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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Ten Tec 1254 General Coverage Receiver Kit Help


Reviews Summary for Ten Tec 1254 General Coverage Receiver Kit
Ten Tec 1254 General Coverage Receiver Kit Reviews: 20 Average rating: 3.5/5 MSRP: $195.00
Description: A compact PLL-tuned general-coverage receiver that tunes 100khz to 30mhz, AM or SSB. 15 memories and you build it yourself.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.tentec.com
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KD7BWB Rating: 4/5 Jun 18, 2009 23:04 Send this review to a friend
Followup report  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have now had this product since Oct/2000. And the radio still works, alignment has not shifted, since original assembly.

Only thing that has happened is that the audio amplifier chip began to overheat (because the unloaded voltage of the included power supply was almost 18-vdc), which caused the amp to go dead when hot (it's the only part on the board that gets the raw power input). Fixed this problem by first putting Arctic Silver under the 10-vdc regulator, and then attaching a heatsink to the blade of the audio amplifier chip. This seems to have cured the audio shutdown caused by overheat. Keep in mind, my radio is now more than 8-years old, stuff happens to electronics over time.

Next thing I'm going to do is replace the ceramic 4-Khz filter with a 6-Khz one (if I can find one). This will fix the dull audio in AM, and will have no effect on SSB (already too wide, so a little wider will not change anything ).

I also added the TKit-1551 Speech Processor (see my previous write-up, and no, TenTec doesn't make this kit anymore). This cured the blasting on AM from long-range shortwave signals. Makes the radio a joy to listen to , on long range shortwave broadcast AM.

Next chore I'm going to do is to increase the filtering from the included power supply (it presently produces about .5-volts ripple). Getting old I guess. Luckily this PS can be opened with small hex-screws. New, bigger cap here, and perhaps a diode to drop the output voltage some.

Keep in mind the radio flat out won't work properly with less than about 12.5-vdc, because of the 10-vdc regulator on the board, gets riply with 12-vdc .

Other wise, the whole radio works exactly as it was designed. It hears quite well off my present 135-ft 80-meter longwire antenna (same one I use on my Ham transceiver). Where I live, the antenna runs about 75-ft from an AC power line, so low frequencies below 800-Khz produces AC hum, but that's not the radio's fault, I have to use the Noise Blanker on my transceiver to kill that. Luckily, I don't listen to too much down there.

AGC time constant still seems about right, even for SSB, although breathing is obvious on noisy nights .

I would have no trouble recommending this radio kit to anyone that wants to try his hand building his own Double Superhetrodyne Receiver. And no, there is no competing kit that can match this radio; either from a build-it perspective or from a performance perspective from a kit receiver.

I've already said my piece on improvements needed at the software, and am blue-in-the-face talking to TenTec. But otherwise, the radio is fun to play with, and interesting to build. However, I would like Tentec to build a new kit with improvements; separate filters for AM,SSB. A better means of tuning the radio. A dial lock would be nice, and simple to program. A noise blanker might be nice, and can be done with less than $10 in parts. A mute circuit added for folks to use the product with a transmitter. A matching transmitter .

Then again, I also want a powder-flake blue aircraft carrier, and a pony; but I don't think I'll get either one from Santa Claus .

I hope this review followup has been useful, and I will accept emails at for questions.
 
KC9MSA Rating: 5/5 Mar 22, 2009 19:17 Send this review to a friend
A lot of fun....  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This a very well put together little kit. I have put together two other kits, much much simpler kits, and this was a good challenge for me. If you are thinking about this for a first kit, I wouldn't if you don't have a lot of electronics experience. The 200 + components and somewhat difficult part identification can get really overwhelming really fast.

I put it together in about 25 hours, and thanks to my elmer, it is working now. I made a few mistakes in the assembly, but they are straightened out now, and it seems to be a great little receiver. My elmer told me about the article in "Monitoring Times" that he read a few years ago about this receiver, and that the reviewers really thought highly of it.

If you have a little kit building experience, this radio will be a fun challenge for you.

The only cons that I can think of, is unless you are fairly experienced, parts identification can be somewhat difficult, but process of elimination works, too. Also, I wish that they would just re-print their assembly manual. When you get the thing, there are about 4 loose pages telling you of updates of parts and manual changes, a little annoying at times.

Otherwise, I would definetly recommend this receiver, it was a lot of fun to build, and I hope that Ten-Tec make more kits like this one, I would love to build some more!!!
 
KC2PKG Rating: 2/5 Feb 28, 2009 12:21 Send this review to a friend
Difficult - and it shouldn't be.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I know from the experience of others here that this kit makes a great little radio. But the problem is that (as said before) the manual is black and white, making component identification very difficult. I also received at least 4 addendums on loose sheets of different sizes, two apparently for the same part/procedure which do not match. I have contacted the very nice people at Ten Tec twice because some parts were missing and parts did not match the descriptions.
I have gotten all the way to section 2(out of 6) and something is wrong, way wrong. I then put the kit down for a year just because I was too frustrated. What I obviously have to do now is go back through both stages and find a way to re-identify each part electronically, so I'm not guessing. At least that's what I expect is wrong.

I've built a lot of kits in my life but this is the first time I've ever had so much trouble with the manual and parts identification. They could make this a lot easier. How about putting the manual in a downloadable PDF and making the changes there? How about a color picture of the parts they include? Or even labeling them?

Sooner or later i'll get this thing together, but isn't kit building supposed to be fun? For a $200 kit, they could do a lot better.
 
RAYR1923 Rating: 4/5 Dec 31, 2005 10:27 Send this review to a friend
Good Kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Having made a 30+year career in industrial electronic control systems. I now have more free time to devote to a hobby. Remembering my younger days watching grandpa twiddling with his 1930’s multi band Airline radio listening to foreign broadcasts and the famous BBC which had brought him much news during WW II.
I thought that I would try my hand at building a state of the art general coverage receiver. The Ten Tec 1254 seemed to fit the bill for price and performance advertised. I promptly ordered one a few days before Christmas. It arrived the Friday before Christmas 2005 and as soon as everyone left and all was quiet. I opened the box and discovered that the manual while comprehensive was zeroxed and crudely assembled.
Kit assembly was straight forward, with a little confusion about parts identification; (solved by elimination) most parts are readily available off the shelf.
The assembly and testing by section was very helpful as it assured that the previous assembly was correct if any subsequent stage did not work.
The kit was missing one capacitor (scrounged one from my parts bin), the speaker did not have a cable and plug assembly (soldered wires directly to pc board) and the power switch was bad as it would not turn off (saved by the parts bin again).
A phone call to Ten Tec was well received and the gentleman I spoke with was very courteous and helpful he apologized for the missing parts and told me he would send me the missing parts immediately.
There were no other issues in assembly and testing of the assembled receiver. It worked the first time. Performance with a short piece of wire for an antenna was good and got much better after I installed a wire antenna in my attic. This is not a kit for the first timer but for someone with electronic experience it should be a joy to build. The finished product has all the appearance of a factory built unit.
I had no technical issues and therefore can make no judgment about how Ten Tec would rate in the help area but from their courteous manner and prompt shipping I would expect them to rate very high. Just read all of the addendum sheets before beginning. Overall I am very well pleased with my new general coverage receiver. The missing parts and roughly assembled manual are the only issues preventing me from rating this kit as “Great”.
Happy Listening, rayr1923
 
VA3RDW Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2005 09:09 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio Kit  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Received my kit well packaged, nothing missing, no scratches on casing. Instruction manual is clear and well thought of. Yes, it is black and white and some components are not easy to identify but with some effort and elimination you will figure all out. Construction process is stage based with testing after each phase. Just follow the manual closely and you can't go wrong. Be careful though, that there are a few replacement components that are not in the manual. So, read all the enclosed leaflets. I did not, and had to replace a couple of components in the end. The receiver performs well with home-made 20m dipole in the attic fed by 15m coax. No interfering tones from LED display. I've heard Europe, South America, Russia on good days. The 1kHz tuning step would be better instead of 2.5kHz b/c I mostly SWL on CW. Would recommend as an intermediate level building project.

73, Peter
 
NS6Y_ Rating: 0/5 Mar 24, 2005 02:49 Send this review to a friend
Don't build this kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
See all those nice Ten-Tec manuals in the ads and in Ebay listings with the nice red/white/blue covers? Well this came with a half-size stapled manual, yeah two colors, Black and White by Xerox. A lot of componant names and pinouts on the CPU are not readable! Came with no power connector "cable assembly" but two for the encoder, hee hee snip snip took care of that, but there are bigger problems. Nuts for voltage regs missing (that's ok I maintain a junque box), and the CPU seems sick, unit powers up in the first set of tests, but no button response and a couple more decimal points than really needed. More than one size of, for instance, 33pF caps and you find out in the actual instruction to install what size you need, "Oh, the *narrow* leg spacing". Elecraft, Heathkit, et al. would tell you. Even Elecrafts come in a nice box, sure the same box I can buy at the packing supplies place up the street but it's packed nicely, the thought counts, nice and organized. Tentec sent me a beat up box of bubblewrap bundles, not even a box to keep the stuff, nonsense, and memories in when it's built. IF it's ever built at this rate. Ersatz box not good enough to re-use to mail something and I reuse 'em all but the most beat up. This rig probably has a sick CPU, and that will be the final straw if they try to charge me for it, I've messed with enough Z80 systems at 4MHz to live OK with a PIC at 3.579 etc MHz without killing it. Assuming it was ok in the rirst place, and the CPU has to be working on this to reset the CPU to get it working.

So far, Not so good.
 
SM6XUN Rating: 4/5 Jun 30, 2004 09:41 Send this review to a friend
i am very pleased!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
if you have in mind that this is not an commercial/professional reciever, you will be surprised how good it performs, i am very pleased with this kit!
although i (actually) did a mistake when i put it together, i just happened to mount wrong capacitor at the wrong spot in the IF-section so the audio went garbled, but after correction it worked flawless.
 
W2RBA Rating: 5/5 Jul 7, 2002 10:13 Send this review to a friend
Good radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've seen one put together by a former neighbor and think they are fine little kits. KL0XK is disappointed that his didn't sell -- but for many (and most hams, I would suspect) the real fun comes from putting a kit together, which would not be the case if you bought it from someone already assembled. And the tuning method he complains about: sure, it would be nice if all radios could be like most ham gear, but the idea that you tune in 5 Khz and use a "clarifier" to tune in the station if need be, well, that's been pretty common on most SWL/general coverage radios for quite a while now. All in all I'd say this is a good little radio for beginning and intermediate SWLs and by putting it together, you hone whatever skills are required. Are there better SWL receivers available? You bet! Do they cost much more? Yup! Are they kits? No way. Ten-Tec fills a gap.
 
KL0XK Rating: 3/5 Jul 7, 2002 02:25 Send this review to a friend
Good - but could be better  Time owned: more than 12 months
Put this together as a fun kit, Ten Tec makes nice kits, so it was something to do in the winter. The tuning is goofy for SSb, 2.5 KHz steps & then use "Clarifier". Not so fun. On AM for SWL seems OK. If I had to make a choice an ATS 909 would be better than this kit. FWIW I am an USAF "Master" ground radio maintenance tech and ham for over 20yrs, so I'm sure it went together the right way...
Not as sensitive as I would have expected from a Ten Tec rig, but as they say, your mileage will vary. Tried to sell the one I have on the net and got no takers - says a lot there as well.
 
KG7RS Rating: 5/5 Jul 14, 2001 01:22 Send this review to a friend
A good little receiver and a great kit building experience  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Having built several transceiver kits, three different solid-state RF power amp designs and a few other homebrew gadgets, I decided I wanted to build a nice little receiver. The Ten Tec 1254 has fit the bill for me.
First of all, it's hard to find a nicer bunch of folks to deal with than the Ten-Tec crew. I ran into some trouble on a 1315 transceiver I built some time back, and the crew rendered friendly assistance quickly. There were, however, no problems experienced with building the 1254. It worked well during each progress testing step, and provided the all-important sense of accomplishment upon completion.
The 1254 is a PLL-controlled circuit tuning 100khz to 30mhz in a very compact little set. Although, not feature-rich, it sports just enough features to make it a competent SWL receiver, while not breaking the bank. Tuning is accomplished in 5khz steps in the AM mode, and 2.5khz steps in SSB. The bandwidth between steps is covered by a "Clarifier" control, something likely familiar with most SWL's. 15-memories with mode are supported. A "Fast" tuning rate may be switched in to whiz across the spectrum quickly. Frequency read-out is on a 6-digit LED display. The unit includes both a built-in 3" speaker and a headphone jack. The circuit is an honest-to-goodness dual-conversion superhet with a 45mhz and 455khz IF. While there is no input RF stage, there is a bandpass filter before the mixer. The circuit employs two separate shielded VCO's which are quite stable. There is a Murata ceramic filter employed at the 455khz IF providing about 4khz bandwidth on either mode.
How's the performance? Quite good for a receiver in the price range. It easily out-performs any of the common portable receivers I have ever tried. It's an excellent SWL rig, providing good audio fidelity, sensitivity and selectivity. SSB performance in the amateur bands is comfortable, although the 4khz bandwidth is a bit wide in crowded band conditions. On CW, an outboard audio or DSP filter will add the needed selectivity here. This would be a neat receiver to use alongside your favorite three-transistor crystal-controlled transmitter! The receiver is exceptionally quiet. Listening to SSB signals against a quiet background is a pleasure. Two noteworthy shortcomings: First, the tuning steps are encoded into the PIC-series firmware chip. I would prefer Ten-Tec provide an additional 1khz tuning step on the SSB mode (c'mon Ten-Tec...easy improvement that will put this receiver in a whole new class). Although the clarifier control covers well between steps, SSB tuning is a bit awkward. Secondly, the receiver suffers from display multiplexing noise if used with anything other than a coaxially-fed outdoor antenna. The manual clearly states to use an antenna fed with coaxial cable and at least 15-feet from the receiver. This is accurate. For those of us that like to use a simple wire plugged right into the back of the set, forget it. 40-60 feet of wire dipole fed in the center with 50-ohm coax does perform nicely though...no noise observed.
Building should not present any problems to those who have practiced proper soldering and is willing to follow the detailed directions to the letter. There is quite a few parts on the main circuit board and the entire construction required about 12 hours for me, an experienced but meticulous builder! I'd suggest this as a first kit, but would advise to take one's time and enjoy the building process. The finished product is compact, attractively designed and performs quite well. For those SWL's interested in building their own receiver, this product comes highly recommended. It's no toy gadget you build for fun and goof around with occassionally. It's a serious receiver that will perform as well or better than most portables while providing the tremendous pride of something you built yourself.

73 and happy listening,
John, KG7RS
 
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