Why would I need an antenna analyzer?

Antenna analyzer userI’ve heard hams say, “I’ve done just fine with my trusty SWR meter… why would I need an antenna analyzer?” Well, a good quality SWR meter will show you just that: SWR. But an antenna analyzer gives you so much more information about your antenna system than just the SWR. Many factors are important to having the most efficient antenna whether you are buying a commercially made product or building your own.

An SWR meter will keep you guessing as to where your antenna is most resonant. You would have to take readings at multiple frequencies on the band and use your results to determine if the antenna is too long or too short. If you have a multi-band antenna, adjusting an antenna on one band is going to affect its resonance on all the other bands, so adjusting your antenna for optimal performance becomes hours of work with just an SWR meter. A graphing antenna analyzer, like those made by Rig Expert and MFJ, will show you in a matter of seconds the affect your changes have on all the bands.

Did you know that objects around your antenna also have an effect on antenna performance? With an antenna analyzer you can make quick adjustments to your wire antenna design (which tree branch you’re tied to, how high the antenna is, how far away you are from the chain link fence, etc) and compare the results instantly.

Antenna analyzers offer the ability to check feed line for shorts, opens, faults at a splice you made a couple of years ago. The analyzer can compensate for the loss in the coax to give you an accurate reading of your antenna. An antenna analyzer can also measure reactance, resistance and impedance at the same time – not something your SWR meter will be able to help you with.

In the ham radio world, some people think having a lot of power is the key to making those distant contacts, but an efficient antenna system with a fraction of the power of the big guys will prove to be more effective in both receiving and transmitting.

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  • GearJammer says:

    Well written! Very simply said for just about anyone to understand! I use a Rig Expert AA-54 and have never been disappointed with the performance or results!

  • Jerry Irvin says:

    I am a ham with about 3-4 years under my belt. I have spent so much money, kinda the “Go big or go home”. I agree with the article 100%. I am going with the aa-55 zoom, as my main interest is in HF. There are too many problems with
    some of local repeaters. A prankster who loves to just cause problems all the time.
    I think the correct antenna analyzer is the way to go. I had a comet caa-500 mark II. But after purchase I found very little support and I like the idea with the software

  • Michael B. Smith says:
    5 stars

    I’ve had my trusty MFJ 259B for about 12 years. Though it’s done everything I’ve needed maybe it’s time to move up to a digital analyzer. The RigExpert 230 is looking pretty good at Christmas time. MikeinMinnesota N0WDM

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