- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

Reviews Categories | Antenna Analyzers | AUTEK RESEARCH VA1-RF1-RF5 RF ANALYST Help

AUTEK RESEARCH  VA1-RF1-RF5 RF ANALYST Reviews: 112 Average rating: 3.2/5 MSRP: $129.95
Description: The pocket-sized RF1 is designed to check and adjust antennas,
Product is not in production.
More info:
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the AUTEK RESEARCH VA1-RF1-RF5 RF ANALYST.

<— Page 2 of 12 —>

GM1SXX Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2012 05:08 Send this review to a friend
Excellent field Analyser  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought mine second-hand to replace my MFJ-259B which got accidentally fried.

Having read the reviews here, many of which slate the RF-1 for unsoldered joints and poor workmanship, I have to say that some of the reviewers obviously don't seem to understand that most of the 'unsoldered joints' issue is down to 4 pin switches which only need two pins to be soldered to function.
Why waste time and solder on soldering stuff that doesn't need to be soldered? It would only add to the manufacturing cost.

I bought my RF-1 analyser second-hand. For all I know, it could even be third hand, yet it works at least as well as my MFJ259B ever did.
OK, it lacks the two analogue meters of the MFJ and doesn't cover VHF, but it is a fine tool for working on HF antennas and for testing co-ax and resonating traps.

It's sad that because one or two individuals open up a product for a look, and decide for all the wrong reasons that the soldering is crap, that others happily jump on the bandwagon to perpetuate the nonsense being talked, without taking the time and effort to try to understand for themselves why a few of the PCB pads don't have solder on them.

I don't think it's fair to slate AUTEK in this way and I have no complaints about either the build quality or functionality of their RF-1 analyser.
It works fine for me.

83 Al.

W0LWA Rating: 2/5 Mar 24, 2012 11:14 Send this review to a friend
Adequate  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my RF-1 on 1/27/97. It failed on 7/12/99. I sent it to Autek and paid $31 for a repair. They returned it saying it worked fine and had replaced a connector. It worked for me for a few days then failed. It would work intermittently after that.

Eventually I read these reviews about unsoldered connections, and sure enough there were a bunch in my RF-1. I soldered them all and the meter has worked since. This is shoddy work on the part of Autek.

I built a N2PK-VNA in 2005 thus was able to compare the Autek to an accurate instrument. The Autek is probably adequate to tune up a dipole if you use an antenna tuner. 60 feet up it probably will get a beam close enough. When the VNA shows a load to be 50 ohms and my resistance swr bridge says I'm right on, the RF-1 will show 54 ohms,
... and so on. Measured inductors and capacitors are off from my VNA and LC Meter II/B, but Autek does have warnings about accuracy for components.

The oscillator drifts and will not stay on frequency making it difficult to tune narrow band antennas. Even with the fine adjustment it is difficult to set the frequency. I use it to get things "into the ballpark" then switch to the VNA if possible.

So is it a bargain for the price? Possibly. For me, I'd say "no." I would save my money for twice as long and buy one of the meters reviewed by QST in March, 2012. If I was really price conscious, I'd look at one of the MFJ's that are a bit cheaper than the models reviewed in QST.

W5WAA Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2011 06:49 Send this review to a friend
Excellent for the price  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Got the RF-1 to make tank circuits, tune antennas, check impedance, etc. Does what the book says, it's very compact, it repeats, seems to be as accurate as the MFJ-259 it replaced. If you work on antennas every day, you'll will find that MFJ has several tuners better suited for that. This one is more designed for hams who go about their day to day activities which ocassionally require you to check for problems, make finaly adjustments on a new antenna, check inductance on a coil or trap, check impedance on a line, etc. Well worth the money.
W4IA Rating: 4/5 Mar 5, 2011 14:56 Send this review to a friend
On my 2nd RF 1  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my first RF 1 15-20 years ago and dropped it from a 60ft tower. It still works with a cracked lcd readout. I bought another RF 1 around 10 years ago and it still is working great. Just keep a fresh battery in it, or rig up a plug for a wall wart. It can't be beat for L and C measurements at your desired frequency, and costs a heck of a lot less than the pro test equipment.
KL7HQK Rating: 3/5 Mar 2, 2011 12:00 Send this review to a friend
Not all that great  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my RF-1 about three years and have used it some, enough to know how to use it anyway. It does what they say it will do but on SWR don't expect perfection, just figure you'll get into the ballpark. Measuring C and L it works well. Mine went dead and since I'd had it a while, I opened it up. A wire tail from ground had not been trimmed and it was touching the coax input capacitor. That fixed the problem. There was a tiny mounting screw missing from one of the controls also, so I emailed Autek for advice and got an email back in two days telling me to sent $3 for the screw. All I wanted to know is if it should have an insulating sleeve around it.I wasn't too happy about the service. The worst thing about the unit is that it is very difficult to set it on the desired freq on the higher bands because the bandspread is so tight.On 15m just a touch gets you 200khz. If cost isn't a problem for you, I'd keep looking.
K2YWE Rating: 2/5 Dec 25, 2010 06:55 Send this review to a friend
Poor Quality Undermines a Good Concept  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my RF-1 for over five years. It became intermittent and stopped working after about a year. I traced the problem to a poor connector to board solder joint. The design of that interface is inherently destined to fail, which it did again a little later. I fixed it a second time with a short piece of braid. The unit became intermittent again a few months later. I haven't bothered opening it up.
As others have mentioned, the overall build quality is poor and I would not recommend this unit. It's really too bad, because the size and operating concept are good. I reluctantly bought an MFJ-269 which I had avoided because of its size. The MFJ has served me well for a year. The RF-1 sits on the shelf.
KB1QBZ Rating: 4/5 Nov 3, 2010 07:46 Send this review to a friend
Does A Good Job  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had the RF-1 for about a year and mainly use it to tune portable antennas in the field (Buddipole, TAK-tenna, Buddistick, MP1). I've also used it to set up base station antennas (various multi-band dipoles, an inverted L, and a low-band vertical).

The RF-1 works well. It's easy to use. It's nice and portable. It gives me good results (I've tested the results against MFJ antenna analyzers and against MFJ antenna tuners as well as the built-in SWR meters on things like the Yaesu FT-897, Icom 746, and Elecraft KAT100.

I have two complaints with it. The first -- an easy one to deal with -- is that it's too easy to accidentally turn it on when not using it (just take out the battery when not using it and the problem goes away). The second is that the workmanship is not great out of the factory. I had to repair two solder joints soon after I received it. But once repaired, it has worked well.

Unless you're really an antenna guru, the RF-1 is all you really need as an analyzer.
N8WXQ Rating: 4/5 Oct 28, 2010 17:26 Send this review to a friend
Small and Portable  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own an RF-5 and RF-1. My units are several years old. The RF-5 covers VHF and UHF bands including 222MHz. I also own a MFJ-259B which has more functions but the Autek units are smaller and thus more portable. I have these for their UHF coverage and portability. Recently, I noticed inaccurate readings with my RF-1. Repair is expensive so I opened the unit to discover many unsoldered connections and a few that were questionable. I resoldered the connections all works fine now. I did get the diode story from Autek but the diodes were just fine. If you have problems be sure to check under the hood. Be sure to check your unit with a set of non-inductive resistors.
N4CT Rating: 2/5 Oct 20, 2010 05:45 Send this review to a friend
EXPENSIVE TO REPAIR  Time owned: more than 12 months
KF6U Rating: 5/5 Oct 19, 2010 22:08 Send this review to a friend
No Regrets!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my RF-1 over 15 years ago. It is one of the most versatile devices I have owned and has
always been reliable. If this one ever quits, I will not hesitate to buy another one.
<— Page 2 of 12 —>

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.