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Reviews For: Ten Tec Argonaut

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

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Review Summary For : Ten Tec Argonaut
Reviews: 29MSRP: 250 (approx.)
The Classic: SSB/CW transceiver; all bands but WARC
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
WB2JNA Rating: 2019-05-24
Really fun Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'm cheating a bit on this one because I got a 505 Argonaut which had been modified quite a bit. After a few emails with the modifying ham I got the rig working on 80-10, putting out about 5 watts per band. So it's not an original, but what a fun rig it turned out to be. Great, clear and sensitive receive and the transmitter sounds good. Really fun to operate and reminds me of a simpler time on the bands, which can be good. Also works on digital as well. If you get one, make sure to read the manual and adjust the components it recommends. With luck, you'll have a fine rig.
F8WBD Rating: 2015-03-25
Great desk-size rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My review is based on previous ownership (back in the very early 1980's when bought brand new), and today after a recent purchase of a pre-owned mint 509. Annoyed by recent years use of very small QRP rigs, I longed for a desk-top size QRP radio again. My HW-8 is fine when 1.3 watts will do and the band not crowded. It is still on the desk, but the 509 gets the most use. Stable, no drift, no clicks, good TT QSK. And no menus! RIT nice to have, (the HW8 doesn't). No electronic keyer but I am a straight key user anyway. Very good audio and the rig permits me to use my 2000 ohm Western Electric circa 1925 headphones. A hoot. Only on 20 meters here so limited by my short and low wire antenna. Worked Puerto Rico the other evening under marginal propagation. Most important, for me, is my poor vision is no problem when tuning around the band with the 509. Not the case with the display on my FT-817 which is now much too small for my elderly eyes to read comfortably. Oh, it came with a TT 208 CW filter, very handy. I don't intend to attempt cracking rare DX pileups with the 509. Not a rig for that, but it will give me great satisfaction to cross the Atlantic and QSO the Americas with it.
WB0FDJ Rating: 2013-04-18
A classic QRP rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I started with a new 509 back in '79. For two years it was my only rig. Using a 66' end fed wire I filled a lot of log book pages and had a blast. Traded it for an Argosy (which I still own and is a great rig in it's own right). I just acquired another on Epay and sent into the factory for a complete tune up. It's now up to factory specs.

This is the '57 Chevy of QRP rigs. 5 bands. A good receiver. CW and SSB. Simple. Rcvr offet. QSK. Yeah it's got warts. You need to know where you are in the band, i.e. have a reliable method for knowing your transmit freq. Tuning requires a light touch but is easily mastered. Filtering? Well unless you find the somewhat rare original CW filter you'll need a little something. I'm using a SCAF filter to effectively cut down on white noise and hash but it really helps the old girl. You don't buy one of these to run major contests. But for fun, casual operating it can't be beat. It's the HW-8 on steroids. Mine sits next to the Flex 1500. Before and after.....

I took my original to a friends house to show it off. He was polite, nodded his head a lot and smiled. We hooked it up to his 5 element Yagi and made one contact. New Zealand. The look on my buddies face was priceless.

If you want to own a classic QRP rig, one that will remind you of what it was like to venture out into the ether with simpler stuff, get one.

Earlier 5-star review posted by WB0FDJ on 2000-03-15

In 1979, after finishing schooling, I only had enough money to purchase a new Argonaut 509. I can recall those first few QSO's like they were yesterday. For two years this was my only rig, running 5 watts, to a 66 Ft end fed wire!!! I had a blast with this radio. It is *NOT* a compromise rig: simple yes. A very sensitive receiver. Excellent QSK. My audio got very favorable comments, usually after hearing "you can't be running only 5 watts!"
I traded this rig in 1981 on a new Ten Tec Argosy. I dearly miss that little rig...but the Argosy is a step up the radio food chain and it's now my full time QRP rig. You can't beat an Argo!
KA8YRV Rating: 2012-08-08
A magnificent radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have had mine for over 20 years and find it to be another TEN TEC QRP masterpiece. I get great signal reports, it hears with "mouse ears" other words, almost everything. So simple and elegant. A real radio for those who appreciate CW and QRP.
AA7BI Rating: 2012-06-14
Regret selling it... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought my Argonaut 509 used for $200 in 1983 while living at a remote, off-grid mountainside QTH with a 6' Wincharger and some worn-out, surplus telephone company batteries for power. I erected full-sized inverted-V dipoles for all 10-80m bands. I scrounged an illegal 100 watt CB amp at a yard-sale for $3 and got it to work on 10-40m for QRO. Those were the days!

75m SSB would come up considerably after dark; 40m was always iffy; but 10 & 15m QSOs were worldwide. When the ionosphere is on your side, there's no stopping the 509.

I tried an end-feed antenna for a while but was unaware of the incredibly high voltages they produce. A wind/snow/sleet-storm fried the output capacitor and I had to send it to Sevierville for service. They repaired it and sent it back to me for $12!

I made an op-amp audio filter for it which improved CW, but I never could find (afford) filters for it. Yes, the new Ten-Tecs blow this one away, but what wonderful memories. I have stayed with QRP thanks to this radio's inspiration. Unfortunately I wasn't as faithful and sold it for a TS140s....sniff, sniff...

I now have a Scout 555, which in its elegant simplicity reminds me that Ten-Tec has earned an honorable place in ham radio history.

If I ever see another 509 or 515 at a swap meet, it's coming home with me!

73 de Bob, AA7BI/VE5
KA2QWC Rating: 2011-01-17
Great Vintage Rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is a great piece of Americana. A radio before its time and to top it off Ten tec still services the rig.

SV8YM Rating: 2009-09-22
A fun rig from the 70s Time Owned: more than 12 months.
After Jim, W0NKL sent me my Argonaut 505, I enjoyed bringing it back to life. And back to life it came indeed! Of course I can't compare the little rig with any of the modern ones, but I think it was a big hit at its time (and still is...)! Simple and enjoyable to operate, well behaved considering its simplicity, I have made a lot of contacts with it on the HF bands - if you're into tinkering with older rigs, by all means get one if you can!
F6EHP Rating: 2008-12-25
wonderfull 515 Time Owned: more than 12 months.
As a ten-tec collector, i have first bought an argonaut II (535) then a 509, a 525, and the same day, on ebay, 2 units 515 that I was looking for a long time ! And the 515 is now my main transceiver on 20 m, and the 525 (argosy II) is mainly used on 40 m - nice audio, easy to use - gret radios even in 2008 !
KB5JO Rating: 2007-01-29
Very Amazing! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Wanting to try the "vintage" side of the hobby, I recently bought an Argonaut 509 with the 208 CW filter, 206 calibrator, and 1 amp power supply from another ham. Since the rig is 30 years old, I expected the performance to be only "so-so". What a surprise! Everything worked, and worked well. I had forgotten that when new the 505 and 509 were prized by QRP enthusiasts. This little radio has a quiet, selective, and sensitive receiver that rivals the new Argonaut V on my desk. While the transmitter output maxes out at 3 watts, it still makes QSOs very well. Best of all it has (gasp)no menus or pushbuttons, just old-fashioned knobs! Of course, no WARC bands but after all, it was new before those existed. If you can find a well-maintained 509 ( or 505 I suppose ), there's a lot of fun to be had. Next, will buy an old microphone to try out "SB-N" or "SB-R".
PA1SK Rating: 2006-08-08
surprising rig! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Some time ago an Argonaut 515 with cw/notch filter and power supply was offered.I did not know anything of this rig, so I went to the reviews of and bought it.It is really an amazing rig:No bells and whistles, only those things you really need and use.The receiver has good sensivity and using the filter gives comfortable listing.In SSB I use an electred mike(Sadelta).I always receive good reports of the audio quality,als of hams who are crititcal on this domain.
I is surprising what you can work with 2.5 watts output and a 2x 13 meters well tuned dipole.
A great way of servicing clients with classic rigs Tentec showed me by sending me a spare dial string kit. Thanks Paul.
The argonaut gives me "classic" radio fun and brought me to pick up again cw.To make the line complet I do hope to find the 405 amplifier.
If you see an argonaut offered, don't hesitate, buy it!
73 de Hans PA1SK.