flex Elmer” Ria-N2RJ and the Flex user community, I would have dumped my Flex gear. None of this frustration is Flex Radio’s fault. It is just that it relies on Windows and Microsoft has made Windows an unreliable product/platform.

I’ve had minor frustrations with the Maestro. Because I don’t use it often, it seems that nearly every time I turn it on, it too needs an update of some sort. I end up using my K3 as I await my Maestro to complete its 15-20 minute update and restart.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I clearly prefer radios that are not dependent on any sort of computer as the computer and Windows is the weak link and source of difficulty.

If I were to buy a new Flex, I would consider the stand-alone models that can operate independently of a computer or Maestro. I would also use a PC that is insulated from the Internet and the rest of the world and run SmartSDR on that. That way, I could turn off updates and have a more robust and reliable PC/SmartSDR experience. I regret using SmartSDR on my main PC that is connected to the Internet and is used in many different ways outside of Radio and Logging.

So as things stand, my PC’s sound card settings are seriously hosed and I am spending a lot of time trying to restore them so that I can use and enjoy SmartSDR. In the meantime, I am using and enjoying my trusty K3. Lets hope that Microsoft stops screwing around with Windows 10 so that we can enjoy other activities besides fixing our computers.

What do you think?


  1. Microsoft is bent on making updates only on Tuesdays, and having two major updates a year, unlike the other name brands. I have seen some concern in the Microsoft community, that they are pushing the limit. Major updates every 6 months it is said sometimes leaves stuff on the table because it is not fully ready to roll out. I too, am tired of reprograming my SDR after every update, but until the manufactures allow us to use alternate platforms, we are stuck with this silly mess. Almost begs of us to go back to our trusty analog Heathkits. At least they did not die every time the wind blew. de Dale, K8TS

  2. Rob Ellis says:

    I find Win 10 lacking in so many ways for ham radio. I find Win 7 64 bit to still be better. Rob WA6RE/4

  3. F1JKJ says:

    I am using a Mac and I love it

  4. Mike KJ4Z says:

    If you have Windows 10 Pro, there’s a setting you can get to by editing the Group Policy that will turn off auto updates — in theory. Google “Notify for download and notify for install” and see what you find. I have this setting on my remote control PC in Tennessee and it hasn’t updated yet. I don’t believe Microsoft will really let me defer it forever.

    Consider checking out Linux. I use a Mac for my desktop and command line Linux for my work. The Linux desktop is surprisingly usable these days, so at some point I might consider it for my desktop. I have an Intel NUC running Windows that I use solely for my ham radio stuff, but most of the top ham radio apps are available on Linux these days. I’m not sure about the SDR software unfortunately.

  5. Stephen Hawkins says:

    Windows is why I put off buying a Flex for so long. I’m strictly Linux and OS-X here. I now have a new Flexradio 6400M that does not need Windows and SmartSDR. I love it. My only frustration is that it has been recalled for factory modifications. I got the notice to ship it back along with a prepaid UPS label the same day KH1/KH7Z went on the air. Arrrgh!. I managed to get through on 40m CW the first day for ATNO. BTW, on CW anyway, that first day they were easily copy-able on 40m more then a hour after my sunrise using my home made vertical. I worked them at 1119Z when the sun was way above the horizon here. de NG0G

  6. Ria, N2RJ says:

    I haven’t had many issues but when they do happen, it’s neck snapping like a Tesla model S P100D in ludicrous mode… and not nearly as fun.

    I don’t blame Flex much for this, but a more permanent solution would be for app developers to talk directly to the rig and bypass the windows DAX app. I know, easier said than done but it can be done. Maybe some of you with programming chops want a side project?

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