Which antenna analyzer?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by VE6ADZ, Sep 29, 2015.

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  1. G8OSN

    G8OSN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Have you considered a Vector Network Analyser? They are much more 'informative' than a conventional antenna analyser. The disadvantage is they tend to be less portable as they generally require a PC, ideally a laptop if you want to do work outside.

    I have a miniVNA Pro, which covers up to 180MHz. There is an Extender to go into the GHz region and a newer model which does up to 3GHz as standard. Mine has a Bluetooth interface and internal battery so you can dispense with the USB lead.

    You can plot an amazing number of antenna characteristics plus do things like set up filters, measure L and C, Coax loss, length, measure/setup 'stubs' etc.

    I note others have been less than complimentary about the MFJ products but the 259 is a reasonable, basic, analyser in my view. I use one for some 'quick' measurements. Mine is one of the older models so its functions are more limited but I still find it useful.
  2. DK7OB

    DK7OB Ham Member QRZ Page

    +1 to the Vector Network Analyzer.

    I have the miniVNA pro too, and besides the reflection/impedance measurements an antenna analyzer provides, you can do transmission measurements, so you can measure filters, amplifiers, select crystals for home made crystal filters etc. You get a precise signal generator. In fact, with the miniVNA pro, you get even two that can be configured independently.

    You need an additional device to display the results, that's true. But for the miniVNA pro, there is an app for Android devices, so no need to carry a laptop outside if you have an Android mobile phone.

    For me, the VNA is an "universal" test equipment like the dip meter or the oscilloscope.

    For antenna measurements alone, a dedicated self-contained antenna analyzer may be the better choice.
  3. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can barely lift my VNA so it stays in the shop where it does what it is best at, I dont need anything newer or lighter....yet
  4. DK7OB

    DK7OB Ham Member QRZ Page

    We have such beasts at work (most of them HP) and since the company changed focus to software, the older ones are decommissioned and given away to employees. But I am sitting in the software department far away from the "hardies", so I was always too late to get one. At least I got a Rohde & Schwarz SML01 signal generator :)
  5. N0YPD

    N0YPD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the MFJ-225 you listed above,and have not had any problems with it yet.The display is very easy to read in any light conditions.I don't know why MFJ makes it a bit difficult to access battery compartment. I don't think it should be necassary to remove several screws just to change batteries.
  6. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had 7 analyzers MFJ 259 , a couple of 259B's and still have a 269 .
    Can be a good unit for the money , but old tech and graphing is coming at low prices now .
    Get the grid dip coils .

    Then I got a Timewave TZ-900 , my 1st graphing analyzer very good unit .
    Maybe one the 1st graphing analyzers for ham use , average price over it's life [ now discontinued ] was about $900

    Then a miniVNA Pro .
    This is a different class of device a 2 port VNA , that has a lot of use's for $500
    I use mine with a Nexus 7 tablet .
    I am not found of my lack of computer skills / knowledge , there info is scattered , spotty and difficult .
    But still a keeper .

    Now sold the TZ-900 and bought ,
    The Sark 110
    Just getting started with this unit , and wanted one for a long time , was kept from being imported for some reason's , until Stepper got rights to import .
    I was impressed by how much the builder of this analyzer , keeps up with users on the Yahoo groups , doing updates from his ideas & other add modifying .
    My only complaint is the screen is hard on old eyes .
    Oh and some of the setup I am not liking , partially because of how I learned to the others .
    And it may get the changes to those issue setup issues with some posting on the reflector .
    A lot depends on you and your needs like mentioned from others and your approach to using and future needs .

    My plan is to keep the 3 I have for the future ,
    But I have a tool-jones , so we will see what new goodies come up ;)
  7. WJ4U

    WJ4U Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the final analysis I agree with most of the above. Hope this helps.
    KA9JLM likes this.
  8. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    The RigExpert products seem to be the critic's choice. Would be mine, too...except that I have the MFJ-259 purchased before I learned of RigExperts. My one concern is factory support (technical advice, spare parts, warranty, etc) because the company is located in one of the more unstable parts of Europe.
  9. VE6ADZ

    VE6ADZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for your input everyone. My AA-170 arrived yesterday evening. Now I just have to figure out what my first project will be.
    KC9ZHR likes this.
  10. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    First thing I would do with your AA170 is normalize your feed lines. That is, do the open/short/load measurements on it so you can determine what is actually at the end of your coax, if that's what you have. Then do plots on what you have and take out the feedline to see what's actually there. It's a bit hard to figure out, the description in the book is a bit thin on that, if you have a problem, let me know. That is if your AA170 has that feature, but actually it's mostly done in the AntScope software. I'm assuming yours is like mine, as a stand alone it only plots 80 points in an SWR curve, but with the software you can plot as many points as you can type in. I made up a bunch of loads/shorts and opens with BNC, UHF and even N connectors. I used precision 50 ohm chip resistors from Mouser, except I did make a few out of precision HF axial lead resistors too. You probably won't have to be too careful to get to 170MHz, to get to 600MHz for my AA600, it always seems to take a gimmic capacitor to make them work right, that is get the SWR below 1.2:1 at 600MHz. The best load I have is a Bird 15W N termination. The other loads I made are better than nearly anything else I have including some 30dB Emco BNC pads and even a 50 ohm HP feed through termination.

    I'd like to know if the AntScope software produces a data base that's available to play with in Excel or some other software. I assume it's some sort of .S1P or tombstone file, but I don't know. It's indecipherable in notepad.

    Let us know how you make out with it. I regularly keep an eye on my dipoles from the shack just to see everything is copacetic.

    BTW, those .S1P files for OSL are editable in notepad. For instance I always do my scans at 1KHz/point no matter the bandwidth (80M = 500 points: 40M = 350 points), so if I want to take a shorter scan I can edit down the original OSL to a smaller BW without having to re-do it all.

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