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Opinions: Best budget SWR meter

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Josh380

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Looking for suggestions/opinions on what the best budget SWR meter would be. I've had Workman and Astatic SWR meters...complete junk IMO..could never get them to give an accurate reading. Was surprised the Astatic meter didn't work well.

So without spending the big bucks on a nice Dosy meter, what are my options?
 

kc2kth

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I'm surprised you had a bad experience with the Workman or Astatic, especially since Workman seems to be the go to these days. Without having some other known good meter to compare it to, the readings are always relative anyhow. Any chance you simply had a couple of bad sample meters?

In general my recommendation would be "the best one you can afford", but maybe a better bet would be to find a local shop that can sell you a meter that they can demonstrate is good using their own bench meter as a reference.

A buddy of mine just used his Workman, a pretty small sample, to determine he had a major issue with corrosion in his stud mount. Went from >3:1 to less than 1.5:1 across the band once he cleaned up the connector a bit.
 

Hit_Factor

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NanoVNA-F hands down. I sold my RigExpert yesterday.

I know, hard to believe, but these things are new and progressing quickly. 0 to 1.5Ghz for approx. $150!

Read through the groups thread, comparisons to high end analyzers abound and these tools are holding their own against the high end gear.
 

jonwienke

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Look on Amazon for Nano VNA. It measures SWR and impedance and gives you a graph of stuff by frequency. Makes it really easy to see if your high SWR is from an open or shorted cable, or just the antenna being mistuned.

The older version that only goes to 900MHz is about $70.
 

mmckenna

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Ditto on the Nano VNA for hobby use.

Like others, I've got some high end stuff at work, but for personal use, the NanoVNA has been pretty impressive. There's some learning involved, but there's some good YouTube tutorials on how to do it.
You'll also need some adapters to go from SMA connectors on the NanoVNA to the UHF/PL-259 your CB antenna will use.

If SWR meter is all you need, it's hard to beat a used Bird 43 meter with the right element for CB. But, even used can be out of the price range for hobbyists.
 

Josh380

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Well, I'm really looking for a power/swr meter. This NanoVNA looks sick, but a little bit pricey for me. Of course, the value is there..I mean all band analyzing is pretty impressive and eliminates the need for multiple meters..so I suppose it's worth it, just not within my budget.
 

mmckenna

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Well, I'm really looking for a power/swr meter. This NanoVNA looks sick, but a little bit pricey for me. Of course, the value is there..I mean all band analyzing is pretty impressive and eliminates the need for multiple meters..so I suppose it's worth it, just not within my budget.

Well, what's your budget then?
 

mmckenna

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While I dislike MFJ products, I did have an HF SWR meter I used for CB and a VHF/UHF meter I used for amateur radio back in the late 80's/early 90's. I'd classify them as "good enough for hobby use". One of those and the necessary jumper/adapters would be in your budget range with left over money.

There's also companies like Diamond that make some decent ones.

They're fine for hobby use. Not super accurate, but that's OK if you are not doing commercial level stuff.
 

Chronic

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Depends on what you are going to use it on , if it is a $50.00 cb then a $20.00 meter should suffice, if you're going to be running a $2000.00 radio then you may want to invest more . If it is a $300.00 CB that has had a magic screwdriver inside of it , then just adjust the meter to read what you want to see .
 

alcahuete

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As was said, there are tons under $100 and they work quite well.
 

MisterLongwire

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For a cheap radio, maybe a Workman will be fine. After all you are protecting (keeping watch over) a cheap radio. I got nothing but decent radios...I settled for a Nano. Love it! For all my ham gear I use an old Siltronix I will NEVER get rid of
 

cmdrwill

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NanoVNA-50KHz-900MHz-Network-Analyzer-Antenna.

The prices are coming down.
Only problem I see, is a learning curve. Several good UTube articles.
 

prcguy

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Something to consider is some antennas like mag mounts for CB and HF, Antron 99 and similar, can be very sensitive to coax length. This has nothing to do with the CB myth about cutting your coax to a specific length but rather these antennas not being decoupled from the coax and the coax can be a radiating part of the antenna system. In these cases using an external SWR/power meter with a jumper to your radio can sway the readings since the coax jumper and external meter add length to the feedline.

A separate antenna analyzer sees the same end of coax that the radio sees and in most cases will give a more honest idea of your antenna condition. I think some people experiencing problems where an external SWR meter is saying things are ok but the internal SWR meter or antenna light in the radio is telling you something different.
 
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