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[TenTec] Fw : Orion first impressions

To: <tentec@contesting.com>
Subject: [TenTec] Fw : Orion first impressions
From: n4py@earthlink.net (Carl Moreschi)
Date: Tue Apr 8 22:05:12 2003
Most of these "problems" sounds like design choices rather than bugs.  Have
patience.  All this will change as the firmware evolves.  That's the great
thing about being able to upgrade the firmware so easily.  I am confident
TenTec will get it right.

Also, when Tentec releases the programmer's manual with the computer control
command set in it, you can then use a computer control program to control
the radio.  I am planning on doing a new version of my software for it.  I
hope to make control of the Orion from a computer a real dream.

Carl Moreschi N4PY
Franklinton, NC
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rog Penrose" <xbts337@hotmail.com>
To: <tentec@contesting.com>
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 6:10 PM
Subject: [TenTec] Fw : Orion first impressions

> First Impressions of the new Ten-Tec ORION DSP  Transceiver
> by Alan Davis  K2WS
> After using the Orion for a week, these are some of my impressions.
> dozens of software bugs in a $3300+ radio was quite unsettling to me,
> gentlemen.  I had a bigger emotional investment in this thing - then I
> to admit!
> I wish to address two design problem areas, VFO  control and Mode
> on the Orion   Most  of  the high end radios today (TS-870/950, IC-746Pro
> 756ProII / 781, FT1000 series) all have VFO tuning rates in this range:
> MODE kHz/ revolution of VFO knob    Step Size
>                                         (resolution)
>   -------------------------------------------------------
>   SSB 5 or 10 kHz                    1 or 10Hz
>   CW/FSK 500Hz to 5kHz                  1 or 10Hz
>   AM/FM 25 to 100 kHz              100Hz or 1kHz
>     With this scheme, the tuning rate is dependent on the mode (eg., SSB,
> CW, etc. ) and the step size is high enough to keep the VFO tuning
> like an analog VFO.  Step sizes courser than 10Hz makes tuning too
> digital sounding on SSB and impossible  to accurately tune in PSK31 and
> other data modes!
> Now examine  what they did on the Orion!  The Step size function is
> via the Menu.  Two keypresses are required each time you want to change
> current VFO step size.
>   kHz/ revolution of VFO knob Step Size (resolution)
> --------------------------------------------------------
>      64    Hz      1   Hz
>      640   Hz     10   Hz
>      6.4  kHz    100   Hz
>      64   kHz      1  kHz
>     320   kHz      5  kHz
>     640   kHz     10  kHz
>   6400    kHz     100  kHz
> In order to get about  5  kHz / revolution  with the Orion (6.4kHz/ rev.)
> must accept 100Hz Step Size, much  too coarse.  If we use a 10Hz step
> then the Orion forces  a  S-L-O-W   640Hz / rev. - much too
> slow for SSB work.  Then,  in order to switch the step size, Orion forces
> menu usage.
>    Furthermore, when switching to larger step sizes, no rounding of the
> frequency takes place, which is more than irritating.If for example, the
> frequency is  14.177.049  while in 1 Hz step size and we  want to go to
> 14.178.000,  switching STEP to 1 KHz  yields a frequency  of 14.178.049
> the VFO is tuned higher.  All digits smaller then the current step size
> to zeroed manually. Keyboard entry of part of the frequency is not
> supported.
>   This problem consistently appears whenever we can change step size from
> finer to a courser resolution eg., the following controls have this
> - PBT, BW,  RIT,  XIT,  and  CUT  H/L.  There are no numerical limits set
> for  CUT H/L or  PBT.  If the control is turned too far,   the display
> doesn't' stop - sometimes  writing over other parts of the display!
> The RIT/XIT step size changes with menu>RX> PBT/BW Step = 10/50/100 Hz.
> I'd rather see it change with  VFO step size.
>    The VFO shaft encoder needs to produce at least 500 counts per
> if we want a 10 Hz step size AND  5kHz per revolution of the VFO knob. It
> seems to me the Orion's encoder produces 64 counts per revolution,
> eg.,  64 Hz per revolution at 1Hz step size.
> Instead of  changing  the VFO step size via the menu as the Orion
> does, I propose the following changes:
> 1. non-AM/FM modes would default to 5 kHz / revolution @ 10 Hz step size.
> 2. AM/FM modes would default to 50 kHz / revolution @ 100 Hz step size.
> Menu>other>VFO-A or B Enc Rate =  slow/fast  would  double  the VFO
> tuning  rate.
> 4. A panel  Push button  labeled "FINE" would  divide the current step
> by 10, thus producing a fine-tuning mode as shown below.  Perhaps the
> VFOab>M pushbuttons could be  used  for this job, since the save to memory
> function is also in the Memory menu.
>                (FINE = off)           (FINE = ON )
>              kHz/ revolution     | kHz / revolution
> MODE       of VFO knob    STEP | of VFO knob     STEP
>   menu>other  slow     fast SIZE | slow      fast  SIZE
>   --------------------------------------------------------
>   SSB/CW/FSK  5kHz  10kHz   10 Hz| 0.5 kHz  1 kHz   1Hz
>   AM/FM      50kHz 100kHz  100 Hz| 5   kHz 10 kHz  10Hz
>   5. Larger step sizes (1, 5, 10, 100kHz etc. ) might be controlled with
>    "COURSE VFO" knob,  much like Kenwood's "VFO CH" knob. The "Sub AF"
> could be used for this purpose.  The  "Sub AF" function  might be
> with the Main AF knob and the Main/Sub Rx push buttons.  The new "COURSE
> VFO"  knob shall  have programmable step sizes, making large integer
> excursions quick!  Menu>STEP would be back in business.
>      Another problem is mode switching on the Orion.  Either have
> pushbuttons for USB/LSB, UCW/LCW,  UFSK/LFSK  and AM/FM  that's four
> Buttons OR when the "Mode" button is pressed the mode menu STAYS ON until
> the
> "Mode" button is pressed AGAIN.  Then, we can switch from upper to lower
> while  listening and so forth.  Mode switching is too important to be
> in the menu.
>   Other bugs----
>      There are glitches in the operation/display of certain controls.
> Thecontrol/display interaction is often inconsistent, too fast or slow,
> rotating controls have no minimum or maximum limits.  For example,
>   1. the PBT knob can be turned, turned, turned until the passband window
> falls off either end of the display and the "PBT: -nnnnnnn" readout grows
> non-sensible.
>   2. The H-CUT knob is identical in function to the BW knob in USB. The
> L-CUT knob is identical in function to the BW knob in LSB. The CUT control
> Should not allow widening of the original passband, only cutting it.  I
> think Kenwood's Slope Tuning is a superior alternative.  In SSB, one knob
> adjusts the low frequency  cutoff  and the other knob adjusts the high
> frequenc  cutoff.  It's simple, intuitive and it WORKS.
>   3. The NR function readout is flaky when Multi is turned too far.
> 4. Monitor level is not loud enough - even when set to 100.
> 5. Panel legend for headphones, key and ALC are invisible in low light.
>   There are other software problems too eg.,
> 1. the slow update rate of the Bandscope, compared to
>      Icom's 756Pro's bandscope.
> 2. the chunky, crude display below +/-  18kHz scan
>     width on the Bandscope
>   3. The Analog S-meter occasionally pins for no
>       apparent cause.
>   4. the USER profile load/store function takes more
>      than 15 seconds to work, should be instantaneous!
>   5. the USER1 and USER2 buttons should be in the Menu,
>       if accidentally pressed, the radio locks up for 15
>       seconds.
>   These anomalies are totally unacceptable.  I expected  MUCH MORE from
> Ten-Tec then this.  I spent $3300 for what I thought was a world class HF
> transceiver.  I waited nine months for delivery.  I was promised delivery
> October, November,  Christmas time, mid-February and early March - each
> time  I was told the control software wasn't quite right.  TenTec would
> release the Orion until it was 100 percent perfect. On  March 25th, the
> Orion was released and mine was delivered that Saturday, March 29th.
>      I defended  Ten-Tec on the air, supported the Orion project from the
> beginning,  read everything I could get my hands on,  talked with Doug
> Smith and Ken Hopper a beta tester during those winter months of waiting.
> wanted to see an American manufacturer back in the fray.  I sincerely
> believe that the Orion was released  prematurely.  I had an cordial
> conversation with Jack Burchfield, President of TenTec explaining my
> impression of the radio.  He honored my request to return the Orion for a
> full refund, including accessories.
>     Perhaps, maybe, in a year or so, Orion will  mature into a top
> performer. However, I do not recommend purchasing  an Orion at this time
> until the control software and other issues are completely resolved.
>         73, Alan Davis K2WS
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