Tag Archives: hamvention

Hamvention Highlights: The Ten-Tec Model 588+ OMNI VII+

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

The Ten-Tec OMNI VII+

The Ten-Tec OMNI VII+

The Ten-Tec booth had more activity this year than I’ve seen in many years. The company is certainly showing signs of entering proper production again and innovating.

According to the T-T representative I spoke with at Hamvention, the company’s focus is on improving/upgrading many of their legacy products like the Eagle, Argonaut, 100 Watt Amplifier,  and the OMNI VII. Iterative improvements will eventually be made to the full product line. Upgraded gear will have an added “plus” to the model name.

Ten-Tec’s featured model at Hamvention was the OMNI VII+—their flagship transceiver.

According to the Ten-Tec website, pricing starts at $2,699 US ($3,078 US configured with an internal ATU) and there are a number of units in stock, ready to ship.

The new OMNI VII+ Features (via the Ten-Tec website):

  • NEW! the 588+ has an All aluminum front face, side feet and side carry handle.
  • NEW! dedicated rear panel pan adapter output jack
  • HF 6 Transmit coverage on 6 through 160 meters, 100 watts output, even on 6. General coverage receives from 500 kHz to 30 MHz continuous plus 48 to 54 MHz. SSB, CW, AM, FM, Digital modes. Dual VFOs with SPLIT and REVERSE functions.
  • Full function Color Screen STN transmissive color LCD display with CFL backlight, 320 240 pixels.
  • Legendary QSK CW includes adjustable rise and decay times. User adjustable at the touch of a knob for hard or soft keying according to your taste. Built-in keyer can be used in Curtis A or B modes, adjustable 5 63 WPM.
  • 17 selectable transmit bandwidths from 1000 4000 Hz. DSP generated to give your SSB audio a well-rounded sound tailored to your voice characteristics. A low-frequency roll off provides further control.
  • RX EQ and TX EQ in 6 dB octave filters selectable in 1 dB steps from high pitched at minus 20 dB to essentially flat response at 0 dB to bassy at plus 20 dB.
  • DSP Noise Reduction, automatic notch, and manual notch reduces interference from undesired carriers and random noise. Manual notch range 20 4000 Hz center, 10 300 Hz width, gt 50 dB rejection.
  • Band Sweep gives you a snapshot of the entire band in seconds. Find the pileups or scout for a clear spot automatically without touching the tuning knob.
  • Broad range Auto Tuner identical tuner as used in the ORION II, matches most antennas up to 10 1 SWR HF only. 100 Tune Memories. Order your OMNI VII with or without this option.
  • Three antenna connectors Two SO 239 transceiver outputs, plus a third SO 239 connector for auxiliary receive only antenna. Antenna switching is front panel selectable.
  • Updates by Flash ROM Serial port interface for local rig control via PC and for Flash ROM updates available via the Internet. Commands are a superset of those used for the Jupiter. To obtain the very latest version of the OMNI VII, visit our firmware download the software below. Connect the radio to a serial port on your PC and you are up to date in a flash. Easy!
  • Quad band-stacking registers and 100 memories
  • Optional Model 302R remote encoder keypad works with the OMNI VII. Plug it in and control selected features sitting back in your easy chair.
  • Aluminum chassis construction and steel outer case makes the rig an easy traveler at only 5 inches H x 12 inches W x 14.75 inches D. Weighs just 14 pounds
  • 8 pin mic connector
  • 70 MHz IF up conversion
  • 455 kHz 2nd IF with Collins Mechanical filters

One of the unique features of the OMNI VII+ is that it sports Collins mechanical filters—likely the only modern transceiver that can make this claim.

I’m happy to see that Ten-Tec is innovating and manufacturing again. Certainly a highlight from the 2019 Hamvention!

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

Click here to check out the Ten-Tec website.


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Hamvention Highlights: The Palstar TR-30A EMP, an EMP-hardened HF transceiver

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

And now for our first highlight…

The Palstar TR-30A EMP

I’ve long been a fan of Palstar, a US company known for their fine antenna tuners and the classic R30 series HF receiver.

At the 2013 Dayton Hamvention, Palstar showcased a prototype HF transceiver called the TR-30. I posted a note about this at the time on my ham radio blog, QRPer.com. The TR-30 never seemed to make it to the market, but that’s not surprising considering the Elecraft KX3 and a number of other QRP transceivers were released the following year.

This year when I approached the Palstar booth, I found a new prototype transceiver: the Palstar TR-30A EMP.

This TR-30 iteration will, without a doubt, have a unique place in the radio market since it has been designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses (EMPs). To be clear, I know of no other transceivers on the ham radio market that are EMP hardened.

Post readers might recall a primer we published about how to protect your gear from EMP pulses (click here to read).  I believe taking some simple precautions to protect gear from natural or man-made EMPs is simply a sound practice. In fact, I keep one complete rig stored in an EMP-proof container as described in our primer.

The Palstar TR-30A EMP requires no external EMP shielding or special handling/storage. It will be natively EMP-proof, even while hooked up to an antenna and without an RF ground attached.

I spoke with Paul Hrivnak (N8PH), President and CEO of Palstar, at Hamvention and he shared a few details about the Palstar TR-30A EMP:

  • The transceiver will be general coverage and will be able to operate on all of the HF ham radio bands.
  • It will have a very simple set of functions–at this point, he doesn’t even plan to have dual VFOs.
  • The output power will be 20 watts.
  • The front panel controls will be very simple and intuitive.

The TR-30A EMP’s unique internal antenna tuner will–if I understand it correctly–be able to match pretty much any load.  It will have manual controls, but will be digitally controlled. Paul said that the ATU is being designed so that a satisfactory match can be found for any make-shift field antenna. I can’t wait to check it out for myself because I hold Palstar in high regard when it comes to antenna tuners.

Of course, from the ground up, the TR-30A EMP will be hardened against EMPs.

He hopes the Palstar TR-30A EMP will be in production by the end of 2019 and retail for $1,100 – 1,200 US.

Of course, I will post any news and updates about the Palstar TR-30A EMP here on the SWLing Post. I will also plan to review and evaluate the transceiver when it hits the market.

If you would like to follow product updates, please bookmark the tag: Palstar TR-30A EMP

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

Click here to check out Palstar’s website.


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Hara Area damaged by tornado

Note that Hara Arena is the former home of the Dayton Hamvention. Lots of memories in that old building!

(Source: WHIO via Eric McFadden)

[…]Hara Arena suffered extensive damage when tornadoes and severe storms moved through Monday night.

Drone footage shows the roof and side of the structure blown off in several places.

Click here to view drone footage of the damage to Hara Arena.

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Taking the new Mission RGO One transceiver to the field!

SWLing Post readers might recall that last year at the 2018 Hamvention, I met with radio engineer, Boris Sapundzhiev (LZ2JR), who was debuting the prototype of his 50 watt transceiver kit: the Mission RGO One (click here to read that post).

Since last year, I’ve been in touch with Boris, and we arranged to meet again at the 2019 Hamvention so I could take a closer look at the RGO One, especially since he has started shipping the first limited production run.

The RGO One delivers everything Boris promised last year and Boris is on schedule, having finished all of the hardware design and having implemented frequent firmware updates to add functionality.

Excellent first impressions

I’ll be honest: I think the RGO One was one of the most exciting little radios to come out of Hamvention this year. Why?

First of all, in contrast to some radios I’ve tested and evaluated over the past two years, I can tell immediately that the Mission RGO One was developed by an active ham radio operator and DXer.

Here are some of the RGO One features and highlights as taken from the preliminary product manual (PDF):

    • QRP/QRO output 5 – 50W [can actually be lowered to 0 watts out in 1 watt increments]
    • All mode shortwave operation – coverage of all HAM HF bands (160m/60m optional)
    • High dynamic range receiver design including high IP3 monolithic linear amplifiers in the front end and diode ring RX mixer or H-mode first mixer (option).
    • Low phase noise first LO – SI570 XO/VCXO chip.
    • Full/semi (delay) QSK on CW; PTT/VOX operation on SSB. Strict RX/TX sequencing scheme. No click sounds at all!
    • Down conversion superhet topology with popular 9MHz IF
    • Custom made crystal filters for SSB and CW and variable crystal 4 pole filter – Johnson type 200…2000Hz
    • Fast acting AGC (fast and slow) with 134kHz dedicated IF
    • Compact and lightweight body [only 5 lbs!]
    • Custom made multicolor backlit FSTN LCD
    • Custom molded front panel with ergonomic controls.
    • Silent operation with no clicking relays inside – solid state GaAs PHEMT SPDT switches on RX (BPF and TX to RX switching) and ultrafast rectifying diodes (LPF)
    • Modular construction – Main board serves as a “chassis” also fits all the external connectors, daughter boards, inter-connections and acts as a cable harness.
    • Optional modules – Noise Blanker (NB), Audio Filter (AF), ATU, XVRTER, PC control via CAT protocol; USB UART – FTDI chipset
    • Double CPU circuitry control for front panel and main board – both field programmable via USB interface.
    • Memory morse code keyer (Curtis A, CMOS B); 4 Memory locations 128 bytes each

What really sets the Mission RGO apart from its competitors is the fact that it’s compact, lightweight (only 5 lbs!), and has a power output of up to 50 watts. Most other rigs in this class have a maximum output of 10 to 15 watts and require an external amplifier for anything higher.

The RGO One should also play for a long time on battery power as the receive current drain is a modest 0.65A with receiver preamp on.

The RGO is also designed to encourage a comfortable operating position. The bail lifts the front of the radio so that the faceplate and backlit screen are easily viewed at any angle.

The keypad is intuitive and–hold your applause!–all of the important functions are within one button or knob press!

The front panel design is simple and clean. There are no embedded menus to navigate to change filter width, power level, RF gain, keyer speed, mic gain, pre amp, or audio monitor level. Knob spacing is excellent and I believe I would even be able to operate the RGO while wearing gloves.

Even split-operation is designed so that, with one button press, you can easily monitor a pile-up and position your transmit frequency where the DX station last worked a station. (This is similar to the Icom XFC button). The user-interface is intuitive; it’s obvious to me that Boris built this radio around working DX at home and in the field.

Speaking of the field…

Parks On The Air (POTA) with the Mission RGO One

At my request, Boris has kindly loaned me one of the first production run units to test and review over the next few months. I intend to evaluate this radio at home, in the field, and (especially) on Field Day. By July, I should have a very good idea of how well this Bulgaria-born transceiver performs under demanding radio conditions!

I had planned to begin my RGO One evaluation after returning home from Hamvention, but I couldn’t resist taking it to the field, even though the propagation forecast was dismal.

The first leg of my journey home from Hamvention took me to Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, so I scheduled a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation of Delaware State Park, K-1946.

Delaware State Park (POTA K-1946) in Delaware, Ohio.

My buddy Miles (KD8KNC) and I met our mutual friend Mike (K8RAT) at the park entrance and quickly found a great site with tall trees, a little shade, and a large picnic table.

We set up the RGO One and, for comparison, my Elecraft KX2 for the POTA activation.

I won’t lie: band conditions were horrible. Propagation was incredibly weak, QRN was high, and QSB was deep. Yuck!

Still, this activation gave me a chance to test the RGO One in proper field conditions.

I was limited to SSB since the only CW key I had with me, the paddle specifically designed to attach to the front panel of the Elecraft KX2, wouldn’t work with the RGO One. In addition, I was limited to 25 watts output because the antenna I deployed, the LnR Precision EFT Trail-Friendly end-fed antenna, can only handle power up to 25 watts.

Although I had never operated the radio before, I was able to sort out most of its functions and features quickly.

The receiver audio was excellent and the noise floor seemed quite low to my ears. The internal speaker does a fine job producing audio levels that are more than ample for a field setting.  Still, I prefer operating with a set of earphones in the field–especially important on days like this when propagation equates to a lot of weak signals.

Although I failed to make a total of ten contacts to claim a proper POTA activation, I was pleased with offering up K-1946 to seven lucky POTA hunters/chasers. I simply didn’t have enough time available to work three stations more at such a slow QSO rate.

Of course, my signal reports were averaging “5 by 5” and were never more than “5 by 7” regardless of which rig–the RGO One or the KX2–I was using. The reports on the RGO One transmit audio reports were great.

Stay tuned!

I will publish my first review of the Mission RGO One in The Spectrum Monitor Magazine, most likely in August or September.  In the meantime, I will post updates here as I put the RGO One through its paces. I’m especially excited about using it during Field Day with my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) to see how it holds up in such an RF-dense environment.

And now that the POTA bug has bitten me?  Expect to catch me on the air with the RGO One over the next few weeks!

If you’re interested in following the Mission RGO One, bookmark the tag: RGO ONE.


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2019 Hamvention photos: Inside Exhibits

The amazing Pietro Begali (I2RTF), winner of the 2019 Hamvention Technical Achievement Award.

The 2019 Hamvention seemed to attract a very large crowd this year so I’m eager to see what the actual numbers are when they’re published. The weather was nearly perfect.

From speaking with inside exhibitors, it sounds like sales were quite good this year, some told me it was a record event.

On Saturday I took time away from my booth–thanks to my volunteers–to visit the inside exhibit tables. Most of the following photos were taken in the main Hamvention metal buildings. Somehow, omitted many photos from the tent area where our table was located.

Note that the following photos are in no particular order. (Click here to view photos of the 2019 Hamvention Flea Market.)

2019 Hamvention Inside Exhibitor Photos

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


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