I well remember first speaking with a Ten-Tec rep at the Ten-Tec Hamfest last year when the company first displayed the concept Model 539 transceiver, which was beginning to generate enormous interest. After viewing it, I casually asked the representative what the name of the new radio would be–? When he shrugged his response, I came to the point: “Will it be called an Argonaut?” “Time will tell,” he eluded. But in retrospect, I realized his response was not so much evasive, as it was fair–an honest attempt to protect the original Argonaut line’s name. Ten-Tec apparently wanted to finish the rig, to vet it thoroughly, and deliver performance that would live up to the legendary Argonaut status.
Now, it appears they’ve done it. And the name? Yes, folks–Ten-Tec has officially christened the new rig the Argonaut VI.
Introducing the Ten-Tec Argonaut VI
Ten-Tec, having been made aware of our avid interest in their new product, has been kind enough to provide QRPer with a preliminary spec sheet for the Model 539, and they’re permitting me to post it here, for the first time, today (see link below). As you can see at the top of the page, it very clearly states that the ‘539 will be called the Argonaut VI.
Ten-Tec also allowed us access to the spec sheet for the new Model 418 Amplifier, which (to keep this post brief) will be featured in this separate post.
Ten-Tec tells us that the receiver on the Argonaut VI will perform much like the one in their Ten-Tec Eagle (Model 599). But you can hear it for yourself at the Hamvention: There, they’ll have a recorded contest playing over all of their rigs–including over the new Argonaut VI–so that hams can listen to and compare their receiver performance.
You can download the Argonaut flier that Ten-Tec will hand out at the Dayton Hamvention by clicking here. It covers these vital specs of the radio:
Modes: CW, LSB, USB, AM
Receiver Type: Double Conversion, ASR
RIT: +/- 8.2kHz
CW Keyer built in: Curtis Mode B, 5-50wpm
Typical receiver sensitivity: < 1 uv
DSP Selectivity: 100 built in DSP filters from 100Hz.
Dynamic Range: 91db
Display: Multicolor back lit LCD
Rf Output power: 1 to 10 watts
Transmitter Duty cycle: 100% for up to 10 minutes
Frequency Coverage: 160 through 10 meters with the exception of 60 and 12 meters.
Power Requirements: 9.5-14 Volts DC (550ma on receive, 3 amps at 10 watt TX)
VFO: Two independent “VFOs” for single or split operation
Speed Sensitive VFO tuning rate
Frequency Stability: +/- .5ppm
Availability and Price–?
The Model 539 Argonaut will be available late fall of 2012. Though the software is in final stages and almost ready for Beta testing, Ten-Tec says they are still ironing out the parts list and firming up lead times and prices. They will not, alas, have a price for the Model 539 Argonaut VI at the Hamvention, but say that they will have firm pricing on the Model 418 Amp by then (more on that here, and to come).
Some questions answered…
The Model 539 will only draw 550 mah on receive unsquelched. That’s not as low as an Elecraft rig, but for a Ten-Tec rig (that consumes a little extra juice for audio fidelity) that’s a fairly miniscule number. Especially considering that its predecessor, the Argo V, consumed nearly double that figure on receive. In fact, I’ll bet it’s the lowest receive current on any digital/DSP transceiver they’ve ever produced. Indeed, this Argo VI is almost as good as the venerable Yaesu FT-817 unsquelched. As a result, I imagine this new-generation Argonaut will be a great radio to take to the air on Field Day, or even to take backpacking/HF-packing.
If the price is competitive, and that’s still an if, this could be a real winner for Ten-Tec, offering high-performance on a QRP budget. If so, this may be an affordable way to get into a top-quality new radio whose performance is benchmark-able. Couple it with the Model 418 Amplifier to provide 100 watts output as needed…Quite promising!
The Argonaut VI (and Model 418) will be on display at Dayton, and will be fully-functioning. I’ll be one of the first visitors at their booth in Dayton Friday morning, and plan to post further details (and possibly a few photos) during the Hamvention. So, check back and follow the tags: Ten-Tec and Dayton.
So, what could the Argonaut name mean for this rig, in terms of performance? Time will tell!
Just to be clear, all of this information came from straight from the horse’s mouth at Ten-Tec and is accurate-to-date.
We’re grateful to the folks at Ten-Tec for giving QRPer a preliminary look into these two products prior to the Hamvention, and allowing us to post their sheets so our readers can take a first peek. Thanks, fellas!
This versatile amp shows promise, and may turn out to be a really big seller for Ten-Tec. Perhaps their biggest. Here’s why:
The Model 418 amplifier will work with almost any QRP rig on the market (new or used)
Just 5 watts in, delivers 100 watts out
It covers the full HF spectrum plus 6 meters
It has 2 HF antenna inputs with a manual switch, and a separate 6 meter antenna port that is automatically engaged when you switch to 6 meter operation
It offers an easy bypass mode
It offers auto or manual band selection
Power, SWR and voltage are all displayed on the back-lit LCD panel
It offers 13.8V DC input with standard Anderson Powerpole connection
Ten-Tec will announce the price of the Model 418 at the Dayton Hamvention this Thursday. We look forward to that, and once announced, will be sure to post it here, same day.
The upshot: If priced competitively, the Model 418 is basically a little box that can turn your Argonaut V, Argonaut VI, Yaesu FT-817, Icom IC-703, Ten-Tec Cub, Elecraft K1, K2/10, K3/10, KX3, Index Labs QRP+, or most any other QRP radio on the market into a 100 watt rig. It appears to be truly plug-and-play, too, with auto band switching.
In my case, for example, this would be a very useful product. Though I primarily operate QRP, I do on occasion like a shot of extra power, such as when conditions are bad or I’m trying to bust through a particularly heavy pile-up. I rarely–if ever–run more than QRP when operating portable, though. The Model 418 could plug into my K2/10 while in the shack, and I could pump up the wattage as needed. It would also work with any future QRP rigs I may buy. When operating Field Day with my club, I could take the K2 and ‘418, which would give me a 100W transceiver without adding the 100W module to the K2, thus keeping the K2 lighter for my portable operations outside of Field Day.
Yep, as you’ve guessed, I want one already…!
Again–just to be clear–this is not idle speculation; the facts I’ve posted above, including the spec sheet, came directly from Ten-Tec today. We appreciate that Ten-Tec has provided us with the spec sheets for the Model 539 and the Model 418 prior to the Dayton Hamvention, exclusively for QRPer readers. Thanks, fellas!
This year at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention, FlexRadio Systems will be joining the line-up of manufacturers introducing new products. On the FlexRadio front page, they’ve posted the following graphics along with the promise of more to come. It’s a Dayton teaser, but I will be posting updates with firm facts as they become available. Follow our tag FlexRadio for more…
I just received this update from John Henry (Ten-Tec Software Engineer) this morning:
We are making progress in several areas on the 539, it is coming along, and improving every day. We don’t have a price point we can speak about yet, as we are still trying to find the best working parts for a few of the items on the rig. And those parts, may affect our target. But still, we will surely beat the <$1k price that we have mentioned already. The speaker is now enclosed within the unit, similar to the 599. This is something that we knew we would eventually get done, just didn’t have it ready in time for the ham ventions to date. We will have a fully functional 539 on display at Dayton. Pre-orders at Dayton? I don’t think I will be confident enough on a real ship date yet to be able to take orders at Dayton. I don’t want to take orders at Dayton, promise a ship date, and then have it delayed for parts reasons. So, as soon as we know the parts are final, and FCC has passed, and we have all of the lead times and production times worked out and in the schedule, then we will be able to take orders. We do have the 539s in beta testing now, tweaking software here/there, finishing a few features, and soon will be able to send it to others for their inputs.
The Model 418 100w amp is in the hands of external beta testers, and we are scheduling production start for end of May, beginning of July. The software is basically done, but of course, we are still tweaking it by adding a bit more protection and user features. We will have those added / tested / approved in the coming week or two. Beta tester input is extremely positive and they are sure we have a big hit on our hands because of everything that this amp provides is phenomenal.
John plans to give me another update just prior to the Dayton Hamvention.
As many of you know, I find the downsizing of major shortwave broadcasters around the world deeply concerning, especially since so much of the world still relies on the medium as a source of news and information, and for some the only source of potentially life-saving information.
The recent cuts to RCI, however, were particularly painful. In one stroke of a pen, many people lost their jobs, and RCI’s already-skimpy budget was reduced to virtually nil. What’s more, their only international transmitting station–in Sackville, New Brunswick–is slated to be shut down, meaning there is no intention to continue the service, ever.
Kenwood released the following press release today. I had hoped it would contain more information. We did recently learn about some TS-990 facts, and now, through this Kenwood PR, we learn that the TS-990 will not see production until late 2012 and that the model on display at the Dayton Hamvention will be a “reference exhibit.”
April 18, 2012 New Amateur Radio Product to be Exhibited Prior to Worldwide Launch
JVC KENWOOD Corporation is proud to announce that the prototype of a state-of-the-art Amateur transceiver scheduled for worldwide launch under the Kenwood brand in the winter of 2012 will be unveiled as a reference exhibit at Dayton Hamvention 2012 to be held in Dayton, Ohio, USA (May 18-20). It will also appear at events in Germany and Japan.
Reference exhibit model: TS-990 HF/50 MHz Transceiver Featuring a dual TFT display and dual receiver, the TS-990 is a top-of-the-range flagship model in the Kenwood Amateur radio line-up.
Prior to the launch of the TS-990, a prototype will be displayed as a reference exhibit at Dayton Hamvention 2012 in Dayton, Ohio, USA (May 18-20), at HAM RADIO 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany (June 22-24), and at Ham Fair 2012 in Tokyo, Japan (August 25-26). Please note that as this product is under development, published information is subject to change without notice.
I have used the excellent QTH.com classifieds site for many years to buy and sell radio equipment. I think it’s a great alternative to eBay.
I subscribe to the QTH.com classifieds newsletter and, this morning, Scott (KA9FOX) sent the following warning, which I am publishing to help spread the word. In summary, QTH.com is still a great place to buy/sell equipment, but they, along with other classifieds sites, have seen an increase in scam activity. Know the signs:
Dear QTH.com Ham Radio Classifieds user:
We’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of scammers utilizing our website (and it seems most other ham radio classified sites, too, based on reports coming in). I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what some of these scammers are doing, in hopes it will better protect you from them, when you are selling equipment on the QTH.com Classifieds at http://swap.qth.com.
Common scammer traits:
1) They will use some else’s callsign, and they will create an email address that contains that callsign, usually with a free email provider like gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc. They sometimes pose as foreign callsigns (especially UK and Spain) but recently have been using USA callsigns.
2) They will sometimes post “For Sale” ads, but also will sometimes answer “Wanted” ads. Usually the prices are a little too good to be true.
3) They will use pictures of equipment they have found on the Internet (they don’t really own the equipment).
4) They seem to like payments via Western Union (no protection for the buyer), but will also use PayPal (hoping to drain their account before the buyer realizes they have been scammed).
5) They seem to know ham radio jargon. For all we know, these scammers are hams, but we can’t be sure.
6) They are sophisticated enough to use “proxy servers” so their IP address cannot be easily detected. This makes it difficult for us to block the scammers. We are constantly tweaking our filters to block these guys when possible, but it is a constant cat and mouse game.
What can you do to protect yourself?
* Ask for a phone number and call the person before agreeing on any deal. This is probably the #1 way to expose the rats.
* Check to see if the email address they used matches what is listed for that person on their QRZ.com profile. It could be a red flag if there is a mismatch.
* Be especially cautious of dealing with foreign hams. Not all foreign hams are scammers, of course! Just be extra careful!!
* Never use Western Union. Be very cautious of using Money Orders and Cashier’s Checks. PayPal and Credit Cards seem to be the best option, as far as having any buyer protection. Money Orders & Cashier’s Checks are perfectly acceptable if you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with.
About 100,000 ads are placed each year in the QTH.com Classifieds, and only a tiny, tiny fraction wind up being fraudulent. I do not want to scare you into thinking that it is unsafe to trade online. Rather, I simply want to arm you with knowledge, so that you will be able to sniff out the bad guys, and stay safe.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com.
73 – Scott KA9FOX QTH.com Ham Radio Classifieds http://swap.qth.com