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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | Bliss Match Master Help


Reviews Summary for Bliss Match Master
Bliss Match Master Reviews: 7 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $300.00 to 1200.00
Description: A "Balanced Balanced" Legal Limit Plus Antenna Tuner
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.tomstubes.com
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W3DIY Rating: 5/5 Jan 22, 2012 12:07 Send this review to a friend
Top grade commercial components  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Purchased a Bliss model BZMM-UNBLM160-10-BP "L" network motorized tuner from a ham who left our hobby. I was informed that Bliss custom built his tuners, new price for this model was $2600.
A tuner that could be located at the feed point was needed but no remote tuners were built for the ham market at the time of this purchase. This was not a remote version but with careful surgery and design, mission accomplished. I have full control in the shack from a homebrew console linked to the tuner by a 12 conductor cable. It tunes a end fed 165' inverted L on 40, 80 & 160M FB.
The challenging part was working with the Bliss crude hand drawn diagrams. The errors and inconsistencies made for some head scratching.
Since I cannot see the inductor position from the shack care is required while tuning. If it is run to the limit it will not reverse but the capacitor does reverse FB. After tweaking the setup only the capacitor has to be moved when changing bands.
This version was constructed of plastic panels on all sides and screw terminal strips. The cap is a Jennings vacuum variable, marked tested to 6kv and an aircraft style ribbon inductor, often seen on e bay surplus. It was worth the price I paid but $2600...I'm not so sure.
 
KC4MOP Rating: 3/5 Sep 5, 2011 11:04 Send this review to a friend
Great Idea  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm sorry to read about John being SK. I bought one of these when it first came out. And it truly did an amazing job of handling QRO. And even tested well in a QST test for low loss at 160M. Many tuners are crap on 160M because of the losses. Everything was FB OM until the coil internal inside the box opened up. The guy must have been a master wood worker cuz I had a helluva time to open the cabinet to see the balanced coil. Must have been proprietary that he went out of his way to make it impossible to repair or replace. I tried to replace the coil. Emailed and nothing was offered as a solution.........so the tuner was broken down for the parts. The reply was "no spare parts for that tuner" Nice vac variable and very nice mechanical design used for other projects.
 
K5UJ Rating: 4/5 Jan 2, 2011 10:39 Send this review to a friend
Well made up to a point but not necessarily the best design  Time owned: more than 12 months
John Bliss W5EOE (SK Nov. 16th, 2009) built these matching networks by hand until a few years before his death. In spring 2002 I contracted with John to construct one and took delivery on it the following fall. Mine was a manually tuned matching network designed to handle the American legal ham power limit. It followed the design of Rich Measures (Balanced Balanced Tuner). I spoke with John on the telephone two or three times because I had some choices about the construction such as the built-in watt meter to be used (I chose the Daiwa cross needle option). I paid a little over $840 for mine, which was quite a lot of money for a tuner at the time, but I reasoned that if it allowed me to use a much better antenna, the gain over what I had been using would be on a par with the power increase from a much more expensive RF power amplifier.

The tuner I purchased was built into a wooden cabinet laminated with a blue-gray finish on the exterior, and a black plastic removable rear panel. The cabinet was made with a combination of plywood and particle board. Two large spinner knobs were mounted on the sides, one for the capacitor, the other for the inductors. On the front were a switch for the capacitor relay, and two graduated horizontal slots which surrounded metal indicator rods that were connected to the capacitor and inductors' housing. Each slot was marked off in units of capacitance and inductance to give the operator an idea of the value of each used for a given match. Besides the off-the-shelf forward and reflected watt meter, the other interior components were a 1:1 bead balun on the low Z unbalanced input, made with about 12 inches of RG303 silver teflon coaxial cable, a Potter and Brumfield KUMP 11A18-120 DPDT relay, a 7-1000 pF Jennings vacuum variable capacitor that appears to be 3 to 5 KV, and a pair of what appear to be 15 uH roller inductors. The capacitor is similar to the one in the Collins 180S-1 tuner and is connected to a worm gear driven lever that pushes and pulls the bell in the capacitor. The inductors are small gauge silver plated wire wound on plastic coil forms and contacted with finger stock. They are mounted linearly on a common threaded rod and move back and forth through the pairs of finger stock which are used as taps.

The rest of the hardware consists of hookup wire, UHF jacks and connectors, a power cord and switch for the relay coil, a ground lug and binding posts for the ladder line feed. The relay moves the capacitor, which connects each side of the balanced inductors, from the low Z side of the inductors to the high Z side to obtain the widest matching range.

I used the Matchmaster with an 80 meter one wavelength horizontal loop, and later with a 1/2 w. center fed 80 m. dipole. The Matchmaster worked okay for the most part when I ran up to 1200 w. SSB and 1 KW CW. There was one minor annoyance that caused difficulty at times adjusting the tuner to a 1:1 50 ohm VSWR using a MFJ swr analyzer. It turned out that strong power line RFI was coming in through the directly connected inductors to the analyzer, undermining its accuracy.

In my case switching to AM as a primary mode of operation spelled the end of my use of my Matchmaster. While it was fine for SSB and CW, the continuous duty of a 300 w. carrier caused it to develop problems on 75 meters which centered around the P&B relay and inductors heating up. The end came on a long transmission when I detected the odor of hot plastic and made the switch to a Johnson KW Matchbox. The Matchbox loafs at 300 W. AM but interestingly, the link seemed to eliminate the previously mentioned problem of RFI occasionally affecting the reading on the swr analyzer.

While I found the Matchmaster far and away superior to an unbalanced L network with a high Z side balun for balanced line, if I had it to do over again, I would have purchased a used KW Matchbox for almost 1/3 the price, or homebrewed a link coupled tuner.

I do not know how many Matchmasters were built but I have never seen one become available on the used market, which tells me they are scarce because they were not produced in a large quantity and owners seem to keep them. It seems a year or two after I purchased mine, John stopped building the manual units and focused entirely on the remote control motor driven models, which were significantly more expensive.

73

Rob
K5UJ
 
KA1XO Rating: 5/5 Aug 17, 2004 13:04 Send this review to a friend
Worthwhile Investment  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Using a 600-ohm, 4-inch wide open wire feedline running into an odd-length (371') dipole, the NYE MB-V-A just wouldn't even go near a null on 160 and the output toroids for the balanced feedline made the cabinet top hot after a few minute RTTY transmission.

Looking around the internet I spotted the Bliss MatchMaster series of tuners and contacted the company. John Bliss, W5EOE personally builds each of the tuners when the order is received. The company has no warehouse full of units ready to ship out and this is why: John asks about the shack and the station arrangement. My shack had a place on the lower op table that was just 12 inches high. The feedline, as said before, is 600 ohm and the 10AWG conductors are just over 4 inches apart. I asked John if he could match up the station specs and he said "of course." In fact, when I asked if he could incorporate a high-power coax switch in the tuner, like the NYE has so the dummy load can be selected for tune-up, he said, "of course." When I asked if a remote control could be fabricated, a week later, allowing the tuner to go on a shelf near the feed through insulators, John fabricated a matching unit that took only a couple of hours to wire in and get going.

The Bliss tuner uses a non-conductive housing made of both 1/4" and 5/16" dense black plastic that has a natural black-wrinkle finish. It's hard to tell, even up close, that it's not a wrinkle finish steel cabinet, and not having a conductive cabinet means less interference with the tuning guts.

The components inside really make the tuner unique. John uses telco-style switchboard spring leaf momentary contact switches for the motor drives. I've seen similar switches in central office locations that were over 50 years old and still going strong! John uses Collins aircraft
style inductors, capacitors and drive trains. They have Collins labels and calibration stickers. The roller inductors are the type that collect a ribbon off a feed drum and wind up inductance. The vacuum relays to make the unit tune an impedance of less than 50 ohms are EIMAC (!) and are rated at 10KW. John uses felt pads under the switch rockers and has bypass capacitors across many circuits.

The construction shows a workmanlike attention to detail.

The tuning operation allows the station to quickly find a null in reflected power at all
operating frequencies. I am fond of 160 meters and the MB-V-A was not. However, the Bliss Matchmaster finds a sweet spot in short order. Loading up first into a 5KW dummy load allows my station to be at the 50 ohm point. Using low power, the tuner finds the sweet spot, and then when the linear amplifier is kicked in, there are no spits and sputters.

These tuners are not for the casual amateur. They are worth the money, and built to the specifications of the buyer. Additional components like coax switches and wattmeters can be included in the construction, and the physical dimensions can be adjusted to the individual shack.

As John told me, there are not a plethora of components remaining to fabricate these units, and when the end of the pile is reached there will be no more units sold.
 
W4TH Rating: 5/5 Apr 23, 2004 04:14 Send this review to a friend
The Very Best Made  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my Bliss Match Master Tuner for 3 years now, and I can not find a single thing wrong with the tuner.
I have the "local motorized" version, which means the entire unit is in one desk top cabinet. There are several versions of the tuner available. They are all motor driven, but you control the match point, in other words the tuner is not an "auto tune" just motorized.
There are versions for both balanced line and coax. There are also several options as to choice of watt meters. I have the RF Applications digital meter in my tuner. It works great.
The balanced line version like I have is what is known as a "balanced balanced" tuner. It has two huge motor driven roller inductors, and a single motor driven vacuum variable capacitor. My model also has a large coaxial balun on the INPUT SIDE of the tuner.
You can learn all about the tuners at this web site.
http://airwaterkinginc.purification.com/bzmmremotemotor.html
They are no longer available through Tom's Tubes....I know, because I am Tom.
I was selling the tuners for John Bliss, but I had more orders than he could fill. He decided it would be better if he sold direct to his customers so he could have better control over his inventory.
I have had some very big amps like the Emtron DX-3 and now the Alpha 77SX, but I have NEVER seen the Bliss match Master Tuner arc, spit, or sputter, and I have never seen it fail to find a perfect 1 to 1 match on ANY band or ANY antenna. What more can you ask for?
The prices run from around $1200.00 to $2000.00 depending on model and options, but since you will never have to buy another antenna tuner....EVER....You cant loose. They are simply the BEST.....PERIOD.
73
Tom
 
K4HW Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2001 11:47 Send this review to a friend
Very Impressive  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I needed an antenna tuner that I could control remotely and that would handle full limit with no worries. None of the tuners I found came close to meeting these two requirements until I found the MatchMaster. My antenna is a 160-meter horizontal loop with the feed point located about 150 feet from the shack and the antenna out beyond that. The coax is underground to the tuner and 600-ohm open wire feed line from the tuner to the antenna. I can now tune the antenna to 1.0:1 anywhere on 160-10 meters. I echo Bill?s enthusiasm in the previous post and will not duplicate his description of the tuner, which he covers so well. Besides, you can get all the info at http://airwaterkinginc.purification.com/bzmmremotemotor.html. More info on the theory of operation is available at http://www.vcnet.com/measures/.

Since I wanted a little more automation from the tuner I built an automatic tuner control unit with a small PLC and some things lying around the shack. The PLC control simply plugs into the cable from the tuner and replaces the remote control box completely. There is a little LCD display with buttons on the desk that allows me to return the tuner to any of the stored settings in just a few seconds. The PLC also connects to the analog output of the 756PRO and makes the tuner control ready for the band the rig is tuned to. This control would be a good application for a PIC or Basic Stamp but I had most of this stuff lying around and could get it going quickly.

I realy like a well made product that is comprehensive yet addaptable. This one is.

 
WA4M Rating: 5/5 Jun 15, 2001 21:04 Send this review to a friend
Possibly the best high power antenna tuner ever made.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have been looking for an antenna tuner that would actually work. One that could take legal power without arcing over, and one that could tune open wire and coax equally well. I have a beam with a narrow swr 2/1 bandwidth, especially on 20 meters, so I need a tuner that will tune coax. I also use a couple of ladder line fed 160 antennas. A 160 meter full wave loop and also a 160 meter inverted vee. I use these wire antennas on all the bands not covered by the beam. But mostly I talk on 160 75 and 40 meters, with 160 being my favorite band. So you see, I need a tuner that can handle a non-resonant antenna while I am running full legal limit. In the last 6 months I have tried the following tuners. 1. Nye Viking MB-VA...Good tuner for the bands it would tune, but it would not even begin to tune either of my ladder line fed 160 meter antennas. 2. Palstar AT4K...Tuned coax fine, but would not tune my 160 full wave loop on 75 meters, or 40 meters. It also arced over quite often. 3. Heathkit 2060A Believe it or not of the other 4 tuners I tried this one was the best of the bunch. It tuned all the antennas just fine, but it did to arc over on some bands, but to be fair it was not all that often, but it was just a little too often for me. 4. MFJ.... Arced over at 500 watts....need I say more? I had decided to keep the Heathkit tuner, and just keep my power down to about 1200 watts and be done with my antenna tuner search, but I was needing a set of tubes and I was searching the internet when I came across a web site that sold the tubes I needed. The web site also said they sold the "best antenna tuner ever made bar none"!!! Well I said to myself, I doubt that, but I was curious so I decided to click on the link to the antenna tuner page. What I found was a tuner called the Bliss Match Master antenna tuner. It seems the design for this tuner was based on an article written by Richard Measures which was in QST several years back...Sorry I cant remember which issue but if you do a search under Richard Measures, it will show up. The design of this tuner is what is called a "Balanced Balanced" tuner. I had a homebrew version of this tuner once before and it worked great at low power levels. The tuner is different from most in that it has two roller inductors instead of just one, and it has just one variable capacitor instead of two like most other tuners. The rollers are linked together so they both tune the at the same rate, and one tunes one leg of the balanced feed line and the other tunes the other leg.I read about the tuner and found out there are four different designs of the tuner. There is the low power (300/400 watts) model, the high power (at least 2kw++) manual model, the high power local motorized, and the high power remote motorized. The manual models both offer meters for inductance, capacitance, and power/swr, that is at least I think they do if I remember correctly, but don't hold me to that. I do know what kind of metering the high power motorized models have in them, but you can find out more about them on the web site listed at the end of this article First I need to explain the difference between the two motorized models. The locaL motorized has everything in one fairly large cabinet. The remote motorized has the meters/controls in one small desk top cabinet, and the actual tuner components in a separate cabinet which can be placed under your desk, or even outside according to the info on the web site. It comes standard with a 20ft control cable, but other lengths can be obtained. I bought the local motorized model. I know more about the local model so I will be talking about this model from here on. The tuner comes standard with a Daiwa CN-101 watt/swr meter. This is a good meter, but it only goes to 1500 watts. Sometimes during tuning my amp goes over that power level, and I just wanted a little head room for my meter, I don't think it is good for any equipment to be operated at it's maximum all the time, so since I normally operate 160 meters, and you HAVE to run at legal limit in the summer time if you want to be heard across the street, I just didn't want a meter that was going to stay against the peg all the time, so I asked if I could get a different meter. That was perfectly ok with the Match Master folks, so they deducted the cost of the CN-101 Daiwa meter, and I sent them a 3kw meter in its place. The meter I sent was a different size, but the builder just built my tuner around my meter. I understand they now offer as an option a great digital meter in place of the analog Daiwa CN-101 meter. The digital meter is really a quality piece of equipment from what I have read about it, but I am perfectly happy with my 3kw analog meter in my tuner.The Bliss Match Master tuner is designed for all types of feed lines, coax, open wire, and ladder line will all work with the Bliss Match Master. There is a switch on the tuner so you can select the type feed line you are using. In one position it is set for coax, and the other position is set for open wire/ladder line type feed lines. When I unboxed my tuner the first thing I noticed was the quality of the craftmanship....and the weight, this sucker is heavy! I think in this case you can equate weight with quality. The cabinet is a really nice blue/grey color. It really looks neat! The watt/swr meter is at the top left of the unit with the switches for operation being directly below the meter. There are two switches, one operates the the very very large synchronized ribbon wound roller inductors. The other switch operates the vacuum variable capacitor. The switches are momentary and you have to hold them engaged as long as you want the rollers or the capacitor to move. The switches add more capacitance/inductance when engaged in the up position, and naturally right the reverse in the down position.There are two plexi glass windows in the tuner so you can actually see the rollers turn and the vacuum variable moving. There are scales on the plexiglass windows so you can tell how much or how little inductance you are actually using. You can guage this by how far the ribbon has advanced down the rollers and look at the reading on the window that corresponds with the location of the ribbon. The vacuum capacitor has a pointer that will indicate the capacitance of the tuner by another scale on the capacitor window. Now back to the switches. Just below and above the switches that control the roller inductor and the capacitor are lights that come on when the limits of the travel for the capactior and the roller inductors have been reached in either direction. I have had both the roller and the capacitor against the stop numerous times and as far as I can tell there is no harm in running either of them to a full stop against the peg as it were. I think the lights are just a way of letting you know the limit is coming up. To find a match on the tuner is so very simple....it is actually FUN! All you have to do the first time you use the tuner is to place both the roller inductors and the vacuum variable at about half of their scale on the indicators. Then you watch your swr meter on the tuner as you engage first one switch and then the other. I have found it does not seem to matter much which switch you start with, the vacuum variable or the roller inductors. Just move them in and out and watch the swr rise and fall. Then when you start getting close to a match, just slowy bump the switches until you hit your goal...a one to one match. It really is fun, and after you get the hang of it you will be able to return to the same settings for the same frequency in no time. I made a chart and wrote down the settings on both the rollers and the capacitor for the frequencies I normally talk on most of the time. I can look at the chart now and within 10 seconds have a flat one to one match! The actual "real world" operation of the Bliss Match Master has been nothing but a joy. I have tuned the coax fed beam and the 450 ohm ladder line fed 160 full wave loop and the ladder line fed 160 inverted vee. I tuned the wire antennas, the loop and the inverted vee, both with 1500 watts of power on each and every HF band.....PLUS I even tuned the 160 loop on six meters! I didnt have any extra power other than the 100 watts my Icom 756 puts out on six meters though. I never once had an arc, a spark, a snap, or a pop. It was pure silence and a pure joy to know you could actually run 1500 watts into a tuner and not have to worry about it spitting at you. I want to make one thing clear. I have told several of my friends about this tuner and when they come to take a look at it they usually say "let me see your automatic antenna tuner". I guess they associate the motors in the tuner with automatic operation, but the tuner WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY FIND A MATCH FOR YOU! You will have to do that yourself by controlling the operation of the switches which in turn control the motors that move the inductors and the capacitor to find the match. I just dont want anyone to get the idea this thing will automacically find a match for you. IT WONT!!! What the Bliss Match Master will do is give you a completely flat match in just a few seconds after you get the hang of using the controls. It will be a good looking addition to any shack. It will not arc, spark, spit, sputter, or fart at you even when you are running legal limit into a grossly mismatched antenna. I cant really say this becuase I dont know for sure, but if quality of construction and the quality and specs of the parts used in the construction of this tuner are any indication then I would not be surprised if the Bliss Match Master would handle a lot more than legal limit power wise. I can say that sometimes when I am tuning my pair of 4-1000 jugs I may accidentally go over legal limit by a kw or so....just for a second or two...until I can get the thing tuned correctly, and again I can honestly say I have NEVER seen the first arc, spit or sputter. I have never seen an antenna I could not match either. The best antenna tuner ever made??? As far as I am concerned it is....I have tried most of the so called "L
 


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