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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | Ten-Tec 238A Help

Reviews Summary for Ten-Tec 238A
Ten-Tec 238A Reviews: 18 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $485
Description: 2000 Watt Roller Inductor Antenna Tuner
Product is in production.
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WQ8Q Rating: 5/5 Nov 12, 2001 09:55 Send this review to a friend
Works like a champ!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After years of spending money on those clunky antenna tuners built in the deep south, and now that I have decided to run some "power" I decided to get a high power antenna tuner before I bought an amp. I figured I could use the tuner at the 100 watt level, and then I'd have it for the amp. I am also tired of buying things that become obsolete, so I was looking for a tuner that would last pretty much forever. I ordered the tuner from TT on the internet on a Tuesday afternoon and it came standard UPS on Thursday. The antenna knob was broken, and the bypass/impedence selector knob (same type of knob) broke within an hour. I called TT and they immediately sent me two new knobs which have worked just fine. Must have been a manufacturing glitch from the knob company. I made up a tuning guide (hate to call it a cheat sheet) and, tuning according to TenTec's manual, discovered that this tuner tuned up easily and quickly and was extremely repeatable. During contests I like to "hunt and pounce" and it's nice having a tuner that I can quickly set for a particular band and jump into the fray. And I do mean set for a particular BAND. Using either the Carolina Windom or my G5RV the tuner is so broad banded that I can pretty much set it up for the CW end of a band or the SSB end of a band, and it the SWR stays within comfortable limits for the whole band segment. It's nice not to have to retune. Some folks have said they don't like the meter. The meter that comes with it is a quick reacting unit, unlike those meters on some of those other products out there. Lets you know when things are tuned. The bottom line is that it works, and have no real complaints about it. I took the top off, and was impressed with what I saw inside. And the controls work tightly but smoothly, and I've got no complaint there. All in all, a nicely designed unit. If I'd had the money I'd spent for all those other tuners over the years, I could have bought this one and had money left over. I'd buy another one, but hopefully will never have to. I'm not an expert in antenna theory, but I bought the explanation from TenTec that the modified L-network they use in this unit is less lossy than the pi-network or other brands. Anyhow, have had glowing signal reports on my regular nets, and that's what it's all about. I like dealing with TenTec. Products for hams BY hams. They actually use the stuff.
W2ATO Rating: 5/5 Sep 6, 2001 17:51 Send this review to a friend
Very Good Tuner  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using the 238 and 229 Ten Tec tuners for several years on my Alpha 87a, Alpha
89, Ten Tec Titan and Ameritron AL1500 amplifiers at full legal power with no problems.
My antennas consist of a double extended zepp for 40 meters feed with ladder line, 280 foot
center feed double zepp for 160 meters feed with ladder line and other coax feed antennas for
operation on bands 20 thru 10 meters.
Thesse are excellent tuners and tune any frequency within these bands.
AB6GS Rating: 2/5 Aug 16, 2001 14:22 Send this review to a friend
Needs work  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought my 238A and Titan II just before the CQWW 160 Meter contest. The first thing I noticed was the SWR/SET/200/2000 selector switch was intermittent. Maybe a bad solder joint or it got overheated when installed. I returned the tuner to Ten-Tec and they had it back to me in a couple of weeks in time for the contest.

Everything worked great during the contest, but later as I used the tuner on other bands I ran into problems. I was using the tuner to trim up a vertical antenna on 10 meters. The antenna's native SWR is only 1.5:1 and I had trimmed it up to 1:1 for the amp. While running about 1200watts I heard a crack and my SWR shot up.

I took the tuner apart and found that one of the capacitors (C11) had exploded. The schematic shows only one cap, but C11 is actually two 120pf 1KV caps in parallel not a single 220pf as shown on the schematic. It amazes me that Ten-Tec would put a 1KV ceramic cap in a 2000-watt tuner, but having read that other hams had also had problems I knew this might happen.

Rather than send the tuner back to Ten-Tec under warranty so that they could install another 1KV cap that would later explode, I ordered two 120pf 5KV ceramic doorknob caps from I retrofitted these two caps on the board and everything was working great.

I later decided to run the 10-10 summer phone contest and again the tuner failed. After about two hours of operation (running about 1200watts) my SWR shot up again. This time when I took the tuner apart, I could find no damaged components. I replaced the two 5KV caps on general principles and still nothing. So I started tracing through the circuit with a meter and discovered that one of the wires from the roller inductor was just sitting in a hole in the PC board. As it turns out, when the tuner was assembled they had done a lousy job of soldering this wire on and with the tiny amount of solder that was sticking it to the board and the heat generated by the RF it just popped loose. I resoldered the wire and again all is well.

In general I like the operation of the tuner very much. Its L network design is more efficient than most Pi network tuners. Numerous threads can be found on the Internet complaining about the C11 cap problem so be prepared to replace them. If you donít like to get your hands dirty, this might not be the tuner for you. Iím sure if you never run more than 500 watts the tuner would work flawlessly, but Ten-Tecís 2000 watt rating is totally inappropriate if they are only going to install 1KV caps.

If your primary need is to run balanced line, the circuit is not designed to provide good output balance. You can improve balance by putting a current balun on the input connector of the tuner, make sure the tuner is not grounded to anything, and is at least six inches away from all metal station equipment (capacitive coupling). This trick can be used on most tuners that foolishly have their internal balun installed on the output side (almost all commercial tuners). If you have other coaxial lines connected feeding grounded antennas, you will have to disconnect the coax while running the balanced feeder for this trick to work. Make sure a good ground exists on the Radio/Amp side of the balun.

In summary, I expect more when plunking down $450 and I hope Ten-Tec takes notice of these shortcomings and improves their design.
N2ETJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 11, 2001 22:28 Send this review to a friend
Handles it all  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Like the others, considered Pal-Star but dollar for dollar, the Ten-Tec is a better value. Handles all the Alpha 99 can throw at it. Yes the capacitor and inductor knobs are tight but look inside and you will see why. Very hefty. It compliments the station and loads my zep very well on all bands......... even 160 as a marconi. Very close duplication of resonate frequency on bands when switching. Well the meter in kinds chinsy but have external meter anyway. Could use on and off switch for meter but easily remedied with a switch in line.....all in all would i recommend it? YES and would buy it again.....
K9FTB Rating: 4/5 Jun 10, 2001 21:29 Send this review to a friend
It's What I Expected  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After reading several Eham reviews and looking at the TenTec reflector archives, I decided to purchase this unit. Lots of good info about the tuner and heritage. It looks good cosmetically, but I was somewhat disappointed with the movement of both the capacitor and inductor control knobs. Kind of hard to move and you must overcome some resistance. They adjust fine, but it was a disappointment. I saw the same tuner at Dayton last month and checked the capacitor and inductor controls and both were smooth with no resistance. Maybe I've got a warranty issue here.

Anyway, the tuner tunes my multiband dipole just fine, except on the high end of 75m. For $461 shipped to your door, I'd say the features certainly are there (4:1 balun, 3 antennas), SWR / Power meter built in (looks like it came from MFJ). I haven't connected 12Vdc yet for the meter, but I plan to.

The quality of construction inside is consistent with other folks opinions (good), except for the control knobs I mentioned.

I especially like the L network which is broad enough that I don't end up retuning very much.

I've set up a chart for my antenna and simply go to that "third" of the band and I'm all set.

Was considering a Palstar 4K, but the bucks didn't justify the value in my mind. I've got equivalent capability (for my use at least). I'd buy the 238A again.

Dean, K9FTB, Fairport, NY
KF7SN Rating: 3/5 Apr 10, 2001 14:28 Send this review to a friend
Could use additional Tuning Capacitor.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I`ve had the tuner going on a week. I use it on a G5RV flattop Antenna. It will take the power as I have put a 1000 watts in to it and not a sound. My amp. is a Health SB-200. The only two drawbacks are the metering and the lack of additional tuning Capacitor. Note I think that the Differential T tuners are better at tuning random lengths of wire. Ten Tec needs to add another tuning Cap. and get away from L type tuners. The only reason I see them making this model is that there are less parts so that keeps the cost down. But for $461 to get to your door its not to bad. Also forget tuning 160 unless you have lots of wire.
KF8IO Rating: 4/5 Feb 18, 2001 18:58 Send this review to a friend
Good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For cost vrs. performance this tuner is a good choice. Solidly built with enough beef to resist a meltdown... on the minus side the SWR/power meter is something of a joke. I would have preferred they OMIT the meter rather than include this mickey mouse one. It's a insult to the purchaser. If you need a tuner only, it's good. If you need a tuner AND a meter keep shopping.
NA2AA Rating: 5/5 Feb 6, 2001 19:39 Send this review to a friend
Very solid tuner!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently had the displeasure of knocking my trusty old MFJ962B into orbit by loading it up on 80M with 1KW. Bright lights. Stopped working. So, after doing a little research, and a reality check, I bypassed the PalStar $4K and went with the TenTec. I was very pleased with the telephone support of W4PA and he expedited shipping to ensure I'd have it for the CQWW 160M contest. Although it took me some time to hunt for the proper tune positions, once tuned (and recorded on a cheat sheet) it was rock solid. It has been a pleasure now running my TL922A full tilt through the 238A without a single concern. My only negative comment about the unit is that the SWR/Wattmeter is a little stingy for a $400+ piece of equipment. I did like the metering on the MFJ better. That being said, I wouldn't part with this tuner!
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