I’ve been an active ham radio operator, writing about the hobby for over thirty years and I have seen many advances in technology in that time. The Ten-Tec Rebel low-power amateur radio transceiver is a modern return to the era where hobbyists would routinely modify, change and improve their equipment. But now, in addition to modifying the electronic circuit, the ham hobbyist can further enhance this radio through re-programming the processor.
Generating 5 watts in the 20 and 40 meter CW (Morse Code) ham bands, as shipped, any properly licensed amateur can get on the air immediately by simply connecting an antenna, key, and 10-15 VDC power. As a standalone, low-power (QRP) transceiver, this unit is already a useful tool. But this is only the beginning of the adventure. It is built around the Arduino-compatible ChipKIT Uno 32 processor.
Using the open-source Arduino programming environment, the user can adjust and modify the existing functions of this unit, or go further to add features beyond its basic design. Internally, the transceiver contains direct pin-outs to all connections on the processor board, making it possible to design “shields” to enhance and improve the radio’s performance. Active online groups supporting the Arduino, the ChipKit Uno 32, as well as the Rebel itself are already building a base of user ideas and experiments to take this rig far beyond its basic platform. Many of these resources can be found here.
Electronic hobbyists who want to join the world of amateur radio will find this $199 unit an excellent way to get on the air. Hams who want to experiment with Arduino hardware and software now have a great place to start.