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Thread: SWR Powermeter Choice?

  1. #1

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    Default SWR Powermeter Choice?

    Hi, all.

    I'm looking to buy a VSWR/ power meter for my shack. I'm confused by all the options.

    I'd like something that works 'in line', rather than occasional attachment.

    My main interest is QRP, so I'd like something that indicates lower power, but higher if needed.

    As I prefer to operate QRP, I'd like something that can assure me, for example, that I'm not pushing out more than 5 watts.

    In the old days, I had a cheap SWR meter for a CB set-up; I prefer to spend good money once, rather than cheap quick fixes; not withstanding this, I don't want to spend 500, for functionality that I won't use.

    My options seem to be one needle, cross needle displays, or I see a couple of digital ones.

    Not that it helps, but my rigs are IC-718, FT-450D and an 817ND.

    Any help appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Chris
    2E0FRU
    Last edited by chris_debian; Sun 2nd Jun 2019 at 18:12.

  2. #2

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    A few years ago I got a great deal on 2 Bird wattmeters with a large assortment of elements covering all ham bands and power levels. Sort of the go to package, but I was starting to investigate digital that had peak reading capability and the like. I wasn't really ready to pull the trigger, but a good deal is a good deal ... and "its only a hobby Jeff!" Never-the-less, I think I would have bought digital had I researched longer.

    Bird wattmeters are inline. The elements are designed for frequency range and power level. The elements can be rotated 180 deg to read forward or reverse power, noting the power level range of course. Because I have 2, I have had them both inline with the appropriate elements (since I am elemnet "rich") to read forward & reverse power level at any time. The "it's just a hobby ... " comment has to do with exactly what accuracy is required for the hobby ham radio when I mentioned something about selling all the Bird stuff and getting something else. Although Bird does sell a dual element electronic version (and that is all that I know about that).

    Bird wattmeters show up on the forums eham & qrz frequently. Yes, there is always the concern of calibration but for ham work they can be easily checked with a fellow ham's wattmeter. Elements pop up all of the time also. Not advocating & probably not helping as much as you might like. After all its just a hobby!
    -Jeff NE1U

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psi* View Post
    A few years ago I got a great deal on 2 Bird wattmeters with a large assortment of elements covering all ham bands and power levels. Sort of the go to package, but I was starting to investigate digital that had peak reading capability and the like. I wasn't really ready to pull the trigger, but a good deal is a good deal ... and "its only a hobby Jeff!" Never-the-less, I think I would have bought digital had I researched longer.

    Bird wattmeters are inline. The elements are designed for frequency range and power level. The elements can be rotated 180 deg to read forward or reverse power, noting the power level range of course. Because I have 2, I have had them both inline with the appropriate elements (since I am elemnet "rich") to read forward & reverse power level at any time. The "it's just a hobby ... " comment has to do with exactly what accuracy is required for the hobby ham radio when I mentioned something about selling all the Bird stuff and getting something else. Although Bird does sell a dual element electronic version (and that is all that I know about that).

    Bird wattmeters show up on the forums eham & qrz frequently. Yes, there is always the concern of calibration but for ham work they can be easily checked with a fellow ham's wattmeter. Elements pop up all of the time also. Not advocating & probably not helping as much as you might like. After all its just a hobby!

    Thanks, Jeff. Not familiar with Bird, I'll have a search. I'm intrigued by your mention of going digital.

    Cheers,

    Chris.

  4. #4

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  5. #5
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    Digital meters are, generally, just eye candy. "Digital" does not equate to "more accurate" or "better".
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by K7KBN View Post
    Digital meters are, generally, just eye candy. "Digital" does not equate to "more accurate" or "better".
    Pat is correct about accuracy. When digital multimeters came out it was a standing joke that it took much longer to set a voltage because people were determined to get that last insignificant digit == 0.

    edit ... been forgetting to mention that the electronic/digital meters I was looking at have a digital output such that data can be sent to a computer.

    I also lust for the SWR meters that have 2 needles that swing opposite showing forward, reverse, and the SWR. For what it is worth, I have used only Bird Model 43 and the very rare Motorola wattmeters. I used to work for Motorola in Schaumburg long ago. Bird was standard issue. I think the Motorola service shops had the Motorola wattmeters. I also recently bought a couple of Motorola wattmeters and a selection of the elements for them. I actually like the Motorola better and not just from nostalgia, well maybe.

    Make a few searches on Youtube for swr meters and the like. A few reviews plus how to use. Youtube geniuses actually do have useful information.

    -Jeff NE1U
    Last edited by Psi*; Tue 4th Jun 2019 at 12:32.
    -Jeff NE1U

  7. #7

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    Thanks, both.

    My inexperience made me think that digital would be easier to read, and more precise; thank you for putting me straight. Ok, back to analogue/ guages. :-)

    Thanks,

    Chris

  8. #8
    K7KBN's Avatar
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    Chris ...

    A digital meter WILL usually be more "precise". This term refers to repeatability of a reading. Analog meters generally have mechanical movements. This introduces friction and hysteresis. Digital meters don't have this drawback, but their accuracy depends on the stability of their circuitry, chosen values of shunts and multiplies, etc.
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

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