Model 1254 combines the satisfaction of the kit building experience with the performance features expected in a modern HF receiver. Building one’s own receiver from a kit has launched countless thousands of people into communications careers or the hobbies of amateur radio and shortwave listening (“SWLing”). You will build a true dual-conversion superhet with a microprocessor-controlled frequency synthesizer. Digital LED readout. Alignment is easy and does not require complicated equipment. You only need a volt-ohm meter and your ear; the kit provides its own 45 MHz test signal. Project skill level: Intermediate. Not recommended as a first-time kit building project. Estimated build time: 15-20 hours.
Posted by Unknown on 23rd May 2013
I bought this kit for my sons to gain kit building experience. This was their first kit, and it worked when first powered up. The manual was clear with step by step instructions.
Note there is no built in AM antenna, the external antenna covers the entire frequency range.
In comparison to an electronic chain store ~ $250 S/W radio, the features are less, but the performance was better, especially on Single Side Band (SSB) signals. The adjustment for SSB works better for speech clarity than the electronic store's preset button for LSB or USB. Reception in the 12 Mhz - 30 Mhz range was noticeably better also.
Tuning is continuous over the entire frequency range.
It is not a one night project, and will take some time.
If it is your first time soldering, you may want to get some parts and pc board at an electronic store and practice. You may also find some good online videos and web pages on proper soldering methods.
If it is your first time building a kit, you may want to find some containers to sort out all the parts and have a dedicated space to work in that can be left undisturbed while the kit is going together.
For the price, we were pleased with the performance.
And it gave some satisfaction with seeing something working that started with a box of parts.
Posted by Casey on 16th Mar 2013
I just finished building the 1254 receiver, after first building the Tentec 1253-I needed some practice first. I disagree with the negative reviews some have posted for this model. This is by far the best short wave receiver I have ever used. I have had all the different Grundig radios RadioShack sells, and the flagship Tecsun PL 660. This little Tentec beats them all. The manual was easy enough to read and steps were clear. I'm a novice and had no problem building it. Use a fine soldering tip. I used a 25watt temp-controlled Weller soldering iron. The testing in phases made continuing to the next phase worry-free. It took about 3 weeks to build, working few hours a night after coming home from work. I called Garry a few times with questions about aligning the tuning. This model has its own 45Khz signal so you just tune it to that-No freq counter needed! It does a fantastic job receiving HAM transmissions and local broadcasts, in addition to overseas broadcasts. The clarifier makes this possible. The display does not interfere with reception, even with a plain wire running out the back-when testing it. I use the suggested coax length that Tentec recommends and it works fine even without an antenna tuner. Suggestions: Buy the finest tip for your soldering iron you can find, and use 60/40 lead solder-got mine from RadioShack. Don't use the cheap stuff from discount stores that has no lead. It takes too high of heat to melt it and it tends to splinter after few years.
Posted by d blane on 30th Apr 2012
I have built HUNDREDS of kits and the manual for this kit was possibly the WORST ever written. VERY limited diagrams, illogical assembly order. If it has a problem and you need it fixed, after assembly? That is on YOUR dime. Got it working and was an acceptable performer. But is THIS the same thing I built TEN years ago? LAZY!
Posted by Alan W2AEW on 27th Apr 2012
This was a fun kit to build. I give 4 stars because some of the documentation could be a little clearer (schematic is a little fuzzy due to multiple generations of photocopying, and several errata to keep track of during assembly). The rig works well, but not as quite and selective as a decent ham-radio type receiver, but still fun to listen to. I've had fun playing with it, and experimenting with some modifications. I have posted a couple of videos on YouTube that show some of my experiments, including the addition of an analog S-meter to the radio.
Posted by PAUL P on 11th Mar 2012
I'VE USED THIS RECEIVER ON MY DESK BEFORE I UPGRADED. THEY ARE A GOOD LEARNING EXPERIENCE.
AND ENJOYED HAVING THIS KIT.
Posted by Ken Chaffin on 1st Jan 2012
This is a very good dual-conversion radio kit that will allow you to listen to various AM & SSB/CW stations. I have built 4 of these receivers so far (sold two of them--still have the other 2)and I only had one issue on one of them after I built it and the nice folks at Ten-Tec support got me back on the right track and fixed the problem with it (alignment issue). I have built some of their other kits-- Ten-Tec 40M CW Transceiver Kit and Ten_Tec 1253 9 Band Regenerative Receiver Kit and are very pleased with them also. You can't go wrong buying and building this kit as it is great for general shortwave listening and the best part is the satisfaction that you built it yourself and know how to fix it if something goes wrong with it.
Posted by William Miner on 17th Dec 2011
1254 Digital Readout Superhet Receiver Kit
I have built two of these kits, one for my grandson and one for myself. This is a fun to build intermediate kit. After building, it is easy and fun to use for Short Wave Listening.
Is it a “dated” design? Yes because it uses through-hole components not SMDs. Many kit builders do not care to work with Surface Mount Devices.
Can you buy a Short Wave receiver made in CHINA for less money? Yes. On the other hand if you do you just added to the trade deficit. This Ten Tec kit is made (and built by you) in the USA.
Are the 2.5 kHz tuning steps too broad for Amateur Radio? Yes but that was not the intended purpose for this radio. It is perfect for AM Short Wave listening but it can also receive SSB/CW utility stations.
After building your 1254 kit you will have the satisfaction of successfully building your own radio. Since you built it you should also be able to easily repair if that becomes necessary at some future time.
Please keep in mind that this is a simple easy to use Short Wave receiver not a serious Communications receiver. However, it can receive SSB/CW signals on the Amateur Radio Bands. Many of those cheaper made-in-China radios cannot receive SSB or CW. It does not have the finer tuning steps and narrower filters of a purpose-built Communications receiver but that was not what was intended by the designer.
Posted by Douglas C. Schmidt on 18th Nov 2011
I purchased this kit about 8 months ago. Asssembly was not overly difficult for an experienced builder. All of the parts were included; nothing was missing, which is commendable for a kit of this complexity. The documentatation was complete, but looked as if it was a second or third generation copy of the original. Not conforting. Performance-wise, the kit was a major disappointment on several counts. First, the PLL is an "integer-N" design with a reference frequency of either 2.5 Khz or 5 Khz, with VCO's operating from 45 MHz to 75 Mhz. This is a very old design, and a poor one. The phase noise of the PLL is terrible. The second mixer is a passive double-balanced diode mixer which used non-matched diodes; it is not a commercial DBM, which saved cost. Finally, many of the components used in this radion have been obsolete for over 5 years (I am a components engineer, and perform many life-cycle and end-of-life evaluations for our company's products) Replacement parts may be very problematic if a component failure is experienced. Then there was the rotary encoder for tuning. I discovered that there is a probable bug in the quadrature firmware inside the MicroChip PIC controller that manages the receiver. Tuning is completely unpredictable at slow tuning rates. A replacement encoder was sent by Ten-Tec [their Customer Service is excellent], but the replacement encoder had same problem. Careful study of the symptoms strongly suggests that the PIC firmware is the issue. Ten-Tec makes numerous low-end ham kits that perform well, as well as some really good high-end DSP radio equipment. The #1254 is a low-end product, and definitely not worth the price. I'm surprised it's still on the market. Spend more money and get one of their better products; skip this one.