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Reviews For: Norcal Power and SWR meter kit

Category: SWR & Wattmeters & Dummy Loads

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Review Summary For : Norcal Power and SWR meter kit
Reviews: 2MSRP: $80
This meter covers 160 thru 10 meters at power levels from 0.1 to 10 W. 4 digital display modes plus dedicated analog relative reflected power meter. +/- 10% accuracy. Internal 9V battery power.
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
AA5NI Rating: 2009-12-01
Build complete Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I completed the build in about 2 hours and was impressed with the quality, completness of instructions and useability. Very nice kit and easy to build. In mode 4, I have not experienced the time delay problem. Possibly my kit is a more recent production.
I enjoy good quality, easy kits, this one worked for me.
AC0DS Rating: 2008-06-22
Accurate with some useabiltiy flaws Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've only had this product a few days and would normally wait awhile before posting a review. But thought I would do so early since one of my comments may be helpful to others who are now building the kit.

This is a fun and easy kit to build. Decent quality components and a very nice metal enclosure. Lots of capability, with 4 digital display modes (Digital SWR, FWD and REF pwr; Digital bar graphs; Digital Peak Pwr for SSB; and audio output of info in CW). There is also a dedicated analog meter that gives a relative reading of reflected power that is useful for using a manual antenna tuner.

The best news is that this meter is accurate. I verified the readings from 7 thru 21 MHz against my M cubed power meter and a scope and the meter is within its specified accuracy.

There are two items that, in my opinion, are design flaws and they both affect useability. Fortunately the first one is easy to fix.

The battery is mounted in such a way that you need to remove the main PCB to replace the battery. This entails unsoldering some connections to the BNC connectors. This is easy to remedy. When you build the kit, turn the battery clip 90 degrees from what is shown in the manual. One screw should be enough to hold it. If you do this, you can easily replace the battery from the side without removing the PCB. Alternatively, you could just mount the battery with some velcro. There is plenty of room inside the case to do this.

The bigger problem, and the reason I've rated the kit a 3, is the operation of the pushbutton switch that sequences between modes. Modes #1 and #2 are the most useful for 90% of us. If you're in mode 1, a push of the button takes you to mode 2. So far, so good. But to go from mode 2 to mode 1 you have to go through modes 3 and 4. Mode 4 is the problem. As soon as mode 4 is activated it starts sending CW in a LOUD and distorted tone which would be quite disturbing in a quiet environment. Additionally, you need to wait until the CW is done before it will switch to mode 1. So you are stuck in mode 4 for several seconds before you can get back to #1. Cycling the power doesn't help - it remembers and goes back to the mode you were last in. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to fix this unless possibly a firmware change. You can cut the wire to the speaker, but the delay is still there.

If it weren't for this, I would rate the meter a 4 or 5. Good accuracy for the $. If a fix comes along, I'll post a re-review.

... Craig AC0DS