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[TowerTalk] Best antenna analyzer - summary (long)

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Best antenna analyzer - summary (long)
From: (Mihail Mateescu)
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 16:11:41 +0200
This is the summary of all responses I received to my query (names
withheld). Thank you all for your efforts.


I own the autek RF-1 because it also does uH that I believe are easier,
if not possible with, the MFJ-259.
The MFJ-259 discount price is $195. from R&L Electronics in OH, which is
lowest I have seen.
Of course, the RF-1 is $129.95  direct from AUTEK.

I just bought a MFJ 259 and I love it!!  It is GREAT!

The MFJ is much easier to use and read.

I have the Autek.  It works great but it tougher to use because it 
has one meter and it's digital.  The analog metering of the MFJ makes 
it much easier to use.

Price: the Autek beats it hands down.

Size: Autek wins.

Ease of use: MFJ

If you are in no hurry when using it, for the money, the Autek does 
the same thing for less but the MFJ is easier to use.

I bought the Autek because the analyzer is something I will NOT be 
using everyday.  I figure for the amount of times I will be using it, 
I can take a bit more time, and save the money for other things.

Buy the Autek.  I've owned the AEA, Autek, and MFJ.

I've used the MFJ 259 many times (I borrow it from a fellow ham. hi) and
it works super!! I can tune just about any antenna to resonance @
impedence within about 2-2 khz. Its very easy to use and IMHO is about
the only piece of equipment they make which works reliably. (other than
my old MFJ 204B bridge/Ramsey frequency counter). If you can get a 259
which works the first time, you wont be disappointed in its
capabilities. (MFJ usually has a 50% failure rate on almost any item you
buy). As far as the Autec RF-1 goes, I've never heard of anyone using
one, so cant help you there.

I just
bought a MFJ-259 but haven't used it yet. I have been thinking of buying
the Autek RF1 , in addition to the MFJ-259, as I believe the Autek
features that the MFJ-259 unit doesn't have, and, the MFJ-259 has
that the Autek doesn't have.

Direct your question directly to John Broznahan, W0UN, "Mr Antenna!"  He
bought and used them all.

I have the MFJ antenna analyzer - it works like a charm. It makes it so
easy to get your dipoles, beams etc. resonant you'll wonder how you ever
got along without one.

Be sure to get the model with the digital frequency counter, not the one
with the analog dial.

I have the MFJ-259.  It works great.  Don't know how I lived without one
for so long.  Not sure if you can find the AEA version since they went
out of business.  For the money the 259 does everything I need.  It is
great to know exactly where the antenna is tuned and what affect you are
having on it while trying to tune it.

I usually avoid MFJ but I am happy so far.

The MFJ seems to be the most popular.  The other popular one is the AEA,

but I think I recall seeing that AEA was sold and things are a little 
confused until the new owners settle things down.  I think the MFJ costs

a little less than the AEA too.  People who have used both have said
each is better at some things and the best approach is to have one of

          I have used an Autek RF-1 for a bit over a year. I've used
Ham's MFJ 259 at various times too. 
        In my opinion the Autek RF-1 is the better value for the money
the MFJ might be considered easier to use in some cases. The controls on

the MFJ are definitely easier to use, as the "fine" tuning control on
RF-1 is too fast and I seem to spend time "tweaking" to get just the 
frequency I want for a test. So for quick SWR tests the MFJ seems much
easier to me. Another nice thing about the MFJ is being able to look at
the SWR and frequency at the same time. On the RF-1 you must alternate
these readings although there is a trivial setting to get automatic 
        The RF-1 will make some kinds of measurements that the MFJ will
allowing you to create your own custom inductors and capacitors tested
at the
frequency of interest (but with accuracy to just get you into the right
range prior to trimming) On the other hand I think the MFJ can be
to function as a crude dip meter with an add-on accessory and this isn't
available with the RF-1.
        Another thing is that the RF-1 is very compact.  I've spent a 
lot of time hanging off the top of a ladder with the RF-1 stuck right
an antenna's feedpoint and I can't say I'd like to try that with the
I've even hooked up my RF-1 to an antenna, hoisted it up, and read the
display with binoculars. This is conceivable with the MFJ (especially
else's <g>) but the extra weight would make me nervous.
        The RF-1 uses up its battery pretty quickly. I get perhaps 3-4
of use from one 9 volt battery by turning it off whenever I'm not using
for more than a few seconds.
        Overall, the RF-1 has drastically improved my ability to figure
what is going on with my antennas. I've also switched it in place of my
transceiver to work out tuner settings without having to transmit.

We use then all, including the AEA.

The one I use most often is the MFJ. The Autek is somewhat difficult in
sweeping an antenna is done via pushing frequency selector buttons and
at a digital readout. The analog meters on the MFJ are much better and
frequency is always available, unlike the Autek, which must switch the

A word of caution - all of these meters have a common problem. When used
in the 
presence of fairly strong RF fields, they will not indicate the antenna
test properly. This is especially evident on 80, 160 and even 40 when
antenna being tested is within several miles of an AM broadcast station.
devices all use low level RF energy going to the antenna and measure the
loss. Unfortunately, the front ends of the devices are necessarily
This means they pick up everything and oftentimes this "everything" is
energy than the device generates. The result is a VSWR reading that will
approach 1:1, or approach whatever the antenna really is.

I recently have been continuing tuning on my 3 element 80 Zagi and have
to do it 
when the AM stations change directions, otherwise the measurements are
Had a fellow trying to tune a 40 mtr Yagi once. He called me, said the
VSWR was 
1.5:1 and I suggested a small change. He called me back about 30 minutes
and said it was now 10:1! Guess what - the AM broadcast station a few
miles away 
had just made the evening antenna direction change.

I have both the Autek RF-1 and the MFJ-259 I bought the RF-1 first and
was not impressed I recently got the 259, A much better instrument.The
controls on the RF-1 are much too small and reactive a small turn on the
tune control sends you from one end of a band to the other,making it
very hard to use with any amount of accuracy. The MFJ-259 is bigger and
the controls are easier to use, also you see both the SWR and resistance
at the same time not so with the RF-1. The 259 also has a frequency
counter, but it is also almost twice the price I spent the extra money
because I was not impressed at all with the RF-1.

I cast my vote strongly of the MFJ-259.  It is an extremely
versatile piece of equipment and seems (by all accounts I've heard from
all that own one) to be very accurate.  Also, MFJ gives very good
customer service.

I find the Autek the most cost-effective solution.  It does everything
others will do, and more, and it's cheaper!

You might look into the AEA graphical antenna analyzers that actually
display the actual SWR curve on the LCD.  AEA was recently purchased by
Tempo Research Corporation in Vista, CA.  Their telephone number is
760-598-8900.  They are in a state of transition now, but they should be
able to deliver new analyzers within a couple months. 

73 de Mike, YO3CTK

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