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Surfin’: I Tune, Do You?

01/21/2011

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ describes why hams should respect antenna tuners.

Antenna tuners get no respect. (Well, at least, they did not get any respect from me!)

When I was joining the ham radio ranks circa 1968, I had a check list of stuff in my head that I thought I needed besides in order to get on the air. My check list included a license, a receiver, a transmitter, an antenna, cable to connect the antenna to the receiver and transmitter, a relay to switch the antenna between the receiver and transmitter, a crystal for the transmitter, a straight key, a log book, a clock, and some sharp pencils.

Nowhere on my list was an antenna tuner.

I learned the hard way why it should have been on my list.

Today, my HF transceiver has a built-in automatic antenna tuner, but I also have an external antenna tuner that I bought when the transceivers that I owned did not have one built-in.

In case you are as clueless as I was when I was formulating that check list in my head, an article on Don Butler’s N4UJW, HamUniverse tells what a tuner is, how it works, how to install it and how to use it.

Meanwhile, Tracy Underwood, KU4FL, describes how to build an inexpensive tuner at eHow.com.

For more detailed information on the tuners, QST Technical Editor Joel Halas, W1ZR, wrote a book on the subject, The ARRL Guide to Antenna Tuners.

While on the subject, Ronald Erickson, K0IC, wrote recently, that it is a good idea to re-solder and re-tighten screws and bolts in antenna tuners: “I thought I had antenna trouble. When I tried my folded unipole and got the same measly output on the antenna -- while all was good on the dummy load -- then I knew it had to do with the tuner.”

After re-soldering and re-tightening, there was a big difference. Ron is of the opinion that his tuner “probably never was right since it was made some 30 years ago.”

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has tuner, will QSO. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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