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Antenna tuners in series?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Antennas' started by SLR_65, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    Hi Guys,

    My world is a bit turned upside down, due to an eye disease called Non-Arteritic Ischemic Optic Neuropathy I've been left with very low vision. I had it in one eye and it was only a 15% chance it would hit the other, but my luck didn't hold out, it struck and devastated the other eye a week and a half ago.

    I was in the middle of refurbing an Icom IC-730 and getting a station put together.

    With BIG fonts and Windows high contrast settings I can run a pc, and I can read somethings given some time.

    I've decided to carry on with amateur radio. I bought a Kenwood TS-590SG on HRO's Dayton sale (just before this hit! I wanted to return it, but my wife said no - she'll learn to run it for me if I can't...I love that woman!), so I have it and I have a Dentron Super Tuner antenna tuner.

    I was going to put up a horizontal loop, so I have the wire and center insulator plus some 450 ladder line. I didn't get the supports up before this hit though.

    I have a 10 meter dipole up under the eaves of the house and with the Icom I can tune to 20 meters with it, though I haven't tried the Kenwood yet.

    We're still in shock, I'm taking a controversial high dose steroid treatment hoping to gain some vision back, so big projects are on hold right now, we may not stay at this location.

    The perimeter of the house eaves would make a loop about 210', I'm thinking that would make the loop resonant around 4.8mhz. That's probably further out than the Kenwood's internal tuner can handle for 40 meter and higher, but I was wondering if I'd use the Dentron to get it resonant on 40 meter and then if the Kenwood's internal tuner would be able to match the harmonic bands? Is running two antenna tuners in series a problem if one is left set to tune the lowest band?

    The loop will run parallel and near an rg6 quadshield cable tv line on the back of the house, so it may interfere, but I thought I would try it and see. If it does, then the backup plan is to cut the wire off the back of the house and run the antenna as a doublet, the legs would fold around the corners of the house though, however I would think the tuner should be able to still get a good match. Again, here it would be nice if I could set the Dentron to get a good match on 40 meter and then have the rig's internal tuner match the harmonics.



    Not ideal, but I've been dealt a bad hand and am just trying to get on the air.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, etc. welcomed...thanks guys!

    Steve, KA0NEB
     

  2. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    Well, I haven't played much, but a little and had some success.

    I have a 10 meter dipole up on the eaves, only about 12' high.

    The Kenwood's tuner could not match the dipole to 20 meter,

    I have a Dentron Super Tuner and a friend loaned me an MFJ swr analyzer and with those two I could match the dipole to 20 meter.

    I hooked the Kenwood up in series with the Dentron and it was of course now happy with 20 meters, but now the Kenwood's internal tuner can match every band through 10 meters without issue.

    My first contact on the new radio was with the CZECH REPUBLIC! I'm utterly amazed!

    I'm going to add wire and see if I can't 40 and up working.

    20 and up with no manual tuning I can live with, hopefully it can made to work a little better!

    73s
    Steve KA0NEB
     
  3. Tallman

    Tallman
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    You need a better antenna for the lower frequencies. Antenna length can be a major limiting factor in both receive and transmit. From what I have seen the antenna can be tuned up in frequency. Like Ten meters can be tuned up to Six meter. Tuning a Ten meter down to Twenty meters won't work very easily, or at least the internal tuner can't handle it. Get a long wire antenna for the lowest frequency you want to run and then you will be surprised at the receive improvement. If you don't have room for that get a QSO King antenna for 80 meters because then you need only 44 feet of wire to get down to 80 meters. It is an end fed antenna and it does get in to everything electronic. I suppose if I ran a power amp my microwave would start talking too.
    I run the MFJ external "Mobile" antenna tuner on my base and tune that up before allowing the radio to tune up.
     
  4. BettysNephew

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    Hi Steve,
    Sorry to hear of your health misfortune, I can relate although my problems are of a different nature than yours. Have you contacted a local ham club and see if anyone is willing to give you a hand now and again for things that are no longer possible? Our local club is definitely helpful in such situations as it is always good to have another operator on the air. Best of luck for improved vision. One of the two amateurs in my hometown as I was growing up was a blind chiropractor and he piqued my interest in communications when he contacted someone on the far side of the globe. The other ham was my Boy Scout leader and he got me started in electronics. Due to the input from those guys, I went to trade school and went into the electronic repair business. I recently took my tests and got my Extra ticket. I am researching HF radios now and in process of installing a 2m/70cm rig in my truck.
    Dave
    AE0DF
     
  5. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    Hi Tallman,

    I'm finding you don't NEED a better an antenna, you just may WANT a better antenna! A low dipole works better than no dipole! And the 10 meter on 20 made a shaky contact in the Czech Republic and has allowed me 20 meter contactsin Texas and Arizona, so it IS getting out. In my current situation I'm stuck running a wire under the eaves, so be it, it's better than a silent radio.

    I now have 40 meter 450 ladder line fed doublet up. Unfortunately I don't have a separate balun afvailable so I have to use the one in the Dentron so I can't get the Dentron out of the picture to see if the Internal tuner can handle it alone or not. The 40 meter doublet can be tuned to 80 meter with the Dentron though, and every higher band. The harmonics won't carry through on it like they do on the 10 meter dipole though, then Dentron needs tuned every band change. The Dentron can be coarsely tuned though and the Kenwood can then take over.

    Soon I'm going to connect the ends of the doublet to make a loop and see if it can tuned and if it puts any rf it shouldn't.

    For now, both low wire antennas get me on the air and don't seem to be causing any RF issues.

    73s,

    Steve KA0NEB
     
  6. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    Hi BettysNephew,

    We don't have a local club, though a few months ago I started a Facebook page for the local amateurs. We have about a dozen local active, though only one in HF that I'm aware of. Several of them are quite helpful, one who runs the repeater lives just a block down is super...he's been a Tech for a long time and my HF interest has piqued his too, he ran down his silent key Uncles old FT-101E and is in the process of replacing some caps in it.

    So, I DO have help available, plus my wife and two boys and a daughter in town.

    I'm been a very active person with lots of hobbies in the past and the biggest thing with this vision loss is simply boredom! I'm trying to do as much as I can myself simply to combat it! So, if it seems I'm struggling, I probably am, but it's ok...if I get really frustrated I do have people to call.

    This antenna issue is actually kind of fun though. It's amazing to me that everyone has the mantra that it's got to be as high and as big as possible, or it's not worth doing. i've already proved that's not true! You may need a good tuner, but with one you CAN get on the air and make contacts! Yes, it's EASIER with big high antennas, but it's not NECESSARY....if anyone is avoiding HF because of these kinds of problems, toss those notions aside and string a dipole under your eaves and get to making contacts...and I promise you WILL make contacts!

    I'm finding there are some advantages to this type of install too. It's not readily visible, no one complains about it, and it's really well protected from the weather. I doubt it'll catch much wind or ice and antenna maintenance may be difficult for me in the future, so keeping it as well protected as possible may be a bonus.

    I will be experimenting with a 4:1 current balun soon, hopefuly over the weekend, so we'll be able to see how capable the Kenwood tuner is.

    I'll post back as things develop.

    73s,

    Steve KA0NEB
     
  7. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt
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    The thing is you can make lots of contacts with even a poor antenna however the really long haul DX contacts will generally require a fairly good antenna mounted high. Note I said generally. Sometimes a poor antenna will net that rare and elusive South Pacific island country but a really good high antenna stands a MUCH better chance. It's all about with what you are happy doing.
     
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  8. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    Oh, I agree. And such as your handle infers, there's no replacement for displacement either, so of course, high power, tall antennas and the best equipment will greatly increase one's odds. However, plenty is worked on qrp, plenty is worked on less than ideal antenna conditions and plenty is worked with very moderate equipment. Our greatgrandfathers I'll bet had as much fun as we do today!

    I've discussed my situation on several forums and what's struck me is that everyone just says you need tall antennas, lows don't work, etc.. They are doing a complete disservice because ANY antenna is better than NO antenna, and frankly the low ones for me are working better than expected. If I can hear them with reasonably signal level then usually they can hear me if I call back. It may not be as solid on their end, but they do hear and do answer. That beats just hanging aorund the local repeater and ignoring HF.
    .
    My HF antenna exile is due to my vision, but if anyone has zoning, neighbor, etc. issues keeping them off HF I'd whole heartedly suggest they try a low wire antenna tucked under the eaves. It's inob trusive, cheap and easy, if it doesn't work take it down. I'll bet you could even find a local amateur to bring a test rig over if you didn't already have one.

    So far, this has been nothing short of exciting and fun! As I related earlier, 20 meter DX was rolling well on Friday night and I made a raggedy, but confirmed contact with the Czech Republic from the 10 meter dipole 12' off the ground tuned to 20 meter....though unusual, I don't think that's a once in a lifetime thing either.

    We have to work with what we have available, but the notion of doing it big gun all the way or not doing it all really needs to changed.

    Well, back to playing with the radio...I bought a Kenwood TS-590SG right before my eye issue happened, so I'm tyring to stumble through learning to use it...it's quite the radio!

    73s,

    Steve KA0NEB
     
  9. Robb

    Robb
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    IIRC, a dipole that is less than 1/2wl above ground will lose transmit efficiency. The terms 'cloud warmer' and 'worm warmer' have been tossed around before to describe the condition. Transimt and receive are both compromised; but especially transmit . . .
     
  10. SLR_65

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    I'm sure it does, but it DOES still get out! Again, it made it to the Czech Republic from Nebraska, not well, but it did do it.

    Two days later a larger antenna still low and under the eaves made it from Nebraska to Puerto Rico well enough.

    It's worth doing if you have no other option, and that's the point - everyone gives the advice it won't work well, here's why, etc., but the truth is it doesn't work as well as optimal, but it does work - contacts won't be an occasional fluke, if you can hear them well you have a good shot at them hearing you, maybe not as well as you're hearing them, but still they probably will.

    Any antenna is better than no antenna, hands down, and to give the impression a low antenna isn't worth the time and effort and you shouldn't persue HF until you can have a big and high antenna is a great disservice that needs to stopl They DO work. DON'T take this option if you have others though - the best bang for the buck is big and high, but if that's not an option don't let it keep you off the air!

    10pm central time most nights, 20 meter, maybe 14.290 if clear, maybe point those big ole beams at Lincoln Nebraska and we'll discuss this? :cool:
     
  11. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt
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    Don't let my screen name fool. You. I have never run more than 100 watts in my life. The name was given to me by a radio announcer back when I worked as a tech in commercial broadcasting.
     
  12. SLR_65

    SLR_65
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    I was an amateur as a kid, formerly KA0JXR, sun spots were good, we had a 10 meter cubical quad at 60' and a 20 meter three element yagi at 40' along with a complete Yaesu FT-101E station. Good beams, high, good
    transceiver and 1,200 watt amp... it flat got out! I've been there, done that, would love to do it again, can't....OK, low antenna, 100 watts, VERY nice radio....I'm having as much fun as I used to!

    I hangout on the KC0SWG repeater most nights around 10pm cst too, if anyone Echolinks feel free to give me a yell on the repeater, it may be fun to have a reliable link to talk on while we attempt some HF contacts across the various bands. Yell if you want to play! Remember...working on WAS award, I'll need a QSL card LOL!

    Take care, 73s

    Steve
     
  13. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Back to the original question: Yes, this might work; no it's not a "problem". It's not the most efficient way to do things, but it can actually work. I've done this very thing to tune up short antennas on 160m and made a few contacts that way. It's not a great solution, but it certainly a technique that you can use to have fun on a band you otherwise had no hope of working.
     
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  14. SLR_65

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    On some bands it worked, and others it didn't.

    I ended up putting a loop around some trees out front and hooking the loop to the ends of the house and feeding a horizontal run with the center insulator under the eaves and then using an MFJ-993B Intellituner with a Kenwood interface cable. Just hit the tune button the Kenwood and I'm good to go.
    .
    It works GREAT! I've worked over 30 states and 20 countries in the last three weeks! Talked to Russia, Slovenia and Sweden tonight.
     

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