[AMRadio] Ameritron ATR-30

Patrick Jankowiak recycler at swbell.net
Fri Sep 23 21:52:05 EDT 2005

Ok, so I went and bought one because I need one for some TXSG HF stuff and 
decided to go ahead and get the biggest and best one I could find locally.

What a P.O.S the thing is!

It came in what I assume was a factory box, but inside the box:

The thing was rolling around loose inside the box with apparently only some 
of the packing material inside.

The AC adapter was loose; apparently it had been removed from its sealed 
box by some little elves or something, apparently more than once. Its box 
was loose, and ripped up. Also said MFJ on it.

The front of the tuner has little scratches and marks on it, and the 
chassis looks warped, either that or the top cover does not fit correctly. 
Beat up in shipping?

The inductor seemed OK at first, but now binds up at a spot in each turn. 
after about 15 tuning cycles. I found that the cheaply made thing has a 
shaft down the middle, on which a support at each end holds another shaft, 
upon which rides what is basically a pair of spring-loaded washers which 
grip the edge-wound inductor between them as they spiral up and down the 
inductor, and that one or both ends of this shaft were askew because the 
screws in the supports that hold them to the main shaft (and secure them 
radially, like a knob is secured to a shaft) were loose. tightening them 
was no good because they apparently have been tightened before, and it's 
all screwed up and seeks this skewed position after several traverses. What 
ever happened to keys and pins? what a cheap piece! Additionally, the feel 
of the inductor is rough, not smooth, and the knob is very cheap plastic.

Also, plastic gears for the turns counter do not impress me, especially 
when the shaft of the turns counter is not aligned properly at manufacture 
with the gear on the inductor shaft and is obviously under some stress. 
-sloppy work!

Speaking of the workmanship, while I am at it, the front panel of the 
inductor assembly is not mounted parallel to the front panel of the unit. I 
am not talking a thousandth here, I am saying it looks like some drunk with 
a grudge against radiomen put this thing together! Strangely, the rear of 
the inductor is straight.

The cermaic insulators on the rear have metal-to-ceramic contact between 
the nuts and the ceramic. I didn't notice this until I tried the balanced 
line tuning function. then of course I heard the 'grinding' sound I am sure 
we all know. Where's the fiber washers?!?!

The antenna selector switch also has a rough spot in it, but only when 
turning it one way between this position and that position. I could not 
find the cause. And while I am on about the switch, I cannot believe anyone 
would want to run 1500W 100% carrier through that little switch -that's 5.4 
amps of RF at 50 ohms, through what looks like a 3A switch with a ceramic 
wafer! It is what is claimed. (3KW PEP, 1500W FSK/carrier)

OK, I called the merchant I bought this from (I walked into their store 
today and plunked down $500+ for this thing) and they have no idea about 
the packing or otherwise. I asked them if it was a refurb, they said no, it 
was new from Ameritron.

So, Monday, I am going to contact Ameritron, and let them explain to me why 
I should not return this thing.

Come to find out, from the merchant, it's same as MFJ! darn it, I am trying 
to buy something that's rugged and well made. But wait - I am stuck with 
this now for a couple weeks to use it for TXSG commo. I'm still going to 
call them on Monday and have a word with them about it. Seeing all the 
corners cut like that, I don't want this thing. It's not what I paid for.

This is the biggest example of POS workmanship and poor mechanical design I 
have ever seen and that includes most CB shops I have frequented in the past!

Maybe MFJ knows how to build little 300W tuners, but they are out of the 
loop on ones this size. It has the mechanical robustness of an AM clock 
radio - which is fine for a 300W PEP tuner.

I'll keep it only if they want to give me a lifetime warranty including 
overnight drop-ship replacement and return label in perpetuity.


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