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Re: [TenTec] Is Orion really worth it? Given the published problems?

To: "Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment" <tentec@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [TenTec] Is Orion really worth it? Given the published problems?
From: "Bob AD5VJ" <rtnmi@sbcglobal.net>
Reply-to: Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment <tentec@contesting.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2006 00:22:18 -0500
List-post: <mailto:tentec@contesting.com>
Let the numbers speak for themselves:

73 fer nw,

10X# 37210, FP#-1141
SMIRK#-5177, RARS #-149

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dick Green WC1M" <wc1m@msn.com>
To: "'Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment'" <tentec@contesting.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2006 12:00 AM
Subject: Re: [TenTec] Is Orion really worth it? Given the published 

> There's no easy answer to this question. I should probably keep my mouth
> shut, but here goes...
> 1. Pro: I'm a serious SO2R contest operator. I have an Orion I and an
> FT-1000D (with the INRAD roofing filter mod.) While the 1000D is one of 
> the
> all-time best contest radios out there, I almost never run with it because
> the Orion is hands-down superior. The roofing filters are narrower (I use
> the INRAD 600Hz filter in the 1000Hz slot), the DSP selectivity is sharper
> with less (almost no) ringing, and the sensitivity is better. Bottom line, 
> I
> can copy a wider range of signals under conditions ranging from excellent 
> to
> horrible. Throw in BinRX for running big pileups, and you have a 
> combination
> that's hard to beat.
> 2. Caveats: I use 1.373b5 because V2 has some problems that preclude my
> using it for serious contesting -- primarily slower QSK and BinRX doesn't
> work. There are other problems with V2 that were nicely detailed by N6AHA 
> in
> a previous post, but I don't use those features when contesting -- no time
> to fool around with most of that stuff. Probably the only broken feature
> that would really affect me is the speech processor, but only if I happen 
> to
> do an SSB contest from home, which is rare. I'd love to use V2 because 
> it's
> more stable, it seems quieter, the panel controls work when the rig is
> transmitting, and the QSK noise is somewhat reduced (see below.) But I
> simply must have BinRX for CW contesting, and while I could live with the
> slower QSK, I'd rather not.
> 3. Another Caveat: I believe what N6AHA refers to as "click-clack" in the 
> CW
> sidetone is something I refer to as the "WC1M Lament" because I complained
> about it to Ten Tec many times over the last three years. This is a sharp
> clicking sound in the left headphone. You can hear a similar click in the
> right headphone, but it's not as bad. The problem doesn't exist in the
> speaker audio output (obvious if you connect your headphones to the rear
> panel speaker output.) Over many beta releases and some official releases,
> this sound has sometimes been mixed up with DSP artifacts introduced by 
> bugs
> in the firmware, resulting in confusion about the source of the noise.
> 1.373b5 has a bit of DSP switching noise, while V2 appears to have very
> little DSP switching noise. However, that makes the WC1M Lament really 
> stand
> out. Unfortunately, the WC1M Lament is caused by a hardware problem.
> Recently, I worked with Ten-Tec on an experimental mod to correct the
> problem in my Orion. It worked. The mod takes a bit of doing and I 
> wouldn't
> recommend it to anyone who is not completely comfortable with working 
> inside
> expensive transceivers and working with SMD components. Probably best to
> wait for Ten-Tec to release information on the mod.
> 4. Con: Regardless of whether you get an Orion I or Orion II, and 
> regardless
> of whether you use V1 or V2, the Orion is not for everyone. While it can 
> be
> used successfully by "appliance operators" (and I mean that with the 
> utmost
> respect), many such ops would be frustrated by it. In some respects, the
> radio has been over-designed (e.g., the complex and confusing VFO, TX, RX,
> ANT, and audio assignment process, which is very powerful but lacks, for
> example, a quick and easy way to get in and out of split mode for chasing
> DX.) In other respects, the user interface is unintuitive (e.g., it's not
> obvious that you have to push the PBT/BW button to switch functions.)
> 5. Conclusion: I would highly recommend the Orion to serious contesters 
> and
> DXers, who are looking for the utmost in performance from their rig. I 
> don't
> think there's any other radio on the market that compares. But prospective
> owners should be comfortable with tinkering to get the best results. I 
> would
> not recommend the Orion to casual operators or people who have difficulty
> with complex equipment. At the present time, I wouldn't recommend the 
> Orion
> to perfectionists.
> 6. Post-Script: Despite an incredibly frustrating experience beta testing
> firmware and waiting for a version that finally operates to the full
> potential of the design, I love my Orion and wouldn't use anything else 
> for
> my main contest radio. In fact, I recently ripped my station apart so I
> could take the Orion and all my SO2R switching gear to KT1V for this 
> year's
> CQ WPX CW contest -- despite the fact that Ted has two fine 1000Ds and a
> good switching system there. No, I had to have my Orion. FWIW, I posted 
> the
> highest claimed score in the USA for the SOAB HP category (i.e., I won --  
> I
> think.) WPX being a "run contest", I used the Orion for 88% of my 
> contacts.
> All that said, I hope Ten Tec gets back on track with Orion development. 
> The
> current situation is not good for the customers, not good for the radio, 
> and
> not good for the brand.
> One more thing... I'm not a TT groupie. My Orion is the only Ten Tec radio
> I've ever owned or used.
> 73, Dick WC1M
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