Covered Topics

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

TenTec Model 1054 Shortwave Radio Kit - The Latest Update

A couple weeks ago I posted an update about the TenTec model 1054 regenerative shortwave radio kit I had built a while back. As regular readers will recall, this radio had issues with the regeneration control not working smoothly. And after a couple unsuccessful attempts at contacting TenTec's service department, I finally got an answer. One of the techs said he'd send me some replacement components to hopefully fix the problem. Here's what happened:

I installed the two new FET transistors and trimmer potentiometer the man sent. Upon testing the radio post repair, the problem was exactly the same - perhaps slightly worse. I calibrated the bands by setting the regeneration control to full oscillation and listening for that signal using a borrowed shortwave receiver. In doing this, I made another discovery:
The sensitivity of the TenTec 1054 was grossly inferior to that of the borrowed radio.
On the borrowed radio - using ONLY a 12 inch cliplead for an antenna, I could CLEARLY hear the WWV time signals on 15 MHz and 10 MHz. On the TenTec, using a 20 FOOT longwire antenna - no sign of WWV. I have always said that if you can't hear WWV on a shortwave radio, you won't hear much else, either. Indeed this was the case. The TenTec could pick up China Radio International, some strong Spanish-speaking stations and a couple strong religious broadcasting stations, but I could not pick up ANY ham traffic. Again - the borrowed rig could get a few ham stations even with a foot long cliplead as an "antenna".

Lest anyone think that maybe something got messed up during the repair, I want to emphasize that I had NEVER been able to hear WWV, or more than one or two ham stations, on the TenTec radio. Prior to having access to a decent quality receiver to check it with, I simply chalked it up to not being able to determine where the unit was actually tuned.

One final test - I took the TenTec to my friend's house. He has a 100' longwire antenna and a good ground system. ONLY by doing this was I able to hear WWV and a few hams. But the WWV was NOT strong as it should be - in fact it was rather faint.

I have built regenerative radios in the past and while they had relatively poor selectivity compared to commercially built superheterodyne receivers, sensitivity was NEVER an issue before.

In view of the sensitivity issue, I think I will NOT invest any more time, energy, or money in this project. The return is simply not there.

What I think I WILL do is when I have the funds, find an older "classic" shortwave radio, buy it, and restore it. For that matter this would NOT be a bad way to get good ham gear, too. The new stuff is entirely too expensive. And once you have restored a radio you would know intimately how it works and how to maintain it.

And as an added benefit - older vaccuum tube gear would tend to be fairly EMP proof.

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