How-to Tune my Antenna? Help, it's not working!

Some operators call us and say, "this thing isn't working, I've tried everything."

We routinely reply with... "this isn't the first call like this. Do you have a minute? Let's figure this out right now with a series of questions and answers."

  1. Do you believe you built the antenna correctly? (Yes, I followed the instructions) 
  2. Is the Tuner in working order? (Yes, of course)
  3. Where did you install the Tuner and RF Choke? 
  4. Is the Tuner connected to ground? (Yes and No are both okay at this point)
  5. Is the Tuner at least 6 inches off the ground?
  6. How are the Coax and Tuner connected to the antenna? (Let's imagine the answer is, "correctly." Ie., Coax from the shack, then Tuner, Feedline kit, and the Antenna)
  7. Is the upper, longer radiator side of the antenna connected to the center conductor of your coax? (Yep, I was sure to check it)
  8. Let's go test it with your radio...

This is where most of the SWR or "won't tune" problems arise and resolve.
Tuning up the antenna+tuner circuit is a very important aspect for the success of the process.

Problem #1: The customer simply expects the tuner to tune when he picks up his microphone.

Answer: For most Remote Tuners (auto-tuners), you must apply power to the tuner for it to tune. Specifically, we take our customers through the process of of politely asking them to:

  1. Switch your radio to AM Mode
  2. Lower power output to 20-25 Watts
  3. Select the SWR meter reading (to watch the tuner take out the SWR in real-time)
  4. Press Transmit (AM, 20W) and hold it until the tuner completes its tuning cycle. This can take .5 a second to a few seconds.

This is where the customer says, "um, wow, the SWR is 1:1 now!"

  1. Good. Now, let's raise the power back to 100W and give it a test CQ.
  2. Next, let's try to tune up on another band... repeat above.
  3. Try another band, repeat until you have tried all bands 6 or 10M down to 80 or 160M.

Note: By taking the tuner through all the bands, you begin to train it for when you return to that band. On your return, it finds the tune rapidly. It memorizes the settings, so to speak.

Example: For our 24' DX Flagpole Antenna, we use an LDG RT-100 that can tune, for example, 15M immediately after coming off of 80M in 1/2 second flat.

Regarding 1:1 SWR. 1:1 SWR is the goal, of course, and most of the time this is the case. Tuners can drift a bit. You may come home one afternoon and the Tune that was 1:1 this morning is now 1.3:1 or 1.8:1. This could be weather-related, or a squirrel hiding in your antenna. In any case, you can return this band by hitting the "tune" button (as is the case with LDG) and it will reset the memory to the new Tune point.

Pro Tip: 1.3 or 1.5:1 is fine for operating. 1:1 is better but out of concern for details, doubtful it will keep you from working the station you are wanting to connect with and likely won't harm your equipment, at all. It's a small amount of SWR. Retune at will, of course.

We hope this little How-To is helpful to you. It's okay not to know this stuff, especially with new folks joining the ranks. With a little push in the right direction, there is amazement and fun just a few minutes away. Let me prove it... try this:

TEST CQ - CW or FT8 guys can check their signal without needing to call a friend:

Get your signal report right now, from various reception points from all over the planet.

You can. There are hundreds, if not thousands of SDR radio stations tuning the bands that will relay live audio and live signal reports of your signal. All of this is done by remote ham radio operations, SDR, and RBN technology, listening across the entire ham band spectrum 24/7 just waiting to report to you, your signal. Try these services, for free.

Reverse Beacon Network RBN: (CW)
1. Find a clear frequency in the CW band
2. Call "CQ CQ your-call your-call"
3. Type your name in the Spot Search
4. See where you are heard around the world.

PSKReporter (digital modes) This service is much like the Reverse Beacon Network with a map visual.

WebSDR: (any Mode) After you have a sense of where you are being heard, you can select a location likely to hear you, tune the dial to your transmit frequency back home, call CQ from home, and hear your signal from, anywhere in the world!

 Again, it's our pleasure to serve you with Stronger and Smarter Antennas d'Elegance.

Remember, Ham Radio is Fun Again!

Contact us with any questions you may have! We'll see you on the air soon...

73 Greyline Performance

Greyling Performance Antennas logo


May 5, 2022

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