Starter shack equipment, swr meter?

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Brian Atkins:
I'm brand new to ham world, and just passed the tech and general tests.  I have a little VX-1R HT as my first radio to get my feet wet, and want to put up a 2 meter homebrew antenna.  However, I don't have any way to measure SWR at this point.

What are my options for measuring SWR inexpensively?  I have heard that a CB SWR meter, in reverse, will measure 2 meters ok.  There are cheaper SWR meters for HF (RS, MFJ, etc.), but can they be used to safely tune antennae for 2 meters (and what about higher)?.

After an SWR meter, a homebrew antenna, it will definitely be time to ponder HF alternatives, and perhaps a more powerful VHF/UHF mobile rig.  But, that'll likely be sometime down the road.

Any advise, pointers, or general clues would be most welcome!

Thanks!
Batkins61

Stephen L Crook:
An MFJ-822 crossed needle meter or similar will cover HF, 6m & 2m for change back on $60 new. See: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/meters/4827.html

Charles P. Cohen:
If you build a 2m "ground-plane vertical", based on a UHF chassis connector, and use the standard dimensions, you won't need a VHF SWR meter.  It's easy to build with a large soldering iron or very small torch, and easy to mount.

That antenna is on the Web at:

http://www.hamuniverse.com/2metergp.html

Or, you could put up a 2m vertical dipole, fed by coax, each leg 19.5" long -- that'll work fine too.

Save the money for an HF station.   Or buy a copy (new or used, current or old) of the ARRL Antenna Book or Radio Amateur's Handbook, which has scads of pre-tested, dimensioned antennas, and will explain why you can't rely on an SWR meter outside its designed frequencies.

         Charles

Darrin:
CB meter in reverse? Not sure what that means... some CB meters might work at 2m. I have one that does, but it's a more complex design than you'd normally find with such things. Usually, HF meters arent going to do it on 2m unless they specifically are designed to.

For 2m, a VSWR meter isnt something you're going to use frequently, see if you can borrow one locally, or an antenna analyzer. Where are you located?

Mike Brenza:
Brian...
Congratulations!
Now, before spending any money... you need a local "Elmer", someone local who can give you advice.
A quick scan shows 156 hams in your zip code.  And, there are 6 clubs listed with your area code!  They can help you out a lot on these decisions!
I see the Raleigh ARS club in your zip, and advertising they help newcomers.  You might want to look them up.
Now, the "monimatch" style SWR metwers can be used to find a dip at 2 meters.  Some CB meters are this type, but others use a toroid.  The toroid won't work well on other than HF frequencies.  Since you budget is limited, I would see if I could borrow a meter for the little testing that is needed.  That HT will get you on the local repeaters.  You can start saving for the HF eqpt while you plan how you will be operating.
Are you more interested in a desktop, mobile, or portable type operation?  This will determine what eqpt to purchase and how to plan your antenna system.
Again, Congratulations... and hope to work you down the log!
73s.

-Mike.

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