Last update 02/18/08
When you consider TenTec you need to think Internet. Is this a problem? No, just takes a bit to get used to when looking for details on the radio(s). This is not the standard (ICOM, Kenwood, Yaesu) web page. It is more low keyed but usable for some of their material. The down side of this is that if you do not find what you are looking for and ask if it is available, the answer is "No, we don't have that" AND NOTHING ELSE. I'm at a loss for why.
The order was taken by a person that seemed to think customers a bit of a distraction. He was not rude but more like I would expect from someone on the Sears Help Desk. I would not purchase another item from that person. It seems evident that the person in TenTec you talk with determines the quality of knowledge you have access to. I say that after talking with two others at TenTec who were/are very friendly and know their product line.
Delivery and unpacking were uneventful. I ordered on a Friday and it was delivered the following Thursday. No problem there, except for one thing. The Jupiter does NOT come with a microphone, you have to pay extra for that. Say what!? Why not at least the $28 one that comes with the Argonaut-V? This rig is more expensive than the mid range Icoms and Yaesus, yet doesn't even come complete to operate anything other than CW.
After my experience with the Argonaut-V manual, I will freely admit I expected more! The manual for the Jupiter is marginally adequate. It has excruciating detail on some items (repeating a few of the details in two sections) while totally omitting others (speech processor, memories and 60M to name but three). This perception might be improved if they were to cross reference their own nomenclature to "mere mortal" wording (see below).
I sent an E-mail asking if they had an online version of the manual (PDF or something, like they have for the Orion) and got a prompt reply that said - No. Not an explanation or anything. Just "No we dont have one". Say What!? Why not consistency? This radio has been out for long enough to have all that available. After you pay almost fifteen hundred dollars for a radio and microphone (the Mic. added almost $200 into that $1500) why not have better documentation?
I'm still guessing my way around the speech processor. On air comments are within reason so I guess I'm close.
Information on how to utilize the 100+ memories that come in the Jupiter is not provided. I managed to fumble my way into a technique that works. Is it the "correct" way? I don't know, but it works so I guess it couldn't be too far off.
Update: I stand somewhat corrected. The information on how to use the memories *is* in the manual - under "A Brief Tour of the Front Panel Controls" subsection 2.4.5 "Bottom Row" but is not included as "memory operation" or anything like that in the Table of Contents! I mean GEEZ, I should have known that "bottom row" means memories!
The information in the manual about 60-Meters is non existent! You are forced to stumble through the TenTec web site looking for information. When you find it, the content is inconsistent with what the ARRL has posted in its web site.
Update: Once I finally got my E-mail forwarded to one of the Techies, I got good answers on 60M. It turns out that the bandwidth number in the Jupiter is the -6db width and that the FCC spec is for -28db, therefore you have to set the Jupiter to a bandwidth number of 2250 to get -28db at 2800.
I'm still very disappointed with this manual.
The "Getting Started" portion of the manual starts out well then proceeds to fall on its face. After you go over the material and find that you have several questions and have to go into the "Detailed Operating Instructions" for more information - only to find it is not all there either(see above).
If you forget the manual and do what most understand is necessary - ground, DC power, antenna, microphone - you shortly end up back in the manual attempting to find information. As detailed above, some of that information is not there. So you guess.
If this had been my first TenTec, it would have been my last TenTec! It also would have been returned in the first five days rather than the twenty five days it took to get me so totally annoyed that I got the RMA number and sent it back! If you get one of about three people on the phone (they virtually ignore your E-mails) you will have someone to talk with that is 1) friendly, 2) courteous 3) very knowledgeable. UNFORTUNATELY, that's less than half of the time. Over half of TenTec seems to take the attitude "take it or leave it". I think that is counter productive for a business.
"S Meter" - very much like the Argonaut-V, the S meter on the Jupiter indicates a signal there when there is none (into a dummy load). This one shows an S-3 just like the Argo. Both with either no antenna connected or into the dummy load (I should note here that this is one of the 100 watt DLs that has the PL-259 as part of it. NO coax involved).
Once again I checked the new radio against my IC-746. Connected both to the same power supply, with and without the SAME dummy load and once again the Icom showed S-0 but the TenTec showed S-3.
- - Update - - It seems that several of the problems relate to "burning-in" of the CPU. I put in about 20 hours on this rig in the first five days (I turn it on and let it run while I read yet again that farce called a manual). After attempting every "trouble shooting" technique they have I did the last one - - - - Reset the CPU. Guess what? A few problems were corrected. I did this after about eight hours of "burn-in" time and things have continued to improve as the hours add on. The "S" meter now shows S1 with the dummy load connected.
Update: TenTec tells me that the Jupiter is so sensitive that
it hears the S1 noise around the dummy load and that the Icom is
probably not sensitive enough to hear the same thing.
I have my opinion, but you decide.
This unit came with 60M enabled and other updates so I have not needed to do a micro-code update.
I am not nearly as impressed with the Jupiter as I was/am with the Argonaut-V. Is that because I now look at the performance from the Argonaut to be "normal"? Possibly. But I am having problems with transmit audio (fixed by replacing the $195 Heil and cable and mic. stand - with a $28 hand mic.).Add to that the problems induced via poor documentation and I am totally "underwhelmed".
Update on transmit audio: With my voice (reasonably low frequency) the Heil Studio One Microphone turns the Jupiter into a rig with zero, zip, nada highs in the transmit audio. You cannot tune out the lows to a point that it is understandable. - - I traded out the Heil with the mic. I got with my TenTec Argonaut and Sha-Zam Batman! Excellent transmit audio! Still very full sounding and good base response but not to excess! - - Think about that. A $28 microphone that out performs a $195 package. RMA here I come. You know, that really sounds strange. The Argonaut-V Microphone has a reputation for not being very good, but when you put one of those on a Jupiter, it sounds GREAT. The down side is that I no longer have VOX.
I have one further problem that is bothering me. Specifically, the receiver sensitivity seems less than it should be (remember, this is the radio that is "so sensitive" it hears S1 signal strength *around* a dummy load). I am going to compare the Jupiter to the Argonaut - side by side, swap coax to switch between so there is no other variable introduced. If that works well then I will do the same between my IC-746 and the Jupiter. If both show the Jupiter to be at least equal, I'll keep the rig.
Digital Operation: I have spent several hours building a cable and then in debug, trying to find out why a KAM98 hooked up to the Jupiter would give no indication of received signal. I am now sure there is NO socially redeeming value in the TernTec Jupiter manual. Long story short - The Jupiter is going back! I tried a seventeen minute conversation with their technician on their "repair" number (you pay for the long distance call) and his reply was "well . . . we would need to look on a scope and see if there is sufficient voltage there". In other words it's a defective unit. DUH!
I tried the cable into the Argonaut I have and had no problem. These people do NOT seem to care. I now have the RMA number and the radio goes back today!
I cannot recommend a TenTec Jupiter to anyone. TenTec has examples of excellent radios (my Argonaut-V for one) and documentation associated (also the Argo.). Why can't they have that consistently across the product lines? Why do they short-cut so many items that are trivial for them to do, that have such a negative effect on perceived product quality, performance, and customer service/satisfaction? Even their "repair" people acknowledge the inadequacy of the Jupiter manual! The actual statement was something to the effect "the engineers think you have more information than they gave you in the manual".
Will I keep it? NO! It goes back today! Lousy manual, inconsistent response from TenTec people, radio that DOES NOT perform to advertised spec's - its gone!
Latest update 02/18/08
I just received a note from 7 land referencing this page and indicating he is finding much the same results in dealing with TenTec "service". He said that his Jupiter will probably go by-by also.