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Re: [CQ-Contest] Elecraft size

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Elecraft size
From: K3BU@aol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 14:23:24 EST
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
Bill, W4ZV writes >
to Igor, UA9CDC >>

>  Hi Igor,
>           I must disagree with you about Orion and Ten-Tec's
>  responsiveness to customer inputs.

I must disagree with Bill's disagreement about above. See the response of TT 
Manager W4PA to my suggestions and requests for PTT and other enhancements for 
contesters ("....then the Orion is not for you") 

>  UA9CDC wrote:
>>Orion being good front end performer got several annoying issues like
>>lack of CW PTT

>  CW PTT is coming.  Actually it was released in a beta just before the CQ
>  160 CW and I suggested they wait so it would not upset existing station
>  configurations immediately prior to a major contest.

Upset what? Existing logging software (like TRlog) that is made to use PTT on 
CW and SSB, there is nothing to be upset, but welcome change, sooner, better.
>>lack of choice of baud rate for RS232
>  First time I've heard anyone complain about this.  My old Win98 computer
>  works OK at 57600 but I suppose it could cause problems for some.

It is not the question of software update downloading speed between the 
computer and Orion, that is fine. But many of diehard TRlog (and other 
users can appreciate choice of serial port speeds in order to fine tune the 
setup. With some radios slower speed works better for frequency updates. 
>>underpowered processor that makes your CW choppy when you adjust DSP BW 
>>during TX
>  Most radios simply lockout changes like this during TX and Orion's latest
>  revision now does the same (i.e. changing BW while transmitting has no 
>  effect either on DSP BW or keying characteristics).

Underpowered processor demonstrates itself in case of latest fix for choppy 
tuning, which was traded off for very slow updates of sweep function, which is 
rather poorly implemented. 

>>poor choice of tuning rates

>  The "digital" sound while tuning has been fixed in the latest revision.  I
>  don't find a problem with Orion's tuning rates either on CW or SSB, but 
>  choices could easily be added in a future firmware revision.  I use Enc 
>  Fast and Step 1 Hz for CW and then toggle xm10 for faster tuning in 10 Hz 
>  steps. This gives a rate of 2.5 kHz per knob revolution which has worked 
>  OK for me in both modes.

That's what is being addressed, 2.5 kHz per revolution is on the slower side. 
This should have been the middle range somewhere between extremes of 10 kHz 
to 1 kHz per rev. Anything bellow 2.5 right now is ridiculously slow and 
practically useless.
>>clicks in one of the head phones when monitor is engaged in CW
>  Not yet addressed, but I know this is on their list of outstanding
>  issues to fix.  It did not bother me during extended sessions of the
>  CQ WW CW and CQ 160 CW, but I agree it should not be there, and I have
>  no reason to believe it will not be addressed in a future revision.

This and host of other, mainly ergonomic concerns (power meter, etc.) 
should/could be addressed in one big "contester" revision.
>>The radio freezes up during TX and needs reloading from time to time
>  My last crash was January 31, and newer versions seem much more 
>  stable.

You are lucky. It seems to be very random. Sometimes it happens more 
frequently when sweep or other features are engaged, or for no reason at all. I 
had it 
quit on my while I left the radio on and went away, doing nothing. (OK, it is 
a feature: you go away, radio goes to sleep :-)
>>worst thing is that TT is reluctant to deal with these problems claiming
>>these are "features" and not problems
>  Absolutely not true.  CW PTT WILL be in a revision in the very near
>  future.  The beta team for Orion consists mostly of knowledgeable 
>  contesters and they, along with Ten-Tec, are making excellent progress in
>  making Orion even better.  One change which I personally wanted for DX-ing
>  on the low bands was to allow the Spot tone to go below 300 Hz (I often 
>  to listen to 240-250 Hz when listening to extremely weak signals).  Ten-Tec
>  modified Orion with a month of making that suggestion and even extended the
>  lower range to 100 Hz from the original 300 Hz.

Not so absolutely. I had to endure ridicule from TT manager and TT reflector 
cult worshipers for bringing up the PTT problem. (See the details on my web 
site.) After some backlash and heavy hand from the big boss, looks like it is 
being finally implemented. I wish the PTT was implemented with speed like your 
100 Hz change, I could have used it this sping.

>  There are several other issues being addressed besides those on your
>  list.  I also suggest you always update with the latest firmware, since new
>  issues are continually being addressed.  What is a problem today will 
>  NOT be a problem in the future.  This update capability, along with 
>  willingness to listen, is a very powerful combination to continue refining
>  Orion.  

There are some pluses and minuses with Orion. Plus is the good, strong signal 
and flexible filtering RX and ability to fix "everything" with software 
updates. Minus is some deficiencies in ergonomics, especially from the 
point of use. It seems that the processor is handling a lot, maybe can't hack 
it all, as we have seen with tradeoff between the tuning rate change and sweep 
function deterioration. Looking at the list of updates since they were 
published, one wonders why those things were not addressed before the radio 
long delays) was released. 

>  I repeat, there is one competitor of Ten-Tec that has been shipping
>  radios for >15 years with known click problems, and that company has yet to
>  even acknowledge the problem exists.  Owners of that radio are either left 
>  fix them at their expense, or else pollute our bands with needless clicks.

If we keep buying 'em, they will make and sell 'em. The above problem can be 
fixed by changing two capacitors. But it should have been taken care of by 
manufacturer, especially if their marketing manager is a contester. If there is 
no alternative, the stuff sells, if there is a competition, then they LISTEN. 
So lets hope that competition for serious radio for contesters will heat up and 
produce variety of alternatives that will fit our needs and pocketbooks.

>  I feel the contrast to Ten-Tec is very striking.  No, Orion is not perfect,
>  but it is backed by a company that DOES listen and does offer an update
>  capability in Orion to incorporate suggested improvements.

This has been the mantra of Ten-Tec in the past, but their products were not 
exactly the favorite radios with contesters. When we look at the overall 
features, ergonomics, packaging and performance, we make our choice for the 
fit for our situation. So the overall impression of the new baby Orion, is that 
radio has some good points, but seems still under development, with bugs that 
are being discovered as people get the radios. 
Beware of TenTec reflector, if you show there with critical comments, you 
will be attacked by some "Cult Worshipers" who believe that "Emperor has new 
clothes" and there is nothing possibly wrong with their beloved radios. This 
obviously doesn't help anyone. If more operators bring up points for 
improvement we 
all can only benefit. Some people are happy with Chevy, some desire Ferrari. 
I have posted my contester's review at my web site www.K3BU.us
look under Reviews and Orion. You will find things that magazine reviews 
would not touch and you can make your own opinion if it is for you now, later 

Incidentally, IC7800 passed FCC certification and is being shipped to US 
customers. Looking at the specs, it appears superior to Orion, for about double 
price. Anyone got it yet? It would be interesting to see the first impression 
opinions. I am eager to get my hands on one.
The point is, opinions should be expressed fairly, we are the users and 
suckers and our opinions should be taken as personal for what they are. 
the deficiencies does not serve anyone, including manufacturers. If you like 
brunettes, by all means do so, but do not tell me to like them, if I like 
blondes and express so.

>                                                           73,  Bill  W4ZV
>  P.S.  I have no connection with Ten-Tec, and yes, I paid full price for 
>  in case anyone is wondering.
73 Yuri, K3BU.us
P.S. I definitely have no connection to Ten-Tec, paid full price, waited for 
my Orion and I am not Beta or Gamma tester and prefer to say the way things 
    The world's top contesters battle it out in Finland!
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