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Reviews Categories | Antenna Analyzers | VK5JST Aerial Analyzer Help

Reviews Summary for VK5JST Aerial Analyzer
VK5JST Aerial Analyzer Reviews: 43 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $95 +post
Description: This is a design from Australia and put out as a kit by one of the Amateur Clubs there. It covers 1.3 to 31 Mhz
Product is in production.
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VK3GMO Rating: 4/5 May 8, 2019 04:19 Send this review to a friend
great value  Time owned: more than 12 months
It is a great little kit. I originally put it together and wasn't happy with its readouts so bought the MFJ 259B. Quite some time later I pulled out the VK5JST analyzer and realigned it. It is reading SWR within .1 of the MFJ. The only criticism as has been mentioned earlier is the battery pack. Very sloppy without some rework. I have ordered some 27A 12 volt batteries and holders and plan to put a few of them in parallel to last longer. It will be far more compact and I can attach the holders to the case more readily with reduced weight.
VK2MS Rating: 5/5 Nov 21, 2018 23:06 Send this review to a friend
There's more to it than just quality   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've said '5' though I'd like to see a better battery situation. An amazing amount of work obviously went into the unit but it had other design criteria which remind me of the Ham traditions and outlook of long ago. Do read this right through, ... cost kept down to enable poorer Hams to buy it and 17,000 of these analysers sold...WOW!! You don't just get the old excuse 'you only get what you pay for', you get who knows how much went into design, ethics and a unit which has clearly given great pleasure to many. What a shame they are no longer available....if that is still the case. Mine's still working at 10.5v but whether readings are accurate (like SWR>10) I'll see when I replace them...but it might explain why my TS820S had an apoplexy when tuning it up last week....and later blue arc'd inside the PL259-closer 614B as I reconnected the antenna...I'm pretty sure in Rx mode!

Opportunely..My TS820S has a Magnicon C133 board added under the IF strip ..Does anyone out there know what it does? I presume mine is only one of many. I wrote to Magicon and to the organisation which emphatically advertises its Kenwood experience and service as technicians. Neither bothered to respond so ...anyone out there know? If so please email me at It's a hard board to get-to so I'd prefer to hear about it than risk damage.
G0AYD Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2018 05:12 Send this review to a friend
GREAT ITEM  Time owned: more than 12 months
what a fantastic piece of equipment.
easy to put together
works as it should do
you have the pleasure of building it yourself.
mine has the 6 mtr modification to it.
I used a laptop psu to run the unit
it devoured batteries.
great piece of equipment.
this is a must for every radio amateur's shack.
WB4SPT Rating: 4/5 Jan 21, 2017 10:09 Send this review to a friend
good kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have some recent detail on this kit.
Note that you do need to cut a large rectangle and some round holes and a radiused cut. I simply gave the print (enclosed with the kit) to a machinist buddy who did this work in about an hour; it came out much better than what you would do with drill bits, etc. It really wants a milling machine to do it right. It's kind of risky to do this work on plastic, with hand tools, for sure.
The PCB is top quality, with a top side ground plane. No issues with the board.
The prescaler IC did not have good pin 1 identifier, and being the only surface mounted IC, you need to figure that out, or risk SM rework. I didn't and put it down wrong (50/50); had to buy a new one from DK, which was marked better.
The power RF oscillator will "fly" at multi-GHz on the low freq range. The fix is to pull out the 100fF on the emitter and put in something with a bit of inductance. My first try was a 1500pF 1kv ceramic with slightly longer leads, and it works just fine 1.8 to 170MHz. SWR into a microwave rated 50Ohm resistor is reported now a 1.00 and 50 Ohms. Success!
The 10 cell battery pack seems a bit overkill on voltage. It's driving a 8v linear regulator. I removed 2 cells, and it works fine with 8 alkaline cells.
I love the lcd backlight, and the fact that I can fix this thing if ever required. It has a real N RF connector.
KB0DMU Rating: 4/5 May 24, 2015 08:33 Send this review to a friend
So far so good.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've almost finished the build - everything is assembled and I need to install batteries and enlist the use of a 'scope. I wanted to share this link with anyone who doesn't wish to use the included battery holders which are extremely inconvenient. Instead, get this - it fits beautifully and will do the job nicely:

You can see photos of how it looks installed:

Once I have it up and running, I will post a more in-depth review. Thanks.
M0KFO Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2015 00:19 Send this review to a friend
Good value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought mine 2nd hand for 60 posted. I like MFJ products, but it was a fair bit cheaper than them.

The previous owner, had put it together, though not very well. I loaded a newer/better firmware from the website using Picaxe. Made the 4/5 digit switch work, corrected being the wrong way around as well. got rid of the thin wire from board to antenna socket and fitted coax. Also fixed the shoddy recharge battery pack and the mountings. Also the calibration with the three test point was done.

Works well now, tested on a dummy load to check the readings are correct across the board. Useful when using something like a G5RV, to check all the anomalies, and see the difference between a coax feed line and ladder line.
F5MZE Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2014 04:52 Send this review to a friend
Best ROI  Time owned: more than 12 months
Easy to build, easy to set up, unexpensive aerial analyser.
Only 15 minutes to settle my new HF2V antenna. I can easily see the SWR without needing to make trip between the antenna and the transmitter.
VE1HAO Rating: 5/5 Jan 13, 2014 10:23 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!   Time owned: more than 12 months
The VK5JST Aerial Analyser is excellent value and very useful. The kit cost less than the MFJ-207 my wife gave me years ago, which only indicates SWR and has an inaccurate analogue frequency indicator. The MFJ has proven unreliable to boot. The VK5JST is more reliable, gives much more information, and is far and away more accurate.

I second the advice to read the material on the net, e.g.,

The mechanical work cutting out the enclosure takes a little time and care, but doing it yourself keeps the price down.

The actual build is fairly straightforward for any technically competent ham, but do pay attention to the instructions and take your time. In particular, pay attention to the cautions regarding spacing of some components from the board. A scope makes calibration much easier. Try to borrow one if you don't have one. A good soldering station and some magnifiers -- for those of a certain age -- make life easier, of course. Component spacing isn't that tight, but it's tight enough.

It works fine and seems accurate enough when checked against several counters and precise resistors, certainly beating the whole MFJ line for value for money. In addition, there is the satisfaction of feeling that you are a real ham. Of course, if you build it you can fix it, but mine has been reliable so far. The neighbouring hams love it too. Build one and become popular!
G4YVM Rating: 5/5 May 22, 2013 09:43 Send this review to a friend
Excellent build, works first time, great fun  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It took me about a week of just a few hours each day to get the analyser sorted. The only hair pulling snag was fitting the flexi wires to the LCD screen...aghhh!!!! I should have used ribbon cable and they should have supplied plugs and sockets, but neither was the case so I did it the way they suggest which is with 16 separate wires. It worked its just fiddly.

The analyser cost me less than a hundred fine British pounds and its excellent.

After I have used it for a while I'll add to the review.

M0STO Rating: 5/5 Apr 15, 2013 17:29 Send this review to a friend
YES YES and YES again as it's great and a wonderful build.   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Has to be 5/5 all the way. Would sell built for more than it is in parts..You wouldn't leave home without your credit card ...WOULD YOU.

Just prior to Christmas 2012 I thought I needed some project to keep me busy over winter. Since I own a Cushcraft A3S and was flummoxed by terrible SWR until I took a tape measure to it and done all the adjustments to the millimetre (was still out though on my tuned points). I needed an antenna analyser to help me nip this in the bud and VK5JST was my first choice. It is fantastic and was a joy to build. I opted to make all from scratch (PCB, Box.. etc.). Even though the website does not point out component locations it is still easy to build and I honestly took 2 and a half months to assemble it as I hate the anti climax after finishing a project. It was cheap to build (around 55 or $85 USD) and probably the best money I spent in ages on ham radio equipment. I opted for the 4 slot 16Mhz crystal version utilising the PICAXE 28x2 which was very easy indeed to program and get to operate (other options are 28x1 and a single block code for 4Mhz crystals and can also use the 28x2. Calibration is a breeze too with test pins and other contributors have included a comprehensive tune and calibration word document. After taking it to my A3S I can now fiddle about getting it all nicely tuned for phone,CW or band centre without putting my back out. This little analyser uses or at least needs a good 12v supply as the programming says no way to 12v or lower and shuts-down right after displaying the voltage and callsign however this is easily modded in the code to shut down at lower voltages but not recommended as much of the calibration is done keeping 4.5v at test pin 2 ADC input of the PICAXE and variations here will ultimately lead to inaccuracy and I think now is a good point to point out that I was dry on a joint and after fixing the joint the voltage at test pin 2 exceeded 5.5v at the ADC input and this blew the PICAXE @ a cost of 8 so be very careful of your voltages and check, check and check again before you put the PICAXE in the slot.

I personally used 10 x 1.2v 1000ma NiMH battery's and they hold just a little over 12.8v (I use a diode inline and this drops by 0.7v)_ when fully charged which in turn is supposed to give about 4 hours usage but I doubt this as after just 30 minutes I was down .4v but I am using a LCD display with an LED back-light which is not part of the standard build. I would like to add Mr Tregellas VK5JST is very helpful if you get stuck but I would advise you check everything thoroughly before emailing him as only user mistakes or bad components would be to blame for a non working unit. There has also been some code changes to implement serial data out for logging which I have in my possession and hope to perhaps add Bluetooth to the mix and log direct to my PC over Bluetooth. Also if you do choose to do a self build (I would recommend the kit if your unsure at all) then double check the IN34 diodes as I opted for the OA91 equivalent as my local stockist had no stock of the IN34 and also be aware that there are some dodgy fakes masquerading as IN34's !! they are simple silicon diodes and not germanium (glass envelope and cats whisker type is the difference).
I had tin plated my board with a tin and with an oversized drill took away material that would cause shorting on the ground-plane side. Getting back to the actual operation the 4 slot version has 4 digit mode fast gate, 5 digit slow gate, component mode and angle mode. Quickly getting back to the battery situation, I have also built the little charging circuit which is on the VK5JST analyser website and also added an LED board based on the 12F683 which flashes red, solid red, green and flashing amber for various voltage ranges so keeping an eye on charging and discharging as a visual indicator away from the battery voltage on screen as you may wonder why your analyser has gone dead. The documentation says use 160pf variable capacitor which are like hens teeth but a 147pf will do fine as the overlap between switching is enough to cover the upper and lower of the previous selection. This kit is also capable of 200khz with just a few modifications which I am yet to do. STOP PRESS have done which swaps out 6 caps in the envelope detector and adds more inductors for continuous coverage down to 200khz STOP PRESS If I did have a whine then it would be the accuracy of the display compared to my very accurate frequency counter but this can be rectified in the code and apparently this is down to circuit conditions for which the crystal was made. I also see the stability can be a bit up and down until it's all boxed up but it's like any simple VFO and a puff of breath is enough to send it off by a few kilohertz. Others have reported instability of the 5v so adding an ALC and 5v regulator modification to the oscillation circuit keeps the whole lot more accurate and less prone to drift. Also a 10pf trimmer over the 16mhz crystal too which sorts out the crystal being off . So in summary YES YES and YES again as it's great and a wonderful build.
In Summary
Pros: Cheap, Accurate, Moderate to easy build and a novice with guidance could do it, out performs more expensive analysers, configurable firmware with Basic and easy to program, good level of battery life, serial data out to Bluetooth enabled PC if your that adventurous and countless modifications for performance.
Cons: Uses expensive PICAXE IC's, Instructions need some advanced technical understanding to make sense of the actual operational fundamentals , prone to drifting, PCB is not ABS box friendly to standard EU sizes (a personal gripe). No 2m and 70cm coverage that does not need extensive modification beyond the scope of a total rebuild (for accuracy anyway)
Easy to use and pretty accurate if you set it up correct. Will tune as good if not better than some of the other analysers on the market but you would really want to have 2 meter and 70cm coverage should you wish to fork out 6 times the amount for a commercially available analyser. Just look about on the web for people who have built the analyser and you will see...anyone can do it. Many thanks to VK5JST Jim, Stan VA3SMM and Jeff ZL1BIV and anyone else who worked on this analyser. In a last statement "it's a top notch analyser with simple to learn basic code and has the scope for expansion. Like a multimeter or wave-meter...every shack should have one"

PS: I blew mine up 3 times but fixed easily. Battery packed shorted out the switch and killed an inductor in tank circuit and took out D1 and D2 (wow loads and loads of smoke). Blew up a PICAXE because of AD pin over current (fix is use a resistor to current limit) and shorted out one of the 2N2222 transistors. Mostly because blob of solder and battery pack insecure but lessons learned.
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