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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners/Matching Networks | Palstar BT1500A Balanced L Tuner Help

Reviews Summary for Palstar BT1500A Balanced L Tuner
Palstar BT1500A Balanced L Tuner Reviews: 35 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $795
Description: Dual inline roller balanced L network antenna tuner with Hi/Lo Z and Hi/Lo C relay operated push buttons. Incorporates illuminated cross needle power/SWR/reflected meter with active peak, peak hold, average readings, 300/3000 watt selection. Covers 1.8 - 29.5MHz. 1000 watt single tone, 1500 watts PEP.
Product is in production.
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N4UZZ Rating: 5/5 Nov 28, 2018 01:22 Send this review to a friend
Follow-up: Fixed  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is a follow-up on my previous review where the counter slipped and the s-meter was off with the tuner out of the box. I called Palstar and they told me how to fix it. For the counter, a plastic sleeve on the shaft had to be pushed to set correctly in the cogwheel of the counter, then retightened on the shaft. Easy. By the time I finished that, the s-meter had settled in to exact zero. So, all is well. Tuning a random dipole (55 ft each leg) fed with 300 ohm open line. Had to cut the line short, it is now 52 feet (not an ideal length) but the tuner handles it perfectly. The roller inductor is still a little stiff to turn. The tuner is built like a battleship. Needless to say, I changed my mind and this one is a keeper. I regret the previous review, wish I could edit it.
W5HEH Rating: 5/5 Oct 27, 2018 23:40 Send this review to a friend


N0SP Rating: 5/5 Apr 24, 2018 09:58 Send this review to a friend
Wish I could give it a 6, GREAT tuner  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have several "true" balanced tuners. They include the Johnson Kilowatt Matchbox, the Johnson 250w matchbox as well as the Palstar AT4K. (which also tunes un-balanced lines) Of all of these the BT-1500A is my favorite for balanced lines. SOLID construction, well designed, and big husky components. By comparison, both the AT-4K and the BT1500 have greater tuning range than the venerable Johnsons. My preference for the BT1500 over the AT4K lays with ease of tuning with one less control involved in the BT1500. My antennas are fed with 600-ohm line and as we all know, matching solutions can vary widely with frequency. I really love being able to switch between low and high impedance ranges in the BT1500 as well as the Low/High "C" ranges on the tuning condenser. I've never failed to find a match from 160 through 10 meters with my 340-ft dipole stretched across the canyon. The "Low C" option makes tuning on the higher bands as smooth as cream.
There is no worry about cheezy relays when switching these ranges. The heavy "clunk" from those big relays exudes confidence when I switch between High or Low. I never expect to have to service weak or burned contacts. Notably, I have rotated the inductors with power applied (two are moved in parallel with the L tuning) and never experienced skipping, spitting/arching from either inductor. (just try THAT with Brand X) A peak inside reveals typical solid Palstar construction.
The watt meter is accurate and compares perfectly with my Bird 43 on the input line, as does the reflected measurement. When the tuner shows zero reflected, so does the Bird.
The "double L" method for balanced tuners is highly regarded and, as born out by the QST review of the BT1500, the losses are extremely low (best of tuners tested).
Since installation I have been running the legal limit in to this tuner without a single issue. I would recommend the AT4K if you run both coaxial fed antennas and balanced lines. Keep in mind, the AT4K is also a "true" balanced tuner with the balancing done at the INPUT as opposed to the bad practice (if not carefully done) of just slapping a balun on the back of a conventional tuner. In the AT4K the internal ferrite balun never sees reactive loads. But for dedicated balanced line systems the BT1500 is the one to get. Yes, it's a few $$ more than something similar from Brand X, but one look inside the cabinet and you'll know you're getting far more for your money.
KD0ZV Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2017 05:36 Send this review to a friend
Best available  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Balanced tuners are probably not for everyone as you need to understand in multi-band operations there are massive impedance swings on the transmission line. Because of this even the best tuners can't tune with without tweaking the length of line or messing with the system. Just because a T-Match will match something a balanced tuner will not does not mean its a better tuner.

The BT1500a is without a doubt the best tuner for balanced line I have used. It uses a heavy relay requiring 12 volts to switch the capacitor from the output of the roller inductor to input so you can have it configured for low pass or high pass and a second relay to switch out some of the capacitance for low capacitance tuning.

The components are massive in size and should allow decent power even in tricky match conditions.

I am not a fan of cross needle meters so don't have much to say about Palstar's choice of meters.

I am running it on a 450 ohm fed 160 meter half wave that is only elevated 25 feet above the ground. At 160 this is very low impedance and on 80 its every high. The tuner has no issue with either not to mention the other bands up to 6 meters.

There really are not many options for balanced tuners currently so Palstar does not have much competition. I have owned 5 different Palstar tuners over the years (3 currently) and all of them are well built.
KA4KOE Rating: 4/5 Sep 8, 2014 05:00 Send this review to a friend
Nice Tuner  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just obtained the tuner. The configuration seems to work well, with matches obtained on all bands except 15m (1.7:1). No tuna is perfect. I did notice a lot of RF in the shack on 80m. I assume the choking impedance of the 1:1 current balun was dropping off on the lower frequencies, which is not totally unexpected. I inserted a W2DU coaxial choke balun on the input and it cleaned up a lot of the shack RFI. Otherwise, no complaints. My antenna is a full sized doublet fed with 600 ohm open line, 160-10m.
KI5FJ Rating: 2/5 Oct 8, 2013 16:16 Send this review to a friend
Not Recommended  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I inherited the ATU from a friend who bought it for little cash. In my opinion most balanced feed-lines /systems are not absolutely balanced.I think a more accurate description is Quasi-Balanced. Imbalanced feed-lines radiate. When you bring a radiating transmission line into the shack you are inviting RFI issues. Back in the Early days this technique was the only option. Also Back in the Early days the most RFI sensitive item in the shack was an incandescent light bulb. Now back to the BT1500A, I
converted the output to UN-Balanced (SO-239). When I loosen one of the nuts securing a short wire to a capacitor the wire fell off the capacitor. I guess the Palstar assembly ATTEMPTED to solder the wire to the massive heat sink AKA capacitor. If you are experiencing issue look for cold solder joints. Z matching range of this L-Network is limited. The slightly higher losses of a Hi-Pass T-Network are small compared to the the wider Z matching range.73 Joe O NNNN
K5YZS Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2013 00:35 Send this review to a friend
Almost perfect  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have used many matching networks over the years for my balanced line antennas -- 160 m flat-top dipole; 40 m ground independant verticle
dipole (balanced line feed and no radials) and an
80 m 1 wave length loop at lower power. The BT-1500A can match my ICOM-756 and Alpha 91B with no arcing at legal limit to all antennas. The adding of the Alpha 91B made a matcher upgrade necessary. I bought the "2500 Watts patent pending" MFJ-9982. What a mistake!! with the MFJ-9982 that had many defects and when those were corrected, the MFJ-9982 would arc-over at 700 to 900 watts. Read my review of MFJ-9982 to
avoid many headaches and design flaws(especially
only 0.070 inches capacitor air gap). The BT1500A
has 0.100 inches capacitor air gap). I would give the BT1500A an almost 6 rating, but I had to add external 500 pF additional capacitance to
the antenna terminals to match from 1860 kHz on down to 1801 kHz on my 160 m dipole. Paul had parts to sell me for new meter bulb and a more
precise capacitor shaft coupler. Great service and great feed-line matching network.
73 Jim, retired engineer K5YZS
W0NGA Rating: 1/5 Jan 26, 2013 23:09 Send this review to a friend
Close but No Cigar  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned my BT1500A for about 5 years now. I purchased it new from Palstar in June of 2008. I also have a Heathkit SA-2060, and between the two tuners, I can match just about any antenna. The Palstar tuner will match some antennas that the SA-2060 won't match, and vice-versa.

While the tuner is built like the proverbial battleship, if anything should ever break I probably won't be able to obtain a replacement part from Palstar. An example is the light assembly which illuminates the meter, which after a year or so, burns out and needs replaced.

For two years now I've sent e-mails asking how I order the replacement light assembly used to illuminate the meter, and my request is met with total and utter silence. There is no response from Palstar. If I should ever need some other part, such as a replacement relay, or capacitor, I'll probably have to sell the tuner for parts.

Because of the inadequate source for replacement parts, I would not recommend this tuner to anyone. It's expensive and if it should break, I'm apparently on my own based upon my experience so far.
KY3W Rating: 3/5 Aug 27, 2012 09:17 Send this review to a friend
Not for Everyone  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It is built very well with quality components. In case anyone is wondering, the relay problem has been corrected some time ago. Don't be afraid of wiping out relay coils. Where this tuner falls short is in the design. There is not enough capacitance range to sucessfully tune all bands, especially 160, 17 thru 6M. I had read where others had to add a cap to the terminals in the back to tune 160. In my case, I needed to add 1000 pF to tune the upper portion and 1820 pF for the lower. By shortening or lengthening the feedline, I could make it tune say 17M but then I would lose another such as 10M. If I could make it tune 10M, I would lose 15M, etc. A borrowed VCI 1500 tuner could easily tune 160 thru 6M, despite the feedline length. After much experimenting, I finally called Paul at Palstar and he was very cooperative. He allowed me to swap the BT1500A for an AT2K w/ 1:1 Current balun. The AT2K tunes all bands with no problems whatsoever. I'm very happy with the AT2K and regret not believing other reviews that reported insufficient tuning range on the BT1500A. I am not a tuner expert by no means but I do have a degree in electrical engineering. Based on my experience and comments from others, the BT1500A will work fine for some and others should avoid it. If you want to tune 160M on an antenna that is less than say a half wavelength, this is not the tuner for you. I do, however, think it would work fine on most 80 & 40M wires. I have also read full wave 160 loops seem to tune fine. If you're looking for a tuner that will "tune a wet noodle", the BT1500A isn't it. I hope this review helps others in their decisions.
W2CS Rating: 0/5 Feb 6, 2012 11:33 Send this review to a friend
Very Disappointed (Update)  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
In addition to my prior review of this model I should like to add that one of the relays just blew. The coil now leaks black, smelly goo and the relay no longer closes. However it does produce a nice wideband hash "signal" over all bands so at least the defective relay makes itself obvious :-(

For all the reasons stated in my first review and this update I cannot recommend this tuner to a friend, especially one running 1500 W output.

I am now in the market for a robust tuner and will sell this one for parts shortly.
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