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Surecom SW-102... more like Unsuretrash...


gman1971
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I've always used a trusty old needle power meter to measure radio power... and its been pretty accurate so far, but I wanted something digital, etc.

So, I picked one of those just to see what the fuss was all about, at the time it seemed like a nice device, had digital readout, etc. I also keep seeing everyone in this board using one to measure stuff, so wanted to see first hand how accurate they really are, and potentially keep it.

Anyhow, first radio to be tested is one of my XPR5550e, placed it on the SW-102 meter, using a 50ohm dummy load, press PTT and... boom, my 5550e is now pumping 79W... hahaha.... I know the Motorola is calibrated to put 50W. Put a CDM1550LS? boom, this one is pumping 85W holy cow... I didn't know Motorolas were that good LOLOL.  I then connect it to a Vertex EVX-5300? and same deal: 78w, another EVX-5300? same thing, 80W. Then take one of my XPR6550 with SMA, low power is supposed to be 1W, not for the Surecom, it reads 1.85W, another 6550, same deal, 1.79W. high power? 6.98W... its a 4W radio... 

So I fire up the Antyone AT-578U/V just to see what is going on, the turbo mode yields 82W... Get the TM-V71a out mothballs? same deal, 79W. Basically, all my 50W mobiles read around 80W on this Surecom trash... that is super accurate. 

Then the SWR readings are also off, it reads a WHOLE lot lower than the real deal. I have several VNA analyzers and all of them agree within a small return loss percentage... even my old trusty needle meter is more accurate than this POS. 

Maybe its measuring using Cheap China waaatts, or waeetts, or maybe China Lumens like those 50000 lumen flashlights, maybe to make radios look better?... who knows, right? my advice after trying this turd is to dump it like a hot potato and get a Bird meter... or something else that is actually calibrated using standard Watts.

So, there you have it: buy cheap trash, expect piss poor outcomes.

Returning it as I type.

G.

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Sounds like a dud, and I don't blame you, even owning one.....guess I was lucky with a decent one, and it's agreed pretty well with the vna on swr readings pretty well. Wattage wise, what comparisons I've done, that and the sw33 have agreed, and the readings I've had are consistent with what the radios should be doing (43 out on the vx4207 rated for 45).

While I believe there's menu options to calibrate it, I'd also agree that it's ridiculous to need to calibrate something fresh off the shelf...quality control is clearly one place they cut costs.

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Yes, +1 on that one being a dud. I have used about a dozen of them myself, and they work very well. Leave them in line with many mobile Motorola radios. When I first started using them, I was paranoid and checked with Bird 43 and similar slugless Thruline wattmeters. They all get calibrated when new, and then left in place. Some for several years now. Attached is a picture of one that I used recently with a Motorola XPR4550 mobile. Great little units, even though made in China. I buy these through Amazon, so if I get a dud, it can be sent back easily.

Surecom.JPG

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7 hours ago, marcspaz said:

I would try exchanging it first.  You definitely have a bad unit, but I think it's just bad luck. Also, the device is capable of being calibrated by the user. Once I calibrated mine, it's as accurate as my Bird 43, which is a benchmark product at more than 8x the cost of the SureCom SW102.

Got mine from eBay... I think that is where the problem lies....

So, how do I go about tuning this thing? I would like a small portable power meter that has a digital readout.... it is somewhat comforting hearing that it can be fixed. 

Thanks.

G.

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I concur on the ‘its a dud’ responses as well, and I feel your frustration. Fortunately G you are both wise and experienced enough to know something was wrong. The less experienced might have taken readings at face value for a long time.

I always question the performance of test equipment, especially the cheap stuff, and feel the need to contrast it with readings from other brands and models before I give it any form of credence.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

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2 minutes ago, mbrun said:

I concur on the ‘its a dud’ responses as well, and I feel your frustration. Fortunately G you are both wise and experienced enough to know something was wrong. The less experienced might have taken readings at face value for a long time.

I always question the performance of test equipment, especially the cheap stuff, and feel the need to contrast it with readings from other brands and models before I give it any form of credence.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

Wise is probably stretching it a bit too much... LOL, but thank you. :D

It sucks tho, me wonders how many people who get those things don't realize their SWR are probably flat out wrong... 

G.

 

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3 hours ago, mbrun said:

I always question the performance of test equipment, especially the cheap stuff, and feel the need to contrast it with readings from other brands and models before I give it any form of credence.

Even experienced engineers forget at times test equipment can lie, and very convincingly too. The best test gear you own is your head, use experience and common sense.

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12 hours ago, gman1971 said:

I've always used a trusty old needle power meter to measure radio power... and its been pretty accurate so far, but I wanted something digital, etc.

So, I picked one of those just to see what the fuss was all about, at the time it seemed like a nice device, had digital readout, etc. I also keep seeing everyone in this board using one to measure stuff, so wanted to see first hand how accurate they really are, and potentially keep it.

Anyhow, first radio to be tested is one of my XPR5550e, placed it on the SW-102 meter, using a 50ohm dummy load, press PTT and... boom, my 5550e is now pumping 79W... hahaha.... I know the Motorola is calibrated to put 50W. Put a CDM1550LS? boom, this one is pumping 85W holy cow... I didn't know Motorolas were that good LOLOL.  I then connect it to a Vertex EVX-5300? and same deal: 78w, another EVX-5300? same thing, 80W. Then take one of my XPR6550 with SMA, low power is supposed to be 1W, not for the Surecom, it reads 1.85W, another 6550, same deal, 1.79W. high power? 6.98W... its a 4W radio... 

So I fire up the Antyone AT-578U/V just to see what is going on, the turbo mode yields 82W... Get the TM-V71a out mothballs? same deal, 79W. Basically, all my 50W mobiles read around 80W on this Surecom trash... that is super accurate. 

Then the SWR readings are also off, it reads a WHOLE lot lower than the real deal. I have several VNA analyzers and all of them agree within a small return loss percentage... even my old trusty needle meter is more accurate than this POS. 

Maybe its measuring using Cheap China waaatts, or waeetts, or maybe China Lumens like those 50000 lumen flashlights, maybe to make radios look better?... who knows, right? my advice after trying this turd is to dump it like a hot potato and get a Bird meter... or something else that is actually calibrated using standard Watts.

So, there you have it: buy cheap trash, expect piss poor outcomes.

Returning it as I type.

G.

Sounds like a keeper to me. You got a great "feel good" meter that is capable of boosting your ego as well as the watts. Perfect for the 11 meter enthusiasts.

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3 hours ago, gman1971 said:

Got mine from eBay... I think that is where the problem lies....

So, how do I go about tuning this thing? I would like a small portable power meter that has a digital readout.... it is somewhat comforting hearing that it can be fixed. 

Thanks.

G.

 

As I mentioned, I would replace the one you have.  Not align it.  I would never trust it because of how far off it is.  To align the unit, there are a couple of different methods you can use.

 

The first method, which is the fastest, but least accurate way, is to compare it to a known good/accurate digital meter and simply use the menu adjustments.  The other is to use a generator and dummy load to calculate the value and dial it in. 

 

To use the second method, you are going to need a stable signal generator (+/- 2.5 ppm) that will operate at 0.5w, a VAO meter, and a dummy load and appropriate barrel connectors (don't use patch cables).  You measure the resistive load to confirm it is indeed 50 ohms.  If its not, make a note of whatever it is.  Turn on the signal generator while connected to the VAO meter and dummy load, set the generator to 0.5w and measure the current and the voltage. 

 

Use E/I*R and P/E*I to confirm all of the measured values are correct and to calculate your wattage.  Then, replace your meter with the SW-102 and turn the generator back on.  Go into the SW-102 menu and adjust the frequency to read correctly.  I can't get SureCom to tell me what wattage we are supposed to calibrate to, so I just used 50w and that seemed to be a good number.  From there, increase your wattage to 50w and adjust the voltage controls (forward and reverse/reflected power) as needed.

 

Be sure you have the USB cable connected as a power source while adjusting.

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16 minutes ago, tcp2525 said:

Sounds like a keeper to me. You got a great "feel good" meter that is capable of boosting your ego as well as the watts. Perfect for the 11 meter enthusiasts.

I think I read it wrong... its certainly not a keeper, it belongs in the landfill... ah the good old CB.

G.

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4 minutes ago, marcspaz said:

 

As I mentioned, I would replace the one you have.  Not align it.  I would never trust it because of how far off it is.  To align the unit, there are a couple of different methods you can use.

 

The first method, which is the fastest, but least accurate way, is to compare it to a known good/accurate digital meter and simply use the menu adjustments.  The other is to use a generator and dummy load to calculate the value and dial it in. 

 

To use the second method, you are going to need a stable signal generator (+/- 2.5 ppm) that will operate at 0.5w, a VAO meter, and a dummy load and appropriate barrel connectors (don't use patch cables).  You measure the resistive load to confirm it is indeed 50 ohms.  If its not, make a note of whatever it is.  Turn on the signal generator while connected to the VAO meter and dummy load, set the generator to 0.5w and measure the current and the voltage. 

 

Use E/I*R and P/E*I to confirm all of the measured values are correct and to calculate your wattage.  Then, replace your meter with the SW-102 and turn the generator back on.  Go into the SW-102 menu and adjust the frequency to read correctly.  I can't get SureCom to tell me what wattage we are supposed to calibrate to, so I just used 50w and that seemed to be a good number.  From there, increase your wattage to 50w and adjust the voltage controls (forward and reverse/reflected power) as needed.

 

Be sure you have the USB cable connected as a power source while adjusting.

Probably right about that being so far off... 

BTW, the seller accepted the return, so back it goes. Any recommendation for a decent digital Bird watt meter?

Thanks.

G.

 

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16 minutes ago, marcspaz said:

To the best of my (very limited) knowledge, Bird does not make any watt meters with a digital display.

bummer... looks like in the end I'll have to shell the cash for a service monitor...

 

@wayoverthereYep, nowadays Amazon is also a crapshoot like fleabay... especially with these devices. you might get a good batch, you might not... I'll probably wait until this thing is returned and the money refunded... then we'll see...

Thanks!

G.

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2 hours ago, marcspaz said:

To the best of my (very limited) knowledge, Bird does not make any watt meters with a digital display.

The Model 43 is still the tried & true standard - but Bird did make the Model 4391 Digital Wattmeter - along with the newer Model 4421 with Digital display. Both are more of a benchtop model, not the bulletproof field tech design of the Model 43.

Another group I monitor - someone had posted a picture of a supposed Model 44 - which looked like the 43, but had a digital display, and was supposed to handle DMR/TDMA digital.  Googling that doesn't show me any current digital offering by Bird. Could have been last year's April Fool's joke??  It does appear that someone makes an aftermarket digital display that swaps into a standard model 43.

Our normal setup is to plug in a common Analog "test" channel into our mobile radios, and do our SWR and install tests based off the analog side - using a model 43.

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25 minutes ago, Radioguy7268 said:

The Model 43 is still the tried & true standard - but Bird did make the Model 4391 Digital Wattmeter - along with the newer Model 4421 with Digital display. Both are more of a benchtop model, not the bulletproof field tech design of the Model 43.

Another group I monitor - someone had posted a picture of a supposed Model 44 - which looked like the 43, but had a digital display, and was supposed to handle DMR/TDMA digital.  Googling that doesn't show me any current digital offering by Bird. Could have been last year's April Fool's joke??  It does appear that someone makes an aftermarket digital display that swaps into a standard model 43.

Our normal setup is to plug in a common Analog "test" channel into our mobile radios, and do our SWR and install tests based off the analog side - using a model 43.

 

 

Wow... That 4391 is $2,300 and the 4421 is $4,600.  I get upset when I spend $500-$600.  LOL    Those are pretty nice meters and I am not shocked I haven't seen them.

 

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6 hours ago, gman1971 said:

Any recommendation for a decent digital Bird watt meter?

I know a few people that say that these work for them. But, I have no personal experience with this conversion kit. I still use the old fashion needle.

https://www.rfglobalsolutions.co.uk/still-using-your-old-bird-43-rf-watt-meter-why-not-let-us-upgrade-your-old-analog-meter-to-to-digital-readout-display/

Bird digital kit.PNG

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20 minutes ago, PACNWComms said:

I know a few people that say that these work for them. But, I have no personal experience with this conversion kit. I still use the old fashion needle.

https://www.rfglobalsolutions.co.uk/still-using-your-old-bird-43-rf-watt-meter-why-not-let-us-upgrade-your-old-analog-meter-to-to-digital-readout-display/

Bird digital kit.PNG

Going by memory I think Array Solutions used to make the kit, but I could be wrong.  Personally, I'm sticking with my trusty old 43P with a couple slugs as it is simple  and doesn't have all that electronic crap in it. Nothing more satisfying than watching the needle move a thousandth of an inch when  you're aligning.

 

51901116687_a60867ee41_c_d.jpg

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Dunno, personally I prefer the analog meter movement over digital.  I suppose it could be argued that digital is easier to read, etc...  However, and especially when aligning at transmitter (yeah, I realize that isn't common in this hobby), it's a lot easier to see a peak with an analog meter than with digital (unless one is talking about lab quality, but even then...).

At the end of the day, all you really need care about is accuracy.  Even that term (accuracy) is a debatable statement, as 'accuracy' depends on the manufacturer's reference.  The common reference, at least for analog based meters, is n% accuracy at a full scale reading. 

Unfortunately, that does not equate to mid scale (or quarter or three quarter scale) accuracy of the same percent, so you need to verify/calibrate your meter.  BTW, I include Bird meters in that statement, although I seem to recall the back of meter (the 43 anyway) having some kind of calibration chart/scale (it's been a while since I had the luxury of using one).

Who knows what it is for a digital meter, so you have to hope for and read the specifications (if they exist) and, as with an analog meter, calibrate it.

I think a lot of people would love to have any of the Bird meters (they have an excellent reputation), but realistically, they are out of the financial budget of the average hobbyist.  Don't even get me started on collecting the plug in elements.  Indeed, the basic Bird43 costs more than most high end GMRS radios!

A quality dummy load probably is a good idea as well, as all dummy loads are not created equal.  Even a Bird coupled/calibrated against a bad load reference will be inaccurate.

Bottom line, buy the meter you can afford with the best reputation (in it's price range) and, if you're a 'watt counter' do some testing to discover any discrepancies in the meter or variances in readings across a given range.

Just one opinion (based on years of experience)... 

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