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Ameritron RCS-8V coax switch & AR-35 Rotator additions to the shack

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Here are a couple of new additions that went up as a result of my Gizmotchy antenna review: an Ameritron RCS-8v remote coax switch and an AR-35 rotator.

    First, here is a pic of the remote coax switch. This part goes on the tower and run your feed line to the center connector. You can hook up to 5 antennas to this remote switch.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the inside of the switch, wired up with CAT 5 cable:

    [​IMG]

    You can see that it's basically just 5 heavy duty relays controlling the coax ports.

    You install this upside down on your tower or mast and seal up the coax like this:

    [​IMG]

    Here is the coax switch installed just below the AR-35 rotator. This rotator will work just fine for any antenna up to the size of a large TV or 2 meter antenna:

    [​IMG]

    Here are the controls for both devices. Small, simple, and without much footprint.

    [​IMG]

    So far, everything is working just as described!


     
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  2. airplane1

    airplane1 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    I would like to see you do a review on this coax switch as I want to put one up so I can run my PDL-2, Maco 5/8, Buckmaster OCF and X50A. I see the Ameritrons and also DX engineering and Rat Pak switches but dont know which to get.

    AP
     
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  3. dxhound

    dxhound Active Member

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    I wonder how much more efficient the switch would be if you lifted the copper foil traces and removed them and replaced them with RG213 jumpers all tied to a common ground? Also its ashame the center "feedline" feeds all the relays regardless of which port passes the RF. You think they would have chose a 5 way rotory switch so the RF would only be applied to the selected port. This would also eliminate having 5 relays and there would only be 1.
     
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  4. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't think you could fit the RG213 for 5 ports into this little box. I doubt it would make any difference anyway with as short as the traces are.

    I once saw a pic of a coax switch that worked exactly like this. My guess is that it's a lot cheaper to use 5 relays than one rotary switch?
     
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  5. HiDef

    HiDef Active Member

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    You can fatten the existing traces with more solder. The relay setup works OK and is a lot cheaper and easier than a remote rotary in terms of control and wear.

    These units aren't bad. Drake made something similar years ago as a 4-line accessory.

    Weatherproofing is the weakness.
     
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  6. airplane1

    airplane1 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    I went on eham and see they are rated very low on the reviews.

    AP
     
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  7. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    While not this particular coax switch, I have used the 5 position MFJ switch for a number of years. It's working just as it should. Weathering is a problem, but after something like 15 - 20 years, -anything- will have the same problem. Mine is mounted fairly low to the ground and more moisture will be present doing things that way. Mounting it higher at the beginning would have been better, but wasn't an option. Since it's worked as it is, I just haven't paid any/enough attention to it. (Oh well, I'm good at that!)
    All things considered it's certainly a viable option to several feed lines. The best in the world? I doubt it, but it works.
    - 'Doc
     
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  8. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur Staff Member

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    Interesting that the RCS-8 has open frame relays with exposed contacts. That would at least make it easier to clean the relay contacts. My newly purchased and yet to be installed RCS-10 has sealed relays similar in appearance to the type used on PC boards.
     
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  9. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Most of the negative comments I saw on eham were related to weatherproofing issues, although there were a few issues with units shipping that had loose relays. One reason I hooked up all of the relays (even though I don't have that many antennas) was to make sure they all work...and they do. I was thinking about running a bead of silicone around the edges to help keep moisture out, and put a dab on the screws to keep them from rusting Did anyone see the one genius over there that installed it face up? Guess how long that lasted in the weather..:headbang

    I have two spare ports...I need to think up two more antennas to mount in the 2m spectrum :)
     
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  10. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur Staff Member

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    Don't completely seal it up. Humidity and temperature changes will cause condensation inside and with it sealed it will have no place to go.It is better if outdoor devices have breathing room. I once sealed a remote tuning unit at my tower base and within a year all the metal surfaces were corroding. I cleaned them all up and installed small round vent holes and everything was fine for several years after.
     
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  11. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    Questions:

    *Insertion losses - surely, having RF routed thru a relay with exposure to the elements is asking for some. No specs on this from MFJ; any idea/estimate?

    *Price comparison to other brands - how does the MFJ stack up - dollar for dollar?

    *On another note - what is the effective width of the beam in degrees - an estimate is fine.
     
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  12. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    These are the specs for the Ameritron RCS-8V:


    • VSWR is less than 1.2 from DC to 250 MHz
    • Less than 0.1 dB loss at 150 MHz
    • Handles 5 KW below 30 MHz and 1 KW at 150 MHz.
    • MSRP $169.99, but you will find it for less in the stores
    The price is definitely cheaper than the other options. The RatPak 6 switch from Array Solutions is $299 and it's designed the same as the Ameritron. The DX Engineering 8 port is $449.

    The beam width for the Gizmotchy is shown in the Gizmotchy review on the revised antenna models.
     
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  13. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur Staff Member

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    Open frame relays can exhibit next to nothing for losses if wired properly. Remember the relays are enclosed in a shielded enclosure. It's the long unshielded connecting wires that exhibit losses and contribute to high SWR. High power amplifiers have been using such relays for decades without a problem and believe me if there was going to be a problem you would find in in the output of an amp running legal limit. Granted some amps use vacuum relays nowadays but a lot still don't.
     
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  14. airplane1

    airplane1 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    You know what, I looked this switch up again on eham and it got pretty good reports. I was looking at the wrong review LOL.

    I see them for like $149 which is much cheaper than the RatPak and DX engineering units.

    Let me know how it works for you moleculo, I just might buy one in the coming months.

    AP

    AP
     
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  15. HiDef

    HiDef Active Member

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    I've installed several of these. Very little problems except for self inflicted ones.

    One station setup used a trio of the relay boxed driven by one control unit. 1 box switched bands and the other 2 switched amplifiers. The guy had amplifiers tuned to each band.
     
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