Ten Tec Model 1056 DC Receiver – is it any good, and what to do with it?

One of life’s simple pleasures is to rediscover something that bought you engagement and enjoyment in the past. And in COVID lockdown, stuck at home, it’s the perfect time to rummage through boxes in dark corners to sort, throw out, and rediscover old treasures. So it was that I came across this Ten Tec direct conversion receiver board, built around 20 years ago.

My first reaction was to strip off a few components and drop the carcass on the e-waste pile. Why would I waste time with a drift-y, analogue single band receiver, with no opposite sideband rejection, and built on a board the size of one of today’s complete transceivers? Fairly quickly, however, nostalgia got the better of me and I resolved to turn it on, to see what I thought of it.

I expected turning it on would make me realise how primitive homebrew radio was in the late 1990s. The video tells the rest of the story.

I’ll keep this primitive receiver, for a rainy day. If nothing else, it is an antidote to modern microcontrollers and software defined perfection. It has all the well known compromises of simple DC receivers. But its simplicity evokes a hint of the wonder of radio, and the way we used to live with drift, and hearing both sides of the signals, and no AGC. It is like opening an old photo album — you look past the faded tones and the curling corners and reconnect with the people and places for a moment. You can digitise an old photo album or make a video of an old DC receiver, but it’s not quite the same as having it on the bench in front of you.

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2 thoughts on “Ten Tec Model 1056 DC Receiver – is it any good, and what to do with it?

  1. Bill Meara says:

    FB Paul. I don’t know if you know, but Pete N6QW has recently gotten interested in Direct Conversion. And I ran a blog post no long ago about Doug DeMaw’s comments on the superb “pesence” of these receivers. I was very heartened to see your mention of the possibility of making a DC-DSB transceiver. Peter Parker is a a real DSB guru. Becasue of the need for the 700 Hz offset with CW rigs, I always found DC-DSB rigs to be — in one way at least — simpler than DC-CW rigs. I hope you continue to find good stuff in those boxes! 73 Bill N2CQR

    Like

    • Paul Taylor says:

      Hi Bill, thanks for commenting. I will watch what Pete does with DC receivers with interest. He will presumably go the phasing route to get a proper single sideband recovery. Or maybe go digital for the back end. I’d like to try that at some stage.

      I nearly wrote about presence and absence in the post, but to be honest, I didn’t get a heightened sense of presence from this receiver. I think it is because of the active audio filter, which makes it sound much more like a filter rig. My theory about DC presence is that it is at least partially due to the much wider audio bandwidth of a typical DC receiver. There will be other factors to do with phase related artefacts of conventional filters, but I think audio bandwidth is part of it.

      When I built my first ever DC receiver, in the 70s, it was a dual gate MOSFET mixer and a few discrete transistors. Now that thing had presence! I remember listening to all the 40m CW stations all jumbled up, but I could hear every one with ease. That Rx had no audio filtering at all. You could follow a CW signal all the way up to 12khz!

      I too reckon DSB is the way to go with this one. That’s for a rainy day.

      73 Paul VK3HN.

      Like

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