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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | JOHNSON MATCHBOX "LITE" 300 WATT Help

Reviews Summary for JOHNSON MATCHBOX "LITE" 300 WATT
JOHNSON MATCHBOX  Reviews: 29 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: 275 watt Plate Input Power rated, 80-10 Meter tuner
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the JOHNSON MATCHBOX "LITE" 300 WATT.

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KI7AQJ Rating: 5/5 Aug 22, 2016 03:38 Send this review to a friend
Mine came extensively modified but it's still all there.   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought one of these with a relay switching box that will select 3 transmitters, and 4 antennas. It came with a bunch of 300 Watt relays, and a switching box. I will probably never part with it. I have an SA2060A Heathkit that easily handles the legal limit and then some. This little brick, handles everything else running barefoot, including some 200 watt Yeasu transmitters that use sweep tubes, a Heathkit HW101, SS9000, and anything else I put into it that is not a monster linear amp. It has a noise bridge built into the relay selector box too, and I really love the whole set up. It was obviously built for and around the Matchbox. The original relays are still inside, and are still kind of in use. It's a keeper!
K6RQR Rating: 5/5 Oct 30, 2014 08:25 Send this review to a friend
Works very well!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For years I had been using a Dentron SuperTuner with my 130' doublet antenna. I fed the doublet with 450 ohm twinlead and it worked well except that there was a definite problem with RFI in the shack on 17 meters and above. I initially cured this with the addition of a DX Engneering 1:1 balun which fed 31 feet of twinlead to the feedpoint and was connected to the SuperTuner with 50 feet of RG-8X. However, I was then informed of the nature of the venerable Johnson Matchbox and its link coupling design and its ability to produce a truly balanced output which should also eliminate any RFI. Sine the DX Engineering balun was borrowed and I wanted to give it back I decided to experiment with a Matchbox to see what it could do.
I found a nice one on ebay and opened it up to look at the design. I was impressed by the quality of the components and the solid design. My new tuner was more than 50 years old and I was eager to get it hooked up and see what this design could do. Initially I used about 50 feet of the twinlead and I found the results mixed. I could tune the 80-10 meter bands that it was designed for but the WARC bands were problematical. I tried making relatively small adjustments to the feedline length and I kept getting the same result that some bands would become tunable and I would lose others that I could previously tune.
Finally, I got some good advice from a Matchbox owner who told me to "go long". By then I had my original 100' length of 450 twinlead into several pieces due to other antenna projects so I decided to connect all the pieces together by soldering them and shrink tubing the joints until I had a total length of close to 100'. I then connected it to the Matchbox and ran the excess all over so that it was out of the way. The results? The Matchbox now tunes all bands including 60 meters with no SWR greater than 1.4 to 1 and most lower than that. There is also no trace of RFI on any band. I have written down the settings for a "cheat sheet" and the Matchbox is a delight to use. I also love having this boat anchor accessory with my new gear in the shack. By finding the right length of feedline I can now return the balun to my friend and I sold the SuperTuner for what I paid for the Matchbox. One last thing - even though this is the "Lite" model it is quite capable of handling a linear such as the Ameritron 811H on SSB. It is robust and conservatively rated and I am very happy with it.
NC3I Rating: 5/5 Apr 13, 2013 18:40 Send this review to a friend
Specific Use Tuner  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After a few months experimentation, and being new to this type of tuner; for balanced line feeds, it's absolutely unsurpassed. I'll skip further praises, as you can read down the reviews (and I agree), and address the nay sayers. Yes, this tuner does not tune just "anything". I found it to really begin to excel when I started using balanced feed line, on balanced antennas. No big deal; if you're willing to trim a few feet down/off the feed line (I was impressed to watch the SWR drop from 2.5:1 to near 1:1 after 5' feet of trimming on an 80' feed, tho worried about wasting feed). Follow the Johnson instructions. I also hear DX much more clearly (more like those with large beams) on low bands. It's not a lazy ham's tuner, but really performs with some careful set-up.
K4JPN Rating: 5/5 Nov 1, 2011 18:11 Send this review to a friend
Great Tuner  Time owned: more than 12 months
It far exceeds the TEE type tuner used with a balun. I had a homebrew TEE type tuner for years till I picked up the Matchbox Jr. Never go back to the TEE type tuner. I use mine on all the WARC bands with dipoles fed with ladder line. Steve K4JPN
WB2JNA Rating: 4/5 Nov 1, 2011 13:50 Send this review to a friend
IT'S A KEEPER  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought two Matchbox tuners, one with and one without a case, for $100. Sold one, kept the other. The only problem is once you buy one, you'll probably never sell it. I've found it matches most of what I throw at it to under a 2:1 SWR, most often 1:1. The secret is to have a noise bridge or antenna bridge/analyzer that allows you to try various settings of the coil and variable caps. On some bands you really have to experiment, including the WARC bands, which mine does cover. It's not a plug and play accessory, but it's built like a tank and really does the job. Also, get the manual if possible. It has valuable info on how to use it with a coax fed antenna (it works with those too) or a long or random wire antenna. You may have to experiment, but it's worth it.

VO1FZ Rating: 5/5 Oct 28, 2010 10:31 Send this review to a friend
Quick and flat tunes everytime  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had a Palstar BT1500A that did everything I wanted it to, but cost a pretty penny. Just after I bought it, a friend posted an old Johnson Matchbox for sale. It was painted glossy black, but it worked. At $35, I jumped on it for my 80 meter loop (ladder line fed). I also have a doublet that I used the Palstar on.

While the BT1500A did everything, there was a fair amount of dial spinning for every band change. After a while, I found myself using the Matchbox more often, but I had to alter the feedline to 81' to avoid nasty impedances. To make a long story short, I sold the Palstar and only use the Matchbox now. I'm able to match all the non-warc bands as well as 17 and 12. I just played with the bandswitch to find suitable matches - no problem.

I can generally tune up in about 10 seconds or less. Just switch to the appropriate band, twist the capacitors for maximum receive signal, and fine tune. Generally, tweaking the receive signal brings me to within 2.0:1 right away and I'll use that setting in a hurry.

Mine does not have a meter, so I depend on my ft-990's swr meter, but that works well for me.

I've also had MFJ949's and variants and the Matchbox is in a different league altogether. If, like me, you have been sold on balanced line, grab one of these. Balanced wire needs a balanced tuner, and these qualify and they are cheap. It is sensitive to feed-line length, but a bit of extra ladder line is far cheaper than a Palstar or its equivalent.
K5MVP Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2009 21:14 Send this review to a friend
To call it LITE is wrong  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using my 275 watt Johnson Matchbox for 40 plus years. This tuner is well built... not like tuners of today which indeed need the title of LITE. My Johnson Matchbox has been handling 1 KW output without a wimper. You must remember that back in the fifties when AM was in it's prime and you were running plate modulation your peak power output was 4 times your carrier output. Thus the 275 watt Matchbox can handle over 1 KW output PEP. However, it is so well built it easily handles 1 KW output of carrier on tuneup without arcing. It's been doing this now for over 40 years without one failure!
AI4WM Rating: 5/5 Oct 30, 2009 18:32 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna Coupler  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got mine from a friend a few years ago when I was looking to replace the 944 I had in my portable kit. I arced the 944 with 100 or less watts several times so I was determined to get a good coupler, or antenna tuning unit for those who like to call them that.

The Matchbox needed some cleaning and minor repairs (someone removed the meter and an insulator). I have several watt meters and exact Johnson replacement insulators so that was minor.

These things were made in the days of real radios and equipment rather than most of the cheap over priced items of today. These were built to handle several hundred watts a.m. No doubt they will handle 250w or more with out flashing as many of the modern ones.

The good points are solid construction that will easily handle 100 or more watts. very flat across most of the bands, will easily match a wire or balanced line without a balun and an SO-239 (or N) can easily be added for a coax.

The disadvantages are no WARC bands without a mod, no dual needle metering without a mod, requires an external directional coupler or VSWR meter, and there is no bypass position for directly connecting to an antenna.

I have had no trouble matching any frequency on my dipole, G5RV, wire, or Vertical. If you don't want to use the WARC bands I recommend one of these big boxes over the little black ones any day. Compared to my Zetagi (also reviewed) this one is much heftier, but the Zetagi will cover the WARC bands and has metering.
K9EUI Rating: 4/5 Dec 9, 2007 09:35 Send this review to a friend
Great balanced tuner  Time owned: more than 12 months
I never had any problems loading any doublet with my Matchbox. It took the output from my Johnson Desk KW just fine (tuning up on low -power first of course).

Eventually, so I could use it on other newer bands (and 160 meters), I rebuilt it into another box, using the Johnson caps but instead of the original coil I use the plate tank plug-in coils from a BC-610.
KA4DPO Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2007 19:07 Send this review to a friend
If you can find one buy it, if you buy it keep it.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my matchbox since 1965, it was given to me as a present by one of my elmers. I have had more than half a dozen antenna tuners over the years and still have a couple of high power units so I have a lot of experience with antenna tuners. After using the Johnson Matchbox for 41 years I can honestly say that I have never found a better tuner for balanced feed lines than this one. The only balanced tuners I have ever used that had lower loss that the matchbox were home brewed link coupled tuners the were very high Q and band specific. The only other tuner that might come close to it is the old Harvey Wells X match but I wouldn't swear to it. If you want to use balanced feeders and don't plan on running more that 400 watts PEP then this tuner is still the best you can get.
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