Ten-Tec Model 599AT Eagle HF and 6 Meter Transceiver

Key Measurements
Ten-Tec Model 599AT Eagle
HF and 6 Meter Transceiver
136 140
20 70
20 kHz Blocking Gain Compression (dB)
126 140
2 kHz Blocking Gain Compression (dB)
20 50
20 kHz 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
2 kHz 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
Reviewed by Joel R. Hallas, W1ZR
Technical Editor, QST
With the introduction of the Eagle, TenTec has joined Elecraft and Kenwood in the
HF and 6 meter transceiver market segment
that features compact size and high performance receivers. The Eagle, also known as
the model 599 without internal antenna tuner
and 599AT with one, uses a down converting
receiver architecture to a first IF of 9.0015
MHz on all bands. Supplied and optional
roofing filters at the first IF allow the Eagle
to achieve its dynamic range performance.
Does Size Matter?
We should emphasize that this is indeed
a compact and lightweight transceiver. At a
size about the same as the compact entry level
radios from other manufacturers, this radio
includes many of the features, and arguably
competent performance, almost to the level
of their much larger Orion series of transceivers. For a long time the Orion offered the best
close in dynamic range on the market.
On the other hand, there just aren’t as
many knobs and switches on the front of
this radio as on its larger brethren. This may
please some operators, but may frustrate
others as well.
Front Panel
There are a total of just six rotary controls on the panel with two in concentric
pairs. The TUNING knob is at the center,
as expected. On the left are the concentric
AF GAIN and RF GAIN knobs, while on the
far right are concentric BW (bandwidth)
and PBT (passband tuning) controls. The
other rotary control is the MULTI knob. The
MULTI knob is used to make adjustments to
settings of parameters selected by one of
the pushbuttons.
There are an even dozen pushbuttons on
the front panel. Ten-Tec uses each button
for at least two functions. The one shown
and illuminated on each button happens
with a quick tap or push. A secondary, often
related function shown just above the button, is in play if the function (FNC) button
is depressed — but there are exceptions. For
example the BAN button is used to change
bands. In primary function mode, each
press moves to the next higher frequency
band. In receive mode, the secondary function (marked MON) changes bands in the
downward direction. If switched to a voice
transmit mode, MON allows adjusting the
level of the voice monitoring function. A
clever multiplexing of labels occurs with
the SP-CW secondary function on the MIC
button. In voice modes, SP means speech
processor level, while in CW mode SP
means keyer speed.
Not well described in the current manual
is an occasional third related function on a
front panel button. For example the FAST
tuning speed button has squelch on/off
(SQL) as a secondary function. In order to
Mark J. Wilson, K1RO  Product Review Editor  16
22 +35
20 -40
20 kHz 3rd-Order Intercept (dBm)
22 +35
2 kHz 3rd-Order Intercept (dBm)
TX -20
Transmit 3rd-Order IMD (dB)
TX -20
Transmit 9th-order IMD (dB)
80 M
Dynamic range and intercept
values with preamp off.
Intercept values were determined
using -97 dBm reference
20 M
Bottom Line
The Eagle brings together a very
good receiver in a compact footprint
HF and 6 meter transceiver with
minimal menus and controls.
August 2011 43
set the squelch level, one needs to hold the
FAST/SQL button in for 3 seconds while in
FNC mode. Once you’ve held it long enough,
a numerical value appears on the display that
can be changed with the MULTI knob to set
the desired squelch threshold. This was not
quite intuitive to me, and I think it should be
described in the manual. Ten-Tec notes that
this has been included in Manual Addendum
C, dated February 21, 2011. This is available
on their website and clarifies the operation.
Once you have reached that epiphany, it is
something you will likely try if you can’t
find a way to do something — and it does
show up in a few other places.
The tuning rate can be set to five levels by
repeatedly pressing the (FAST) button, which
changes the tuning step — 1 Hz, 10 Hz,
100 Hz, 1 kHz and 10 kHz. The appropriate
visible digits on the display change along
with the tuning rate and also with mode
change. This provides a lot of choice, but
has the downside that you need to go all
the way around if you want to change back
one step.
There are 100 memory locations available. Transmit and receive frequency, mode
and bandwidth can be stored into a memory
location. The procedure is well described
in the manual, but I found it took a while
to get used to. Pushing the V/M (VFO mode
to memory mode change, not VFO data to
memory as I first guessed) button enters
the radio into memory mode. To store a
frequency you push FNC to enter secondary
mode. The display shows the last selected
memory location, which you can accept as
the destination by pushing the V/M button, or
select another memory location by turning
the MULTI knob. As you turn the MULTI knob,
you can see any data stored in each location
before you decide to enter the new data there.
You recall data from a memory location
in a similar way, except you don’t push the
FNC button. What I found confusing was
that while in memory mode, you store data
with the MR (I would have guessed memory
recall, but think memory record) function,
while you retrieve it with the V/M button. It
seemed a bit convoluted to me, but it comes
naturally with practice.
The front panel MIC connector is the
now usual 8 pin type, wired according to
the ­Yaesu standard. The connector provides
9 V dc on a separate pin for use in biasing
an electret type mic. The connector supports
audio, PTT and bias connectivity only —
other pins are not used. The DIN accessory
connector on the rear panel includes a pin
for line level audio input — for digital mode
operation, or perhaps an external equalizer if
used. Pressing the MIC button for 3 seconds
switches the input to the back connector
and the display MIC on the front panel is
44 August 2011 Table 1
Ten-Tec 599AT Eagle, serial number 3051271430
Manufacturer’s Specifications
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Frequency coverage: Receive, 0.5-30, 50-54 MHz; transmit, ham bands only.
Power requirement: 13.8 ± 15 % V dc; receive, 1.25 A transmit, 20 A (typical).
Modes of operation: SSB, CW, AM, FM, RTTY, PSK.
Receive, 0.5-30.01, 50-54 MHz;
transmit 1.795-2.005, 3.495-4.005,
5.2485-5.415, 6.995-7.305,
10.095-10.155, 13.995-14.355,
18.063-18.173, 20.995-21.455,
24.885-24.995, 27.995-29.705,
50-54 MHz.
At 13.8 V dc; receive 1.6 A (max audio);
transmit, 16 A (100 W out). Operation
confirmed at 11.7 V dc.
As specified.
Receiver Dynamic Testing
CW sensitivity: 500 Hz bandwidth, –132 dBm
Noise floor (MDS), 500 Hz DSP bandwidth,
preamp on (typical), –126 dBm preamp off
600 Hz roofing filter
(typical). Preamp off
Preamp on
0.505 MHz
–84 dBm
–88 dBm
1.0 MHz
–83 dBm
–91 dBm
3.5 MHz
–127 dBm
–133 dBm
14 MHz
–126 dBm
–134 dBm
50 MHz
–124 dBm
–131 dBm
Noise figure: Not specified.
14 MHz, preamp off/on: 21/13 dB
AM sensitivity: 6 kHz bandwidth, 10 dB SINAD: 10 dB (S+N)/N, 1-kHz, 30% modulation:
<4 µV, preamp off.
Preamp off
Preamp on
1.0 MHz
1.25 mV
549 µV
3.8 MHz
3.05 µV
1.60 µV
50.4 MHz
9.93 µV
2.06 µV
FM sensitivity: 16 kHz bandwidth, 10 dB SINAD: For 12 dB SINAD:
<2.2 µV, preamp off.
Preamp off
Preamp on
29 MHz
2.78 µV
1.16 µV
52 MHz
3.30 µV
1.46 µV
Blocking gain compression: 138 dB/20 kHz, Gain compression, 500 Hz DSP
127 dB/2 kHz RF gain at 12 o’clock,
bandwidth, 600 Hz roofing filter†:
preamp off.
20 kHz offset 5/2 kHz offset
Preamp off/on
Preamp off
3.5 MHz
>137/136 dB
134/127 dB
14 MHz
>136/137 dB
133/126 dB
50 MHz
134/133 dB
130/124 dB
Reciprocal mixing (500 Hz BW): Not specified. 20/5/2 kHz offset†: –115/–102/–95 dBc.
ARRL Lab Two-Tone IMD Testing (500 Hz DSP bandwidth, 600 Hz roofing filter) ‡
Measured Measured Calculated
Band/Preamp Spacing Input Level
IMD Level
3.5 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–30 dBm
–127 dBm
97 dB
+19 dBm
–22 dBm
–97 dBm
+16 dBm
14 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–28 dBm
–18 dBm
0 dBm
–126 dBm
98 dB
–97 dBm
–55 dBm
+21 dBm
+22 dBm
+28 dBm
14 MHz/On
20 kHz
–32 dBm
–27 dBm
–134 dBm
102 dB
–97 dBm
+19 dBm
+8 dBm
14 MHz/Off
5 kHz
–28 dBm
–18 dBm
0 dBm
–126 dBm
98 dB
–97 dBm
–55 dBm
+21 dBm
+22 dBm
+28 dBm
14 MHz/Off
2 kHz
–28 dBm
–18 dBm
0 dBm
–126 dBm
98 dB
–97 dBm
–54 dBm
+21 dBm
+22 dBm
+27 dBm
50 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–22 dBm
–16 dBm
–124 dBm
102 dB
–97 dBm
+29 dBm
+25 dBm
extinguished. The front and rear audio inputs
have separate level adjustments provided.
These are accessed by a short tap of the MIC
button while in the appropriate connection
mode — a handy arrangement.
The Eagle includes a monochrome
fluorescent display screen that provides all
critical operating information, but not all
the bells and whistles of the “big boys.” The
default display shows the frequency of both
A and B VFOs in the center. The frequency
display is surrounded by the usual mode and
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Second-order intercept point: Not specified.
DSP noise reduction: Not specified.
Notch filter depth: Not specified.
FM adjacent channel rejection: Not specified.
FM two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range:
Not specified.
S-meter sensitivity: S9 = 50 µV.
Squelch sensitivity: Not specified.
Receiver audio output: >2 W into 4 W at
at 10% THD.
IF/audio response: Not specified.
Preamp off/on, +65/+67 dBm.
14 dB maximum.
Auto notch: >70 dB.
Attack time: 26 ms.
Preamp on, 29 MHz, 70 dB;
52 MHz, 71 dB.
Preamp on, 29 MHz, 70 dB*;
52 MHz, 71 dB*.
S9 signal at 14.2 MHz: preamp off
or on, 72.9 µV.
At threshold, preamp on: SSB, 2.06 µV;
FM, 29 MHz, 0.85 µV, 52 MHz, 1.0 µV.
1.3 W at 10% THD into 4 W. 1.7 W at
10% THD into 8 W (see text).
THD at 1 V RMS, 1.4%.
Range at –6 dB points, (bandwidth):**
CW (500 Hz): 432-925 Hz (493 Hz).
Equivalent Rectangular BW: 494 Hz.
USB: (2.4 kHz): 50-2373 Hz (2323 Hz).
LSB: (2.4 kHz): 50-2376 Hz (2326 Hz).
AM: (6 kHz): 34-2978 Hz (5888 Hz).
First IF rejection, 14 MHz, 88 dB; 50 MHz,
98 dB. Image rejection, 14 MHz, 102 dB;
50 MHz, 75 dB.
Spurious and image rejection: IF rejection, >70 dB; image rejection >90 dB (HF),
70 dB (50 MHz).
Transmitter Dynamic Testing
Power output: 100 W.
SSB, CW, AFSK, PSK, FM, 0-109 W (HF),
0-100 W (50 MHz); AM, 0-45 W (HF),
0-74 W (50 MHz).
Spurious-signal and harmonic suppression:
As specified (see text).
>50 dB (HF), >60 dB (50 MHz).
SSB carrier suppression: >70 dB.
As specified.
Undesired sideband suppression: >60 dB.
>70 dB.
Third-order intermodulation distortion (IMD)
3rd/5th/7th/9th order (worst case band):
Products at 100 W PEP: Not specified.
HF, –28, –40, –46, –48 dB;
50 MHz, –29, –40, –46, –50 dB.
CW keyer speed range: 5-60 WPM
6 to 53 WPM.
Iambic keying mode: Not specified.
Mode B only.
CW keying characteristics: 5 ms rise and fall time. See Figures 1 and 2.
Transmit-receive turnaround time (PTT release
S9 signal, 70 ms.
to 50% audio output): Not specified.
Receive-transmit turnaround time (tx delay):
SSB, 16 ms; FM, 11 ms.
Not specified.
Composite transmitted noise: Not specified.
See Figure 3.
Size (height, width, depth): 2.9 × 8.5 × 10.3 inches; weight, 7.5 pounds with all options.
Price: Eagle 599 transceiver, $1795; Eagle 599AT transceiver with autotuner, $1995;
roofing filters: 2000 (1.8 kHz); 2001 (600 Hz); 2002 (300 Hz); 2003 (6 kHz); 2005
(15 kHz), $125 each.
could not be disabled for this test.
‡ARRL Product Review testing now includes Two-Tone IMD results at several signal levels.
Two-Tone, 3rd-Order Dynamic Range figures comparable to previous reviews are shown
on the first line in each group. The “IP3” column is the calculated 3rd-Order Intercept Point.
Second-order intercept points were determined using a –97 dBm reference.
*Measurement was noise-limited at the value indicated.
**Varies with PBT and Pitch control settings.
0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.08
Figure 1 — CW keying waveform for the
Eagle showing the first two dits in fullbreak-in (QSK) mode using external keying.
Equivalent keying speed is 60 WPM. The
upper trace is the actual key closure; the
lower trace is the RF envelope. (Note that
the first key closure starts at the left edge
of the figure.) Horizontal divisions are 10 ms. The transceiver was being operated
at 100 W output on the 14 MHz band.
Reponse, dB
Manufacturer’s Specifications
Frequency in kHz
Figure 2 — Spectral display of the Eagle
transmitter during keying sideband testing.
Equivalent keying speed is 60 WPM
using external keying. Spectrum analyzer
resolution bandwidth is 10 Hz, and the
sweep time is 30 seconds. The transmitter
was being operated at 100 W PEP output
on the 14 MHz band, and this plot shows
the transmitter output ±5 kHz from the
carrier. The reference level is 0 dBc, and the
vertical scale is in dB.
1x10 2
function indicators. Some, such as mode and
bandwidth, are always in view while some
change as you make selections to let you
know, for example, if either the preamp or
attenuator are enabled.
During receive, a bar type S-METER
is below the main frequency display. In
transmit mode the bar graph changes to
become an SWR meter. While this is handy
for checking internal antenna tuner progress
or for verifying antenna system operation, I
really would have appreciated an indication
1x10 3
1x10 4
1x10 5
1x10 6
Figure 3 — Spectral display of the Eagle
transmitter output during composite-noise
testing. Power output is 100 W on the 14 MHz band. The carrier, off the left edge
of the plot, is not shown. This plot shows
composite transmitted noise 100 Hz to 1 MHz from the carrier. The reference level
is 0 dBc, and the vertical scale is in dB.
August 2011 45
of power output, perhaps appearing after the
antenna is tuned.
Rear Panel
The rear panel (see Figure 4) could best
be described as uncluttered. The 13.8 V
dc power connects via a pair of Anderson
Powerpole connectors adjacent to the 25 A
auto style blade fuse. Both are good choices,
in my view. The single ANT (antenna) connector is a UHF, SO-239 type, jack. The next
row down includes a 1⁄8 inch stereo KEY or
keyer paddle jack, two DC OUT phono jacks
(0.5 A maximum) to power accessories, a
USB connector that replaces the usual serial
port, an 8 pin DIN ACC (accessory) connector and a 1⁄8 inch mono EXT SPKR (external
speaker) connector. A usable 3 inch upfiring speaker is included in the top cover,
but for fixed station use most will opt for an
external speaker.
The ACC connector currently provides a
number of connections that many will appreciate access to, including: LINE IN, LINE
other three terminations are reserved for
future use, although they are identified with
How’s it Play?
The receiver and transmitter performance
are top notch, as shown in Table 1 and accompanying figures. The Eagle offers close
in dynamic range appropriate to its ancestry,
and more than sufficient for most applications. This is a result of the down converting
architecture with an HF first IF architecture
shared with the Ten-Tec Orion.1 This allows
the use of narrow roofing filters with excellent shape factor, compared to upconverting
radios with the more common VHF first IF.
The exact dynamic range characteristics
achieved will depend on which roofing
filters you select. The filters can be added
or changed quite easily.
Roofing Filters
There are slots for three roofing filter
in the transceiver — two in addition to the
2.4 kHz filter supplied. Available roofing
filters include 300 and 600 Hz bandwidths,
intended for serious CW DXers and contesters, a 1.8 kHz for tighter control of SSB
intermod, a 6 kHz for AM or wide SSB reception and a 15 kHz roofing filter intended
a discussion of the different transceiver
architectures, see the sidebar included in
J. Hallas, W1ZR, “Product Review — The
Ten-Tec Omni-VII HF/6 Meter Transceiver,”
QST, Jul 2007, p 63. Past QST reviews are
available to members on the ARRL website
at www.arrl.org/product-review.
46 August 2011 Figure 4 — The uncluttered rear panel of the Eagle.
for FM. Keep in mind that these filters are
roofing filters designed to limit close in, but
out of passband, spurious responses.
The actual operating bandwidth is set
by the digital signal processing (DSP) filter
that is behind the roofing filters — automatically changed as you set the bandwidth. The
selectivity can be smoothly set using the
dedicated one function BANDWIDTH knob
from 100 Hz — in 25 Hz steps through the
SSB bandwidth range to anything narrower
than the widest roofing filter bandwidth. To
set the bandwidth to wider than 2400 Hz for
ESSB, AM or FM reception, you will need
either the 6 kHz or 15 kHz filter. The choices
go to 4, 5 and 6 kHz with the 6 kHz filter
and all of those plus 10, 12 and 15 kHz with
the 15 kHz filter.
I do enjoy AM operation from time
to time, and found that listening with the
15 kHz roofing filter gave much more flexibility than the 6 kHz “AM” filter. AM transmission will work with either the 6 kHz or
15 kHz roofing filter. While the 6 kHz filter
provides bandwidths through the “communication” range, for most AM reception that
didn’t have interference, such as on the AM
broadcast band, I preferred listening through
the wider bandwidths available with the
15 kHz filter.
Given the number of slots — and the fact
that most AM operation is without concern
over near-in dynamic range — I would opt
for the 15 kHz filter and get FM operation
for “free.” If it were mine, since I mostly
operate CW, in the two free slots I would
add the 300 or 600 Hz filter, probably the
latter, and the 15 kHz unit for wide bandwidth modes. Still, the serious CW contester
might opt for 300, 600 and 1800 Hz. The
phone-only op might choose 1800, 2400 Hz
and 6 or 15 kHz.
The CONFIGURATION menu is used to
tell the Eagle which filters you have and
which slot each is in. During testing a
problem with spurious response while using
the unshielded 15 kHz filter was resolved
by moving it into slot 1, where it is farther
from the offending internal signal source;
otherwise the filter slot is arbitrary.
In addition to the tests shown in Table 1,
the Lab tested the Eagle with the 300 Hz
roofing filter and our close-in dynamic range
measurements were within 1 dB of those
taken with the 600 Hz filter. There were no
noticeable differences between the 600 Hz
filter and the 300 Hz filter except there is
a loss of about 2 dB of sensitivity with
the 300 Hz filter in line. As you adjust the
bandwidth control, the receiver automatically
selects the proper filter. As you approach and
pass the 300 Hz mark and go lower, you can
hear the volume drop.
CW Features
The Eagle includes an internal iambic
keyer (mode B only) with a rear panel
⁄8 inch stereo jack for paddles. If you plug
in a mono plug — or presumably a stereo
plug with ring and sleeve tied together — it
figures you must have a straight key and
turn off the keyer. There is no provision for
having both enabled at once.
As expected for a Ten-Tec transceiver,
full break-in works flawlessly at any speeds
I run at — usually below 30 WPM — and
likely much higher. The keying is relay actuated, but the relay(s) are almost inaudible
— I had to turn off the sidetone monitor and
put my ear next to the radio to hear them at
all. In order to adjust CW features, while in
CW mode tap FNC then repeated activation
of the MIC/SP-CW button will cycle through
the various adjustments, such as keyer
speed, weight, break-in delay and sidetone
monitor level.
A full break-in keying line is available
in the ACC connector to support keying of
an external linear amplifier. A configuration menu choice provides for selecting
the RF CW QSK DELAY. This is used to
delay the receive turn-on between code
elements. The actual RF keying delay is
fixed at 17 ms, which worked flawlessly
with my elderly Ten-Tec Centaur linear in
full break-in mode.
SSB Features
Phone ops have not been forgotten in
the Eagle features list. The VOX works
smoothly. A monitor function is provided,
the level setting sharing the front panel button and adjusted with the MULTIFUNCTION
knob while in voice modes and switched to
transmit. This is best used with headphones
to avoid acoustical feedback, but is very
handy for setting up the mic gain and speech
processing. A single LED indicates ALC
peak level — a workable, if not too precise
method, in my view. The Eagle is set to
operate with typical mics through setting
of the front panel MIC control. If additional
range is required, for coarse adjustments a
screwdriver controlled MIC GAIN potentiometer is accessible through a hole in the side
of the cabinet. The default settings worked
fine for both mics I tried.
I was fortunate to run across a nearby
friend calling CQ on 20 meters one Saturday
morning. Vlad Spitzer, W1ZP, the president
of our local club, is located just 6 miles away
and had a signal plenty strong enough to
evaluate the Eagle’s audio. He knows my
voice, and said that I had good quality audio
that sounded just like me when I called him
using a Heil GoldLine mic with HC-5 element. I also tried the provided Ten-Tec 702
hand mic, which Vlad said sounded fine, but
somewhat less like me. The Eagle does not
offer any audio equalization, so your audio
response will be set by the mic, or with
external equalization if you use it.
Digital Features
The Eagle’s rear panel accessory connector provides line level audio inputs and outputs. The output is always available and at a
constant line level suitable for a sound card
line input. The audio input is only active
if selected by the MIC button, as described
above. As noted, the separate level adjustment for the rear connector is convenient for
setting up the sound card levels.
I successfully operated PSK31 using traditional audio links and VOX for transmitreceive control. A PTT line is also available
on the accessory connector that could be
used with a traditional sound card interface device. The Eagle manual describes a
direct USB to accessory connector adapter
accessory that allows connection to a PC
sound system that has USB I/O. This was
not available at the time of our testing. The
manual doesn’t indicate whether or not other
ACC functions, such as amplifier keying, are
available at the same time.
AM and FM Features
FM operation requires the optional 15 kHz
roofing filter. Addendum B (added January
13, 2011) describes the process by which
CTCSS repeater access tones are supported.
There is no indication in the manual that
standard repeater offsets are supported at
this point, but repeater pairs may be established using the split function. Transmit and
receive frequencies can individually be set
into memory, along with the CTCSS tones.
I didn’t have an opportunity to try FM in
my Eagle.
AM operation worked fine, and could be
accomplished with either the 15 or 6 kHz
roofing filter. Other voice features, such as
the automatic digital notch filter work as
well in AM as in SSB mode.
Optional Antenna Tuner
Our tested radio was the 599AT model
that includes the built in antenna tuner. The
tuner works on 160 through 10 meters, but
not on 6 meters. I found it was able to tune
my various antennas on all bands — including using my 100 foot center-fed dipole on
160. That’s a real challenge since it has a
very low impedance and probably a 25:1
SWR — more than Ten-Tec promised. It
took a couple of tries, but I was very impressed it ever got it. That antenna with other
tuners works well on 6 meters, so it’s too
bad the Eagle tuner doesn’t tune that band.
The tuner function occurs via relays — as
do most these days. While they are audible,
they are not loud. The tuner may take 10 to
20 seconds to find a solution the first time,
but seems to remember what it did the last
time. If you change bands with the same
antenna and then come back, retuning isn’t
needed. If the TUNE button is pushed, it
tunes again, whether it needs to or not.
If you want to bypass the tuner, a
3 second push of the TUNE button takes it off
line. This is very handy if you want to drive
a linear amplifier or have matched antennas
as well as those that need a tuner.
Standard Equipment
and Accessories
The Eagle comes equipped with the
­ odel 702 dynamic hand mic with mic clip,
a 4 foot power cable with matching Power­
pole connector, a pair of fork terminals for
power supply connection, a matching DIN
plug for the accessory jack, a 3.5 mm stereo plug for the key jack, a spare fuse, an
­Allen wrench for the knobs and the 2.4 kHz
roofing filter. The additional roofing filters
discussed earlier are each $125. Additional
Eagle specific accessories currently on the
Ten-Tec website include the internal noise
blanker (#320) at $49 and their mobile
mounting bracket (#321) at $39. They of-
fer a recommended switching power supply (#941) at $169, as well as their line of
speakers, table mics and headsets. At the
time of article preparation, the USB sound
card adapter discussed in the manual was
not listed on their website.
A Few Notes and Suggestions
The Eagle worked as advertised, or very
closely (see Table 1), although we did uncover a few issues during testing. The first
issue we noticed occurred during spurious
response testing. At full power output, the
Eagle passed FCC requirements on all
bands. We noted, however, that on 6 meters
the second harmonic stayed at the same
amplitude if power were reduced so that
at lower power levels it was noncompliant.
This might result in serious problems for
the amateur who used the Eagle to drive
a 6 meter linear amplifier with a reduced
input power requirement, for example, or if
someone enjoyed operating low power on
6 meters to avoid interference to other
services in the neighborhood. A hardware
change improved the harmonic suppression
to >60 dB at all power levels. If you think
you will be operating under these conditions, check with Ten-Tec to find out if the
problem is applicable to your serial number,
and if so, how they will get your radio into
We also had some issues with FM operation that appeared to point to the 15 kHz
filter, but were resolved by Ten-Tec with
firmware version V1b.795 that we downloaded during testing. All firmware versions
are available on their website.
A few other nits that might not bother
 The speaker wires are very short. Unless you are very good about remembering
this while removing the top cover, you will
break off the thin speaker terminal strip,
leaving the connection hanging directly
on the voice coil waiting for the next time
(don’t ask me how I know!). This is mainly
an issue while adding or changing roofing
 I did miss having a power output indication. Somehow, even though you can
adjust the power output to any level you
want, and the flashing LED on SSB voice
peaks gives some assurance, I find it reassuring to know that signals are really leaving
the radio.
 In the Lab, the receiver could not
produce the specified audio output level
of 2 W with a 4 W load. At the 10% total
harmonic distortion (THD) level of 1.3 W,
the distortion quickly rose past 10%, indicating the audio amplifier was quickly
heating up. With an 8 W load the output rose
to 1.7 W at 10% THD, and at that level, the
August 2011 47
THD did not rise but stayed steady. Based
on this testing, for best results the Lab recommends using an external speaker with
8 W impedance.
Ten-Tec released a couple of firmware
updates during the review process. Each was
downloaded and installed without difficulty
using the USB to computer connection. This
uses the same type of cable that connects
your PC to a USB printer, for example.
These are readily available — I even found
one in my basement cable box. The same
connection can be used to work with control
and logging software on your PC.
The process for upgrading firmware is
spelled out in Section 4.2 of the manual.
Make sure that you use a recent version,
release 1.007 or later, since the process has
been streamlined. Once you go through the
preparatory steps, you turn on the transceiver while holding down the A/B button
and run the update program. The only
mildly disconcerting aspect of the software
upgrade process is that the radio shows no
indication of progress — it looks as if it’s
powered down the whole time, although
the PC indicates that it is loading software.
When finished, the Eagle magically powers
up and briefly flashes the revision number,
as it does each time it powers up.
The Eagle comes with a fairly comprehensive 37 page manual. The manual is
updated with addenda following significant
firmware changes, so you will likely need to
download a new copy, or at least addenda,
following a firmware upgrade.
The manual is organized in a few different
ways. First, the front and rear panels are described with keyed numbers on each control.
Unfortunately, the descriptions of the control
functions are neither listed in numerical order
nor alphabetically. They seem to be grouped
by common functions, but without headings
indicating the group. Since the multiple
functions of each control can transcend a
single function, it can take a search to find
out how a particular control operates. With
the exception of the few cases discussed
earlier it’s all in there somewhere. There are
also paragraphs oriented along the lines of
how to set up to operate in different modes.
The manual covers setup and operation,
including a basic “In Case of Difficulty”
section. The detailed schematics (16 pages),
programmer’s guide and other support documents are available on the Ten-Tec website.
Also provided is a set of detailed step-by-step
instructions on how to provide a parallel
(–3 dB) receive antenna connection on the
rear panel for use with a second receiver,
panadapter or external noise blanker. It will
take an electric drill, but many will welcome
the opportunity. Ten-Tec notes that current
production models include the 9 MHz connector for panadapter or second receiver
use, as well as a spare connector for the
next accessory.
Manufacturer: Ten-Tec Inc, 1185 Dolly
Parton Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37862;
tel 800-833-7373; www.tentec.com;
Ten-Tec 777 DX PRO Headset
Reviewed by Joel R. Hallas, W1ZR
Technical Editor, QST
Table 2
Ten-Tec 777 Manufacturer’s
Ten-Tec offers a high quality headset at
a moderate price in their new DX PRO line.
Units are available with both stereo (model
777) and mono (model 776) headphones,
making them suitable for use with most
In May 2011 QST, I reviewed the new
Heil Elite headset.2 It is always tough to review an amateur headset without comparing
it to a Heil model and that is particularly true
with this one. The headphone suspension
and gooseneck mic boom appear virtually
identical to those of the Heil Elite. There are,
however, some key differences:
 We made note in the May review that
the Heil Elite uses a new mic element with
a flat response — designed to work with
equalization, either in an external unit or
within many of the newer transceivers,
to tailor the audio response. As noted in
Table 2, the Ten-Tec mic has built-in frequency compensation (arti­culation) that
makes it sound good without the need for
additional equalization.
 The Ten-Tec headphones have cush-
Hallas, W1ZR, “Heil Pro Set Elite Headset,”
Product Review, QST, May 2011, pp 50-51.
48 August 2011 Element: Unidirectional dynamic.
Frequency response: Optimized for 1.8 kHz.
Sensitivity: –80 dB ±3 dB at 1 kHz
(0 dB = 1 V/bar at 1 kHz).
Connector: 1⁄8 inch gold plated monaural
phone plug.
Impedance: 22 W per channel (stereo).
Frequency response: 10 Hz to 22 kHz.
Connector: 1⁄4 inch gold plated stereo
phone plug.
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Price: 777 Stereo DX PRO, $129; 776 Mono
DX PRO, $109; Radio specific adapter
cables for Ten-Tec (also Yaesu), ICOM and
Kenwood (also Elecraft), $19.95 each;
R9622 mini PTT switch, $14.95; R9623 foot
switch, $29.95.
Bottom Line
The Ten-Tec DX PRO headsets
are the perfect choice for an operator looking for a comfortable, high
quality boom mic headset that can
provide fine sounding audio without
the need for external equalization.
ions that fit around the ear, rather than on the
ear, as with the Elite. The DX PRO does not
include the cloth covers of the Elite.
 The Heil Elite includes a headset phase
reversing switch while the Ten-Tec does not.
Otherwise, they look very much like
peas in a pod.
An Eagle Friendly Headset
It is actually a coincidence that the review of this headset is in the same issue as
is the review of the Ten-Tec Eagle HF and
6 meter transceiver, but it makes perfect
sense in a serendipitous way. While many
new transceivers do include transmit audio
equalization making them suitable for use
with a mic having a flat response, the Eagle
does not. Thus the articulation built into the
DX PRO headset’s mic would seem to make
it a natural for operation with the Eagle as
well as other transceivers that don’t offer
mic equalization, or even for operators who
just don’t want to fuss with it.
How Do They Play?
I found the headphones very comfortable
to wear for extended periods and enjoyed
them both for phone and CW operation. By
just positioning the mic boom below my
chin, I was not bothered by it during CW
or keyboard mode operation. It also did not
get in the way of drinking coffee, a requirement for me during contest operations. The
receive sound quality was excellent — even
while listening to loud classical music from
the stereo system.
The unidirectional dynamic mic
also worked very well during phone
operation. I could tell by listening
to the transceiver’s monitor that the
articulation was accomplishing its
purpose — providing crisp clear
communications quality speech. A
removable blast screen is provided
to help reduce wind or syllabic
noise. The boom positioned the mic
just forward of the left corner of my
mouth — a good spot to avoid direct
frontal overdriving.
Once again, I called on Dick Kalt,
W1FYI, for his assessment. Dick, a professional broadcaster, lives about four miles
away and, with our Yagis pointed at each
other, we had excellent signal to noise ratios
each way on 20 meters. Dick agreed that the
mic with no additional equalization sounded
nicely articulated and was pleasant to copy.
He went on to say that anybody listening,
especially using a wide (to 3.3 kHz) receive
bandwidth, will find the overall sound to be
articulate and comfortable to listen to, even
for long transmissions.
As with most headsets there is no PTT
switch built in. The optional Ten-Tec adapter cables — available for most current
radios — include a 1⁄4 inch phono jack for
a PTT or foot switch for TR switching.
Ten-Tec offers optional hand and foot
operated PTT switches that we did not
have for testing — but we had good
results using our radio’s VOX instead.
The headset comes with a very
handy coiled cord. In its fully compressed state, it is about 40 inches long
(plus adapter cable, if used) — just right
to go between my usual operating position and the transceiver front panel. It can
extend to at least 9 feet without putting too
much strain on the curls. No more getting this cable stuck in my swivel
chair wheels.
Manufacturer: Ten-Tec Inc,
1185 Dolly Parton Parkway,
­S evierville, TN 37862, 800-833-7373;
www.tentec.com; sales@tentec.com.
New Products
 This step attenuator is designed to be placed in-line between
a QRP transceiver and antenna to reduce the output power in
steps to find the lowest power needed to maintain contact. It
includes a bypass switch for reception and/or full power operation. Three 6 dB and one 3 dB power attenuator pads are
provided, so a 5 W signal can be reduced in 15 half-power
steps to as low as 0.2 mW. A 5 W dummy load is included for
bench work or comparison with an antenna. An LED power
indicator, adjusted to emit light at or above about 40 mW,
samples the output of the line of attenuation pads and can be
used with the pads to provide a rough estimate of transmitter
power. Maximum power input is 5 W. The full kit includes
parts shown and case. Assembly requires pliers, screw drivers,
solder, soldering iron, masking tape, drill and 9⁄32, 5⁄32 and
⁄8 inch drill bits. Assembly time is said to be less than one
hour for the regular builder. Price: QRP SADL full kit, $49.95.
QRP SADL kit without case, $41.95. QRP SADL kit with
PC board and manual only, $24.95. For more information, or
to order, visit www.midnightscience.com.
 T he CAA-500 Antenna Analyzer from Comet
measures SWR and impedance over
seven frequency ranges from 1.8 to
500 MHz, including the 222 MHz
band. The cross-needle analog meter displays SWR and impedance
continuously as you sweep the
selected frequency range with the
thumb wheel frequency adjustment. Impedance range is 12.5 to
300 W, and VSWR range is 1:1
to infinity. The digital readout
is specified for 1 kHz accuracy.
The CAA-500 has two antenna
connectors — an SO-239 for
1.8-255 MHz and an N female
for 300-500 MHz. The unit is
said to operate 12 to 14 hours
with six AA internal batteries
(with low battery indicator) or
from external 8-12 V dc, 200
mA power source. Price: $449.
For more information, visit
your favorite dealer or www.
August 2011 49
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