Buying some new toys

Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Haven't arrived yet, but as soon as they do, I will give my report. But for now, here is what I have ordered.

First, I need a frequency counter. Always wanted one but most of them were desktop models. Technology now has reduced them to hand held models, and they even include power meters.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=400566557775&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:US:3160

This model will allow me to monitor the frequency from the next item (below) and also monitor/test my VHF in the boat for the power output at the radio. It has a 10% margin of error at VHF but I am not too worried about that.

Second item is a used MFJ-207, SWR Analyzer. I will use this to tune my HF antenna (or at least the tuner connected to my rig) at home. This is a better approach than tuning with RF power. Final tuning will be done at low power but the initial find will be with the 207.

Now, the 207 only has an analog dial and reports say it is not very accurate. So this is where the GY561 comes in to play. I just connect the FC to the SWR-A and I will now have a monitor frequency when tuning. Very convenient.

This combination will also allow me to mount a slopping dipole on the boat and tune it to 14300 KHz without putting in any RF. I should learn from my home turning if there are any variables I will need to take into consideration.

After I receive the items I will report back in this thread with my findings.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
I received the Frequency Counter and here is my review on Amazon:

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Three stars may seem a little high for this "said device", but I will explain...

If you desire to sniff RF with this frequency counter, think again. The antenna is for show and tell and basically is non-functional. Now, if you REALLY want to detect RF energy with this device, you will need a resonant antenna for the frequency you are hunting. With my Baofeng handheld radio and the OEM antenna on the radio and frequency counter, one literally has to put the radio on top of the frequency counter to get a reading. For this, the unit gets zero stars.

Five stars for direct connect. The unit is very fast when the RF source is directly connected. The power meter has +/-10% accuracy in the 140MHz and 440MHz bands. The counter will not detect power levels above 500MHz.

My intent for this unit was to connect to a SWR Analyzer that does not have a frequency read out, just a dial that is not accurate. In this case the unit will work exactly as advertised.

Can I recommend this unit? If you need to do work below 500MHZ for power, or, frequency monitoring then yes. If you want to sniff RF or use the unit any distance from the source then you will need a resonant antenna.

Initial test show that I cannot detect my WIFI frequencies, my 900MHZ home phone, or my iPhone GSM carrier frequency. So the comments about digital signals may be true. I do not have a digital handheld radio to confirm but will trust that review.

One minor annoyance, the unit does an auto power off about 80 seconds after power on.
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Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
So here is part 3, the MFJ-207. It arrived yesterday but I had little time to play other than turn it on and test the frequency. Found the tuning dial is VERY sensitive. It doesn't require a frequency counter as you can use a zero beat to a receiver, but if your receiver is not on then the counter helps.

Today I ran some test on my antenna system. First I attached a 100w dummy load and tested the 207. Flat across all frequencies as expected, so the 207 passes. Check the two coax cables to see if there were any issues and none noted. Next, the antenna tuner with the dummy load.

Set the tuner in bypass mode and noticed right away that the SWR was spiked all the way to the right. Not good. Played around and found the bypass/tune switch is faulty. So now I have to replace that. But I did manage to get it working for my testing.

In bypass mode, zero SWR as expected. Move it over to tune and I could match the dummy load. Don't think this is normal because if I take the 207 off frequency, the SWR increases. The dummy load is no longer resonant on the new frequency. So had to return it. This is a nice to know kind of thing.

Next, the antenna. First I connected the 40 foot 10 inch long wire with 25 foot counterpoise, directly to the 207. Wanted to see if there were any dip points. I found three; 26.243MHz (1.3:1), 20.019MHz (1.5:1), and 19.973MHz (1.5:1). Other dip points were >1.5:1 so I ignored them.

Now was the moment of truth. Connect the tuner and check the SWR on 14.300MHz. Greater than 2:1 and I could not dip the sucker. This is discouraging. I played around but still could not get a good match. Once it got down to 1.2:1 but then jumped back up. I think I have two issues here. One, the antenna might not be the right length (or counterpoise), and two, the tuner might still be a little on the wacko side. So I have my work cut out for me.

Overall, right now it all comes together. With the 207 I feel that I now have a better understanding of what is going on RF wise. I am sill on the side of FM (freakin' magic) but my internal lights are starting to come on as I investigate more.

Next two projects on the books and waiting are getting 1/16 or 3/32 wire rope with vinyl coating for two antennas. One on the boat (20 dipole) and one at the house (46 foot long wire).

That's it. If I get anymore revelations I will report.

In summary, I do not know how I worked without an analyzer before. I can say that when I was testing satellite antenna systems I begged and got a spectrum analyze. So why did I wait so long for an antenna analyzer for the shack? I will never now.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
And one more update. I mentioned above that I detected an issue with a switch on my antenna tuner (mind you that this is not a boat antenna tuner but a MFJ desktop tuner) using the 207. I have also been having issues tuning certain bands that I want to operate. I concluded that the antenna length was the culprit. I did some more math and the antenna is the correct length. So what the heck is up?

Took apart the tuner today to see if there maybe was a bad connection on the variable capacitors. They were hard to see but I noticed that both capacitors had plate touching during their swipes. I found a very thing piece of plastic and carefully adjusted the plates so they would not touch.

Bingo! The bands I want now tune just fine. I get about a 1.1~1.2 on 14.3 MHz. Now I am a happy camper.

I cannot be vocal enough about this analyzer. If you don't have one I would recommend you get a used one. It is worth it. The problems I have found and corrected. Very happy. Now I just wish I would get my radio back.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,314
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
I haven't bought much MFJ equipment but of the ones I did, the first order of business is to remove the cover and fix everything they did.

Never had an antenna analyzer but I can certainly understand the benefit(s) particularly on a boat. The only thing stopping me from getting one is the lack of HF radio and I need to fix that first.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Don - I have read of many issues with MFJ gear and shoddy soldering. I may actually resolder my tuner. I will probably take out the variable caps and make sure the plates have proper separation. I didn't look at the 207 though. I have heard that the soldering is also pretty bad. But, it is what it is and it works fine. So until then, I wil leave well enough alone.

I haven't heard back from the guy fixing my TS-50S. I wanted to use it in March but it is still not here. I hope to have it back before my next cruise in June. Sure would be fun to work HF from the boat while at anchor. Probably kill my batteries. LOL!
 
Mar 12, 2008
557
Jeanneau 49 DS San Pedro, CA
My new toy was a Yaesu FT-8800, but not for the boat. It went into the car. My only problem was the Comet SBB-7 antenna. I have to fold it over every time I go into the parking structure at work.

Brian, you going to install that Kenwood on the boat, or is it for home?
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Karl, I want to use it at both locations. In June our YC has a cruise to San Diego and I would like to have it aboard then. The antenna is going to be built and installed in a couple of weeks. Hence the purpose for the MFJ-207. At least if I do not have the radio before the install I can still tune it.
 
Mar 12, 2008
557
Jeanneau 49 DS San Pedro, CA
What, no tuner to do it for you??? Might be worth it to see if you can get one. What weekend are you heading out? we might be able to get on 40 meters.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Tune, as in adjusting the physical length to lower the SWR, not tune as in using an antenna tuner. Since the antenna will be a 20m dipole, it might not work on 40m. I really did not plan on putting an antenna tuner in the boat. But if I go with a longwire then I will have to have a tuner in the boat. Have no choice.
 
Oct 6, 2009
97
Custom Bluehull Kennesaw, Ga.
Keep us posted, maybe we could schedule a contact on 20m or 40m :dance:
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Well the whole key to this being successful or not is getting my radio back. I sent it two months ago to WilCo Electronics in Ill. and have only heard from the guy once. I keep emailing him for a status but I get no reply. We will see.
 
Jan 22, 2008
423
Catalina 30 Mandeville, La.
Looking at the freq counter/ pwr meter, it looks kind of small to sink 50watts of power. Is there a time limit for power measurement? I have a test set that will measure power, spec analyzer, counter, etc, and it has a 5w input limit. I have an external 30dB/100w attenuator and can program the attenuation into the measurements. Does the meter do something like that or take the full 50w?

I've had fairly good results from the MFJ equipment in my shack. I have two MFJ tuners, a 941 & and 986. The quality and function of the 986 is far superior to the 941. The meter on the 941 has fallen back into the box, it's still in place, but loose. One of the rubber feet is missing and it tips slightly when touched. Other than that, it functions ok. The 989 tuner is a roller inductor tuner and costs more than twice as much, but is also a better quality build. I've had zero issues with it, but I don't run power. I acquired two broken cushcraft R7 vertical antennas with the prospect of rebuilding one. I just can't bring myself to purchase the MFJ matching box for $200 when it consists of two toroids, a high current cap & a single coil. Seems kind of dinky for the price. The factory isn't all that far away - a few hours up the road and I know several folks who have "toured" the factory and came away less than impressed. It seems everyone's got something from MFJ in their shack. The guys I know with antenna analyzers all like them very much. I have three professional antenna analyzers and would like to make some comparisons for accuracy. I may bring one to my next club meeting for some tests. Might be fun and I'm pretty sure the MFJ will do well.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
I don't have 50w to pump into the meter, yet. LOL. Still waiting for my TS-50S to get repaired. I am sure there has to be a limit of time that much power could be tested. It only takes seconds to see the reading, if even that long. The handheld showed 5w almost instantly on key up. For what I am doing it is fine. Don't need to spend boucou money on test equipment. So far the 207 is doing what it is designed to do. The rotator switch has a loose connection on the D position. Need to take it apart and fix it.

I was thinking of getting a tuner with a roller inductor. But for just a 100w rig into a long wire the cost would be too much. So my tuner I have works fine. At least now that I have made the adjustments to the plates. We will see when the radio get fixed and returned.