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Reviews For: TinySA Ultra

Category: Tools & Test Equipment for the amateur radio work bench

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Review Summary For : TinySA Ultra
Reviews: 1MSRP: 130
100kHz-6GHz Spectrum Analyzer 4" Touchscreen. Enhanced version of the TinySA
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
G4AON Rating: 2023-03-28
Fiddly interface Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
For around 1/10th the cost of the nearest hand held spectrum analyser from a more recognised brand, such as the Thurlby Thandar units, this SA is excellent value. In addition, it can be used as a reasonably good signal generator.

This is my only SA that reaches above 5GHz, however WiFi signals on the 5GHz WiFi band just do not appear. This is mentioned in the TinySA WiKi. Steady carriers look OK.

The noise floor also has a jump in level between 5 and 6GHz by 10dB. To be fair the rear panel of the SA gives an upper frequency of 5.3GHz.

For bench testing of home brew radios up to 2m, perhaps even to 70cms, the noise floor is quite level and 3rd harmonics are easy to measure.

The level accuracy was close to my IFR 2025 signal generator at higher levels, but not quite so good at levels below around -60dBm, although for the price it’s acceptable.

The user interface is quite fiddly, with a bench SA you can rotate a knob to centre a signal without any trouble, equally you can adjust the amplitude and set markers on fundamental and harmonic signals in a few moments… it’s nowhere near as slick with this unit although you can set markers and measure peaks. The free Windows software makes bench use easier and is straightforward to use.

I have both a Thurlby Thandar hand held analyser, and a Rigol bench analyser. Both these are much easier to use, but at a significantly higher cost.

Beware that updates to the firmware of the TinySA are awkward and are far from straightforward. On Windows 11 currently the only way to update the SA is by turning off Memory Integrity in Windows, which carries security risks. Unfortunately the simpler route of copying a file to an SD card, which is supplied with the SA, isn’t supported.

In conclusion, a Tiny SA Ultra is ideal for hobby use on a bench for testing home brew equipment up to 70cms. Being battery powered it can be used as a handheld interference “sniffer” using a small loop or even the supplied telescopic whip. Beware of the limitations using the “Ultra” features (enabled by entering a PIN number for use above 800MHz and covered in the WiKi). Also be careful if using the signal generator directly connected to a transceiver as there is no protection to the input. Some equipment can transmit momentarily when being tuned off, some also transmit occasionally if set to send APRS data.