Author Topic: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF  (Read 4476 times)

Offline Carl

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Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« on: August 09, 2016, 07:22:01 AM »
An antenna TUNER is actually an improper name for an ANTENNA MATCHER as it has nothing to do with tuning of an antenna...
it matches the impedance of your antenna and feedline to a desired level for your radio, So why do you need one??

First ,you do not need a tuner IF the antenna is properly sized (tuned) to your frequency of operation..I said FREQUENCY because most antennas will not cover an entire band of operation without SWR mismatch problems. A tuner (matcher) eliminates this problem and ensures your radio is not damaged due to heat from antenna mismatch while also providing maximum radio efficiency from your radio.
An antenna matcher also allows for use of expedient antennas in time of need or while on the run from the mutant zombies and mostn any conductor will do for an antenna.

I have used wire fences (barbed wire), a hand tossed length of wire over a tree, and even two autos parked bumper to bumper ...with a coax to gator clip device I use for such expedient antennas.
The old 102 inch CB whip ,with an LDG auto tuner,will cover most bands up to 40 meters and cost way less money and effort than the big,easy to damage,motorized lamp shade looking antennas that cost many time as much as a simple antenna and manual or automatic tuner.

When mobile and able to stop...a 30 or so foot hand tossed wire ,gator clamped to your mobile antenna will provide a big signal when you want to be heard ...and at a low cost for most any wire will do well and a manual tuner needs NO outside power to work...but a small 12 volt battery ,or even "AA" battery pack will run an auto tuner for months.

AN ANTENNA DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RESONANT TO PERFORM WELL...the 'tuner' only matches the LOAD to the RADIO to PROTECT the radio..

I prefer the LDG auto tuner as they have models that have POWER and SWR readouts along with rapid tuning and even a unit labeled and cabled for one brand of radio will work with any other HF radio without the control of the radio "TUNE" button the tuner senses RF and adjusts for optimum tune.

Join in and add your most extreme item pressed into service as an antenna. Mine was two autos ,near bumper to bumper,as a 20 meter dipole and contacted Florida and Brasil from Louisiana...I also use a loop antenna BURIED a few inches below ground as a concealed antenna at my BOL.

Offline DonC

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2016, 07:57:02 AM »
Well, I'm relatively new to the HAM world. (1 year). But every day I use an "extreme" antenna. I use the W3EDP ZEP antenna. It's a 4:1 balun with 17.5' of ladder line and 49.5' of long wire stretched around the ceiling of 2 rooms. It is attached to an LDG auto tuner and tunes 160-10 with little to no trouble.... (it's a little noisy on 10 and 80m). I also have a spare W3EDP for my go box.

Another "extreme" antenna I used was for my CW pixie kit. I was merely testing it. But I bent a coat hanger in an L-shape and made a loop on top. I was able to hear the tone through my HF rig.

I have a couple ATAS antennas that have bad motors that I'm able to put up on a tripod, attach a couple counterpoises to and deploy in a pinch. (80-6m)

I have a telescopic aluminum fishing pole I don't use at the moment that I'm going to make an antenna out of. Given its size, I can probably adjust it for 40-10m.

I have the plans to make a 6m antenna out of an "easy chair." It's pretty simple to make. I think that one is neat looking.

Speaking of 6m, I made a 6m antenna in under 3 minutes. (Soldering iron was already hot). I took an SO-239 chassis mountil and soldered a 4.5' piece of wire to the top and then added a couple 4.5' counterpoises. Works like a charm. (Even lights up my old Christmas lights on certain frequencies).

You can make an antenna out of almost anything. I like that capability. You're limited to your imagination.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2016, 09:37:05 AM »
Carl,

Can you speak more to the different types of matchers (tuners)?

Some are marketed as designed for long wire, others for coax/feedline.
As an example, I was recently oogling the new FT-891
http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=72735

Below the accessories they list two kinds of tuners:

YAESU FC40   AUTOMATIC ANTENNA TUNER FOR LONG WIRE ANTENNAS
YAESU FC50   AUTOMAITIC ANTENNA TUNER

Ignoring the Yaesu brand for a moment, why are there 2 models available?  Can't a single matcher/tuner with a balun be used to handle long wires as well as coax?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2016, 09:44:56 AM »
Also,  looking at LDG, there are brand/model specific tuners and generic ones.

It seems perhaps wiser to get a generic one and optionally get the radio interface cable if you really want to press the "tune" button on your rig.

This one seems like it could do it all:
http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/9/1


Offline Carl

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2016, 10:09:17 AM »
Carl,

Can you speak more to the different types of matchers (tuners)?

Some are marketed as designed for long wire, others for coax/feedline.
As an example, I was recently oogling the new FT-891
http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=72735

Below the accessories they list two kinds of tuners:

YAESU FC40   AUTOMATIC ANTENNA TUNER FOR LONG WIRE ANTENNAS
YAESU FC50   AUTOMAITIC ANTENNA TUNER

Ignoring the Yaesu brand for a moment, why are there 2 models available?  Can't a single matcher/tuner with a balun be used to handle long wires as well as coax?

As I understand them.
The LONG WIRE tuner is designed for a single wire (not two) unbalanced  output that normally has an internal balun or unun to feed a single wire against ground..like on a boat or an auto.
While a 'regular' matcher usually has coax out and is designed to feed TWO wires or sides (Balanced)...and it will ,with a balun and counterpoise do an effective job (in my opinion) like the
often more costly long wire tuner. I have not used or had need of a long wire tuner.(though they may be more efficient.

Offline Carl

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2016, 10:29:02 AM »
Also,  looking at LDG, there are brand/model specific tuners and generic ones.

It seems perhaps wiser to get a generic one and optionally get the radio interface cable if you really want to press the "tune" button on your rig.

This one seems like it could do it all:
http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/9/1

The only difference in FUNCTION of brand specific VS generic LDG auto tuner is the OPTION to engage the tuner through the radio's control button
rather than use RF (a CW tone or carrier)  as done with generic tuners. The packaged tuner matches some brand specific tuner to radio physically
but by function ,they are the same ...I have cables for the Kenwood,Yaesu,and Icom added as option to my AT 100 Pro LDG and also use it with other
radios that do not interface with the tuner.

SSB does not provide consistent RF to auto tune well or quickly and a CW TONE or carrier (or whistling) speed the process.

ALL LDG tuners I am aware of specific or generic ,will tune when SWR beyond a selectable setting of 1.7 to 1 is detected as long as powered on and not bypassed.
The AT 100 Pro has a LED bargraph of POWER and SWR readout That I do like.

http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/1/1

I also have TWO of the LDG AT 200 Pro2 units and prefer the more robust and forgiving capabilities with the same handy features of the AT 100 Pro2 at not muchm higher cost.

http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/3/1

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2016, 11:29:55 AM »
The only difference in FUNCTION of brand specific VS generic LDG auto tuner is the OPTION to engage the tuner through the radio's control button
rather than use RF (a CW tone or carrier)  as done with generic tuners. The packaged tuner matches some brand specific tuner to radio physically
but by function ,they are the same ...I have cables for the Kenwood,Yaesu,and Icom added as option to my AT 100 Pro LDG and also use it with other
radios that do not interface with the tuner.

SSB does not provide consistent RF to auto tune well or quickly and a CW TONE or carrier (or whistling) speed the process.

ALL LDG tuners I am aware of specific or generic ,will tune when SWR beyond a selectable setting of 1.7 to 1 is detected as long as powered on and not bypassed.
The AT 100 Pro has a LED bargraph of POWER and SWR readout That I do like.

http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/1/1

I also have TWO of the LDG AT 200 Pro2 units and prefer the more robust and forgiving capabilities with the same handy features of the AT 100 Pro2 at not muchm higher cost.

http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/3/1

Very good.  Seems the only possible ding against the 200 is that it requires 5 watts for operation, making it inappropriate for QRP, whereas the 100 model needs only 1 watt.  Then again, serious QRPers probably want to tune under 1 watt.

I really like the dual antenna output.

So if you had two HF antennas:

Radio -> SWR/watt meter  -> LDG 200proII -> Ant A
                                                     |-------> Ant B

I would expect the meter to usually display a 1:1 SWR or very close to that, which really just means 50 ohms.

And from the tuner, you toggle which antenna you want to work.  Definitely seems handy.

Offline Carl

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2016, 11:44:33 AM »
As I understand it...QRP is recognized as 5 watts CW and 10 watts SSB or less BUT my AT 200 Pro 2 will indeed tune with as little as 1 watt CW...not sure if all of them will...
BUT LDG or MFJ both make some handy auto tuners at very near the price of manual tuners and AUTO really helps with my dexterity problems..

ONE ADDITION to the cable controlled tuner whether 'generic' or 'specific' is that most radios ,when TUNE button is engaged,drop to a LOW POWER to protect radio and relays from
'spikes' of SWR while tuning. Note that auto adjustments as you move from your start (tuned) frequency are smaller problem as unit will be close and often just a single relay click
adjusts the tune.

For many,the REMOTE AUTO TUNER from LDG can do a good job and save some feedline loss caused by high SWR on feedline.

http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/20/69/1



Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2016, 05:38:52 PM »
As I understand them.
The LONG WIRE tuner is designed for a single wire (not two) unbalanced  output that normally has an internal balun or unun to feed a single wire against ground..like on a boat or an auto.
While a 'regular' matcher usually has coax out and is designed to feed TWO wires or sides (Balanced)...and it will ,with a balun and counterpoise do an effective job (in my opinion) like the
often more costly long wire tuner. I have not used or had need of a long wire tuner.(though they may be more efficient.
My MFJ-948 does both, with the difference being a 4:1 transformer on the wire output to bring a high impedance end-fed wire into easier tuning range.  I'm guessing this is the usual difference between the two types.

Can't claim to have tuned anything weird like Carl and Don discussed above, but I'll have to experiment in the yard some more when the weather cools off.  So far all I've done is tune boring old random wires, but they performed pretty well.  It makes for a cheap, easy way do dip your toe into 160m without any crazy antenna construction projects.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Antenna Tuner...Why you need one for HF
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2016, 05:53:41 PM »
I have my trusty train gutter. 20 foot downspout and 40 foot horizontal run. Tunes everything but 80 meters. I have another run off gutter that I could electrically connect to see if I could get 80 meters but I haven't tried that yet.
Best long wire was at the beach, ran over 100 feet of wire right up to the water and worked with an MFJ manual tuner (no longer have that one)
My tuner is the yaseu one with the ft-897 but I need a tuner for my backup radio and have been looking at the LDG ones.

Jerseyboy