Antenna analyzers help CB and ham radio configurations achieve peak performance and range.
Not all antenna analyzers are built the same, which is why it can be quite challenging to find the perfect antenna analyzer for your needs.
In this article, we’re going to help you select the ideal antenna analyzer for your radio system by reviewing the best antenna analyzers on the market today, so be sure to stick around.
6 Best Antenna Analyzers 2022
1. AURSINC NanoVNA Vector Network Analyzer: Best Cheap Antenna Analyzer
Kicking off our list of the best antenna analyzers is the Aursinc NanoVNA, with its ultra-compact design, bright LCD display, and versatile battery/USB-powered operation.
The NanoVNA weighs around 63 grams and measures around 54×85.5×11 mm, so it’s certainly one of the most compact and lightweight antenna analyzers available today.
Further, this is one of the more affordable options out there at under $60.
The device features a 2.8-inch LCD panel that displays images in HD resolution.
The display is fairly bright, so you won’t have a problem discerning displayed info in broad daylight.
Just keep in mind that the screen is pretty fragile and requires delicate handling.
The Aursinc NanoVNA is versatile when it comes to its power source. You can either utilize a battery or a USB cable (both included).
Range-wise, the antenna analyzer uses an advanced frequency algorithm capable of supporting frequencies up to 1.5GHz, thanks to the use of the SI5351 odd harmonic extension.
The device comes in a pretty neat storage box that includes protective foam for when it’s time to store the device.
Further, the device comes with a 50-ohm resistor and a couple of testing leads that allow for easy calibration.
Moreover, the package includes a small cable that you can use to connect the NanoVNA to an amateur radio system. The unit itself features CH0 and CH1 ports.
The Aursinc NanoVNA offers a great deal of value for the money, but it’s not as perfect as it may come across. Firstly, we’re not fond of the USB cable’s quality.
We feel that it’s a bit flimsy. You’ll be better off buying a separate cable. In addition, the screen’s response is a little slow, but that’s just us nit-picking here.
- Compact handheld construction
- Bright 2.8-inch LCD display
- USB or battery-powered operation
- Supports 10 kHz to 1.5 GHz Package
- Includes a storage case
- Screen response can be enhanced
This is basically the upgraded version of the Aursinc NanoVNA reviewed above.
Both devices share a lot of the same features, but this version flaunts an added battery circuit management system that’s more stable and secure.
What’s more, this version of the NanoVNA flaunts a redesigned PCB that allows you to connect to smartphone devices with the aid of a Type-C cable.
This is a major improvement, considering the original PCB required a standard OTG cable.
In addition, this upgraded version is compatible with a PC application that enables you to control its operation from a computer or laptop.
The application features a straightforward user interface that’s easy to navigate. With the aid of this application, you can download SNP files that you can use for simulation software and radio design.
The original NanoVNA analyzer was quite compact and lightweight, but it was pretty fragile. This version, however, does an excellent job of retaining compactness while ensuring durability. Also, this version is completely dust-proof.
The upgraded NanoVNA employs the same advanced frequency algorithm that its predecessor uses, so it’s able to support frequencies up to 1.5GHz via the SI5351 odd harmonic extension.
This device is equipped with a wide range of functionalities. The most basic firmware feature is reliable when it comes to measuring antenna performance.
There’s also a TX/RX feature that’s perfect for measuring S11 and S21 parameters. The NanoVNA is able to measure S12 and S22 parameters, but you’ll need to replace the transceiver’s wiring manually.
The device houses a 650mAh battery that offers up to 2 hours of continuous use. When it runs out, you can connect the device to a power source or power bank to recharge.
The package is packed with accessories, including the battery, USB Type-C data cable, RG174 RF cables, an SMA calibration kit, and an SMA connector.
- Reliable battery circuit management
- Displays images in HD resolution
- USB and battery-powered operation
- Outstanding frequency algorithm
- 10 kHz to 1.5 GHz frequency range
- Anything negative is just nit-picking
Next on our list is the highly-rated Vector Antenna Analyzer from Elikliv.
Like the above-listed units, this antenna analyzer boasts an extremely compact and lightweight design that can easily be handheld.
That’s not the only thing this device has in common with the NanoVNA devices, as it also flaunts a 2.8-inch LCD panel that displays images in HD resolution.
The screen is also bright enough so that it’s easier to read in broad daylight.
The Elikliv Mini Vector analyzer is capable of supporting frequencies up to 900MHz, as it uses the SI5351 odd harmonic extension.
The analyzer flaunts multiple functionalities, including the ability to measure S11 and S21 parameters using the TX/RX feature. It can also measure S12 and S22 parameters if you’re able to replace the transceiver wiring manually.
The device features a metal shield design that helps reduce external interferences effectively. It also does an excellent job of improving accuracy.
The unit utilizes the 10kHz-1.5GHz algorithm for detecting frequencies. The output in 50k-300MHz is vastly superior to 70dB dynamics.
Even its extended frequency band, which is 300M-600MHz, is superior to 60dB dynamics.
The manufacturer claims that the unit is superior to 50dB dynamics in the 600M-900M band, but we think they’re reaching.
Like the Aursinc NanoVNA, the Elikliv Mini Vector is compatible with a PC control software that you can use to export SNP files that you can use for simulation and radio design.
The device can be powered via a USB cable or a battery.
The cable is included in the package, but the battery isn’t, which is our main complaint about this analyzer. Apart from that, the Elikliv Mini Vector offers a ton of value for the money.
- Very tiny handheld construction
- Bright 2.8-inch LCD display
- USB or battery-powered operation
- Limited external interference
- 10KHz to 1.5GHz frequency range
- Package doesn’t include a battery
The Nonovna Network Analyzer is yet another excellent device that’s designed to accommodate original equipment.
You can use this device for radio design and simulation purposes, as it’s compatible with PC software that enables you to export SNP files, also known as Touchstone files.
Like the above-reviewed analyzers, this device utilizes the SI5351 odd harmonic extension to support frequencies up to 1.5GHz.
It beats the 70dB, 60dB, 50dB and 40dB dynamics as far as the 50KHz-300MHz, 300M-600MHz, 600M-900M, and 900M-1.5GHz bands, respectively. It’s a ton of value for a budget-friendly price of under $60.
The device utilizes Spectra Premium’s OE engine management systems in order to achieve the above-mentioned capabilities.
Further, it incorporates platinum connector threads to limit the number of connection points, which ensures a faster response to changes in frequency.
The Nanovna Network Analyzer houses ceramic-built printed circuits that are reinforced by silica gel in order to ensure great resistance to vibrations and temperature changes.
To add, it houses a 500mAh battery that offers up to 2 hours of runtime.
When the battery runs out, you can connect the device to an external power supply for extended operation. The manufacturer also offers users the ability to order larger battery versions.
The unit is also equipped with a 2.8-inch touchscreen for easy navigation. The screen is bright enough for easy reading in non-ideal lighting conditions. Further, the unit features many modes of operation, including the TX/TX mode, which allows you to measure S11 and S21 parameters.
It’s also capable of measuring S12 and S22 parameters via manual transceiver wiring.
To add, the Nanovna Network Analyzer features a Smith Chart functionality that you can use to determine the resistance and reactance of antennas. The device might be compact and light in terms of weight, but it’s fairly sturdy and can handle mild impacts.
- Convenient PC control software
- 10KHz to 1.5GHz frequency range
- Bright 2.8-inch LCD touchscreen
- Resistant to temperature changes
- Equipped with a 500mAh battery
- Included USB cable is of poor quality
While most of the above-reviewed devices share a lot of the same functionalities, the RigExpert AA-35 Zoom HF Analyzer is completely unique in its design and operation.
We have to say that this is our favorite antenna analyzer when it comes to aesthetics. It just looks professional and convenient in terms of size and weight.
The RigExpert AA-35 Zoom HF Analyzer is an excellent device for those who are into operating 6-meter bands and HF antennas.
The device has an upper-frequency range of around 35MHz, hence the ‘35’ in its name.
35MHz might not be adequate for some users, but fortunately, the unit is available in a bunch of different models ranging from 30 to 1400MHz, so you’re guaranteed to find a model that meets your needs.
Okay, so if this device has a comparatively limited frequency range, why is it expensive? Well, this is because it’s not just a simple antenna analyzer. The RigExpert Zoom doubles as a cable analyzer as well.
The device is also multi-optional, meaning that you have various modes of operation to choose from, like the Smith Chart option, which enables you to view impedance-frequency plots.
Also, you have the SWR Chart option, which you can use to view SWR-frequency plots on traditional SWR sweeps.
In addition to these two options, the RigExpert Zoom HF Analyzer features a ton of other modes that you can utilize for various other use cases.
The unit itself feels quite firm and sturdy, unlike some of the cheaper alternatives on the market.
Further, this analyzer is equipped with an incredibly responsive touchscreen. It might not be as large as some of the screens that competitor devices feature, but it’s not all about size.
What we don’t link about the screen, however, is the fact that it’s not that bright, so it’s harder to discern the displayed info in outdoor conditions.
The unit also flaunts physical buttons that you can utilize to navigate its functionalities if you’re not a fan of touch-based controls.
All in all, the RigExpert Zoom is a pretty well-rounded device that offers a lot of value for the price.
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Touchscreen and button navigation Well-equipped for field testing
- Can work with 25-100 ohm ratings
- Compact and lightweight build
- Not bright enough for the outdoors
All of the above-mentioned antenna analyzers are quite compact in their construction, whereas the Hima Nanovna-F Vector Network Analyzer is unapologetic about its bulkier construction and a large 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen.
Such a large panel makes it easier for users to view the info being displayed, and it just allows for a friendlier user experience overall.
When it comes to packaging, the Hima Nanovna-F Vector is arguably the best unit on this list, as it comes in a cool looking plastic box that can be used for storage and transportation.
The box includes all the necessary peripherals required for the device’s operation.
The package includes a USB cable that you can use for connectivity and charging. You also get another cable for antenna connections. Moreover, there are adapters and the required labels for calibration, including the short, open, and load labels.
This antenna analyzer runs on a rechargeable battery. It also features a battery life indicator so that there’s no guesswork involved with regard to when it’s time to recharge the battery.
Despite its large construction, the Hima Nanovna-F is surprisingly lightweight, so you can use it for fieldwork without it being a burden to carry around.
It’s also worth noting that this device is a tough competitor to beat when it comes to build quality, as it flaunts metallic housing rather than a plastic one. In other words, this analyzer can probably handle a serious knock and still be fully functional.
The device offers a ton of functionalities that you can use, including the ability to measure SWR, phase map, group delay, and many, many more.
However, considering its various features, the device comes with a pretty steep learning curve, so you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time learning how to use it. Luckily, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can help you learn all you need to know about the device.
All things considered, the Hima Nanovna-F Vector is an excellent antenna analyzer for experts and hobbyists alike, thanks to its extensive range of functionality and remarkable accuracy.
- Notably large 4.3-inch touchscreen
- Extremely durable construction
- 50kHz-1GHz measurement range
- Highly resistant to interference
- Robust 5000mAh battery included
- The package doesn’t include a stylus
How to Choose an Antenna Analyzer
Even after learning about the best antenna analyzers on the market, choosing one can still be a bit challenging, especially if you don’t know what to look for. The following paragraphs shed light on the different factors that must be considered before purchasing an antenna analyzer.
When we speak of design, we’re mainly talking about whether the unit is shielded or unshielded. Shielded devices like the Hima Nanovna-F Vector Network Analyzer tend to flaunt metal casing that’s usually made of aluminum.
Shielded devices have two main advantages over their unshielded counterparts. Firstly, they’re way sturdier and offer better protection for their internal components. And secondly, these units are highly resistant to disturbances.
Shielded VNAs are excellent choices for beginners who don’t have much hands-on experience with antenna analyzers. However, if you’re an expert, you’ll probably need access to the VNA’s internal components for things such as changing the transceiver’s wiring. In this case, you’d be better off with an unshielded device since it’ll offer you easier access to internal components.
The frequency range is arguably the most important factor to consider when in the market for an antenna analyzer. The selection should be based mainly on the application with which you’ll use the VNA.
For example, if you need the device for a ham radio system, you need an analyzer with a range that covers the area just above the AM band all the way to the Citizens band. More specifically, you need a device that can cover the 16-27MHz range.
If you’re looking for an analyzer for weather tracking radio systems, you need a unit that’s able to cover higher frequencies.
We strongly recommend getting an antenna analyzer that features a broad frequency range so that you’re able to use it for a wide range of activities. Luckily, all of the devices reviewed in this article boast superb frequency ranges, so you won’t have a problem finding one that meets your needs.
Make sure to invest your money in a device that has a user-friendly interface and that’s easy to navigate. Most VNAs feature touchscreens of reasonable size that allow for easy navigation, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
When picking a VNA, you want to consider the size of the screen. Anything between 2-4 inches should be sufficient. Also, you want to consider the screen’s brightness. Of course, the brighter, the better, especially if you’re going to use your antenna analyzer outdoors.
The great thing about VNAs is that they’re very compact and lightweight, especially NanoVnas. However, there are units that are pretty bulky and heavy. Not to take anything away from these units, it’s just better to invest in an analyzer that’s small and light for easy handling.
Some units are more feature-packed than others, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. The more features a device has, the steeper the learning curve will be, so make sure you invest your money in a device that offers just the features you need so you don’t get lost in the sauce.
It’s worth noting, however, that most of the devices on our list are backed by plenty of YouTube tutorials that help explain and demonstrate their features. So even if you were to go for a device that flaunts more features than you need, you’ll find it somewhat easy to get over their learning curve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Antenna Analyzers Do?
An antenna analyzer, also known as an SWR analyzer, RX bridge, noise bridge, or RF analyzer, is a device that helps measure the input impedance of antennas.
Are Antenna Analyzers Necessary?
An antenna analyzer is handy, but it’s not necessary. If you’re trying to boost the performance of a ham or CB radio system, you ought to consider an antenna analyzer, as it’s going to help you achieve your goal a lot easier.
What Is a NanoVNA?
NanoVNAs are compact VNA devices that are as tiny as credit cards. They flaunt an LCD panel that helps display insightful graphs such as Smith charts and SWR charts. These gizmos can be connected to computers and managed via the NanoVNA software for Windows.
There you have it, the best antenna analyzers available today. We’re quite confident that one of the above-reviewed devices will meet your needs and budget.
If we were to choose a winner, we’d probably lean towards the AURSINC NanoVNA Upgraded Analyzer because it’s the most well-rounded of the bunch in terms of functionality and pricing.