W8KC Virtual Ten*Tec Museum  

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 REAL 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.


Recent Additions:

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.

Here are 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 it up!

In somewhat "family" and chronological order...
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 AC-4 Bridge
The SWR bridge for the Power Mite/Argonaut series radios.
The AC-5 Tuner
The Antenna Tuner for the Power Mite/Argonaut series radios.
Power Mite
  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 Dave Lichtenwalner.
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).
The TX-100
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.
The RX-10
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.
The Model 200
Remote VFO
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?
Click 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+.

The Argonaut
Model 505
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.
The Argonaut
Model 509
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.
The Argonaut
Model 515
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.
The Model 405 
50W Amplifier
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.
The Century 21
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
The Century 22
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 in keyer.
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.
The Triton IV Digital
Model 544
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. 
Remote VFO
Model 242
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 DX ops.
Deluxe Power Supply
Model 262G
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 true.
160M Transverter
Model 240
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 VIEW!)
Antenna Tuner
Model 247
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.   (REAR VIEW!)
Crystal Oscillator
Model 241
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 with.
Electronic Keyer
Magazine Ad
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!
The Corsair I
Until I bought my (used) Omni VI+, this was the most expensive Ten*Tec rig I'd ever owned... 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."
A Corsair I
Remote VFO
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 color.
Corsair I
20A Supply
Model 252mo
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.
Corsair I
Voice Box
Model 299
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.
The Ten*Tec
2 M HandiTalkie
Model 2591
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 dough.
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 Prices
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 my Orion???
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 some 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, to boot!

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."

Ten*Tec Tips
Want to make that classic, analog-dial, Ten*Tec last longer?  Make sure you keep the dial pointer all the way to the lowest 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 Argonaut 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 works.

Ten*Tec model number coding (from Scott at Ten*Tec):

200's are for accessory items - antenna tuners, filters, dummy loads, etc.
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.

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!

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.

Updated February 22, 2006