Antenna Analyser - Actual Use

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by G0KDT, May 23, 2020 at 2:45 PM.

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  1. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Finding or perhaps more importantly configuring antennas that are really good on both transmit and receive is, it seems, a black art.

    I am looking at antenna Analysers, but wanted a view from those of you have one. The reason being is that they are very expensive particularly if we look at higher frequency ranges. I have been looking at the Rig Expert products mainly because they do go to higher frequencies than others, if we went with an AA-1400.

    So the primary questions are;

    1. How often do you actually use your Analyser?
    2. Which bands do you most often use it on?
    3. When have you found it most effective? ( I'm not setting up antennas everyday or going on DXpeditions)
    4. Has it really improved the effectiveness of your antennas?

    Thanks
    Phil
     
  2. KO4LZ

    KO4LZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As someone who works for a company that makes RF test and measurement instruments, I feel pretty strongly that everyone should have some way of measuring basic antenna parameters (VSWR / return loss). I use an analyzer every time I build, move, or adjust an antenna, and I sweep my antenna from time to time to see if everything is still okay. This applies to all bands / frequencies that the antenna could realistically be used on, both with and without a tuner.

    I've actually discovered some rather interesting things sweeping over a wide frequency range, such as the fact that my (nominally) 20 meter attic dipole is also resonant (VSWR < 1.5) on most of 6 meters. If you're setting up antennas in ... non-optimal .. environments like mine, it's very difficult to know what kind of VSWR you're going to get based on math alone.

    It should however be pointed out that good VSWR doesn't necessarily mean an effective antenna: a dummy load has an excellent VSWR, but is a pretty lousy antenna. :) VSWR also won't tell you anything about takeoff angle, beamwidth, directionality, etc. That said, good VSWR is a very important starting point and an antenna analyzer is very useful in that respect.

    If I didn't have access to "professional" tools, I would probably use my NanoVNA for testing / tuning my antennas -- it's small, goes up to UHF, and has decent accuracy for the price.

    73,
    Paul, KO4LZ
     
    K8PG, G0KDT, K0UO and 4 others like this.
  3. KI5AAI

    KI5AAI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use my AA-54 all the time because I am constantly putting up and taking down dipoles and I want to check to see if everything is still the same when I put the dipole back up.

    I also like to keep a record of the readings. The software for Rig Expert lets you save the info.

    I also like to use it to compare the readings at the antenna and in my shack after it goes through the choke and feedline.
     
    KX6S, K0UO, N5AVF and 1 other person like this.
  4. NK7Z

    NK7Z Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I also use my AA-600, very often... I am always changing, or adding antenna. I selected the AA-600, as opposed to the AA-1400, because I have never needed anything in the 1 GHz., or higher range. So to save a few bucks, the AA-600 was my selection. An example of use is at:

    https://www.nk7z.net/notes-on-tuning-a-6btv/

    plus a few more on site... An analyzer is simply a must have instrument for me. Owning a decent analyzer also helps you learn about antennae, but there is a learning curve for a complicated analyzer like an AA series type. If you are just looking at SWR, get a cheap one.
     
    K8PG and K0UO like this.
  5. KK4OBI

    KK4OBI Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was getting my ham license the first purchase was an antenna analyzer... before buying the radio. That tells you how important it is to me. It is used just as KO4LZ describes. You cannot quickly and effectively set up an antenna without an analyzer.

    For setting up an antenna anywhere, I use the simple, rugged, lower cost YouKit analyzer up to 6 meters. For inside antenna prototype work and development up to 200 MHz, I use the Sark 110. Its' SMA connectors are for laboratory use not outside. If an interest in UHF develops, then I will get an analyzer and cabling for that range. For impedance measurements a two channel VNA is needed and the super low cost Nano VNA with MCX connectors is on order. Note that only modern graphic display units with full sweep ability are mentioned.
     
    K0UO, N5AVF and KO4LZ like this.
  6. KU3X

    KU3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    What are, "YOUR" needs? That will dictate what antenna analyzer you should purchase. Just checking SWR? Any old antenna analyzer will do.
    Need to not only trim for the lowest SWR, but to build matching networks? Then you need one that performs more than just a quick SWR sweep.
    Need to check feed lines for losses, faults in transmission lines, or possibly making coaxial stubs?......then you need something like a Rig Expert AA-230 Zoom. If you need to go higher in frequency, then pick a different model.

    Here's what an AA-230 Zoom can do.

     
    K0UO, W9KEY and NH7RO like this.
  7. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've got a couple of antenna analyzers that get pretty regular use but I like trying out different antenna designs including designs I've come up with, designs I find in various books or on the web. As posted above an antenna analyzer can tell you a lot about matching but doesn't tell you a thing about antenna patterns, gain or overall efficiency though in some cases like a ground mounted vertical you can estimate efficiency by measured feed point impedance compared to theoretical feed point impedance. Analyzers are also good troubleshooting tools that can validate not just the antenna but also things like cable loss when things start acting up.

    So yeah, I get a lot of mileage out of my antenna analyzers these days but like a lot of hams on these forums when I was first licensed even SWR meters weren't something you'd find in every ham shack and I got on the air just fine with tube rigs by watching plate current as I tuned and loaded into my antennas that hadn't been characterized at all. Solid state rigs without internal tuners made everyone pay a lot more attention to matching and SWR but some hams take that too far and stress unless they see a perfect 1:1 SWR which really isn't necessary. So antenna analyzers are good tools for someone that deploys a lot of antennas and can speed up antenna tuning or be handy when something goes wrong but they're not strictly essential for getting on the air.
     
    N5YPJ, K8PG, K0UO and 1 other person like this.
  8. W9WQA

    W9WQA Ham Member QRZ Page

    i dont hear good stuff about mfj?. thought of 269 but no good reviews.
    so in same price range and functions,which one ?
    i have a vna but want an analizer for quik use.
    my 259 has been ok...but want uhf.
     
  9. NH7RO

    NH7RO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Excellent informative video, thank you!
     
    KU3X likes this.
  10. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I do a lot o 'sperimenting so theyre nice to have
     

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