Any other Ten Tec Century 21 owners out there? What a FUN radio!!

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W7UUU, Mar 6, 2020.

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  1. W3KW

    W3KW Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    thanks. Regarding the finals, I bought the gear I’d need to calibrate the meter and auto-shutoff feature. I will calibrate all four C-21’s soon. I usually adjust the input meter to show high to keep me conservative.

    my latest conquest/project:


    With all my usual updates:


    New vinyl coming soon. Adjustable side tone pitch. Currently: New knobs, push buttons, and I/O on back. All new external screws and washers. PTO/display time calibrated.

    The old gal is really taking shape.
  2. W3KW

    W3KW Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just paid $670 Canadian for a digital C-21 (with shipping). Yikes. Your deal was better.


    I’m still waiting for the new vinyl. Variable sidetone pitch also coming. Without the ability to adjust the pitch to my Elecraft AF-1, or SOTABEAMS Laserbeam passband, my sidetone disappears during transmit. But I love the low 440 Hz sidetone. So, variable sidetone allows both.
  3. W3KW

    W3KW Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    eBay? I was watching that one. It looked like it was in a flood. The headphone jack appeared corroded and rust or mineral deposits along the bottom front panel?

    Your S-meter mod has been on my mind for sometime. It’s beyond my skill set but I hope someone chimes in with a solution.
  4. W8BBM

    W8BBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Wes, yet it did look like that and I rolled the dice. I knew the two coax switches alone are excellent Heathkit 2KW switches and are worth at least $20-$25 a piece at a swap, the 4 coax jumpers were Belden cable and Amphenol connectors about $5 each at a swap, and the watt meter was 2kw and probably another $15-$20 swap item so I would have around $100 in the radio if I chose to sell the rest. Turns out to my surprise that the radio received (an enormous AC hum) and transmitted and other than the headphone jack and small amount of mineral deposits on the bottom of the front panel there were no other indications of rust. The front panel cleaned up fairly nicely with only minor discoloration at the very bottom and the cabinet cleaned up nicely as well. I believe it is just a typical Florida rig that was stored in a damp place. My buddy and I replaced ALL of the poly caps as most were cracked and replaced the electrolytics as well. The big filter cap tested out fine but we replaced it just to be safe. With 2 of us that only took about 3 hours to do. The PTO needed to be removed, cleaned, lubed and reassembled (tedious but doable) and I did that by myself at home as it is a crappy one man job. Now I am waiting on one part to come in the mail and that one should be in great shape. This rig cleaned up very well and has a few blemishes but I will be pleased. BTW, I won another one off ebay about 10 days ago that I got for $200 and it arrived working BUT had the frozen PTO again. I got to work on that one and 6 hours later had a perfectly working Century 21. My buddy and I realigned the PTO and now it tracks almost perfect across the entire range with only 1kc difference from the dial which is better than spec. I like the feel of the 21 and get good reports but I must admit that I like my little Heathkit HW-9a a little better.
    W3KW likes this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I wonder "why?"

    Other than my C/21, all my other rigs have S meters and I never look at any of them. Feel free to borrow one of those, forever.:)
  6. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    My whole ham life I've never got the fascination with S-meters. FT8/JT9/JT65 etc. have PRECISE signal measurement.

    But S-meters are simply all over the board. I recall many a contact where I was told "Wow - you're at S-Zero but you're booming in here" (usually on an upper band like 10 or 6)

    I was taught how to give S-units by EAR not by a meter.

    Which of course will now trigger a flurry of "Yeah but the dB and mV levels to achieve S9 as outlined in document blah blah blah.... etc. etc. etc."

    Sorry but my ears tell me what the "R-unit, S-unit and T-unit" of a contact are. Not some silly meter. ESPECIALLY on the really old rigs like the SX-99, HW-8, Eico 753 and such. It was simply an up-sell option back then. And today is taken like Gospel "I will wait until you transmit again but I'm pretty sure you're S9"... followed by "Oh my I was mistaken - you're only S6.5 on this end so not that great"


    W3KW likes this.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The C/21 has a built-in AC supply and is much larger; comparing the two, I like the C/21 slightly better although the HW-9 is a solid rig. I goosed up the internal supply by about a volt and the C/21 now runs about 35W output power so it is "heard" a bit more than an HW-9 would be. It doesn't overheat at all, but of course CW duty cycle isn't very high.

    I miss the "old Ten-Tec," back in the day. PTO problems were pretty common but in the old days they'd just send you one and ask you to send the bad one back in the same carton. I did that, and they never charged me anything for a replacement PTO. Had to do that with my old SCOUT 555 after only about 3-4 years, and it was out of warranty, but the guy on the phone said, "We'll ship you an advance replacement, but please send the bad one back to us," so I did. Amazing customer service back then (this was probably in about 1992 or 93).

    That was why they had so many repeat customers, even after other rigs with similar performance were selling for lower cost.

    I miss them.:(
    WD4IGX and W3KW like this.
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I never really got that, either. I don't even use an S-meter for beam steering, although for extremely weak signal work on VHF-UHF-SHF it might help.

    Usually, if I can hear the other station, they can hear me so I stop there and couldn't care less about meter readings. However, on a band like 1296 MHz where I might be running 10W and the other guy might be running 200W and he's already weak, "peaking the antenna" on him very precisely might help him actually hear me (even though the "peak" might be S1 or S2).

    On HF?

  9. W8BBM

    W8BBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is purely a personal preference for me that adds aesthetics to the radio experience and functionality to those asking the difference between different antennas. Perfectly reasonable request and also a nice tool to be able to tell someone curious about their antenna performance that there is a 1 or 2db difference between their antennas. Also, hearing an S unit or two difference can sometimes be difficult when selecting the right antenna and for me while working a pileup or weaker signal that visual data helps. Do I "need" an S meter to play radio? No, but I do find them them useful. I have numerous other tiny qrp rigs I have built that don't have them but a radio the size of the 21 IMO is conspicuous without one. To each his own.
    W3KW likes this.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I get it, but in all my years of activity I've really never used an S-meter for much of anything. Different strokes.

    The issue with the C/21 is it hasn't any receiver AGC circuit, and that's what normally drives an S-meter. Actually, the C/21 "RF gain" control is nothing more than a variable resistor that reduces signal level from the antenna switch to the input of the "front end" (double balanced mixer) to prevent its saturating on strong signals. I'd think the way to add an S-meter would be to first add an AGC circuit to board 80356, and that may be possible but I don't know anyone who's done it.

    Have you asked on the T-T reflector?

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