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Ten-Tec Argonaut VI Model 539 | Radioaficion Ham Radio

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI Model 539


With the Model 539 Argonaut VI, Ten-Tec has created a QRP transceiver combining simplified controls and ease of operation with the excellent performance of a low first IF ham-band architecture in a compact, mobile-friendly structure. The analog portion of the radio is double conversion with IF frequencies of 9.0018 MHz and 22.5 kHz. A third conversion to zero-frequency IF is accomplished in the DSP processor.

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI QRP transceiver, Model 539

Refer to the block diagram for the following discussion. Receive signals are routed to a T/R switch at the input of the BPF/Preselector board. This board also contains the bandpass filter selected for the band in use and a switchable 12dB receive preamplifier. On the TX/RX board, output from the preamplifier is mixed with the first Local Oscillator to 9.0018 MHz and routed to one of the three roofing filters. After selectivity roofing, IF amplification is provided by a variable gain amplifier which also develops the high-level AGC. Finally, the 9.0018 IF signal is mixed with the second LO to develop a 22.5 kHz low IF for the Signal Processing Unit (SPU). Based on a 36.096 MHz temperature-stable reference, the Oscillator board generates first and second LOs with a DDS circuit and fixed frequency division. The SPU samples the low IF at 96K samples per second and applies the resulting data to a digital signal processor. Numerical algorithms running in the digital processor accomplish additional selectivity filtering, low-level AGC, and demodulation. The resulting audio appears at the speaker and line outputs.

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI Model 539 block diagram

The PIC processor in the front panel CPU module executes firmware stored in EEPROM to perform housekeeping functions such as synthesizer programming/tuning, signal switching, and front panel display and control input. Based on the control inputs from the front panel (or remotely via the USB interface), the CPU writes display information, tunes the LOs, adjusts selectivity, and chooses both receiver detection and transmit emission modes. Transmit operation is basically the reverse of receive. Audio or CW signals are generated at zero-frequency (baseband) in the DSP, frequency-shifted to the 22.5 kHz low IF, and output to mixers on the TX/RX board for conversion to the operating frequency. The signal then travels in the reverse direction through the selected Bandpass Filter to the low-level drivers and Power Amplifier, then finally through the Lowpass Filter to the antenna.

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI QRP transceiver, Model 539

The Argonaut VI is designed to cover the following hambands:

  • 160M -1.795-2.005
  • 80M - 3.495-4.005
  • 40M - 6.995-7.305
  • 30M - 10.095-10.155
  • 20M - 13.995-14.355
  • 17M -18.063-18.173
  • 15M -20.995-21.455
  • 10M -27.995-29.705

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI QRP transceiver, Model 539

Firmware Update Mode

To upgrade your transceiver, visit the TenTec web site ( and download the installer for the latest firmware version. A link will be available on the 539 Downloads page. This link will be titled with the available version number of the firmware. Example: "Firmware Version 1.585". The Date of the file will also be shown.

Here is the sequence of steps to follow once the .exe file has been downloaded from the Downloads web page for the Argonaut VI/539.

1) Turn Transceiver OFF.

2) Turn Transceiver ON to verify that the Argonaut VI has appropriate power. E.g. the Argonaut VIs front panel display shows the normal indicators and frequencies.

3) Turn Transceiver back OFF.

4) Connect a PC to the transceiver using a standard USB cable. (Note: if already connected, disconnect for a second or two, then reconnect, helps computers that don't "disconnect" the USB driver unless it is physically disconnected)

5) Be sure the TMB button is on Top. Turn the Transceiver ON while holding down the "A/B" (MOD) button.

When the Argonaut VI starts up in flash update mode, you will see the TX/ALC LED flash on for a second, then back off, then back on for a second. IF the USB Cable is connected and the drivers are working properly in the PC, then the TX/ALC LED

will turn back off. If the TX/ALC LED remains lit and does not shut back off, then check your USB cable and ensure that the drivers are installed before proceeding.

6) Start the Update program

7) Select the COM port to which the Transceiver is attached.

8) Choose UPDATE under the PROCESS menu.

9) Select the RUF file under the Process Menu.

10) The program will update the radio and report any errors encountered.

During the update process the TX/ALC LED will flicker showing active communications. The update program will confirm that lines are getting sent/programmed.

11) When finished, the 539 Argonaut VI will restart and run the new firmware.

12) Sometimes Windows doesn't like the transition of the radio from firmware update mode to radio mode, so it is suggested that once the radio is back up and running showing the tuned frequency, turn the rig back off, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on. This helps Windows find the USB / COM port easier.

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI QRP transceiver, Model 539


Transceiver Specifications


Microphone Connector: 8-pin on front panel

Headphone Jack: 1/4" stereo, accepts mono or stereo on rear panel

External CW Key Jack: 1/8" stereo, accepts mono or stereo on rear panel

Aux DC Output Connector: RCA 0.5A max connected to DC Power

Frequency Range TX: 1.795-2.005 (160M), 3.495-4.005 (80M), 6.995-7.305 (40M), 10.095-10.155 (30M), 13.995-14.355 (20M), 18.063-18.173 (17M), 20.995-21.455 (15M), 27.995-29.705 (10M).

Frequency Range RX: 1.795-2.505 (160M), 3.495-5.005 (80M), 6.995-7.305 (40M), 9.995-10.155 (30M), 13.995-15.005 (20M), 18.063-18.173 (17M), 20.995-21.455 (15M), 27.995-29.705 (10M). Specifications apply within Amateur Radio bands Only.

ACC Din Connector: 8 PIN DIN Connector-Line in, Line out, Aux PTT, Ext Key, Clock, Data, Enable, Ground.

DC Power Connector: AMP MATE-N-LOCK, 2 pin

Fuse: Automotive Blade Style 7.5 A 32V

Tuning Step Size: 10, 100, 1000, speed sensitive, VFO Lock

Frequency Stability: +/- 0.5 PPM over operating temperature

Antenna Impedance: 50 Ohm nominal.

Antenna Connectors: 1 x SO-239

Modes: USB, LSB, CW, (AM optional)

Memories: 100

Frequency Accuracy: ±5Hz @25°C, 10 Hz tuning resolution

Supply Voltage: 9.5 - 14 Volts DC

Operating Temp. Range: 0-50 degrees Celsius

Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.25" x 6.5" x 7.6" (excluding knobs and connectors)

Weight: 3.6 lbs

Construction: Molded plastic front panel, aluminum chassis and Textured painted steel covers

PC Control Port: USB (using CCS USB to UART Driver)

Display: Custom FSTN monochrome LCD

Display Backlight: Variable Red, Blue, Green (internal settings)


SSB Sensitivity: Better than 0.7uV (0.5 Typ), 2.4Khz, 10 db SINAD, preamp off

AM Sensitivity: Better than 4 uV, (2.0uV Typ) 30% Mod, 6Kh BW, 10 dB SINAD, preamp off

Selectivity IF1: 2.9khz standard, 9.0018 MHz, 2 optional filter positions

Selectivity IF2: 30 KHz Lowpass filter

Selectivity, DSP IF: 100 built-in DSP filters from 100-6000Hz BW.

Third Order Intercept Point (IP3): 20dBm@20Khz tone separation/2.9 kHz roofing filter, 20dBm@ 2kHz separation/700Hz Roofing filter, S5 method, preamp off

IMD3 Dynamic Range: Typical 98dB/20kHz, 98dB/2kHz,500 Hz BW,calculated 2/3(IP3-Noise Floor), preamp off

Blocking Dynamic Range: 138dB/20kHz, 140dB/2kHz, 600 Hz BW, RF Gain @ 12 o'clock, preamp off

LO Phase Noise: 124 dBc/Hz @ 20 kHz, 114dBc/Hz @ 2 kHz

Noise Floor: Typical -138dBm/500Hz BW/Preamp on, -128dBm /500Hz BW preamp off

IF Frequencies: 1 st:9.0018 MHz, 2nd:22.2 kHz, 3rd:0Hz (DSP)

IF Rejection: Typical 74 dB

1st IF Image Rejection: Typical 59 dB

2nd IF Image Rejection: Typical 69 dB

Other Spurious Response: Rejection: >80dB

Birdies: Typically less than -100dBm equivalent (no more than 5 birdies greater than -100dBm equivalent)

Pass Band Tuning: +/- 2.1 kHz, 5Hz steps. Small dead zone for centering

PreAmp: Nominal 12 db

Audio Output: 1.3 Watts into 8 ohm, <3% THD

RIT range: +/- 8.2 kHz

RIT Step size: 10Hz

S-Meter Reference: S9 = 50 uV RMS

TX>RX Recovery Time: < 20 ms

RX Headphone Output: Designed for 16-32 ohms impedance headphones. Usable at 8 ohms

AUX Audio Output: 500 mv

Auto Notch: IF DSP, multi-tone

RX Noise Reduction: IF DSP, adjustable

Noise Blanker: IF DSP, adjustable

RX Current Drain: 550 milliamps


RF Power Output: Adjustable, 1-10 W, +/- 1 dB

CW, SSB, AM, AFSK,PSK Duty Cycle: 100% for up to 10 minutes @ 10 watts

CW/SSB TX Bandwidth: 2.9kHz Filter

AM TX Bandwidth: 6kHz Optional Filter

Microphone Input Impedance: >10 k-ohms at 1 kHz

Microphone Sensitivity: 1 mV RMS for full power output, internal gain adjustment, 9v dc power for electret elements

AUX Level Input: variable, 200mV nominal

SSB Carrier Supression: > 60 dB

Unwanted Sideband Suppression: > 60 dB at 1 kHz

T/R Switching: PTT or VOX on SSB, AM. QSK on CW

CW Keyer Type: Internal Curtis Mode A or B Selectable

CW Rise and Fall Times: 5ms

CW Offset: adjustable

CW Keyer Speed: 5-50 WPM, adjustable weighting

Current Drain: 3 amps at 10 watts

Third Order Intermod: Better than 30dB below peak

SSB Generation: DSP Generated

# of DSP generated TX bandwidths: 2 built-in DSP filters - automatically selected base on mode - 2.9 kHz for CW and SSB, (6 kHz for AM option) Note: the optional 6KHz filter is required for AM transmit.


4 Pole Roofing Filters: 700Hz, 6kHz.

Download Ten-Tec Argonaut VI QRP transceiver, Model 539 USER MANUAL

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