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[TenTec] Radio design

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Subject: [TenTec] Radio design
From: jmlowman@ix.netcom.com (Jim Lowman)
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 16:39:19 -0700
rohre wrote:
> One of the reasons Ten Tec radios enjoy such a wide following, besides the
> QSK, good receiver, and good service, are that most of the later ones have
> been functional in the control panels.  The controls have been suited to the
> perceptions and the expectations of the operator.  There has been a logical
> grouping of knobs, switches and readouts in the tradition of "clean" radio
> panel layout.  There are not too many bells and whistles buttons to confuse
> the eye of the first time user.

Excellent point, Stuart!  While I was primarily interested in the
excellent reputation that the Omni VI Plus enjoys among CW operators
like myself (note callsign  :-) ) for sensitivity and full QSK, the
clean front-panel design was also attractive.

I was fortunate enough to score a loaded Omni VI+ from Bill (W4MA) in
GA, which should be here by this time next week.  It has everything
that I want already on board and tested: both INRAD 400 Hz CW filters
and both T-T 250 Hz CW filters.

> In contrast to the above reasonable design, the no longer made Index
> Laboratories Radio had a boxey square cabinet, with a single foot to elevate
> its viewing angle to the user.  However, viewing the meter was obscured by the
> other controls because it was lower on the panel than the frequency display.
> Apparently, this was dictated by their desire to use a square rather than low
> and wider case.

I have one of these in the QRP position in the shack, as QRP is also
one of my interests.  At the time of purchase, I believe that the QRP+
was one of two commercially-available QRP rigs that would cover 160-10
plus WARC bands without interchangeable modules.  At the time, I 
rejected the Argo 556 (little 5w brother of the Scout) because of the
module issue, but now own both a 556 and a Wilderness Sierra, both with
modules for 160-10+WARC.

> A good way to evaluate a radio's ease of use is to use it in a multi operator,
> contest environment like Field Day.  The shortcomings of home rigs really
> stands out at such an event.  Recently, a Field Day group posted that its
> solution to confusing rigs at Field Day was to buy an older Ten Tec which had
> simple to use and understand control layout.

Especially for guys like me, who were licensed initially in the days of
tube gear, where there were issues of tuning up the transmitter; not
only with a change of band, but also for a QSY of 50 kHz or so.  The
nice thing then was that controls had similar names, even from
manufacturer to manufacturer.

Consider a rig like the Icom IC-706, which I have also.  With all of 
the menus, I need the manual in front of me unless I operate this radio
frequently.  This is probably a poor comparison, since the 706
represents an engineering tradeoff between size and simplicity of
operation.  No matter; when the Omni VI+ arrives, the 706 gets 
dedicated to 6/2m contesting.  Using the 706 at Field Day often meant
getting asked how to do a mundane task such as switching bands, by
operators not familiar with the radio.
> The recent K2 kit radio by Elecraft has done a decent job on a small front
> panel of providing multiple functions without too many buttons.  Transition to
> alternate functions uses a good combination of color marking and groupings.
> This radio has many options that the user can program for filter responses,
> and other functions.  Even the lighting of displays can be varied to suit
> conditions of use.  Let us hope Ten Tec also continues to offer thoughtful
> solutions to front panel designs.

Just got one of these, and can't wait to get it on the air.  Reviewing
the K2 specs, when Elecraft offers the 50- or 100-watt PA option, it's
like getting most of an Omni VI+ in a small package, for a fraction of
the price.

73 de Jim - AD6CW

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