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Reviews For: Ten-Tec Argonaut VI 539

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Ten-Tec Argonaut VI 539
Reviews: 34MSRP: $995.00
Argonaut VI 1-10 Watt Transceiver
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
M0NYW Rating: 2022-04-27
Wow good little radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I don't normally review a product until I've had it awhile but less than a week I'm impressed!

Never heard of this model till a UK dealer had one on 2nd section for sale and I've never owned an TENTEC rig before. The price was 400 GBP and a quick look at the specs, decided to buy it.

What a great compact rig. The size is similar to a CB radio and OK it doesn't have 60M, 12M or an ATU but thoses didn't matter to me. It has the main bands plus other features that make up for it. I like the adjustable BW and PBT from the front controls. The NB/NR works well, the QSK is great and the ease of use once you get your head around the toggle switch to switch between the buttons. No digging through menu system here.

I have been using a K2 for a few months but now the TENTEC has taken it's place and the K2 up for sale.

If your after a nice compact CW/SSB HF radio that just covers the main ham bands and no extended RX that works well, I don't think you will go wrong here but maybe I'm slighly bias due to price I picked it up for.

Definitely a keeper!

KT5D Rating: 2016-02-26
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: 2015-05-27
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: 2015-04-27
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: 2015-04-10
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: 2015-04-10
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: 2015-03-08
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: 2015-02-25
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: 2015-02-20
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: 2015-02-11
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.