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Reviews For: Elecraft W1 - 140 watts computing Wattmeter / SWR Bridge

Category: SWR & Wattmeters & Dummy Loads

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Review Summary For : Elecraft W1 - 140 watts computing Wattmeter / SWR Bridge
Reviews: 11MSRP: 89.95
The Elecraft W1 is a versatile microprocessor based RF power and SWR meter than can be used with any transmitter from QRP levels to 140 watts output from 1.8 to 30 MHz. The W1 automatically selects the proper power range of up to 1.4, 14 or 140 watts and indicates the peak forward power and SWR on built in bar-graph LEDs.

High resolution power and SWR readings are also available through a connector as RS232 serial data for display on a computer. (This interface uses a simplified RS-232 style interface that can drive short cables of less than six feet or directly to a USB adapter.) Elecraft will also be supplying a W1 compatible USB adapter as an option for the W1. The LEDs can be turned off under computer control for use as a dedicated remote computer read Wattmeter / SWR Bridge.

The W1 designed to be used as a stand-alone unit. Optionally, it may be built into existing equipment or an enclosure of your choice. (Battery and BNC connectors can be mounted on the rear of the PCB.)

Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
AI4BJ Rating: 2023-07-24
Great accessory for shack or field Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This wattmeter is easy to build, easy to calibrate, and easy to use. It's accurate at both QRP and QRO levels, which was important to me. I don't particularly miss having an enclosure for it. When not in use, I store it in the anti-static bag that the parts came in.
F6DEX Rating: 2018-01-13
Very useful Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The Elecraft W1 is a sophisticated VSWR meter with a clever design (as usual with Elecraft) which works very well with very low power (ie WSPR...). It has a very good accuracy while resolution is medium (due to the led). Not expensive (not cheap either), no box. Provides a serial interface for a customization to your needs and a better resolution (if needed). A must have in the shack.
AA4OO Rating: 2016-01-23
I've Got the Power Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It's nice to finally have an accurate power meter.

This is the 4th Elecraft mini-module kit I've built. I am new to building electronic kits and Elecraft offers some of the simplest to build, useful kits I've encountered.

The W1 is very handy if you are a QRP'r and need to accurately measure power under a 1 watt. There are not many meters out there that will accurately measure power levels this low.

The build is straightforward and the board allows for a number of configuration options depending on how you want to mount or enclose the meter. I've giving it a 4 rather than a 5 because it doesn't come with it's own enclosure. I plan to mount it to an angled acrylic photo stand using stand-offs but a more rugged enclosure would be useful if you plant to transport it often.

The serial interface is a nice touch and allows a number of configuration options. I'd suggest not ordering the serial interface kit from Elecraft because it is a DB-9 connector (not mentioned in the description) and given that it's 2015 and computers haven't shipped with a DB-9 connector for years it SHOULD be a USB connector. Anyway save your $15 on the serial interface kit (a db9 connector, 4 conductor wire and a stereo 1/8" plug) which should cost $5 and build a real USB serial interface that you can use.

Other than that the W1 Power meter works brilliantly and offers a wide range for the QRP'r to light QRO rig.

I've written a detailed review with photos and a video here:
AA4BQ Rating: 2015-04-09
Simply Amazing Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought one of these after building the K3 modular kit. I missed soldering in the modular kits so this was a nice treat. The instructions are TOTALLY clear in every respect. The features and operation are already well-described by other builders so all I can really add is info about the serial controller. You don't even have to change the factory settings however, you can easily customize things like how quickly the LEDs decay or how quickly the auto-scaling functions operate. I like being able to set the decay speed because I use mine in conjunction with my antenna tuner and the LED response speed is SO much more immediate than a meter and much easier on the eyes than the LCD meter displays. I guess I just enjoy LEDs. Yes, it needs an enclosure. I have tried a couple of ideas using very cool wooden boxes that Irish Whiskey comes in (the expensive gift boxes). I also ordered the Plexiglass box from the Elecraft's website link. The Lexan/Plexiglass, clear plastic box is cut precisely and is the best enclosure if you want to "show off" your handywork.

One piece of advice for those who, like me, like to innovate and change the Elecraft LED color scheme. DON'T. First of all, after the problems I had (explained later), I kicked myself for thinking I could come up with something they hadn't already considered. My idea was to have RED LEDs for SWRs above 1.7, YELLOW for intermediate SWRs, and finally GREEN for the very last 1.1 LED indication. Sounds like a great idea, I thought. And, on its merit, it is. HOWEVER, I quickly discovered that not all LEDs are created equal. The red ones Elecraft supplies are very high-output in terms of lumens compared to all others I tried. I even ordered "rectangular" yellow and green LEDs from Elecraft that are used for other applications and connected them to the exact same test/breadboard voltage/current circuit and found that the RED out shines the others in no small amount. And, I just want to caution folks who will try this anyway, that the solder pads and "plate-throughs" in the LED rows are fragile. To prevent permanently damaging the board, I used solder wick and a "solder sucker" to get the job done. Some folks might settle for the differces in brilliance but I went back to all red just like the unit was designed for.

All-in-all, the W1 was so useful, I purchased a second one so I can leave one inline permanently and use the other one for portable or special use.

BTW, Richard AD7FZ (at Elecraft parts department) was always immediately responsive and helpful. My puppie dog had snatched an integrated resistor pack I dropped on the floor and he munched down on it before I could stop him (I Shih Zsu not!). When I notified Elecraft about the "misplaced" part, Richard got one out right away as he did with the LEDs. I had no problem buying another W1 with service and support like that (not to mention the ultra-fast response by the manager of orders, Madelyn Gomez), I can't say enough. Now, I think I'll go play around with the new toys.

PS: For inexperienced kit builders, do yourself a big favor and get a extra fine tip Weller with temp control and some fine, small guage rosin core solder. Don't forget the anti-static mat. Have a ball !! 73, Bill
K8JHR Rating: 2015-02-25
Super Product Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
The Elecraft W-2 Wattmeter satisfies a need in my shack. It has a bright, easy to read LED scale - which quickly reveals transmitter power and SWR at a glance. I like the remote sensor, which allows me to place the unit anywhere on the desk, with the sensor mounted in line. This obviates having to alter the shortest route from rig to pass-through point, and the weight of patch cables won't move it or pull it off the shelf. This means I can use heavier, more robust patch cables inside the shack.

The W-2 has a Hhigh-SWR Alarm with a relay switch to interrupt the amplifier key line whenever SWR exceeds a stated limit, protecting the amplifier from transmitting into an extremely high or low impedance load, which can occur if your tuner fails or is accidentally switched to bypass mode, or if something drastic suddenly befalls your antenna system. This requires a small, simple computer application, but that is a small inconvenience considering the cost of this unit compared to the cost of some other meter products providing similar functionality. It is a really small price considering the cost to repair a fritzed linear amp.

The Elecraft W-2 is plenty accurate for my needs. I need to know if my the rig and antenna system are working as they should. I want to know if SWR suddenly hikes to a high level. I want to know if my rig is putting out 10 or 100 watts when running barefoot. I want to know if the amp is churning out 50 or 500 watts, and want to peak output when tuning it into a dummy load. Accuracy of (+/-) 10% is enough to indicate what I need to know.

I have owned this meter for one year. It is reliable, attractive, durable, and easy to read. I plan to add a second sensor, and may purchase a second meter ... just because I like it. I will determine a reason for it later. The price is right.

Just My take. K8JHR

K0JEG Rating: 2011-11-23
Nice easy kit Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I built one Sunday night. I expected to need 2-3 evenings to get it built, but once I got past the second page of the instructions I just kept going. I would recommend this kit for a "second timer," someone who has the basics of soldering down and wants to learn more about components. Calibration is simple and it seems to be fairly accurate.

However, as a wattmeter it's a little strange. 140Watts, not 200 or 100 or 150. It's also not case-friendly, or radio friendly, because of the BNC connectors and their odd location. Might be minor nits, but it just seems like the layout could have been better, at least put the connectors at the top of the board with the BNC connectors pointing out the top, like on T-1 autotuner. I almost want to give it a 4 because of the board layout, but the other features make up for it.

Anyway, the main reason I bought this is because I'm building a magnetic loop antenna tuner and this looked like an easy way to get SWR readings into a computer/microcontroller. The meter sends data based on simple one character commands. The manual didn't mention it, but the settings are 9600, no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit. The meter can be customized in many different ways using the serial commands, including slow/medium/fast reaction to power and SWR, and all the settings will only affect one reading (IE, changing the power to slow reaction won't change any of the SWR settings).
AD6KA Rating: 2010-09-18
Accurate, Versatile, Fun! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This is a "Must Have" HF meter for the bench, especially if you can't afford a Bird and all of those slugs. I use it to tweak the power output of QRP rigs, since it is accurate down to 100 milliwatts. I also really like the twin peaking lines of rectangular red LED's for Power and SWR.
That and the thre "Power Range" round LEDs make
it very easy to read at a glance.
It is very accurate as compared to my more expensive meters, and you don't have to "Zero" or "calibrate" the meter every time you change abnds! YAY for that!

It was a very fun and easy build.
The 9v battery power supply option is VERY HANDY
for carrying it around.

Yes, it would have been nice to have an optional enclosure, but enclosures are expensive.

This meter is so versatile, accurate, and easy to hookup that I am incorporating it in a 140w solid state amplifier project I am building around the CCI EB63. I think it will make a nice addition.
(But I will have to move the LEDs to the other side of the PC board, no big deal).

GET ONE, you'll love it.

I may add some Green LED's for lowest SWR to 2.o:1 or so, yellow LEDs for 2.5 to 3:1 ,
and them red above that. Just an idea.
N7EJC Rating: 2008-10-19
Outstanding Meter Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought the SWR Power Meter at the Southwest Division convention from a nice couple at the Elecraft booth. They were very helpful in answering all my questions since I had not assembled a kit before. It was a little intimidating at first, but the instruction manual was superb and made assembly easy - even for a guy like me with no experience. I completed the kit in about 6 hours and all tested ok. I love the meter because it is the most accurate I've found for QRP which is what I do most of the time. I also bought the lexan enclosure from the address on the website - that went together easily as well.
AK2B Rating: 2007-03-09
Another winner! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I own most of the Elecraft Mini Kits and up until now I haven’t found any need to put them in an enclosure. However, since I’ve built the W1 Power Meter - that has changed. The W1 is just too awkward to use as it is. Every time I went to use it there never seemed to be a convenient place to put it. In my apartment there is a metal picture stand that is vertical and slanted back a little for easy viewing. Hmm, it was a little too big for the W1 since it was designed for a size 8 X 5 print. I went to Staples and found what they call a “slanted sign holder” 3.5” X 5” (Model 69401SUS (I couldn’t find this number in their on-line store)). On the store receipt it said the SKU was 079916015552). Anyway it’s made of clear plastic and although a little too wide, makes a very decent stand for the W1. If you mount the W1 so that the battery case bottoms out it will make the stand a little sturdier. Actually, I mounted mine a little too high and used rubber feet mounted on the bottom of the battery case. I used threaded plastic stand-offs at the top and another next to the left bnc connector since the bottom hole is too close to the angle of the stand. You might want to add extra weight to the base.
Although this is not a perfect solution, it makes using the W1 a lot easier and it looks pretty good to boot.

Tom, AK2B

Oh, and as usual, the W1 is of excellent quality, cleverly designed, simple to build and accurate. Par for Elecraft!

K8RBW Rating: 2007-03-08
Very good unit Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The W1 is an easy build and extremely accurate. I damaged a signal LED in the process of building it and Elecraft sent me a replacement gratis. In fact, they sent me two. The first was lost in the mail and they sent me another replacement. There is no custom enclosure for it but I improvised. I just went to Walgreens and bought a set of plastic food storage containers for two dollars. One of them was a snug fit for the unit. I bore holes in both sides of the container and attached BNC to S0239 adapters that I ran through the sides to connect it to coax. I then put some large RS rubber feet on one end do that it can be vertically oriented. It is easily read and can be used for portable activities like Field Day while not altering the alignment.
73 de Dick, K8RBW