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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | Collins (Rockwell) 180S-1 Help

Reviews Summary for Collins (Rockwell) 180S-1
Collins (Rockwell) 180S-1 Reviews: 3 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $300 used
Description: Collins antenna tuner, 3-30 MHz
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the Collins (Rockwell) 180S-1.

ZL2ML Rating: 5/5 Jul 22, 2009 04:41 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Frank Witt, AI1H, wrote in QST (April and May 1995) a couple of articles: "How to evaluate your antenna Tuner" in QST ).

This one came out as the most efficient one and able to match almost anything.

I started to search for the parts to build my own and then one was offered for sale to me. I did not hesistate and took the plunge. After it arrived I cleaned it up and relubricated the appropriate parts.

It can handle all the power you may want to use and it will handle almost any antenna that you like to put in service. Have not come across something that I could not match. And did I mention that it is one of the most efficient antenna couplers available?

W4CAS Rating: 4/5 Jul 17, 2006 18:55 Send this review to a friend
A great tuner that can be modified to be even better!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I concur 100% with AC5XP - the Collins 180S-1 antenna tuner is one of the best tuners available if you can find one. I also agree with the 4 rating (out of 5) for the same reason - it is an awkward piece of gear to use, as well as being rather ungainly in appearance - but don't let this stop you from buying it if you are lucky enough to find one! The robustness and versatility of this tuner FAR outweigh any of it's cosmetic and ergonomic shortcomings. Norm, WA3KEY, says that he tried matching successively smaller antennas until he eventually matched a 1/4 wave 2-meter groundplane on 20 meters and worked a station on Jersey Island (in the English Channel Isles) in a contest. A friend of his at Collins told him that they used one of these tuners to load up a filing cabinet sitting on a rubber mat with a 30S-1 amp and actually worked some stations. In addition to matching virtually any random wire, Norm says that if you run a jumper from the "series" terminal to ground, you can use it to match coaxial antennas by running the coax center conductor to the "shunt" terminal and the coax ground to the chassis. I have seen one tuner that had been modified by substituting SO-239 coax connectors for those rather awkward terminals. This allows direct connection of coaxial antennas, or you can use a banana plug on the tuner end of a random wire and plug it into the center recepticle of the SO-239 connector. This will enhance the operation and versatility of this tuner, but it will destroy its collectability!
AC5XP Rating: 4/5 Feb 7, 2002 10:25 Send this review to a friend
Awkward in operation, but best tuner for the money  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Collins 180S-1 antenna tuner might resemble the military version 180L-3 for those of you who are familiar with the latter, but from the inside the two are nothing alike.
The 180L-3 uses a motor driven, silver-tape roller inductor (two rollers in tandem, one silver drum, one ceramic drum that exchange the tape). The 180S-1 unfortunately was not equipped with this, a relatively small manual roller inductor (small in inductance, that is) does the job here.
Having said that, the 651S-1 roller inductor outclasses anything available in ham tuners due to its massive construction: Real thick wire on the inductor, a ceramic coil-core and insulators, heavy construction built to last. Collins actually did the right thing when they designed this tuner: Trading in number-of-turns (thus available inductor size) for robustness. The result is a tuner that only starts from 3 MHz and up, but for most ham usage that is not a problem.
The 180S-1 tuner consists of an L network which is formed by a robust variable air-capacitor on the input, and the above described inductor as the series coil. (a series coil actually gives you additional harmonic suppression as well, coil-to-ground like so many other tuners does NOT do this).
It is then possible to expand this network (by means of a wire jumper) with a vacuum capacitor on the output of the "PI", in cases where the tuning solution would call for this.
This variable vacuum capacitor can be either shunted on the output, or placed in series with the inductor. This configuration allows for virtually every kind of antenna to be tuned.
Downside is that there are so many "degrees of freedom" in the tuning solution that it takes a while for the different ham-bands to find a match. I myself basically keep a chart on which I wrote down all solutions for my particular antenna, after having found those settings on a rainy Sunday afternoon (it takes a while!)
That is in fact the reason why I gave this tuner a 4, not a 5: It is real awkward in the controls. The input cap does not have a vernier, the inductor and variable vacuum capacitor DO, and it takes many, many turns to get from one end to the other on the latter two. Actually, it is way more turning accuracy than really being necessary.
Also the operation with the jumper (to go from series to shunt) and the jumpers to select additional, fixed capacitors parallel to the input cap is awkward.
But let's be honest: What it is all about here, is MATCHING AN ANTENNA. This is not designed for ease of operation as that is not the objective for this equipment!
Matching an antenna it does excellent. This tuner is rated for 1 kW and it REALLY can handle that. In fact, it can handle much more than that. It is severely under-rated, like so much other Collins gear.
These tuners go for about $300 on the used market, depending on condition (I paid much more than that because I have a late Rockwell-Collins mint-in-the-box, but that's because I'm a fool). For that value, this is the best tuner your ham dollars can buy. There is no tuner with a better construction on the market for hams today.
If you buy one, make sure the vacuum capacitor is still working properly. These vacuum caps (Jennings) are excellent in reliability but once they DO arc because a too-high voltage, chances are they are gone for good. Check with an ohmmeter for shorts across its range.
Like I said, 4 point instead of five in the rating due to the awkward operation. Other reasons for the "4" rating are the fact that there is no balun for symmetric antennas (you will have to make your own mounted on the outside of the tuner, that is how I am using this unit) and the roller inductor is not silver plated (Collins! How on earth could you have saved on that!!)
But again, excellent value in used condition. A professional piece of equipment.

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