[TenTec] Omni advice - summary

Peter A. Klein pklein@seattleu.edu
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 13:52:12 -0700 (PDT)

Many, many thanks to those who shared their experiences with the Ten-Tec
Omni V and VI.  Most of the comments have been glowingly positive, with a
few cautions, and just a couple of rants.  For the benefit of others,
here's a summary. 

Everybody loves the receivers.  The crystal mixing scheme evidently
results in a superior receiver with much less phase noise and better
close-in signal immunity than even the best Japanese rigs.  One person
prefers the FT-1000mp to the Omni VI, but also owns an Omni V.  Several
others said that they sold their top or almost top-of the line
Icom/Yaesu/Kenwoods after trying an Omni.  One gentleman said he's owned
every top-line rig made for years, and sold them all once he got an Omni
VI.  Another sold his Icom 781 in favor of an Omni VI. 

The Omnis seem to have a few quirks.  These are well-known: slight display
inaccuracy (+/- 50 Hz) that can't be fixed without a very complex
procedure, slight drift, hard keying, birdies (most on 10m, and most of
which can barely be heard with an antenna connected), and occasional
software glitches, particularly with computer control. 

It depends on what you want to do with the radio whether these will bother
you.  Some of these things are part of the crystal mixing scheme, which is
precisely what gives the Omnis their edge in receiver performance.  A
couple of people said that the Omnis make more of a difference on CW, but
others said it was better in both CW and SSB.  

It also seems that a few Omnis are "lemons," and if you get one of those,
you may swear *at* the rig rather than *by* it.  I was cautioned by a
couple of people give up on them and sell them after several repairs.  It
also seemed that the people that give up on them most often are the
hard-core contesters and "top of the honor roll"  competitive DXers for
whom every millisecond counts.  

Dedicated high-speed CW operators may actually prefer the Omni V.  Two
people noted that the V has cleaner keying and a couple of analog features
that are more useful to them than the original Omni VI's DSP.  These
include a tone control, an excellent audio peaking filter, and ability to
mix broadband audio with filtered audio.  The V does not have RIT/XIT or
an internal keyer.  One person mentioned a slight delay in the VI's
internal keyer that threw one's timing off. 

Both Omnis benefit from the ability to cascade filters.  Several people
suggested that if you get an Omni, you should get all the optional
filters.  One person mentioned that Ten-Tecs ladder-type filters are much
better for CW than lattice filters in most other rigs.  Evidently the
ladder filters keep the signal shape better than the lattice type, which
rounds the waveform and makes it blend more in with the noise.

People who have tried the VI Plus' new DSP say that its noise reduction is
better than the Timewave 59+ and similar. 

All but one person raved about Ten-Tec's service.  Because of the modular
nature of the radios, boards can be swapped without sending in the entire
unit.  Ten Tec's has the reputation of sending people boards without
hesititation if they think it might solve the problem; you send the old
board back when you get the new one.  They also will send you a part you
need for a mod, sometimes without charge.  Turn around time if you do have
to send a rig in is usually 2-3 weeks.  The radios have lots of room
inside and are easy to work on.

Finally, I have *never* seen the kind of brand loyalty I've encountered
among Ten-Tec owners.  It seems like when you buy a Ten-Tec rig, you don't
just buy a radio, you buy a relationship with Ten-Tec.  That's very
valuable, considering the horror stories I've heard about the other
companies.  In fairness, I must say that I've always had excellent service
from Icom.  I have a horror story of my own about Yaesu.

Ham radio is a very tough market.  It's not a huge mass market, so the
profit margins are small.  The customers are very picky.  They want their
rig to be the perfect machine for their particular interest.  They want
radios to work equally well in contradictory circumstances, or demand all
the features of two contradictory design schemes. 

Ten-Tec appears to have made a conscious effort to emphasize receiver
performance over digital bells and whistles.  The comments I've received
indicate that they've also done a good job in making a radio that is not
cheap, but is well worth its price.  All of this requires some compromise
to make a viable product.  Most people agree with the compromises, a few

Thanks again to everyone who replied to my query. 

--Peter (KD7MW)

Peter A. Klein  (pklein@seattleu.edu)  :    -----==3==      ---      ---
Network Administrator, LAN/WAN/Novell  :   |    |  |  |    |   |    |   |
Seattle University, 296-5569           :  @|   @| @| @|   @|  @|   @|  @|

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