[TowerTalk] Antenna Analyzers

Wes wes_n7ws at triconet.org
Thu Jun 6 15:03:51 EDT 2019

I own the following analyzers

1) N2PK,
2) DG8SAQ (SDR-Kits)
3) FA-VA5
4) Rig Expert AA-55 Zoom
5) EU1KY

Having grown up in a lab using a waveguide directional coupler, BWO sweeper, 
diode detector and oscilloscope with a grease pencil line for "calibration 
memory" to make SWR measurements, I'm a pushover for these marvelous instruments 
that can be held in the palm of my hand and that I can afford.
That said, the first two on this list, while being the most accurate, are not 

The FA-VA5 is nice, can be read in sunlight, but suffers, IMHO, by a cumbersome 
interface.  Running something this capable with three push buttons is a 
stretch.  This can also be used as a "front-end" to the DG8SAQ VNWA software 
which is extremely powerful, remarkably free and can be run on a Windows tablet 
in the field.

The AA-55 Zoom is good, although difficult to read in sunlight and has some 
glitches if you want to import data to a computer.  It likes to add one bogus 
data point to the end of a file.  When I first got mine and had issues, the 
support was very good.  As I found more nits to pick, the situation changed.  
The also have the Rig Expert "AntScope" program to operate and manipulate data.  
The older version of this is actually better.  The choice of screen colors in 
the later version are impossible for me to read. One of those nits that remains 

The EU1KY is a kit and runs open source firmware, that is in constant 
development by a number of guys. I'm using some by DH1AKF.  There are occasional 
lockups but generally it's fine.  It's in a rugged, but slightly clunky 
enclosure and uses a full color touch screen.  This washes out in sunlight but 
there is a "fat lines-daylight" mode that works okay.  See: 
https://bitbucket.org/kuchura/eu1ky_aa_v3/wiki/Home Interestingly enough this 
also interfaces to the Rig Expert AntScope software.

IMHO, the FA-VA5 offers the best bang for the buck.  My second choice for field 
work would be the AA-55.

Wes  N7WS

On 6/6/2019 10:56 AM, David Gilbert wrote:
> I don't own either, but from every published comparison I've ever seen (with 
> actual data) the Rig Expert is far superior to the MFJ.
> I do own the SDR-Kits FA-VA5, though, and it is an inexpensive option (less 
> than $200 USD) in a small size (roughly 3 inches wide by 5 inches tall by 1 
> inch thick) that works up to 600 MHz with really good accuracy over a wide 
> impedance range due to its built in calibration procedure.  It can be used 
> alone, or in conjunction with a laptop computer via its built in USP port, and 
> there is free software available that will even make it work like a TDR for 
> checking cable lengths or finding impedance discontinuities.  It comes in kit 
> form, but it is quite easy to build.  All of the surface mount parts are 
> already in place ... you only have to solder a few thru hole parts before 
> mounting everything in the included case.  It uses two AA alkaline batteries 
> for a claimed 40 hours usage.
> https://www.sdr-kits.net/VA5_Page
> The only downside is the waiting list due to the high demand for it, but it 
> beats my old AEA HF-CIA hands down.
> 73,
> Dave  AB7E
> On 6/6/2019 9:31 AM, Garry via TowerTalk wrote:
>> Good Day,
>> I am interesting in a graphical antenna analyzer and considering the Rig 
>> Expert AA-30/54 or MFJ-226. If anyone has any experience with these, I would 
>> appreciate any comments.
>> Thanks & 73,Garry - K4OR
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