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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Ten-Tec Orion Help

Reviews Summary for Ten-Tec Orion
Ten-Tec Orion Reviews: 100 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $3,300.00
Description: The Ten-Tec ORION represents an entirely new concept in high-performance HF transceivers. Ten-Tec's goal with this new groundbreaking design is to deliver the finest performance level to date from an amateur transceiver." Full measured specifications, pictures, and accessory information are available on the Ten-Tec ORION website
Product is in production.
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<— Page 6 of 10 —>

K7NA Rating: 5/5 Jul 8, 2005 12:09 Send this review to a friend
Excellent! No Problems!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After reading the last two reviews, I thought I would add my $.02. I've only had my new Orion up and on the air for a short time but I have put quite a few hours on it (I'll write a more considered review later after I've had time to completely acquaint myself with all the many features). Since the moment I placed my Orion on the air, I've not encountered a single problem, glitch or irregularity. It's been flawless so far, doing exactly what it is supposed to do and the reports on both CW and SSB (using TT705 and Heil Proset with HC5) have been excellent. One flaw encountered which has been well documented in the past involves the internal keyer which defaults at Mode B (I prefer Mode A) but I understand that issue will probably be dealt with in the upcoming version 2.0 firmware upgrade. That said, I understand the issue and make provisions for it...not a big deal. The sheer performance in terms of sensitivity, selectivity and flexibility so far outweighs minor concerns that I, for one, find this rig a delight to use and a keeper. Fundamentally, this is NOT a radio for new hams or those seeking utter simplicity of operation. I believe that seasoned operators who read the manual over a few times in advance of using the rig and then read it once again while following along on the radio, and who take precautions to avoid poor engineering practices such as RF getting into the shack, will be rewarded with a superb operating experience. I am delighted to own this world class rig and proud that it came from USA-based Ten Tec.
ARRLBOOSTER Rating: 2/5 Jul 8, 2005 09:41 Send this review to a friend
Not much for the money  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned many fine Ten Tec products, and have toured their fine facitlities in Sevierville, TN. This radio is a miss, however. Anyone who is proud of the cost vs. features of this radio, shoulod do a reality check. I sent my Orion back, and will stay with my Icom 7800. It delivers. No compromising like I had to do with the Orion. A nice color screen, good tuner, great sensitivity is there with the Icom. As Harley Davidson proves, with their cycles, you can get a great, cutting edge technology, that is American made.
AB7R Rating: 4/5 Jul 8, 2005 07:41 Send this review to a friend
Fine radio so far  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is my second Orion. First one went back for a no questions asked refund as I had many TX/RX lockup issues. That was one of the second production run rigs.

This new one has hiccuped a couple times. When the key loop was turned on and connected to a Centurion amp the rig would not transmit. When I turned off the key loop it transmitted fine. I did a reset and no more problems. The manual does mention with it being a software type rig that an occaisional reset may be necessary. Have only had to do it once so far.

I don't quite understand the previous review. The sensativity on my rig is great. But you have to understand the fully adjustable AGC system. I've heard of many folks who play with the AGC and then complain of lack of sensativity. What I like is the ability to adjust it based on operating conditions and what type of operating I am doing.

Guess what? I actually looked at the Orion before I bought it! I knew there was no color screen and that was OK. Is their screen great? No. Does it provide all the info I need? Yes. I have the radio to make contacts on the air, not to sit there so I can look at the pretty colors. That being said, the sweep display is not the most useful. It's OK with strong sigs, but you don't really see weak sigs and it is on the slow side. Oh...I also knew there was no 6M. The rig has fine implementations for transverters, though sadly, no tones are available for repeaters. The rig is designed for HF only and it does it's job nicely. So if you want an all-in-one box, check out the TS-2000.
The Orion has all the tools and some nice bells and whistles -- Nothing that I don't need or won't use. They're working on a new 2.0 software version that should make it even better. Can't do that with Icom or Yeasu unless you spend over $10K!

I like the radio better than the ProIII I tried and they're in the same price class.

The Orion is not perfect, but so far, there is no perfect HF rig (come on Elecraft, I know you can do it!)
N3KS Rating: 5/5 Jun 3, 2005 08:57 Send this review to a friend
Solid  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am a new Orion owner, having taken delivery at the end of April 2005. I use an amplifier - Acom 2000A and multiple types of antennas. For most days since I got it I have put several hours a day of operation on it and then operated the CQ WPX CW contest for a full weekend at the end of May.

My initial comments:

- I have never experienced any glitches, crashes or other anomolies.
- The receiver performance is extraordinary.
- Transmit audio reports have been excellent using a Heil Pro-set QuietPhone mic/headset (HC-4 element).
- Interface to the Acom amp was a snap and is solid.
- I use computer software logging, rig control, and logging program cw keying and external loop audio input - no issues.
- No RF feedback anywhere, nothing is "hot" or "flaky".

My comments for improvement:

- It would be nice if the two (main) key input jacks were not tied together. That way one could be setup to use the internal keyer and one not. There is a way to get around that using the external PTT input - but that's not optimal.
- The internal keyer does not seem to have "dot memory". I guess that's a design choice, but would be very nice to have as a user option.
- There is no choice for setting the T/R delay differently for SSB and CW. This would be useful.
- It would be helpfull to make the SUB receiver turn on as well as off by pushing it. It's too easy to inadvertently turn it on when turning the main VFO knob. Another way to solve the problem would be to swap which VFO knob corresponds to A and B.
- The spectrum scope does not seem really usefull in its implementation. I did not purchase the radio for that feature, so do not miss it. I wonder how many people find it not that functional and maybe there are other places/new features in the radio where the processing power could be used instead.

Overall - my experience has been excellent with this radio. I installed an INRAD 1.8KHz filter and a 600Hz filter (in the 1KHz slot) to maximize contest condition receive options and it has been spectacular.

W4BQF Rating: 2/5 May 6, 2005 07:18 Send this review to a friend
Needs firmware work  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am a long time member of the Ten Tec Worshipers Society having owned a lot of their products that worked extremely well for me. I purchased an Orion and a Titan 3 to serve as my 'retirement radio system'. Unfortunately firmware difficulties prevented those two pieces of equipment from operating correctly all of the time. Random loss of RF output power and random loss of rcvr audio do not play well in CW contest conditions for me. I must say that Ten Tec was very helpful in trying to get the problem resolved, but it just didn't happen. There are just too many firmware bugs in this radio when used with a Ten Tec amplifier in the Keying loop's. A lot of hams are happy to live with the problems, but I just gave up after 24 months of frustration.

The basic Orion is an excellent hardware and mechanical design and in my opinion that is just top notch. Hopefully Ten Tec can soon get the major firmware problems solved; when they do, the Orion will be the top of the line transceiver.

Tom - W4BQF
W5RLW Rating: 5/5 Feb 28, 2005 13:20 Send this review to a friend
GREAT RADIO  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
K3MD Rating: 2/5 Feb 17, 2005 16:13 Send this review to a friend
Poor Contest Rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I owned a Ten Tec Orion for 8 months. I was influenced by reviews in QST and the ads, stating excellent dynamic range and good adjacent-channel rejection. The boys at QST did not run this rig through a few whole contests, I am sure. There WAS the dissenting voice of K3BU, however.
My radio "glitched" at 48 hours, would not reset. Sent it back. When it came back, it did have the excellent dyanmic range specified, etc., but it had a persistent problem. Every 2 to 4 hours of contesting, it would mute on receive or transmit, requiring reset. This problem consistently would happen when the rate was 175/hr or when a rare multiplier was coming back.
E-mails to Ten Tec did not give an adequate solution. They suggested grounding, putting ferrite filters on the leads, newest software, run low power, run both loops for the linear controls, do a RAM reset, and the like. They did not suggest I send it back for repair. I have talked to 4 other contesters who had the same or similar problems. I am very disgusted that Ten Tec is pushing this radio in QST as a contest radio. Right now, it is not. I have an Icom now.
I might add that Ten Tec did finally admit this problem by asking me to become a Beta tester, but by then, the rig was gone. I hope they can fix it.
YV5MBX Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2005 11:30 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding!!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After unpacking this wonderful Xt,as gift I have the follwing comments:

1.- Great Rx
2.- Big buttons & knobs
3.- Screen not in fancy colors as ICOM but provides you all the info needed in a very good size
4.- Menus easy reacheable, not hidden or scientist options as FT-1000 Mark V
5.- Antenna Tuner a must, roofing filters depending on the activity levels of local hams

1.- Antenna Tuner only works for Antena position 1
2.- First time users must check the software options and verify that the options included were enable (In my case either the AT or Roofing Filters were enable at start-up)

I have had 756Pro and actually have an FT-1000MP Mark V as backup with filters for SSB & CW in 3 IF stages plus all the mods availables, the Orion outperforms it.

Good Job Ten-Tec people!!!!

W4SK Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2004 08:55 Send this review to a friend
Superior  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
FWIW, I have had no problems with my Orion whatsoever. The Heil mic works great, and I routinely receive unsolicited "Great Audio!" reports. No RF issues, running from a second-floor shack with a 1300w amp in line. Classic Ten-Tec QSK performs perfectly as well.

The Orion considerably outperforms the Omni 6+ which it replaced; and the Omni in turn outperformed the FT-1000MP which it replaced. It's a very satisfying thing to be able to buy American AND have the best product for the price. Thanks, Ten-Tec.

ON6CV Rating: 3/5 Dec 30, 2004 01:12 Send this review to a friend
Long but constructive...  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
3 months, 2 Orion's later...

As everybody can see on these reviews, most of the hams gave the Orion a solid 5/5. I agreed absolutely with them but I think my experience with two different Orion's should be considered also by anyone before spending (like me) a lot of money for nothing.

The first episode :

First Orion delivered sept, 3rd 2004. I experienced a LOT of troubles with that radio, the first week, I've read the owner's manual at least 5 times... It did not cure the problems of course.

To solve some of the bugs I had, I followed this procedure : Downgrade to version 1.370, master reset and RAM clear procedure, upgrade to version 1.371, master reset again and RAM clear procedure.

After this, it was better, much better I would say...

I don't use the sweep display anymore as, I recognize that it is not very useful to me (very slow refresh time).

I finally found the best settings for me, with the USER settings, it is an easy game to store your user profiles.

Unfortunately, this radio was returned to the dealer for an exchange because of some bug I experienced with the digital voice recorder, the Heil GM-4 microphone, the main receiver which was deaf sometimes or the strange behaviour of the LCD screen (frequency O.OOO.OOO after power on, strange numbers or message from the DSP CPU).

The second episode :

I received in exchange a new Orion from the dealer. The radio was "better", some of the bugs on the first one were gone, but...

This time it was impossible for me to work the radio on the air on some bands (even with low power), the original #706 desk microphone and/or the preamp board inside the Orion experienced some troubles with a small amount of RF coming from my antenna system ! Distortion over the air, inside the microphone, visible on my o'scope, can't stop the PTT, radio stays on the air...

As I'm living in a small country, we have small backyards here (not like a horse ranch in Texas !), so the antenna are often very close to the shack, a G5RV or CF dipoles that passes above the roof of the house or some vertical multiband HF antennas like the Cushcraft R7.

Problems also if you have your shack at the second floor like me, too far away from a good ground system. Use the MFJ-931 to make a "good" ground from your long ground wire (if you have a 15m/45ft long ground wire you should consider this MFJ product seriously. Use a T4 line isolator from RadioWorks too. To fight these RFI is mandatory for the Orion to work properly ! Remember the Orion is a combination between a radio and a computer and this is why it is very sensisitive !

I've done a good job in the RFI problem/ground loop domain I think, but it was not enough, even with all of this the radio refused to work on some bands. As I can't change the house just for a radio, I gave up on this radio for the second time, unfortunately.

The epilogue :

The Orion has been sold. I'm using now a new ("poor JA radio", as someone told me) Yaesu Mark V FT-1000MP for a week now without ANY troubles at all, with 200w of power on all bands 80/40/20/17/15/12/10m, with an Heil GM-4 studio microphone (the same who refused to work with the Orion), same antennas, same location, just swap one radio by another !

So, if you have the possibility to do it (I know it's hard), check the Orion in your own environment, I really think it's important in order to avoid some serious troubles with the radio, and remember, ham radio should remain a hobby.

What I do like in the Orion :

- The fact that you can have a new radio for each software update making the Orion better and better;
- The look and feel of Tentec radios, big spaced and well laid out front panel, very easy to use and learn;
- The B/W LCD screen. Yes, I love it because you don't need more than this on a radio;
- The most used functions surrounding the LCD screen, easy to manage the status of the radio;
- The manual is very nice, easy to read;
- The dual receiver system with it's totally independent set of parameters, two radios in the same box !
- The NR is one of the very best I've ever heard (like the TS-870S but with more smoothness and efficiency);
- The continuously variable BW and PBT for the 2 receivers;
- The 12 buttons matrix on the left side of the TX, you can do anything you want with your antennas and the 2 VFO's;
- The transmit BW can be as wide as 3900Hz, great for enhanced SSB with a studio microphone;
- The roofing filters and the AGC programmable system is a must; You can even modify the FAST, MED and SLOW settings too your own taste;
- The Orion itself is a beautiful rig, I really love this "military" look and the black aluminum case with good size;
- The optical encoders for Multi, AF, SUB, BW/PBT,... a great idea, no more noisy pots;
- The general performances of the radio;
- The options and roofing filters are of a very accessible price;
- The unsolicited great audio reports;
- The USER parameters settings with instant recall of a radio configuration;
- The 200 memories with mode and BW settings saved;
- The easy menus system in plain english; A huge improvement over the cryptography used in the FT-1000MP series;
- The philosophy of the Orion, this Tentec radio is unique and can't be compared to any JA rig;
- The digitized sound that's coming from the Orion took some time to be accustomed to it but once correctly set via the AUDIO menu, you'll love it;

What I don't like :

- Very sensitive device, be careful about the RFI and/or ground loop problems;
- The price tag here in Europe;
- The lack of a good internal tuner, Use an external tuner with memories like the MFJ-993 or SGC MAC-200 or more if you have a linear;
- The poor sensitivity on the second receiver under, say 500KHz. As I listen to BC also, I can't listen to 2 of my fav BC stations at 183 and 234KHz (those stations are S9+20dB on the Mark V, totally absent on the Orion ! Amazing);
- The constant hiss coming from the headphones even when AF gain is muted;
- Software crashes during "normal" operation (RX/TX lost mostly when using the DV memory);
- The lack of a decimal separator in the stored memories, for example 11.175KHz is displayed 11175000;
- The lack of trusty information about how to connect a mike on the Orion - even if the mic connector has only 4 pins, prepare yourself to invest some time, to hook up a mic on the Orion is a little bit tricky;
- The monitor system - at full scale, the audio in the headphones is not very loud/punchy;
- Radio is very sensitive with static discharge, on the low bands (160/80m), the NB was mandatory in my place;
- The fact that a new firmware upgrade brings some new bugs that has to be cured in the next "minor" update, and so on, and so on... lots of hams are not using the latest firmware, so you can't compare your troubles with them !
- The AM BC station reception was not the best I've heard, if you like to SWLing too, I recommend the TS-870S for that (or the Mark V FT-1000MP with the nice AM synchronous detection feature).

The conclusion :

Be prepared to invest some time to learn the Tentec philosophy. If you are into weak CW signal DXing on the low bands, this radio should be the dream radio for you; if you like to ragchew with some friends on SSB, it's maybe another story ! The Orion IS NOT an IC-706 or TS-50S :-)

Don't hesitate to contact me on my personal e-Mail ( if you want some more information, any question will be answered.

Vy 73's from Eric, ON6CV. Happy 2005.
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