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Reviews For: HEATHKIT SA-2040

Category: Antenna Tuners/Matching Networks

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Review Summary For : HEATHKIT SA-2040
Reviews: 27MSRP: 150
Heavy duty antenna tuner
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KZ5A Rating: 2022-09-30
Good tuner that can be made better Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This tuner works great at it's primary task, but had a couple of shortcomings. The knob on the 25 turn roller was a nuisance, replaced it with a WW2 mil surplus crank, much better. Also deleted the balun and put a hvy duty DPDT relay in it's place along with a push-button control switch to allow bypassing the tuner. Super good tuner now. 73 Jack KZ5A
N3TVV Rating: 2022-09-29
Great tuner Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this tuner at Sussex Hamfest a couple of years ago with then intent of using it with my 80 m dipole fed with open wire feeders and an SB-220 amp . This thing does everything I ask it to and more,not only does it tune all of 80 & 75 meters ,but also get great signal reports on 60, 40 and 30 m as well,making it a multi-band antenna ..

A couple of things to keep in mind should you purchase one of these .

When you get close to 0 and/or 240 on the Inductor take your time, as the have a habit of coming off track,which is the last thing you want when trying to work a station .

Before you put it in line ,pull the cover and and do some preventive maintenance .. After putting mine on the air ,I noticed a lot of noise when turning the inductor ,so i'll pass these tips on to you ..

Spray the capacitors with a can of air, clean the inductor ( I used rubbing alcohol and cloth) ,also clean the roller which rides on the it, rubbing alcohol and a q tip work for this ..

CAREFULLY tighten the terminals on the back of the tuner as mine seem to come loose every now and then ,guess an extra lock washer wouldn't hurt either . Remember the terminals are OLD and ceramic and can easily crack ...

Last thing is grounding, make sure your tuner is WELL grounded ,not only for tuning but also for RFI as well .. Be sure to disconnect your open feeders when not in use wind static is not your friend and of course lightning as well ...

Have fun with your old/new tuner take care of her and she'll last a long time ....


KB1BBY Rating: 2020-09-17
One of the best of it's era Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Recently picked up a used Heathkit SA-2040 tuner, but I cannot seem to recall where the hell I got it from. Been so busy lately with freight hauling and sometimes I just buy this stuff online and my girlfriend just receives the parcels at home, while I am out on the road doing my job.

This particular tuner needs to be torn down and rebuilt, because it was obviously assembled by someone with very minimal experience in electromechanical assembly and fabrication. But that is a big part of what ham radio is about…to explore and learn, by building such kits. Not all hams have worked within the engineering realm for the better parts of 20 years…as I once did.

The three original quarter-inch shaft couplers in MY SA-2040 tuner are made of pretty hard/heavy steel and they have only but one pinch point to clamp onto the drive shafts of the two variable capacitors and single roller inductor. I think the designers would have been better off utilizing couplers made of softer/lighter metal with TWO set screw pinch points; either 90 or 180 degrees apart. That way, they don’t need to be torqued down so tightly, in order to produce a very solid and lasting grip on the fiberglass and aluminum shafts. But buying three measly little replacement quarter-inch (6.35mm) anodized aluminum couplers is really no big deal to me. All the structural metal-to-metal hardware points in this tuner should have been assembled with serviceable thread locker, plus grounding washers used on all points of electrical continuity. The crimp lugs on the rear porcelain insulators should have been installed with the smoother sides of the crimp lugs facing the final inner clamping nut…yet someone chose to assemble it the hard way, so that the corners of the nuts are hitting the lugs when trying to turn them with a small ignition wrench. Some of the solder joints could have been flowed a bit better too. These are most of the issues that need to be corrected and I also expect to find a few more.

The things I am grateful for are the fact that the cabinet and all major internal components are in very good physical shape and of excellent build quality. Overall, I am very happy to have snatched this tuner up for well under $100 shipped. I have owned tuners from MFJ, Comet, Daiwa, Dentron, Drake, Kenwood, Palstar and I even built a couple of homebrewed T-network and L-network tuners, MANY years ago. I judge the build quality of this Heathkit SA-2040 to be at least just as good as the biggest and best tuners from Dentron and Palstar. Some of the OLDER MFJ FULL LEGAL LIMIT TUNERS were halfway decent with a little tweaking, but I like the major key components inside this Heathkit SA-2040 much better. I also like the fact that this is just a simple tuner with a LOT of space for internal electrical clearances (less chance of arcing) and just a long wire balun…but NO internal SWR/WATT meter or dummy load. When all that extra stuff goes quirky or even bad, it just devalues the tuner and it also makes repairs all that much more complicated. So in my view, it is better to simply utilize outboard meters and dummy loads of very good quality. Although it would be quite simple to add an antenna selector switch and a good internal dummy load, if so desired.

The 3-digit turns counter on the roller inductor is also of good design and if properly assembled and meshed at the bevel gear drive, it should work just as well as any Palstar tuner with a turns counter. Best bet for long term reliability of the turns counter is to use a carbide-tipped scribe or punch to pilot a small blind hole in EACH of the two involved drive shafts. Then drill them out JUST ENOUGH for the bevel gear set screw to rest and lock into place. This will keep the bevel gears from ever slipping. You may need to get a longer set screw and shape the tip on a grinder or belt sander. But once you get the set screws to lock into the blind holes or “divots”…you will never end up having a problem with gear slippage. You also need to be aware of the roller inductor end stops and avoid bumping those stops with excessive speed and/or force. If you don’t have patience, then simply don’t use a manual tuner with a roller type inductor!

I need not actually USE this tuner to know how well it will tune across the 3.5-30MHz HF bands, because I have owned plenty of manual tuners and I already KNOW that all the right ingredients are there in the major internal components. It really all depends upon just how well the tuner KIT has been assembled and mechanically adjusted. Meticulous assembly methods and focused attention to detail will pay off exponentially in terms of operational ease and reliability. Periodic cleaning and fine adjustment of the roller inductor is just par for the course if you plan to use a tuner with a roller type inductor. If you don’t like performing basic periodic maintenance, then don’t bother owning a roller inductor type tuner.

So based upon the ERA OF MANUFACTURE, excellent quality of the major internal components, sufficiently solid cabinet…and ample internal electrical clearances….I must rate this old school manual roller inductor tuner KIT with a solid 5 stars.

Happy DX and 73, de Scott/KB1BBY signing off… ;-)
N7RD Rating: 2019-08-19
Great Tuner Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I gave $200 for this one from original owner sold on internet. Cabinet was very rough, so had it sand blasted and electrostatic painted. Came out great. Needed a good cleaning, the phenolic end cap on the front of the inductor was loose, had to re epoxy it. Inductor was filthy, along with the small wheel. Cleaned up and applied Anti-oxidant DX-40 to that shaft and it works like a dream. If you find one grab it, not many made this well.
WO9B Rating: 2015-04-08
Upon this Rock I will Build my Station Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Picked up the SA-2040 for a song from an internet used gear ad. No picture. Short description. Felt right so I rolled the dice.

What a deal. Spent some time cleaning and doing repair to the slipping roller inductor. Then dropped the key down and sent some RF up the ladder line. This thing cranks it down to 1:1 across the board. With repeatable settings. Spent some time indexing frequencies and now it is twist, spin and bang.

What a treat to get hooked up with a piece of gear that I can hand down to the next generation. It is that solid. Can't decide if I want to repaint the cover and destroy 30 years of "character building".

If you run across one of these units, buy it. With out hesitation.
K4TIN Rating: 2013-12-26
Best 125 Skins.... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
....I ever spent. Mine was on a hamfest table with a $150 sign on it. Offered the man a hundred. He said "let's meet in the middle."
Tunes most anything; 700 watts the most I've ever used.
Doesn't do 160, but neither do I, much. I heard you can by placing a cap in parallel with the others.
WA7EQX Rating: 2012-01-19
great tuner Time Owned: more than 12 months.
great tuner but my counter gears are bad. need to find a new set any sugestions. Would still buy one.
KE4ZHN Rating: 2010-08-09
A Beast Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had mine for over 10 years now. Bought it used from a friend and this thing just wont quit. I wish MFJ would build tuners of this quality. This thing is built to last you a lifetime. Yeah, it doesn't have an internal switch or meters but who cares? It will practically tune up your bed springs and never arc or fuss. If you need a good solid tuner that usually sells very reasonable on the used market this one won't let you down.
KU6RT Rating: 2010-08-09
Fantastic Kit Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just finished building my new in the box SA-2040. Assemble was straight forward. The finished product looks and works great. It certainly does not have all the “bells and whistles” of a modern off the shelf unit, but the SA-2040 is built like a tank.

I took some hints from these reviews, and took precautions when assembling identified problem areas. The balun took some time and patience to wind correctly, but when finished it looked great. While sitting at my bench with 1970’s rock playing on my stereo I could almost imagine it was the late 70’s again. It is too bad that kits of this quality are not currently available.
AC8DE Rating: 2009-07-20
Good old tuner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently rebuilt the SA-2040 (s/n 01005) for a friend and put it into service in my shack for a few months. I can't review it on 160, but everywhere else it is a champ. I think you could tune a dead cat with it. And it is definitely a beast with big heavy components.

Being fair, I won't compare it to the geared down capacitor drives on a Palstar, as that is hardly fair, considering this tuner's vintage and the market they went after back then. Of course, this tuner would benefit in operation from an aftermarket crank and take off the original adjsutment knob on the inductor.

My biggest beef with it concerns the drive shaft for the roller inductor and the gear drive for the indicator. The nut that holds the roller inductor to its drive shaft slips too easily. A better arrangement could have been used here. There was also a problem with the blind hole that allows the small setscrew that holds the bevel gear in place that drives the indicator. This setscrew is clearly supposed to just nest into this hole with no slop and not be tightened per se. It just keeps the bevel gear from slipping around the shaft and locates it properly. The blind hole in the shaft was drilled too small and would not allow the setscrew to slip into it. Therefore the orginal owner had overtightened this screw slightly and still did not have the bevel gear held in place well. So he used sealing wax to hold it in place, which worked weakly. I removed all this and simply opened the blind hole up .015" and now the setscrew drops in the correct amount and takes any strain off the plastic of the gear. Luckily, the bevel gear wasn't broken. But if you have one of these old girls, make sure that setscrew drops into the hole properly and is not just sitting on top of the metal surface of the shaft, otherwise you are risking breaking this bevel gear, which is probably pretty hard to replace. So due to the small QC problem on this shaft arrangement and so-so engineeing on the gear drive, I give it a 4.

Other than this mechanical QC or design issue, it is a great old tuner. It is working well in my shack.