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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Ten-Tec Argonaut VI 539 Help

Reviews Summary for Ten-Tec Argonaut VI 539
Ten-Tec Argonaut VI 539 Reviews: 33 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $$995.00
Description: Argonaut VI 1-10 Watt Transceiver
Product is in production.
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KT5D Rating: 4/5 Feb 26, 2016 18:04 Send this review to a friend
An interesting radio   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
My purchase of the Argonaut 6 was unplanned. I had an opportunity to buy a demo unit directly from Ten Tec while in Sevierville. As I am totally a CW operator I also got the 700 Hz CW filter.

I am a casual DXer and contester. I enjoy building both kits and my own designs. I also like to restore and use boat anchors. I enjoy trying different radios just for the sake of being different. This has been ongoing for almost 50 years. There are basically three types of radios in my shack; serious high performance latest technologically rigs, project rigs and fun rigs. Some can occupy more than one title at different times.The Argonaut is a fun radio.

I have owned a lot of Ten Tec gear so I am somewhat biased in my appraisal of it since we go back to the beginning of their company and the PowerMite radios. As with any company, they have made good stuff and bad. Their equipment until recently has never had the aesthetics of the big company radios but basic operability has pretty much been good. That is where the Argonaut 6 is.

Some things I like;
1. small size again. The Argonaut 5 was way too big.
2. it looks good
3. it is American made
4. ten watts of power is just right for this radio
5. QSK is typical Ten Tec quality
6. the CW sidetone is loud enough for me to hear (my hearing is bad.
I cannot hear the sidetone on the Orion 2!)
7. I like the blue screen
8. it sounds okay, no killer DSP hiss

Some things I don't like;
1. headphone jack on the back
2. the TMB toggle switch is too small. As often as this thing gets used
it should have at least had a bigger/flatter handle.
3. the S meter in CW mode is useless
4. NR is not very effective
5. tuning rate/speed of some controls is way too fast (PBT for
6. CW selectivity marginal even with the optional filter (only 4
7. AGC needs OFF position
8. no A/B vfo reversing maintained.
9. no scanning capabilities???

I have the Elecraft KX3 and have had the Yaesu FT-817. The Argonaut 6 is much better than the FT-817 as a CW transceiver but not near as good as the KX3. For me it is good for a change of pace fun radio. I may or may not keep it. For nearly $1000, buy the KX3.
KS4TL Rating: 5/5 May 27, 2015 07:19 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic radio with some annoying quirks  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'd actually rate the 539 as 4.5 if eHam allowed - it's a very good radio, but it's not perfect.

It's a unusually quiet receiver. Very pleasant to listen to. The bandwidth tuning and noise reduction functions work very well in handling QRN and QRM. I have access to two radios for comparison: my own Kenwood TS-590 and a club station IC-756 ProIII. I prefer the receiver in the 539 over that of either of those radios.

Listening carefully through my Heil Proset, I find no trace of the obtrusive audio hiss DL2AKV refers to. None at all. This radio is noticeably quieter than my TS-590. (I suspect DL2AKV had the bad luck to get a defective unit.)

There is a very low-level digital artifact (a sound like crinkling cellophane) that can just be heard when turning the VFO dial. Given that it is very low level, and goes away entirely as soon as you stop turning the dial, I don't view it as a significant problem.

CW on this rig is very, very nice, as you would expect from Ten-tec. SSB works as well as you can expect for 10 watts (my opinion is that SSB QRP is best left to masochists). Paired with a suitable amp, I would expect it to be very nice on SSB.

I've used the rig on JT9 and PSK, and frequency stability is excellent. In contrast to the KX3, no special measures need be taken to keep the Argo on frequency or to prevent overheating. The 539 will happily put out full power for extended digital transmissions with no issues.


- why the &^%$ is the headphone jack on the back of the rig?

- VOX. There isn't any.

- The flashing light in the Ten-Tec emblem is a poor substitute for proper ALC and compression dB readouts.

- I don't mind the missing 12 and 60 meters, never using those bands anyway. In fact, Ten-Tec could have left off 160 m as well, as far as I'm concerned. But I do wish the rig had included 6 meters.

So, there you have it. In summary, a very nice rig with some annoying quirks. Rating of 4.5, rounded up to 5.

N3JS (ex-KS4TL)
DL2AKV Rating: 2/5 Apr 27, 2015 09:56 Send this review to a friend
Not a finished product!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Impressed by all the positive reviews I decided to take the leap and by an Argonaut 6. I like QRP, I like smaller radios and I love silent QSK. And, if we're going by these categories, the Argo scores 5 points.

Unfortunately, that's only half the story. When I first turned on the transceiver, I noticed an unusually high noise floor, and I don't mean receiver noise, I mean a strong hiss coming through the AF path. This hiss even exists when you turn the AF gain knob all the way to the left. The effect is less overwhelming when using the speaker, but with headphones on it is annoying to say the least.

On top of that there are DSP-artifacts in the AF path. Turning the VFO knob produces a crackling noise. Turning the AF gain knob beyond a certain point results in a whine. Turning the bandwidth knob while receiving a CW station causes a frequency wobble of the received station. It's bad.

In my opinion, this transceiver is not a finished product and not ready to ship.

I made sure to contact several owners of this radio and they have confirmed the issue. They found ways to fix it by soldering a resistor into the AF path, thereby altering the impedance. But I'm not about to open a new radio to fix a problem I didn't cause, voiding the warranty in the process.

Ten-Tec, I really tried to like your stuff, but apparently you are not ready. The radio went back for a refund.

Next up: the Elecraft KX3.
N7AG Rating: 4/5 Apr 10, 2015 21:58 Send this review to a friend
I'm a happy ham  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned 6/7 tt rigs. Think the Omni VI is my favorite, however this little rig, 1/3 the price, 1/10 the size, is a winner! With the 715 speech processor, phone is quiet do-able. Easey to take to the cabin too.
WB5EAT Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2015 18:03 Send this review to a friend
Designed to perform  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
At my age the display on the FT817 was out of the picture. The final cost of the Elecraft was not
justifiable and the Ten Tec had everything that I was looking for. The receiver is astounding and has the ability to select what you want to work and the ability to reject all else . I get good audio reports with the supplied mic and the setup is straight forward .The Code Warrior Key is a good fit for me and works easily with the radio .
Cons : This receiver does not tune 1~30MHZ and would make a spectacular short wave radio if it did.
N9OPI Rating: 5/5 Mar 8, 2015 12:50 Send this review to a friend
Perfect size  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Excellent construction,display very clear,menu's well addressed.I agree with WY7RP & KG6TAG on operation, I also have an Eagle as well,with a 20 meter dipole & tri-band vertical it's all you need.Can't understand why some showcase $10.000 to $50.000 + STATIONS, when this can do all you want.
WB0FDJ Rating: 5/5 Feb 25, 2015 10:20 Send this review to a friend
Great QRP addition!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bottom line: this is a great radio. The most outstanding feature is the receiver, as many have noted. I have S5-S7 noise on 20 meters and with adjustment of the RF gain can easily copy other QRP stations right down in the noise without all the backround hiss and static. The variable band width has been perfected and after listening to the recent DX contest I can say that other nearby stations, many of them quite strong, are easily eliminated without artifact or pumping. To compare-I find the FT-817 fatiguing to listen to for any length of time, no matter what adjustments I make. I can easily listen to this radio for hours with headphones. This will be a joy to operate when the next QRP contest comes around, digging signals out of the mud to make contacts.

I've run fldigi, WSTJ-X and WSPR using the rig control function on all of them, without a hitch. Just decoded an OZ2 running 200 mW on WSPR. If you run QRP digi modes, this will do the job and then some.

CW? Well it's a Ten Tec. The QSK is transparent and if you are a CW op (it's about all I do) it's a dream. The first weekend of operation I worked the Flying Pigs QRP event, through S5-7 noise on 40 meters and banged out some solid contacts with other QRP stations. In the past I've found this to be difficult because my other QRP radios don't handle the noise levels vs small signals very well. I was actually astonished by how well the receiver performed in a difficult environment.

Overall I give this radio high marks. Yes it doesn't have 60 or 12 meters-I knew that going in. Looking at my logs, I never used those bands anyway. But on the bands it does cover it does everything well.

W3OWL Rating: 2/5 Feb 20, 2015 15:13 Send this review to a friend
Very Disappointing  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Two days after receiving my Argonaut VI, I had to return it for warranty service. The main VFO knob wobbled so badly that it rubbed against the recessed area of the front panel. This thing wobbled worse than a wagon wheel in a John Wayne movie. Now, on a daily basis, the rig just stops receiving signals on any band. Background noise is still there, but any received signal just disappears. If I turn the power off, then on again, everything is back to normal again. The VFO knob still rubs against the front panel. Really terrible quality control for such an expensive rig. I'm afraid this thing will be for sale soon. Based on my experience with this rig, I'm not impressed with Ten Tec. My cheap MFJ 9420 is a more reliable radio.
VE3FLT Rating: 4/5 Feb 11, 2015 09:44 Send this review to a friend
A little disappointing  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Received my new Ten Tec Argonaut for Christmas and am still evaluating it.
Am an active QRP operator, owning a Yaseu FT 817 an Elecraft K3 and an Elecraft KX3. Have never owned a Ten Tec rig and had read many fine reviews on them.
Recently went toe to toe up at my cottage for a weekend with the Yaseu 817 running 5 watts and The Ten Tec Argonaut V1 running 10 watts.
The Yaseu 817 in my opinion outperformed the Ten Tec Argo in every discernible category. By the end of the weekend I stuck to the 817 exclusively. Will continue to assess in the months ahead.
REMOVED_WY7RP Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2015 19:54 Send this review to a friend
A great low power rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Ten-Tecís sale prompted me to make a couple purchases, including the Argonaut VI. Iíll admit to being hesitant to spend this amount of money on a qrp rigÖ..Iím glad I did.

I own numerous rigs and the Argonaut VI is without a doubt the finest transceiver I own. This includes the Ten-Tec Eagle I also purchased. The Argonaut receiver is simply amazing. Simple to use and once you learn to use the RF, BW and PBT knobs youíll be able to hear weak signals with great clarity. Signals really will just pop out of nowhere. I can adjust the receiver to where I hear no perceivable noise and stations will just appear.

On CW you can adjust the width down to 100hz with no issues.

One feature on the newer versions not mentioned in the manual is the ability to have the radio go to a tune mode. Makes changing bands and tuning a little easier. This is accomplished by placing the TMB switch to the upper ĎTí position and pushing the BAN (PWR) button once until the power indicator blinks. A second longer push will place the rig in CW mode and will send out a carrier to allow tuning. Pressing the PWR button again will take the radio out of tune mode.

The build quality is typical of Ten-Tec radios, superb.

In my opinion the Argonaut VI slightly edges out the Eagle on receive but just barely. In fact, Iím liking the Argonaut a little over the Eagle.

On the air my first contact was Colorado to Cuba on 5 watts SSB. I was surprised, to say the least. Iíve made numerous 5 watt DX contacts already. This is using only a wire antenna. I believe my elevation does help somewhat. Strong received signals are the key to working QRP.
The Argonaut Vi is a superb little rig.

For those looking at a backpack rig this may not be the best choice due to size and needing a power supply of some type.

The bottom line is that Iím quite happy with the choice. It really puts the ďfunĒ factor in our hobby.
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