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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21

from Richard, AA4OO on February 24, 2017
View comments about this article!

Sometimes using an older transceiver that's missing most of the features of modern rigs can be a welcome return to the basics of the hobby.

In this video, HamRadioQRP author AA4OO sends out his call and enjoys a CW QSO using a 1977 TenTec Century 21.

Listen in on two Vibroplex Bug key operators as they chat about their rigs and keys...

YouTube Video Link:

https://youtu.be/xlIPkIEQpLw

So lower your power and raise your expectations...

Richard, AA4OO
http://www.hamradioqrp.com

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by KB2DHG on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with you 100%. Yes I have modern equipment and it is great. BUT I love the feeling I get using old gear. I have an old EICO 723 60 watt transmitter that I had as a Novice that I still get on the air from time to time. I have the Drake B line twins and a Yaesu FT 101EE that I just love to use. I actually love the sounds and audio of the older tube rigs.

I guess you can say I am old school but I love the old ham radio rigs...
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by W3TTT on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I wish that you would not have featured a TenTec 21. I had one of these, and then I sold it. Seller's regret. PLEASE REMOVE THE ARTICLE. (irony)

Thanks for the article,
Joe W3TTT
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by N4OI on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, I love my TenTec C21. Lots of room for add-ins, such as a Pico Keyer board from HamGadgets. That said, sometimes more power is needed -- its big brother, the old OMNI D, is a joy to operate on CW also.

If it weren't for CW and these old, classic radios, I would be QRT much more of the time. Thanks for sharing!

73 :>)
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by K1EBU on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes I also had one. Loved it. Sold it. Regret it!!! Simple to operate. Great little receiver section. I had many enjoyable contacts on the bands. Thanks for the article. gary
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by F8WBD on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I am another operator who now regrets the sale of my "21". Solid, all metal box. Not cheesy plastic. And, big. Mean't to be on a desk. Didn't need rubber cement under the four legs to keep it from roaming all over it.
 
Reality Check  
by HFHAM2 on February 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I too like simple to use equipment and have owned many older PTO Ten Tec rigs (currently own a modern TT Eagle), but I didn't like the Century 21 much.

It was much bigger than it needed to be (trying to look like a tube rig probably) and that raspy side-tone was painful to listen to. The (audio) filters were not very selective and the internal circuit breaker tripped too often for my liking. That was probably a good thing though as the finals were famous for being easy to blow with high SWR (not a good trait in a rig intended for Novices).

Finicky to tune with its "double direct conversion" receiver and zero beat button (that used to stick in all the time). No AGC, S-Meter or SWR meter.

On the plus side, it did have a built-in power supply (or would run on 12VDC) and it had QSK.

The Century 22 (although much rarer) is a far superior rig in my opinion, with a fantastic variable filter that performs nearly as well as a crystal filter and goes from SSB wide to very narrow for single signal CW copy.
 
RE: Reality Check  
by K9MHZ on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Always wanted one of those.
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by W5GNB on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I had one of these about 30 years ago and swapped it off at a hamfest (Big mistake). I recently found one on eBay and now am having a ball with this old classic
radio ...
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by KB1GMX on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I want for the Argonaut 505 and Triton 540.. I have the modern bird too but the QRp rig is so fun.


Allison
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by AF5CC on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would love to try a Triton IV also. Will get one sooner or later.
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by AE9Q on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I bought a used Century 21 when I got my Novice license in 1982, made one CW QSO and decided I needed to improve my CW skills before getting on the air again. Radio got packed away for 30+ years until last year when I thought I'd give it a try again. I was disappointed to find the PTO frozen (a common problem with C21's, I've read). I'll stick with my 706MKII and KX3. Anybody want to buy a C21 with a stuck PTO?

Dave, AE9Q
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by VE7SGI on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Stuck PTO is really easy to fix, just open it up and clean out and replace old axle grease. Many places to find instructions on internet or email me. I have a 706 and love it for mobile but the TT receiver will KILL the Icom after you get it running again. So quiet. Don't give up on the old girl !

Cheers....dave / VE7SGI.
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by WQ2V on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Are you serious?
I sold my Novice TT21 years ago and STILL RUE the day!
I would love to fix it.
$??
I'm in Cold Spring--upstate NY.
Tim WQ2V
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by AF5CC on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Did the Century 21 use real crystal filters, or just audio filters?

73 John AF5CC
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by K3JLS on February 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Folks,

I've purchased, modified and then resold several Century 21 radios. Most recently, I added an internal digital display to one of them (details on my website), and a dual digital DDS VFO to a digital Century 21. I also fixed a couple of them, as well.

The most interesting fix was to an analog Century 21 with low output power. After removing the RF unit I found that a lead on one of the finals was never soldered. After being soldered, it worked properly. The original inspector's tag (along with initials) was still on the radio. Must have been a bad day for him / her.

I've also rebuilt several PTO's by just cleaning and re-greasing them - no need for new parts.

All-in-all, I found the Century 21 to be a slick rig for casual CW use, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to take a trip back in time. It is an order of magnitude better than the Hallicrafters S-85 and DX-20 that I used as a Novice.

73's - Joe - K3JLS
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by KB4QAA on February 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
HFHAM2:

You forgot to complain about the C21 case color and size of the feet! Geez.
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by K7NSW on February 28, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My early years as a brass pounder involved simple equipment. A DX-20 50 watt transmitter and an RME double conversion receiver. I did ok for a new guy. I always had to come up with some kind of switch to move the antenna back and forth between the two units. Sometimes it was a simple knife switch. Hello college and grad school. Had to hang up ham radio to get my feet firmly on the ground for my future career. A few years pass. Then time to return to ham radio. Old gear was gone. Tubes were fading and some new outfit named Ten-Tec was offering solid state stuff. I jumped in and bought a Century 21. OH WOW! The famous Ten-Tec QSK. I really did think I had died and awakened in Heaven. It changed my ham radio life. Thank you Ten-Tec. And where are you today? I anxiously await your return while I continue to enjoy my Ten-Tec Omni VII, another rig sent to us from ham radio Heaven. So many hams buy the Japanese stuff. and Ten-Tec is on the rocks. I have yet to understand that.
 
RE: CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by K8AI on March 2, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
AF5CC:

The C21 uses three, selectable, active op-amp AF filters.
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by N4QA on March 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
After more than a decade of hammimg, I bought my brand new C/21 in the late 70s.
I also need to do the PTO repair.
Fun rig to use.
I rarely get rid of any rig...
As I recall the power output level can be cranked right down into the mud. FB for QRPp.
And that 'legendary' TT QSK !
Time to dust it off...again!
 
CW QSO Fun with a Ten-Tec Century 21  
by NZ7C on March 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've got two words: totally awesome!
 
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