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Thread: Freedom vs Aeroflex 8800SX

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    Default Freedom vs Aeroflex 8800SX

    Have both in my office right now for eval. Curious what others have to say about both these boxes independent of my views. P25 phase 1&2, apx autoalign.


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    We are issued the 8800SX's and they are really nice. We have autoaligned everything from XPR to APX with no issues. We also use it on a P1 P25 system we manage for a public safety agency and no problems to date with it. The biggest issue I have with the 8800 is the bootup time. It takes forever for it to boot up.
    "Scanner hobbyists have conjured up the idea that a new, unscannable technology is not interoperable"

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    I'm no more impressed with the R8000/R8100 boot up time since it is literally booting an embedded Windows PC as well. Even R&S CMU and CMW series are running Windows now, so I guess the days of quick booting service monitors are bygone...

    At least Freedom finally figured out how to put the battery pack INSIDE the chassis with the R8100 which was sorely missing and not well integrated on the R8000. But there still doesn't seem to be a setting for "remember last measurement settings" without having to store it to a profile every time. Still a reason why I reach for a COM120 when I don't need digital modes or automation...

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    So I've done comparative boot time testing, Freedom 1:31 and Aeroflex 3:16...yes a major difference.

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    Default Get the 8800

    I tested both, and ultimately recomended the 8800sx for my employer. We were mostly interested in TRBO auto align, and the Freedom unit fell on it's face in that regard. It required many more steps with much more operator involvement, and at the time required the use of the Motorola audio test box. The 8800 was much more i̶d̶i̶o̶t̶ new technician and more importantly, long time employee with poor computer skills proof, and could easily skip tests you didn't want. The Freedom service monitor also had terrible UI lag under certain conditions. This was a year and a half ago so I might not be remembering correctly, but I think spinning the frequency knob while the generator was on could slow it way down to the point of needing a hard reboot. Performance on the tracking generator left much to be desired. The UI was much more friendly for the older crowd who was accustomed to the classic R2600's and whatnot. Ease of use for Autotest trumped classic manual operation for this specific scenario. Run time on battery power was pretty good for the 8800, and pretty bad for the Freedom.

    Ultimately, auto test performance was key and we needed it able to be automated as much as possible for the minimally trained. We went with the 8800sx, which beat the Freedom unit hands down in my testing. Now for the skinny on the WalletFlex. They had all sorts of issues at first. Mine conked out right out of the box, with some sort of hard disk corruption. When I got it back, it had very long startup times, like 10+ minutes long. A firmware update fixed that. Then, it would refuse to autotest mobiles without a specific external attenuator, despite only being 45w with the monitor rated for over a hundred. Firmware update again fixed that. Third thing to happen was much less critical, but still a problem. Performing operations with a flash drive such as saving logs or uploading presets took longer than expected, with no indication of activity. It was easy to pull a seemingly idle flash drive, goofing it up since I only used crummy trade show freebies. Speaking of flash drives, the monitor just would not even see certain ones. Again, my garbage trade show freebies. Phone support even said so, when I could get a hold of them, which was another problem. Testing radios with hokey serials, such as XTS5000's with serial 123ABC456 worked, but would do weird things with the log. The test results would not display correctly, and had to be manually deleted one entry at a time. Not much I could do though, these were legit paying customers with illegit radios.

    Documentation is better for the Aeroflex too, especially if you want to make it do parlor tricks like remote control over the network, or just mirroring it's controls to a PC.

    In short, I expected the product to work out of the box considering the cost, and I was sadly mistaken. If I were to do it again though, I would still get the 8800's, as the Freedom monitor was comically behind in the critical categories of Autotest and align, tracking generator, and return loss. I didn't even bother to test it's OTA capabilities it was so far behind the 8800.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzyReception View Post
    I tested both, and ultimately recomended the 8800sx for my employer. We were mostly interested in TRBO auto align, and the Freedom unit fell on it's face in that regard. It required many more steps with much more operator involvement, and at the time required the use of the Motorola audio test box. The 8800 was much more i̶d̶i̶o̶t̶ new technician and more importantly, long time employee with poor computer skills proof, and could easily skip tests you didn't want. The Freedom service monitor also had terrible UI lag under certain conditions. This was a year and a half ago so I might not be remembering correctly, but I think spinning the frequency knob while the generator was on could slow it way down to the point of needing a hard reboot. Performance on the tracking generator left much to be desired. The UI was much more friendly for the older crowd who was accustomed to the classic R2600's and whatnot. Ease of use for Autotest trumped classic manual operation for this specific scenario. Run time on battery power was pretty good for the 8800, and pretty bad for the Freedom.

    Ultimately, auto test performance was key and we needed it able to be automated as much as possible for the minimally trained. We went with the 8800sx, which beat the Freedom unit hands down in my testing. Now for the skinny on the WalletFlex. They had all sorts of issues at first. Mine conked out right out of the box, with some sort of hard disk corruption. When I got it back, it had very long startup times, like 10+ minutes long. A firmware update fixed that. Then, it would refuse to autotest mobiles without a specific external attenuator, despite only being 45w with the monitor rated for over a hundred. Firmware update again fixed that. Third thing to happen was much less critical, but still a problem. Performing operations with a flash drive such as saving logs or uploading presets took longer than expected, with no indication of activity. It was easy to pull a seemingly idle flash drive, goofing it up since I only used crummy trade show freebies. Speaking of flash drives, the monitor just would not even see certain ones. Again, my garbage trade show freebies. Phone support even said so, when I could get a hold of them, which was another problem. Testing radios with hokey serials, such as XTS5000's with serial 123ABC456 worked, but would do weird things with the log. The test results would not display correctly, and had to be manually deleted one entry at a time. Not much I could do though, these were legit paying customers with illegit radios.

    Documentation is better for the Aeroflex too, especially if you want to make it do parlor tricks like remote control over the network, or just mirroring it's controls to a PC.

    In short, I expected the product to work out of the box considering the cost, and I was sadly mistaken. If I were to do it again though, I would still get the 8800's, as the Freedom monitor was comically behind in the critical categories of Autotest and align, tracking generator, and return loss. I didn't even bother to test it's OTA capabilities it was so far behind the 8800.
    Thanks very much for the time you took to give some feedback. Pretty much what I've seen so far, and yes the Aeroflex is very picky for dongle size. All their models have been like this as I used to carry a 3550 and these were famous for that. I think we've pretty much decided that the Aeroflex is the better of the two boxes at this point. Yes it's slower but yes alot less gui issues as you've already found also. Tnx again!

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    I had a 8800 demo for a while and I HATED the UI... I mean, absolutely despised it. I used it to test and service analog repeaters in the field and *attempted* to mod a MastrIIE from 47 MHz to 6 meters with it, and was unsuccessful on both counts, having to resort to my old R2590 analog monitor. If they had just taken the 3920 GUI and modded it for a touch screen device I would have loved it. I also played with a R8000 in a limited capacity with the auto-tune feature, and agree with everything that was posted above. Get a 3920 for auto-tuning, and something else for field service work.
    "The Girl Scouts found several hungry REACT members at the finish line..."

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    I am testing both in the shop right now and have so many issues with both. The freedom constantly locks up switching radios, wont communicate with my NX radios, randomly stops communication with my A25 radios, goes batcrap crazy on my dual band APX mobiles (Please connect antenna to: BAND INVALID")

    The 8800SX is slightly better, but flips out and fails my NX radios (500khz off freq reported... i dont think so) and both require a USB hub for my EFJ and KW radios.

    Both are trying to win my business and so far atleast the aeroflex/cobham/viavi/whoevertheyarethisweek folks are making an effort to fix the issues.

    I do like that the freedom boxes test the microphones as well, the viavi boxes do not.

    We are on our 2nd box from both vendors. I am floored that they would send us boxes with issues given we are in the market for three. Seems like we would get the primos!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo4Thirty View Post
    We are on our 2nd box from both vendors. I am floored that they would send us boxes with issues given we are in the market for three. Seems like we would get the primos!
    You'd think that, wouldn't you? At least you are getting something out of the moneyflex folks. It was more work than it should have been to find, but I got a phone number for support from them. For the Freedom monitor, I only got an email address, and it was for their third party sales rep. I received some really defensive responses. I felt sort of insulted on multiple fronts. Being able to call someone, especially someone technical, is huge. Can you imagine trying to support Motorola's silliness without having the number to call? I don't know about you, but they were on speed dial.

    Also, brand names are strong, it's my opinion that they should not be doing this aeroflex/cobham/viavi thing unless they legally can't continue with the legacy Aeroflex name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo4Thirty View Post
    I am testing both in the shop right now and have so many issues with both. The freedom constantly locks up switching radios, wont communicate with my NX radios, randomly stops communication with my A25 radios, goes batcrap crazy on my dual band APX mobiles (Please connect antenna to: BAND INVALID")

    The 8800SX is slightly better, but flips out and fails my NX radios (500khz off freq reported... i dont think so) and both require a USB hub for my EFJ and KW radios.

    Both are trying to win my business and so far atleast the aeroflex/cobham/viavi/whoevertheyarethisweek folks are making an effort to fix the issues.

    I do like that the freedom boxes test the microphones as well, the viavi boxes do not.

    We are on our 2nd box from both vendors. I am floored that they would send us boxes with issues given we are in the market for three. Seems like we would get the primos!
    Not seen these types issues with the Freedom box but yes the Aeroflex box they first sent would fail 3/6 radios for same issues. Not duplicat-able at Aeroflex so they sent another box. Problems disappeared.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EM36 View Post
    Not seen these types issues with the Freedom box but yes the Aeroflex box they first sent would fail 3/6 radios for same issues. Not duplicat-able at Aeroflex so they sent another box. Problems disappeared.
    Evaluation units usually don't get treated very well by the users and I doubt they would test them when they are returned besides a basic power on check.

    They are usually the some of the first units off the production line so they might not have hardware reliability improvements that over the years have been added.

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    I haven't touched an 8800 but the Freedom 8100 has been a decent performer when I got to use one... for manual work or for XTS/XTL/APX/XPR auto-tune. My only gripe was the UI isn't too "idiot proof"... but then again my "ol' trusty" HP 8920 isn't a walk in the park either.

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    We got the APX issue sorted on the Aeroflex (by swapping out the monitor for another one), but it bombs on kenwood NX radios (500khz off frequency?? i dont think so) and reads the model number of a KW P25 radio, but wont put it in alignment mode. They were supposed to send me beta code (nice on a demo box huh??) to test but so far nothing. And whats the deal with having to use the rear connector on the XTL to do alignment? The GCAI mic plug works just fine on the APX (and on XTL on the freedom box). Strange.

    Are you guys having to use USB hubs with your monitors? We get intermittent communications unless we go through a powered hub.

    Soon we will be making the decision on which to move forward with, things i like about both and things that absolutely drive me nuts. The saga continues...

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    No usb hubs needed on either box here. Freedom demo is gone and continuing to exercise the Aeroflex. I like the Aero better than the freedom box for a number of reasons. GUI is slower as said prev but it's more intuitive.

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    I just got issued a brand new 8800sx and I don't know if they have changed anything or not but it does seem to boot up faster and the touch screen seems to be more sensitive. Could just be that its brand new also.
    "Scanner hobbyists have conjured up the idea that a new, unscannable technology is not interoperable"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    I just got issued a brand new 8800sx and I don't know if they have changed anything or not but it does seem to boot up faster and the touch screen seems to be more sensitive. Could just be that its brand new also.
    In talking to the factory engineer abt this he said that alot of the time the slow boot is stuff running in the background. Found this with initial unit, a factory refresh had the thing booting much faster.

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    Hey guys, having used both the R8XXX and 8800 units extensively, I wanted to pass on some hints on the 8800SX regarding boot time. First, in order to use any instrument, there is a stated warm up time that needs to be taken in to account to obtain useful measurements. Both Freedom and Aeroflex/Viavi state this in their manuals. Freedom states 15 minutes minimum while Viavi states 10 minutes. Second, put the 8800SX into suspend mode rather than powering it off, the unit will usually come back up in less than a minute. The battery life on the 8800SX is stated to be 2.5 hours, but I can usually get 3+ hours. In suspend mode it extends it even more (depending on usage). If you use the unit in the field, that is important as is the supply voltage - the 8800SX can be operated/charged at 12V, while the R8100 requires 16V.

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    In other news... Freedom was just bought by Astronics...)

    https://www.rrmediagroup.com/News/Ne...s/NewsID/18441

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    We have 3x 8800SX.
    The one I use is very unreliable, as it often fails to boot up when I am onsite.
    It has been returned for repair but came back with same issues, and this was at 3-months old.