Tuesday, August 29, 2017

HW-30 & Auto Antenna Tuning Units

We left our hero, K7SZ, searching for a clean (as in unmodified) front panel for his newly acquired Heathkit HW-30 2M AM "Benton Harbor Lunchbox". Luckily he was able to find one on e-bay for about $45 including shipping. Now, back to K7SZ at the Bent Dipole Ranch, in beautiful almost rural Dacula, GA. 

The recently procured e-bay find of the HW-30 should be here in about two days. Yippee! The seller was unable to tell me if the radio functioned or not as there was no power cord available. Therefore, this rig is sort of a "pig in a polk". Since I am only after the pristine front panel, I really don't care if it works. Worst case, it doesn't and I use the carcass as a source of spare parts. With these 40-60 year old radios it never hurts to have a parts rig to cannibalize for parts that no longer are available. 

The only thing I am lacking now, to complete this restoration is the crystal (high impedance) microphone that Heathkit sold with these kits. I have several Hi-Z mics so I still can get on the air using one of them in place of the stock mic. However, I would love to procure the actual mic that came as part of the original kit just to complete the restoration. 

The hunt goes on! Stay tuned. 

Automatic Antenna Tuning Units (Auto ATUs): Over the last 15-17 years I have used several LDG models and an Elecraft T-1. I currently am using the T-1 and I have to say I really don't like it all that much. Nothing against the folks at Elecraft....I just prefer one of the older LDG Z-11 QRP tuners from the past. 

Luckily I found someone who wanted my T-1 and it will be going out USPS tomorrow morning. Thankfully, a ham in Virginia has an original LDG Z-11 QRP tuner he is willing to sell me for $40 plus s/h. Cheap at twice the price (and I do mean that literally). 

So why the step back in time on the tuner? Simply put the Z-11 QRP ATU has almost the same form factor as the FT-817. My first 817 was married to a Z-11 QRP ATU and it worked great. Back around 2001 or so a company called Mountain Ops sold a soft case that would fit the 817 and the Z-11 together in a nice compact bundle. Unfortunately the Mountain Ops folks are no longer in business so I cannot duplicate the original packaging for ARES/RACES/SOTA/Portable ops. Additionally the Z-11 has switches on the front panel that allow you to over ride the computer selected L/C ratios done while in the automatic mode. This can be handy in certain circumstances. This is where a good field strength meter and external SWR bridge come in. Just because the Z-11 "likes" a particular L/C ratio does not mean that you are putting out the most wattage. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen. By using the L-C switches on the front of the Z-11 I can nudge one or both of these functions and get a bit more RF out to the antenna. 

Once I procure the Z-11 I will be reorganizing my small ":Go- Bag" backpack and hopefully get the overall weight of the pack down to a reasonable level. While the T-1 is smaller and lighter than the Z-11 I'm not comfortable with the push/hush-hold functions of the ATU. With the Z-11 life is much simpler. 

OK, that is it for now. 

Vy 73  Rich K7SZ

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