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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: 11 Average rating: 4.8/5 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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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!
K6HOM Rating: 5/5 Oct 11, 2013 11:47 Send this review to a friend
A Great Meter!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
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.
N8RLU Rating: 5/5 Jan 15, 2013 17:29 Send this review to a friend
Very impressed!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I don't rave very often (positively, that is!) about a product and the support but Meterbuilder definitely deserves it! I could have never gotten this much fun, info, or support out of any other product out there. I absolutely loved building it. I haven't built a kit in quite a while and this was really fun. I build my own things but this was the first bona fide electronic kit in many years. The only thing better than this would be a 'Red Ryder 200 shot range model air rifle'! This meter is exactly what I've needed. It displays every ham band I will use in one meter. I have one radio and one power meter...perfect! The versatility and precision is amazing.
W4ASE Rating: 5/5 Jun 12, 2012 10:11 Send this review to a friend
MB-1 WOW  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
WOW is about all I can say about the MB-1! During this past winter I was looking for a project and found the Station Pro 2 Kit ( It is also a great product). I joined the Yahoo Groups forum for that product and notice a lot of forum traffic concerning the MB-1. I did a lot of investigation, read the on line manuals and decide a few weeks ago, after hip replacement surgery that I need a re-coop project and ordered the kit. The assembly of the MB-1 Kit is on par with the Station Pro 2 as far as difficulty is concerned. It is not a kit for first time builders. If you are looking for a Heathkit type set of assembly instructions this is not the one for you. However, I love the way the assembly instructions are written. The documentation, when printed out double sided, is a full 1.5 inches thick covering all aspects of the meter’s assembly, operation, quick start guide and add on analog devices. I still am learning all the things this meter will do. Certainly the ability to use all the couplers (Bird, Power Master and etc) I have in the shack to talk to this meter is very high on my list of neat things it does. The documentation for add on analog devices it will talk to is frankly unprecedented. For example, want to have the meter read all the normal RF measurements in the shack and say, for example, read out the exhaust temperature of the amplifier – it will do it. The list of possible add on devices is too long to list here but go on line and take a look at the web site documentation (Using MB-1 with Analog Sensors). Frankly, I am still learning how to fully operate this meter. Yes, I have the basics down, thanks to a very good Quick Start document by AD5X.

Assembly went fine over a three day period. Two things required a small amount of trouble shooting on my part – one a non soldered LED and one a jumper not installed to an LED string – obviously both my fault. The final check out and testing routine was very good. I am still blown away that I can display SWR, forward power, peak power, average power, reflected power, delivered power, minimum power, and max power or any sub set of that list all at the same time.

A lot of companies talk about great customer service – Meter Builder lives it. I had a cosmetic problem I discovered after I had finished assembly of the kit and offered to pay for the replacement part. I was not sure it was a problem when I got the kit or I had done it during construction – Lou K2FP would not hear of me paying for the part and sent me one out the next day. Just can’t get any better customer service than that.
If you are looking for a very high quality RF meter this is the one for you. Check out the YouTube video for some additional information. The MB-1 is a precision piece of test gear. All I can say about this project is just WOW!
W1KSZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2012 08:56 Send this review to a friend
A Top Notch Instrument  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the MB-1 a few weeks ago and have been quite busy enjoying the various functions it provides. This is not your simple desk-top SWR Meter, it is a complex instrument that provides numerous features, most of which I have yet to explore.
At this point I am poring over the Users Manual (all 277 pages) and exploring new features this instrument has.
The primary feature is that now I have an accurate method of measuring power output. Don't get me wrong, my trusty old Bird 43 served me well for years, but I really enjoy the added precision of the MB-1. I should add, I use a GPSDO as the reference for my frequency counters, so I am an accuracy fanatic.
Another feature that I like is the ability to take some of the old couplers I had for long since defunct SWR/Wattmeters and calibrate them for use with the MB-1.
Another feature is the ability to save (both internally and externally), the parameters that you have set the meter to. A great feature that allows you to back up when you have gone down the wrong path.
Look at the MeterBuilder Web Site, there are several videos on how to use the MB-1, as they say ..."a picture is worth, ...".
Bottom line, a fine addition to the Ham Shack/Lab.
K6CTA Rating: 5/5 Dec 14, 2011 10:45 Send this review to a friend
Incredibly flexible  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The MB-1 is more than just a SWR and Wattmeter. It’s really a complete power monitoring center for your station. While it can initially look like overkill, the various readout methods – LCD, cross-needle meter and 7-segment LED’s – give you the ability to monitor each function in the best representation possible. Additionally, since the couplers are voltage derived, you can use other couplers to monitor almost anything you can think of. The unit has a wide-ranging calibration feature that allows the use of not only custom couplers, but also external meters. I find the ability to monitor multiple displays very useful. It’s nice to see SWR, reflected power, peak forward power, delivered power, and a few other things all at once, in an easy to scan form. All of the measurements can be user configured. Support from the manufacturer is excellent, and they are extremely responsive. The kit went together with no problems over 2 days. Both the assembly manual and user manual are well written and give you all the information that you need to run the unit. This is the last power meter that you will ever need to buy!
N8DNX Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2011 16:55 Send this review to a friend
Great Project and Device  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I received the MB-1 a few weeks ago. It took me 3 evenings to assemble and test. The kit went together without problem, all parts were very well marked, and it worked the first time. I highly recommend this to others.

Last weekend I took some time to run the full calibration on another coupler I wanted to use for my UHF amplifier. Once I got the process sorted out the calibration went quick and easy.

I would like to see this unit be able to display data from multiple couplers at the same time (perhaps in the future), but even without that it's a great addition to my shack. The MB-1 provides way more data and functionality than I've had before for power metering.

Still have a lot to learn about it, but so far I'm really impressed. MeterBuilder put a lot of effort into getting this thing right the first time.

Also see:
K3BHX Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2011 10:40 Send this review to a friend
Fabulous Instrument  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a fabulous laboratory grade instrument. The kit went together without major problem except for a stupid mistake I made (more later) It appears to be infinitely programable and will give you simultaneous measurement of 8 variables on displays of your choice. Support is fantastic: Not realizing that MeterBuilder sent along display LEDs of two colors for me to choose between red and green numerals and sockets so they could be changed at will, I inadvertently soldered a mixture onto the display board. Lou took pity on me and sent along a new board and all new parts so I wouldn't have to unsolder them, and refused to take payment even though it was my mistake, not his. My wife pointed out that they were marked R and G on the styrofoam packing. Lou was fantastic!! This is a MUST HAVE instrument for any ham shack.
WF2O Rating: 5/5 Nov 21, 2011 17:19 Send this review to a friend
Kit assembly review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the MB-1 kit after hearing the designer describe it on the air. I received the kit about two weeks ago, and spent about 10-12 hours putting it together. I build boards from time to time at work, so I might be quicker than average. The packaging of the parts, the quality of the manual, the quality of the PCB's and components are top notch. Assembly was a breeze because of the top notch manual. Details impress me, and attention to detail are a hallmark of this unit. I have only had the unit running for two days, but the menu's are easy to understand, and navigation is fairly intuitive, considering the capabilities this thing is supposed to have. I set it up rough, I have not done the calibrations yet, but I rough calibrated the panel meters and displays to the coupler provided. The result seems to be as advertized. I am interested in accurately measuring my power out for WSPR mode. This units ability to be calibrated for many bands is just one of it's features that caught my imagination. I'll expand this review when I gain more experience with it. It sure does look cool, and adds to the magic of the radio room. I have the expansion option and thought I would use the blue backlight for the cross needle meter. I think I will change back to the white backlight, my eyes seem to have trouble focusing on the blue background.
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