Troubleshooting your antenna system is not a complicated task, but it does require a little time and effort. When something goes wrong, you need to take the time to understand what's happening. Here are some things you can do before you call SGC Technical Support to see if you can resolve your antenna situation yourself.
Your first step is to understand some of the common situations that get handled by SGC. Look carefully in these common trouble spots.
Most problems in car or boat installations are related to the RF Grounding system. It's usually just insufficient.
Base station installations often have RF grounding problems as well. When you must have an RF ground, it simply HAS to be good or you will lose most of your signal.
Another common problem is when the antenna coupler will tune on most bands, but simply cannot find a match on one or two of them. Usually changing the length of the antenna 3-6 feet is enough to shift the trouble spot out of your operating bands.
You can do quite a bit of testing for yourself with just a few pieces of wire:
The first thing to check whenever a problem comes up after successful operation for a period of time is connectors and other junction points. Over time, a Smartuner™ will hide the advance of corrosion in your antenna system and RF Ground until it gets too bad, and then it seems like it came from nowhere. Always check all connections very carefully. It's good to make this a part of your regular maintenance routine as well.
If you are using an unbalanced antenna (long or random wire, vertical, inverted L, etc), you must have an adequate RF ground. A simple test is to replace whatever you're using for an RF Ground (vehicle body, counterpoise wire, etc), with 3-5 wires spread out from the RF Ground connection on the coupler. If things are better with this ground system in place, then your existing ground system needs work.
A simple way to extend your antenna for a test is to wrap a few turns of wire around the end of the antenna and then stretch the wire out to a tree or other support. You can do this to both legs of a dipole as well. The extra length should change the feed point impedance and the tuning problem. If your system works better with this in place, then you need to use a longer antenna for your permanent installation.
Check the function of the Smartuner by doing the Light Bulb Test from the manual. You should always be able to get a good lock on a light bulb, even though its impedance will change as it heats up.
If you still require assistance, you may contact SGC for further troubleshooting. When you're calling for help, it helps us if you will have the following information readily available (you can download a PDF help request form to help gather this information):
A description of your system including: How is the transceiver connected to the Smartuner? What type of cable? How Long?
How is power connected? Have you checked voltages? What type of antenna are you using? What are it's dimensions?
How is the antenna connected to the Smartuner? How long is the connection?
Measurements of Forward and Reverse power at a variety of frequencies to help us understand what the Smartuner is seeing. If you can't get Reverse Power, at least SWR will help.
Make, Model, and Serial Number of your SGC equipment as well as when and where you bought it.
The best way to get help is to submit an online help request form. Your information will be emailed to us and we will respond within one working day.
SGC’s book "HF User’s Guide", has an overview of the issues related to HF installation and operation and includes a section on antennas. You can download a free copy in PDF format from our publications page.
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