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Reviews For: LDG External 4:1 and 1:1 baluns

Category: Antenna parts, accessories, incl. baluns, hardware, etc.

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Review Summary For : LDG External 4:1 and 1:1 baluns
Reviews: 35MSRP: 30
External 4:1 and 1:1 baluns
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KA3RCS Rating: 2014-10-10
Not as good as their tuners Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My rating of 3 is based on experience with several of the 4:1 models, and taking into account inclusion for free with the purchase of a tuner. Paying for one outright would likely have lowered my rating.

I got mine as a freebie with a Z-817 tuner a number of years ago. It works acceptably for a cheap, non-isolated 4:1 balun, but its construction is not impressive. Like so many others, mine had the toroid floating in space, as the piece of double-sided tape failed to hold it. I have only used it for Field Day a few times with an FT-450 and a 100 watt LDG tuner, as well as portable operation with my FT-817 and Z-817. Additionally, though the solder connections are OK, the hardware was all loose inside as well. Then again, the SO-239 hardware in my Z-817 was also loose...

The other one which I have used extensively is installed at our radio club site, between a Z-11 Pro and the open wire line feeding an 80 meter loop (and a 75 meter dipole fed with ladder line for years before that). It has never been driven with more than 100 watts, yet the case is somewhat melted due to obvious overheating. One of the binding posts is mechanically loose, such that one must use pliers to tighten it adequately. The holes on the binding posts are irritatingly small, making it something of a challenge to feed the 14 AWG feedline wires into them. All of this aside, it does function decently, even beyond its rated frequency range (the antenna system works from 160 through 6 meters).

In summary, if you get one of these for free, it will probably work OK (as long as you tighten the hardware, add support foam for the toroid, check the solder joints, and don't drive it too hard). If you actually need to purchase a balun, I would look elsewhere.
K7RNO Rating: 2013-08-14
Looks like they are improving Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
They must (and should) be reading these reviews, and it looks like they are heeding them. I got my 1:1 today (from DX Engineering) and it feels very solid. Yes, the core is suspended by (thick!) wires inside, but nothing is loose or rattles, all contacts were soldered well, and there are very detailed and informative instructions with the balun.

I did arrange the core to stick to its tape and am holding it in place with styrofoam spacers. I may also swap the two binding posts for a PL-259 connector, which is more practical for my application.

Once I get to use it, I will be able to tell whether it does the job as I expect, and I will edit this.

For now it is a 4.5 because that suspended core — more cosmetic than anything, but — it is not as it should be.
AC2KK Rating: 2013-06-12
I Use This Balun Continuously Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I have the 4:1 balun and use it indoors to match balanced and single wire lead-ins (using a good RF ground on the other side). The balun performs well and I've never had any problems with it at all. When used with a good tuner, I've been able to match most of my antennas most of the time.
KT4EP Rating: 2013-05-25
Just seal it from the weather Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I recommend these baluns - a good buy for the price.

I'm using two of the 4:1 baluns. One of them is on my 15 meter delta loop ( fed with rg8x ). I thought I'd sealed it from the weather, but it got some water in it, I think from one of the terminals on top - a faulty rubber seal. Or the seal got broken from my making adjustments to the the antenna. When I sealed it from the weather using RV silicone adhesive, all I did was smear a bit on the back cover and screws. I took the cover off today and found water inside the box, I think from a leak on one of the terminals. I dried it out, put silicone adhesive on the rim of the box and put the back on, then gooped the adhesive all over the terminals before and after putting the wires back on.

I recommend this balun but use common sense and seal it up better than what I did the first time. Its a good product for the price. Much better than what I bought from a place in Starkville, Mississippi.
WA7HAA Rating: 2012-12-23
Good for temporary set-up's Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have the 1:1, 4:1, and the UNUN. I use them for my QRP operation to set up temporary antennas when in the field. My comments apply to all 3:
1. They are not waterproof as-is, you need to use sealer around the seams of the box.
2. All of mine had the unattached torroid suspended by the wires on the inside of the box. I fixed this by wedging in some small pieces of styrofoam to support the torroid, then used some RTV sealant to "glue" things in place. This took care of the support problem. If you use any of the acetic acid based silicone sealer, don't close up the box for several days, or until the vinegar smell is gone. I have noticed no change in the behavior of the balun with the silicone sealer/styrofoam support.
3. I did drill out the case for two extra screws on the SO-239 flange, and used some small stainless hardware for this. Probably not needed, but it may provide some extra strain relief.
4. Check that the nuts on the binding posts are tight. Mine were, but I gave them just a slight tweak to be sure, then used a drop of super glue to make sure the nut would not back off. (I don't plan on getting into the box again to have to mess with the nuts).
5. As mentioned above, seal the edge of the box when putting it back together to weatherproof.

I know this is a lot of work for a new item out of the box, but I don't mind as long as the price is low enough to start with. Perhaps my biggest complaint is the binding post connections for your antenna legs. They don't seem strong enough to support a real long piece of wire when using for a dipole. I would rather have a stud with a wing-nut. I used a spade lug crimped on to my wire ends, slip this in, and tighten down the binding post. I admit that the longest dipole leg so far has been 33 ft of small guage wire, and there has not been a lot of strain on the balun, but it would be better to have a more robust dipole center to take the strain, and then connect the balun to that, Also, you need to provide some strain relief to the coax feedline. Another thing is that up to now, I have only run a maximum of 5 watts of power. We'll see how things go when I add my 50 watt amp. Another poster reported things getting hot at 100 watts, so I hope this won't be an issue. I don't plan to run more than 50 watts, and I won't be leaving it up for extended periods of time.
Would I buy another? Probably, because of the size, weight, and price, and it works for my particular need. I would still inspect it and make the above mentioned corrections before putting into service however.
K7WFM Rating: 2012-10-02
POS Time Owned: N.A.
4:1 balun is cheaply made and there no way to mount the rear screw to a backer board (S0-239 is in the way) I actually paid full price for this piece of garbage(read: chump.)Stripped out the toroid (which had come loose from the center conductor) and so-239 and the crappy plasic box with lousy banana sockets went right into the trash can. I'm done with LDG products.
DXTUNER Rating: 2012-09-05
Noisy reception? Use the 4:1 balun. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Jeez, these reviews here got me worried - now I'm shaking my LDG balun to see if anything rattles inside. Seriously, it never dawned on me that people shake their baluns & radios first, when buying. (??) Anyway, the LDG 4:1 balun is a miracle for me, in receive-only applications. Its the only thing I've ever come across that complelely eliminates unwanted noise & interference on HF receivers. I don't know why it does, exactly, but I'm not going to question it. I mean it will take RFI that's S-10 and completely removes it. The 1:1 current balun doesn't help, only the 4:1 balun. So, I heartily recommend the LDG 4:1 balun for any Dx'er who's getting annoying interference on their table top receiver. Its only $30.
K3YDX Rating: 2012-06-26
Not very good Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Acquired the RBA-4:1 Balun with the intention of using it for FD coupled directly to the back of an LDG AT-11MP tuner to a 300 ohm twinlead fed 80 meter dipole for multiband operation. The system appeared to load fine at first but within 40 minutes running CW on 40 meters I smelled plastic melting. The box the balun is in was warped and distorted from the intense heat. The expense was minimal for this experiment but I would have expected a device rated at 200 watts to perform better than this at 100 watts output power.
More disturbing to me is the lack of support or any show of concern from LDG via their email tech. support to my querry about why this might have happened and or what I might have done wrong regarding the use of the balun. Their reply to me was essentially "Probably never know what happened. I would not use the balun anymore". Not even a Gee I'm sorry this happened to you. How could we make this right?
I would echo K7NNG's sentiment regarding their customer support or concern about a problem, albeit regarding an inexpensive product. I certainly hope they show more insight and concern to those who have invested substantial money in an expensive tuner. I might add I had a prior terse and less than helpful reply to a question I posed to them about an older product of theirs.
Given the above, I will not recommend the company to those who ask.
KMX8356 Rating: 2012-02-20
Construction Questionable; Repaired Function Acceptable Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
So? The 'CB Call' probably threw ya' for a loop, huh? Awww ... it 'nostalgia' at its best; my amateur days find me as Don WD5JOY - an active 'ham' for decades. Happy to meet ya' all!

Now, as far as the "free 1:1 balun" is concerned:

(1): Construction of the unit is somewhat questionable at best. The flimsy 'naner-plug'/ 'binding-posts connections are simply 'OK' - and surely could have been made FAR better by using a more secure 'bolt, washer, nut combination.

(2): To be certain all connections were secure, I removed the backing plate and found all solder points to be acceptable. However, the piece of 'foam' was not supporting ANY of the internals and required a bit of help to stop movement. I managed to 'caulk' the inside and hoped the caulk did not change the impedance characteristics of the unit - which it did not to a significant degree. Waterproofing was completed by laying a layer of caulk around the 'lips' prior to reassembly. Submerging the unit in water produced NO 'bubbles' nor did weight increase after 1-hour. I felt it was, "good to go" and set about building my dipole assembly.

(3): After minor adjustments to wire-length (14 gauge - 168 strand - Flex-Weave bare copper - attached to the balun via the supplied connectors (still not my favorite) and crimped and soldered on the distal ends VSWR without a tuner was approximately 1.5 : 1 at band center. I shocked myself since when cutting the wire I was not positive I had held each length 'exactly' equal.

(4): As others have noted, I question if the same individuals manufacture the baluns as do the manufacturing of the LDG Tuners. Overall quality is definitely not equal, nor is it at all impressive from a design point. The basics are there - beyond this it still needs help from the purchaser or better yet - LDG. As with many MFJ products this unit definitely needed a very CLOSE INSPECTION prior to being placed into use; this might be OK had the unit been found to be of exceptional quality - but it obviously was not (again - much like many MFJ products which is sad at best).

SUMMARY: A function unit - well worth the price (FREE) but would have been returned had it have been a "purchased item". Disappointment would have abounded and an alternate manufacturer would have been a definite need. As it is NOW - function is good and I am pleased with the overall performance of the dipole using this 1:1 current balun.
HK3TKI Rating: 2012-02-07
Excelente Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
He tenido dos de estos balun, cumplen muy bien con su función, lo uso con un hilo largo de 16.2 metros, trabajo con un sintonizador LDG-100 en todas las bandas, lo trabajo con mi FT-817 con 20 watios, se puede usar esta antena en espacios reducidos. Ademas es pequeño y sus terminales en forma de rosca permite instalary desistalar los cables rapidamente sin soldadura. HK3TKI