Don’t Like MFJ? Here Are Some Antenna Analzyer Options

On the Elecraft mailing list, there’s been a flurry of e-mail discussing antenna analyzers. The most popular antenna analyzers is the MFJ-259B. As is often the case when MFJ equipment is discussed, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Fortunately, the thread did not turn into simply a “bash MFJ” item. Instead, several guys suggested alternatives:

  • miniVNA. This analyzer is available from WiMo in Germany. This unit has several nice features, including a frequency range of 0 – 180 MHz and computer integration. Unfortunately, the latter is also a drawback, as this analyzer cannot be used without a computer. Cost: 255 euros (about $350 USD).
  • VK5JST AERIAL ANALYSER. This is a kit sold by the South Coast Amateur Radio Club, Adelaide, Australia. This looks like a nice unit, and as the guy who suggested it says, “The price is good and you get the added bonus of making it yourself.” Cost: about $110 USD, including shipping.
  • AMQRP AA-908. This is a project of the American QRP Club. This is built on top of the Micro 908 board. The price is kind of steep—$230—if all you want is an antenna analyzer, but you can also make the unit into a PSK modem, DSP audio filter, and an intelligent signal generator.
  • N2PK VNA. This is a real homebrew project. Printed circuit boards are available, but no complete kits are available. Larry, N8LP, commented, “The N2PK is an awesome piece of gear for the money.”
  • Autek RF1, VA1. I suggested looking at either the Autek RF1 or VA1. They fit in the palm of your hand, are inexpensive ($150 for the RF1 and $200 for the VA1), and work pretty well. They’re certainly accurate enough for most amateur radio antenna work. Disadvantages include the lack of a computer port, finicky tuning, and the lack of an analog meter.
  • Tenna Dipper. If you’re really on a budget, get a Tenna Dipper from the 4 States QRP Club. It only outputs one frequency per band, and you can only use it for 50-ohm systems, but only costs $25.

There are other options from Kuranishi, TimeWave, and AEA, but they’re very expensive. They may be worth the money, but are probably overkill for most amateur radio applications.

Comments

  1. KB6NU de YU1QT with MFJ 259 problem!
    My MFJ259 is 1 year old,carefully used,without mechanical damage,or electric schock;Before any Anntena connection to MFJ,plug wase short-cirkuited(electrostatic reason).
    But last 3 months I have some problem with digital readout.Digitaly SWR is signed correct,but IMP/React are incorrect showing.I have SWR 1:1 measuring(all wase compared with my MFJ 269),if imp is abt 35-36 Ohm’s with +/- J abt 0. Out of resonance +/- J is also wrong displayed.In a same time,analogic displayed SWR and Impedance on 259 are correct showed,compared with MFJ 269.I’m musician,no elctrician,but I have friend’s which controled all known with MFJ 259 shema,and everything is OK. Can You explain to me reason why,or what is damaged.TU ,73 Andra YU1QT

  2. Dan KB6NU says:

    You got me, Andra. I don’t own an MFJ259. Perhaps another of my readers can help, though.

  3. Jean Marie on4jmv says:

    I owned the MFJ 259B for a month now and it performs ok, very pleased with it for the price i’ ve payed.

    Sure there are better meausering devices but a wat price??

    The MFJ will do for the work here, building antennas, amplifiers…..

    73 Jean Marie.

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