World's UGLIEST Antenna Tuner

(But that doesn't keep it from working wonderfully)

One of my favorite ham pastimes is re-building old antenna tuners (couplers) or designing new ones. Sometimes I buy old junkers off eBay just for the parts. That was my intention when I purchased the tuner shown below. I just wanted to get the two variable capacitors for another project. But I was also intrigued by the fact that some old ham didn't give a damn what something looked like, he just wanted a tuner that worked. So before I disassembled it, I took a closer look.


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If you have not tried your hand at building something, this should give you encouragement. You don't need a shop full of expensive gear, and you don't need a lot of money. All you need is a DESIRE for something that will improve the operation of your shack. Here is an antenna tuner that may look bad (personally, I love the "homemade" touch to the front panel, holes an all) but the purpose for him was to match his antenna to his transceiver. Which makes perfect sense to me.. After all, unless you are using SSTV the ham on the receiving end doesn't know (or care) what you shack gear looks like, he just knows how it sounds. This ham wound #14 regular house wiring wire on a surplus coil form and tapped it every three turns. When I inspected it I found the little wafer switch was broken. I removed the coil and it and expoxied the wafer back together. Now the coil worked like it was supposed to. I replaced it and continued my inspection.


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This homebrew ham had even included a strip-line type pick up for relative measurement of SWR. I hooked my antenna analyzer up to this odd tuner, and what do you know - I could tuned it to a 1/1 SWR on 20 meters. (I also found that it would give a very good match to All HF bands when hooked into a 50 ohm dummy load.)


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I was really pleased that I took time to repair and test this homemade tuner before I broke it down for its parts. You know, this sort of restored my confidence in ham radio. The common belief is that "Nobody builds anything anymore." There are so many "appliance operators" now, that it was encouraging to see that some old guy dug into his junk box and, by God, made himself a tuner. The circuit is a simple "T-Match" but it worked. I'll never know who this old timer is, but he is my hero.