Malcolm, G3PDH posed a very interesting set of questions in comments on an earlier post, the answers to which justify a complete post in their own right. Malcolm said:
"I was a bit surprised to see that the envisaged cabinet size would be
larger that a K3, so are you thinking of having the Flex 12v PSU in
there too? I must say that my thoughts were along the lines of a
supporting remote unit to give access to quick changes and for easily
seeing where things were at but in parallel with using the main PC screen
panadapter display. It would be a shame to lose that. Maybe you
envisage just using the external box? Anyway, all very interesting.
How do you see the final costing of such a unit compared to the Maestro?"
Here's some thoughts:
I selected the big case for the experimental version because it gives me plenty of room to work in as the project develops. As I envisage this being effectively my main station "radio on the desk" I wanted something big enough to have the controls nicely laid out (unlike the K3) and with a big enough cabinet that a large screen for the SmartSDR (SSDR) display, et al could be placed on top of it (unlike the Maestro). I am not short of room on my operating desk.
Of course the cabinet doesn't need to be anything like that big. In particular it needs almost no depth as it will be mostly empty inside. I have already had thoughts on a "Mini Flex Controller", which could be made as diminutive as you like, within reason. This could be used for, e.g. operation from a hotel room. The way I am writing the code should enable any physical layout to be be easily configured.
For example, one might decide to only have one VFO knob and a couple of encoders in a tiny box, doing everything else via the SSDR interface (you might as well buy the FlexControl in that case). At the other extreme you might have a big box with a huge screen and eight VFO knobs, one for each slice on a 6700. Same software in both cases.
So no, I am not defining the physical implementation, other than for this development system for my own personal use. At the moment no decision has been taken on whether or how the controller concept may be made available to other amateurs. If there is sufficient interest in the concept for me to make the code available then it will be up to each individual how he realises the physical implementation.
As for cost - well I expect this development machine to cost me as much if not more than a Maestro. But that's because I am buying all sorts of stuff to help with development work and so on. I suspect the cost to someone else would be dominated by how much they were willing to spend on the cabinet and finishing. Some people are content with any old hacked about panel and dymotape labels. You could do it quite cheaply in that case. I think the hardware costs, excluding cabinetry is no more than £100 or so.