TenTec 1254 SWL Receiver Kit

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K6ZRX
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TenTec 1254 SWL Receiver Kit

Postby K6ZRX » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:55 pm

I decided I needed a small HF receiver that I can take places. My R-390 or even my R-392 don't travel too well, so I decided to build this kit. Reviews online were pretty good overall, so I decided to put up 200 bucks and give the kit a shot. Please note that I am a two way and microwave tech, so I have more skill than the average kit builder, and probably less skill than a lot of guys here on the board. Took about 10 or 12 hours over the course of a week. I am very happy with the result. Here's my observations:
1. Shipping was quick, and the kit was well packed.
2. Instructions were just photocopied, with several loose sheets with notes and updates to the manual. Pictures of the circuit board and schematics were not too clear, which made troubleshooting my one problem more difficult than it should have been.
3. Populating the PC board went well, the instructions were clear. There were tests to make at the end of each "phase" to know that you got it all right to that point. Just be careful of the clarifier and volume pots.
4. The mixer uses 1n4148 diodes, I used 1n6263 less noise.
5. Tune up was easy. I used my IFR1900 and a voltmeter on the AGC line. My radio tested out better than spec.
6. The cabinet is nice. It's a pretty heavy little radio.
7. The noises that the instructions tell you to listen for during testing are a bit vague. That's how I missed the SSB problem until the radio was done.
The mods I have done or will do:
1. Clip for the 9v backup battery.
2. IF output for my panadapter.
3. Switch for powering an active antenna from the antenna jack.
4. BNC antenna jack instead of a RCA.
5. LED signal strength meter.

The only issue I had was no SSB reception. The SA612 mixer chip was bad. Don't know if I goofed it up somehow, or it was a dud. Put in a SA602 and SSB came to life and sounds damn good (listened to armed forces radio for a while).

Because the second IF is just 2 stages, it is very high gain, and is noisy. The PIN diode that is the attenuator is also very lossy. Maybe I'll redesign someday, maybe not.

The noise from the display multiplex that some online had commented on was not an issue with my radio for whatever reason. Maybe because I have good feedline.

If you want a good radio for a fair price and a way to pass some time, buy this little rig.

Josh K6ZRX

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mancow
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10-95
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