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Reviews Categories | QRP Accessories | Hendricks ALT Tuner Help

Reviews Summary for Hendricks ALT Tuner
Hendricks ALT Tuner Reviews: 4 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $25
Description: Altoids Tin Longwire Tuner
Product is in production.
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N9ESH Rating: 5/5 Nov 5, 2006 12:07 Send this review to a friend
Great little tuner!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This little tuner went together well. I checked it out with a NorCal-40A and 66ft of wire run through the house. It tuned the wire easily and accurately as compared to the station SWR meter. It will be a great accessory for next summers backpacking into Yellowstone. The instructions were more than adequate.

The only negative? Mine did not come with an Altoids style tin as the instructions indicated. But no worry, a regular Altoids tin works just fine looks good, too. Also, in the instructions, the 470-Ohm resistor is R4, not D4. For backpacking QRPers, I definitely recommend this tuner.

NR7F Rating: 1/5 Sep 8, 2006 22:56 Send this review to a friend
Disappointed  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I really wanted to like this tuner, but the more I use it the more annoying it is. Even with 51 feet of wire, as recommended, mine fails to find a match at times. Of course it is possible that something on the curcuit board is not working properly, but it is a simple curcuit, and I have been unable to find any problems. Aside from that, the tuner uses a series of shorting blocks to add inductors to the circuit as needed to find a match. I find the use of the shorting blocks to be cumbersome because they are so small and in a very small package. It would be very easy to lose one or more of those blocks in the field. It's also just plain tedious to keep adding in inductors, especially when you get done and the tuner still hasn't found a match. The directions were ok, but a bit lacking in clarity. Also, when I use the tuner, the power output at the antenna connector drops by about 50 percent, even when the tuner is off.
AB5CC Rating: 5/5 Nov 3, 2005 17:16 Send this review to a friend
Slick! Good Value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built the ALT tuner in August '05 to compliment my SWL Rockmite 40m QRP rig. It went together quickly. There are 5 or 6 torroids to wind, I will have to look again. There are some holes you must drill for strain relief of the coax connection and the 2 clip leads that you use to connect the tuner to the antenna and the counterpoise. I didn't use a drill. I just used the point of an Xacto knife and drilled them with a little back and forth motion and some pressure. Worked very quickly.

For an antenna, I am using 67' of copper wire on a plastic clothesline reel from Wal-Mart ($1.49 for 2), and a piece of speaker wire for the counterpoise. The antenna tuned just fine. I think the directions call for 51', but 67 feet tuned just fine and is approx 1/2 wave on 40m.

The LED tuning indicator is really bright and easy to see in direct sunlight. Amazing how bright the ultra-bright LEDs are these days. The tuning was pretty sharp, but easy to tell when you had it.

The directions are good except that they don't tell you how to operate the slide-switch that says TUNE. It switches-in an absorption type SWR bridge which will act as a dummy load unless you switch it back out after you have a match. With less than 400mw to begin with, I don't need to be calling CQ into a dummy load.

KC0RMP Rating: 5/5 Jul 26, 2005 09:02 Send this review to a friend
Nice Kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A nice kit, designed by Steve Weber KD1JV, and offered by Hendricks QRP Kits.

The kit does everything it promised to do, and more. It was also relatively easy to build (if you've ever wound a toroid), and my total construction time was a couple of hours. Bottom line, I can recommend this kit, especially if -- like me -- you've had little experience with long wires. My complaints are minor ones and should not be interpreted as saying this is a bad kit. In fact, it is a very good kit. That said, here's my observations, based on the instructions that came with the Hendricks kit. I understand that the instructions on KD1JV's website are somewhat different:

1. I had enough magnet wire to wind all five inductor toroids, but came up a few inches short when winding the transformer. I ended up "borrowing" some wire of the same size from a ham friend. A few more inches of magnet wire would be helpful for novice builders like me who are sloppy winders or otherwise have trouble making efficient use of magnet wire.

2. The plain Altoids-type case that came with the kit is not deep enough for the lid to close completely when the tuning dial is attached to the top of the tuning cap. It is also a tight fit getting the BNC connection and the alligator clips inside. I solved this problem by using a Whitman Samplers tin, which is about the same size as the ubiquitous Altoids, but is a little deeper.

3. It was necessary to drill some 1/16" holes in the circuit board to provide strain reliefs for the alligator clips and RG-174 coax. I would have preferred not to have drilled extra holes in the board, but this is not big deal -- except for finding the right sized bit in my tool box. I used some scrap hookup wire for the strain reliefs, but bigger holes would have allowed the use of cable ties.

4. Be sure to hot-glue the toroids on the board. If you don't, they'll flop around in the field, which is what you don't want. Also, as you build, I would suggest checking the continuity on each toroid as you solder it to the board, just to make sure you've properly removed the enamel from the ends of the leads. Also, be sure to follow the instructions about heaving continuity between ANT and the left pin of short block L1.

5. The operating instructions need amplification for folks like me who must have things explained several times before I understand how to operate the tuner. In fact, I believe the Hendricks instruction is in error when it says, ""You want to use as little inductance as possible to get a match. So start out with the shorting block on L5, and the shorting blocks on L1, 2, 3, & 4 only attached to 1 pin (great way of storing the shorting blocks)." Well, this is backwards. The shorting blocks remove the toroids from the circuit -- in the configuration mentioned, you have the inductance of L1-4, with L5 shorted out. So, start out with only one toroid left unshorted, and then add (short) toroids as necessary. The lower your band, the more toroids you will probably need.

6. The instructions need to instruct you to switch the tuning bridge out when ready to operate. The tuning bridge is necessary to be in the TUNE position while you are seeking a match. You'll now you have a match when, while transmitting, the LED goes dim or completely out. If you don't switch the bridge out, those three 51-ohm resistors will soak up power and reduce your output by a couple of S-units.

7. If you're having trouble finding a match, try removing or adding the Extra C jumper near L5. This engages/disengages the other half of the tuning capacitor and gives you a little extra range.

8. Use a 51-foot wire, per the instructions (this goes to the red alligator clip), and get it as high off the ground as possible. Also use the 16-foot counterpoise (goes to green alligator clip). You can use just about any type of wire, but I found that 24-gauge speaker zip wire worked well. Just be sure as you unzip it that you keep it taught and not let it get coiled up or you'll have a heckuva time untangled the resulting "bird's nest." RadioShack has a 75-foot role of this speaker wire (stock number 278-1509) for $3.69 cents. Unzipped, this is 150 feet. More than enough for the ALT long wire and counterpoise. Also, you get a nifty reel to keep your longwire on.

9. If you are using a radio like my favorite, an Icom 703, you will also need a 259 to male BNC adapter to connect to the RG-174 (this is RadioShack number 278-121 and retailed for $5.29). If you don't, the radio won't see the proper impedance with the bridge switched out. I originally tried using alligator clips to attach the BNC to the 239 jack on the back of my 703, but this was a very bad idea -- it was fine with the bridge in (considering those three 51-Ohm resistors), but with it switched out the SWR was off the scale and transmitting would have been a risky affair. But with the adapter, the ALT Tuner matched perfectly with the bridge out. My thanks to Joe, WØMQY, for suggesting this simple fix.

10. Final results? Matches on 40, 20, and 10 meters that were all better than 1.25 to 1, obtained using the tuning function and the LED dip indicator. I also used an MFJ 259-B to check these, and on 40 meters the SWR needle dipped to zero and the impedance hovered at 50 ohms. Also, while trying different combinations of inductance, I knew I was getting close when the receive audio became dramatically louder, as one would expect with a tuner. The frequencies I tested the tuner on were 7.285, 14.285, and 28.400 MHz, and I made contacts on all. These were not DX, but I got 5/9 reports. Also, this was with the internal tuner in the 703 turned OFF. Not bad for a $25 MULTI-BAND tuner, and especially one that will fit -- along with your antenna -- into your pocket, with no batteries required. As a final note, I would like to know how much power the ALT Tuner is rated for. Five watts? Ten?

Although a better manual and clearer operating instructions are needed, I strongly recommend this kit. It is one of the three or four QRP kits I've had the most fun with. Hats off, Steve and Doug.

72, Max KCØMAX

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