"Antenna Tuner?" -- TenTec -- Palstar -- Ameritron -- MFJ ?? Appreciate suggestions.

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KM5YE, Aug 31, 2012.

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  1. KM5YE

    KM5YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good Day One and All! John here --- back in the hobby after a 15 year 'get-away' and in some serious need of assistance regarding the decision making process on a new "antenna tuner".


    I am CONSIDERING EITHER THE AMERITRON AL-811HD (HeavyDuty) AMPLIFIER @ 800 Watts --OR THE -- AMERITRON AL-80B @ 1,000 Watts
    if my dedicated 15 amp circuit will work as I need to run at 120V since 240V is a 'no go' right now.

    I see models such as: TEN-TEC 238C ---- PALSTAR AT2K ----
    PALSTAR AT2KD "DIFFERENTIAL TUNER" ---- AMERITRON ATR-30 ---- MFJ-989D ---- and I took a gander at the LDG line and their AT-1000PROII AUTOMATIC TUNER.

    TEN-TEC leads the way in pricing and, yet I gather their $800.00+ price does not equate to increased or more accurate performance / features -- unless one watches their You-Tube "How To Tune" propaganda.
    AMERITRON ATR-30 $549.00 --- PALSTAR AT2K and AT2KD come in at around $540.00 --- MFJ-989D down at $325.00 and the "automatic" LDG AT-1000PROII hits $545.00.

    REVIEWS:

    TEN-TEC had good reviews overall, however, the down side was that COST was ridiculous for a product of just "average quality. Some compared it to the PALSTAR tuners and felt PALSTAR was a far better buy at the lower price.

    MANY seem to carry the warning that "MFJ" is one to avoid, however, the flip side called them a "Best Buy" and works great. Others speak of POOR "Quality Control" --- some call it a "crap shoot" and MANY say they had to actually take the tuner apart and repair faulty solder joints, align various components or give up and return the "NEW" tuner to the factory. Those who "loved the model" swore they never had a hint of problems in years of ownership; these folks seem to be those who own EARLIER RELEASES (A-B-C) of the Model 989 and not the 989D.

    PALSTAR was perhaps 70%-30% in the 'Like-Hate' reviews. Cost higher than MFJ and far better quality justified the added cost.

    AMERITRON seemed to get warnings that it is "REALLY JUST A MFJ PRODUCT", so be wary .... while others suggest, ".......this is AMERITRON and a top of the line tuner that will lasy you a lifetime". The "Good-vs-Bad right at 80%-20%.

    LDG
    ..... the "automatic tuner" seemed to get about 50%-50% "Good-vs-Bad" with the biggest complaint being that the 1000 WATT POWER LIMIT was NOT acceptable when running ANY AMP that had the capability of producing 1000 watts. Sort of like running a car 120MPH every mile down the road; sure it will do it for a while -- but it's still running it's "maximum" with none to spare.

    Well .... this brings us to the "suggestions, opinions, pro-con, love-hate part of this all too lengthy question. I will appreciate any ideas or experiences folks may offer. Reasons in favor of one over the other .... past love-hate relationships and the like. Sorry to make this so long .... but as what is left of my mind put it together, I mashed the keys and we wound up here ....... wayyyyyyy down the page.

    THANK YOU and if by chance someone has an amplifier in the 800 to 1000 watt range that they are dying to 'sell' I'd be happy to entertain the details. I've had great experiences here on QRZ with 'used but not abused' equipment, so I might get lucky on the amplifier while hopefully getting MUCH NEEDED assistance making a decision on the TUNER! That would be GREAT!

    JOHN / KM5YE
    Rio Rancho, New Mexico

     
  2. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just a couple of quick thoughts.

    Buy the AL-80B. It's a much better tube choice. I have had one more than a year and I've abused it by accident and it still works FB. Last night I wanted to get the Anode up to red. Set to CW put it into the cantenna and could not do it - 800 watts for two or three minutes key down and no red tube - I think it's pretty rugged.

    As to Tuners: I've used a few LDG autotuners since I got my ticket and for barefoot operation, there is NOTHING better, IMHO, fast, efficient and nicely priced. I have NOT tried any of their high-power units.

    However, I have two Palstar tuners, a BT1500A Balanced line tuner - this tunes my 160 meter loop and an AT2K that tunes all my coax fed antennas, currently down to two. Neither of them has given me a lick of trouble. I would not hesistate to recommend 'em.

    Note that both of these tuners are rated well above my amplifer max rating. I AM of the opinion that headroom counts at these power levels.

    The palstar units are also very nicely made, their cabinets are first class and they really work nicely, their roller inductors are smooth and the turns counters accurate. The meters are good, although I tune my antennas using an MFJ-269 that I switch in line to bring the tuner into alignment quickly and without generating QRM.
     
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd also vote for the AL-80B, but my tuner vote would go to the ATR-30.

    I've used all the manual tuners you listed but never used the LDG kW auto-tuner, so no experience with that one.

    If you read the QST review of these higher power manual tuners (it's in Product Reviews, February 2003), the ATR-30 matched "everything" they tried with it, with the lowest loss. It was the only one to do so.

    That's been my experience also, which is why I still have an ATR-30 since December 2000, almost 12 years now. Can't seem to hurt it.
     
  4. KO6WB

    KO6WB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would have to agree the Ten Tec 238C is priced very high and when compared to the others it doesn't really shine above them. There are some folks that praise the Ameritron ATR30 despite it being from a parent company that has some bad hits for QC. My experience with Ameritron and MFJ has been very good with multiple purchases and not one showed the QC problems others have reported. The LDG is rated at 1000W at lower SWR ratings. If you get a SWR that is high enough then the LDG will develop problems. It can do this at lower power levels then it's rated maximum.
    Almost all manual tuners will have a great capability in range and power when compared to an automatic one. The auto tuners are really easy to use though.
    Another vote for the AL80B, it's a much better amplifier then the AL-811HD. The AL80B has a better ALC system and generally holds up better under more trying circumstances but it would be much better if you had a 20 amp circuit. A 15 amp circuit is cutting it close. A 240 circuit would always be the best idea but I realize that sometimes it just can't be done..
    The one thing you haven't mentioned is the rig you intend to use. Some of them have tuners that make the purchase of an external tuner unnecessary. With some of the rigs that have their own tuner is for just mopping up a moderate to low SWR.
    Hope this helps
    73
    Gary
     
  5. N3JBH

    N3JBH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Only thing i can say is i would not waste my money on a Palstar Balun. There is much better one's so if you going to use a Palstar tuner and yes i have one forget there balun there JUNK and Paul will not stand by them when they fail. And it failed at fairly low power i added a home brew balun and that has worked perfect after that
     
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The 80B also has a way better tube, and a built-in PEP wattmeter, which alone is worth about $150. It also has electronic RF-activated biasing, which saves heat and power. A fully dedicated 15A 120V circuit can probably handle it, if there's absolutely nothing else on that circuit, not even a light bulb.

    Yeah, but that only helps if you're "barefoot." The rig's internal tuner can't help if you run an amplifier.:p
     
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I bought a new AT-4K Palstar tuner and blew it up on 160m (never "tuned" at more than 150W to find a match, then increased power once found). They didn't stand behind that, either.

    I think it's a very small operation.

    I actually like the Ten-Tec tuner a lot and did own one. It's not bad and never failed. But it's expensive and didn't quite have the matching ability of the ATR-30, so I found someone who wanted it more than I did and only lost about $100 on it. Not bad.
     
  8. KH2G

    KH2G Ham Member QRZ Page

    KG6wo had my same comments for the PALSTAR tuners. I think you most need to think what type feed your going to do. the BT1500 is a double L truly balanced tuner but that of course limits you to balanced line feeds.
    Regards
    Dick
     
  9. KE4YOG

    KE4YOG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the Palstar AT2K. I do not have an amplifier though. Burnt up 2 MFJs. I was tuning them with 10 watts and the magic smoke was released. The Palstar is very well built but I am using way under its maxium wattage. I got tired of having to keep tuners on hand waiting for the next one to blow up.
     
  10. N3JBH

    N3JBH Ham Member QRZ Page

    WIK That sounds interesting as that was where i loss the internal balun on 160 meter's. I was attempting to feed a ladder line fed dipole with it. And according to the owner of this company it was my fault for using 450 ohm line as it is commonly know with a 200 ohm output. he said to me it is only meant to be used at 200 ohm's Him why have a tuner then if you can not use it to adjust a mismatch? And he just gave me more CRAP and refused to replace the balun. I still have the tuner i have worked on a few things on it to make it some what better but i NEVER by another one from them that is for sure !!!!
     
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