Cheaper radio with really good s meter?

Jhernan488

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Hello, I have the cheapy uv5rs and the kguv8d. Both have crappy s meters. I need a low end radio with a good s meter.. what would you recommend? I was told yaesu has really good meters...

Would the yaesu ft65r work? Does it have a good meter? It's $90 prior tax.
 

jonwienke

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Pick one or the other. You can't have both. Low-end radios don't have anything remotely resembling a accurate signal strength meter. Most of them just have a simple on/off signal indicator. If the indicator has multiple segments, don't expect it to be calibrated with any sort of accuracy.
 

Jhernan488

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Pick one or the other. You can't have both. Low-end radios don't have anything remotely resembling a accurate signal strength meter. Most of them just have a simple on/off signal indicator. If the indicator has multiple segments, don't expect it to be calibrated with any sort of accuracy.
Yeah, I understand. I mean under $200.
 

jonwienke

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What is your application? Why do you want a good meter? Your only option for cheap and somewhat accurate is a SDR stick and SDR# or something similar with a display denominated in dB. But that option has portability issues...
 

Jhernan488

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What is your application? Why do you want a good meter? Your only option for cheap and somewhat accurate is a SDR stick and SDR# or something similar with a display denominated in dB. But that option has portability issues...
For t hunting. The uv5r does not respond right once I start getting close to the transmitter. I had a friend with me that had a yaesu, it responded way better. And it didn't cut out like the uv5r with the peak up close. It throws you off.
 

prcguy

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Some of the Yaesu hand helds have a built in attenuator you can turn on and that will help with stronger close in signals. Otherwise if you can find an older radio with an analog S meter it will be easier to use for direction finding.

If you only need receive I think the AOR 8200MKIII S meter worked pretty well for an LCD version. You can sometimes find 8200MKIIIs on Ebay for good prices.

For t hunting. The uv5r does not respond right once I start getting close to the transmitter. I had a friend with me that had a yaesu, it responded way better. And it didn't cut out like the uv5r with the peak up close. It throws you off.
 

Jhernan488

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Some of the Yaesu hand helds have a built in attenuator you can turn on and that will help with stronger close in signals. Otherwise if you can find an older radio with an analog S meter it will be easier to use for direction finding.

If you only need receive I think the AOR 8200MKIII S meter worked pretty well for an LCD version. You can sometimes find 8200MKIIIs on Ebay for good prices.
Okay, I do actually use an attenuator. It's just the ub5rs have a crappy s meter.
 

mmckenna

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Some non-ham radios will give you a dB level readout. Last year I had to track down an offending transmitter and used a Kenwood TK-3180 and a yagi antenna. If you are looking for VHF, a TK-2180 will do it for you. Drawback is that these are not amateur radios and they don't have a VFO function. All the frequencies you need would require being added via software.

Or, get a small cheap spectrum analyzer. I've never tried one of these, so I don't know how good they are:

When I was chasing the transmitter, I had a high end spectrum analyzer with me, but I found just using the hand held radio and a Yagi worked just as well and was a lot faster.
 

Jhernan488

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Some non-ham radios will give you a dB level readout. Last year I had to track down an offending transmitter and used a Kenwood TK-3180 and a yagi antenna. If you are looking for VHF, a TK-2180 will do it for you. Drawback is that these are not amateur radios and they don't have a VFO function. All the frequencies you need would require being added via software.

Or, get a small cheap spectrum analyzer. I've never tried one of these, so I don't know how good they are:

When I was chasing the transmitter, I had a high end spectrum analyzer with me, but I found just using the hand held radio and a Yagi worked just as well and was a lot faster.
Okay, I'll look at the devices you mentioned, i actually have a nano vna. I know how to analyze an antenna with it but how would you use it for RDF?
 

vagrant

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Use What You Have
Jordan, just use your Yaesu FT3D and your Arrow II antenna and you'll be fine. If you don't want to use your FT3D, the 65R may work, but I do not own one to test the meter. I have zero complaints about using a digital graph/bar meters for a T-Hunt, as long as they work to show some sort of scale. The UV5R meter is junk as you realized. The UV5R I own is all or nothing.

What I Use
For transmitter hunts I typically use an old Yaesu VR-500 receiver and an Elk Log Periodic. That Yaesu has a digital meter along with an attenuation option. It is an older receiver, but it works fine for me. Don't buy one though. You're probably better off trying the 65R if it is in stock, or use what you have with the FT3D.

Attenuation
Besides the built-in attenuation, slightly dialing off of the main frequency to add attenuation without having to enable it is rather quick and easy. I do this first and sometimes never enable the attenuation. If I am dialed rather far off the main frequency, I am probably close enough at that point to receive the transmitter on the third harmonic frequency. ( If the T-Hunt frequency is 146.565 MHz, the third harmonic is 439.695 MHz )

Full Disclosure: I have successfully used a UV5R on a T-Hunt. The meter on mine was all or nothing, so I did it by ear. I tuned to the main hunt frequency and slowly spun in a circle. As I got closer and closer I turned the VFO progressively off frequency to attenuate the signal and kept doing the spin from location to location. Once it was very strong, I switched over to the third harmonic and did the same as before, progressively going off frequency, but once on the third harmonic there shouldn't be much need for that. You're probably on top of it at that point. A T-Hunt by ear works, but some sort of working meter is extremely helpful whether digital or not.

I have enjoyed hunting and putting on T-hunts in years past. Some of them were lowest milage, others were quickest time and some were a combination of the two. Improvement requires practice and RF is a funny thing. During a hunt I thought I figured the location, but the fox was 20 miles away. He was bouncing the signal off the side of a nearby 5000' elevation mountain range using a 20 element Yagi. He was also down in a hole, so to speak, so RF from the sides or back of his antenna was of no help.
 

Jhernan488

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Use What You Have
Jordan, just use your Yaesu FT3D and your Arrow II antenna and you'll be fine. If you don't want to use your FT3D, the 65R may work, but I do not own one to test the meter. I have zero complaints about using a digital graph/bar meters for a T-Hunt, as long as they work to show some sort of scale. The UV5R meter is junk as you realized. The UV5R I own is all or nothing.

What I Use
For transmitter hunts I typically use an old Yaesu VR-500 receiver and an Elk Log Periodic. That Yaesu has a digital meter along with an attenuation option. It is an older receiver, but it works fine for me. Don't buy one though. You're probably better off trying the 65R if it is in stock, or use what you have with the FT3D.

Attenuation
Besides the built-in attenuation, slightly dialing off of the main frequency to add attenuation without having to enable it is rather quick and easy. I do this first and sometimes never enable the attenuation. If I am dialed rather far off the main frequency, I am probably close enough at that point to receive the transmitter on the third harmonic frequency. ( If the T-Hunt frequency is 146.565 MHz, the third harmonic is 439.695 MHz )

Full Disclosure: I have successfully used a UV5R on a T-Hunt. The meter on mine was all or nothing, so I did it by ear. I tuned to the main hunt frequency and slowly spun in a circle. As I got closer and closer I turned the VFO progressively off frequency to attenuate the signal and kept doing the spin from location to location. Once it was very strong, I switched over to the third harmonic and did the same as before, progressively going off frequency, but once on the third harmonic there shouldn't be much need for that. You're probably on top of it at that point. A T-Hunt by ear works, but some sort of working meter is extremely helpful whether digital or not.

I have enjoyed hunting and putting on T-hunts in years past. Some of them were lowest milage, others were quickest time and some were a combination of the two. Improvement requires practice and RF is a funny thing. During a hunt I thought I figured the location, but the fox was 20 miles away. He was bouncing the signal off the side of a nearby 5000' elevation mountain range using a 20 element Yagi. He was also down in a hole, so to speak, so RF from the sides or back of his antenna was of no help.
Thank you for the info! I sold my ft3d. I regret it so much, now that I am getting back I to satellites too. The uv5r, I noticed when it hits its peak of the signal, it will die out, we tried this yesterday with his better radio it didn't do it on his. He even told me that might throw me off....
 

wa8pyr

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You wouldn't. He posted what is basically a nano spectrum analyzer, not a nano VNA.
Actually you could; as with many VNA devices, the NanoVNA has spectrum analyzer aspects to it. Just set the center frequency to the frequency of interest and a sweep range that works for the task at hand, and watch the "spike" of the transmission of interest go up and down in amplitude as the received signal strength varies.

I haven't used my NanoVNA for fox hunting, but I've used it enough to know that it would work just fine for that purpose.
 

alcahuete

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Actually you could; as with many VNA devices, the NanoVNA has spectrum analyzer aspects to it. Just set the center frequency to the frequency of interest and a sweep range that works for the task at hand, and watch the "spike" of the transmission of interest go up and down in amplitude as the received signal strength varies.

I haven't used my NanoVNA for fox hunting, but I've used it enough to know that it would work just fine for that purpose.
Had no idea. I would think that would be an incredibly clunky way of doing things, if it would work.
 

jonwienke

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Had no idea. I would think that would be an incredibly clunky way of doing things, if it would work.
Actually no. the VNA receiver isn't super sensitive, but once you get close enough, put a dummy load on the output port, connect your antenna to the input port, and clear all the traces except LOGMAG, and watch the spectrum on-screen as you move the antenna around.
 

WB9YBM

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Both have crappy s meters. I need a low end radio with a good s meter.. what would you recommend?
By "crappy" do you mean too small to read, not calibrated properly, or...? As far as calibration goes, most radios I've seen have a way to change the reading of the meter by turning the sensitivity control of the meter amplifier. Here's calibration info I've been able to find:
1612825608629.png1612825608629.png
 

WB9YBM

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Some non-ham radios will give you a dB level readout.
On the ham equipment I've seen, everything above S-9 shows a dB level readout--at least the older stuff...or did you mean across the entire scale? If your radio(-s) doesn't (don't) have that, maybe this will help:
1612825790240.png1612825790240.png
 

mmckenna

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On the ham equipment I've seen, everything above S-9 shows a dB level readout--at least the older stuff...or did you mean across the entire scale?
The Kenwood radios, if set up correctly, will show anything between -70dB down to -120dB. It actually puts the DB value in 2 or 3 digits right on the screen. Add a pad if you want to stretch it some more.
With a Yagi antenna, you can do some pretty accurate hunting with it. I chased down some 2 watt data radios with that setup.
 

prcguy

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The "old" standard from Collins Radio was 100uv for S-9 with everything below being 6dB per S unit and above S-9 it was simply 10dB, 20dB above S-9, etc. It was the Japanese that introduced 50uv for S-9 around the late 1960s or early 1970s, perhaps to make their equipment seem more sensitive. I believe the "world standard" is still currently 50uv = S-9 and any other standard is nonsense.

Call up any major US or Japanese radio mfr and ask what they use for S-9 and I'll bet its still 50uv. Call 10 different mfrs in China and you will probably get 5 that know what your talking about but don't really calibrate anything and 5 that don't know or don't care.





By "crappy" do you mean too small to read, not calibrated properly, or...? As far as calibration goes, most radios I've seen have a way to change the reading of the meter by turning the sensitivity control of the meter amplifier. Here's calibration info I've been able to find:
View attachment 98596View attachment 98596
 
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