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Good SWR needle meter?


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#1 STTScott

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Posted 27 November 2020 - 10:17 AM

I've always known that when getting a new radio and antenna setup, a good SWR meter is crucial (you could fry your radio, for one). I'm a bit partial to the simple old-school needle meters, so what might be a decent one in that realm? I get the sense that there might he a pitfall or two I'm not aware of by being a noob, and I live on an island where there's not many radio folks to just borrow one from. I'm going to be expanding/operating between GMRS and Ham, so having one of my own would be good.



#2 WRCC719

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Posted 27 November 2020 - 11:19 AM

Hi
I wouldn't know what brand meter that youll be needing so I would recommend either looking on eBay or Amazon. Hopefully there you'll be able to find what you need.

#3 SUPERG900

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Posted 27 November 2020 - 01:46 PM

For GMRS use, be sure to get one that handles the UHF band - some SWR meters only handle HF.

Try looking up MFJ or Diamond Antenna -  they make several models of analog SWR/Power meters.


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#4 1URFE57

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Posted 27 November 2020 - 07:28 PM

Get your self a Daiwa VHF/UHF cross needle SWR/Power meter.

https://static.dxeng...l.jpg?rep=False

 

dxengineering.com


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#5 O-B-1

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 06:34 AM

I bought an MFJ cross needle from DX Engineering... But am not sure of the accuracy. The manual it came with states they are calibrated at manufacturing. But then again, I bought a NEW Dodge Dakota in 2001 that had only one side of the engine properly bolted down... Manufactured across Christmas break... Go figure...


Thank you and 73...

O-B-1

"If you have learned nothing new this day, you have wasted the whole day." -MSgt David Hollis, USAF

 


#6 H8SPVMT

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Posted 20 December 2020 - 07:41 AM

I bought an MFJ cross needle from DX Engineering... But am not sure of the accuracy. The manual it came with states they are calibrated at manufacturing. But then again, I bought a NEW Dodge Dakota in 2001 that had only one side of the engine properly bolted down... Manufactured across Christmas break... Go figure...

Like an automobile, it should be provided with an Owners Manual that will describle what each function of the device does.  SHOULD BE WRITTEN in a form about a 9-10 grade education as well.

Calibration is subject to a lot of what if(s) as well and I saw that in our military equipment.  If you could say three meters that all read the exact same on a piece of equipment, then maybe, just maybe...

 

Then you get into the value of reading the meter without any explanation of what is should indicate for good or bad...



#7 IronArcher

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Posted 21 December 2020 - 03:09 AM

While I don’t necessarily recommend it, at least for HTs I got the cheap tiny little SWR/power meter from Amazon. I think it was like $35.
I do NOT trust it to be accurate to the 1/100, but, by way of comparison, it is well within 1/10th.
So basically, if it says 1.2:1 I know I’m pretty safe. Maybe it’s 1.3:1 maybe lower, but being I can’t make huge changes to those antennas, it’s ok for them.
It DOES read a bit low. I mean like practically impossible to hit numbers, like 1.02:1, when the other meter was reading 1.05:1. Which still seems unlikely, so I don’t crow those numbers, I just know I’m well under 1.5:1

#8 kb2ztx

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Posted 21 December 2020 - 07:09 AM

I like my trusty Bird 43. You need a UHF slug for it but been using mine for over 30 years (along with shop equipment) and never had an issue.


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#9 STTScott

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Posted 21 December 2020 - 08:43 AM

Since I originally posted this question, I ended up getting a cross-needle Diamond SX40C, and am more than happy with it. Thanks to all who added their knowledge.


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#10 1URFE57

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Posted 22 December 2020 - 09:39 AM

I like my trusty Bird 43. You need a UHF slug for it but been using mine for over 30 years (along with shop equipment) and never had an issue.

For me Bird is the Audi of all around meter I need one but it cost a premium even in the used market.



#11 kb2ztx

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Posted 22 December 2020 - 12:02 PM

Agree. $150-200 on the used market plus another $50-75 for a slug if its not in it already, but its really no different than a radio. You get what you pay for. I guess if your buying a $250.00 midland or baofeng a $75.00 meter is expensive but my APX8500 cost way to much to not use a quality meter...


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#12 1URFE57

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Posted 22 December 2020 - 02:45 PM

Agree. $150-200 on the used market plus another $50-75 for a slug if its not in it already, but its really no different than a radio. You get what you pay for. I guess if your buying a $250.00 midland or baofeng a $75.00 meter is expensive but my APX8500 cost way to much to not use a quality meter...

Exactly! but to be fair it will be expensive for people to spend some extra $$$$ for a quality meter if they only use it setting up GMRS comm. To be honest I just recently bought a Daiwa SWR/Power meter just for GMRS use since I spent more time on HF I don't even have a antenna analyzer I just slap my newly built antenna into my AT2K.



#13 n1das

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Posted 30 December 2020 - 07:44 PM

I like my trusty Bird 43. You need a UHF slug for it but been using mine for over 30 years (along with shop equipment) and never had an issue.

 

What kb2ztx said.  I have an N connector Bird 43 meter and love it.  I have 2 UHF slugs for it and a couple of others.  I like to have more than one slug handy for a particular band to serve as a sanity check if there's ever any question about the results and to check that a slug is not damaged (BTDT before).

 

With a Bird 43 Thru-Line meter, there is no need for a "SWR meter."  When tuning an antenna, your goal is to minimize the reflected power reading as much as possible.  You simply measure the reflected power directly with the Bird 43 while tuning to minimize the reflected power.  SWR is easily calculated from the forward and reflected power measured on the Bird 43 if you really want to know SWR.


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David Sterrett, N1DAS

Nashua, NH, USA

Ham [HA] = N1DAS (2/1984)

GMRS [ZA] = KAE9013 (12/1992)

 


#14 SUPERG900

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Posted 31 December 2020 - 12:25 AM

There's an element of personal taste, for sure, in choosing a SWR/PWR meter. I understand the usage, benefits, of a cross needle meter, for example. It has everything right there. But, it just doesn't click for me. I'm just too used to a single measurement (at a time) type of analog meter. So, for me, I go with the Diamond SX-400. I can get it to display either reflected or forward power, as well as swr - just not all at once. It's usually left on fwd power anyway, as my radio will dump power output if swr is an issue - and if it is, I'll then go look-see the swr and/or reflected power and see what's up.

 

I've used Bird meters - they're great toolkit items. There's nothing better for field use, they're super awesome and accurate with a calibration. They're just not my cup of tea for sitting on my radio desk for everyday use.

 

I think that if I were to get a desktop meter to display fwd/ref/swr power all at once - I'd go for one of those digital displays - that would be ideal IMHO. Of course, some folks might have concerns regarding "accuracy", but I would think that in most situations, these consumer power meters are "good enough" for what they're used for. Mainly, they work well for keeping an eye out for that inevitable cable/antenna issue that will occur at sometime (it always does) - and allowing you to correct things before they damage your equipment.



#15 mainehazmt

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 07:53 PM

Attached File  C1B68AA6-C561-462D-87C2-8E286278F5DE.jpeg   257.8KB   2 downloadsI have a few swr meters one that can handle 2000 watts. But the best thing I have found for adjusting trimming antennas is the 40$ NanoVna.  NanoVNA is very tiny handheld Vector Network Analyzer    Outstanding for checking and adjusting antennas.  Has many functions and works about as good as any mfj antenna analyzer.  Plus you won’t be dead keying a rig while checking the antenna.  I also use mine to set up my antenna tuner for my ham station.



#16 mbrun

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 08:28 PM

I have and use the NanoVNA H4. For the radio neophyte it has a steep learning curve but there is so much you can learn with this instrument once you understand the technology. I would have a hard time going back to traditional SWR meter.

//forums.mygmrs.com/public/style_images/master/attachicon.gif C1B68AA6-C561-462D-87C2-8E286278F5DE.jpegI have a few swr meters one that can handle 2000 watts. But the best thing I have found for adjusting trimming antennas is the 40$ NanoVna. NanoVNA is very tiny handheld Vector Network Analyzer Outstanding for checking and adjusting antennas. Has many functions and works about as good as any mfj antenna analyzer. Plus you won’t be dead keying a rig while checking the antenna. I also use mine to set up my antenna tuner for my ham station.



Michael
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KE8PLM
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Michael

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#17 MacJack

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 08:52 PM

Michael, so which one should I get https://www.amazon.c...sl_8528cn6zak_e

 

This is all new to me.

 

Thanks, Jack

I have and use the NanoVNA H4. For the radio neophyte it has a steep learning curve but there is so much you can learn with this instrument once you understand the technology. I would have a hard time going back to traditional SWR meter.



Michael
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#18 mbrun

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 09:29 PM

Here is the one I purchased.

http://www.randl.com...0u3n3o0er7si8p5

This instrument is not for the technical faint of heart and it will require a pretty good learning investment. Good news is there are loads of YouTube videos, some are incredibly good, some are not worth your time. There will be no manual that comes with the product and there is no big company standing behind the product that you can call for help.

If you have a Kindle reader (or an iPad or other computer with Kindle software) there is a manual written by a couple of lay folks that is definitely worth purchasing (IMO) from Amazon. You might consider purchasing the kindle book and reading it first before you decide to spend the money on the product.

If you are technically inclined and love tinkering with electronics and antennas, this product is too value packed to be missing from your electronics tool kit (IMO).

Michael, so which one should I get https://www.amazon.c...sl_8528cn6zak_e

This is all new to me.

Thanks, Jack



Michael
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Michael

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#19 SUPERG900

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 03:24 PM

The NanoVNA is a great tool for tuning an antenna, or checking a new one prior to attaching a radio. You'll still need an swr meter though, for everyday monitoring.

 

2cts






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