Review of the LDG AT-200 Pro Autotuner
For about the past year I have been using the LDG AT-200 Pro Autotuner. A link to the full review that I wrote shortly after I got the LDG autotuner is provided below.
After a year of use, here are some final thoughts on this tuner.
Why did LDG make a 250 Watt mode?
Why did LDG make a 250 Watt model? Just about every HF radio manufactured at the time of this writing is 100 watts. There are exceptions, but those mid-class to upper end models with more than 100 watts already have a built-in antenna tuner. So you really would not even need an outboard antenna tuner like the LDG for these radios.
If you have a linear, then 250 Watts is the wrong size - linear. Going from 100 Watts to 250 Watts is slightly more than a 3db increase. If 1 S-unit is 6 DB then going from 100 Watts to 250 Watts is about 1/2 an S-Unit. That will make no real difference at all at the receiving end.
Tuner resolution and LED power readout
The LDG uses lumped C and L. As such, the tuning will not be continuous. "SWR tweakers" will never be satisfied. With an air dielectric variable capacitor and/or rolller inductor - you can get nearly an infinite number of combinations.
Again, like going from 100 watts to 250 - which does not make a difference, trying to get a SWR lower than about 1.5 is not going to make a difference. For 100 watts, at a SWR of 1.5 you are only losing a couple of watts - and that does not make any material difference. But it's hard to convince "perfect SWR tweakers" of this.
The other issue is the power out LED resolution on the LDG AT-200 Pro. It is just too gross to be valuable. See my review for the details on this.
Bottom line, if you are going to buy an LDG autotuner and you have a 100 watt out radio I think you would be better off with the LDG AT-100 Pro.
The LDG AT-100 Pro is about $25 less than the LDG AT-200 Pro. It's not really about saving money, its about the right "fit" for a 100 Watt radio.
I don't know what market segment LDG is targeting with the 250 Watt model. It does not seem to be a good "fit" for any HF radio being manufactured today - typically 100 watts out; or a good fit for any linear that makes sense.
Here is my review from last year
Here is the LDG Electronics product line
Last edited by KE9ZM; 06-19-2009 at 07:27 AM.
I use the LDG AT-100 Pro. As you mention, for a 100w rig, this tuner is a perfect fit. It handles up to 125w. With my IC-7000, a homebrew "G5RV Jr.", this tuner tunes flat from 40m through 6m. I also find with a flat SWR, my IC-7000 is actually pumping out 110-120watts (verified with other external equipment).
The simultanious PWR/SWR bargraphs are always entertaining to watch (hey,I'm a guy, I love das blinkenlights!).
Also, I want to mention LDG as a company. I purchased a Z-11 Pro tuner used. Was advertised as "new, perfect working condition". When I received it, it was dead. Totally dead. No power, no lights, no nothing! I called LDG (since the seller wasn't too responsive). I opted to send it to LDG. Got a phone call from a tech named Dwayne. He told me that they couldn't figure out what was wrong, but it was indeed a dead unit. Offered to send me a replacement (for dirt cheap). I asked if I could get a discount on an AT-100 Pro (mainly for the bargraphs as well as the built-in antenna switch).
LDG made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Everybody there I talked to was incredibly helpful. It is a shame they don't offer those wicked cool analog meters for 'general' use (not some model Yaesu specific, or IC-76/77/7800 specific). I'd purchase one in a heartbeat.
Again -- one of the best features of the AT-100/200 Pro, in my opinion, is the antenna switch along with tuned memories for each seperate antenna.
Great construction as well, plus I just think the tuner looks really swank on my desk.
--Alex / KF4YOR
They make the AT-200 because even the new 200 watt radios mostly have tuners that have a 3:1 maximum match limit: I own an FT-2000D and the built in tuner is slow, slow, slow even when retuning to a prior frequency. Plus it cannot handle the full 75 meter phone band on my full size dipole - which is 5:1 at the very bottom of the phone band.
I bought at AT-200 to replace my AT-100 and I'm very happy with it, as I was with the AT-100 I sold [and wish I still had] and the Z-11Pro that I have for my portable kit.
I also like their DTS series of coax switches.
They have always been helpful to me when I have had questions.
BTW, I would not suggest anyone buy the units they make that require you to push the 'tune' button to start a tuning cycle when for a couple extra bucks you get fully automatic operation.
One tip for anyone considering owning one of these:
It's very useful indeed to go thru your bands with antennas and 'pre-tune' using low power AM to match, particularly if you have some high SWR areas. This presets the memory and makes this tune almost instantly.
Mine, I use mostly to expand the band edges of my dipoles and resonant verticals. They work very well.
I've been very happy with my LDG AT-200 Pro for several years and have had no problems. I use a Kenwood TS-480HX that can put out 200 watts although I normally run it at about 50 watts maximum in the digital modes. It's nice to have equipment that doesn't run close to it's maximum ratings. As one of the other writers pointed out, most of the built in antenna tuners that come already installed in rigs are not capable of matching antennas with more than a 3:1 SWR. The LDG will match a much broader range of impedances than any built in tuner that I know of.
I also have an LDG Z-11 Pro that I use for portable work. It's only rated at 100 watts but can be battery powered. I take it on vacations along with a Rubber Maid dishpan that I use as a temporary weatherproof enclosure. It works very well.
I wish LDG would make a weatherproof version of the AT-200 Pro that could be installed outdoors and either run on batteries or be capable of being powered thru the coax.