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Re: [TenTec] Eagle Comparison

To: geraldj@weather.net, Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment <tentec@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [TenTec] Eagle Comparison
From: george fritkin <georgefritkin@yahoo.com>
Reply-to: Discussion of Ten-Tec Equipment <tentec@contesting.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 09:56:40 -0800 (PST)
List-post: <tentec@contesting.com">mailto:tentec@contesting.com>
In the 1960s I worked for a company called RIXON Electronics.  The President of 
RIXON and my boss was Jim Hollis.  Jim worked for Art for many years.  The 
stories he told were !!!!!!

George, W6GF

From: Dr. Gerald N. Johnson <geraldj@weather.net>
To: tentec@contesting.com
Sent: Thu, December 9, 2010 9:19:43 AM
Subject: Re: [TenTec] Eagle Comparison

Art was more push than engineer. He had the money and the majority of 
the stock. When I worked there from 1963-'66, he ran the company with 
20,000 employees as if it was still in his basement with four employees, 
kept his fingers in all projects. I couldn't detect that he'd kept up on 
the state of the art but expected his engineers to push the state of the 
art. At the same time any new design or innovation required writing a 
"working paper" describing it which disappeared "into the system." 
Usually within three days of disappearing the engineer's boss would 
receive a call from Art saying Yeah, or nay.

As for ham gear, at least up through the early S-line Art had a 
prototype or two at home and on his boat and likely have production 
units later. And did use them a lot. He didn't like the teapot spout 
spinner knob because it wasn't balanced and vibration tended to cause 
frequency changes. The engineer in charge of the dial drive and that 
knob was very pleased that the drive was that sensitive and refused to 
change anything. So Art didn't always get his way. But he thought he 
did. And few middle managers in the company would even question his whims.

There was a new transceiver proposed regularly, one I saw would have 
worked well and been competitive, but Art didn't like the S line because 
it was too easily purchased, unlike the Gold Dust Twins (75A4 and 
KWS-1). He stated he wanted the next Collins ham gear to be only 
affordable by the rich, not the masses. Never mind that selling S-line 
and KWM-2 to hams and the military brought in much cash and profits. He 
was annoyed that the 75A4 even when new sold at different prices 
according to serial number (and circuit modifications) so decreed that 
the S-line must be sold with random serial numbers. And after a few 
thousand were made the serial numbers were randomized. He neglected to 
think about model changes like 1/2 to 3/3A and to 3B/3C. He neglected to 
consider changes in company styling from winged emblem to meat ball. 
That new transceiver he wanted (in 1965) to be remote controlled through 
a small cable, preferably coax, so the rig could be in a closet and the 
remote could be anywhere in the house.

The designer of the Heathkit SSB transceivers worked at Collins with the 
S-line first, so some concepts did move when he departed Collins. I 
don't know of any Heathkits getting into military service though.

On 12/8/2010 8:08 PM, Stuart Rohre wrote:
> Hi Steve,
> Yes, isn't it interesting how well some of the older designs compare
> with current new radios?   Collins knew what they were doing most of the
> time.  They had many talented engineers along with Art Collins who
> started it all.  My impression is post WW2, he let the engineers do the
> prototypes, then he wold pass or fail them upon marketing, or business
> issues at a given time.  There was a transceiver they tried to get him
> to approve late in their ham product line, and although well thought
> out, he would not move it forward.  By that time, he had lost interest
> in day to day ham operating, and maybe did not grasp the trends that
> ended all the American ham companies, as the import and kit transceivers
> captured the ham world's attention.  It would be interesting to know,
> but likely-that Heath sold more HW 100 and 101 transceiver kits than
> Collins did KWM I or 2's to the ham market.  Collins sold those models
> into the commercial and military markets as well, which may affect the
> overall production numbers.
> To me, the key receiver specs are dynamic range wide and narrow, and
> performance with a strong signal close by (Blocking).  The roofing
> filters are all important to get things started.  The sensitivity of
> most receivers is plenty good at the lower bands, but you want it about
> as good at 6m or what ever the highest frequency might be.  But all
> receivers seem to have down to 0.3 micro volt these days.  I look at
> Noise floor, because you don't want to be listening to the internal
> circuits of the receiver.    The local oscillator figures I think
> reflect if the LO interferes with the signal or contributes by products
> by leaking through the mixer.

The S-line was not exemplary in dynamic range because of two mixers 
before significant selectivity and the use of not very great performance 
mixer tubes. I found the second mixer was the worst contributor to 
circuit noise and intermod and replaced that in my 3B with an amperex 
tube having ten times the Gm which allowed me to cut the signal to the 
grid significantly while maintaining and adequate system NF. I cut 
intermod products from one 2m signal from dozens to two and those were 
at the noise level while the expected signal was pegging the s-meter. 
W0MLY sold a double gate MOSFET replacement for the first mixer that he 
thought helped performance.

LO phase noise is important in keeping down reciprocal mixing of 
unwanted strong signals and it can affect the noise floor by mixing in 
broad band noise. I have to prove the amount of effects on the latter 
though, many books talk about it but show no numbers.

> The Corsair II is a fine radio, from what I saw of a friend's one.  It
> might be adequate for all your hamming desires.  However, another issue
> is how much longer will parts be available for it, should something fail?
> I am thinking the same of my various radios, Kenwood 450, and Scout, and
> Argonaut V.

Other than the micro in the frequency display, there are few complex ICs 
in the Corsair II to be on short supply. But for any radio it might be a 
good idea to acquire spares for RF power and driver as those seem to go 
out of production as fast as complex integrated circuits, but not as 
fast as custom (programmed) integrated circuits that are characteristic 
of the modern computer operated radios.

It would be a great idea on the vintage solid state radio to go through 
and shotgun replace all the miniature aluminum electrolytics which were 
not great when new and have gone downhill ever since, faster when not 
used than when used.
> The Eagle really is calling out to me, as it has the front panel clean
> layout of my Argonaut V, but the V is only 20 watts top.  I like the use
> of dual function controls and no need to pull up a long small print menu.
> I hope to get our club to buy one for the club station to replace a
> lightning affected TS 850.  (or at least we think it might be lightning.)
> You can see how the Eagle compares, receiver wise, with other Ten Tecs
> by the Sherwood test list.  Hard to quantify, as Sherwood points out in
> one of his papers on his web site, are effects of modern AGC and DSP
> making the bands sound noisier than they are.
> I think TT still has their 30 day trial period where you can order a
> model and return it after a trial.
> If all you need is a back up radio, if you can get by with the lower
> power, you could get the Scout at 50 watts, or the Argo V at 20.  I have
> done quite well with my Scout at numerous field days with wire antennas,
> (albeit they were gain wires such as large loops or extended double
> Zepps).  You could get a HF Packer amp I believe to ramp up the Argo V
> from 20 watts.  It all depends on your number of bands of operation, but
> if you mainly stay on one or two, QEX had some amplifier projects a few
> years back, that are easily built for one or two bands.  I put the
> Corsair II in the class of the Omni VI with all its upgrades, a well
> done evolved product.  I wanted an Omni VI for many years, but now
> realize that its semiconductor inventory is getting on the hard to come
> by list.  Plus, its crystal filtering has aged, and will continue to age
> possibly degrading its
> performance, being an older radio.  But, the radio was a high end model
> in its time.   The simplicity of controls apparent on the Eagle really
> attracts me.  I find the modern menu driven HTs very hard to deal with
> in programming, and use.  With eyesight not as good, I can most enjoy
> simple uncluttered controls and displays.

I found one habit of the Omni V and VI caused me to go to a Corsair II 
instead. I might yet use such a radio as an IF for VHF transverters and 
there mixed mode USB/CW contacts are common. The Omni V and VI copy dumb 
Icom radios switching to LSB for CW. That makes USB/CW mixed mode 
contacts impossible unless one builds the transverter to tune backwards 
with high side injection which works but makes the frequency readout a 
mess. But for now, my FT-857D does even better. It is set up so if I hit 
the microphone PTT and talk, it transmits SSB. If I hit the key it sends 
CW on a perfect frequency for copy at the distant station with no 
retuning of receiver or change of displayed frequency (except it shows 
the actually CW carrier frequency while transmitting). At least that 
works well for USB/CW. Not for LSB/CW without changing a menu.
> There are some things in the controls of my TS 450 I still don't know
> what to use them for, and may never get around to it.  I can make it
> play for my style of operating, and that seems just fine.  Extra buttons
> and knobs than the basics really only increase one's chances of getting
> something set wrong.

Some of the top end radios have more than 100 knobs and buttons. Few 
users learn to use them all. Those with only a dozen knobs and buttons 
tend to have 277 menu entries in three layers of menus.
> More and more, I am attracted to the historic old radios, with few
> knobs.  I do like bandswitching, but my choice of the plug in coils
> Scout showed me that is not a bad way to use a station.  In most
> contests you have to remain on a band a certain minimum time anyway, so
> having to plug in a coil set is no biggie.  I found I could buy a box
> that held all my not in use plug in coil modules, and it kept them
> organized on the operating table
> at Field Day just fine.
> 73,
> Stuart Rohre
73, Jerry, K0CQ
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