Mike's Ten Tec - Orion II - And - Now Elecraft K3 Page

Thoughts, Musings, Analysis, and Observations.

Last Update 11/30/2008

The Elecraft K3

LINK:  http://www.elecraft.com/news.htm

Here is my totally, 100% subjective comparison of the K3 and the O-II. Everyone's mileage will vary. Flames > /dev/null

The bottom line is, it's a great radio. It beats the O-II ever so slightly in receive, and filtering in my opinion. It blows everything else I've ever owned completely out of the water, 100%, period. 


My 1 to 10 scale of rigs I've used would as follows:

9.8 - K3 Elecraft

9.5 - Orion II Ten-Tec

6 - TS-870 Kenwood

5 - TS-2000 Kenwood

2 - FT-847 & FT-100D Yaesu


 My subjective qualifications are as follows in order of importance:


1. Sensitivity & Selectivity

2. Filtering, and noise reduction ability 

3. Quality of transmitted sound 

4. Form factor & ease of use


General Ramblings:

- Some big POSITIVES over the O-II are that all the items listed below in my "O-II bugs list", Don't Exist with the K3! It works well in ALL modes, and is NOT just geared toward the CW operator.

- As an added note, the ATU on the K3 is superb! it is super fast, and ultra quiet! It makes my Palstar seem "klunky", and up until now, I thought it was the fastest, and quietest AT I'd ever used!

- A BIG negative of the K3 is the ridiculous wait time to receive one after you've ordered it! I'm rather sure this is a marketing ploy on their part to add to the "mystique" of the K3. They act like they grow them on a farm somewhere and you have to wait for harvest time! I've been in the radio HW business, and can tell you that most Co's would plainly just go out of business if their supply chain was that poor, or the contract Mfgs. that slow, or whatever, the excuse. In the real world, lead time on components are just not THAT long!

- The only "feature" negative over the Orion-II is that the O-II had a AGC setting of "custom" that allowed me to have a setting that was all my own. So I could select between off-slow-fast-custom and I used custom A LOT. for optimal sound and noise reduction. On the K3 you have to sacrifice either the Fast or Slow setting to make it "custom"... Nit-picky, I know. 

- I have also noticed a few "birdies" on 20m and up with the K3

- I did kind of get used to the band scope on the O-II, but not having it is not a real biggie. 

- I like the small form factor of the K3 but still not having to deal with layers and layers of menus like I've noted on Icoms, and some other Asian rigs. The dual/triple function buttons bug me sometimes, where the Kenwood 870, and O-II didn't use that so much, but again, you get used to it, and not a BIG detraction.

As you see most of the A/B discussion winds up being around subjective stuff like ergonomics and the like, but not quality of T/R, filtering, etc. And the BL is, that's where the meat is.

 So that's my .02 FWIW.

UPDATE 06/13/2009 ------

I'm using the LP-PAN, and Power-SDR Software with the K3 now. WONDERFUL!!! I can tweak the RF/IF/Audio to levels that are unbelievable! I can listen to QSO's on 160m, during a thunderstorm, and null out all the noise, static crashes, and everything! Even without the SDR/LP-PAN, I've learned how to tweak the RF gain, NB/NR levels and DSP settings such that QSO's I'd have NEVER heard before, are Q5! This radio, and the LP-PAn (Which adds the band scope capability too!) Is the BEST.... Solid 10, and I'm NOT a CW guy!



The Ten Tec - Orion II

I SOLD my O-II in the Spring of 2008.

It was a Super Good Radio, but I thought it was designed more for the CW operator than for SSB, and Definitely NOT for AM.

Would I buy another, sure... But we'll see how a K-3 works for now!

Links of Interest:

Ten-Tec Orion II  a.k.a. 566AT (At Ten Tec)

Downloads from Ten Tec

Eham.net Reviews

TenTec mailing list - TenTec@contesting.com

Mike's Orion-II Wish List [In order of importance]:

  1. Make the ALC processing controls tailorable via a set of menu adjustments (i.e., you will actually get 100w out on SSB mod peaks!),
  2. Do a better job with RFI penetrating the unit (esp. via the speaker jack on the rear),
  3. Allow the NB and NR to function in AM mode,
  4. Make the Tuner Enable/Disable more accessible, not several menus down,
  5. (Bug), I've had occasion where the tune  function Xmits at full power, not the 20w "tuning power", a power cycle fixes this (usually!),
  6. [Bug], I've had an occasion where on power up the receive was dead. A power up/down a 2nd time fixed it,

Mike's Audio Configuration and Measurements (audio set-up same for both radios)

Here are the settings for my rig and the Audio Processing Chain I use:

The SSB Menu Settings.

The Main Settings for the Measurements Taken

The settings for the Alesis M-EQ 230

The Settings for the Alesis 3630 Comp/Lim/Gate

The Settings for the Aphex C2 Aural Exciter

Here's The Results

Signal Spectral Plot w/ the Agilent VSA

Station Monitor Envelope Trace ..

The Vowel "A" being spoken and held - Kenwood SM-220 Monitor