Tag Archives: TenTec

Alpha 4040 Tuner someday soon? Alpha 9500 Amp now.

With Ten-Tec and Alpha/RF Concepts merged some good things are happening.

Some of the Amps and Radios have really aggressive sale pricing. Example the Alpha-9500 Amp which had been raised this year to $8,750 is available for $6,995 – a combination of a $755 drop in list price and another $1,000 off in sale pricing. In my case they threw in the plug (usually another $50) and shipping was an affordable $125 for a net $7,120 vs. what would have been $8,925+ before the merger and the summer mega sale.

Amp pricing is also being affected by the pricing jostling between the different manufacturers, and Alpha as a similar hot deal on their manual tune model.

The Ten-Tec radios are also aggressively priced for the sale. Tempting to pick one up as a backup radio…

I’ve read where some hams are worrying that the Alpha Amps might become orphans – a valid consideration if the new merged company gave signs of anything other than success. Right now many of their products went from in-stock/overstocked to short backorder which means they don’t have to move the inventory, their sales are up, and enough of us are ordering to make forward sales positive.

The best news is that the Alpha 4040 Tuner project seems to have been given new life, with announcements that the design is stable, testing (including abusive high power switching testing) has gone well, the form factor has been reduced and stabilized and the processor upgraded. No delivery date yet or confirmation of meeting the price target either, though this latest communication sure is more transparent and encouraging than the silence or limited communications during the long wait.

Good stuff happening.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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All Good Things Come To An End, Someday – Radio Transceiver Models Discontinued

Eventually all good products run their course and for various reasons go out of production.

This spring saw the outstanding FlexRadio Systems Flex-5000A radio discontinued as the combination of being overshadowed by FlexRadio System’s Flex-6000 series and market place economics due once standard parts having become legacy items available only at premium custom run prices collided.

According to news shared by fellow blogger Jeff KE9V TenTec found itself in a parts availability/cost pickle leading to the end of production of the Orion II.

Jeff KE9V reported:

Got a note from TenTec today that included this — “On a rather sad note, about the time you read this message, we will have sold out of the last 566 Orion II transceiver. Unfortunately, due to the availability of some very critical parts plus skyrocketing prices for difficult components, the staff at TEN-TEC decided to discontinue this product. This does not mean we will not trade or sell used and demo Orion’s and Orion II models. We will continue service and support this product as we have done in the past with all TEN-TEC products. Is a new Orion III on the horizon? There are plans for several new TEN-TEC products lined up for the future but at this time no concise decision has been made for another Orion transceiver.”

If you recollect the Orion II was the result of the original DragonBall processor being discontinued, as well as an opportunity to upgrade the product during the redesign.  The DragonBall Super VZ 66 MHz processor of the Orion II seems to have disappeared as well.

Less substantiated is the the rumblings about Icom’s IC-7800, which some Icom representatives have mentioned to present IC-7800 owners that production is unlikely to continued when present inventory is depleted.  There is no word what might replace this nearly 10 year old product.  I wouldn’t stake my reputation on exactly when the IC-7800 new sales cease, as even the list price is matter of confusion with retailers quoting list pricing of $10,000 to $13,500 and “street prices” of $9,800-10,500

Even weirder rumblings surround the button heavy Kenwood TS-990S, mostly that the radio is Kenwood’s “Swan Song” last offering before it leave the Amateur Radio Market.  Despite the performance reports suggesting the TS-990S is basically a TS-570D in wolf’s clothing, it is just odd that a product would come to market with a “last hurrah” storyline.  It is pretty clear that the TS-990S is a brand-satisifaction product and not a performance leadership product.

Interesting higher end of the market.

Maybe there are some neat new products ready in the wings?

Interesting….

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Dayton 2013 – Friday Report

Been an interesting Hamvention so far.

There are some new products – the IC-7100 successor to the IC-7000 and the TS-990 was being shown.

Interestingly the Kenwood was somehow locked up and the floor team didn’t have a way to reboot it.

My first focus was a visit with Julius at W2IHY where I was having a very serious look at the new line of switch gear.  I’ve always admired the quality of his gear and this new range of products doesn’t disappoint.  http://w2ihy.com will fill you in on the new gear.  I already have a lot of his audio gear and will be adding some of the new line.

A visit at Hilberling found that they fully up and running for the USA market.  Never intended to be “everyman’s transceiver” they have delivered over $1million of these new “uber-radios” so far.

Long chat at FlexRadio Systems and one has to admire their willingness to trickle out radios even while the eagerness and requests to ship are so huge.  It was hard to get up close with the crowd, but i did get some time on their Flex-6700 simulators.  Tim W4TME was kind enough to give me a guided tour of the inside of the visual Flex-6700 – and I obliged by pretending I knew what all that stuff was (actually it is pretty neat and straight forward.)  FlexRadio Systems has put the Flex-5000A on end-of-life status with a when stock is sold, they are all sold noted on their website.  Flex-5000A critical components have become unavailable and it was fairly easy to see their was a product line overlap (a fully loaded Flex-5000A was within five hundred dollars of the new Flex-6500).

Very nicely the FlexRadio Systems team explained to me that when my radio is ready to ship, it will be ready.  Tomorrow is the FlexRadio Systems Dayton Hamvention Dinner where I hope to hear much more.

Over at Alpha the long awaited Alpha-4040 Tuner was being shown in working form.  The tuner looks well worth the wait.  The touchscreen display is awesome!

I was really taken with the dual port VNA (Vector Network Analyzer) at Array Solutions.  This “black box” connects to your PC to create a full test lab doing much more than I can recollect.  Jay (Array Solution’s owner) showed me how to do a TDR (Time Division Reflectometry) examination of a feedline and antenna system (including the VNA even measuring a human hand touching an antenna element), how to do a full in depth coil measurement, and a bunch of stuff I am going to have to brush up on.  This look like my next test gear addition.

The Japanese LUSO tower people took the time to explain their very cool crank-up towers.  Really amazingly serious amateur radio gear.

I was surprised at a couple vendors living the past.  Some of the big name rotor/rotor-controller folk have amazing new technology (Green Heron Engineering is a personal favorite, and they sold me one of their new station control modules) and other are promising to catch up to market norms by adding computer control to their rotor-controllers in perhaps a year….

TenTec was showing off their latest and a new Model 506 “Rebel” QRP transceiver I hadn’t seen before.  Apparently this new radio has the guts of an Arduino running the show – very cool!

More tomorrow!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Bit of Vintage Ten-Tec – Paragon II

TenTec Paragon II Station (courtesy RadioPics)

TenTec Paragon II Station (courtesy RadioPics)

Kind of a long story, as my friend George W9EVT had this radio left on consignment from an SK’s estate. The first ham to check it out blew it up. Not 100% certain what the chap did or how, but he killed it good.

After getting it back George W9EVT was left wondering what to do with the radio, and said to take it along if I wanted to fix it.

Not that Paragon II’s are very valuable and likely the repairs could exceed the value of the rig.

Sending into TenTec repair was easy. Within a few days I had an estimate and I gave my go ahead for what ended up being basically the value of the radio in repairs. Blown finals and related components and sorting out the other mischief from what must have been something like hooking the TX to the RF output of an amp, or powering it up key-down into a dead short, or worse….

Delayed slightly as the tech working on waited for parts and then had jury duty to work around, the radio is back good as new.

A junior sibling to the Omni IV/V/VI of the day, the Paragon II seems to be a much overlooked radio.

More on this rig later this winter when I get a weekend to give it a good run at making QSOs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Where oh where has the Jupiter gone? – TenTec deep sixes the Jupiter 538

Without much, if any, announcement TenTec has quietly dropped the TenTec 538 Jupiter.

Rumored for some months was TenTec likely dropping the model when supplies on had were depeleted of main boards and certain short supply components.

It seems that like the Pegasus it was developed from, the Jupiter’s time has passed.

Support for the medium term seems very likely, as new units with warranties have been sold until recently.

Surprising is the ultra low key brand management surrounding the TenTec lineup change. The rumble & concern that TenTec is on thin ice greatly could be nipped in the bud if TenTec communicated with the market more.

As for the Jupiter, they are an awesome rig at their last new market price, and at the typical used price there are few radios as fun to use as a Jupiter. Being much a Pegasus with knobs, the ability to run a Jupiter in Pegasus-mode using N4PY’s software is a huge plus.

On the speculative end of things one has to wonder when (and even if) the Orion II will be updated/replaced?

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Dayton Hamvention 2012 Run Up

Just a few days to Dayton 2012, and some rather interesting pre-announcements and events. A few that I have noticed are:

  • Kenwood to have a new TS-990S Transceiver with widely circulating pictures out of a very button heavy machine.
  • Flex-Radio teasing the market about a “Game Changer” that makes the complex simple. So something new in SDR.
  • Hilberling PT-8000 should be available to Dayton attendees with the first USA versions of this $20K radio.
  • Alpha should have their new Alpha 4040 Tuner available.
  • Ten-Tec is said to have their new amplifier ready.

I am sure there will be more!

This year planning to take in the DX Banquet and the Flex-Radio Banquet.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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