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RigExpert AA-600 Antenna Analyzer Review

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    A little while ago, I discovered that my little 2m/400 SWR/Power meter had bit the dust while I was trying to tune a 440Mhz base antenna. Unfortunately, my MFJ-259 analyzer only covered up to 2 meters, so I decided it was time to look for a new analyzer that could cover HF through 400+Mhz. I had been looking lustily at the RigExpert line of analyzers and decided to go with the AA-600 analyzer that covers 0.1-600Mhz. I ordered the unit from rigexpert.net at a price of $575 shipped and had the unit in my hands in a few days.

    Here is everything that comes in the package: The analyzer, a carry pouch, the manual, Antscope software, USB cable, 3 NiMh AA batteries with charger, and a S0-239 to N connector adapter.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a close-up shot of the analyzer turned on showing the initial menu:

    [​IMG]

    The menu items correspond to the numbered keypad. If you look closely, you can see that the text above each keypad number is also the same as the screen menu. This is helpful because the functions or settings accessed by the keypad are also accessible while using the various screens - you don't have to memorize them because they are shown directly on the keypad. To access the blue function to the left of each keypad number, you just hit the blue F key first on the bottom left.

    The first thing you typically need to do to start using the analyzer is to punch in the desired frequency that you want to take a measurement of:

    [​IMG]

    After you do that, you will be taken back to the main menu where you would typically choose to either scan the SWR for a desired bandwidth, or just show the SWR at the entered frequency. Here is a pic of the basic "Show SWR" menu item:



    [​IMG]

    If you choose the "Scan SWR" menu, you will first get a blank graph with the chosen frequency at the top, with a +/- scan range. Simply press the up (range+) or down (range-) buttons to narrow or widen the scan range and then hit the check or OK button to scan. The end result will look something like this:

    [​IMG]

    In this example, the center frequency is 441.860 and the left and right edge of the graph are 431.860Mhz and 451.860Mhz, respectively. The graph represents the SWR across the scan range.

    When displaying an SWR scan, the red carrot at the bottom of the graph corresponds to the frequency displayed at the top. In this example, I hooked up the analyzer to my Alpha Delta DX-CC and set the frequency to 3.860Mhz with a total scan range of 200 khz:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the SWR at the cursor is about 1.3:1. Using the left and right arrows on the analyzer, I moved over to 3.9Mhz to reveal that the antenna reads about 2.8:1 SWR:

    [​IMG]

    One of the very useful features of the analyzer is that you can save a sweep to memory and then retrieve it on your PC later. You do that by hitting key 6 (Save), then using the up and down arrows to pick a memory slot and then punching in a memory name:

    [​IMG]

    When you pull it up on the computer using the supplied software, you get a nice image that you can use for various purposes that looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    I'm just getting started on the many features of this analyzer, so stay tuned for more...
     

  2. N6LPO

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    Nice!
     
  3. mb91w126

    mb91w126
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    they are, you can make an adjustment, sweep a frequency range and store it. do this many times then down load the data to the PC program to view the results in far greater detail than the small screen.

    [​IMG]
    http://www.worldwidedx.com/attachments/mox-b-swr-jpg.14349/
     
    #3 mb91w126, Oct 21, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2014
  4. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Review Continued

    After you punch in the frequency range that you want to analyze, one of the things you will want to set is the Sweep Range, which is the funciton activated above the number 3 button. You can change this setting before or after you go into the Scan menu:

    [​IMG]

    Use the up or down arrows or just punch in the bandwidth you want. It's important to understand that the clarity accuracy of the SWR sweep is directly related to the bandwidth; if you set it to wide, you won't see the discreet variations in SWR. While this isn't a big deal at HF, it can be very important as at VHF and UHF frequencies.

    After you perform a basic sweep and have the SWR curve displayed, you can look at the details on a specific frequency within the requested sweep range. Using the example in the first post, moving the cursor over to 3.850 and then selecting the "all" function above number 8 reveals the following:

    [​IMG]

    In addition to SWR, you get a reading for return loss, impedance, resistive and reactive components, and capacitance. In addition to the series models of the values, you also can see the values expressed in the parallel models, which are denoted by the "II" next to each parameter.

    There are still a couple more functional areas to discuss; more to follow...
     
  5. Moleculo

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    Here's an interesting piece of information about this analzer that was relayed to me today. K9KAO reported that he recently went up to his 440 Mhz repeater site here in Southern California where there is quite a bit of RF from other stations on the same mountain top. He told me that he tried both the MFJ and Comet analyzer on the repeater's antenna, but neither could handle the RF from all of the adjacent stations and they wouldn't work. In fact, he mentioned that the MFJ analyzer got damaged by the strong RF field and had to be sent in for repair. Later, he borrowed a local's Rigexpert AA-600, went back up and had no problems using it to adjust the repeater antenna. I didn't realize that this analyzer could deal with strong RF fields, but this information was quite interesting to me.
     
  6. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Measuring Multiple Bands

    One of the coolest things you can do with this analyzer is measure multiple bands on a given antenna at once. If you've ever tried to tune a multi-band HF antenna with a regular SWR meter or even a basic analyzer, you can appreciate how arduous this task can be.

    The AA-600 can scan up to 5 bands at once. To accomplish this, you hit F+7 (MultiSWR) then punch in the frequency on each band you want to measure and then hit the OK button. Here is an example of what I measured on the Alpha Delta DX-CC multiband HF antenna:

    [​IMG]

    The DX-CC is set up for 10, 20, 40, and 80 meters, and as you can see from the meter, I've set it up where I want it in each band. For kicks, I took a measurement on most of the other HF bands, which resulted in this:

    [​IMG]

    Measuring multiple bands at once is probably the most useful, time saving features that I've encountered with this analyzer.
     
  7. Yapper

    Yapper
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    I'm hoping to resurrect this old thread. I'm looking at the same meter and have heard lots of good things. How about an update from the OP . . . still happy with it? Any issues?

    Also, can I trouble you for a demo on how this works when trying to diagnose a possible coax issue? The instructions and listed features on these units always talk about the ability to read out shorts and opens and even give you the exact location down the coax of the issue.

    It's hard buying an expensive item like this without being able to fondle it in person first. I appreciate this review and demo very much. Great job!!
     
    #7 Yapper, Oct 6, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017

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