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Author Topic: MFJ-826 Digital Watt Meter  (Read 1272 times)
W5CPT
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Posts: 557




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« on: November 14, 2007, 05:46:37 AM »

In search of a new Watt Meter I have looked at the MFJ-868 (the Giant Meter one) and the MFJ-826 Digital Meter. While the 868 has some positive comments in the Reviews section the 826 has no entry. Has anyone had any experience with this meter? It seems a little complex but does have an Analog Power function so it should be easy to tune the amp using it.

The complexity makes me wonder about the reliability of the unit.

Any comments?

Clint - W5CPT
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2007, 02:33:56 PM »

I don't know about its reliability, but I hate that forward power and SWR cannot be displayed simultaneously.  

Here's a directional wattmeter that's easier to use and very easy to see even from pretty far away.  No switches involved: You read forward power in Watts and SWR at the same time (no cross-needles!) on two different large, illuminated meters.

http://www.autekresearch.com/wm1.htm

I have two of these for many years and they work very well.  True PEP measurement: Responds to a single "dit" on CW and reads the same power (and SWR) with that as with a continuous carrier.

It's nice having both displayed at once so you can keep an eye on power and SWR (in case of a fault) simultaneously.

WB2WIK/6
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W5CPT
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Posts: 557




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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2007, 03:56:20 PM »

I take any suggestion from Steve as high praise, but I had considered the Autek but after reading the reviews I was leary. Those that got good ones like it, but there is obviously a quality issue. If there had been one or two who received their meter with loose screws, missing componants and various other mechanical issues I would chalk it up to normal manufacturing tolerances. But there are many which makes me wonder if I want to send $161 to a company that does not fully stand behind their product. The majority of those who received the meters with problems all relate no satisifaction with the resolution of the problem.

I have abandoned the idea of the 826 and now am looking at the Autek and the two Palstars.

Clint - W5CPT
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AD5X
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2007, 04:50:40 AM »

Clint - I have the MFJ-868 and use it for testing purposes on my work bench.  The three ranges (20 watts, 200 watts, and 2000 watts) make it very nice for measuring power from QRP to legal limit.  And the Peak Reading function works great.  And I really do like that huge meter.  I calibrated it against my NIST-traceable scope and it holds its calibration nicely at all power levels and across the HF bands.  It is great for a lot of my bench work.  However as Steve said - it is very nice to see forward power and SWR simultaneously when you are operating.  For this, I now have an Array Solutions PowerMaster.  This is a more expensive power meter, but very accurate.  Plus it can be used for disabling amps when programmable SWR limits are exceeded, and it even has downloadable firmware update features.  I also like the software provided so you can display the meter and all its functions on your computer screen.

I'll have to admit, I normally would not have bought this meter as this is more than I'd considered spending on a power meter.  But CQ Magazine asked me to write a review on it (review is also on my website at www.ad5x.com).  After having it for a few weeks for the review, I had to buy it.

Phil - AD5X
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2007, 09:46:46 AM »

My opinion: The people who griped about the Autek quality are those who tend to gripe.

The first WM-1 I received had loose screws, too.  I tightened them and it worked perfectly.  Would I even bother to call and tell them about this?

A local friend received his new WM-1 with a loose ground connection that rendered the meter non-functional.  I opened it up and fixed it, and 30 seconds later it worked fine, too.

I can't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff.  But the design and firmware is good and robust and the meters hold their calibration for many years.  I wish they would use a different type of DC supply jack to be more "standard" and compatible with the majority of "power cube" adapters people have laying around, but this is a minor nit.

When hams lack screwdrivers and soldering irons, then we've turned a corner I don't want to think about in my lifetime...

:-)

WB2WIK/6
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W5CPT
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Posts: 557




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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2007, 10:17:31 AM »

Well I decided on the Palstar PM2000AM. It is marketed as a mobile meter and while I am not going to use it mobile, I like the remote sensor. While it is a Cross-Needle meter which was not my preference, I am encouraged by the very positive reviews and the opinion of a long time Ham whose views I value.

I will post a review when i get it and check it out.
Thanks for all of y'alls (I can say that 'cause I lived in Texas for 7 years) input.

Clint - W5CPT
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W5CPT
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Posts: 557




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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2007, 05:17:18 PM »

For those who have been following this thread:
The Palstar came this morning and after a day with it I am impressed. The remote cable is very long. I have not uncoiled it but it appears to be about 20 feet long. I guess that would be good for a trunk mounted amplifier.

The only down side is that when it got here the back of the remote unit was loose. I tightened the 4 screws and everything is OK now.

The meter itself is very easy to read and while I am still not crazy about the crossed needles, I have gotten used to it. It makes me want to find out why my Log is 3:1 on 10M though.

I will post a review when I have had it long enough to form a solid opinion.

Clint - W5CPT
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