A story about a tuner

Attention: another one that starts with ‘a long time ago, more than ten years, I was still living with my parents’.

It was a long time ago, more than ten years, I was still living with my parents. I had only a 20m dipole and a 30m vertical. A local ham offered a manual tuner for sale. It was a Kenwood AT-230. The price was right so I just bought it. On the inside it was pristine, the outside showed a bit of rusty spots. Something with moist and basement the seller told me. No problem: my dad had some leftover paint that was almost an exact color match. He prepared the casing with fine sand paper and spraypainted it. Oh yes, the luxury of a retired dad with golden hands! I had myself a nice classic manual tuner. I took it to the field only a couple of times. Mostly when I was staying at my inlaws’ for a few days. A 10m fishing rod, leftover copper wire and the AT-230. And paper log! My nephew gave me a blank notebook for my birthday then to write down my messages. He saw me taking notes when doing CW (I still needed to do that back then). So he asked his mum to buy me a paper notebook. At home I just used the AT-230 as an A/B antenna switch, and to match the 30m vertical to 40m.

ON5ZO shack anno 2001
My first HF shack a/k/a bedroom! The TS-850, a Windows 98 PC Pentium I with 32 MB ram if I remember well, a 28k8 dial-in modem, a K1EL K9 keyer kit. In front of the keyboard is my ‘fill in the blanks’ CW QSO cheat sheet. I would follow that closely.
The picture’s EXIF tells me it’s made in January 2000 but that’s impossible. Must be the default camera settings after a battery change. I only passed the CW test in September 2000. My guess is that this picture is taken around the end of 2001. So ‘a long time ago, more than ten years’…

When I moved to this QTH and set up the station, I had quasi-matched antennas and the TS-850’s internal ATU. Switching was done with a 6×2 relay box. So the AT-230 just sat here, unused. In a mood of ‘kill your darlings’ I sold a few unused items to fund another tuner (MFJ-998). I didn’t really want to let the AT-230 go but since it was only collecting dust, it had to go. Soon after I also sold the MFJ-998 and I must admit I sort of regretted selling the Kenwood tuner. Nostalgia.

A few weeks ago I saw one for sale and it was the same price I had sold mine for. So I did not hesitate this time either. I bought it and picked it up at the seller’s working place. We engaged in some nerd-talk and had a nice chat about solid state amps and power supplies and he even showed me his (no pun intented, talking about the amp) installed in his car. So since last week I am the happy owner of an AT-230 once again. I have no plans with it other than to put it back where the other one had been for eight years. But ya never know!

ON5ZO shack anno 2012
ON5ZO shack anno 2012. Picture taken with a bright flashligt which doesn’t do justice to the atmosphere.
ON5ZO shack anno 2012
Picture taken without flash. This photo more or less shows the nightly atmosphere with minimal light. Many winter nights and early mornings are spent this way on the low bands and 30m. And of course also those tiring contest nights!

About the MFJ-998: regular readers know what I did with it. The experiment was sort of a bust and I reverted to resonant length wires and elevated radials. But I appreciated the MFJ-998. I sold it because that one too would only be idling there. I was happy to see there is an outdoor weatherproof version of that tuner now. OT1A and myself had a brief discussion about it. Apparently it gets quite some negative reviews on Most complaints are about poor construction and lack of quality control. The usual MFJ stuff. Last week the latest edition of QST arrived and in there is a product review of the medium and high power remote tuners, the remote MFJ-998 if you will. The review was quite optimistic and did not point out really bad things. I briefly contemplated buying one and redo the experiment. Or another one: would a full size 80m delta loop work on 160 when fed through a tuner at the feedpoint? I didn’t have much success with an SG-230 on 80m when loading up a 40m delta loop. Hey, that’s also ‘a long time ago, more than ten years, I was still living with my parents’. The good thing about the MFJ-998 was that it would instantly load the 80m vertical or dipole cut for CW so it was usable on phone for the occasional mixed mode contest. But after the brief contemplation I decided to leave things as they are – for now.

3 replies on “A story about a tuner”

bonjour ce petit mail pour vous demander si vous avez le manuel de AT230 que je recherche d’avance merci f4hlx guy

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