[TenTec] Why I bought an Orion

Jim Reid jimr.reid at verizon.net
Sat Oct 11 15:16:01 EDT 2003

Rob asked:

" Just out of curiousity, for everyone who owns an Orion but 
isn't into dx paper chasing and contesting, but mostly ragchews, 
why did you purchase such a high end rig?"

I'll bite on that one,  hi.  I gave up sending for QSL cards a few
years ago,  yet do try to work the DX that I need when it
shows up from time to time.  Have not been in a contest in
years (licensed 53 years now).  Participate in a net every
afternoon on 40 meters.  Ragchew once in awhile,  but not
too often.  So why did I buy an Orion??

Pride of ownership of the best of present RF/DSP technology!

That is also why I own a Ten Tec RX-340 rcvr,  and a fine
Henry amplifier (8K) which I have to keep throttled back
to the legal limit whenever I happen to use it ( being heard
above the wall of QRM/N which always seems in the way of
much DX from KH6 land:  JA's are directly on the path to
Asia and the Mideast from here;  US mainland directly in
the short path to Africa,  and the North Pole directly in the
path to EU,  and the Mediterranean).  Of course, the Orion
comes in handy when listening for that DX which I need
in the midst of the piles as well.

For the same reason,  I have my RX-340 with the LO,  externally
"locked" to an  hp GPS frequency standard rcvr;  and have
taken the trouble three times now to have operated within the
Orion.  Once to bring the subrcvr antenna connection out the
 "spare" RCA socket on the back panel,  to which the
RX-340 now connects;  a second time to tweak the Orion's
TCXO,  and a third time a few weeks later to do another
tweak on the TCXO: now within a couple Hz of WWVH
at 10 MHz right here on Kauai (after Orion warm up).

And every "entity" from which I do not now have a postcard, and
is in my log, is also now in the ARRL's new LoTW files as I have
up loaded my last nearly 7 years of logs there.  So,  I will wait
for matches there, but am not chasing the postcards any more.
I am not, however holding my breath waiting for many of the last 
7 years of DXpeditions to go through the process needed to 
upload their logs also into LoTW,  hi.

So you see,  the Orion continues to provide my technical "itch"
an outlet to continue to achieve the best I can here in the
RF electronics side of the hobby.  When I want to log a particular
DX signal,  I usually can;  when I want to talk to someone,  
somewhere else,  I usually can,  hi.

My station limit:  lack of really good antennas,  and nothing here
now for 160 meters,  had to take down my four 600 foot
long wires;  plantation folks leased the land to someone who
objected to my "encroachment",  but they have done nothing
with the land in the three or four years since leasing it.

Finally, I bought the Orion because Doug Smith, KF6DX,  had
a major hand in the entire rig design,  in particular the RF/IF
frequency plan,  the DSP, and the state of the art AGC.
Doug is at the top of the heap in modern day RF design,  and
has written of much of the technology within the Orion either
in the ARRL QEX journal (of which he is editor) or posted much
info on his web site:


I am in contact with Doug directly from time to time about
various technical issues and writings.

Similarly,  when I decided to buy the Henry amplifier a few
years ago, I established a personal relation ship with both
Ted Shannon and Paul Johnson at Henry.  Paul got the
amp design/set up/control unit just the way I wanted it.  I
appreciate good design and good customer service/support.
Later on,  Ted came to Kauai with his family on a holiday,
bringing along items from Henry for me -- that is real service!
Was also visited by Radiodan (Dan Magro), W7RF,  the world 
wide rep for Henry Radio:


Dan had a good time operating the station out here.

So you see,  there are reasons to have the best signal/
fine equipment beyond the paper chase for DX awards,  
or the point/multiplier contest chase.  In my case,  it is the 
deep interest in the technology and hands on opportunities within.

With the Orion/Henry set up,  I know I am putting out the
very finest CW,  SSB,  or whatever signal I possibly can.
The Henry is tuned up into a large Bird dummy load, then
the drive reduced to yield 1500W out (CW) as read on an
RF Applications VFD RF Power/VSWR meter,  and checked
with a Bird 43 using the 2500 watt slug. The VFD is a
little generous with the reading,  so rely more on the Bird
during tune up/calibration;  and the VFD while operating
since I know exactly what the VFD should be reading when
the 1500 peak level is reached as determined with the Bird.
The Bird meter is not fast enough to follow peaks of CW
or SSB operation, while the VFD can.

BTW,  I now know that the Ten Tec Titan amplifier would
have been just fine for my use,  but stumbled upon the
Henry's first those years ago.  And the Titan would allow me 
to use the Orion QSK when using the linear,  with the Henry 
I cannot,  unless I use the Ameritron QSK-5 gadget (but I 
have had problems with that unit,  it goes "deaf" every now 
and then,  so have set it aside for now).  Guess I would
trade,  even up,  my 8K for a Ten Tec Titan III,  but can't
imagine anyone wanting to pay for packing/shipping the 
400+ pound 8K back to the mainland,  hi!  I won't.

Of course,  there are as many reasons why each of us in
the hobby does what he does and has the gear that he has
as there are those of us participating in amateur radio.

At least,  those were my excuses for an Orion,  hi.

73,  Jim  KH7M

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