There is a whole world of possibilities with amateur radio. You can use it for communication in areas with poor signal, do self-training before getting into radio professionally, and just have fun. For many radio enthusiasts, having fun is the whole point of ham radio.
But there is one big problem with amateur radio – disturbance. Often, you get an antenna only to experience signal hardships with it.
That’s where the best antenna analyzer comes into play.
Also known as a vector network analyzer (VNA), this is a device that you use to test the input impedance of your antenna among other values such as gain to determine whether it is suited for the application for which you need it.
With the antenna analyzer reviews below, I intend to help you find a suitable, inexpensive VNA for your needs.
Let’s dive in.
Top 6 Best antenna analyzer in 2020
1. AURSINC NanoVNA
When you see a small antenna analyzer, your first instinct might be to doubt its power and capability to deliver accurate results. However, the AURSINC NanoVNA is one little unit that has surprised many folks.
Albeit being small and low-priced, this VNA delivers pretty accurate results for hobbyists and ham radio use. What does it offer you?
The first thing that makes the device compelling is that it operates from 10 kHz all the way to 900 MHz. That puts it right within the majority of our amateur radio bands.
When you order this product, you’re glad to see how good the packaging is. The VNA comes in a nice box and a foam bit that protects it. Just in case you decide to pack the unit away, the box and foam bit definitely come in handy.
Alongside the main unit, there are two testing leads and a 50-ohm resistor, which you’re supposed to calibrate to. There is also a small cable for connecting the device to your amateur radio. The VNA has two ports for channel 1 and channel 0. CH.0 is the one meant to be connected your radio for testing.
The device has a little touch screen that serves as the user interface where you conduct the calibration. Though the screen is a little slow, it works well for a VNA of this price level.
Another issue is that the cable that comes with the unit is a bit flimsy. You might have to purchase a better one separately.
Other than that, the AURSINC NanoVNA is an amazing analyzer, especially for the price. It also comes with a good battery, which allows you to use the unit continuously for 2 hours. Charging takes place via USB.
2. KKmoon Vector Network Analyzer
If you are new to amateur radio, there is no need of investing in a large or expensive analyzer that goes for hundreds of dollars. Consider getting the inexpensive KKmoon Vector Network Analyzer. This is a tiny unit meant for the learner.
Note that these appliance works assesses frequencies ranging from 50 kHz to 300 MHz. If you try using it for higher frequencies than that, you will not get accurate readings. That’s why I say it is for those that are learning ham radio or just getting started.
But that doesn’t mean it is not useful. At those lower bands, the little VNA works pretty great. It’s not superbly accurate, but once you plug it to the computer, the device makes it a lot easier to adjust the settings.
In about 10 to 20 minutes, it stabilizes nicely.
Without software, the unit works around 50 to 300 MHz reliably. But with software, you get to crank that up to 1.5 GHz, which to me is incredible.
What about the ease of use, you ask? I’ll tell you frankly – the menu is a little confusing at first. Worst of all, they don’t even ship an instructional guide with it. But don’t let that worry you. There are lots of instructional videos on YouTube that you’ll find helpful.
Do you have a bit of technical experience with these sorts of products?
You will be glad to find that this device has no metal shield. Hence, you can open it up to view the circuit.
The KKmoon Vector Network Analyzer has its shortcomings, but many users find it quite helpful. I recommend it for the beginner.
3. AURSINC V3.4 HF VHF UHF
As you may (or may not) already know, there are countless models of the NanoVNA out there. They’re from varying manufacturers, sellers and come with a variety of designs and accessories. Because of that, it can be confusing to choose a truly valuable unit.
In the world of VNA, Aursinc is the real deal. What many users love about this brand is that it is true to its word.
Unlike with many other brands, you get exactly what is described in the marketing materials.
First off, the AURSINC V3.4 has a metal shield around the RF components. This serves to protect the components, so that the unit is not rendered useless when it drops.
Without software, you can measure a frequency range of 50 kHz to 900 MHz. There is free software online, which allows you to extend the range up to 1.5 GHz.
The device has a nice touch screen which is moderately responsive. It shows the return loss as a plot and displays a nice chart of the reactance.
In case you don’t like the screen, you can connect the device to your computer via USB. You will need software for that purpose, but once again, that comes free.
The only issue with this product is that it does not come with instructions. But that’s not much trouble as the instructions are available online.
There’s no need to purchase an oscilloscope for over 500 bucks when there is this little VNA that goes for less than a hundred. It does everything that an expensive unit does. For instance, it works with VHF, UHF, and HF.
4. RigExpert AA-35 Zoom HF Antenna Analyzer
If you’re a radio amateur who likes to operate HF antenna and 6-meter frequency bands, RigExpert AA-35 Zoom might be the best antenna analyzer for you.
The 35 stands for 35 MHz, which happens to be the upper-frequency range.
RigExpert makes a series of models of analyzers with max frequencies going from 30 MHz to around 1400 MHz.
Although it is really only a small handheld device, the AA-35 is more than just an antenna analyzer. It is actually a multifunctional antenna and cable analyzer.
So, you might ask, what exactly does he mean by that? When you turn on the unit, the main menu pops up that displays a couple of options. The first option is a Smith Chart, which lets you plot the complex impedance versus frequency.
Down the list, there is an SWR chart option. You can use this to plot SWR versus frequency on a traditional SWR sweep.
If you want to plot the complex impedance versus frequency, the third option lets you do that. After that, the list goes on that lets you perform a range of other functions.
What I love about the unit is that it features a very nice design. Moreover, I think it is really built for the user. The touch screen is quite responsive and if you don’t want to use it, the buttons below come in handy.
The only hiccup you’re likely to encounter is that the screen is not very bright. It becomes difficult to see when operating the device outdoors unless there is a shade.
That aside, it is a nice, inexpensive unit for the amateur.
5. Hima Nanovna-F
Is there anything more fulfilling about a shipment than when you find that it is nicely packaged and comes with everything you need? That describes what the Hima Nanovna-F offers.
This product comes well packaged in a plastic casing. You can use the plastic box for storage or safe transportation anytime. I have to mention too that the gadget is small and lightweight and quite suitable for someone who does lots of field work.
You will be glad to see that it comes with virtually all the accessories you need to get started immediately.
That includes a quality USB data cable for charging and connection to your personal computer. In addition to that, you also get a cable for connection to the antenna. Also included are the cable adapters and the labels for the open, short, and load for calibration.
Being the F version, this unit has a 4.3-inch touch screen. Such a relatively large screen makes the view clear, thereby boosting the ease of use.
Quality-wise, I would say the unit is pretty decent. Unlike many other models, which have a plastic housing, this version has a metal housing. Obviously, that gives it better protection from impact while also fighting disturbance reliably.
For your information, this unit is a little more expensive than the ones I have discussed above, almost double by the way.
But it offers you more functionality. You can use it to measure the voltage SWR, group delay, phase map, and more. It is incredible the number of functions you can handle with this little thing.
The only difficulty with it is that it has a learning curve. It is a little scary to use at first, but a few YouTube videos and you should be up and running.
Other than that, it is a good little device for the radio hobbyist. It has a rechargeable battery and has a charging status indicator.
6. Seesii Vector Network Analyzer
If you’re looking for a handy NanoVNA, the Seesii is another brand you can trust. Their unit is very much like the one from Aurisinc.
The biggest reason why many people love this gadget is that it is little. That means you can put it in your pocket and take it anywhere. A user once told me that he no longer needed to carry the big one from work when going home, which meant less hassle.
Another aspect that adds to the portability of this device is the fact that it is battery-powered. It is a 650mah battery that allows you to work continuously for an hour.
The fact that the battery can be displayed on the user interface screen is quite pleasing.
You can also use the unit through a direct connection to a power source via USB. Luckily, the device comes with a USB data cable for that. The same cable is what you use to connect the device to your computer.
Other items that are included in the package include antenna analyzer a calibration kit, an SMA female to female connector, and a male to male RF cable. Basically, everything that’s needed to start taking measurements immediately.
Versatility is a factor many amateurs love to look at before buying. You’ll be happy to hear there’s a range of things you can accomplish with the Seesii Vector Network Analyzer. You can use it on HF, MF, UHF, and VHF bands to read SWR and Smith charts.
The only shortcoming is that the 2.8-inch touchscreen is a little difficult to use. But that might not be a big deal as you can just connect the unit to a PC or phone and use the interface there.
How To Choose Antenna Analyzer: Complete Buying Guide
An antenna analyzer is not a must-have tool, but if you are an amateur radio fan, it’s one of the most useful devices you can own. With it, you’re able to measure a range of factors that will help you get a resonant aerial and a crisp signal. But there’s a lot of confusion when buying this tool.
What you see below is a rundown on the factors to consider when looking for a high-quality antenna analyzer.
Supported frequency range
This is probably the most critical factor to look out for. For ham radio, the frequency mostly ranges from just above AM band to slightly above the Citizens band. That means around 16 MHz to around 27 MHz.
But perhaps you’re using radio for other purposes such as weather tracking and airplane tracing. In that case, you need to operate at higher frequencies.
I see people getting an analyzer that is suited for their specific functions with radio. But for the sake of the wide range of applications of amateur radio, it makes sense to get an analyzer that supports a wide frequency range. One with a range of 50 kHz to 300 MHz would be fine.
Shielded VS unshielded
VNAs come either shielded or unshielded. The shielding is done with a hard casing of metal, usually aluminum. There are two advantages to this. First, it offers protection for the inner components in the event of an impact. Secondly, it wards off disturbances.
But shielding also introduces a challenge. If you have hands-on experience with the technical bits of VNAs, you might be looking to open yours up and view the circuit structure. Shielding prevents that.
It is up to you to decide what is more important between protection and studying the interiors.
The user interface refers to the parts of the gadget that you interact with. That means the screen and any buttons or switches present.
For many people, the ease of use of the interface plays a major role in helping to decide whether or not the unit is worth buying. No one wants something that is hard to use.
Look at the screen size. The bigger the screen, the easier it will be to read what is displayed. The vice-versa is also true.
Luckily, some units allow you to hook them to exterior screens such as a PC or a phone. This helps in case the unit’s screen is not very helpful.
Antenna analyzer review can be a bit complicated if you’re just getting started. You have to know how to read the Smith chart and the SWR among other features. Still, the learning curve depends on the features incorporated into the device.
For the 50 to 100-dollar units, there are not very many features. Hence, these units are quite beginner-friendly. Psst…YouTube is packed with video resources that will come in helpful.
If you’re serious about your passion for ham radio, an antenna analyzer is one crucial tool you should obtain. It will help you assess the suitability of antennas for various needs related to the radio. Moreover, if you’re planning to build your own antennas, the device will help you get it right.
I hope my guide has been useful in your quest for the best antenna analyzer. Be sure to check the lower and upper limits for the frequency range to ascertain the unit’s suitability.
💌 from toolsmaster