Screwdriver controller suggestions - What are you using?

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by KF7NUA, Apr 7, 2012.

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  1. KF7NUA

    KF7NUA Ham Member

    Screwdriver controller suggestions - What are you using?
    I am going to need a controller of some sort and I have seen a few on line but nothing gets rave reviews!
    I have a Hi-Q 4/80 antenna system that I am about to install.
    What controller are you using?
     
  2. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    You only have three (real) choices, depending on the radio. If you own an Icom 7000, then the better RF is about as good as it gets. Otherwise, look into a Turbo Tuner. I'd stay away from the 2 or 3 products MFJ offers, unless you have no other choice.

    Might was to pay a vista to my web site, and look under Automatic Controllers.
     
  3. KO6WB

    KO6WB Premium Subscriber

    A switch that returns to center. One way is up and the other way is down. Listen to the signal coming back on receive, when it peaks key up quickly and tune for low SWR. Doing this while driving is something you might want to reconsider. There are screwdriver controllers that have memories. All you have to do is push a button and the antenna moves to that spot. There are several manufacturers of these. Just shop around, some are made by amateurs as a sideline.
    73
    Gary
     
  4. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    One of the slickest manual systems I ever used, incorporated an LDG, TW1 talking wattmeter (alas, no longer made). The wattmeter has a squeal mode which was pulsed and/or was steady and/or changed frequency depending on the reflected power. I just flipped on the RTTY mode, and adjusted the antenna for the lowest steady tone, and wallah! Didn't even have to look at the transceiver.

    Why Dwayne doesn't make this unit anymore, is a surprise to me. I think it would still sell well. Heck, it even spoke in Spanish, and German! Maybe if it had also spoken Chinese or Japanese.....
     
  5. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Staff Member

    I used to manually tune my screwdriver with a little practice it was pretty easy, even when driving. I now have a Turbo Tuner and it works great. One simple press of the tune button and it does its thing automatically. I've been using one for a couple of years now with no problems.
     
  6. WX7G

    WX7G Ham Member

    I use an Ameritron for the backyard screwdriver antenna. It works but does miss counting a turn here and there. After several band changes it doesn't return to the exact spot it was programmed to.

    In the car I use an ATAS-120 with an FT-857. I like the fact that it tunes automatically as I QSY from band-to-band every few minutes. The Turbo tuner would give you this ability.
     
  7. KO6WB

    KO6WB Premium Subscriber

    Having read about the Turbo Tuner and checking it's operation, it would do a good job. It doesn't care about the counts and is immune to anything that slips. It just tunes for low SWR and that's it. Now the down side. Geesh....this thing is expensive. You can look to spend over $300.00 for one and that makes your mobile antenna system much more expensive then a lot of home station antenna systems.
    Look for details at; http://www.n2vz.com/.
    73
    Gary
     
  8. K2KTB

    K2KTB Ham Member

    Hi Folks - I'm looking for a tuner for the Icom 7000 as well. It will be used with a Tarheel 200A-HP. I've already limited my focus to the BetterRF and Turbo Tuner. It appears that the BetterRF has far more flexibility :). However, on the Tarheel website, they don't have BetterRF listed as an approved tuner :confused:?

    Additionally, BetterRF appears to consist of two components (7000 Screwdriver Control and 7000 Tune Control). My concern is the latter 7000 Tune Control module. The size of the module appears to block access to the four 3.5mm ports on the rear of the 7k. I use an external speaker which uses one of these ports. Perhaps a 90° 3.5mm would clear the module, but would need this confirmed.

    Something else I wonder about is it looks like BetterRF uses 30 watts for tuning. Isn't that a bit high? I've heard Turbo Tuner uses 15 watts, which still seems a bit high, but (I would think) safer for the transceiver. The BetterRF website indicates that a 'pulsed (50% duty cycle) output at user selectable power' is another option. But this seems designed for secondary amps which I'm not currently using.

    Thanks in advance for any feeback on this, as I'd like to order one of these quickly.

    73
    K2KTB
    Kent
     
  9. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    No, but the BetterRF will work just fine with the 200A. There is an issue with the Lil Tarheel when the instructions are followed.

    There are two things you need to know, however. First, do a decent job of winding a motor lead choke. The one that comes with the 200A isn't nearly good enough. If you want to know how to do that, go to my web site.

    Number two, follow the instructions explicitly, and you'll be rewarded. Oh. And do worry about setting the SWR threshold.
     
  10. K2KTB

    K2KTB Ham Member

    Alan Thank you for the information. Per your website, I already replaced the stock choke with the DX Engineering 3/4, mix 31 (part # DXE-CSB-750P). Then followed your procedures for wrapping the motor lead, exterior mount, within 4"of antenna. Took a bit of time to get 13 untwisted turns without overlap, but I now know it done correctly :). Coax was also choked (per you site) with the same DXE-CSB-750P, 7 turns RG8x, exterior mount.

    Is the reason that Tarheel doesn't list BetterRF as an approved tuner because of the issues specific to the Little Tarheel?

    Would you know if the BetterRF '7000 Tune Control' module will cause access problems to the 7000 speaker port? If not, I'll contact BetterRF directly and ask.

    Again, thanks for your ongoing assistance to the mobile ham community :eek:.

    73
    K2KTB
    Kent
     
  11. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member

    I use the Ameritron SDC 102. I like it because I can tweak my Tarheel 75A while I am holding a QSO. If there is an ongoing QSO that you want to join, you are not going to tune on that frequency, you are going to tune on a close by frequency. When you move to where the ongoing QSO is taking place, you can transmit to join the QSO and manually fine tune the antenna. If the turbo tuner continuously monitored the SWR, then I would say it is a good choice, but it does not.

    73,
    Mark N5RFX
     
  12. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    There is some politic involved as well with respect to the BetterRF vs. the Lil Tarheel issue. I won't go into detail here, but the real problem is not what it appears to be.

    If you set up the BetterRF correctly, it will work with about 90% of the remotely tuned HF antennas out there. It will not work those which use a slip clutch or interrupted thread to protect the motor. This includes all Alpines, and early GS units. It will work correctly with any motor current from 40 mils, up to 4.5 amps. The Lil Tarheel is on the lower end of this range, drawing 60 mils. This requires following the BetterRF instructions to the letter. The only antennas I know of that are close to the extreme high end are Larry's Antennas. If the contact sleeve is adjusted correctly, it works fine with them too. You can even make it automatically retune when the SWR gets over 2:1, or you QSY over 100 kHz, by setting the 7000's auto-tune menu correctly. You can make the Turbo Tuner do this too, but is isn't as reliable doing so as the BetterRF unit is.

    Period! The biggest single issue is proper choking of the motor leads and reed switch leads (if used). No one supplies a motor lead choke with a enough impedance. They might be adequate to protect the controller from RF damage, but RFI can and does cause all sorts of other maladies, some of which aren't noticed, or are blamed on some other "thing". If users realized how much RFI ingress there is, due to incorrectly choked motor leads, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
     
  13. K2KTB

    K2KTB Ham Member

    Alan - Again thanks. Final question before I place an order.

    Do know if the '7000 Tune Control' module will cause access problems to the 7000 speaker port?

    Thanks again,
    73
    K2KTB
    Kent
     
  14. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    No it will not.

    Icom has always recommended the use of 90° plugs on the rear panel of the 706, and 7000. The jacks are surface mounted, and a good smack can dislodge them. On the 7000, they're under the main board, and if you don't have the special tool to replace the printer circuit ribbon cables, you're in deep doo doo if you try to fix it yourself.

    If you insist on using straight plugs, them buy a (very short) hard drive power Y connector, and cut off the extra plug.

    I no longer have any affiliation with BetterRF, and its owner, Jerry Smith, W6TER. But that fact doesn't negate the fact, it is still the best fully automatic controller on the market for the 7000. this said, if you do not properly choke the motor leads, you will have problems. You'll have them with the Turbo Tuner too, but sooner or later when the L298 fails, rest assured it is RF that did it.
     
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