Ask Ten-Tec: Questions about the Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP transceiver and Model 418 Amplifier

Soon to come:  an interview with Ten-Tec regarding the much-anticipated new Ten-Tec Model 539 and companion  Model 418 100 Watt amplifier.

Many online readers are intrigued by this new product, and have already emailed questions about it.  If you have a question or comment about the TT 539, please contact me; I’ll do my best to present it to Ten-Tec during this upcoming interview.

And do check back for the complete interview next week!

Click here to go to our contact form.

Ten-Tec’s new 100 Watt Amplifier – The Ten-Tec Model 418 – Photos and preliminary specifications

The Ten-Tec Model 418 100 Watt Amplifier on display at the 2011 Ten-Tec Hamfest. Click to enlarge.

Today at the 2011 Ten-Tec Hamfest, Ten-Tec announced two new products in development: the Model 539 QRP transceiver and the companion Model 418 100 Watt amplifier.

Being a QRPer, I typically have no use for amplifiers, but this one, I must admit, will make for a perfect in-the-field companion to the (future) Model 539 or any QRP transceiver.

The Model 418 can sense the incoming RF and will automatically switch bands accordingly.

Best of all, though, is that the standby current will be as low as 150mA!

Ten-Tec Model 418 Features:

  • 100 Watts
  • All HF Bands + 6 Meters
  • MOSFET Amplifier
  • Standby current as low as 150mA
  •  DC input voltage 10V – 16V
  • Selectable input attenuation, Delay
  • 2 selectable antenna connections
  • Dedicated 6M antenna connection
  • Band switching
    • Manual OR Auto – RF Sensed
    • Seamless connection to PC
    • Seamless connection to Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP Transceiver

Ten-Tec Model 539 – Ten-Tec’s new QRP transceiver

Ten-Tec Model 539 on display at the Ten-Tec Hamfest, September 24, 2011 - Click to enlarge

At the Ten-Tec hamfest today, I just happened to stumble upon the new, as yet un-released Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP transceiver.

It’s a beautiful, simple little unit.

The footprint is very similar to the Elecraft K2, while its height is slightly greater  than the Yaesu FT-817. It’s very lightweight and certainly backpackable.

The Ten-Tec folks I spoke with said that the current requirements may be as low as 250 mA on receive–though they’re not yet certain.  When I asked John Henry (Eagle and OMNI VII firmware author) about the receiver performance, he mentioned that the receiver board is the same as the Eagle’s, and performance is likely to be somewhere between that of the Eagle and the Jupiter. There is some compromise on a receiver optimized for backpacking and QRP field ops.  Nevertheless…wow.

Price:  still undetermined.

Ten-Tec hopes to take pre-orders at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention. They also announced a companion 100 watt amp for the new QRP rig (see separate post). The amp, however, will work with any QRP radio on the market.

I honestly believe this may be a transceiver worthy of the Argonaut lineage.

Features include:

  • 10 Watt QRP Transceiver
  • 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 Meters Ham-Band Only
  • AM, USB, LSB, CW Modes
  • Tricolor backlit internally adjustable display
  • Hardware features in common with the Ten-Tec Eagle Model 599
  • Noise Reduction
  • Noise Blanker
  • AGC – Fast, Medium, Slow
  • RIT
  • Pre Amp
  • 100 Memories
  • Two VFO Displays

Thank you, Ten-Tec; you listened.  

Additional photos:

Ten-Tec's John Henry behind prototype of the Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP Transceiver

Kenwood announces the TS-990S in Tokyo

Kenwood is releasing a new top end rig in the heritage of TS-950SDX, the TS-990S. It will be a full year, according to Kenwood, before the TS-990S will be available in the USA.

We will post more information on the Kenwood TS-990S as it becomes available.

Official preliminary KX3 specs posted on Elecraft website

The Elecraft KX3 (Photo source: Elecraft)

Click Here To Read Full Preliminary Specs of the Elecraft KX3

 

Bob Heil’s new show Ham Nation on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network

As a big fan of ham radio and an avid listener of the TWiT network, I’m pleased as punch that Leo Laporte has asked Bob Heil (K9EID) to host a show called Ham Nation.

I spoke with Bob about the new show at the 2011 Dayton Hamvention.  He has many ideas and a lot of enthusiasm and energy to put into Ham Nation.

His first line up? None other than Joe Walsh WB6ACU and Dave Jennings WJ6W. Bob also has plans to use future shows to give Leo Laporte radio lessons so he can obtain his Tech License.This could be a first for ham radio and leveraging the listenership of the TWiT network, could bring a lot of newcomers into the hobby.

Click here to go to Ham Nation’s home page.

Subscribe to Ham Nation via iTunes.

Video of Elecraft KX3

Back from Dayton, I found this YouTube video of Wayne Burdick demonstrating the KX3 at Four Days In May (FDIM). As you can see, the form factor is perfect for field operations and I believe you would be hard-pressed to find more features on a rig this size.

(Video source: QRPARCI)

Photos and more details of the Elecraft KX3 from Dayton Hamvention

Don Wilhelm (W3FPR), everyone's favorite Elecrafter, holds one of the three KX3 prototypes.

Wow.

I got a chance to play with one of the two KX3 protoypes Elecraft had on display at the Dayton Hamvention.

I mean, wow!

Don (W3FPR) gave me a  tour of this amazing rig. It’s small,  feature-packed and as ergonomic as all of the machines that come out of Aptos. It is slightly larger than the KX1 in every dimension. Still very easy to hold (as you can see in the photo to the right). Not pictured are the mini CW paddles (not based on the current KX1–much better) and a small attachable microphone. I’ll try to photo them tomorrow and post.

I spoke with Elecraft owner/founder Wayne Burdick (N6KR) at length as well.  He said that the KX3 has been in the works for years. It’s built on the ideas of Elecraft and many of its owners, he said they’ve simply been waiting for technology to catch-up with their vision.

I actually think this could be a major game changer in the ham radio world. Think about it…a portable transceiver with the receive capabilities of the world-class K3, all band, general coverage, firmware upgradable, with many options including a full-fledged automatic antenna tuner, 100 Watt amp and many optional modules.  Did I mention it’s ultra portable? Gosh!

Oh yeah, Wayne told me it will be sold for under $800.

I must have one.

More photos:

More details on the Elecraft KX3

Here are some more details I’ve collected on the newly announces Elecraft KX3 ultra-portable transceiver. According to Elecraft, a product brochure will be available soon.

Dimensions: 3.5″H x 7.4″W x 1.7″D — a bit larger in all dimensions
than a KX1.

The KX3 will have a mobile-mount bracket–it will be covered in the to-be-product brochure.

RX-mode current drain ~150 mA. Very efficient on TX, with dual-output-impedance 5W/10W PA.

The optional 100W amp is in an external chassis. The internal amplifier is 10W with switchable impedance matching so it can also operate with maximum efficiency at 5W.

PA output impedance switch allows efficient 5-W use from internal batteries, or 10 W from external supply.
100 W+ with new high-performance external amp/ATU that works with most 5W to 10W rigs.

Questions from emails reflectors–answers by Elecraft:

>Same flat layout as the KX-1 – just bigger box I would assume????
Yes, but with new fold-up rear tilt-feet.

>…and a K3-like front panel, including the same LCD.
>
> And it makes use of EVERY display on that LCD?? Carumba!

Not quite. I think there are a couple annunciators that are not used. But it’s amazing that the design team managed to fit almost all the features of a 10W K3 into a box that is a small fraction of the size and weight. And with space left over for an internal battery pack!

By the time we’re done, we’ll be using every icon.
Totally different architecture than the K3, of course. (Wayne N6KR)

> More $$$ or less $$$ that the regular K3?
Much less.

> Dual output impedance 5w/10w pa? I don’t understand.
The MOSFET 10-W amp stage includes an output transformer with both 1:4 and 1:1 windings. When using low power, or when running from internal batteries, the 1:1 winding is used, which optimizes efficiency at about 5 W, greatly reducing transmit current drain. The 1:4 winding is used when running higher power (using an external supply).

> One email said 10w/100w models. Is that correct?
The 1.5-pound radio itself puts out 10 watts+. We’ll also be describing a new, high-performance 100-watt+ companion amplifier/ATU for fixed-station/mobile use. It will work very well with other 5 to 10-W radios besides the KX3.

(Source: from various internet sites but primarily through Elecraft and QRP-L reflectors.)

Elecraft Announces KX3 – a K3 KX1 Hybrid

Very excited this morning as I read this announcement on QRP-L posted by Wayne himself:

 

KX3: Ultra-compact K3/KX1 hybrid; 160-6 m, 10/100 W, all-mode, 32-bit
DSP/SDR, 1.5 lbs.

(By the way, I’d like to thank everyone on the list who’s sent us
suggestions for a next-generation portable over the years. Many great
ideas!)

73,
Wayne
N6KR

I will update this site with any information I can gather from Dayton! More to come…

QRP radios, product announcements, reviews, news and more. Low power amateur radio fun!