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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | SGC SG-230 Help


Reviews Summary for SGC SG-230
SGC  SG-230 Reviews: 60 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $595.00
Description: SG-230 Smartuner automatic microprocessor antenna coupler.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.sgcworld.com/products/230/sg230.html
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W6EDD Rating: 5/5 Oct 27, 2011 10:14 Send this review to a friend
Great for Stealth Antenna  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Like many, I live in an antenna restricted area so I needed to come up with something. A friend came across this tuner and we were thinking how it would work on my 3" dia, 38' aluminum mast flag pole on the deck in my back yard for flying my flags. Mounted the tuner at the bottom of the 4x4 that the flag pole is mounted to, with a 5' 4 gauge wire connected between flag pole and tuner. Used an old 12v power supply to power it and 4 radials off the tuner ground lug. She is working SUPER!! Flat swr on all HF except 10m which I get about a 1.2. Have made contacts all over with good reports.
I was using a 6BTV with a lot of radials before this and the flag pole got better reports. Have since removed the 6BTV and only using the flag pole now.
 
K5TED Rating: 4/5 Oct 5, 2011 19:50 Send this review to a friend
Good product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just got a used one from the Belton TX Ham Expo and it works as advertised. It tunes below 2:1 and in most bands 1.4:1 from 160m thru 10m on a 40' +/- length of #12 electrical wire strung horizontally about 25' high. Ground is a three floor steel stairwell.

I don't notice any particularly better transmit performance on any band compared to the same wire on a 9:1 unun with manual tuner, but now I don't have to manually re-tune all the time. I did test last weekend with a station in NH, on 20m PSK, switching back and forth between my MFJ-1786 magloop and the SG-230 & 40' wire combo, and that station reported no significant difference in signal strength in a blind test.

Receive may be a bit less noisy. Hard to tell just yet. Again, the bonus is being able to tune anywhere quickly.

Feedline radiation must be substantially lower now, and I do notice my pattern may have changed a bit according to reception reports via JT65 logger, PSK reporter and World SSTV cams. Not certain yet, though. Still evaluating. I can, however, now transmit OK on 160m and 75m, which were very hard to tune before on the manual tuner.

Overall, it was a well spent $150 for the unit in good condition with manual.
 
M6GOM Rating: 5/5 Aug 20, 2011 07:32 Send this review to a friend
Keeps on keeping on  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had mine for over a year now, having bought it used with no history from a Bring and Buy stall at a ham rally. It has been outdoors in the lovely British weather all the time uncovered, even in the near record freezing winter we had this last year. It is screwed to a short wooden stake hammered into the ground and is feeding a 75ft inverted L with 20 ground radials between 15 and 40ft long and has performed flawlessly and continues to. Having a Kenwood TS480 and then TS590, I assigned CW Tune to one of the programmable keys and that is enough to wake it up.

One thing I noticed though is that when the inverted L was originally 68ft long, it had a hard time tuning the bottom end of 80m. I think it doesn't like 1/4 wavelengths. I added 7ft to it and it is fine.

One thing I would say is to learn EZNEC and model your antenna. Horizontal and inverted L antennas when used on multiple bands have lobes and nulls that increase with frequency in number and severity and become more narrow as the operating frequency rises and the antenna length increases over 1 wavelength. If you understand where your antenna transmits, it is a whole load easier to orientate it so the areas you want on the bands you intend to use don't end up in a -20dB null on both TX and RX.
 
PA3GQD Rating: 5/5 Feb 1, 2011 14:47 Send this review to a friend
excellent  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Living in a small appartment I almost gave up my radio hobby. A small whip with a wire extension from my balcony in conjunction with my SG-230 gives me a usable and most convenient antenna for working HF 80 mtrs and up. Yes, even 80 is usable with this setup. Now enjoy contesting and casual CW QSOs again.

Not cheap but most recommended.
 
KK5JY Rating: 4/5 Nov 15, 2010 22:02 Send this review to a friend
Very useful.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I like to experiment with antennas, so I have used this and one of its kin (the 237) to allow me to string up all manner of wire antenna, then match them to my radio. Dipoles, ground planes, even some loops.

If you use a balanced antenna, choke the cable. SGC says that's not necessary, but I have had the experience of others with feedline radiation. Choked the feedline at the tuner and problem solved. Wrap its 9' cable on a toroid or use a prefab choke like you can get from DX Engineering.

Why 4 and not 5? It gets a 4.5. When moving from one antenna type to another, it is occasionally hard to force it to retrain. This tuner does not have an option to reset the memories in one operation. It has to 'relearn' by use. If you use it on one antenna, then move it to another antenna that has similar impedance characteristics, it will try its memory tune first, and if that is less than 2:1 SWR, it will be satisfied with that, even though it can do better. My experience is that I have to temporarily modify the new antenna to mess up the impedence enough that it forces it to relearn a new tuning solution, then put the antenna back the way it was, and retrain it again.

If they would add a button, even internally to the unit, that would simply force it to 'forget' all of its in-memory tuning solutions and start from scratch. I would give the tuner a 5+.

Used inside, outside, hot weather, cold weather. Read SGC's documents on 'good' installations, and the things written by others, and it will serve you well.
 
WA8FEA Rating: 5/5 Sep 7, 2010 07:57 Send this review to a friend
Great Tuner!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I live in a HOA subdivision and had to put up a "stealth" type antenna. I just purchased the SG-230 and use it in conjuction with a Zero Five 30 foot Flagpole antenna. Very happy with both! I am able to load up the Flagpole on all bands between 12 and 160 meters. After only having it up and running several days, I have used to make contacts on 15, 20,40 and 75. Also, purchased the Array Solutions ATD-1 in order to ground the antenna and protect the tuner when not in use. Although I ended up spending more money than I originally planned, I'm very satisfied with the results.

Gary WA8FEA
 
KQ6EA Rating: 5/5 Sep 2, 2010 13:21 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have to agree with all the others here. This thing just flat-out WORKS! I've had mine since about 1995, and I've used it with random wires, loops, verticals, and an odd assortment of other items just to prove it could be done. A friend of mine and I even loaded up a wet string (soaked in salt water!) one time on a bet.
I'm currently using my SGC-230 with a Shakespeare AT-1011 24' (I left two sections out) military vertical mounted on the roof of our patio, about 12' feet above the ground. I have six elevated radials "One Third Longer Than The Radiating Element" as per the SGC manual, and it works extremely well. I've even loaded it on 160 and made a few contacts, a testament to how well the SGC loads odd-sized radiators.
Never had a bit of trouble with it, and I've gotten my money's worth out of it many times over!
 
PA3GQD Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2010 15:03 Send this review to a friend
excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I live in an apartment since a few years and cannot put up something decent. Bought the 230 last week and have been able to work quite a few stations (JA, K, TF etc, CW and BPSK) on a 6 mtr long whip against the central heating system since. Excellent and fast automatic tuning. The tuner seems to get the best out of the tiny whip. One forget it's there and the thing just does it's job. The rattling is a bit disturbing and one wonders how long the relais will last. Otherwise in all respects: Recommended.
 
KK4A Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2010 07:59 Send this review to a friend
Perfect solution to my antenna problem  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I live in a neighborhood with antenna restrictions so I have been using attic antennas for the last few years. In addition to having lots of RF on the shack (my wifes treadmill goes beserk on 40 meters), the performance has been marginal so I began to explore my options for an outside antenna with a reasonable degree of stealth. My lot is 100 feet wide by 175 feet deep with a house in the middle and a 6 foot high wood fence around the back yard. I am fortunate to have a very tall tree in the back yard.

After reading about tuners located at the antenna feed point, and more specifically, the SGC tuners, I decided to mount an SGC 230 on the wood fence and run a random wire up to the tree. The wire is approximately 75 feet long and runs at an angle of about 70 degrees above the horizontal. I drove an 8 foot ground rod within 36 inches of the tuner and buried 12 radials (so far). Four of the radials are 65 feet long and the remainder are 16 feet long. Due to the location of the tuner, the radial pattern is not very symetrical (its downright lop-sided) and many of the wires don't run in a straight line. But it is the best I could do with the given conditions. As you might expect, my soil has poor conductivity. I connected all of the radials to the ground rod with a homemade device and connected the ground rod to the tuner with a 36 inch ground strap.

My shack is located on the second floor of my house and required a 150 foot run of coax and 2 pair of 16 gauge control wires for the tuner. This is far beyond the maximum distance recommended by SGC. I was much more worried about voltage drop in the 12 volt control wires than I was about the signal loss in the coax. I connected the control wires to a power supply in the shack and to a Smartlock tuner controller. The Smartlock device is not required for tuner operation but is a nice add-on feature.

The on-air results have been very satisfying so far. I can operate on any frequency on all the HF bands (10-160) with very low VSWR (typically less than 1.1 and never over 1.3. The problems caused by too much RF in the shack have completely gone away (an unexpected benefit). The antenna wire is invisible from the street. The tuner operates perfectly in spite of the long distance from the shack.

Please understand that I am not making any claims about the efficiency of the random wire antenna. I am quite sure that it is not nearly as efficient as a resonant antenna at a given frequency would be. However, it is far better than my attic antennas in all respects and has given me the ability to operate on any band with reasonable success and without throwing my wife off the treadmill.

 
N0NCO Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2009 22:34 Send this review to a friend
Excellent wide-range L-network remote tuner  Time owned: more than 12 months
First, a brief description of my level of radio experience. I have been involved with electronics & radio for decades, as RF is my profession. Over the years, I have owned & used a fair number of tuners - manual & automatic.

I've owned my SGC 230 for ~3 years. It's mounted at the base of a 100' inverted-L with 50' vertical & 50' horizontal legs. I'm space-limited, so I only have 33 30-foot buried radials. Fortunately, the ground conductivity here is very good. The tuner is mounted on a metal pole, and is inside an upside-down plastic garbage can for extra protection from Minnesota weather. The base of the vertical leg is connected to the 'hot' side of the tuner via a ceramic high-voltage feed-through. Bolted to the 'cold' side of the tuner, there are two 6" long x 2" wide copper straps running to a DX Engineering radial plate. For a safety ground, an 8' ground-rod is bolted directly to the radial plate. 70' of LMR-400 coax connects the tuner to the Dishtronix wattmeter & Yaesu FT-950 in the shack. To prevent common-mode issues, there is a current choke on the feedline, consisting of 20 0.5" ID ferrite sleeves.

I operate the above setup on 160-10 meters. I am not one to sit on any particular frequency or band - I hop all over place as propagation changes.

Pros:

The tuner has no trouble finding an acceptable tuning solution on any frequency I decide to operate on. Tuning is quick. Since it's an L-network tuner, it is considerably more efficient than a typical T-network manual tuner. Refer to ARRL's tuner bench-tests & compare the losses of various tuners. Also - one look inside the unit reveals the excellent build quality that SGC is noted for.

Cons:

The tuner's re-tune sensitivity is fixed at 2:1. Because of this, it doesn't re-tune when I change frequencies unless I tune far enough away for the match to either exceed 2:1 at the tuner, or for the frequency to change enough for it to load a different memory. When this happens, the impedance transformation of the 70' of coax due the the mismatch sometimes presents an impedance to my FT-950 that makes it go into power-foldback mode. The only solution is to force a tuning cycle. Not a major issue, but more of an annoyance. It would have been nice if SGC had provided a means to adjust the VSWR sensitivity down to 1.5:1 or lower to better-accommodate radios with aggressive VSWR-protection circuits - as MFJ and some others have done.

For my operating style, more than 200 memories would have been nice.

Summary:

Overall, I am very happy with this tuner. Aside from the relatively minor issues I noted above, it has performed flawlessly for 3 years in temperatures ranging from -35 F to +101 F. So far, the tuner has resisted damage from static charges or induced currents from lightning strikes in the area. With one wire antenna in a small suburban lot, I am enjoying the ability to work nearly any station I can hear, using only 100W on SSB, and far less power on digital modes. I routinely work DX on all bands through 10 meters - while rarely thinking about antenna tuning. I can even do some pile-up busting with this setup. There are less-costly autotuners available in this power range; however one would be hard-pressed to find one with the wide tuning range, robustness, reliability & superb build quality of the SGC.

If you're looking for an efficient single antenna multiband solution, mount the SGC 230 directly at the feedpoint of a vertical, inverted-L or long-wire with a proper radial field - or a doublet or horizontal loop. You won't be disappointed! Ladder-line can also be used to allow the tuner to be mounted near ground. Just be sure to insulate the tuner from ground, and use a good current choke on the coax & some ferrite beads on the control wires to prevent common-mode problems.

Mount it at the center of an elevated ground-plane with a 33' vertical radiator & three 33' sloping radials & work the world on 80 meters & up.

If you're in need of an efficient stealth antenna, work your gutters, roof flashing, or flagpole against a metal fence - or if possible, a decent set of ground-mounted or buried radials - with the SGC 230 mounted at the feedpoint. My first setup was working the metal flashing on thee roof against about 500' of chain-link fence. Although far from ideal, I managed to log a suprizing number of DX contacts with that setup

73 & good DX - N0NCO
 
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