I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.
I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection over the years. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–I try to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators: field operators, DXers, summit activators, contesters, rag-chewers, casual operators, SWLs, travelers, outdoor adventurers, mobile operators, etc. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.
On that note, I thought it might be fun to take a radio out for a field activation and spend a bit of time explaining why I enjoy using it and why it’s a part of my permanent field radio collection. Instead of taking that wide-angle view of a radio like I do in magazine reviews, I share my own personal thoughts based on long-term experience.
Each new video in the Getting To Know You series will highlight one of the field radios from my field radio collection. I’ll spend time in each video explaining what I personally appreciate about each radio, then we’ll do a park or summit activation with the radio.
I’ll release these every few weeks or so–when the notion strikes me. They will not be on a regular schedule, but I hope to include each of my radios in this series over the the next year.
The Ten-Tec Argonaut V
The third radio in the Getting To Know You series is my Ten-Tec Argonaut V (Model 516).
I’ve always been a big fan of Ten-Tec products because I love their focus on quality, high-performance receivers, and benchmark audio fidelity.
Ten-Tec has produced some impressive radios over the years and was a trail-blazer in the world of QRP with their Power Mites and original analog Argonaut series (check out these and more T-T radios here).
When Ten-Tec manufacturing was located in Sevierville, Tennessee, I knew many of the employees of the company and even did Alpha and Beta testing for their QRP radios like the Patriot, Rebel, and Argonaut VI.
I purchased my Argonaut V used in 2021 when I saw it for sale on QTH.com. The price was right and, frankly, I wanted a Ten-Tec radio back in my life.
In the activation video (below) I’ll speak to all of the reasons I love the Argonaut V, why I think it’s so unique, and why I’ve no intention of ever selling it. Then, we’ll perform a POTA activation with it.
Keep in mind that my perspective will primarily focus on HF CW operating–I don’t actually own a microphone for the Argonaut V, but I do plan to at some point.
Lake James State Park (K-2739)
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, I made a detour to Lake James State Park en route to visit my parents in Hickory, NC. As I’ve mentioned many times before, Lake James is one of the easiest parks I can hit in my travels and it’s open every day of the week–in the summer, it’s also open quite late which is a bonus.
The only negative with evening activations at Lake James is fighting the mozzies–they can be persistent!
I picked out a picnic table close to the car and pulled the Argonaut V from my Husky latching box.
I then immediately deployed my MW0SAW 40 meter End-Fed Half-Wave antenna. Since the Argonaut V doesn’t have an internal ATU, the EFHW would give me the flexibility to operate on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters natively.
Of course, it was in the early evening, so I only intended to hop on 40 meters, but I had the option to move up the band if needed.
After deploying my antenna, I recorded the “Getting To Know You” portion of the activation video–I’d encourage you to check that out below!
Time to hop on the air!
- Ten-Tec Argonaut V
- High Visibility Jacket ABR240-UF with PL-259s and 5 Ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- CW Morse Outdoor Double Paddle With Steel Base
- Bioenno 15 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1215A)
- MW0SAW end-fed half-wave
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag
- Zebra Mechanical Pencil, Del Guard, 0.7mm
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook (small 3×5 size)
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hopped on 40 meters and started calling CQ POTA. Since I’d already scheduled the activation via the POTA.app site, I was auto-spotted via POTA’s connection to the Reverse Beacon Network.
Within ten minutes, I logged the ten contacts necessary for a valid POTA activation. In short, the band was in great shape!
There was normal QRN (static crashes) you’d expect to hear on a summer evening 40 meter session, but the Argonaut V’s AGC handled it all with grace.
I continued logging stations until I ran out of time. In total, I logged 23 stations in 27 minutes on the air. It was loads of fun!
Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
Each time I use the Argo V, I’m so impressed with its audio quality and silky-smooth QSK.
The Argo V (along with most other Ten-Tec models) sported proper full break-in that was seamless. This is one of the reasons T-T gear has been so well loved my CW operators over the decades.
This activation reminded me just how much I love taking the Argo V to the field even if it’s a little heavier and more power hungry than my other QRP rigs. It’s such a joy to use.
If you ever find an Argo V in good condition at a hamfest or in the classifieds, I’d encourage you to get one. It lacks all of the bells and whistles you’d find in a modern transceiver–and its audio amplification chain demands a heftier battery than you would need with, say, an Elecraft rig–but the Argo V has all one needs for proper field radio fun!
I hope you enjoyed this and my other field reports and activation videos as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been 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.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,