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Author Topic: 1.5K autotuners -- any reliable ones?  (Read 3186 times)
WX2S
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Posts: 689




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« on: January 28, 2013, 08:54:49 AM »

Hi, all,

The two options I see are the Palstar HF-AUTO and the MFJ-998. Both of them seem to have some reliability problems, notably doing unorthodox things unexpectedly while the amp is on.

I also see what I regard as some design errors in both units.

The HF-AUTO uses drive belts, which IMHO shouldn't be necessary with stepper motors and shaft encoders except maybe to save space. I've seen reports of them jamming up in the field.  http://gbantennes.com/images/clip_image001.jpg

The MFJ-998 uses a single circuit card, incorporating both QRO RF and digital electronics, which in my book is a recipe for glitches. The relays also look underrated. http://www.texastowers.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/thumbnail/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/m/f/mfj_998_b.jpg

The strange behavior reported on both units could be because of problems with either the digital electronics or the software.

Are there other options?

Am I worrying too much?

73,
- Steve (WX2S.)
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
W5WSS
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Posts: 1652




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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 09:09:42 AM »

There are some remote controlled auto tuners available.
There is a company over in Europe that offers a remote controlled Tmatch and is very nicely constructed and weatherproof for high power applications is expensive.

Alpha 4040 4kw auto tuner is under development and they are accepting pre orders now.
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K3VAT
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Posts: 701




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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 09:30:24 AM »

Hi, all,

Are there other options?

73,
- Steve (WX2S.)

Steve,
Yes, the premier of autotuners comes from Germany, the AT615B.  Rock solid in every detail; highest reliability, great customer service see: http://www.hamware.de/hardware/tuner615B/at615B-e.htm but you must be willing to pay top dollar ($2200 +).

GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT
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WX2S
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 10:42:39 AM »

Alpha 4040 4kw auto tuner is under development and they are accepting pre orders now.
Hmmm... something I found on a search of edge-wound coils looks positively deja vu...

http://www.dedicatedrf.com/

- WX2S
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
NK7Z
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Posts: 737


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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 01:23:51 PM »

Alpha 4040 4kw auto tuner is under development and they are accepting pre orders now.
I am sure that little baby is inexpensive...  Any idea what it will go for?
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
WB2EOD
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Posts: 214




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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 01:45:12 PM »

I own the MFJ 998 and I am generally satisfied with it.  This unit has what I think is a clever, well though out feature.   The enable line for your linear amp can be passed through the tuner.  When the tuner is trying to get a match, or the SWR is greater than a user set level, a relay inside the 998 will prevent the amplifier from being keyed. 
The 998 can be interfaced with most modern rigs for 1 button automatic tuning.

Hope this helps
73
WB2EOD
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WX2S
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 04:22:49 PM »

Alpha 4040 4kw auto tuner is under development and they are accepting pre orders now.
I am sure that little baby is inexpensive...  Any idea what it will go for?
A buck now. Three thousand later.  Shocked

http://www.rfconcepts.com/PRODUCTS/New-Products/Alpha4040

73,
-WX2S.
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
W5WSS
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 04:50:06 PM »

Yeah feast our eyes on the NEW standard of serious high power auto tuners.

Expensive.
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AD5X
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Posts: 1426




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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 06:19:14 PM »

I got a MFJ-998 right after it came out.  I had it for around 6-years or so.  It always worked perfectly.  I mostly used it with a ALS-600, but I also used it with an ALS-1300 for a short period of time.  During the time I had it, I updated the firmware 3-4 times.  A very easy process.  I do have a review of the MFJ-998 in the "Reviews" section of my website at www.ad5x.com.  It was a very good tuner in my opinion.

Phil - AD5X
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WX2S
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Posts: 689




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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 08:00:14 PM »

I'm not bashing the MFJ 998, and I'm sure there are many satisfied customers. There also seem to be many people who have had problems, including recently.

- WX2S
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
KU7I
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Posts: 122




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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 09:39:36 PM »

As a former Electronics Technician Chief in the USN I had learned how to troubleshoot the old R-1051/URT-23 system which used a URA-38 remote fully auto coupler for the 35 foot xmit whip (even though I was primarily a radar guy). Wow, you want to talk about heavy duty? This is it. They are now all over the place on the surplus market and often on Ebay. Murphy's in San Diego sometimes has them as do others. Fairly simple to troubleshoot, even for this male ER nurse (mpved to the dark side back in '01)

Lane
Ku7i/JH1JCM
US Naval Hospital
Yokosuka
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WX2S
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Posts: 689




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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 12:23:17 PM »

KU7I, yup, it looks like you could hit that thing with a torpedo and it'd just grin.

73,
- WX2S
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
V47JA
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Posts: 104




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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 12:40:26 PM »

Hi,

I have a old Palstar AT-AUTO that is still supported by Kessler Engineering.   http://kesslerengineeringllc.com/tuners.htm It is a great Auto-tuner, and tunes almost anything.  Don Kessler response is fast and solid on the rare chance you have a problem, or want hardware/software upgrades. If you can find one used, jump on it.

73,

John
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 01:25:43 PM by V47JA » Logged
K3VAT
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Posts: 701




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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 02:09:13 PM »

Hi,  I have a old Palstar AT-AUTO that is still supported by Kessler Engineering.   http://kesslerengineeringllc.com/tuners.htm It is a great Auto-tuner, and tunes almost anything.  Don Kessler response is fast and solid on the rare chance you have a problem, or want hardware/software upgrades. If you can find one used, jump on it.

73, John

Thanks John,
Don K has been hard at work on a significant upgrade called, of course, the [Kessler] AT-AUTO II.  I (and apparently many others) was hoping that this unit would be in delivery status by last summer, but I guess that there are lots of stuff to refine.  Once done, this unit should be one of the top tuners in the world (IMHO).  GL, Rich, K3VAT
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WX2S
Member

Posts: 689




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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 02:50:46 PM »

Yeah feast our eyes on the NEW standard of serious high power auto tuners.

Expensive.
Maybe worth it if the unit is reliable up to 4000W continuous. The vacuum variable caps should reduce arcing problems. I'm not quite so sure about the edge-wound variable inductor, though, especially with a new roller design. Maybe other hams have some experience with these?

Software is always a weak point. If I were making the things, I'd build an automated jig to test them -- and maybe use another autotuner to simulate antenna impedances across the spectrum.

73, -WX2S.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 02:53:35 PM by WX2S » Logged

73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
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