Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyzer

Category: Antenna Analyzers

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyzer
Reviews: 36MSRP: 600
Portable handheld analyzer will cover HF through 600Mhz, will integrate with computer and also do time-domain testing.
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KO8SCA Rating: 2019-12-08
Indispensable piece of equipment Time Owned: more than 12 months.
In the next few lines I’d like to share some of my thoughts regarding my RigExpert AA-600, an antenna analyzer that I highly recommend. I won’t bore you with technical details here. These units and especially the latest models have some sophisticated functions but you can read about those in the user manual.

I mainly use the antenna analyzer to answer 2 questions:
• Where is this antenna resonating?
• I have this long coaxial cable and it seems broken; where is the exact location of the fault in the cable?

A few years ago, while in a DXpedition, I realized that using my needle-based antenna analyzer just didn’t cut it anymore. The problem was that when you install antennas in a new environment you need to do QUICK and REPETITIVE measurements every time you do incremental adjustments to the antennas, until they are tuned to the required resonating frequency. So I was spending too much time tuning the antennas instead of enjoying the pileups.

A trustworthy friend, who have given me good advice before, suggested I should get a RigExpert Antenna Analyzer. I checked the HRO website and was taken aback by the price. But in the end I trusted my friend’s advice and bought a RigExpert AA-600 Antenna Analyzer. I could have waited to buy the unit while at Dayton Hamfest to save some money, as every vendor offers discounts at the show, but I was getting ready for another DXpedition and needed the unit quicker.

This was 5 years ago and my trustworthy AA-600 already traveled 5 continents (see the list on my page) and I am still using it. It feels like the gift that keeps on giving. And here is why:

Easy to use:
Type in the frequency your antenna should be resonating on (option #2 “Set freq.” on the main screen) and press OK button. Then press option #4 “Scan SWR” button.
Please note that I said “press” and not “touch”. Fortunately the unit has buttons and not a touch screen. A touch screen, especially the ones using a stylus are really not suitable for field use, especially in rugged environments such as DXpeditions (your hands are dirty, wet, cold etc).
Recently I was part of the advance antenna installation team for the ZK3A DXpedition together with ZL3WW and N7QT. We used the AA-600 extensively while installing 4 square antennas for 80M and 40M because each of the 4 antenna masts has to be measured individually and then together. The last thing you want is to tell your teammates working on installing antennas in 100F weather is: “hold on, while I fiddle with the analyzer”.
In this case, just 2 button presses on the unit and a few seconds later you see the resonating point. One can quickly see if it is too high or too low. It can’t get easier than that.

Quality LCD:
In the scorching sun of Tokelau in the recent ZK3A DXpedition, one can still easily see the reading on the LCD screen so the LCD has a good contrast. And in the same time, the brightness on the LCD is perfect as it allows working during the night as well. Certainly not a feature that matters for home installations or troubleshooting but it is a must during DXpeditions.

The unit uses 3 AA NiMh rechargeable batteries. This is good, because I avoid using non-rechargeable batteries in expensive equipment for the fear of batteries leaking especially during the periods between DXpeditions, when the unit is not being used.
A charge is more than enough for use during the entire DXpedition. 5 years later and the batteries are still charging to almost 90%. Usually rechargeable batteries don’t last that long. It must be the German quality (VARTA) at work here. I did not have any issue with the battery door compartment that was mentioned in other reviews. Maybe some batches have this issue and some others don’t.

Computer connection:
The analyzer uses a regular USB cable to connect to a computer. This allows saving the data to the computer for further analysis which is handy when checking the performance of a new antenna as well as historical data. If the analyzing software that comes with the unit does not fit your needs you can easily import the data into more sophisticated software.
I like to compare the performance of my DXpedition antennas at different heights or different types of ground, like answering the question: how much is the resonating point changing if the antenna is raised to 15M instead of 12M?

Coax cable testing (TDR function):
While in a DXpedition we had a brand new roll of coaxial cable with connectors. It was packed really neatly and conveniently from the factory and we didn’t bother to test it.
After installing the cable, we realized the cable is defective. With a few pressed buttons, the AA-600 came to the rescue, to quickly answer the question: where is the fault? Is it in the connectors, is it in the cable? If it is the cable, where exactly is the fault: at 50 feet, at 100 feet etc?

Rugged design:
The case is rugged enough to protect the unit from dirt, sand and light rain. It did that successfully in ZK3A where rain will start suddenly while we were doing measurements on the field.
The unit is of course not submersible and it is not protected against (grave) user errors such as transmitting while using the analyzer. I learned that the hard way when a couple of years ago, in my excitement to catch the grey line propagation I didn’t pay attention and connected the analyzer to the output of the radio instead of connecting the filter. So I had to send my unit for repair to RigExpert office in Canada. They fixed it quickly and now I have a different color coaxial cable for the analyzer, to avoid these types of mistakes.

RigExpert AA-230 Zoom:
While in DXpedition to Somalia (6O6O) with my friend Ken (LA7GIA), we used his RigExpert AA-230 Zoom Analyzer. I don’t have to tell you how important it is to minimize the time outside the protecting walls of the hotel, in order to install and tune antennas, in these locations. The RigExpert AA-230 Zoom, one of the latest model in their line of antenna analyzers, came in really handy for that. I liked two main things: the display, the unit size and weight.
The display graphics are way nicer.
When I travel to DXpeditions, I always carry my analyzer together with my radio in my carry-on bag to minimize the chances of my sensitive equipment from being damaged or lost. So the size of the equipment does really matter and for this reason alone I would like to upgrade my AA-600 to an AA-230 Zoom as this newer model is a lot THINNER (3.2 X 7.2 X 1.3 in instead of 9 X 4 X 2 in) and LIGHTER (only 8.3oz instead of 23oz).
Hopefully Santa is reading my message and surprises me on Christmas!

Next stop for my AA-600 analyzer is Bhutan ( Let’s see if my trustworthy friend continues to be up to the task.
WD8KND Rating: 2018-11-10
Great piece of equipment Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I was able to get mine for $589, but I thought it worth the difference, because of all it will do. I like the fault locating feature, which helped me find a problem with an antenna 120 feet out. I also like the ability to read 5 different frequencies at once on my different multi-band antennas. As a side and separate use, it will read capacitors, and inductors that you have laying around. I also like the ability to plot out your readings on a computer. This enables you to look at a later date to see if things have changed. I have a friend who puts up commercial antennas for a living, and he is the one who suggested this. It's a great addition to the shack.
VA7FWA Rating: 2018-06-08
Great analyser Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Surprised at the nit picking of two reviews which gave very low scores.
I find this a very useful analyser. Only caveat is the lack of a a padded case or rubber cladding on it since it is a portable instrument. I discarded the case and made up cladding from closed cell foam (camping pad), looks ugly- but am much happier climbing on roofs. Expensive but worth it and a lot of fun to use.
KI4WCA Rating: 2017-08-19
Excellent test equipment Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I was very happy with my MFJ 259C...then I bought a couple of 70cm/2meter rigs and needed something for 70cm. After looking at the options out there I bought the AA-600. Wow...what an excellent tool! I had already read the manual and use AA Eneloop pro cells extensively so I popped fresh cells in and began using it. I found it very, very easy to use and was soon absorbed in looking at feedlines and antennas with a degree of detail that in retrospect makes me wish I bought it sooner!!!
I like to homebrew antennas and this test gear makes that easy in the extreme. I have all software loaded on the PC direct from their website but I have only used it handheld so far.

Expensive but after using it for a short time I concluded it is worth every penny. Better get a spare set of cells...a quick measurement is almost certain to devolve into a major measurement fest...this thing is addictive and FUN to use.

Highly recommended...just buy a unit that will go high enough. I never plan to go over 70cm so I am set.

Buy one...don't put it is that good.
K1VCT Rating: 2017-02-21
Great in all respects Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just purchased two AA-600's for work, having used the AA-54 extensively at home. Build quality is a cut above the AA-54, which is already fairly nicely built.

The AA-600 has removable rechargeable batteries, and the cover is well done. The bootup time is very very short compared to the AA-54, but the button presses are a little different. The AA-54 responds faster, while the AA-600 takes just a bit more "press" on the buttons.

The graphic screens are faster than, clearer than, and more readable than the AA-54

One little snag... one of the units came with a 200v pin connector to 120v blade connector adapter. The adapter wasn't made well, and fits very loose. No big deal, as I'll just snip off the Euro plug, and solder on a permanent blade type power plug. Its a non issue really, and the part was included with the off-the-shelf charger they include with the unit.

I'll also say that my first test of the AA-600, at work, revealed our shop antenna had a cable issue! Good grief.

On my Hustler 4BTV, the AA-600 and AA-54 read identically, but the AA-600 also reveals some usable bands in the UHF ranges with the 4BTV, where the SWR drops down below 2:1. Interesting, and that deserves further investigation.

All in all, a great little unit
KK4YEL Rating: 2017-01-03
great analyzer but why no Smith Chart for USA model? Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I really enjoy the use of this rigexpert. But I do have a bit of a sore spot with it - why does the USA model not feature the Smith Chart, but rather a Polar Chart?

To be honest, it is not that big of an issue, but to be told by Rig Expert that a company in the USA can modify the USA model to then do the Smith Chart leaves me a bit upset. Why not just sell the models the same?
Apparently some export / import issue with the algorithms or hardware.

But even if this is one area that disappoints me, I still recommend this tool. It is a great deal, and lightyears ahead of anything I have seen on the amateur circuit.
UR7FM Rating: 2016-10-02
Exellent tools! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I sold my old AA230 and upgraded to AA600. Analyzer made very quality and I'm not found any problem from negative reviews below.TDR function very useful for testing cables. 73!
ZL3SV Rating: 2016-09-20
Nice unit Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have used this unit on my PC and as a hand held device. It does everything I want fine. My only issue is having to remove the batteries for charging in the separate charger. Battery cover is difficult to remove.
I am installing a regulator and plug to charge the batteries in the unit. I won't be able to use it whilst charging as I don't want the unit subjected to the higher charging voltages. It will save removing the batteries so then it gets a 5/5 rating from me.
N0FQN Rating: 2016-08-06
My mistake Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
After figuring out how the computer hookup worked it was doing what is was supposed to. I thought that the screen on the unit would be on as well as the computer readout. Learned a lesson. Does what it should and then more. I like the TDR function. I found several bad cable using this function. Saved me a bunch of time. Batteries are easy to get to but, strange they cannot be charged inside the unit. No bad connector here.
VA3MW Rating: 2016-05-12
Amazing tool Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
This is my 3rd Rigexpert Analyzer. Each one keeps getting better. I'm not sure what G8WRB is concerned about. I have never had an issue with any N connector on the devices I have had from Rigexpert.

I just finished using the 600 to help build the end fire 2 Element 40M verticals. It was very easy to build the phasing lines thanks to the options on the AA-600.

Every ham should have a TDR device to sweep their feedlines, something you can do with the antenna connected or disconnected. Pretty sweet stuff.

I would not hesitate to recommend this device for any ham or even commercial work. Next to my multi-meter, this is one of my favourite RF tools.