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Reviews Categories | SWR & Wattmeters & Dummy Loads | MeterBuilder MB-1 Programmable Power Meter Help

Reviews Summary for MeterBuilder MB-1 Programmable Power Meter
MeterBuilder MB-1 Programmable Power Meter Reviews: 19 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $699 assembled/tested or $599/kit
Description: MeterBuilder MB-1 Programmable Power Meter.

Unique and versatile power meter capable of displaying eight (8) different power readings simultaneously! Also has it’s own “simulator” program to configure and exercise the display in the absence of RF power.

Many more features!

Comes with remote HF coupler/sensor. Also able to interface with other user supplied couplers and external meters. Uses up to sixty (60) calibration points to ensure accuracy of readings. Versatile, attractive, accurate and feature loaded power meter.

This power meter is sold as a kit or assembled and tested.

Product is in production.
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N7OQ Rating: 5/5 Mar 17, 2016 21:19 Send this review to a friend
Wow great accessory   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I did a lot of research and this meter looked like the one to fit my needs. So I bought it and I was not disappointed. As a Kit this thing is easy to build all through hole, the surface mount boards are already done. This meter can be setup and used by those who prefer to be appliance operators but if you are like me and most Hams this meter can be expanded to do a whole bunch of neat things. I plan on putting a LED display on my work bench with a coupler to measure radio power and use a ad8703 in another port to measure micro/milliwatts. you can measure your power supply amps and voltage or even amplifier temperature. If you have a sensor with a DC output you can calibrate and display it on this meter. This has to be one of the most useful station accessories out there. I have so many more ideas on how to use this meter. The support for this meter is outstanding, Lou goes out of his way to help you and answer any questions fast.
WR6G Rating: 5/5 Oct 28, 2015 09:52 Send this review to a friend
The mother of all watt meters!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had a number of watt meters over the years but nothing that was really accurate. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for"! I was looking at the new Alpha watt meter when I ran across an article about the MeterBuilder MB-1.

The more I read about this piece of gear the more I liked what I heard. I contacted Lou, the owner of MB and he was just amazing about answering all of my questions. I really loved that it is fully programmable and can drive BIG external non-linear analog meters with great accuracy. I chose to order the MB-1 in kit form but you can order it built which is only an extra 100 dollars. There also may be a bit of a wait to get one already built but it may be worth it if you don't feel comfortable building a kit.

I love to build kits and this one is top notch! Lot's of fun to build. The assembly manual was excellent with high res pictures. There is lots of soldering so I would say that your soldering skills should be up to par. The parts are all through hole, no SMD's, so it is really not that bad. Follow the instructions and get a circuit board holder, it makes a big difference. I bought a circuit board holder on ebay for 15 bucks and it did a nice job.

Lou also gives some good tips in the manual for constantly checking for shorts on the 5 volt busses. If you check for shorts every time you solder a block of components it makes it easier to find an issue should one arise. The kit went together without a hitch and worked great the first time.

After following the initialization/calibration procedures I set up an external MFJ BIG analog meter. You can buy just the movement directly from MFJ for around 30 bucks. I made a mount for the MFJ meter out of black acrylic and it looks awesome!

BTW, Lou also has great youtube videos to help you with everything on top of the excellent manuals. Excellent quality components, customer service, kit is well laid out, highly versatile and extremely accurate, what else can you ask for? There is a learning curve with this one, it is not completely plug and play but Lou is there to help. Check out his website and watch the youtube videos. Buy one, you won't be sorry!

WB5RF Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2015 13:40 Send this review to a friend
None better, outperforms all other wattmeters  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This meter has it all. It is intuitive and yet provides incredible flexibility. Its accuracy and repeatability is superb. I do not write many reviews, i.e. this is only my second, but I felt compelled to due to the truly amazing capability this watt meter offers. Lou is a genius and designed a wattmeter that the rest of us could only dream about. Lou is extremely responsive to any questions and has published a wealth of information about how to get the most out of this wattmeter. This is the only piece of amateur equipment that I have that I can truly say will never take leave of my shack; at least not without a serious fight. I'll leave it to you to peruse Lou's Youtube demos and easy to digest documentation, but after about 9 months of owning the MB-1 I can assure you that it is exactly as he describes and more. It is so much more than a swr/wattmeter. It provides a very unique (user defined) set of simultaneous display of information in analog and digital formats. Get one for yourself and you'll never look back.
N2PD Rating: 5/5 Jul 30, 2015 16:45 Send this review to a friend
Great meter  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Been using it about a year now. It's a great unit and the product support is above the line. Lou is the best.
K4WSG Rating: 5/5 Jul 2, 2015 18:55 Send this review to a friend
TERRIFIC INSTRUMENT  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Kit went together without issues and works well. Nothing more to say that has not already been said!
AB4D Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2015 21:41 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding Product  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned the MeterBuilder MB-1 for over a year, building it from the kit form. I would say, this kit is for someone that has some kit building experience, but does not require someone to be an expert. The kit is versatile as it includes several different colors of displays and buttons. That gives the builder options for individual customization. I used the blue LED displays and all black buttons, except the red PWR button on my meter.

I spent about a week working on the kit, a few hours at a time. Assembly went together without issue and the kit worked the first time it was powered up. The only issue I experienced, the cover for the meter had some minor damage to it. I contacted Lou, the designer of the MB-1 for a replacement cover, and it was quickly delivered no questions asked. Great customer service.

I've been using the MB-1 in my station for the past year. I also own an Alpha Power 4510 as well. Both are very nice and accurate meters. However, if I could only own one meter. It would be the MeterBuilder MB-1. There is no meter on the market that is a versatile as the MB-1. It provides so much more capability than any other meter that I've found at any price.

There have already been many positive comments about the MB-1. There is no need for me to go into everything it does. The best way to find out about the MB-1, is to review the You Tube videos available on line. The videos provide a direct comparisons of the MB-1 to other top line RF measurement meters. The comparisons clearly show why the MB-1 is the meter to own.

The MB-1 is not a value priced meter. Rather, it's a higher quality device that uses high quality components to achieve repeatable, and accurate RF measurements using it's on board displays, or remote displays of the builders choosing. If a person is the type that likes to own the best equipment for their station. They should really consider the MB-1.

73 Jim AB4D
KA7GZR Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2014 20:55 Send this review to a friend
More than a Watt Meter!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned the MB-1 for over a month now. I bought only one coupler initially but soon realized I needed 3 more as I have 2 HF transceivers and two antennas. I decided on the MB-1 because of Lou’s great information he has created for it and the extreme versatility of this instrument. Calling the MB-1 just a “watt meter” doesn’t do it justice. Every conceivable display format and mathematical calculation concerning measuring power from a transmitter is covered. It can be a simple watt meter but it’s capable of much more than that. There are white papers, quick start manuals and very detailed operational manuals available. I suggest you read them prior to making a decision on what watt meter to buy. I have two other watt meters; an LP-100A and the trusty Bird model 43. Where the features overlap with these other meters and the MB-1 they are in close agreement.
The construction is top notch. I purchased a pre-built one as I have 2 other kits to assemble and I wanted to get this on-line a soon as possible.
I won’t go into other details as others have in these reviews. You won’t be sorry in this investment- it will keep you entertained for years!
K6HOM Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2014 08:19 Send this review to a friend
One Year Later - Still Great!  Time owned: more than 12 months
A follow-up to one year ago (below). My MB-1 continues to be one of the best purchases that I have made for my shack. Mine is in daily use, it has not had any issues. I cannot imagine operating without it. To me, invaluable and highly recommended.

[Original Comments]
The pictures on the MeterBuilder website do not do it justice, this is a beautiful instrument and I have found it to be extremely useful. While I experiment and change the metering parameters from time to time (one can choose to measure just about any output power parameter), my default configuration for the four MB-1 main digital displays are: Average, Peak-Forward, and Delivered power, along with SWR. Forward/reflected power and SWR are additionally displayed in the traditional cross-meter analog format, while the MB-1 LCD gives additional information in digital format along with a real-time bar graph representation of peak output power. All of these parameters are measured and displayed simultaneously. I am in ham-geek heaven!

A great kit. If you are thinking about building the kit and your PC board soldering skills are up to cleanly soldering lots of small pins like IC sockets, you’ll do fine. My MB-1 kit went together without a hitch, passed all of its intermediate check-out tests with flying colors and fired up perfectly the first time. I am an experienced kit and DIY electronics builder and found this one to be an excellent electronic kit building experience. Excellent parts quality, solid engineering, and simple instructions with lots of pictures. If I have the opportunity to build another MeterBuilder product in the future, I will certainly look forward to what will be a very enjoyable experience.

User-choice installable options. My kit came with extra user-choice display parts. There are four major LED displays on the front panel, each one consists of four seven-segment LEDs. There were enough blue, green and red LEDs to have all four displays on the front panel displays be of the same color (i.e. all blue, all green or all red) or to permit separate, color-coded four digit displays which was my choice. Fantastic! I’ve never had a kit supply these types of options before.

Extensive documentation. I have been plowing through the Users Manual learning all sorts of things about power measurements that I never knew. This is like going to ham grad school, great stuff! The manual makes it clear that the MB-1 is a very versatile instrument. After some of this reading, one future project that I have in mind is to buy a VHF/UHF coupler and then calibrate my MB-1 with it for use in weak signal VHF work. The calibration procedure is fully explained in the manual and should make this a relatively easy task.

I like to operate QRP JT-9 and JT-65 and the MB-1 is perfect for accurately reading these lower PA outputs.

Best of all, Lou at MeterBuilder delivers wonderful customer service. I emailed him about a MB-1 knob. Two days later I had a selection of two different sizes to try out. No charge!

I can highly recommend the MB-1 and feel very privileged to own one.
WX2S Rating: 4/5 Apr 12, 2014 10:54 Send this review to a friend
Very good with one wart  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got the meter built over a couple of weekends and it is now working fine. There were a couple of issues with missing parts in the kit, and Lou was extremely helpful in getting them sorted. The only build issue was a poorly soldered pin, which was easily found and fixed.

I wish I had a decent way to check the coupler calibration. The meter disagrees with both my K3 power level (reads higher than the K3) and my 9500's power meter (reads lower than the 9500.) Neither of these devices is calibrated, so I'm not too worried.

Under the "wish it did it this way" department, I wish I could select PEAK and MAX arbitrarily for any measured value, rather than for only for a single value each. The difference is that the PEAK value auto-resets after a short time period, but the MAX must be reset manually. Both have their uses. I wanted to monitor peak forward and peak delivered power, and there is no way to do that with the current firmware. I suggested this as a future improvement to Lou, and he put it on his list.

Bottom line: I am quite pleased with both the meter and the level of service.
RFEXPERT Rating: 4/5 Jan 17, 2014 02:33 Send this review to a friend
Good Product  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This meter deserves 5 stars. But the only reason I am giving it 4 stars is that I could not buy it! Yes, no kidding you want to give someone money by supporting their products and they dont want to sell it to you. It must be a top secret technology that is on the export restricted register. The world is one place, international trading is safe. I cannot understand this mistrust of selling something to an overseas customer. No I was not in China or Nigeria! Anyway I got a friend to buy it for me in the USA. Everything about this meter is excellent. I used it with homebrew and Werlatone professional couplers and it is an excellent product.

This meter like all digital meters will not work with tuning pulsers. The N8LP meter has this same problem with its digital readout. The meterbuild will not work with tuning pulser as well. It does work with a tuning pulser using an external analog meter. Which can clearly show peaks of tuning with a pulser. I suppose no digital meter will work with tuning pulser, its just the nature of how digital meters work. But the MB1 can use any external analog panel meter like the Bird.

I also compared this meter with a Calibrated Bird high end digital meter which I use at work. The MB1 could track it within and less than 1%

All my ham friends who have seen this meter have wanted one as a total power monitoring solution. I had to tell them that they cant order this meter because they wont sell to overseas companies.

The only feature that I would have liked to see is a RF tap point option like the Wavenode. It is very hand for monitoring your signal with a SDR receiver checking for splatter. Maybe this will be a future option which would make this the ultimate technical hams meter.

I own an Array Solutions Power Master, N8LP and the latest Alpha Meter and for flexibility this meter beats them all in terms of features. They all as accurate as each other. The MB1 is better value because you can any combination of external meter readouts. The N8LP has an expensive dual coupler option that must be factory installed to maintain calibration. I also like the MB1 because it makes remoting you amp with a monitoring wattmeter very easy.

Well engineered and researched product that is one of the best products available for hams. Its just a shame they wont sell to us pesky foreign devils!
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