I recently sent my Orion back to Ten-Tec with a problem I had been chasing for
over 6 months. I had been running V2.062a while trying to find the cause of
losing the main receiver and transmitter when the band was changed - first thru
the computer control port and then thru the front panel buttons. The Service
Department quickly isolated the problem to the digital board and then to the
EPROM chip - I should have sent it back earlier! Ten-Tec Service group is
While the Orion was at Ten-Tec, I was using my FT1000MP. I found the FT1000MP
audio to be much less fatiguing when operating the radio for several hours
(With the rain,ice and cold weather I am spending more hours on the radio!).
When the Orion came back - with V2.062a - I noticed that the audio sounded
"overdriven and somewhat distorted." After a day of operation I reloaded
V1.373b5. To my ear, V1.373b5 audio sounds much smoother - regardless of the RF
gain or audio gain setting. Of course I much prefer the performance of the
Manual Notch Filter in the V1 code (Removes the carrier from the IF bandpass as
well as the audio tone so that nearby strong signals do not "pump the AGC" -
making it hard to copy weak signals). Additionally I find the sidetone to be
much clearer on V1; the V1 Noise Reduction code is much more effective - to my
ear - on SSB; I much prefer the operation of the S-Meter/RF Gain in that the
S-Meter still correctly reads the signal strength even with the RF
gain reduced (I know that some prefer the V2 mode where the S-Meter needle
moves to the right side of the S-Meter as the RF gain is reduced). I don't know
if the audio issues I observe on the Orion are due to the changes that were
made in the V2 AGC operation/take-off-point or because of the code changes made
in an attempt to reduce the adverse effect of burst QRN, or something else.
I hope that Ten-Tec will soon devote some resources to continuing work to
improve the V2.062a (May 2007) firmware. I remember early Orion discussions, on
this reflector, that discussed expectations that the Orion firmware would be
continuously upgraded to add new features and functions to the radio. There
have been very few functional improvements to the Orion/Orion II (Letters for
the stack memories; a strange "sloped AGC" function; etc.), while numerous
performance issues have emerged as artifacts of the V2 firmware re-write.
Certainly those early expectations have, thus far, gone unfulfilled. What would
be most welcome would be Ten-Tec releasing a new digital board for the Orion
and Orion II with the much faster - with larger memories - follow on processors
to the current Orion SHARC (Which are code compatible with the current
Orion/Orion II DSPs). That would allow new code to add new features to the
Orion/Orion II. However, it doesn't look much like that is in the works.
Hopefully this isn't the end for the Orion firmware.
Merle - W0EWM
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