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Author Topic: Ten Tec Orion or Elecraft K3  (Read 14201 times)
KM5PS
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« on: January 25, 2010, 07:20:36 AM »

Not really a Contesting Topic but no forum for Tranceiver comparison.
I'm 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 and it has most filters already installed. Any advise would be appreciated.

Thanks
John
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N5NA
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Posts: 217




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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 10:16:51 AM »

K3.  My Orion is sitting on a shelf as backup to my K3.

The Orion is getting to be a fairly old rig.  The processor is no longer available although Ten-Tec is supposed to have a bought a quantity for future repair.  Ten-Tec has basically ended firmware development on the Orion.

Elecraft continues to develop the K3 with new accessories as well as continual firmware updates with new features.  The K3 is easily expandable so you can buy a basic rig today and add other options later.
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KC9HVA
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2010, 08:42:40 AM »

get the K3 and put it on the CARD what the hell !
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NN3W
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Posts: 147




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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 06:29:40 AM »

For CW use, the K3 rocks.

For SSB use, not so much.  I've had less than optimal luck with the K3 on ess ess bee, and I while I understand that your focus is on CW, the radio needs some support to make it fully functional on both major modes.
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AB7E
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Posts: 117




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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2010, 08:12:00 AM »

NN2W,

Why are you unhappy with the K3 on SSB?

73,
Dave   AB7E
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AB7E
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Posts: 117




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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2010, 08:12:37 AM »

NN3W,

Why are you unhappy with the K3 on SSB?

73,
Dave   AB7E
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NN3W
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Posts: 147




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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2010, 05:34:49 PM »

The audio levels are low...This was in combination with a Heil HC4 proset.  K4ZW and KD4D both agree with me on the matter, and to try to resolve it, we installed one of those Tentec model 715 speech processors.

Still troublesome.
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AB7E
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2010, 10:44:25 PM »

NN3W,

I don't think you have something set properly then.  The K3 is fully capable of using a rather incredible range of different microphones (dynamic, electret, etc) with very good results, but there are several settings that affect the performance.  The Heil HC-4 is a very common microphone so you should try posting to the Elecraft reflector to see what other K3 users have found to be successful.  I can post there for you if you don't want to sign up just for that one purpose.

I use a $10 computer headset (electret microphone) and get consistently excellent audio reports (it is virtually the exact same element as the Elecraft MH-2 mic), but I did spend the time to listen on a different rig and also get on-the-air reports form other hams to home in on the settings.  I'm an active contester and even during a contest DX will often favorably comment on the audio.

73,
Dave   AB7E
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ZENKI
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Posts: 916




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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2010, 09:45:24 PM »

I would go with the K3 warts and all. The diversity receive is fantastic.

The only thing that sucks on the K3 is its ergonomics. The K3 also has a noisy receiver.

If  you in no rush, I would wait for the Yaesu FT5000. It might be just as good as the K3. The 200 watts and superior ergonomics  will make it popular.

At the moment  the K3 is king of the performance castle. Nothing from Japan comes close. I had a IC7800 and sold it super fast, its receiver is not in the same league as the K3.
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AB7E
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2010, 06:53:38 PM »

Zenki: "The only thing that sucks on the K3 is its ergonomics. The K3 also has a noisy receiver. "

The ergonomics thing is pretty subjective and depends upon the individual, but the general consensus does seem to be that the small size of the K3 and the reliance on menu settings is a hindrance for many users.  Personally, I have found that once I initially set up my K3 for my style of operating (DXing and contesting), I rarely even touch very many of the front panel controls on the K3 and I almost never have to change anything in the menu.  That being said, there have been lots of requests for a "K4" (large box K3) even from otherwise satisfied K3 users.  

The "noisy receiver" issue has been a lengthy and lively topic on the Elecraft reflector, but so far nobody has been able to confirm it with any sort of data.  Spectral plots of the K3 audio show the presence of some rather low level out-of-passband audio spurs in the vicinity of 12 Khz and it is possible that those artifacts generate harshness for those with good hearing.  It also turns out that the in-band audio in the K3 is very flat out to about 4 KHz while most of the Japanese rigs roll off before that, and that is another aspect that could cause a perception of the K3 being "noisy".  A third possible factor is that the K3 has LOTS of sensitivity and LOTS of gain throughout the signal path, and users who don't understand how to manage the multiple settings that control that gain can easily create problems for themselves.  However, any laboratory measurements of noise floor or S/N ratio for the K3 are not going to confirm it as being a noisy rig, and many very serious operators have migrated to the K3 exactly because of its excellent low noise performance.

73,
Dave   AB7E
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RUSS324
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2010, 08:14:51 AM »

Try the Flex 5000A with 2nd reciever option. Problem solved! Russ
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KA1J
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Posts: 168




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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 11:42:55 PM »

I chose the K3 over the Orion.

I suspect the Orion is a marvelous radio, I've been a fan of TenTec since I bought my Corsair II from them. The TenTec support a'la repair is unbeatable. Perhaps Elecraft is as good in this dept but TenTec's repair work is historic. I still have my Corsair.

The deciding difference to me was that TenTec does not respond to the owners requests for software upgrades and on the TenTec reflector, TenTec per se does not make itself a presence other than to offer used equipment for sale.

On the Elecraft reflector, you get to talk with the designers and software engineers 1:1 and you see frequent software updates reflecting it's users wishes.

TenTec dropped the ballo and Elecraft wants to carry it so I went with the K3. Mine has everything except the 2 meter add-on and the voice recorder. It can hear a fly pass gass at 20 feet...

KA1J
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KJ4ADN
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2010, 07:21:44 AM »

Go with the K3.  After I started building resonate antennas, I turned the ATU off, and the receiver is just a tad bit more sensitive.  Had mine over a year, it's maxed out...  the BIGGEST improvement was when the sub-receiver was fully active for diverse receive.

Since I operate nearly 100% SSB, the only use my narrow filter sets get is in the data modes.  The filters are very steep, effective and simple to adjust on-the-fly without plowing through menus.

I don't know what these guys are talking about K3 noise - or microphone problems (got a Heil IC), mine gets nearly daily use, under all kinds of conditions, the stages of DSP have been a Godsend in the worst conditions, to clean up weak signals!

The K3 is just a very "clean" sounding radio, when hooked up to a set of stereo 2 or 3 way speakers.

Bill
KJ4ADN
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WX7G
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Posts: 5977




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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2010, 08:26:59 PM »

Don't forget to switch ON the AFX mode for CW.
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N3AWS
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Posts: 94




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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2010, 04:16:21 AM »

I would love to have a K3 and FLEX 5000 side by side for a direct comparison.

73,

Jim Walroth N3AWS
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