Antenna Analyzers and Why You Need One
Years ago when I first became a ham and I began building antennas, I realzed very quickly that there had to be a better way of building antennas than by guess work.
I soon purchased my first antenna analyzer and for a short time that sufficed. However as I moved forward with my building more complex antenna designs, I realized that my antenna analyzer was not up to the job, and this led to my purchasing an antenna analyzer with more features.
Well long story short, over the years I have owned a fair number of different antenna analyzers, and it took a long winding road to realize that if I was going to be at the top of my game building antennas, that I required a top performing antenna analyzer with all the features required to make this happen.
Besides the features required for building antennas, you need an antenna analyzer designed for testing, checking, tuning or repairing antennas and antenna feed lines as well.
If your shopping for a antenna analyzer, you may want to aquire an analyzer that does graphical SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) and impedance, as well as displaying smith/polar charts, as an antenna analyzer with such features can significantly reduce the time required to adjust an antenna.
Some antenna analyzers such as my Rig-Expert AA-600 may be connected to a personal computer making it a valuable tool for my antenna building.
Some of the features that I look for in an antenna analyzer is the ability to do rapid check-outs of an antenna regardless of the type of antenna it is, as well as being able to tune the antenna to resonance.
I use my analyzer for checking on the SWR and impedance of my mobile antennas from time to time, making sure that nothing has caused the antennas on my mobile to be out of tune.
I also find my analyzer to be a valuable tool for checking the various runs of coaxial cables whether it be in my mobile or my ham shack allowing me to zero in on cable faults.
I use my antenna analyzer for checking my mobile HF gearmotor antennas to see if they are capacitive or inductive, very important for a top performing mobile HF antenna.
One of the features that I enjoy most about my antenna analyzer is the ability to utilize the built in smith chart making it easy to check the RF Network of my HF antennas, and making any adjustments necessary to balance the antenna.
All initial adjustments made to my mobile antennas are with the antenna analyzer connected through a short length of coax at the feedpoint of the antenna as seen in the photo, without the shunt-coil or long length of coax in line.
A antenna analyzer also allows you to mount your direct mount HT antennas directly to the analyzer allowing you to tune the antenna for maximum performance.
Even if you don't build a lot of antennas, there are many more reasons why you want an antenna analyzer in your day to day ham radio operations.
Click on the photo for a closer look.....