I have an MFJ-986 Antenna Tuner, and a few months ago I wired up a cable to supply 12VDC to the unit, which just allows the meter to be illuminated. Seems like an unnecessary thing, but actually makes it much easier to see at different times during day or night. The 12VDC came through a distribution device and had a 1 Amp fuse inline.

It worked fine for a couple of months, but one day it just wasn’t coming on. I found the 1 amp fuse had blown. I checked the cable, and everything was fine. I finally got around to checking it out, and it seems the bulb itself is actually shorted.

Unfortunately, it seems the bulb is an integral part of the meter assembly. I then went to the MFJ website to see if parts were available. I knew they were closing up soon, but they also said they would be around for a while with parts and support. I was surprised to find their website in a strange state, mostly promoting closeouts of some remaining stock. Maybe not too surprising, but when they had announced their closing, they also indicated they had a large amount of products left in stock.

If you ever looked at their full printed catalog, they offered a ton of parts for sale, in addition to spare parts for their products. Well, I did a search for this meter and came up with nothing. If you go to the parts page, it defaults to a page display with some random ordering, and something like 50 pages of items. I even searched on the part number printed on the meter.

It sounds like the ability of getting spare parts for MFJ, Ameritron, Hy-Gain, Cushcraft, etc will be limited, and likely disappear soon. I suppose I could open a small hole in the meter housing and put in some LED bulb, but not sure if I want to risk messing up the meter. Living without the illumination might be the safest choice.

I find it interesting that someone did not arrange to purchase some or parts of MFJ. Hy-Gain and Cushcraft have been around for decades, but were purchased by MFJ in the last 15 years, so maybe they were already floundering. MFJ said Covid hurt there business, which is strange, as licensed ham radio operators actually increased. But maybe the loss of production and supply shortages was the issue. Not being able to keep up with demand.

MFJ certainly was able to design and engineer products, and was successful over the years. They had so many different product offerings, with many that probably did not sell that well. They might have benefitted by having some skilled business people trim their product line and focus on the most profitable products.

There are some other vendors who make similar products. Antennas, amplifiers, tuners, SWR meters can still be found. But MFJ made a number of products where there was no other option.

MFJ was probably the biggest advertiser that QST has. Usually several full page ads in each issue. That will be a huge loss for the ARRL. This happens just after the ARRL announced huge price increases to members for the printed edition.

Might there be a ripple effect? Hopefully not. Just hope your MFJ products continue to work for years.

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