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[TenTec] Re: K2/ORION/746PRO

To: <tentec@contesting.com>
Subject: [TenTec] Re: K2/ORION/746PRO
From: w3uls@3n.net (John Rippey)
Date: Mon Aug 4 23:01:46 2003
John, as in so many things related to our hobby, it seems to me that the 
ARRL Lab's test reports, alongside the reviews, on transceivers are 
valuable, but should not be regarded as definitive. As one small example, 
the Lab ran a correction in the June 2003 QST of the 3d-order intercept 
points it found for the IC-746PRO in the original review 14 months earlier. 
The new data was more favorable for the IC-746PRO.

The ARRL tests just one sample from an early production run of the rigs it 
reviews, so its findings are subject to the vagaries of the manufacturer's 
quality controls at an early stage. Ed Hare, the head of the Lab, has 
conceded the one-sample scheme is less than ideal. Because of these and 
other variables, I think a problem can arise if a ham should take the Lab's 
reports and base his/her buying decision exclusively on them.

Moreover, I believe a whole new testing challenge is posed by the new 
software-controlled rigs from ICOM and Ten-Tec. There have been discussions 
on reflectors, etc., involving Ed Hare and Ten-Tec's Doug Smith over 
testing issues, and I assume this will continue as everyone becomes more 
familiar with the potentialities of these new rigs, which in many ways bear 
little or no resemblance to analog rigs.

After purchasing both an Argonaut V and an ICOM 746PRO, I can say that for 
me at least the only way to get to know these software-controlled radios 
was to buy and use them. The write-ups in QST and the Lab reports for both 
rigs proved only marginally useful, because the actual performance of these 
two exceeded IMHO what I would have expected from just reading the reviews 
and looking at the data. In fact, from what I understand about the 
IC-746PRO, the receiver is at least as good as the PROII's, its QSK is 
smoother, and its keying bandwidth is exemplary. This info came from other 
users, however, not from QST. In contrast, I can look back at the QST 
reviews of years ago of two of my favorite analog rigs--an OMNI VI and a 
JRC JST-245--and see that those articles and accompanying data gave a 
pretty good account of what could be expected. I think now, with digital 
circuitry embedded in firmware, we are dealing with a new breed of cat that 
doesn't lend itself to such single off-the-shelf reviews. The new 
generation of radios have much greater complexity and concomitant 
capabilities that have to be studied and explored over time.

So I'm looking forward to the ARRL's report on the ORION, but I am not 
going to consider it the last word by any means.

John, W3ULS

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