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Author Topic: Maxx-com tuner -- is it scam or what?  (Read 4845 times)
W3UA
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Posts: 3




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« on: June 23, 2002, 10:27:27 PM »

I recently discovered the following web site:
http://www.maxx-com.com/index.html

To me, it sounds like a black magic or April 1 joke. I wish such a marvel really exist, but can hardly believe. They claim 15,000 customers... Did anybody really see this thing?

Just curiuos. Any opinions appreciated.

Gene W3UA
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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2002, 12:14:40 AM »

Years ago, I can't remember just how long; there was a manufacturer of antennas. I think the nmae was similar to this one and they claimed the antenna would match every frequency and needed no tuner to work. Snake oil? It seems that the antenna was really just a 50 ohm dummy load in the air with wires strung off the ends. It did load every band and the receive seemed to be good. I can't say how it worked for transmitting on the far end reception, but I haven't heard about it for a long time. The name sounded familiar when I read this posting. Could this be the same thing? A sealed dummy load that requires no tuning and feeds wire off the termination? I don't know, but it might be worth checking into.
73
Frank
KL7IPV
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KA7ENP
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Posts: 31




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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2002, 03:39:02 PM »

Maxx.com sounds like just another variation on Maxcom, the product described sounds like the product that they were pitching (back in the late 80's I believe), and the figure claimed for units sold sounds a little too familiar to me to be mere coincidence. These 'autotuners' of theirs were found to be in a QST review little more than dummy loads shunted across the terminals of a balun, solidly potted in die cast metal boxes along with scrap printed circult boards, which worked about as well with as without antenna wires attached to the terminals of the device. If in fact we are dealing with the same crowd in Florida as before it comes very close to being a scam if in fact it is not one outright. For the same amount of money you can get a genuine autotuner that will give you vastly superior results for the dollar spent.  
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2002, 05:06:52 PM »

Based on the popularity of some antennas, some folks clearly care
more about having a low SWR than having a strong signal.  For
those folks, the Maxcom (or Maxx-Com) can be a handy unit:  in
the ARRL tests the SWR was only 1.5 : 1 with NO ANTENNA
CONNECTED.  If you do hook wires to the unit, chances are that
they will radiate SOME amount of signal, so you can look at it as
a way to turn your transceiver into a QRP rig.  (If they can make
QSOs with 1 to 5 watts output, then you probably can with 100
watts into a Maxcom.)

You can make your own by connecting a 50 to 100 ohm resistor
across the feedpoint of your antenna.  (The expensive part is
getting a resistor that will handle 100 watts or more.)  Or you can
accomplish a similar effect with a long length of Radio Shucks
cheapest RG-58 coax:  if the SWR is too high with no antenna
connected, soaking the far end in a bucket of salt water for a few
weeks will greatly increase the attenuation of the cable and
improve the SWR.
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EB74MX
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2002, 03:57:37 PM »

My name is Eric Bentschneider and I am the general manager of Maxx-Com Antenna Tuners. These letters ridiculing Maxx-Com are unfair, unjust, and grossly incorrect. It's ironic, but the people who unfairly criticize something they know little or nothing about just happen to be the same people who have never used a Maxx-Com tuner. We have been in business since 1983, we do have over 15,000 satisfied customers, and we have been used successfully by the all branches of the U.S military. (In the post 9/11 world we would make that claim if it were untrue? As a proud American I say to you the answer is an emphatic "Never!!!") The design is ingenious, the tuners work, and I have a thick file of testimonials to back this up. There is no dummy load and anyone suggesting as much should look in the mirror to see what a real dummy looks like. Are Maxx-Com tuners more sensitive to improper installations? Yes. They need to be installed per manufacturer's specs, but once installed properly, boy do they work. Please take the time to visit our web site: www.maxx-com.com. Everything you see there is factual. 100%. This is a great product invented with painstaking care by an honorable man. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. EB
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KB9QDC
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2002, 07:02:28 PM »

Okay, call me a sucker, but I am still interested in this thing...if it works.

Is there any article in any Ham publication that campares the Maxx-comm head-to-head with say, a AH-4? Signal strength, radiated power, SWR, etc?

It seems to me that this could be cleared up pretty easily.

Thanks for any advice!

KB9QDC
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KB9QDC
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2002, 08:14:21 PM »

Come on guys, no replies? Very un-Ham: Everybody has $0.02 to throw in!

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K4OG
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2002, 08:21:07 AM »

After reading some of the comments regarding the Maxx-com tuner/coupler by NQP's (thats an old Navy term for "None Qualified Pukes". Which means, I've never owned a Maxx-Com tuner, and I don't know anyone has one, but I'm willing to pass along "scuttlebutt" and state my uniformed opinion).

Now I have a Maxx-Com 1000D. That is the Military, Commercial unit rated a 1KW.  But before I get to the tuner some background is called for.

The antenna situation here is rather limited. I run a 150 foot dipole with 450 ohm ladder line to a MFJ 989 transmatch.  I could tune all band, even force it onto 160 meters, but the antenna is just to short to be an effective radiator on the top band.

I decided to turn the room I was using for the shack into a computer/TV room, so I moved the to the basement. But I also wanted to keep a tranceiver in the old shack and be able to operate from either room, without having to do anything more than flip a coax switch. That meant that the manual tuner had to go.

My first approach to the tuner situation was the SGC SG-235 automatic tuner.  Now this is a rather large unit.  My 150 dipole does not have center support, so hanging the SG-235 at the dipole feed point was not an option. Just too big and heavy. But, as per the instruction manual, I should be able to run up to 200 feet of open wire line (300-600 ohm) between the tuner and the dipole. With about 70 feet of 450 ohm ladder line between the tuner and the dipole it tuned all bands just fine.  The major problem was RFI..and I mean big time!  Turns out the ladder line was radiating like crazy.  About 50 feet of the ladder line traveled parallel to and about 8 inches away from the coax's that connect two Dish Network antennas for the HDTV system. No when I say TVI...I don't mean just a little cross-hatch.  I mean wipe-out! Re-routing the feed line reduce the problem, but still unacceptable TVI wise, and the physical problem with ladder line was not practical.  Now I might have been able to force this configuation back into a balanced condition with choke baluns, etc., but to the point, the SG-235 is a well constructed unit, but it just isn't intended to work into a balanced antenna system. On one end of the unit is an insulated post, about 16 inches away on the other end of the tuner is ground post connection, which has to be used for the other side of the ladder line.  It is just didn't like the layout and decided I didn't want spend the time trying make it work. So back to AES it went. By the way, that was a $150.00 lesson. (15% restocking fee). The first time I have ever returned a piece of ham gear in 45 years. Anyway, on to the subject of this thread...

An Internet search for "automatic antenna tuners" turned up Maxx-Com.  After carefully reading all the material on the website and a phone call and conversation with Mr. Sonny Irons, I decided to give it a try.  Mr. Irons directly responded to all my questions, and even provided me with more information than I asked for. Also, try it for ten days, and if you don't like it or it does not perform as advertised, send it back. No 15% lessons here.

The unit I have is quite small. about 4 X 4 X 2 inches with a metal backing plate for mounting and weighs about two and half pounds. There is an insulated post off each side of the unit, with the standard UHF connector on the bottom.  No other connections  required.  The physical size of the unit is such that I was able to hang it from the feed point on the dipole. The first test showed that it received at least as well or better than the old dipole and manual tuner. I have a P-3000 RF Applications power/VSWR meter in line.  VSWR was less than 1.5:1 on all bands. In fact, the highest VSWR is 1.4:1 on ten meters.  Band switching for all practical perposses is instantanious.

First contacts running barefoot a 100 watts (SSB) turned up Q5 reports, some running S9+ on 75 thru 17 meters. On 160 and the short antenna it works as well as the old lash up. Come spring I will rectify that situation with some more wire.

I operate mainly with groups on 75 and 40 meters, and the more NVIS radiation the better. Running barefoot, I get 10-20 db reports from the gang on 75, depending on propagation. With the SGC SG-500 amplifier in line its 30-40 db over S9. That...by any standard, is pretty respectable for a "50 ohm resistor in a plastic box". Any time you run across K4OG on 75 running this QRP station...stop by and say hello and check it out for yourself.

The end to this saga is this.  All multi-band operation off a single antenna is a compromise. Mr. Irons will tell you up front, at 7 Mhz and lower, the unit is about 80% efficient. If you keep the wire off resonance (longer physically than the band your working), the efficiency improves.  But assume 80%. With 100 Watts into the coupler you get 80 watts to the wire. That is about 1 db. If your looking for ease of operation and frequency agility, it is an easy decision to make.  The only controls I am concerned with now, from either operating position is the VFO and the PTT switch. Matching the antenna to the solid state amplifier in no longer even a concern. This thing just works. GC



 
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EB74MX
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2002, 09:09:33 PM »

Hi. It is extremely difficult to respond to people who have simply closed their minds to a "better way." Our customers know that they have a superior product - the proof being in the performance - but... if you haven't tried it, and don't care to entertain the possibility that it works, what can we possibly say to change your mind? Well, our good customers, God bless them, do that for us. Come on, open your minds. It's just a great automatic antenna tuner. Is that so tough to believe? I think not. Best regards. Eric - Maxx-Com.
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W8JI
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2003, 09:50:49 PM »

Looks like a PT Barnum antenna tuner to me.

The red flags are:

1.) Solid State but powered only by RF

2.) Solid State with no moving parts and always tuned.

3.) The wide frequency coverage

There is no doubt at all this device contains a resistance of some form for dissipating power, and that there is no way it is "80%" efficient and still matches even modest load impedance errors. It takes a "real" automatic antenna tuner with inductors, capacitors, and relays or switches that runs of a power supply to do that.

It is priomarily just a resistor in a box? You bet it is. Just like QST found.
 
73 Tom
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EB74MX
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2003, 11:17:19 PM »

Hi Tom.

PT Barnum, huh?  Did you know that in that 1890’s an American senator placed a bill before Congress that would have disbanded the office of patents on the theory that everything that could be invented, had been invented, and that there was no further need for a patent office? Tom, maybe this was a relative of yours.

The USS Independence has purchased several Maxx-Com tuners. Were you aware of that, Tom? Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma recently purchased a 2000D tuner and it appears to be working fine. We have the documentation, receipts and photos, to back this up. Were you aware of that, Tom?

Our documented clients include Lockheed, Motorola, Westinghouse, Southern Bell, Texaco Oil, Exxon, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs, the National Broadcasting Company, and all other branches of the U.S. military. I guess we fooled them all, huh Tom? Even when the U.S. Independence flew a jet in to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to pick up two new tuners. I guess they do that on a whim, right Tom? Even though they were a repeat customer? We have the pictures, the receipts. What about that, Tom? They seemed to approve of our tuners. I guess they were just being silly.

Since 1983 we have over 16,000 satisfied clients. Now, we are never too good to learn and improve, however, we will never learn anything from small-minded people like you. It’s a shame you have to poison what could be a nice discussion of specifics by your shallow and close-minded views.

Our normal policy is to ignore statements such as yours, however, yours was so ignorant and abrasive that we could not help but respond. I’m sure you understand. Right Tom?

Continue living in the past, Tom. It’s where you belong.

Eric Bentschneider

Maxx-Com Antenna Tuners.          www.maxx-com.com
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W3UA
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2003, 12:23:43 AM »

OK, now I understand what it is. It is no need to be a rocket scientist to model this thing. I only wonder how it can dissipate enough power (from 30 percent for antennas with impedance close to 50 Ohm to 100 percent for deeply mismatched ones) in such a small box, without catching fire. No big deal for 200W models (since for normal CW/SSB operation the average power is about 10 percent of the peak power, even in the worse case of the total mismatch it will dissipate about 20 W on average), but for the legal limit it can be dangerous. The only hope is that people who run high power would hardly use this "mystery box".
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W8JI
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« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2003, 02:21:31 PM »

OK, now I understand what it is. It is no need to be a rocket scientist to model this thing. I only wonder how it can dissipate enough power (from 30 percent for antennas with impedance close to 50 Ohm to 100 percent for deeply mismatched ones) in such a small box, without catching fire. No big deal for 200W models (since for normal CW/SSB operation the average power is about 10 percent of the peak power, even in the worse case of the total mismatch it will dissipate about 20 W on average), but for the legal limit it can be dangerous. The only hope is that people who run high power would hardly use this "mystery box".>>>>

Yes, there certainly isn't anything unique or novel about adding loss to an antenna to obtain bandwidth.

There isn't anything unique or illegal about calling a resistor a "solid state tuning device". Solid state implies semiconductors, and that's what resistors could be loosely called.

There also isn't anything out of the ordinary in defending a product based on the fact some people are willing to buy it.

The power loss depends on the SWR that can be tolerated. Loss is governed by the voltage across the resistor and the value of the resistor. With a 2:1 maximum SWR, power loss would have to be a minimum of about 30% or so in a best-case situation. Of course maximum loss could be nearly 100%.

Myself, I'd just buy a resistor and install it across the feedpoint myself. If I had poor morals and didn't care about others I might even take to selling my resistors and misleading people as to what they were, perhaps by including a transformer that had no real necessary function or old pieces of circuit board that were chopped up and glued in place with epoxy.

73 Tom
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EB74MX
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« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2003, 02:51:49 PM »

Dear Tom,

Just when we about to give you the benefit of the doubt, you come back with that obnoxious bit of name calling. Have you not read the review by the Navy veteran that resides just above yours? He says “This thing just works.” He also refers to people like you as “non-qualified pukes.”  A navy vet. Hmmm….

And you’ve never even used a Maxx-Com. You spread your ignorance like a computer virus, because it’s easier for someone like you to tear something down than it is to try to understand it.

We successfully manufacture 5,000 and 10,000 watt tuners without cooling devices. The 10 KW Maxx-Com tuners used by Harris Broadcast Division for Broadcast Jamming Operations overseas is another example. That’s 10 KW of AM continuous. The same circuits as are in the 200 watt models. And you’re so wrong about the circuitry. You had our staff both laughing and shaking there heads in exasperation.

Also, if you had read the July 1985 issue of QST you would have read the retraction to their earlier “expose.” The mystery was cleared up about the “Dummy Load” box. There isn’t one.

I guess it’s true what WORLDRADIO editors said: “The only people talking bad about Maxx-Com are the people who have never used one, why all who try it, love it.” And that includes WORLDRADIO after using a 200D during field day operations.

Have you checked the testimonials, reviews, and our customers on our web site? www.maxx-com.com? Have you?

What if we were able to make a tuner that had absolutely no components in the box? Although deserving of a medal, would you complain? Of course you would, because your mind is closed and you just prefer to be critical. I would not be a bit surprised to learn that you thought the earth was flat.  

Tom, in the future we will not be responding to your unwarranted and uninformed attacks. You will not bait us into further replies. We have no time for your foolishness and immaturity. You speak of morals. Ours are intact, I assure you. So you go ahead and throw that first stone. In fact, go ahead and throw them all. You clearly enjoy that best.

Eric  /  Maxx-Com Antenna Tuners  /  WWW.MAXX-COM.COM
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W8JI
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2003, 09:50:22 AM »

Eric,

I really don't want to go into morals and honesty, or worry about the way our Government squanders tax dollars on $5000 toilet seats. And I'm not interested in what your "navy strawman" says.

Actually I admire people who can stomach charging high dollar for low tech, and walk the edge of truth. Someone deserves to get some of our tax dollars back.

I wish I could do that, instead of just paying.

73 Tom
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