Today we are discussing the differences in battery performance, between the Icom AH-705, and MAT-705 antenna tuners, for the Icom IC-705.
I’ve been testing the MAT-705+ for 2 months now. It is powered by two internal lithium batteries, and charged with its USB-C port. It is designed to sit next to, or near by the IC-705. So far its been used with a variety of Chameleon antennas and 9:1 random wire endfeds. There are no complaints to speak of in regards to its tuning performance. It is fast, well integrated with the IC-705, and quite small.
Spoiler, It’s battery life is actually horrific! We can measure the battery life in hours rather than days, weeks or months as with LDG or Elecraft tuners. If you use the MAT-705+ at home, it needs to be constantly plugged in with its built-in USB charging port. This because the MAT-705+ only lasts 6 to 8 hours on a charge. The reason for this is the darn thing never goes to sleep. For example, LDG, Elecraft tuner will go into a “sleep mode” once they find a match. The MAT-705+ stops tuning, but never goes into a sleep mode. I am not sure of the type of relays used in the MAT-705+ tuner, but they seem to draw lots of current while actually doing nothing. It will keep the match even if the batteries die, which is a good thing.
Using it at home.
We can definately use the MAT-705+ as a home tuner for the Icom IC-705. The only problem with home deployment of the MAT-705+ tuner, is the noise from its USB charging port. Charging the MAT-705+ creates extreme hash on HF. Otherwise it is not a bad tuner for periodic home use. Just use it on internal power, then charge it up while the rig is not in use.
In the field
We can use the MAT-705+ tuner for an hour or two at a time on its own internal battery power. Some examples could be SOTA, POTA, HFPack, … For these type of rapid deployment ops with short operating window, it’s perfectly “okay”. Just remember not to plug it in, if you’re planning on doing any weak signal work. I imagine other YouTubers/bloggers fail to mention this charging hash, because they normally operate with a high noise floor.
The MAT-705+ is technically “off grid friendly”. Unfortunately it comes at the cost of RF Hash.
The AH-705 is powered by two internal and removable AA batteries. It can tune any type of antenna or wire, can be installed at the feed point. Naturally coming from Icom, it is extremely well integrated with the IC-705. The AH-705 is also extremely quiet if not silent on HF. No RF hash coming into your radio from the tuner while tuning or in standby/sleep mode.
Oddly (and in great contrast to the MAT-705+) the AH-705 has ridiculously long battery life for a system with two AA batteries. Battery life is measured in weeks or months. The AH-705 uses latching relays and a clever sleep mode, to bring down the current draw to about 1ma, when it is not actively tuning. When the IC-705 is powered down, the AH-705 also “powers down”. I’ve only had the AH-705 for a few days at the time of this writing. With that said, the two AA batteries have already outlasted the MAT-705+ batteries by 5 full days, and are still doing a great job powering the AH-705. If it isn’t clear, the AH-705 has been in constant use since its arrival.
The AH-705 can be used at home with its internal batteries, or by being plugged in to our power supplies. No worry of RF hash ruining our weak signal work. Use the AH-705 in whatever way you like.
In the field
The AH-705 is kind of big for field work, but I suspect it has some tricks up its sleeves. Being able to tune a wire (any wire) from 160-6 meters, coupled with battery life approaching weeks or months might mean we only need to carry the AH-705 and a wire to the field. Perhaps a telescopic pole, … I don’t want to give the copycats their next video ideas, so we will leave this aspect for a future episode/blog post.
The AH-705 is definitely Off Grid Friendly. Icom obviously used engineering experience from its previous AH offerings, applying that legendary performance to the AH-705. Although nothing to complain about in regards to battery life, I would have liked to have seen the AH-705 with all ports on one end of the tuner body. This would have made it easier to place a dry bag over top, when deploying in 65˚ North type WX.
Bottom line. Both of these tuners have a place in our QRP Go Kits. Most of the operators reading this blog or watching the channel are interested in the off grid capabilities of the gear we use, so that it how we judge them. Battery life, low current consumption, and our ability to easily charge gear are the three main criteria for “off grid friendly”. It doesn’t matter what type of tech we are actually talking about. Anything extending our operating time off grid, is a good thing. We also expect tech not create more problems than it solves. The RF hash while charging the MAT-705+ is a deal breaker for data modes. If we are working kilowatt stations with big yagi antennas on SSB, the operator probably won’t care. If the operator is trying to dig a JS8Call or FT8 station out of the mud at -21 snr, the operator is going to get frustrated pretty quick from the RF Hash. Equally frustrating is trying to send or receive email with winlink Vara HF, ARDOP, … only to be shutdown by noise from our own tuner. That (for me) is a real deal breaker. The AH-705 wins this battle.
Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. There are other tuners on the market which are and are not well integrated with the IC-705. The Elecraft T1 could easily replace the MAT-705+ if the T1 had the same level of integration. Unfortunately, there is no reasonable or practical interface cable available, for a marriage between the T1 and IC-705. The other option is the LDG z100+. If you don’t mind it’s size, it offers many of the same benefits and integration with the IC-705, as the MAT-705+.
Food for thought.
Like to offer me a root beer?: https://paypal.me/oh8stn/1usd
Yes, it certainly looks like a beast (AH), but for all of that it appears to only be about 5oz. heavier than the MAT (at least from what I saw on each website). The noisy charger on the MAT could possibly be replaced with a suitably quieter one, but the time between full battery pwr. and no battery pwr. is poor. Is one better than the other regarding weather/moisture resistance? The scale is tipping pretty heavy toward the ICOM model, but thanks to it’s scarcity in the States I have time to think it over (and over and over). Thanks for sharing the update!
The MAT 705 has no weather proofing at all. it was designed to sit next to the rig in the shack. The AH705 is completely watertight on the housing, antenna port and ground port. Top ports are sealed with no possibility of moisture or dust ingress. That was a nice touch.
The MAT-705 battery life is terrible. Perhaps changing out the cells for better will help. It seems to draw lots of current, even wen it isn’t doing anything. In contrast, the AH-705 2x AA batteries have been in use since February 2021 when it arrived. Hundreds of hours of operation at home and in the field, without a battery change. Not sure what type of dark magic is inside, but it works well.
Yje MAT-705 charging noise is a real bummer. There is no way to change our the charging circuit, as it is part of the circuit board. The AH-705 makes no noise even when plugged in.
It seems the MAT-705 was designed to charge at home, then use out in the field during lunch or short park activation. Afterwards, charge it up again at home before then next short outing. IMHO, it was a let down.
I’ve been agonizing over tuners since I picked up the original mAT-705. It has a handy power switch and is powered off of a replaceable 9v battery. The downside there is that removing the guts to swap the battery is a perilous process that is documented on the internet (I’ve complained about it a few times). I haven’t run into trouble, but I’ve not done any extensive adventures with my 705 just yet. The tuner is great and small. But I don’t think I’d buy it again.
All that to say that I love the idea of the AH-705, but it looks so BIG that I feel like it would get in the way in a pack I’m trying to keep small and light. Looking forward to your videos of it in the field and your impressions. Love the channel and the blog!
Excellent report on AH 705. Not just the product, but your narrative is clearly based on technical background and “hands on” experience. Thank you for taking the time and reporting useful information to those of us that enjoy the hobby. I posted a pretty good “root beer” as appreciation for your work. 73 K6BHD
Great article Julian.
I received my AH-705 on Thursday and from what limited testing I have done regarding random wire lengths I am so happy I purchased it for my 705.
True test when I can get out portable but my kit is coming together nicely.
73 de G0LQP
It sounds good and would be expected to marry to the IC-705. I have a IC-705 with the LDG z100+ so will be waiting for your comparison with that. I would like to get the AH-705 to try but it seems to be a little pricey, HRO has it at $350 so it would have to make a big difference to leave the LDG.
As always thanks so much for what you do and keep it up Even with a IC-7610 and IC-7300 you convinced me to try a IC-705 for camping and so far very pleased, thanks.
Julian, I have no comment but a question:
for my portabel SOTA activities I use the KX2, or the IC-705, powered by the PowerFilm Solar and , occasionally a Solarfilm R28, joined by the Buddipole POWERmini,
My question: will the R28 charge the PowerFILM Solar Akku when both solar films are deployed ? sometimes I on route for days without any possibility to re-charge the Akku ?
In other words , is there a difference between a normal LifePO Akku and the Powerfilm Akku in regard to the Bud Power mini ?
Knd regards an thanks for your very interesting work, I truly enjoy it
73 de Edwin hb9zap
Hi Edwin. I’m not sure I understand. You mean you want to use the r28 with the powerfilm lightsaver Max? I also use the r28 plugged directly into the powerfilm lightsaver Max. Then I have the lightsaber Max solar panel unrolled and I have the r28 unrolled. I’m not sure if both panels are charging, but the lightsaver Max is being charged.
Thank you for your notes here.
So I’ve had a different experience with the mAT-705 Plus. I’ve had it now since December 2020 and have only charged mine once. I’ve actually been doing a little test to see how long that initial charge will power the ATU. So far, I’ve made at least a dozen field activations with it (for POTA/WWFF and SOTA). I’ve yet to recharge it.
When I use it in the field, it’s typically on the air between 45-60 minutes at a time. I fully disconnect it, of course, when I pack up the kit and head back home.
I’ve never used it at my QTH, though, so it’s never continuously connected to the IC-705. At home, I’ve a semi-homebrew solar powered remote external ATU at the base of my antenna. Because of this, I don’t use ATUs at the transceiver end ever (the ATUs would simply work against each other).
I’m guessing you’re right: if the mAT-705 Plus is depleting its cells within hours, it must not sleep when not in use.
Out of curiosity, have you opened the enclosure to see if both LiIon cells are seated properly? I’m guessing you have and also guessing the ATU wouldn’t work or recharge properly if only one of the two cells are properly connected.
In my experience though, in the field, I’ve conservatively logged at least a dozen hours (likely much more) of air time with the mAT-705 Plus and have yet to recharge since December.
While I like the mAT-705 Plus, in truth my favorite portable ATU is the Elecraft T1. (They’re making an IC-705 control cable for it this year, too.)
Keep up the great work!
Cheers & 73,
I’ve got two of these tuners exhibiting exactly the same behavior. The second one was returned to the distributor, and another sent it to replace it. They have all exhibited exactly the same behavior.
Internal batteries, checked, charging functions perfectly. The odd thing now is having to ah705 as my primary tuner, it’s been over a month, having several weeks of constant use, using the same double A batteries installed, on the day it arrived. The ldg Z100 plus is exactly the same. The elecraft T1, exactly the same.
Like I said though, the mat705+ is nice for casual deployments like sota or Pota. Using it at home is a definite no-go. Not only because of the short battery life, but because of the noisy it generates when constantly plugged into a USB C power source. Unfortunately the noise comes from the tuner, not the power supply supplying it.
The elecraft T1 is an awesome tuner but, until that interface is actually available for purchase, it’s just a rumor. If the price of the ft-817 cable from elecraft for the T1 is any indication, the price of the T1 plus the cable for the 705 would likely be as much or more than the cost of the AH705. The T1 is a nice tuner but I without the automation of the mat 705 plus, the ldg Z100 Plus, or the AH 705, it won’t be worth it.
The wonderful thing is we have options.
interest posts… i have had many qrp tuners over the years – a z11 now approaching 20 years! i am due a 705 tomorrow, but already know the tuner i will use: qrpkits sota: no batterie, tayloe swr led, 10-80m… these little tuners are inexpensive kits and are about the size of a matchbox
Thanks for feedback. Sometimes it is nice to have a fast tuner and also cover 160-6m. Manual tuner is nice with no batteries, but I have also seen operators kill their finals manually tuning all the time.