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Author Topic: Ten Tec Orion or Elecraft K3  (Read 9887 times)

Posts: 22


« on: January 23, 2010, 06:15:14 PM »

I looking to buy either an Orion 1 or Elecraft K3.  I would like to here from some who have used both and which one of them they think performs better. My mode is mainly CW. Not a hard contester yet but maybe someday.  On the K3 I am looking at spending around $2350. for 100 watt kit and Ant. Tunner and 1- 400 hz 8 pole cw filter. For the Orion I am looking at one with no Tuner, but plan on buying one if I get one without the Tuner.  Any advise would be appreciated.


Posts: 28

« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 08:08:16 PM »


I have not used both. But I do own an Orion 565AT and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it's a great performer from a pure "muscle" perspective. Excellent sensitivity, filtering, and tools to dig out the weak ones. The 2nd receiver, diversity Rx, and binaural (simulated stereo) Rx are very cool.

On the other hand, I am not getting along too well with its ergonomics. The buttons are large but made of rubber, and have a mushy feel. I prefer hard plastic. I don't like the numerous knobs with their lack of physical markings (the setting is shown on the LCD display) and their push-in reset feature, which always seems to tweak the button's value inadvertently. And they are loose feeling.

Also, some features are in the menus but really should be exposed on the front, like the very useful programmable AGC. And the "multi" knob design - select a value with a button, then twiddle the multi knob - means that one's hands are darting back and forth across the radio all the time.

I am auditioning an Omni VI+ soon and hope to choose between the rigs. The Orion is a really excellent piece of technology with a somewhat clumsy UI. And if the K3 has even *more* menus and *more* multi-functions, I would dislike it more! That's really why I didn't consider it too seriously, despite its fantastic reputation.

Good luck & 73 de K2ER

Posts: 3331

« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2010, 11:21:03 AM »

Sadly, the firmware support (or lack thereof) makes the Orion a non-contender in this space.  Plus, it's too big, the 2nd RX is not that great, as you mentioned the UI is funky ... unless you can get one for a steal, and will be using it for serious contesting, I'd have to say pass.  And this is coming from a true TenTec fan.

I sure wish I never sold my Omni VI+.  That was a mistake.

Now I have a K3.  I haven't looked at any menus in months, because you use them only for setup.  I get new features about monthly, with a one-click firmware upgrade.  The QSK is as good as my Omni was and the receiver is better.  In fact, according to the ARRL and Sherwood testing, it's the best on the market.  I have the 2nd RX and it does real diversity RX, which I will now never be without.

Good luck with your shopping.

Posts: 9749


« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2010, 06:52:26 AM »

I've had both.

My primary DX and contest receiver is a K3. The main thing I do not like about the TenTec is it does NOT have true diversity. The diversity is actually pretty poor because it is not phase locked and it is not two good receivers, it is one good receiver and one poor receiver.

Other than the diversity issue I think the TT is great, and I prefer a larger radio like the TT, but the K3 just works much better for what I do.

I also like the fact I can program unused buttons on the front of my K3 to do specific tasks. For example I have the M1 through M4 message buttons programmed for CW selectivities of 200, 350, 500, and 650 Hz. I like that much better than rotating a knob to adjust selectivity.

Diversity is really only diversity when it works correctly. That means perfect phase lock and identical receivers on both channels. That means if you want diversity, you have no choice other than the K3.

73 Tom


Posts: 49

« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2010, 01:55:18 PM »

I own both radios. I bought the K3 one year ago because I liked the idea of  assembling the radio. I bought the Orion 2 a few months ago on a whim.
I am finding that I prefer the Orion 2.
I find the ergonomics easy after the K3. The second receiver is a non issue for my use, I have it in the K3 and I do not find myself using it.
What I really love about the Orion is the receive audio.
The sound from the external speaker is just much nicer to listen to.
Both companies are just awesome to deal with if you have issues. I have dealt with both and am highly satisfied.
It is fun to have firmware updates to load into the radio but honestly I frequently never noticed what the changes have added. I only really care that the radio do what it is supposed to. I doesn't matter to me if the updates are frequent or only once a year.
I am sure that you will do well with either one and my suggestion is that you try to find someone with each radio and try it before you buy. Ten Tec has a one month return policy that makes it easier to try if you are concerned.
FWIW the K3 will be for sale soon as I do not need both.
Good luck,

Posts: 1

« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2010, 10:29:58 AM »

Please email me.
Dick W4WU

Posts: 1842


« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2010, 06:09:41 PM »

The Flex 5000 has had dual diversity since the K3 was still on the drawing board.  It adds another feature called beam steering.  With the second receiver installed the radio creates in software a phase,gain surface that allows you to change the phase and gain of the second receiver with respect to the first.  This allows you to null noise and peak signal, while maintaining to a large extent the independent nature of diversity.  These aspects taken together make for a very powerful means to tune for best signal to noise.  It is far superior to simple 2 receiver spatial diversity.

In addition the receivers are mixed in the stereo spectrum so you can make the mixed signal appear anywhere you like from each receiver in opposite ears to both receivers equal in both ears   The K3 is not the only true diversity game in town by a long shot

73  W9OY

Posts: 643

« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2010, 07:42:01 PM »

The five thousand obviously wasn't in the running.

No matter how much "gain surface"  in software the five thousand creates, it will never be able to wash off the stench of Burt.

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