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[TenTec] Fw : Orion first impressions

To: <tentec@contesting.com>
Subject: [TenTec] Fw : Orion first impressions
From: nq5t@attbi.com (nq5t@attbi.com)
Date: Tue Apr 8 22:57:30 2003
Much of what you have indicated has to do with personal 
preference.  The whole long thing on tuning rate is baffling.  You can 
get a nice roughly 5Khz per rev with encoder rate set to fast, and 
step at 10Hz.

Most of this seems to be personal preference -- for example, the 
suggestion of a 100 hz step size and 50 or 100Khz per revolution 
default in AM mode would be terrible (for this user).  Obviously you 
don't operate AM.  One man's poison ....

I hadn't thought to crank the PBT control to see how long I could 
turn it before it fell off, but you're right -- there's nothing there to 
save oneself from one's own folly.  Also I didn't drop the radio from 
3 feet to see if it would meet my durability objectives -- don't plan to 
either, cause I'll bet it would break.

On that subject, it seems to me that the Hi/Lo cut controls work 
exactly as you would expect them to work in a receiver with 
continuously variable bandwidth, and without the need to shift two 
crystal filter passbands in various overlapping ways.  Yes, in USB 
for example, Hi cut is the same as Bandwidth.  And in fact, the Hi/Lo 
cut is just single knob control of bandwidth and PBT/bandwidth 
combined.  So you don't really need it, but it makes life intuitive and 
easy, and works VERY VERY well.  The VBT stuff on 
Yaecomwoods is second best, at best.

Other things, like overall monitor level (which could stand to be 
increased) and items which are true "bugs" as opposed to things not 
meeting your personal design goals could be reported to Ten-Tec at 
ditsnbits@tentec.com.  So far, EVERY item I have discussed with 
them (which was a bug and not a design choice, and there have 
been several) has been fixed.

Isn't it nice that you can return your Ten-Tec within 30 days.  And 
isn't it nice that you can upgrade in place.  Don't have to buy an 
Orion, and then an Orion PRO and then an ORION PRO-II and then 
then an Orion SUPER-PRO X and  ... whatever.


> 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.
> Finding 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 care to admit!
> I wish to address two design problem areas, VFO  control and Mode
> switching 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
> smoothly, 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
> accessed via the Menu.  Two keypresses are required each time you want
> to change the 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.) we must accept 100Hz Step Size, much  too coarse.  If we use a
> 10Hz step size, 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 when the VFO is tuned higher.  All digits smaller then the
> current step size must to zeroed manually. Keyboard entry of part of
> the frequency is not supported.
>   This problem consistently appears whenever we can change step size
>   from a 
> finer to a courser resolution eg., the following controls have this
> problem - 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
>    revolution 
> 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
> currently 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.  3. Menu>other>VFO-A or B Enc Rate =  slow/fast  would 
> double  the VFO default tuning  rate. 4. A panel  Push button  labeled
> "FINE" would  divide the current step size  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 the
>    "COURSE VFO" knob,  much like Kenwood's "VFO CH" knob. The "Sub AF"
>    knob 
> could be used for this purpose.  The  "Sub AF" function  might be
> controlled 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
>      dedicated 
> 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 hidden 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, some 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
>   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 in October, November,  Christmas time, mid-February and early
> March - each time  I was told the control software wasn't quite right.
>  TenTec would not 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. I 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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