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Reviews For: SARK-110 Vector Impedance Antenna Analyzer

Category: Antenna Analyzers

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Review Summary For : SARK-110 Vector Impedance Antenna Analyzer
Reviews: 23MSRP: 330 (USD)
Pocket size and lightweight
Solid aluminum metal case
Intuitive and easy to use
Four operating modes: sweep mode (antenna test), Smith
chart mode, single frequency, and frequency domain
reflectometer (cable test)
Good accuracy over a broad range of impedances
Resolves the sign of the impedance
Manual and automatic positioning tracking markers
Internal 2MB USB disk for the storage of measurements,
screenshots, configuration and firmware update
Export data in ZPLOTS compatible format for further analysis
on the PC
Lifetime free firmware upgrades available, open to community
requested features
Open source SDK including a device simulator for user
applications development
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K8PD Rating: 2019-09-07
Great Instrument - Too Delicate Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased the Sark-110 through their US distributor SteppIR and have been very impressed with its capability and performance from a technical standpoint.

The size is tiny (smaller than an iPhone 5) with 4 small tact switches and two tiny jog controls used to scroll through menu operations and data entry. It's not terribly easy to use, especially in the field if you have adult fingers. The other downside is daylight display visibility. Even on a cloudy day I need to find a shady place or the screen is completely unreadable.

Given it's capability, I could live with the user interface shortcomings and have for about 3 years until a couple of days ago when while using it, The SARK-110 at first began giving me erroneous data and finally failed completely. It was nowhere near strong RF or ESD but it appears that the front end is no longer working.

My natural thought was well then I'll repair it except for the fact that there is no service documentation for the unit. Contacting SteppIR was equally frustrating as they basically told me we don't fix them, send it back to Seeed in China. I've been unable to find any information on factory repairs on the Seeed site so I'm caught in a circular buffer with no help from either the seller or the manufacturer.

Considering I spent north of $400 including accessory items, I'm extremely frustrated that neither the seller or the manufacturer appear to be willing to stand behind this product. My expectation for a field instrument like the SARK-110 is that it is rugged enough to withstand normal use and if it should fail, repair services or at least repair documentation is available. Guess I expected too much.

For now I'll see if I get any further responses from either Seeed or SteppIR but I'm not optimistic. If that fails I may dig into it to see if I can repair it without detailed service documentation.
G4SGX Rating: 2018-02-14
Great for travelling. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Great little bit of kit, the iphone of antenna analysers, great for air travel where size & weight is an issue. (120g)
Very feature packed, the size does not bother me personally as its only used on setups and experiments. More functions than the average user will ever use.
I built the old SARK-100 which is still working but too heavy for my use.
All open source, a pleasure to use, fits in my pocket.
Recent firmware updates address many of the earlier concerns.

Earlier 5-star review posted by G4SGX on 2018-02-14

Great little bit of kit, the iphone of antenna analysers, great for air travel where size & weight is an issue. (120g)
Very feature packed, the size does not bother me personally as its only used on setups and experiments. More functions than the average user will ever use.
I built the old SARK-100 which is still working but too heavy for my use.
All open source, a pleasure to use, fits in my pocket.
KD0ZV Rating: 2017-09-07
Very powerful / Small package Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is my 4th antenna analyzer. MFJ 259, MFJ269 and finally the Palstar ZM30 were the first three.

Not really a fair comparison as the Sark 110 is much more technology. So far in the 2 years I have owned it the unit has worked flawless. The developer support is A+ and is known to implement many user feature request. Users looking for basic SWR,R & X display might find the menu and available options confusing but does not take long to get on to.

The small size makes it easy to hoist up with antenna for testing (with countdown timer) but this is something I would not use often. I would prefer it if Sark came out with a large unit with larger BNC or N connector and larger buttons. This is not the easiest unit to run for fat fingers. Not a big deal but just would like larger unit.

The software Sark Plots works great and allows me to do Shack analyzing via the PC and a USB cable. Sark Plots is powerful but would appreciate a better frequency entry method as its hard to type in the value as on US keyboards it seems to have some quirks.
VE7SHM Rating: 2017-03-19
Update to review Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Well update to first review a year later ...First off it took 3 months to get here from Seeed studio the seller....I thought it was the best when i got it but it biggest and common fault be came apparent ...This is apost from the Sark 110 forum (you are not the first one that suffered this type of accident.

What happens normally is that R64 fuses (open or high impedance) and in some cases U4 degrades its performance, or stops working.) Mine was sitting beside my amp one day nothing connected to it but it was on i assume rf from my Amp kill it (R64 Surface mount resister ) Sark was 10 months old at that time manufacturer said to bad no support could not pay to have fixed .....I joined the Sark 110 forum and read up about the flaw and was messaged by i believe the designer for the Sark he offerd to fix it so off it went he sent me a email saying all fix and gave me a tracking # and 69 days later it arrived ? so i gave it a try great working fine used it once put it back in its case on a shelf far from RF two weeks later was showing it to a friend and dead white screen nothing now i am told it dead has a crack or what ever so its dead i am out about 500 $ cad ..My MFJ analyzer is about 15 years old been well used still works fine so which one is fine junk buyer beware

KK4OBI Rating: 2016-08-16
Small but mighty Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The first reaction when you see it is about the miniature size of the unit, the controls, the words on the screen, and the connection to the antenna. You wonder about using it outside while working on an antenna.

The answer is in the manual
"This equipment is intended for use by radio amateurs in a laboratory environment only". However,
provides "... for a more visible presentation aimed at operation in the field,...". The curve and controls are as large as practical. There is also an option for a maximum contrast white color scheme.

Another indication of the VHF lab orientation is the use of a sub-miniature MXC antenna connector. A MCX to SMA cable and adapter is provided but still you need to get a SMA to SO239 adapter for attaching a coaxial cable.

The reason I bought the Sark 110 is for in-door antenna prototype work in the 130 to 230 mHz range. Here the physical dimensions are conveniently workable yet I still can use the same conventional coax connectors for scale-up.

The depth of capability of the Sark 110 and its PC software are magnificent... somewhere between good and near great. A desirable feature would be to find some way to resume the setting being used at the point where the Sark was last turned off.

N5KNG Rating: 2016-06-22
A lot of power in a little unit, but it's really, really small! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
A convenient, all-in-one tool. But if you have larger hands, or trouble with small print, this is not the unit for you.

First the display. It is about the size of a small cell phone. And that means small - not anything like a phablet - think about the smallest smart phone you've seen, and make it smaller! The text on that display is tiny, and while it is sharp, you must have 20/20 vision at all distances, or reading glasses, to view it. Even then, you will have to focus, and may have to tilt the display back and forth to determine exactly what is being presented.

Second, the menu system. It takes some time using the unit to get used to it. There are just a few buttons, and a toggle switch that are used to reach literally dozens of menu selections. So you have to be patient, and sure-fingered. It is easy to hit the wrong button, or move in the wrong direction, selecting something other than what you wanted.

That said, if you are younger and have nimble fingers, this is a very versatile unit, and incredibly convenient. Otherwise, there are other units out there (e.g., the AIM 4170) that are even more accurate, and usable with a laptop display, which makes it easy to view the output in any number of desired formats, and to select menu items - for about the same money on the used market.
MW1CFN Rating: 2016-03-04
Impressed Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The technical performance is perhaps best reviewed by QST in late 2015. This concludes the SARK is very accurate, coming into very good agreement with their reference unit.

I find the unit to be very useful, with data clearly layed out.

I have to agree that the size - considerably smaller than a touchscreen mobile phone - is a slight drawback, in that there seems no reason why it ought to be so, especially when the age of hams has a strong older bias. The on/off button is very awkward when connected to a PC.

It isn't really an unit for cold, wet countries where field use is essential, nor is it robust for that purpose. After 2 minutes outside, my fingers are too cold to operate the tiny buttons, and gloves just make the problem worse.

That said, I am impressed with the ease of use and data capture. I haven't had to resort to the manual at all.

I think a SARK-110 in a chunkier, easier-to-punch buttons case, with a fixed rather than a flylead connector, would be a real winner.

One also has to take into account that the designer of the SARK-110 is very responsive to enquiries, and has been for a long time. That, and the continual free firmware and features upgrade is a real bonus that few, if any others offer.

K9RX Rating: 2016-02-28
Not as accurate as I'd like... Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
First it has a great display - the UI is ok... a good deal of button pushing but you get there. The accuracy I'm not so sure of. I've still not gotten an OSL to provide the same information that a calibrated LP100 provides (actually two different ones that both agree with each other). Strangely the center frequency (lowest SWR, not necessarily the resonance point) is the same freq and value but the SWR at band edges is higher on the SARK with it reporting 1.57:1 when the LP100 has 1.30:1.

The biggest complaint is the size - WHY is it so darn small? You have to be careful all the time. Its not a beauty contest guys - it SHOULD be a rugged piece of FIELD equipment - not something just used in a lab. Also - where can one get a case for it? I've not found one yet.
EA3HQJ Rating: 2015-10-06
Excellent Antenna Analyzer Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bougtht it on last March 2014, throught, China web .It arrived very well packaged ,and I got it very fast , (but in may case, I should pay additional taxes. )
What a nice and wonderful toy! Let me repeat some previous comments, a lot of perfection in a very small package !!!!
Before buying it , I was carefully studying several other equipments . And certanly , that SARK - 110 , really exceeded all my technical expectations . It power ups very quickly , and it is handy , accurate , reasonable battery time, and works excellent, flawlessly.
It has a friendly- usabilty menus and nice instruction manual, that helped me, to start making measurements from the first day.
It has a very nice home SARK 110 web page, with huge of usefull information , and very deep resource suport . And thanks to it , I also made my own calibration terminated reference impedances (50, 75, 100 ohms,…) , and I should say that it is really an amazing equipment, specially for the ones radio hams like me, that has not a fixed permanent adjusted stable antenna, and are always installing many multiple portable solutions, and changing bands, and making hand-made antennas,... Mainly I am using the scalar chart with VSWR and Impedance combination , but it is also very usefull the Smith Chart , and the single freq. measurements , cable test, cable length ,... …
Beside it , What I really have to highlight is the excellent support from his desginer , Melchor Varela , that is updating the firmware constantly adding very new attractive features , and answering us any eventual technical question.
I think that , in that range price, there is no comparable device on the ham radio market,
Only as small improve comment , I would suggest to make a little more rugged type the MCX connector that Seeeds shipped me , but I think, that it has been already improve it , in the latest shipping versions.
Anyway , very nice portable and light equipment, Now I could not live without my Sark-110 !
OK1RR Rating: 2015-08-22
Best analyzer I have ever owned Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
What a wonderful toy! A lot of perfection in a very small package. There is no comparable device on the ham radio market, its parameters are rather in the lab gear segment. The bottleneck is the software - Windows only and still needs many improvements, lacks of the possibility to save directly the graphical results in selectable format, there is need to use Windows internal options (print screen or so). A multi-platform software piece like DL2SBA's VNA/J would be a nice addition which would pull the rating to 5. Only small problem is the use of the MCX type connector - more rugged type will be appreciable!