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Reviews For: TuneMatic

Category: Antennas: HF Mobile & Accessories

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Review Summary For : TuneMatic
Reviews: 34MSRP: $289.95
Auto tuner for screwdriver type antennas
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KC7YRA Rating: 2017-11-27
Awesome product made by hams, for hams Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've been working with this antenna controller for a few weeks now. It is interfaced with an FT-857D and a Scorpion SA-680 antenna.

Opening the box you get the main control unit which is a large aluminum enclosure. A 3ish foot RG-8X coax jumper, radio specific interface, and the instructions.

Everything has the fit and finish I would expect of an amateur market item with a <$300 price tag. After many years working for commercial radio manufacturers, I am accustomed to perfect fit and finish on a robust product. I'm also accustomed to the multi thousand dollar cost per unit. The Tunematic setup is the right balance of robust design and function, with the correct price point.

Open the aluminum enclosure and there is a nicely done PCB and cleanly soldered components. There are adjustments which need to be made inside, so don't install it in an inaccessible location THEN try it for the first time. Follow the instructions and you are good to go.

I did have a problem with memory recall on certain bands. After I worked through, being sure my connections were good and RF was mitigated, I fired off an email to Jim. After a couple exchanges he had diagnosed my problem and had me up and running. FYI, the Scorpion antenna group uses a slightly higher voltage motor. When the Tunematic was attempting to return to a pre-programmed position, the low (slow) voltages used for final tuning were not causing the antenna to move. Since the controller knew it was sending commands it thought it was not receiving pulse counts (because the antenna was not moving) so it would throw out a pulse error and need initialized again. The fix was just adjusting one of the internal pots. Jim responded to these emails on a holiday weekend BTW.

A few things worth pointing out after reading some of the reviews here. This controller can only function to the capability of your antenna install. If the install is plagued with RF problems or matching issues, the controller cannot magically change that. You MUST have a fully functional system before the controller can do what it is designed for. Get your install choked, whip placed, and shunt coil set BEFORE going at the Tunematic.

Also, the commands are given in CW. I'm kind of a CW nut, so it is easy for me to catch the data. I do keep the instructions nearby in the car in case an odd one pops up and I don't know what it means. If you aren't proficient at code I could see it being a bit daunting. Fortunately all of the commands are only two letters, so it isn't bad at all.

Once setup I can cruise down the interstate and QSY with the push of a button. The unit will reliably tune to my desired frequency and away I go. Don't even have to take my eyes off the road.
KI4EKN Rating: 2017-04-18
Great Product -- Great Customer Service Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
JT's Tunematic fully met my expectations. Once programmed, it quickly finds the nearest stored frequency and fine tunes to the lowest SWR. I have an older FT-857 that required some quality phone time with Jim to get it up and running. In the end, Jim sent me a modified interface box, along with the latest firmware update, V 5.31. It's the perfect compliment to my Scorpion 680 antenna. Thanks Jim for developing this first rate product and being readily available to provide expert customer assistance.
W4AKF Rating: 2017-03-04
Great support Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Purchased a Tunematic at Hamvention. Jim was there showing it using an Icom 706, the same rig I just got. Also purchased a Tarheal with it. Installed it, and had a couple of issues . I emailed him and he got right back to me. He makes them in Ocala, just a ways up the road from me so I went up to see him. He diagnosed my problem immediately. I have an F-350 with the 7.3 motor. Seems EVERYTHING needs to be grounded as the RF fly's around in these trucks. THIS TUNER IS AWESOME...if you have a screwdriver antenna, Tunematic is a MUST!! 73 W4AKF
K9UAV Rating: 2016-12-18
Product 5/5 but Customer Service 10/5! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
As a new Ham, I have a lot to learn about antennas. I did a lot of research to find something to make tuning my new Scorpion easy.

It took me a little while to figure some things out and while I was doing that Jim at Tunematic was incredible at Elmering me.

The product does what it is supposed to and the small ergonomic keypad tucks right in under my rig.

For those buying, I had Jim give me a keypad with the cable coming out the top not the bottom. That way it sits under my radio at my desk and slides right out.

Just a thought.

KA8DJN Rating: 2016-11-11
Excellent Auto Tuner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Had purchased a Tarheel HP antenna and needed something to make it easier to tune while driving.

Looked at several units and decided to go with the JT Communications Tunematic TM-1. I contacted them regarding the unit and the need to have one of the control cables to my TS480 lengthened and they were more than obliging.

Although higher in cost then some I looked at the features and decided that this was worth a try.

Installing it in a Jeep Wrangler the space was limited. The remote control head was able to be placed in a small area and very readable while driving.

After installing the unit I had an issue (found not to be fault of Tunematic) and had to contact them again. They helped me get through the issue and had me up and running in no time.

Their customer service is second to none!

The ease of use is amazing although READ the instructions very thoroughly.

I strongly recommend this screw driver antenna tuner. You will not be disappointed and if an issue comes up they are only a phone call away.
KL7EZ Rating: 2016-11-02
Excellent Repeatability and Works Great Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I purchased my first HF mobile station in April of 2016. The equipment consists of a Yaesu FT-857D, Little Tarheel II Antenna, Tunematic TM-1 Antenna Controller, Rig Expert AA-170 Antenna Analyzer, MLS-100 External Speaker and LDG External FTL-Meter. I installed this system into a 2005, 2500 Dodge Ram Quad-Cab Diesel Pickup Truck. I took plenty of time to carefully read the operation/installation manual of each component to understand detailed manufacturer’s guidelines and suggestions. Although I did my homework, I didn’t get the chance to install this equipment until late summer 2016 due to many other family priorities/obligations.

After careful consideration, I decided to install the FT-857D on the plastic sub-dash panel located just under the steering wheel. I decided to place the Tunematic TM-1 Antenna Controller under the driver’s seat. There was plenty of control cable supplied by Tunematic to support this installation. I provided direct transceiver & antenna controller grounding to the truck’s negative battery terminal. There was also enough room under the steering wheel to install a Yaesu MLS-100 external speaker adjacent to the transceiver. Note that this external speaker is loud and sounds great. The speaker provides the proper male mono plug to work out-of-the-box with the FT-857D. All coax and control cables were routed under front and rear floor mats to provide a clean installation. I also utilized “MountGuys” 22” extra-long, floor seat, bolt-mount stand to support the transceiver’s LED display. This installation option provides a sturdy support that conveniently locates the FT-857D LED display within a comfortable hand’s reach of VFO operation while ergonomically resting my forearm on the truck’s center console. The FT-857D LED display is now very visible and out of the way during 6-speed manual shifting. Installation also included placing many 1” wide x 8” long tinned copper ground straps to bond the truck’s frame, muffler, hood, tool-box, side panels, doors and tail gate to help create a common RF node.

I installed the Little Tarheel II Antenna on top of a permanently mounted aluminum tool box located in the back of the truck’s bed. The passenger’s side location provided a tall and rigid profile. I also utilized a Tarheel supplied MT-5S manual lift and lay mount. This attractive mounting system works well when parking the truck into locations where the antenna system is too tall for a low profile shop/garage. I had a few questions on the antenna installation and Tarheel provided excellent and immediate assistance. Prior to installing the Tunematic TM-1 Antenna Controller, I tested the antenna operation with the supplied Tarheel control switch. I used a Rig Expert AA-170 Antenna Analyzer to check VSWR across all antenna bands. All bands checked out very well with a low VSWR as advertised. When I determined that the antenna functioned properly, with low VSWR, I installed the TuneMatic TM-1 Antenna Controller.

I manually stored 20 frequencies (equally spaced) into the TuneMatic TM-1 Antenna Controller across each HF phone band (excluding 160 meter). Using a Rig Expert AA-170 Antenna Analyzer, all stored frequencies tested below 1.40:1.00 VSWR. The 10 & 20 meter bands tested almost flat across the entire 20 meter phone band.

I had a small issue with the auto-tune function of the Tunematic TM-1. JT provided excellent and immediate technical support to mitigate the issue. JT mailed me the latest chip (software version 5.2). Two days later I swapped out the old chip (v 4.x) with the new chip in less than ten minutes. The 5.2 chip solved all of the auto-tune issues. The Tunematic TM-1 Controller auto-tunes all HF bands (excluding 160 meter) to a VSWR less than 1.40:1.00 with excellent repeatability. The auto-tune function works great either scrolling up or down separate HF bands. The Morse-code commands generated by the Tunematic TM-1 are more than loud enough to hear over a Cummins diesel engine cruising at 2K RPM.

In general, this HF mobile station works and looks great. The FT-857D and Little Tarheel II Antenna work extremely well together. The Tunematic TM-1 Antenna Controller provides excellent repeatability on all stored frequencies with a very low and/or reasonable VSWR. It’s a real treat to switch bands on the fly while driving down the interstate within Nashville traffic. I must say that the addition of the Yaesu MLS-100 external speaker works well competing with the noise generated from the diesel engine. I also purchased the LDG External FTL-Meter for the FT-857D. The meter is simply a convenient compliment to the mobile station.

If you’re considering this kind of installation, take your time to read and follow the instructions. Provide proper RF grounding. Consider shrink wrapping exterior control & coax connections. Locate your vehicle away from metal buildings/structures while checking and manually storing frequency low null points. The equipment has worked very well for me. HF SSB contacts are made with ease with 50W or less. I am also extremely pleased in the professional and kind customer support provided by Tarheel and Tunematic. I would definitely purchase these products again. The installation and operation of this equipment is a pleasure.

Scott (KL7EZ)
Nashville, TN
VE7AGW Rating: 2016-09-28
Great Tuner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Many years ago I had HF in my van and also in my work truck a Freightliner Classic. The van was an Icom setup with their present tuner which took forever to setup and it had to be within a foot of the antenna base. Years later in the Freightliner I went to a Tarheel screwdriver with a Turbo Tuner, but when something went wrong with the Turbo, I learned that this guy had no service at all, he wouldn’t even answer his phone, so I didn't want to repeat that episode again. So I did some research and found the TuneMatic and it had a great rating on and I even talked with a number amateurs who had one.
I had already decided on the Kenwood TS-480HX with that 200 watt output and a remote head and I had my sights on the Tarheel 200A-HP, because a friend had one with great results. Once the radio showed up I installed it in anticipation, then the Tarheel 200A and last the TuneMatic TM-1. Installation was simple and took no time at all. I had to adjust the current dip switches a couple of times, after that all I had to do was tune up one frequency on each of bands I used.
Walla, I was in heaven, while driving down the highway I could change frequency with the push a button on the radio then push the tune button TM-1. It hits it dead on the money every time, I couldn't ask for it to be any simpler. It's simple to set up the first time and it works.
When my TuneMatic arrived that afternoon I get an email from Jim, stating if I have any trouble what so ever to give him a call and he will walk me though the set up. How many manufacturers do this now days? Of all the antenna tuners I looked at before deciding on the TuneMatic, only TuneMatic offered any kind of service after the sale. To me service after the sale is very important, it's so important that I base my purchase on it.
I like the fact that all I see is the little remote control unit on my dash and mine sits right below the radio control head. I’ve set my radio and remote in a position where I don’t even have to take my eyes off the road; I can actually see them both with in my peripheral vision.
I'm very happy with my purchase and I would recommend it to anyone who is planning on using HF mobile with a screwdriver antenna and the nice part is this unit will work with most all screwdriver antenna makes.
AC6VW Rating: 2016-09-03
unfinished garbage Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Ok, I'll try and write a subjective review..ok tried, forget it. This thing is garbage.
My experience:
Senior Engineer with 25 years Electrical Engineer in the Power Industry specializing in Power Control Systems.
Ham since I was 14, I'm 54 now.
This isn't my first mobile installation.
Install is a Little Tarheel II and 857D.
To the Tunematic:
Yes, it comes in a metal enclosure. The enclosure has nothing telling you which coax is in or out. nice feature, guess!
The 12v power wire was a generous 5" long! Seriously, would it have been so much to add a foot of the (cheapest they could find) 22awg wire?
Used surplus stock flat 4 pin connectors like a computer hard drive would have and even has the rubber/silicone sealant mess sticking out of the end. Another nice touch.
The remote control box is another cheap addon that just exudes the cheapness of this kit.
Nice squarewave distorted cw sounds from the box for guidance. I got my extra years ago and still copy code above 20 but anyone not up can forget it because all it will tell you is beeping out "pwr fc" or 'll" or "ii ok" and if your a newer ham you won't know what its saying. Even if you understand it, you have to memorize 20 or so code explanations its sending.
The Yaesu specific adapter kit is another piece of unbelievably cheap junk. Its in the cheapest thin plastic project box money can buy, again with the signature goop of silicone remnants sticking out everywhere.
On to operation:
Did they mention set up would be several hours? yep if your antenna isn't already set up you have to tediously scan through every band and set frequencies.
Also, you need to adjust a trim pot while you add a jumper across the open flat 4 pin plug. Now this plug will have 12vdc on it when you turn it on and if you mess up the minimum will be a blown fuse. Could be worse to your rig. SERIOUSLY??
You can't make a circuit to attenuate the signal if its more than the 20 watts for tuneup? It's not that hard.
Forgot to mention the acc jack has the molded plastic around it cut down with a hack saw or exacto knife just add hock like a child did it so it will fit some rigs- junk. The mini din also got this cut the edges off treatment and looks incredibly hacked up.
It failed to match up about 50% of the time even after being properly set up.
I used it one full day and just finished ripping it out. I gave it to a friend because he wants to do a mobile install and cant afford anything and he said he'd deal with it.
They should be embarrased selling such trash.
Yes, it's (unfortunately) made in USA. It's an embarrasment to real craftsmanship in this country and MFJ would be a better choice here. I don't own ANY MFJ gear anymore but at least their stuff looks presentable.

K9GEM Rating: 2016-07-20
Great Product and GREAT Service Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
What a Product and what Great Service. Back in April I purchased the TuneMatic for my Kenwood TS 480 HX 200 watt radio. I also bught from Hi-Q a Piranha 5/160. I had it installed and had trouble from the start. I called Charlie from Hi-Q and received some trouble shooting tip which proved the antenna was OK. I then called Jim at JT communication, since I proved the radio was OK. The first issue was that the interface board was not in a plastic box as illustrated and a cable was pinched during installation. Jim Sent me a complete new interface board in the plastic box and all the cables. After installing it I still had a problem with the controls. I called Jim and we went thru some trouble shooting and found that the control seemed to think it was in Park when trying to move the antenna using the arrows on the control head. The initialization worked as it was supposed to. After some more trouble shooting it was discovered that the RJ-45 jumper block had 2 pins shorted which is the signal to PARK the antenna. Jim is sending a new jumper block and as an added benefit he is sending the program chip with the latest up grade. I went to Home Depot and bought a RJ-45 jumper block and put it in and now it works just as advertised.What GREAT SERVICE.
KF2TI Rating: 2016-05-29
As advertised Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just before Dayton, my 7000's CI-V port went dead, rendering my Turbo Tuner bought in 2005 useless. To top it off, my little Tarheel gave in to 11 years of northeast salt corrosion. After looking at my options, I founded this little gizmo. At a tad pricy, but what isn't. Excellent reviews sold me. Bought it, READ the instructions..WOWSERS. where the TT was iffy on 17m, the Tunematic doesn't blink. I was concerned having to mount it in the trunk that I wouldn't hear the CW tones and know when it was done tuning, but that last operation, checking SWR is my key to key up. Well made, does the TT one better by not sending a carrier.....hats off