All pictured items are part of the
W8KC Personal Collection unless noted otherwise
Hi! How kind of you to stop by. Welcome
to the Virtual Ten*Tec Museum. Have a fruit roll-up, sit back, and
enjoy your tour. Here is the
TEN*TEC Home page.
Now, as much as I wish I could say so, I'm
not affiliated with those nice folk down in the foothills of the Smoky
Mountains, but I sure do like their stuff. I finally saved up the coin for
an Omni 6+ (ok, option 3) and it's very, very, nice.
Keep an eye on the Virtual TenTec Museum, because we're
going to have a huge facelift, some great additions to the collection, and a few
surprises. Don't be a weasel, k?
|73! =paul= W8KC
Collector of Ten*Tecs and other fine plastics
This website is brought
to you as a free public service by W8KC
All information is copyright
2006, by Paul R. Valko
No content may be used without
the express written permission
of Paul Valko, W8KC.
Please email for details.
It's a Balancing Act!
All three versions of the Power Mites and
all in one place! If you look close, you'll see "D-Day" from National
Lampoon's Animal House in the background.
some of the rare, and not-so-rare, Ten*Tec rigs that I have acquired over
the past 20 years. All right, I'm just nuts, and I've never been
able to save the best for last, so let's start off with a bang...
||Box... Box... What's in the box, Paul?
Just click on the box to open
In somewhat "family" and chronological order...
Power Mite 1
||This quirky little 1w QRP rig was the first assembled commercial
radio from our friends in Sevierville. It featured a DC receiver
that picked up every SW BC station in the hemisphere after sundown.
Now seriously, what can you say about a company which is so humble, that
they actually ask you to throw THREE different switches to change bands?
You had your choice of 80M or 40M with 15M available with the AC-3 option.
Power Mite 2
||An improved Power Mite, now with the more popular 20M band in place
of the 15M option. This one is painted white. Ten*Tec also
made a beige version. Some PM2 rigs used a single large PCB while
others used the modules found in the PM3. Like all PM rigs, audio
was available only through 600 ohm "pin type" headphones.
Power Mite 3
||Here is a fairly complete, vintage Power Mite station. The
Model 210 12 vdc @ 1 amp power supply, an AC-4 SWR bridge and the AC-5
antenna tuner. The tuner/bridge combo came from my Elmer, Art Ellis
W8PBO. Art owned the first Ten*Tec I'd ever seen. There
was no top case to the AC-5. The PM-3 was a 2w 40/20M CW transceiver.
Notice that Ten*Tec has gone to the Argonaut style knobs on this rig.
Early PM3 rigs still used the older style knobs.
||The SWR bridge for the Power Mite/Argonaut series radios.
||The Antenna Tuner for the Power Mite/Argonaut series radios.
||This is a 133K JPG image of a real ad for the Ten*Tec Power Mite
series with prices and specifications. The photo is a Power Mite 3 - notice
the lack of the crystal socket from the PM1 and PM2? Novices could
legally use a VFO by now! This is from the collection of my friend
Note to collectors. All Power
Mites are getting exceptionally hard to find. It is nearly impossible
to find an unmodified (un-butchered) Power Mite, because of Ten*Tec's wacky
use of RCA phono plugs for 12V power and RF output. Also,
the odd "pin style" headphone jack commonly was replaced. Most
hams replaced the RCA plugs with SO-239's by boring holes in the rear panel.
I've seen 1/4" headphone jacks drilled into perfectly fine front panels.
For some reason, PM2 rigs were prone to have holes drilled into the
top cover for internal speaker installations. I still get a
sick feeling in my gut when I hear another ham asking how to "modify"
a classic rig. Price Range $25 to well over $200.
AC-4 $40. AC-5 $40 (approximate).
||Here's something you probably never even knew existed (I didn't!)...
a Ten*Tec transmitter with TUBES! Yup, this combination came out
in 1973 as an entry level Novice station. Much like the classic Heathkit
HW-16, the Ten*Tec "twins" covered 80, 40, and 15 meters with 75 watts
input. Powered off the 120VAC mains, the TX-100 has the coolest feature,
the little "sun" in the Ten*Tec logo lights up when the rig is on.
||Just TRY to find one of these. It took me years.
The companion receiver to the TX-100, it also receives 20M so you can step
up to General class before your one year Novice lapsed! With a DC
receiver much like the Power Mite, at night, you can enjoy every 39M SW
broadcaster, while you try to copy on 40M. Built-in code practice
oscillator took some of the pressure (of actually making a QSO) off of
the brave novice who may have owned this set.
||Rare does not do justice to this unit. I stumbled across it
at Dayton 1999 and almost fainted! The VFO for the TX-100.
Not more than a few dozen even made. Works JUST like the Heathkit
HG-10B, even down to the rotating band dial. Where did Ten*Tec get
that idea? HmmmMMMmmm?
here to see a picture of a happy collector of Ten*Tecs and other fine plastics.
Note to the collector... if you have
any ONE of these in your shack, you are in rare company. There
are now three known complete stations in existence, this is one of them.
TX-100 $400+, RX-10 $250+, VFO-200, $200+.
||Ten*Tec's first serious QRP rig. 3 watts out on 80-10M, CW
and SSB! An incredible feat in it's day - all solid state.
My Model 210 power supply sits atop this classy little rig.
||Slightly improved 505. I heard my first OSCAR satellite on
a 509 in 1978. Note the optional CW active audio filter,
a big benefit over the filterless 505.
||This is arguably the finest and most sought after QRP rig ever built.
Essentially, a Triton IV without the 100w amp. Superlative to use
and beautiful to have on the desk.
||Here is the famous "kicker" for the Argonaut series. Not too hard
to find, but they were a very popular accessory for the advanced CBer and
therefore... kind of rare. 80-10M coverage and 5 watts of drive gives
a solid 50W output.
Note to collectors. The 5xx
models are readily available used, and fine performers even today.
I've seen the much desired 515 sell for $600, but typically, these rigs
cost $225 to $350, with the 515 fetching about another $150 premium.
The 405 amp should be under $200.
||Ten*Tec's answer to the call for a low priced, entry level, novice
rig in the mid '70's. Very popular, and the C-21 helped many Novices
upgrade to General class quickly. This is partly in thanks to the
attention paid to its superb CW operation including 3 filter bandwidths.
Direct conversion receiver, but without the broadcast band blow-by of the
Power Mite. The C21 was also available as a "digital" version with
large LEDs replacing the dial. 35 watts RF output, 80-10 meters.
120VAC powered. Be prepared to rebuild the PTO - no big deal @ $25
+ a couple hours. Here is my friend Monty's (N5FC) excellent website
on the PTO REBUILD
||Finally, a direct conversion receiver for the rest of us.
The finest example of DC technology in any mass produced, commercial ham
rig. A pure joy to operate. Great QSK, continuously variable
CW filter, and 30M WARC band. 12VDC powered. Optional built
Note to collectors. A C-21 is
a good place to start a Ten*Tec collection. Readily available, cheap,
and fun to use. Looking for the C-22 will be a challenge, but one
you can reach without pulling either your hair out or wallet apart.
C-21 <$200, digital version add $50. C-22 $250 and up, quickly.
Triton IV Digital
||Perhaps one of the most famous Ten*Tec radios of all time.
Still called the "Triton" even years after Motorola forced Ten*Tec rename
it to avoid a lawsuit. This is the beautiful 544 "DIGITAL" display
version. Put a 544 next to any of the quasi-military-styled Japanese
rigs of the same period, and you'll wonder, "What were they thinking?"
The analog Model 540 was my first Ten*Tec, bought to celebrate my
new Advanced license in 1979. The first popular 100w solid state
transceiver. Taught the Japanese how to do it, but they still don't
have it quite right, 25 years later. Finest QSK of any rig.
Tons of optional accessories, including a voice synthesizer (in 1977!).
Just try to find a prettier ham radio.
||Long before the Japanese gave us radios with "dual-watch"
Ten*Tec had it on their humble Triton IV series. You could
listen to two different frequencies at the same time and use a balance
control to adjust volume levels between them. Terrific for
||This is the more common, "deluxe" Triton power supply which added
"VOX" operation to the Triton series. You always put these
on the LEFT hand side of your 540/544 so that the mombo transformer doesn't
affect the tuning osc of the transceiver. Incredible? and yet it's
||This optional box gave you 75 watts output on "top band."
You might get lucky and find some Bozo at a swap who doesn't know what
it is and let's you take it for $5. It could happen. (REAR
||See, I said there were a ton of accessories to the Triton IV series.
Here is an antenna tuner I've used for 20 years! Ten*Tec's had a
built in SWR meter (very high-tech back then) so the tuner has no meters
to clutter up the front panel.
||Here's a nutty accessory for the Net Control Op in you. Pop
a few rocks in here and you get stable, fixed frequency operation.
You could just use the VFO, but this box gives you two more knobs to play
||Here's a 107K JPG of a few of the electronic keyers produced in
the late 1970's. This is from the collection of my friend Dave Lichtenwalner.
Note to collectors. Another
great place to start a Ten*Tec collection is with a Triton IV. Available
readily and often cheap, <$250, the digital model gets about $300 on
the market. You may toss your rice burner after you run a little
CW on a 540 or 544. Watch for the silk screened ink to be rubbed
off. Getting every available accessory is something I never really
chased because there were so many of them!
||Until I bought my (used) Omni VI+, this was the most expensive Ten*Tec rig I'd
purchased new in 1983, it has out performed a number of import rigs that
have graced my shack since then. I.F. crystal filters, passband tuning,
notch filter -- all the tricks, and they work... except for a decorative
knob that Ten*Tec labeled "noise blanker."
||Here is the matching Remote VFO Model 263.
The remote VFO is a MUST-HAVE for any DX hound. The Corsair
II remote VFO (Model 263G) is identical except for being that silly gray
||Here's a power supply that was originally
made for the Omni Series but works just dandy on the Corsair. An
"MO" option means that the power supply it has a current meter in it.
||This is the voice synthesizer unit that matches the original Corsair.
Photo courtesy of my good friend, Jerry Totten of the Michigan QRP club.
Note to collectors. You
can find the C-1 everywhere at < $500. The slightly improved
Corsair II brings about $600, but its light gray front panel is the ugly
duckling compared to the classic dark gray of the Corsair I. As usual,
silk screening wears off easily, especially around the band switch.
VFO, < $200. Do the right thing, don't hog a voice unit for a
"collector piece" if you are not blind, okay?
Special No-Code Technician Ten*Tec Section!
I love all new hams, especially our newest technician
class hams who are always so thrilled with this new, wonderful hobby.
Please remember to greet all newcomers to your local repeater with kindness
and respect for their accomplishment.
||Back in the early 1980's Ten*Tec came out with the bright idea to
go up against the rising tide of Japanese HT's sweeping the country.
That effort resulted in a little (for it's day) hand-held radio that could
be marketed to hams and (with a little reworking) airplane pilots.
The result is the Model 2591-2M HT. These are quiet rare and this
is the only purchase I ever made on eBay - just because I got that kind-a
Note to collectors. I believe
there are quite a few of these in the junk drawers of hams across the fruited
plains. In 25 years of hamming, I've talked to exactly TWO guys using
one of these radios. $80 ~$150.
A Word about "Collector" Rigs and Ten*Tec
So... you think that just because you have found
a Model 200 in the closet, you are an instant lottery winner? Guess
again! One problem with "collectibles" is that in the real world
they ain't worth diddly. What good does the Model 200 really do you
if you don't have the TX-100? Nothing, which is exactly it's real
world worth. Now, if you are lucky enough to find a person who DOES
own a TX-100, then ONE of you has to decide who gets what, and the TX-100
is substantially more useful by itself, than the Model 200 is.
HEY PAUL!!! Where's the picture of
I don't own one so there's no picture. Those
clowns at Ten*Tec better cough up with something nice too - for all the
publicity this site generates. Sheeze. Actually, the Virtual
Ten*Tec museum is happy to receive YOUR high quality digital images of
any Ten*Tec you own. Send the picture in 'JPG' format and adjust
it so that the size is no MORE than 50K. You'll get full credit if
the picture is used.
I've HAD IT with
E-Bay sellers... here's the deal...
eBay is interesting because I don't use it (Oh
all right, I used it... uh... twice). I've seen both sides of the
eBay coin, and honestly, I'd prefer to stick with the known sources for
radio gear, FRIENDS, swaps and Usenet. Friends are found on the radio,
Lehigh's QRP-L, and the TenTec-List at www.contesting.com. Swaps are
wonderful because you can see what you are buying. Seeing isn't necessarily
believing, though. OK, let's look at eBay...
Now... a recent visit to eBay revealed a guy
calling a C-21 a "QRP" rig (it's not), an Argonaut 505 claimed to be in
original condition with TWO(!) incorrect knobs on the front panel, one
of which has seriously scarred the paint, and a "MINT" PowerMite with a
1/4" headphone jack drilled into the front. Another guy tells you
the rig he's auctioning is a "9.5" but there's NO PHOTO... I'll be the
judge of what a "9.5" is, pal. All this nonsense on one visit,
Should you look on eBay and see something that someone has placed
a "reserve" on, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT place a bid. This is the classic
case of someone wanting their cake and eating it, too. If you want
to sell on eBay and try and get maximum dollar, then be a man and suck
it up to take some risk. Don't put a reserve on the item. Otherwise,
just post it on the Ten*Tec reflector and say, "Best offer over $$$"
With USENET, eBay, and other internet resources, Obiwan was right
on target when he told Luke, "... you will find a no greater hive of scum
and villainy. We must be cautious."
Want to make that classic, analog-dial, Ten*Tec
last longer? Make sure you keep the dial pointer all the way to the
frequency (far left hand side) of your dial! In that position,
the spring mechanism has no tension on it, and will not stretch out of
shape. Another reason why CW is better.
QRP operation is easy on any high power Ten*Tec.
Just crank the ALC and Drive controls all the way counterclockwise.
Stripped screw holes driving you nuts on the
or Power Mite? Take the two plastic side panels off, flip 'em upside
down and put them on the opposite side of the chassis! It really
Ten*Tec model number coding (from Scott at Ten*Tec):
200's are for accessory items
- antenna tuners, filters, dummy loads, etc.
Looking for some bizarre Ten*Tec part? Like
a manual or a knob? Here's a news flash!
Ten*Tec is still in business!!! Give the boys a call, or email
and ask them!
300's we have used for "connecting" items - cables and remote knobs.
400's are linear amplifiers
500's are transceivers
600's are keyers and keying devices
700's are microphones and SSB related devices.
800's Scout modules
900's are power supplies
Remember, no real Ten*Tec fan calls any of the rigs
by just the model number! It's ALWAYS a, Triton Four, Omni
Five, Argonaut Five Oh Nine, etc.
Thanks again for visiting the W8KC Virtual
Ten*Tec Museum! You are right, I have no life, and I
love email. If you'd care to put a link to the Virtual Ten*Tec Museum
on YOUR personal or commercial website, please feel free to copy (or link
to) this banner:
This website to dedicated in memorial to Heinz
Gronemier, WD8QVD - teacher and friend.
February 22, 2006