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Palstar auto tuner & Flex 6000 series

Ian1Ian1 Member
Hi All

I was going to purchase the Palstar HF Auto Tuner in the quest to fully remote on a non resonant antenna.  I wondered if anyone on here as been doing this?

It looks to me like DDUTIL can track the Flex 6000 from Passive listener and couple the Palstar HF Auto via a 232 connection.

It would be easier for a Resonant antenna and no tuner but here in the Lighting and Hurricane areas I have to wait another two months before my Hex Beam goes up.

Any Comments from remote operators or Palstar HF users welcome.
Ian

Answers

  • George Molnar, KF2TGeorge Molnar, KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    For performance sake, have you considered a remote tuner at the feedpoint? MFJ makes a surprisingly good one that is RF sensing, so doesn't need a control line.
  • np2gnp2g Member
    edited November 2015
    I think you should also consider the wattage you intend to load into the antenna.

    Remote antenna tuners work very good . RF sensing , fast reliable .  most  have been designed with no intended operator intervention .

    I think one big issue  of RF sampled units is that for a " short time"  you see a short . Before it resolves the frequency , band , vswr issue . 
  • Cedric HB9HFNCedric HB9HFN Member
    edited October 2014
    I have been using a MFJ-998 at the feed point of my 43' vertical and it worked quite good with automatic tuning. I have replaced it with a Harris RF-382A now.
    The MFJ could not tune on 160m but I placed a coil at the base and switched it from my shack...
  • K1ESEK1ESE Member ✭✭
    edited February 9
    The HF Auto does not track frequency via RS232.  The RS232 on the back is only for loading firmware and not for any type of control.  No need to connect via DDUTIL. 

    To use the tuner remotely you need to understand the limitations
    Remotely
    -You can initiate tune by sending a carrier. 
    -You can have already configured the tuner to change antenna based on the frequency of the carrier. 
    -You cannot read the tuner's status (I used a web cam pointed at the tuner). 
    -You cannot change from Auto to Manual. 
    -You cannot change tuner parameters.

    I used a web power switch to power the tuner off and on.

    Questions?

    73 de K1ESE
    John

  • Steve W6SDMSteve W6SDM Member ✭✭
    edited December 2014
    Ian,  I don't know about the Palstar but I am using an Elecraft KPA500.  Not sure how much power you're running, but if it's a half gallon or less, that seems like it would make a good remote tuner.  Elecraft even has a remote app, which I use to monitor my tuner on screen.
  • Ned K1NJNed K1NJ Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
        All that John, K1ESE has said is good info.   I would add that Palstar has made a remote
    interface:  http://www.palstar.com/en/hf-auto-r/

       I would also caution that the HF-Auto enclosure is not weather-proof, so you may have to
    consider building an enclosure for it, perhaps with a small heater to help against moisture.
    On the other hand, the advice the other gentlemen have offered is also good, particularly
    concerning units that were designed with outdoor use in mind.  When Palstar announced
    the HF-Auto, they said that a remote enclosure would be forthcoming.  However this has
    not yet materialized.  I use mine in the shack to make a solid state linear happy with a 160m
    inverted "L" that I use from 160m to 17m with a bottom mounted balun from DX-Engineering.
    Whatever you get belongs at the antenna if you can manage it.

    Ned,  K11NJ



  • Ian1Ian1 Member
    edited May 1
    My Problem is the Flex 6500  and or Expert 1KA built in Antenna Tuner can't tune this G5RV I use in Hurricane season.

    Presently I use a Palstar AT2K which is a excellent manual tuner. What I would like to be able to do is use a remote Log in program and use the equipment.

    Since the Palstar should tune with just RF I think I can just use the Tune function on SDR with low output. Question is can the Palstar HF Auto remotely turn on via the 232 port?

    There have been a few threads with operators using the 232 port with DDUTIL.

    Ian
  • K1ESEK1ESE Member ✭✭
    edited December 2017
    > Question is can the Palstar HF Auto remotely turn on via the 232?

    No.  The RS232 port on the HF Auto doesn't do any commands.  The work around is a web controlled power **** like this - http://www.digital-loggers.com/lpc.html  There are several to choose from in the $150 range.  You turn the power on and off to the tuner.

    You also can use the switch to turn the power on and off to your computer, rig power supply, antenna disconnect relay and such.

    73 de K1ESE
    John



  • WX7YWX7Y Member ✭✭
    edited June 6
    If you can find the original Palstar AT-Auto and NOT the redesigned one they have been forced to sell because of patent issues it will run GREAT using DDUTIL and follow the Flex Radio's where ever it goes in the Tuners range with out any power out onece the memory is set. 

    Here at my QTH I use the Radio shack #20-546  USB serial cable that has the 1/8" plug on the end which is labeled as a Radio Shack Scanner programming cable also works as a ICOM programming cable.

    Cost of the cable I think was about $30.00 or so if I remember right because I bought it back in 2008 when I bought my first Flex 5K and still use it today with the 6700.

    Another note:
    I also use the MFJ998 Remote Auto Tuner out on the tower along with my Flex6700 and Ameritron AL82 with full legal output that works VERY well so far after about a month of operating it out on the tower.

    For those who DO NOT KNOW, DO NOT use two tuners at the same time on the same Antenna this is a real problem.

    73's Bret
    WX7Y
  • Ian1Ian1 Member
    edited May 1
    Thanks John nice product Ian
  • RegReg Member
    edited March 2017

    I have both an MFJ-998rt and a Palstar HF-AUTO tuner. 

    The MFJ-998rt works well on a (43') vertical with a lot of radials BUT it will not tune 160 meters, only 80 and up.  I also fed an 80 meter wire full length dipole with the MFJ-998rt and it would tune any frequency from 80 meters up through 10 meters.  By attaching the 80 meter dipole bridged as a top hat to the single wire output of the MFJ-998rt, it will tune 160 meters.  (The MFJ-998rt has both an unbalanced and a single wire output but you can only use one at a time.)

    The Palstar HF-AUTO shares some of the characteristics of the MFJ-998rt.  It will not tune to a band below the frequency of the lowest band for which the antenna was designed.  (It won't tune 160 meters on an 80 meter dipole.)  The HF-AUTO will tune anything I have connected it to on any frequency above the design frequency of the antenna.  To use it remotely (remote rig not remote tuner) you would have to watch the SWR reported by the FLEX-6000 or amp, if one follows the FLEX-6000, in order to be sure that a tuning solution was reached.  To tune the HF-AUTO you tune with a very short burst of low power and the tuner rolls (literally) to the solution.  While transmitting again with a few watts on one of my transceivers I can observe that the SWR has converged toward 1:1 before transmitting with higher power.  The HF-AUTO will tune into a short on 160, 10 & 6 meters.  In such a failure mode all of the power would be dissipated inside the tuner.  Not good when running high power.

    Reg

  • np2gnp2g Member
    edited November 2015
    I think your solution would be a antenna that works . First 
    Add the palstar to enhance the operation 


  • Ian1Ian1 Member
    edited May 1
    Reg

    Thanks I can use DDutil to see the SWR I set it up last night and successfully watched it all night work. How  many watts will it Tune with Reg?

    NP2G

    There is a Hex beam waiting to go up in 2 months after Hurricane season see original Post.

    Ian
  • RegReg Member
    edited November 2016

    The Palstar HF-AUTO is rated by Palstar at 1800 watts. 

    I should have added the following in my original post above about the MFJ-998rt and Palstar HF-AUTO.  My 6 meter and HF antennas from 40 meters on up are beams with extremely low SWR's.  The only tuner I use for those antennas is the automatic antenna tuner in my Alpha 9500.  On 80 and 160 my wire antennas, although full sized, are not broadband and are only useable across part of the bands without a tuner.  The MFJ-998rt works well on 160 when driving a center fed top hat.  The Palsar HF-AUTO does a nice job on 80 meters of giving me a nice low SWR across the entire band, making all modes accessible. 

  • Roger CookeRoger Cooke Member ✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Hi John.
    Just been reading your comments on the Palstar. I have just obtained a tuner and remote control. After reading about the duo, I thought this was the way to remotely tune my rhombic from the shack for various bands.
      They only arrived today, so have not hooked them up as yet. However I did look for some information on the Internet regarding hooking them up. There is not much out there regarding using the combination but judging by your comments, I am now wondering if I have made the right decision! I thought the remote reflected the front panel of the tunerf, i.e. it should be the same as that on the tuner? Am I wrong here?
       I am hoping to be able to use the rhombic on several bands as a general purpose antenna, being a large loop of wire. So what parameters will I not be able to change?

    73 de Roger, G3LDI
  • Rick N4RZRick N4RZ Member ✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Roger, I think your plan will work fine.  I have a 6600M and an HF-Auto and I never touch the front panel of the tuner. Instead of using a Palstar Remote I am using a pair of programs written by W1TR that get the frequency from the radio and display all of the info from the tuner on one of my computer screens.  The HF-Auto App uses the same connection designed for the remote so the remote should have the same capabilities. 
  • edited February 2019
    Rick I have a HF-Auto with the RS-232 port on back And a Flex6600M and downloaded the W1TR HF-Auto App Do I need DDUtil also? Mike
  • Rick N4RZRick N4RZ Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I do not use DDUtil, just the two W1TR programs to control the tuner from the Flex.
  • edited March 2019
    Rick - N4RZ Which two programs W1TR has many on his site My HF-Auto has V1.2 firmware What firmware is on your HF-Auto Will I need to send my unit back to Palstar To upgrade to firmware V2.35 to Get it to work? Mike
  • Mark WS7MMark WS7M Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I have 6600, SPE 2K FA, and HF Auto.  It just works.   

    I DO NOT use RS-232 or anything special to the tuner.  I did modify my tuner so I could control it remotely and I did some work to decode the RS-232 packets but never really used them.

    I simply leave my HF auto in "Auto mode", Ant 1.   I have another remote controlled switch to switch antennas.   

    I just take the SPE offline which I can do remotely.  Then I hit tune.  The HF auto just does its thing and in 5 s or less I'm tuned on that spot.  Then the amp comes back online.

    My coax run from the HF Auto to my loop is about 40 feet.  I just need to be careful if the SWR is say over about 3:1 then I cannot run full power.  So I mapped my antenna out and I know where my SWR is very low and in the warning level. 

    So I set my SPE to set the drive level accordingly.  So far its been a great combination.  I am able to tune my 80m loop on 160.  I don't op there hardly at all but I did make a couple contacts so I know it works.  It certainly is not optimal.

    The big surprise for me was tuning my 80m on 6m and getting great signal reports one day.   Again I figure it is not optimal but it works well!

    This tuner can tune many very off antenna/feedline combinations.  What you get is a low SWR to your radio or amp, but keep in mind your SWR along your feedline might be crazy.  So know your antenna and feedline and deal with power accordingly even if the tuner says you are good to go!

    Mark
  • Rick N4RZRick N4RZ Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I think your version of software for the HF-Auto will need to be updated.  I am using version 2.36. 
     
    As for the programs I use W1TR_RigControl version 0.6.0.0 and the HFAuto_APP version 3.2.0.5.   I would assume the newer versions of these programs on his website would be the ones to select now. 

    The rig control program indicates it works only with the TS-2000 and Anan 100D, but since the Flex 6000 series can use Kenwood commands it works for us as well. 

    It has been a couple of years since I set this up but as I remember it is not the easiest function to setup, but works great once you are done.   

    Two warnings:

    1) Even with the rig control setup I would suggest first sending a low power signal to the tuner when changing bands or antennas because SWR conditions on the antenna may have changed since it was last used and excessive power into an untuned antenna can damage the tuner and amp.

    2) Always turn off the RigControl program with the red QUIT button and do not X out to leave the program.  Forgetting to do so will result in having to at least reboot your computer to get the program to work again and possibly having to reset up some of the programs parameters.  It is possible that the latest version of the program has corrected this issue. 
          
  • edited March 2019
    Rick Talked with Paul at Palstar and he said my unit can be Upgraded to Version 2.36 and must be only done with A USB to RS-232 FTDI cable If done with Prolific cable it will brick the HF-Auto So he is sending a FTDI cable to me Now I need to find the program that will be the Bootloader software needed to upgrade the HF-Auto from Ver1.2 firmware to Ver2.36 firmware So I Can use my Flex6600M with it 73 Mike
  • James TeepleJames Teeple Member
    edited March 2019
    I have been using the HF Auto by Palstar for almost 3 years with great results, and the  " Made in the USA " part  is even better.

    Jim N8DOD
  • David G4NRT / Z21NRTDavid G4NRT / Z21NRT Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I use a Palstar HF Auto on my 6700 to tine a wire antenna for 160m, 80m and 60m.  

    I just hit the tune button on my Maestro or in SSDR and the tuner does the rest.  

    No need for any connection to the rig other than the antenna feed.  

    It works very well.

    David G4NRT/Z21NRT

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