Field Report: Let’s play POTA with the Ten-Tec Argonaut V!

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently purchased a Ten-Tec Argonaut V transceiver. It was–being honest here–an impulse purchase. This is what I get for randomly browsing the QTH.com classifieds!

Truth be told, I’ve always loved the design of the Argonaut V and I knew, being a Ten-Tec, it would be a proper CW machine.

As soon as I received the Argonaut V, I put it on the air and chased a few parks and summits from the shack. It seemed to work brilliantly, but of course I was eager to take it to the field!

Around the same time, my buddy Max (WG4Z) mentioned that he’d discovered a new access point for South Mountains State Park and had enjoyed performing an activation there. He wrote,

It is a part of South Mountains State Park custom made for a Thomas Witherspoon visit.  A great site for an activation, video, and photos. If you haven’t been there, please put it on your list!

On Wednesday, November 10, 2021, I packed my Argonaut V and headed to the South Mountains State Park Clear Creek Access.

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

Max was right–not only was the site easy to find, but it was also absolutely beautiful.

I parked my car at the small entrance parking lot and walked to the one and only picnic table at this site.

The picnic table is under a massive oak tree with huge branches. In terms of POTA, it simply doesn’t get easier than this.

And these trees? I’m guessing they could date back to the Civil War. The trunks are massive. The site itself reminds me of a pasture along one of my favorite footpaths near the house where we used to live in Shere, Surrey (UK). It, too, sported a magnificent oak tree.

Fortunately, no one was using the picnic table under the oak tree, so I set up my station!

Gear:

The Ten-Tec Argonaut V is a very basic radio: it has no internal battery, and no internal ATU.

The lack of an ATU was no problem, because I paired it with my KM4ACK 40M End-Fed Half Wave resonant antenna.

As for a battery?  Well, unlike almost all of my other field radios, the Argo V is a hungry rig. On receive, it can draw up to 1 amp! This, in contrast to my Discovery TX-500 which draws 1/10 of that. In addition, its voltage range is much less than my other QRP radios, so if a battery’s voltage drops too much, it’ll simply shut down.

 

Basically, when Ten-Tec made the Argo V it wasn’t with park or summit activations in mind. I’m sure they thought it more of a shack and Field Day radio.

On the flip side, the Argonaut V produces beautiful, rich audio from its internal speaker. That’s what the extra amperage gets you.

I paired the Argo V with my 15 Ah Bioenno 12V LiFePo4 battery and let’s just say the Argo V was very pleased.

On The Air

I started the activation on 40 meters running 5 watts of output power.

I racked up the 10 contacts required to validate the activation within 11 minutes. What a great start!

I was also super pleased to work Max (WG4Z) in a Park-To-Park contact. Very fitting as he was the fellow who told me about this ideal POTA spot!

I racked up another 7 contacts on 40 meters before moving up to 20 meters.

On 20 meters, I worked an additional 7 contacts.

My total time on the air was 31 minutes.

End-Fed Half Wave antennas never disappoint!

QSO Map

Here’s what my 5 watts and the KM4ACK EFHW did that fine day:

Video

Of course, I recorded one of my real-time, real-life amateur radio field activation videos. Be warned that I do spend a good deal of time at the beginning of the video waxing poetic about my love of the Argonaut V and it’s “Apollo-esque” front panel design:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Park Photos

Before and after the activation, I took a number of photos–click on the thumbnails to enlarge:

Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed this field report and activation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the activation. Not only was it fun taking the Argo V to the field and giving it a good shake out, but it was also such a beautiful day and so peaceful.

Thank you for coming along with me.

A special thanks to those of you who are supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free–I really appreciate the support.

I’ll admit: your generosity made the Argonaut V a reality and I’m most grateful. This radio has been on my wish list for so long and it feels good to have a Ten-Tec rig in the radio family again.

Thank you!

73,

Thomas (K4SWL)

12 thoughts on “Field Report: Let’s play POTA with the Ten-Tec Argonaut V!”

  1. Yes, great story in RadCom…I’d recognize those feet and clipboard anywhere, lol.

    Beautiful story here, too. Ok, Brother Enabler, I’m getting interested in an Argonaut V now…

    73,

    Frank
    K4FMH

  2. How did you like the Argo V? I love mine but haven’t had any luck operating portable with it. Probably need to look into a bigger battery with heavier cabling. I seem to get RF feedback which I am assuming is due to inadequate power draw.

  3. Sigh! My first radio was a Ten Tec. I still yearn for another one. TenTec has a distinctive look and takes me back to my early days. Maybe some day the right one for the right price will show up. Congrats on your new radio.

  4. Nice park to spend time in.
    I have one of those EFHW and hope to use it soon.

    Ten Tex has always been good rigs, though I do not have one…….

    Thanks for your report and letting us tag along.

    73
    WB8YXF

  5. Thomas, excellent video as usual.

    It is nice to see an Argonaut V in the field. I am a long time Argonaut V owner/user. I traded in my lightly used Pegasus against a new Argonaut V quite a number of years ago as I grew tired of the Pegasus computer-only user interface. I think that one of the best features of the Argonaut V is the DSP filtering. This rig sounds really good on CW and that comes out in your video. My only complaint is the lack of an external RF Gain control (there is an internal pot that can be adjusted to reduce the more than adequate RF gain).

    FWIW there is a Groups.io group dedicated to this rig (https://groups.io/g/TenTec516) and I just happen to be the owner/admin. There is not a lot of traffic on this group but it is a useful resource for those looking to buy/sell or anyone having issues that they are trying to resolve.

    Thanks again for all of your time and effort in making these videos. A few people have mentioned to me that your videos have provided the inspiration for them to get off their butts and operate POTA/SOTA or just make a few QSOs from a local park.

    Happy Holidays !

    Michael VE3WMB

  6. Great to see the Argonaut. My favorite radio. At the time it had all the bells and whistles – especially the filters. I still have mine. It made my week seeing an old friend. Love this site.

    John
    N7Was

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