TenTec Orion configuration

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TenTec Orion Configuration Checklist Used at W1KM

by Eric Scace K3NA

At W1KM we standardized on the following configuration settings for Orion transceivers, reflecting what we felt were the best values for contest/DX operation after tests and measurements. Our radios included 1.8 kHz filters.

Although other stations may connect their Orion radio in a slightly different way, many of these configuration settings will still be helpful in configuring this transceiver for good performance.

Important reminder: The Menu\Filters\Auto option must be changed when switching between SSB modes and CW/RTTY. In SSB use “1.8 kHz”. For CW/RTTY or casual SSB operations, use “Auto”.

For SSB set the passband tuning control PBT to +240 Hz. For CW and RTTY set this control to 0.

Firmware release: At W1KM, the Orion radios used firmware release V2.059D or V2.062A. Press Push and hold the MENU button to display the installed version number. If the version is not V2.059D or V2.062A then a firmware update is required. The procedures for updating the firmware are outside the scope of this document.

This configuration may not be appropriate for any other Orion firmware version, even a newer version. New versions can introduce problems that did not exist in previous versions, or require different configuration settings.

Version v2.062A is the most recent version that has been tested at W1KM.

Reboot or reset


If the Orion radio begins acting oddly, try turning the radio off, waiting a second, and then turning it back on. Rebooting the radio usually restores normal operation. No operator control settings change during a reboot.

Note: To avoid power transients in the radio, the +13 Vdc power supply should always be switched on before turning on the radio.

Memory clear and master reset

Note: After loading firmware into the radio, always execute a master reset.

If a radio reboot doesn’t cure the problem, the next step is to re-initialize the radio firmware and memory as follows:

• Turn radio off.

• Press and hold the VFO B LCK button, and turn on the radio. Wait for the “master reset complete” message to appear before releasing the button. Note: “Battery failure” message will also appear at the top of the screen.

• After the normal display screen appears, RAM memory has been cleared. Turn the radio off again.

• Press and hold the MAIN RX/TX ANT 1 button (top of far left column on the front panel), and turn on the radio. Wait for the “master reset complete” message to appear before releasing the button (about 5 seconds).

• When asked “Clear user memories?”, select “Yes”.

• When asked “Reset optional filters?”, select “Yes”.

• After the normal radio screen appears, the firmware master reset has completed.

All operator controls revert to the factory default values. Use the remainder of this checklist document to set/verify the radio’s parameters for use.

Note: Reset will change the screen contrast to a default value. Screen contrast is temperature sensitive; if the shack is cool (in the 50s Fahrenheit), the display will be very pale. If the contrast is too low, press MENU, then SPOT to get to the menu page containing the contrast control. The contrast setting is the sixth from the top.

Main screen controls:

Transmitter setting and settings common to both receivers:

• Power 45 Note: Initial setting. Adjust later to drive amp to 1.5 kW output.

• Monitor 2 Note: Adequate to track the transmission of a pre-recorded voice message.

• SP (CW keyer speed) off Note: MicroKeyer provides CW keyer function.

• SP (speech processor) 4

• Sweep off

• VOX off Note: VOX not recommended because it encourages shouting and clips initial syllables. Use the footswitch when speaking. Voice keyer messages automatically use the PTT function.

• CW sidetone (S-TONE) 3 Note: Give the ears a break when transmitting: use a low level of sidetone.

• Mic 50 Note: Just enough to make red ALC light blink when the speech processor is off; this level is correct for the W1KM computer soundcards and microKeyers using a Heil HC-5 full-range mic element.

• XIT 0

Main receiver:

• Noise blanker (DSP) off Note: Noise blankers should be off unless needed. If required, the hardware noise blanker on the main receiver produces fewer artifacts than the DSP blanker. When the hardware noise blanker is on, a “:H” displays on the screen when the main receiver controls are active.

• Hardware noise blanker off

• Noise reduction off Note: Current DSP noise reduction algorithm is ineffective when receiver is properly adjusted; see the receiver adjustment checklist.

• Notch off

• Automatic notch off Note: Avoid using auto-notch on CW; desired signals may get notched out.

• Pre-amp off Note: Initial setting; see receiver adjustment checklist for information on when to use the pre-amp.

• Spot 440 Hz Note: Personal preference, but 440 Hz represents a good compromise. Very low frequencies (e.g., 250 Hz) prevent the receiver passband from being centered around the listening frequency; the human ear loses sensitivity as frequency decreases. The ear has maximum sensitivity around 1.5 kHz but frequency discrimination decreases with increasing frequency.

• Step 10 Hz

• RF gain 73

• AF gain near full scale

• AGC prog Note: The Orion receivers should not be operated with AGC off. Other AGC values FAST, MED, and SLOW will provide inferior performance when compared to the PROG values specified here.

• Attenuator off Note: See receiver adjustment checklist for when to use the attenuator.

• RIT 0

• PBT (SSB) +240

• PBT (other modes) 0

• BW (SSB) 2400 Note: USB and LSB must be set separately on main receiver.

Sub receiver:

Same settings as main receiver, except the sub-receiver lacks a hardware noise blanker.

• PBT (all modes) 0

• BW (SSB) 2400 Note: USB and LSB must be set separately on sub receiver.

Front panel controls

Antenna selection:

• Main RX/TX Ant 1

• Sub RX Ant 1

VFO assignment:

• TX VFO A Note: If no VFO is assigned to the transmitter, the transmitter will not key. When running, assign the TX to VFO B and lock that VFO. The receiver can now be tuned around the transmit frequency with the big VFO A tuning knob (either on the radio or the remote pod). Use the B>A button to force the receiver’s VFO back to the transmit frequency. This eliminates the use of the RIT control, a part that wears out too quickly on the Orion.

• Main VFO A

• Sub VFO B


• Left main

• Right (multi-multi) both Note: Typical for an operating position working split and monitoring the transmit frequency with the sub-receiver.

• Right (SO2R with MK2R+) sub

• Speaker main Note: Must be on “main” to insure line output level remains constant and independent of front panel volume controls. [Undocumented behavior confirmed by TenTec 2006 Sep 12.]

• Bin RX off

• TX equalization –5 dB

• RX equalization 0

• SUB equalization 0



• Tuner disabled

• XMTR on Note: Comes on automatically when the transmitter has been assigned a VFO.

• Key loop 1 For the Acom amp: on. For other amps: off.

• Key loop 2 off

• EXT T/R delay 1 0% Note 1: The microKeyer provides a slight delay at the end of transmission to allow the last CW code element or speech syllable to be transmitted without clippling. If operating without a microKeyer, set to 20%. Note 2: For amps without T/R loop, if not keyed by Microkeyer, set T/R delay 1 to a larger delay.

• EXT T/R delay 2 0% Note 2: This function isn’t used.

• Amp key tracks Key line


• QSK delay 0% Note: The microKeyer holds the PTT line on between CW code elements, so this function isn’t used. If operating without a microKeyer, set to 30% to keep the transmitter/amp keyed between code elements at most speeds.

• Keyer off Note: Same as main screen SP control.

• CW weight 100

• Pitch Note: Same as main screen SPOT control.

• CW rise/fall 8 ms Note: Long enough to avoid any key clicks. A warning message appears at the bottom of the screen to avoid sending about 40 wpm; this limitation is irrelevant for our non-QSK operation.

• SSB: CW jack PTT off

• PTT in CW as MOX Note: MOX is the option between “none” and “key”. It is easy to pass over as the MULTI knob seems very sensitive on this list.

• Keyer mode B Note: Irrelevant as we use the microKeyer’s WinKey.

VOX: Note: Irrelevant as we do not use VOX. Default values listed here for reference.

• Trip 10%

• Anti-VOX 20%

• Hang 0.40 s


• Sweep 72 kHz

V2.059D V2.062A

• Hang V2.059D = 0.08 s; V2.062A = 0.04 s

• Decay V2.059D = 50 dB/s; V2.062A = 2000 dB/s

• Threshold V2.059D = 38.3 μV; V2.062A =63.83 μV

• PBT tracking off Note: Forces identical passband tuning settings when listening to both receivers on the same VFO (i.e., slaved receivers).

• BW tracking off Note: Forces identical bandwidth settings when listening to both receivers on the same VFO (i.e., slaved receivers).

• H/W NB off Note: Same as front screen main receiver NB:H setting.

• Main squelch –127 dB

• Sub squelch –127 dB

• PBT/BW step 10 Hz

• AGC slope flat


• Remote pod F1 RIT/XIT clear Note: Avoid using the RIT/XIT knob as it wears out relatively quickly. The assignment on the remote pod allows the operator to quickly clear any RIT/XIT values.

• Remote pod F2 VFO A/B

• Remote pod F3 VFO B ENT Note: Allows remote pod’s keypad to enter frequencies into VFO B.

• Remote pod Enter VFO A ENT Note: Allows remote pod’s keypad to enter frequencies into VFO A.

• Menu delay off

• Contrast 50% Note: Contrast value may vary significantly from radio to radio.

• VFO A encoder rate fast

• VFO B encoder rate fast

• CW RIT encoder rate fast

• SSB RIT encoder rate fast

• POD encoder rate fast

• LCD display black/white Note:Ergonomic studies show black characters on a white background are less tiring to read over long periods of time.

• FSK TX data mark high Note: Mark signal is the higher of the two RF signals on the air; e.g., 14070.000 kHz mark and 14069.830 space. RTTY reception places the BFO above the RF frequencies (14072.125 kHz for this example) and demodulates below the BFO (i.e., as in LSB). This conventional approach delivers the mark audio tone at 2125 Hz and space audio tone at 2295 Hz.

• remote pod encoder VFO A


• Aux input gain 0 Note: At present the microKeyer delivers transmit audio to the front panel connector, not to the rear panel line input on the AUX connector.

• TX filter bandwidth 2700 Hz

• LF rolloff 200 Hz

• TX audio source mic

• H/W mic gain 0.0 dB


• Crystal filter Auto (CW, RTTY) or 1800 Hz (SSB).

• Enable 1.8 yes

• Enable 500 yes

• Center frequency adjust (500 Hz filter) Note: Radio-dependent. Use the calibrated setting listed on a label on the top edge of the front panel.

• Enable 250 yes

• Center frequency adjust (250 Hz filter) Note: Radio-dependent. Use the calibrated setting listed on a label on the top edge of the front panel.

• DSP filter length 199 taps

Annex I — Revisions


• Added footnote explaining why speaker audio must be set to “main”.


• Corrected Menu\Other\FSK to be “mark high” with explanatory footnote.

• Corrected description of RAM memory clear procedure and placed it before the master reset procedure.

• Added paragraph in introduction explaining firmware version in use.


• Added audio menu settings for SO2R operation with MK2R+ box.


• Based on receiver measurements, changed AGC settings to eliminate A/D artifacts when input signal exceeds –61 dBm.


• Corrected transmit speech processor setting to 4.

• Spelled out SSB settings for the sub-receiver.


• Updated settings for V2.059D firmware.

V7.1: • Corrected typos.

• Clarified that BW control is independently set for USB and LSB.

• Added “Amp key tracks” entry to TX menu (v2.059d option).

• Added note about screen contrast in §1.

• Added cautionary note about finding the MOX setting in the CW menu.

• Tested v2.062A software and added AGC settings for evaluation.

— END —

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