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Author Topic: How to tune up correctly on air?  (Read 2808 times)
KC2ZPK
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« on: January 06, 2012, 11:20:04 AM »


How to tune up correctly on air?

OK, so I want to be a courteous ham. What is the proper way to tune up. I have a dipole, tuner, radio. antenna analyzer.

What I have done so far is, and may not be 100% best.

The antenna is connected to the tuner, and I have the analyzer connected to the tuner. I dial up the frequency I want to tune to on the analyzer, then adjust the settings on the tuner to obtain the best match. I then hook up the radio and repeat at the lowest power (5W) and fine tune the tuner, then increase to full power in 2 steps, each time fine tuning the tuner. Once I have a 1:1 I record the tuner settings for future use. Usually going back to that frequency in the future I don't use the analyzer, as I have a ball park setting to work with, and a light touch on the inductor knob will bring a 1:1 match.

My question is you always here hams complaining about other hams tuning up on the band. Well how else are you supposed to do it?
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John
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KQ6Q
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 12:06:18 PM »

You try to pick a frequency that's not in use. On the phone bands, that might be a spot where weak DX is transmitting, and you can't hear him - so you can't win.
This is where an automatic antenna tuner with memory comes in - it spends a LOT less time keyed,tweaking adjustments,  than a human operator working the controls. that way, even if you haven't much luck picking a really empty frequency, you're on it much less time.
If you tune up first in the CW band, you won't hear people complaining as much, and you can get close to the right adjustment, so it won't take much more to get it right in the phone band.
If you use a resonant antenna (instead of a lot of wire with open wire feed), it won't take nearly as much tweaking with the tuner to get things 'just right'.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 12:51:07 PM »

You have stated a sound method for tuning up on the air.   

I recommend moving 5kc or 10kc away from the active frequency you are plannning to join in order to tune!!!   This is being courteous and what people complain about not being done.
 
You can speed things up by doing an initial tuning at low power and then go to high power. 

Now, if you have dummy load you can do your initial tuning into it, then touch up on air. 

Keeping a chart of known settings is the smart way to speed things up and be easier on the equipment.
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WX7G
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 01:01:34 PM »

Quickly, very quickly.
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KC2ZPK
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 02:28:18 PM »

You have stated a sound method for tuning up on the air.   

I recommend moving 5kc or 10kc away from the active frequency you are plannning to join in order to tune!!!   This is being courteous and what people complain about not being done.
 
You can speed things up by doing an initial tuning at low power and then go to high power. 

Now, if you have dummy load you can do your initial tuning into it, then touch up on air. 

Keeping a chart of known settings is the smart way to speed things up and be easier on the equipment.
How can a dummy load help? It should be a perfect match for the radio? (TS-940) The antenna is going to be pretty far away from a dummy load, right?
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John
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 04:06:19 PM »

The dummy load is helpful for tuning your radio or amplifier (If it needs it) .  (my head is halfway on boat anchors; so I'm not thinking of solid state stuff).
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 04:47:01 PM »

Lower your transmitter power. I use ten watts. Pick a vacant frequency on SSB, switch to AM and then quickly tune up. I am closer on AM tune up when switching back to SSB than tuning up on CW with my equipment. Try both and see what works best with your gear. You can tune up on SSB by manually adding a steady tone to the mike to modulate the signal.  Wink

A dummy load is indispensable for off air transmitter tests and testing your antenna feedline. Get one!  Grin 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 04:55:20 PM by KI4SDY » Logged
VE3FMC
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 05:44:22 PM »

Here is a good hint that all guys who use manual tuners should use.

Go through your antennas that you need to use the tuner on and tune them with the tuner. Of course the best time to do that is when the band is not open, or late at night, early morning.

Write down the settings for the frequencies you use the tuner on.

Make a chart with those settings, and keep it right beside the tuner.  Now when you need to tune the antenna you simply move the tuner controls to the settings you have on the chart. You will be pretty damn close to where you need to be. A quick low power touch up on a frequency that is not in use and you will be good to go.

Rick VE3FMC
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 06:18:12 PM »

Even better than writing down the settings is to mark the dial with color-coded sticky notes.
(Or pointers cut from same.)  Then you just turn all the knobs to the RED or BLUE position
to change bands - much easier than translating it to numbers.
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K2DC
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 09:04:20 AM »

Once you tune up with 5-10W, you should be close enough to optimum settings  that you don't have to worry about tweaking before you increase power and operate.  And at those power levels others may be able to hear you, but you won't be bothering anybody on the band unless they live next door.

73,

Don, K2DC
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2012, 10:59:37 AM »

Quote from: K2DC

...tune up with 5-10W,....  And at those power levels others may be able to hear you, but you won't be bothering anybody on the band unless they live next door.



Not entirely true, of course.

There are two reasons for tuning up at low power:  minimizing the stress on your rig and
tuner, and reducing interference.  Many of us who operate at QRP power levels know that
5 or 10 watts is quite enough to be heard around the world, and to interfere with other
QSOs at long distances (especially when one station is trying to pull weak DX out of the
noise.)

So just because you are running lower power when tuning does not absolve you of the
responsibility of finding a frequency where you won't disturb others
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NA0AA
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2012, 12:21:23 PM »

Well, I use a similar multi stage system.

first, I have a cheat sheet for all antennas and my manual tuners - that gets me close.

Then I use my MFJ-269 set near or on the frequency and switch it thru the tuner and antenna - then I dial it in nice and tight.

Switch to radio and operate.

If I am using the amp, after I tune the antenna, I switch the Traciver to the amp and the amp to the dummy load, then I load the amp, first using the cheat-sheet, then on CW into the DL until I'm satisfied.

Then I switch from the DL to the antenna - when I transmit, I double check the SWR, but rarely do I have the slightest issue, if I do, I go back and recheck my work.

This way, I don't intentionally radiate much at all - the MFJ is so low power, and if the metal can oil filled dummy load leaks, well, not much I can do about that...sigh.

When I use an auto tuner, I usually go off frequency a few KC, then turn power to minimum and tune quick with AM, then switch back.  IF you have a good auto tuner AND you take the time to 'teach' it the antennas, then usually the match time is a few tenths of seconds, and the more you tune the better it gets.

I really dislike people tuning up on air, so I go to extrordinary lengths to avoid doing it myself.
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W7ETA
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2012, 09:12:20 PM »

I use a cheat sheet for both my tuner and amp.

My amp can handle 3:1; anything less than that is perfect.

If you note the differences between your cheat sheet and your optimized settings you might see that the difference in performance is so small that they aren't worth your time.

Just do your best to find an unused frequency if you have to tune up and do it quickly.  Do not pick a DX window or any space that specific modes use.

Have FUN
Bob

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W4KVW
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 02:38:37 PM »

Invest in a DUMMY LOAD & NEVER tuning on the air would be a better idea!  Wink

Clayton
W4KVW
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KC2ZPK
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 02:37:51 PM »

Invest in a DUMMY LOAD & NEVER tuning on the air would be a better idea!  Wink

Clayton
W4KVW
How would I tune the antenna tuner to the antenna? Maybe 'tune' is not the right word?
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John
KC2ZPK.com - A work in progress
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