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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Ten-Tec Argonaut V (2002 model) Help

Reviews Summary for Ten-Tec Argonaut V (2002 model)
Ten-Tec Argonaut V (2002 model) Reviews: 19 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $795
Description: Argonaut 20W rig
Product is in production.
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W9VNE Rating: 2/5 Oct 19, 2005 20:26 Send this review to a friend
Early production gave me a problem  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got an early production unit. It chirped on CW when you cranked down on the receiver filter. I operate 99% CW so I returned it. Ten Tec was slow on returning my money (5 weeks). I own an OMNI VI+ and an OMNI D (circa 1979). I am not a crtic of Ten Tec. I just want to be factual. They may have cured the CW chirp with software changes. Cute rig. I also built a K2/100 which has every option. The Argo is not in the same league with the Elecraft K2. Not even close. I have been on the air for 53 years and have owned just about every brand.
K7VO Rating: 5/5 Aug 9, 2005 14:29 Send this review to a friend
I've owned a lot of rigs. This one is the best so far.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought a Ten Tec Argonaut V new this spring and three months in I am convinced it is the best radio I have ever owned.

First, if you're used to a 100W rig don't worry about the 20W output. That is a whole S unit and perhaps a half below a 100W rig. You will work perhaps 95% or more of what you would with a 100W rig. Just do the best you can with antennas. If you're a QRPer output is adjustable from 1W-100W.

The receiver is just fantastic. I pull out stations I simply cannot pull out on my other rigs. The IF DSP bandwidth filters are a marvel. I used to think there was no substitute for crystal filters but this radio convinced me otherwise. Whatever the mode or the band conditions the right filter is always there with nothing extra to buy. The receive audio is absolutely beautiful, both on SSB and for AM shortwave listening, which I really enjoy. If you're a CW op there is nothing quite like Ten Tec's QSK implementation. They are not exaggerating when they say "silky smooth". The DSP noise blanker does work and has nine different levels depending on what you need. The little internal speaker actually sounds decent.

If you're thinking about digital operations the interface is built-in. All you do is add the cable between the radio and the computer ($10 from TenTec) and go. No need to buy an external interface. Do you want to computer control the rig? The RS-232 connector is also built-in. You can't find that on another rig under $1,000. The only option you will buy is the external fan if you run digital or high speed CW and that's it. That's a $20 option. Everything else that's optional on the Japanese rigs is built in on the Argonaut V, including CTCSS tone encode for 10m FM repeaters.

The radio is software defined, meaning you download upgrades and improvements from Ten Tec. Any early problems you may read about in reviews from two or three years ago have all been solved. With the version 1.08 firmware (your radio will come with that) the rig is pretty well flawless. The rig is also 60m ready out of the box with current firmware.

There is no menu system on this rig. You can figure out 95% of everything without the manual. The ergonomics make sense and the rig is pleasant to use. The weighted knob has a solid feel and the whole rig seems very solid to me. Considering this is a very small rig that's an accomplishment.

The only negatives I can find on this rig: there is no notch filter. If you can't get rid of a tone just by narrowing the receiver passband you can't get rid of it. There is also no noise reduction mode for the DSP. I still use an outboard W9GR DSP with this rig for those two issues. Most of the time the I don't need it but it does compliment the internal DSP when I need it. The internal IF DSP is still better than anyone else's in the under $1,000 price class by quite a bit.

Don't plan on this rig for battery operated portable operation unless you have a big battery. Oh, it's small enough but it's a power hog, as in 10A for 20W out.

The stock 701 hand mic. sounds OK on the air but is unspectacular. Go with the 706 or 705 desk mic. or something from Heil with an HC-5 element if you want to sound great on the air. Transmit audio from the rig is just fine. The mic. is just so-so.

Overall I am just thrilled with the rig. It's $795 new ($849 with the factory-installed TCXO) and has a 30 day "no matter what" return policy. If you don't like it just send it back and buy something else. That kind of policy is not available from the big three. Clue: if you try this rig out you won't be sending it back :)

The Argonaut V is the least expensive rig on the market to implement an IF DSP and it is implemented very well. With pretty much everything built in you are getting the most bang for the buck, IMHO.
K5MHF Rating: 5/5 Oct 20, 2003 11:33 Send this review to a friend
Great Rig for Newbie to QRP  Time owned: more than 12 months
My first Ten Tec rig was a Triton IV which I loved. That was over 20 years ago and when I saw the new Argonaut V, I coudn't wait to order one. My Argonaut V was one of the first and has the TXCO addition. It has operated without flaw since, including two updates from I haven't been on CW since I was a kid (over 30 years ago) and I am hooked again! The receiver is very quiet and the filters are fantastic with virtually no ringing! Not having to purchase additional and expensive filters makes the cost of this radio very reasonable. And, it looks great next to my Ten-Tec 526, power supply and LDG Z-11.

On CW, the signal is clean and the QSK is silent and true to the Ten-Tec legacy of wonderful QSK. Split operation is also easy once its set up and I have never failed to make a contact at 5 watts. I have worked many stations on only 1 watt or less, with no degradation of performance. The keyer is very nicely adjustable and works very well with my Bencher paddles. The rig is stable as a rock, thanks to the TXCO and I have NEVER had a drifting problem even after hours of operation.

On SSB, I use a Heil Goldline modified for PTT with excellent results. The handheld mic (included with the radio) does an all right job, but lacks the audio quality one would like to have on SSB for anything other than casual SSB operation. Using a simple W5GI coaxial dipole, the rig is such that if I can hear 'em, I can work 'em. At 20 watts on SSB, I have never had a problem being heard by anyone. Realizing that I am only one and a half S-units down from a 100 watt station and only 3 or so down from a kilowatter, I can get in there with the best of them.

The rig is also a very good SWL receiver and I have spent many hours listening to the BBC, Deutche Welle and hundreds of other stations.

I have never compared the receiver with another HF rig, but I know that I can hear stuff that I wouldn't have dreamed possible with my old and long gone Kenwood 130S.

I am not a daily operator, but everytime I turn on the Argo V, I have a ball and that's what counts, isn't it?

I'm really sorry for the guys who had problems with these rigs...mine is perfect and was right out of the box. Ten-Tec is really good with handling problems, so I don't understand why everyone had the problems they did. Anyway, I am tickled green with mine and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Build an Elecraft if you want. But for my money, the Argo V is Numero Uno!
AH6ZZ Rating: 5/5 Oct 15, 2003 22:24 Send this review to a friend
Good QRP+ Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Have now had this radio for over six months so thought it was time to comment. It replaced a Scout and for many reasons is an obvious successor.

My personal comparisons: Yaesu FT-817 (my travel rig) and Kenwood TS-2000 (my base station). Tried all three side by side and the Argonaut falls sqarely in the middle. It does not have the receiver of the 2000 but is far more comfortable to listen to than the 817. Transmit audio on all three are about the same since I have settled on the Heil HC-5 for all three.

The mic leads me to my one negative. I could never get good transmit audio with the supplied mic. Replaced it thinking maybe I just had a bad one. Same thing. The Heil is the way to go.

So far, the Argonaut has performed flawlessly. I am using it mobile.

Tom ah6zz
W8JAS Rating: 5/5 Oct 15, 2003 16:27 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic - Great Quality  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought mine about 10 months ago from a ham that lost his job and needed the money. Poor guy really did not want to sell this radio, but he needed the money. I can see why he did not want to part with this Argo V. This radio has one of the hottest receivers around and fantastic audio also. My buddy against my advice went out and bought an Icom 703. We put the two together and compared the receivers using the same antenna. The TenTec could hear weak signal stations the Icom could not. Not to mention, a week ago my buddy said the finals went out in his Icom 703. In reading about the 703, that seems to be a common problem.

When the 60 meter band opened up, TenTec was there a week before with a downloadable firmware upgrade for the rig and now, the Argo has 60 meter capability. Even the new Japanese rigs don't have 60 meters and even the ones with flash memories can't get on 60 meters (without a hardware mod) because the Japanese won't upgrade their firmware!

Plus, the Argo has a built in serial interface for rig control and built in audio interface for digital.

I get great reports on CW, phone and digital modes and the power is adjustable from 1 watt to 20 watts.

Band stacking registers, and REAL QSK CW for the CW buffs. Look at the reviews on ARRL about the Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, etc. and compare the keying characteristics against the TenTec Argonaut V - what a difference. The TecTec is perfect on CW. No power spikes either like you'll find on the Icom.

Finally, the Argo has all the DSP (and it's true DSP) filters built it! No expensive filters to buy like the Japanese rigs.

This radio is simply the best QRP (well it goes up to 20 watts) radio on the market and like all TenTecs, this one is sure to keep its value. No more Japanese wannabes for me.
N7AOB Rating: 2/5 Oct 12, 2003 13:12 Send this review to a friend
Not worth the price.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I had nothing but problems with mine, and after the third trip back to TenTec I replaced it with something much better. An Icom...
N2XE Rating: 5/5 Oct 8, 2003 16:37 Send this review to a friend
Elegant Perfection  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The Ten-Tec Argonaut V is everything you would expect from Ten-Tec and more. Operation is simple and intuitive so you can file the manual away and still operate the rig. Sensitivity and selectivity are excellent and close to top of the heap in this price class (the Elecraft K2 is the only stiff competition for the Argo V).

Ten-Tec is famous for silky smooth QSK and this rig is no exception (way better than the K2). This is a super CW rig and only damn good on SSB. If you have enough metal in the air, it's a blast on 160 meter AM!

Audio quality on RX is exceptional, TX is good. The rig pulls close to an amp on receive so it's not that thrifty when it comes to battery operation.

I've had mine for six months now and I love it. Great quality, a solid enclosure and excellent RF performance.
WB8NUT Rating: 5/5 Jul 21, 2003 16:29 Send this review to a friend
Best QRP Radio Available  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is not to start an argument with the Elecraft folks, so let's just say it is the best commercially assembled QRP radio. Anyway, I looked long and hard at the Argonaut, the IC-703, IC-706, TS-50 and the slew of portables from Yaesu. Now they are all good rigs, and in some cases the imports look less expensive on the surface. But when I looked at the techical reviews of each rig, I kept coming back to the Argonaut V. First, the imports use a mechanical relay to switch between transmit and receive. So for voice it is not a big deal, but when using CW - who wants to listen to that clatter of the relay. The only way around it with the imports is to go semi-QSK which is not really QSK. Not to mention, mechanical is not as reliable over time as solid state switching. I cannot believe after all these years that Japan cannot design and make a real QSK rig.

The Icoms after all these years still have the spike on the first CW dit and it carried over to the 703. Furthermore, go to the ARRL site and look at the waveforms of the Argonaut V and compare them to the imports - a world of difference. The TenTec is superior.

In addition, the Argonaut's receiver is quieter and has outstanding audio quality. The DSP implementation on the Argonaut is far superior. Yes the imports say their rigs are DSP, but you still have to buy filters for the imports - not the Argonaut as the filters are all built in. So that's where the price difference comes into play. While the import may look less expensive now (depends on the rig) when you add up the cost of all the additional filters the Argo has built into the rig, the Argo is far less expensive.

Plus you can control the radio via a computer with a standard serial cable - no interface to buy and not costly special cable like the imports.

The only thing some imports may have is a built in tuner. No the Argo does not, but I use an LDG Z11 autotuner with it and the pair works great.

So if you are a real CW buff, the Argonaut is the real winner. If you don't want to buy expensive filters, cables and CAT interfaces, the Argonaut is the clear winner. If you are shopping for the lowest possible price for a bare bones rig, then an import from one of the three Japanese companies may be more to your liking. My Argonaut V is a keeper.
RV3APM Rating: 3/5 Jul 5, 2003 11:34 Send this review to a friend
Not so good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Interesting idea for qrp, but for this money I HAD many problems and poor quality.
I sold it and bought IC703 - more quality and no problems, less price + ATU.
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