Ten-Tec has created another legend within the new 539 Argonaut VI. This "NEW" QRP transceiver incorporates the use of Ten-Tec's ASR design philosophy. This same low noise receiver design blended with advanced software control has been used with the 599 Eagle and RX-366 receiver giving you outstanding dynamic range and crystal clear audio.
Tired of extended long menu driven transceivers. Experience the simple, fun, and ease of use the Ten-Tec Argonaut VI offers. Designed right here in the USA, you will never find a more enjoyable QRP experience in such a small package with such outstanding receiver performance. The 539 will operate with any of the currently available, optional, 8 pin microphones. The legend lives on.
All measurements are typical. Results will vary based on different Test Enviroment,Tools, and Test Methods. Specifications are subject to change.
All measurement are typical. Specifications are subject to change.
Posted by Ron wb1hga on 20th Feb 2013
what a sweet radio to play with! I must say that you guys did it again.
The 539 is one heck of a radio (and it's cute).
The scheme to making a radio with less buttons to push is Brilliant!
The three position switch in conjunction with only 4 buttons took a little getting used to.
Receive is superior. With some RF and BW adjustment, I could copy a weak signal with ease. The radio's full duty cycle is a relief from concern while running Digital modes.
The current draw (half amp on RX) is a added benefit when operating FD style on from emergency power.
Ten Tec did it again!
This is the next "keeper".
Ron Silvia WB1HGA
"happy to be an Ambassador"
Posted by Jim - KG0PP on 24th Jan 2013
Over the years, Ten Tec has certainly designed radios that are "out of the box". The TT-556 with the plug in modules comes to mind. The Argonaut VI is no exception.
The 539 has some unusual features. The requirement to turn the BW control fully CCW to access certain voice and CW mode features is unlike anything I have seen. It does however free up front panel space, and I really love the small size of this rig.
The 539 uses a three position toggle switch to choose the function of the 4 buttons above the VFO knob. At first this seemed very clumsy but became more intuitive with use. It appears that the decision to use this method was an effort to keep the size of the front panel small, and the rig is surprizingly
small and light weight. On many rigs, push buttons have one or two functions. By using the T-M-B toggle the 539 can provide many operating functions. Take the NR button for example. By using the T-M-B toggle, the button activates the AGC, the Noise Reduction (NR ) or Memory Recall ( MR ).
But there is more. In AGC mode there are 3 settings, fast, medium, and slow, indicated below the last two frequency digits. In NR mode the button activates the Noise Blanker ( NB ), the NR, or both NB and NR. However, when in the NR or NB mode alone, a long press activates the mode settings. 1 through 10 for each NR and NB. In MR mode, a quick press of the button shows the memories and the user can then use the VFO dail to select a specific memory channel. A long press of the button then saves the data to the memory chosen. By my count that is at least 8 different operating functions from one button. Very impressive. Other buttons have similar numerous functions.
Another button of interest is the PRE button, for receiver preamp. I had originally planned to write how hard it is to make across the band changes in frequency, but then discovered that a long press of the PRE button switches the tuning rates. Hard to find, but nice to use.
The rig includes both AF and RF controls. Others in this group have expressed the importance of being able to control background noise by using the RF control. It is a shame that not all rigs included the RF control. Noise Reduction is a poor substitute for controlling RF gain. I first learned how to
use Ten Tec's PBT on my OMNI 6+ (one of Ten Tec's best radios). When used in combination with the variable IF filter, it makes signal reception in crowded conditions easy. I have always been able to hear weak signals in crowded conditions better with the 6+ than most other rigs. The Orion is the champion in this regard. The Flex 1500 and 3000 are equally good, as is my K3.
The Ten Tec procedure for me has always been:
turn off the receiver preamp ( the preamp should only be used on 15m and 10m, maybe 20m)
reduce RF gain to 60% or where the back ground noise begins to abate.
set the IF filter to around 700 hz
peak the signal with the PBT
reduce the IF width to 300 or 400 hz.
This has always resulted in very good quality signal reception. Notice there was no mention of NR. The use of DSP noise reduction seems to reduce the quality of the received signal no matter what radio I am using. When chasing foxes, using NR often causes the fox's signal to dissappear.
The NR in the 539 seems no better than in other rigs. Even at it's lowest setting, engaging NR leads to a reduction in signal quality. The NR in my Orion is a bit better. Hopefully future software upgrades will improve the NR. The noise blanker works fine and is adjustable.
Current consumption comparison: All testing at 13.7 volts
On receive the 539 draws 610 ma. , the KX3 draws 220 ma, the K2 - 360 ma, the Ten Tec 516 - 2,000 ma.
The 539 is not great but not terrible either. The old NorCal Sierra is great, only 27 ma on receive.
On transmit at 5 watts the 539 draws 2.28 amps,the KX3 - 1.52 amps, the K2- 1.82 amps, the TT-516 - 4.49 amps.
Oh...the Sierra? - 0.73 amps, amazing.
The 539 has a terrific selection of features. You can read about them by downloading the manual.
OK, what is missing? :
no general coverage, although you can go past the band edges to reveive WWV on 5, 10, and 15mhz.
no tune mode
no memory keyer, a big omission for my operating style. I must use the Idiom Press K5 which has ample memories and a tune mode.
no easily activated sidetone to compare received frequency tones
no coverage of 12m, a very popular and effective DX band
no way to hook up a set of paddles and a stright key at the same time. I will need to modify my K5 to accomplish this
Now to the best news.
The receiver is amazing. Very very quiet. The internally generated hiss is very low. Signals seem to pop out of nowhere when tuning. At first, every time I
would power up the 539, I would need to check to see if the antenna was hooked up, it is so quiet. I have no way to measure close-in blocking dynamic range, but it must be very good. When listening to weak signals 1 or 2 kc away from strong signals, it is very easy to copy. I can't wait for Sherwood to test the receiver. I would guess the BDR numbers are going to be top class.
The manual is an improvement over some previous texts, probably the most clearly and complete Ten Tec manual to date. I remember the Orion manual well. The standard procedure was to read and attempt a proceure three or four times, without success, and then post a question on the Orion Yahoo group to get some help.
There was some discussion on the Yahoo reflector at first comparing the 539 to the Elecraft KX3. Since I also own KX3 #249, a comparison can be made. Well...there is really no comparison in my opinion. The radios have very different purposes. For SOTA and POTA work, or any work portable operation like field day, the KX3 excels, however the T-T 539 would work just fine, although a little excessive on the current requirements. . For a home station QRP rig the 539 really comes into its own and is the clear winner. For me, the KX3 on the ham station table just does not work. It is hard to see, and is clumsy to use. The KX3, with it's noisier receiver is more tiring when used for long periods. I would not ever give up either rig but they do each have their best place.
I have waited a while to give my impressions, but at first I was a little frustrated by the unusual procedures used to operate the 539. Now that I have become accustomed to it, the operating style is starting to be second nature.
The more I use it, the more I like the 539.
Posted by Jim Rodenkirch on 23rd Jan 2013
I JUST finished turning on my new Argonaut VI and operating it on several of the bands......WOW is all I can say, for starters.
I'll take more notes and coalesce it all later on but, first impressions:
1) After using my Argonaut V for about 3 years, the button arrangements is, to say the least, refreshing. Four buttons, one toggle switch??? What's not to like about that! I have a fairly severe case of neuropathy - no feeling in hands/fingers or feet/toes so was sorta worried about mashing those four buttons but...no problems today, at all! Damn, I like the age old heuristic - K.I.S.S.!
2) The receiver noise level(s) ----- if there, turn the RF gain down some.....if still there, hit that NR button and, POOF...gone! THAT's why I purchased this VI!!! Was tired of my ears bleeding while on 160 or 80 during a contest with a ton of noise....no more!
3) Haven't had a chance to put it through its paces as far as filtering out close in stations but I'll give it a good wringing out this weekend as a QRP entry in the CQ WW 160 event.
Stay tuned, more news in a week or so!
I am so impressed I sent Ten Tec the application to become an Ambassador! That little Argonaut V was a good, basic rig....this Argonaut VI outta be right up there, receiver specs wise with the best of 'em!
The XYL saw it as I took it out of the box and she said, "Now that's a cute little radio." She is CORRECT - "cute" and, at first blush, a real worker! I heard someone else say they used it during the Big Stew last this coming weekend...I'll be one happy camper! I did go find a STRONG CW station down on 20 and parked the receiver about 1 khz away and cranked the bandwidth down till he disappeared and believe I was at around 800 or 900 on the BW readout --- I did have them install the 700 hz roofing filter so glad to see THAT workin'!
Whoooooooooooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooooooooo! 72, Jim Rodenkirch K9JWV
Posted by Maarten, N1DZ on 27th Dec 2012
Wow! I am so impressed by the receiver on this radio. Using it for the past few days I can truly say that Ten-Tec created another amazing little QRP transceiver.
The Argonaut VI is solidly built and has a high quality feel to it. All the knobs feel sturdy with little play and the display is easy to read. The simple front panel is surprisingly intuitive. It is kind of refreshing to have only three knobs and 4 buttons. Granted some operations require first to set the rocker switch in the proper position. However the triple function of the 4 front buttons is easy to master.
The receiver of the Argonaut VI is absolutely superb. You have to hear it to believe it. The audio on receive is super easy to listen to. The bandwidth control and passband tuning work flawlessly. In A/B comparison with my TS-590 on a noisy 80m band listening to a very faint T6LG, the Argonaut VI had consistently better copy than the TS-590. Pretty impressive as previously I found the TS-590 to do better than my K3. It seems that the 539 can handle the static crashes and band noise better. Obvious on a quiet band the receiver does really well too and is sensitive enough w/o having to use the preamp. I did not notice any improvements with the NB or NR.
I received good audio reports on SSB. On cw the internal keyer works very well and the QSK is smooth as silk. After 5 minutes keydown the radio did not get warm and the output did not drift.
Overall the Argonaut VI is a very impressive QRP transceiver with a receiver comparable to the top transceivers in the market. Some argue that the 539 is too expensive. Considering the legendary Ten-Tec service and that Ten-Tec products hold their value in the pre-owned market, the cost of the Argonaut VI is, in my opinion, very reasonable.
Posted by Bob, K4TAX on 17th Dec 2012
With the Model 539 Argonaut VI, Tentec has created a QRP transceiver combining simplified controls and ease of operation with the excellent performance of a low first IF ham-band structure. The analog portion of the radio is double conversion with IF frequencies of 9 MHz and 22.5 kHz. A third conversion to zero-frequency IF is accomplished in the DSP processor.
As I have this radio at my QTH and on my desk, I can truly say the performance in all aspects is amazing, much like its big brothers, the Eagle and the Orion II. The receiver, while using the internal speaker, produces the cleanest and finest sounding audio I've heard from a ham transceiver. Using the internal Auto Notch feature, there are no hetrodynes heard in the SSB mode and its use doesn't affect audio quality either. On CW with the DSP BW down to 100 Hz there is no distortion or ringing of the CW note, not to mention with ajustment of the PBT any QRM just goes away.
On SSB transmit using the Tentec hand mike and the internal DSP speech processor, the transmit audio reports are "great audio". The processor pushes up the average transmit power without the audio sounding compressed or processed. This makes the small radio sound like a big radio.
Interface to the computer is by a standard USB cable which allows not only firmware updates as they become available, but allows connection to current ham software packages such as HRD and fldigi with ease. Add the 712 USB Soundcard interface and one can operate their favorite digital mode in a matter of minutes. There's no fiddling with multiple cables, tweaking of adjustments as all levels are handled within the Windows environment.
Also available is a GUI package that allows one to re-define certain control functions to conform to unique application or operation.
This is a little box with big box performance. A true QRP winner in my book.