Ten Tec Scout Review

by John M. Evans N2QCE

n2qce@arrl.net

	According to the introduction in the manual, "Scout, Model 555,  
is a combination of modern microprocessor technology and simple, 
dependable circuitry to produce an inexpensive amateur transceiver.  
Single conversion architecture for transmitter and receiver, mono-band 
operation with plug-in modules for band change, and a minimum of controls
increase dependability and lower cost.  A large LED display is used for 
ease of viewing the operating  frequency. An illuminated meter indicates
receive signal strength, power output and SWR." The introduction goes on
to describe band coverage, AF gain, IF bandwidth, Mic gain, RIT, and the
VFO. In short, the Scout is a lot of rig for the money.


	The scope of this article is not to present the Scout in a way 
that only the modern Electro-Physicist can understand it.  No QST lab 
reports or oscilloscope forms here, donít forget that I am a technodope!
That stuff is both beyond my means and comprehension.  

	The thing that most attracted me to the Scout was the price.  No 
$2,000 price tag here.  For a middle-of-the-road price you get a fine
middle-of-the-features-list rig.  When I began my research for this 
article a good friend offered the rig as a loan.  I have since persuaded 
him to sell.  Now, itís mine.  Next to the price I liked the fact that I 
could work 50 watts PEP, CW and Single Sideband, on any of the HF amateur
bands now available (10-160 meters).  This was a big step up for me in 
the field and in the mobile.  Although I love and use QRP, I like the 
option of QRO without the price tag to match.


	At first glance one can see simplicity incarnate.  Large LEDís, 
Band Module, Mic plug, VFO, a couple of dials and some switches.  Thatís 
it. You will also see a ¼ inch stereo jack for external audio.  On the
bottom is a lifting bale for ease of operations, if  youíre so inclined.
Prominent on the front panel is the signal strength/ RF output / SWR 
combination meter.  Lighted, of course. I would estimate the learning curve
for this rig at l minute 50 seconds, which includes the time to hook it up
and connect the antenna.  I also like that the main microprocessor has a 
keyer built into itís features list. For mobile and field use that is one
less thing on the dash to worry about.  The keyer, found on the rear panel,
emulates a Curtis type B, iambic keyer adjustable from 5-25 WPM.  It is 
really smooth at my speeds (19 WPM character speed), however, I didnít like
that it resets to 25 WPM on power-up. A minor inconvenience.

	Another feature on this baby is the IF Bandwidth filter, missing 
from many QRP rigs.  It is a continuously variable, nine pole "Jones" 
filter and tunes from approximately 500 Hz to about 2500 Hz.  Turning this
knob will narrow or widen the filter as needed.  I have found that I leave
the filter set at 10 oíclock for CW and 2 oíclock for the SSB.  Works fer
me.  This filtration is not the best on the market but it does help 
somewhat. 

	All articles of this genre add a bunch of "faults" or dislikes 
right about here, so her are mine:

1. The VFO is somewhat difficult to keep on freg.  This is due to the 
error correction circuitry which overcomes the drifting problems of the
past Scouts.  Though minor, it is a bother.
2. I donít like the Ten Tec single lever paddles.  They are super 
sensitive and offer no resistance to my some what meaty fingers.  
I have a real problem forming the CW characters with these 
paddles.
3. The rig has no voltage protection circuitry for over or under powering.
Newer operators should take extra care with power supplies.
4. The three switches that work the power on/off, speed/RIT, and 
noise blanker/tune are hard for the fat fingered among us to use. 
I guess Iíll have to learn to deal with it.
5. I would like to see optional filtration offered for the Scout.
6. The BFO (part of the VFO) is very narrow and SSB voices are not 
easy to tune at first. Iíve gotten better with some practice.

	All things have a trade-off value.  I think that Ten Tec made 
some good trade-offs all in all.  The Scout is a fine rig for the money.
It has enough of the right features to make it a viable choice for home,
car and field.  My Scout is the most versatile radio I own.  I have 
looked long and hard for just such a mix of features and simplicity.  
Get yours today!

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