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Author Topic: Palstar and the AT-5K  (Read 4697 times)
K3CB
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« on: May 05, 2011, 04:17:15 AM »

My December 2010 letter to Palstar is below for review.  As of today, 5 May 2011, it remains unanswered.  Form your own opinion.  Owen, K3CB

Mr Paul Hrivnak
President & CEO
Palstar Incorporated
9676 North Looney Road
Piqua, OH  45356

Dear Paul,

Again, thank you for your timely suggestions re: my new AT5K.  I was quite tempted to write-up my experience with the unit on eHAM but decided to write you direct.  Having owned a manufacturing company serving Amateur Radio and commercial markets (specialized DSP modules and high performance VHF/UHF yagis), I well understand the problems associated with running such a business.  You need to know I am not at all pleased with the AT5K I received as a Christmas present from my wife.  There is simply no excuse for the numerous errors in the manual (schematic errors re: S1a vs. S1b, no relay marking, etc.) and Front Panel errors.  Compounding these errors were the loose set-screws on the INPUT Cap shaft, aft of the vernier; and, likewise only snug set-screws on the OUTPUT Cap coupling on the aft side of the vernier assembly.  Seems to me your company has an outstanding reputation, one well worth maintaining.  It goes without saying a few bad experiences like mine could destroy years of building a “brand” and performing to high standards.

I encourage you to take stock, sit down with employees and have a “come to church” meeting with them or you will find more experiences like mine showing up on your doorstep.

Be advised, I can no longer in good faith tell others I have had a positive experience with an item of Palstar equipment.  Certainly your support is noteworthy but when one pays $1200 for a product it ought to work out of the box and the manual should be 100% accurate.
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Owen Wormser, K3CB
k3cb@earthlink.net
410-745-0138
K2CMH
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Posts: 275




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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2011, 12:46:44 PM »

Please, by all means, place a review in the Reviews section.  That is the only way that people like myself can be forewarned of potential problems with companies and their product.  Thank you for posting this letter.  I was considering some of their equipment, but after reading this and given the time frame that it has gone unanswered, I will seriously reconsider giving them my business.

73,
Carlton
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011, 03:12:28 PM »

Please, by all means, place a review in the Reviews section.  That is the only way that people like myself can be forewarned of potential problems with companies and their product.  Thank you for posting this letter.  I was considering some of their equipment, but after reading this and given the time frame that it has gone unanswered, I will seriously reconsider giving them my business.

73,
Carlton


Uh, the review section is for reviewing EQUIPMENT, not companies or customer service. This is clearly explained in the review rules.

This forum IS the proper place to complain about the company, itself.
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A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.
K2CMH
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Posts: 275




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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2011, 07:42:29 AM »

Point taken, I stand corrected.
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N7IOH
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Posts: 116




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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2011, 10:21:36 AM »

It seems to me that it may not only be a complaint about the company but also the product.  I would write it up in the reviews.  Explain the problem with the product, manual/schematic and note that you had contacted the manufacture and received no reply. 

I think it's sad that Palstar seems to have such a hit and miss with both his products and customer service. 

         Al, n7ioh
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V47JA
Member

Posts: 104




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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 02:27:08 PM »

Lon,

I also agree with N7IOH, that at a good portion of the K3CB comments should be in the "Reviews" section as well. If the Reviews Section is ONLY for "Equipment", then why are the categories such as:
Amateur Radio Equipment Repair
Amateur Radio Periodicals
Electronic Suppliers
Tower and Antenna Installers

Also I would venture to say, that a LARGE percent of the "Reviews" contain comments on the "equipment" manufacturer's, support or lack thereof as part of the "Review".

73,

John W5JON - V47JA





 
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 03:07:11 PM »

Quote
I also agree with N7IOH, that at a good portion of the K3CB comments should be in the "Reviews" section as well. If the Reviews Section is ONLY for "Equipment", then why are the categories such as:
Amateur Radio Equipment Repair
Amateur Radio Periodicals
Electronic Suppliers
Tower and Antenna Installers

Because those are considered products, would be my guess.

From the review sections guidelines:

"Reviews that primarily focus on manufacturers, dealers, suppliers, customer service issues/disputes, etc. instead of an actual product are not "Product" reviews. These type reviews are welcome in the eHam Community Forum CompanyReviews."

And:

"Product Reviews are not a discussion forum for general complaints, inquiries, repair diagnostic help, product modification, or customer service issues."

Seems pretty clear to me that complaints about the manufacturer and/or their customer service belong right here. Of course your interpretation of the above two statements may differ from mine. Smiley
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N7IOH
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Posts: 116




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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 07:56:12 PM »

If you read K3CB's letter to Palstar.  He notes problems with the EQUIPMENT, thus it is 100% proper for him to review the product and note the problems he found with the equipment and briefly his attempt to get the problem corrected by Palstar. 

There are hundreds of equipment reviews posted in eHam.net where the reviewer explains the problems with the equipment and their efforts to get the problem fixed.  While I agree that a review written solely or with it's prime intent to be a review of manufacture or seller would belong here. 


     Al, n7ioh
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ZENKI
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Posts: 911




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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2011, 03:05:11 AM »

Is that really a 5kw tuner. I look at the roller inductor and wonder how such a small roller inductor is rated at 5kw?
I see the same roller inductor across the entire Palstar line. Such a small inductor i would not expect to find in a 5kw tuner.

I am not surprised that you have troubles with their products. Anyone who can claim that such small roller inductor with such smallr wire is OK for 5kw of output power seriously has questionable marketing practices. I could be wrong though, or the laws of physics have changed!
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K9MHZ
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Posts: 396




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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2011, 04:49:57 AM »

My AT4K is rated for 2500 watts.....right off of their spec sheet.

 
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W4TQ
Member

Posts: 40




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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2011, 07:03:17 AM »

The AT4K spec sheet may say 2500 watts, but the manual tells quite a different story in the impedance chart:

Impedance Chart for AT4K (page 16):
8  − 15  500 watts (all bands)
15 − 25 1000 watts (all bands)
25 − 50 1500 watts (all bands)
50 − 2000 160M — 2000 watts
80M - 15M — 2500 watts
10M — 1000


Similarly, the AT5K is rated at 3500 watts:

Impedance Chart for AT5K (page 14):
8  − 15  1000 watts (all bands)
15  − 25  1500 watts (all bands)
25  − 50  3500 watts (all bands)
50  − 2000  160M — 3500 watts
80M - 15M—3500 watts
10M — 1500 watts (29.5 MHz max)


I owned an AT5K for quite a while.  It was VERY well built, and the components were (in my opinion) quite large, including a beautiful bandswitch, inductor and capacitors--it was beautiful to look at.  I was using it on a 65 foot vertical, that I used at legal limit on all bands.  I ended up selling the AT5K because the capacitors would arc on 80 and 160, where the impedance was low, even at 500-1000 watts.  Note that I was using a loading coil on 160, so I wasn't trying to feed it directly; but the AT5K would arc if I wasn't right at the resonant frequency of the antenna/loading coil.

I replaced the AT5K with a Ten-Tec 238C, which uses a different circuit (true L-match design) that doesn't develop the high internal voltages.  I can use it at full power with NO ARCING on all bands.  ARRL tests show the 238 design to have much lower losses at low impedances as well.  I also found that the 238C would match a wider range of frequencies/impedances than would the AT5K.  Note that the components in the 238C are MUCH SMALLER than the AT5K.

The Alpha people are designing a new tuner--I hope they use the L-match design similar to the Ten-Tec 238C.

73,
Dan - W4TQ
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K9MHZ
Member

Posts: 396




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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2011, 02:53:37 PM »

 "4TQ: The AT4K spec sheet may say 2500 watts, but the manual tells quite a different story in the impedance chart:"

OK, so what's your point?  I was trying to tell ZENKI that the "4K" part of AT4K didn't mean 4000 watts.

 
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W4TQ
Member

Posts: 40




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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2011, 03:23:20 PM »

"4TQ: The AT4K spec sheet may say 2500 watts, but the manual tells quite a different story in the impedance chart:"

OK, so what's your point?  I was trying to tell ZENKI that the "4K" part of AT4K didn't mean 4000 watts.

My comments were intended to provide additional info to those those who may be interested in the specified (and actual) performance of the Palstar Tuners. 

Before I bought the AT5K, I considered buying the AT4K.  I'm glad I looked at the manual before doing so, however.  I found it surprising that a "2500 watt" tuner would only be rated at 500 watts when tuning into an 8 to 15 ohm load.  I bought the AT5K knowing that it may not work in my application, and it didn't.  As I said before, the AT5K was really well made, but the physics of my antenna system weren't well suited to the AT5K circuit. 

73,
Dan - W4TQ
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W9AC
Member

Posts: 53




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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2011, 04:56:51 AM »

Is that really a 5kw tuner. I look at the roller inductor and wonder how such a small roller inductor is rated at 5kw?

I've questioned the same when using "point-contact" roller inductors in high-power-rated tuners.  The contact point on a variable shunt inductor when used in a "T" type configuration can be subject to substantial RF current stress.  For examples of how the tuner can operate under these conditions, see the VK1OD and W9CF websites for more information.  Just my opinion, but any so-called "high-power tuner" using this configuration cannot be accurately described as "built like a tank."  The supreme absurdity occurs when the manufacturer uses vacuum relays and/or vacuum capacitors when also using a traditional roller inductor.  Add all the vacuum components you want --- the weak link is still the inductor's contact point.

Long out of production, Collins once used motorized silver tape inductors on low-loss ceramic coil forms.  These types of coils can better handle current stress since the silver tape is rolled-off onto the ceramic form from a conductive supply reel.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page for an example:

http://www.g3ynh.info/comps/Vari_L.html

We really need a modern-day equivalent of that design (both manual and motorized) for use in high-power unbalanced T type tuners. 

Paul, W9AC

   
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N3OX
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Posts: 8854


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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2011, 07:00:11 AM »

We really need a modern-day equivalent of that design (both manual and motorized) for use in high-power unbalanced T type tuners.    

Or go back to a switched inductor with a really heavy switch.
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
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