To get proper use out of radio electronics, it’s very important to get the correct impedance measurements and readings. Adjusting the antenna to the right position and tuning it properly is a vital part.
Without the right tools for analyzing the frequencies in the antenna, the radio becomes useless. Two of the most popular tools that are used for analyzing these frequencies and impedances are SWR meter and antenna analyzer.
A lot of people are confused about whether or not you need an SWR meter if you already have an antenna analyzer in your radio. It’s quite a heated argument between radio users. Which one of these tools works better?
Today we are here to discuss antenna analyzer vs SWR meter. Which one will be better? Will one be enough or do you need both? Let’s get to know what both of these tools do in detail.
What Is Antenna Analyzer?
Antenna analyzer is also known as noise bridge or RF analyzer. This is a device that is typically used in radio electronics to measure the input impedance of antennas.
A lot of people seem to think that it is a handy tool, but not an essential one. Whether or not you need the tool is quite subjective.
This tool is often used even in amateur radios to fine-tune an antenna. It is also handy for tuning feed line performance or troubleshooting them entirely.
Advantages Of Antenna Analyzer
We’ve heard a lot of good things about antenna analyzers. That is why they are so popularly used for reading radio signals. Let’s take a look at the advantages that we get from the tool.
1. Measuring Efficiency
One of the main reasons why people use an antenna analyzer is so that they can measure the efficiency of antenna systems. The tool is used as a bridge between the two legs of the antenna and is capable of giving you updates about how well the antenna placement is working for you.
2. Measuring Impedance
An antenna analyzer helps measure the impedance of an antenna. You can also use the tool to adjust the length of the antenna to reach the specific impedance that you want.
You can reach your desired impedance either by a band of frequencies, or a specific frequency. The frequencies are also identified using the antenna analyzer.
3. Measuring Bandwidth
The antenna analyzer can also be used to measure the bandwidth of the antenna. This is how you find out the performance capability of the antenna over the entire band.
4. Fine Tuning Antenna
You need an antenna analyzer to guide you when making any adjustments to the antenna. Because the antenna is the most important part of ham radio station, an analyzer is a must-have if you want to make the right tweaks to it.
5. Identifying Range And Problems
This tool is used to identify the range that the antenna can cover. An antenna analyzer can also help you identify problem areas. It’s a very important device for the correct maintenance of antennas.
6. Verifying Performance
Component designers have been using antenna analyzers for verifying performances. They use the tool to make sure that the performance of mixers, amplifiers, filters and antennas match the specification that they have mentioned.
Limitations Of Antenna Analyzer
Antenna analyzers are one of the most popular tools used for tuning. There aren’t many limitations the tool has. The limitations they have, we’ve discussed them below.
1. Hard To Read
Some antenna analyzers have a very small screen that is hard to read out of. These screens don’t have the highest quality resolution. Especially if you are in the dark, they can be hard to see.
But now, improvements are being made to a lot of the modern analyzers screens for ease of view.
2. Not Easy To Operate
An antenna analyzer will give you a lot of information about the placement and condition of your antenna. To read these properly, you need to have a lot of experience. You have to know about the features to decode the information displayed on antenna analyzer.
Therefore, it takes a little bit of time to learn what the analyzer is saying and what it means.
What Is SWR Meter?
SWR stands for standing wave radio. This device is usually used by electronic technicians to adjust radio transmitters.
It measures the amount of mismatch between the antennas’ load and its transmission line. This is how an SWR meter adjusts feed lines and antennas to the impedance so that they work properly.
The tool is also used to measure the effectiveness of the matched impedance.
Advantages Of SWR Meter
An SWR meter is also used for making tweaks in antennas. Here are the benefits of using SWR meter.
1. Measuring Mismatch
You can use an SWR meter to measure the mismatch between the transmission line and the load. This will guide you on how you need to adjust the antennas for a better radio signal.
2. Measuring RF
RF is the energy transferred by radio waves. If you specifically need to measure the RF energy from a transmitter, you can use an SWR meter.
3. Finding The Difference Between Voltage
Users will often use an SWR meter to find the difference or the comparison between the minimum and maximum voltages. It can take readings and comparisons from very high-frequency signals, but cannot be used for taking low-frequency signals.
Limitations Of SWR Meter
So we got to know about a few advantages of using an SWR meter. Now let’s look at a few of its disadvantages.
1. Cannot Measure Impedance
You cannot use an SWR meter to get additional readings, such as impedance measurements. It’s usually limited to taking readings of voltage differences and RF energy.
2. Not Accurate
Using an SWR meter on its own, might not be the most reliable option. The tool sometimes gives readings that are not accurate.
3. Takes A Lot Of Time
If you want to tune your antenna using an SWR meter, it will take you a long time. There are a lot of adjustments and tweaks that you need to make individually when you’re using this tool alone.
Comparing SWR Meter Vs Antenna Analyzer
So we’ve learned about the advantages and disadvantages of both antenna analyzer and SWR meter. Now let’s compare the two and see which one is better.
While an antenna analyzer is used for fine-tuning, adjusting the length, understanding the range, and a lot of other things, an SWR meter is mostly used for identifying the voltage difference. You can also sometimes use an SWR meter to measure the RF energy.
However, you can also use the antenna analyzer to measure SWR as well. So the amount of applications is wider for an antenna analyzer.
An antenna analyzer is a lot more accurate than an SWR meter. When you use an SWR meter on its own, it is not capable of giving you precise readings.
But an antenna analyzer can give you more accurate range and tuning details singlehandedly.
Using an antenna analyzer, you can find out the correct length the antenna should be at. You can also find out information about the impedance of the antennas.
The analyzer will let you make adjustments and tweaks directly onto the antenna. You won’t have to connect the antenna to the radio to check the accuracy of tuning.
An antenna analyzer will also show you the minimum reactive and resistive components of the antenna. Some higher-quality antennas are capable of giving you graphical functions for better tuning. Other features that you can measure using the antenna analyzer are velocity, interface with software, and even 1/4 and 1/2 wave stops.
You can analyze these graphs on a computer. Instead of giving you a lot of readings, the graph shows you the exact problem quicker and more efficiently. This allows you to make changes to the antenna much faster.
You can also get the SWR reading using an antenna analyzer.
On the other hand, if you’re using and an SWR meter, you will get individual information that you need to understand and adjust the antenna to. This can be quite a hassle. Also, SWR meters do not give you as much information as an analyzer.
When compared, an antenna analyzer is the better option for tuning antennas.
An antenna analyzer gives you information about the tuning instantly. You can see all the information quickly in one place using the graph.
An SWR meter will take a little bit of time to give you the results. So if you’re in a hurry, you should surely use an antenna analyzer instead of SWR meter.
Final Verdict: Which One Is Better?
Both SWR meter and antenna analyzer can be used to tune and adjust antennas.
But antenna analyzers are much faster at tuning. This tool gives you a lot of information. You can use an antenna analyzer to get the SWR reading as well. An antenna analyzer will give you complex impedance readings. All the information can be presented on a graph that you can analyze using a computer.
Therefore, making the changes to the length of the antenna and tuning the antenna is much faster.
Yes, you can also use an SWR meter to make these changes, but it will take you a lot of time. Also, an SWR meter won’t be able to give you much information about the tweaks that you have to make in one go.
Because the information is not represented graphically, it can also take you a little bit more time to read and respond to the data.
In conclusion, when it comes to comparing antenna analyzer vs SWR meter, we would say that an antenna analyzer is a clear winner!