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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | Palstar AT4K-BAL Help


Reviews Summary for Palstar AT4K-BAL
Reviews: 2 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $$695
Description: An American made premium grade matching network
suitable for unbalanced or balanced feedlines
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.palstar.com
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FORMER_W5JI_JC Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2004 14:13 Send this review to a friend
Nice Balanced Tuner  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Well built unit. I use it to replace a homebrew version based upon Rick Measures QST article because it looks better in the shack and uses the same type of edge-wound inductors I used in my unit.

I feed a 160m W7FG ladder line fed dipole with the center at 50 feet and the ends at about 20 feet. It tunes 160m thru 10m very well with 1.2:1 or better except on 17 where it is 1.5:1 due to my specific ladder line length. Adding 5 feet of line drops the SWR, but its not worth the bother.

Many people who use ladder line fed antennas blame their tuner when they have problems on one or a couple of bands, but the real problem is most likely the length of their feedline, not their tuner! It is very hard to pick a practical feedline length for a multi-band antenna which will not result in a very high or low impedance at the tuner on at least one band. This really causes problems with tuners which have the balun on the output side of the tuner, rather than on the input side like the Palstar.

I have run the tuner at legal limit on all bands with no arcing, spitting or other issues. It just keeps perking along with no complaints. The only other tuner I own which comes close is the E.F. Johnson KW tuner, and it will not handle 160m and the WARC bands like the Palstar.

Thanks to Palstar for a very good product. I highly recommend this tuner.
 
K7NA Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2001 18:13 Send this review to a friend
Made To Last A Lifetime  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I plan to produce a more thorough review of this product once I become more familiar with it. But for now, a few observations on this "sleeper" which in my estimation is extremely well constructed of the highest quality components and which offers for those using balanced feeders an alternative to the ubiquitous single-ended output tuner-with-4:1-balun.
The AT4K-BAL is essentially the same matching network as the more popular (and expensive) AT4K. Missing are the output bargraph display, antenna switch and blower fan. The BAL version is just as robust as its brother and will handle the same power level while providing the same matching range. The newest AT4K range of tuners employ a massive silver-plated roller inductor of slightly smaller inductance to end a self resonance problem on 15 meters and utilize 500pf 6kv variable capacitors instead of 350 pf devices in earlier units. The change in capacitor values negates having to add additional switched fixed capacitance values as I believe had been the case in the earliest models. The unit is extremely simple to operate and offers extremely low loss throughout the range if properly adjusted.
Of interest is the 1:1 balun mounted at the input of the tuner (rather than the output where it would be exposed to highly reactive loads). The various components are floated above chassis ground. When properly adjusted, the balun sees a 50 ohm load both at the imput from the transmitter and at the output. Its not a perfect replacement for the link coupled circuits of yesteryear, but in my experience so far, it perfoms significantly better than competing tuners employing 4:1 baluns. I've tried a few of these matching networks and not one of them provided an output to tuned feeders even close to being balanced. The AT4K-BAL is a leg up on this account.
The AT4K-BAL is housed in a low slung, black cabinet of substantial build quality and is quite attractive. The controls consist of vernier knobs on the capacitors and a robust crank handle made of metal on the precision turns counter. Turning the crank handle is smooth but very sure and there is no need to stick a straight pin into a hole in the cabinet to "recalibrate" the turns counter from time to time as is the case on some competing products. The dual metered SWR meter is back lit and comes with its own power supply.
The tuner can accomodate balanced feeders and coax or single wire antennas. Since the tuner is always in the circuit, the AT4K-BAL is perfect for the ham who has one antenna such as a long wire, zepp, all band coax-fed dipole or other lone antenna requiring matching. Those using multiple coax-fed antennas would simply need an external switch which with to change between antennas.
Palstar owner Paul Hrivnak, N8PH, reports that sales of this model (AT4K-BAL) have not met his expectations. At $695, I would think this model would be a steal since the cost of the beefy componentry and building labor plus warranty would seem to exceed that cost. I believe its a real "sleeper" and I would suggest persons looking for such a quality device not wait too long lest it no longer be available! In addition to being a business, this is clearly a labor of love for Paul who has a wonderful reputation for after-sale customer service. More later.

Vince K7NA
 


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