If you want to get a perfect signal from your CB and Ham radio, you need to tune it. And to tune it, you need the best SWR meter.
Many people ignore the use of the SWR meter and then complain that their radio has broken. That is not surprising, because an SWR meter is required to tune in a radio!
Any SWR meter is easy to use. It is also very helpful. An SWR meter a good indication of the level of standing wave ratio. These meters give you an opportunity to configure the communication channels perfectly.
Our Top Picks
MFJ RF Power & SWR meter
Astatic 302-PDC2 SWR Meter
Workman HP201S SWR Meter
Best SWR Meter Reviews
1. RF Power & SWR meter for 1.8-525Mhz – HF / VHF / UHF 200W
This swr meter review covers a more advanced radio test meter. This MFJ meter is built to use with amateur CB/Ham, commercial, marine, and AIR two-way radios.
Offering 200 watts of power, it’s frequency range of 1.8 to 525Mhz, and works with HF, VHF & UHF bands. So if you have a CB radio in your house or car, and a marine radio in your boat, this meter can test both of them!
This device is a handy 7.5 x 4.2 x 3.1 inches. I like to use it because it is has a well-marked black and red scale that’s easy to read against the white background. This scale allows me to quickly calculate the coefficient, power, and turn off the test meter.
This meter shows you the peak, average, direct and reflected power.
- Covers all of the CB/Ham radio frequency bands from 160m up to the 70cm band.
- The meter test the HF, VHF and UHF bands.
- This RF Power & SWR meter shows the direct, reflected, peak and average power for more informative measurements.
- The meter body is made of metal, has rubber feet, and additionally it is protected by a strong speckled black paint, so it will stand up to use in salt water (marine) environments.
- Offers 5, 20, and 200 watt power ranges.
2. Astatic (302-PDC2) SWR/RF/Field Strength Test Meter
We can confidently say that this is the best SWR meter for CB radio. It is versatile and lets you test three things: RF power, SWR, and field strength.
If the antenna you are using is 50 Ohms and you need to tune in a CB radio, the 302-PDC2 test meter is exactly what you need.
I like this test meter because it does not take up much space, and it includes a mounting bracket and hardware. And at only 12.8 ounces, it is lightweight, making it even easier to use.
- The test meter tests SWR, RF power, and field strength.
- It is designed to test any 50-ohm antenna and coaxial cable used for CB radio operation.
- Included with the test meter are a mounting bracket and hardware.
- 10 watt and 100watt switches.
- Forward and reverse switches.
3. Workman HP201S SWR/Power Meter for CB Radio
The Workman HP201S is an excellent SWR meter which takes up little space (just 6 inches). You can use this SWR test meter with 50 ohm antennas. You can also use this SWR power meter to tune AM and sideband radios.
This meter adjusts to a wider range of power, offering 5 watts, 50 watts, 250 watts and 1000 watts. Also, the backlight makes it easy to read the meter.
- Tests RF power and SWR for 26-30 MHz radios.
- It can be set to 5, 50, 250 and 1000 watts.
- The test meter is designed for 50 ohm antennas.
- Backlit, so it’s easy to read.
4. Е56 Astatic PDC1 100 Watt SWR Meter
This is another project from the well-known Astatic company. The PDC1 is a 3-function analog SWR meter which is ideal for indicating the status of any 50 ohm antenna and coaxial cable for CB radios.
On this device you can find a switch for 10 watts and 100 watts, as well as forward and reverse switches. It is very lightweight at 8 ounces, and measures 6.5 x 5.1 x 3.2 inches, so it’s compact. In addition to the switches, the housing is equipped with radio connectors and an antenna connector.
Using the Astatic PDC1 is also very easy. To do this, just turn on the PWR switch and press the transfer switch on the microphone. I rate this as the best SWR meter for ham radio because that’s all this meter is built for, and it’s so easy to use. This is a great little unit for new ham/CB radio owners.
- Astatic PDC1 is a 3-function analog test meter.
- The meter tests 50 ohm antennas and coaxial cable used to operate CB radios.
- Astatic PDC1 tests SWR and relative power.
- This is a small, lightweight and easily portable test meter.
5. SWR Antenna Analyzer MFJ-259C HF VHF 0.53-230Mhz
This is the second unit I tested from the MFJ company. The SWR Antenna Analyzer MFJ-259C is a unique antenna analyzer that evaluates an antenna’s performance almost instantly.
With the purchase of this analyzer, you can read the SWR antenna, as well as the impedance, rate factor and loss in the coaxial cable, cable length, and distance to the short (or open), and everything in the 0.53 to 230 MHz frequency range.
The MFJ-259C analyzer is large, so it is very easy to read the required readings. It has three screens that display information quickly. This unit replaces the company’s earlier MFJ-259B model.
And yes, this model runs on batteries. But don’t worry, this meter will give you a low battery warning.
- MFJ-259C analyzer instantly reads the SWR and impedance of the antenna.
- This digital SWR meter works independently of a radio; a frequency counter is built into the analyzer.
- The two-line LCD display is easy to read.
- MFJ-259C is suitable for amateur radio amateur antennas, CB, Two Way and others in the range from 0.53 to 230Mhz.
- It requires 10 AA batteries, which are not included.
6. Signstek Professional UV Dual Band Standing-Wave Meter Power Meter SWR
Do you need to measure your radio or antenna’s power output and SWR? If so, the Signstek Professional can help you.
The use of this meter is a truly a pleasure, because it is very easy. For example, to measure the output power, you only need to turn on the key to the right, set the range, and turn on the transmitter to 15, 60, or if you want to break the meter, 200 watts.
And if you need to measure SWR, you just need to switch the function key to the left, set the radio to the transmission mode, and the meter will give you the reading.
The Signstek Professional meter is very sensitive, so avoid any vibrations and mechanical shocks.
It is a simple and convenient meter, which has no extra features, is high quality, and works well.
- Signstek Professional operates at three power ranges: 15 watts, 60 watts and at maximum power200 watts.
- The measurement accuracy is from ± 5 to 10%.
- Signstek Professional UV Dual Band Standing-Wave meter measures both the power output and standing wave ratio.
- The body is well built, and the connectors are very high quality.
7. Astatic (302-01768) PDC7 Compact SWR Meter
They say that an ideal purchase can be considered an ideal ratio of price and quality. If you need a quality device for an economic price, the Astatic PDC7 would be the ideal option.
The PDC7 only works with a CB (Ham) radio and any 50 ohm antenna. Also, you need a coaxial jumper cable (not included).
The maximum power consumption of this meter is 50 W and it’s designed for home or mobile use. It only weighs 9 ounces, and at 4.8 x 3.1 x 6.2 inches it’s small and easy to carry with you in the car.
When working with the PDC7, I noticed one important feature. It does not return to zero until you disconnect the meter from the radio and antenna. Just remember that, and the meter is simple to use.
- This test meter measures the standing wave ratio, field strength and RF power.
- Any 50 ohm antenna can be measured with this meter and coaxial cable.
- The meter is intended for both base and mobile operations.
- The maximum power meter is 50 watts.
8. MFJ-884 MFJ884 Original MFJ Enterprises 200 W 1.8-525 MHz Cross Needle SWR
The latest and best MFJ SWR meter is the MFJ-884 Original. This SWR meter model offers comfort, compactness, and functionality.
To begin with, the size of this meter is only 5 ½ x 3 ⅛ x 5 inches. As you can see, the meter is quite compact and will not take up much space in your car.
It is also easy to use. First, the meter has a backlight. Second, you can see the indicators on the display at a wide angle, and best of all, it has a three-color scale, which allows you easily see the SWR, forward and reflected power all at the same time.
The MFJ-884 Original is well-made. This meter has air-dielectric connectors with gold-plated center pins. Nothing can provide better performance than that.
- MFJ-884 Original SWR meter has a three-color scale on the screen.
- The meter requires 13.8 watts of direct current and 110 watts of alternating current.
- The meter body has SO-239connectors.
- MFJ884 meter operates within 525 MHz.
- It measures peak and average, direct and reflected power readings.
- Sturdy metal body with rubber feet.
9. Tenq 1051 VHF UHF Digital SWR Meter for 2-way Radio Mobile Radio
TENQ is a great brand known for its high quality products. The 1051 model is an excellent confirmation of this.
To use this meter, you just need to connect the output of the transceiver to the TX connector. Connect the load or the antenna to the ANT connector, press the red button to turn it on, and wait a couple of seconds for diagnostics.
The meter has a UV indicator and it is displayed in the sequence “+ XXX P” (throughput), “- XXX P” (feedback power), “XXX Γ” (value of CWS). Each mode takes 2 seconds to turn on.
If you want to hold the current display, press the red button. Press it again to continue. A nice bonus is that you can use this meter in the dark, because the TENQ 1051 SWR meter has a blue backlight.
As you can see, this meter is quite simple and functional.
- TENQ 1051 SWR meter automatically shuts off if the power is not measured within 8 minutes, has a backlight and many modes.
- The maximum power is 120 watts.
- The frequency range of the TENQ 1051 SWR meter is 145 MHz for VHF and 435 MHz for UHF.
- It works on 3 AAA batteries.
- The 1051 SWR meter comes with a hand strap.
10. SWR / Power METER for CB Radio 100 Watts
The SWR/Power meter is made specifically for CB radio and measures either 0 -10 or 0 -100 watts. On each side of the meter is anSO-239 UHF connector to connect to a radio (jumper cable required) and antenna. The frequency range is 1.7 to 30 MHz.
The case is durable because it is metallic and has all the necessary connectors. And the meter size is a compact 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches, which is about the average size for products of this type.
This is a good basic meter that’s easy to use.
- The housing is equipped with an SO-239 UHF connector at each end for connecting to a radio and antenna.
- The meter works in the frequency range from 1.7 to 30 MHz.
- It has a metal body of 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches.
- The SWR/Power meter also includes a field strength antenna.
Best SWR Power Meter Buying Guide
Features to Look for During Purchase
SWR meters come in different shapes and sizes, despite the fact that all they all have the same basic function.
How can you find the best SWR meter for your needs? It’s important to buy an affordable and useful SWR meter, which will fulfill its main function, soI will try to draw your attention to the most important aspects to look for as you read our SWR meter reviews.
VSWR and SWR
Should you choose a meter with VSWR or SWR? For many people, this question is no easier than the Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” question. The good news is that VSWR and SWR are the same thing. And is the reason is that in both cases, the standing current and voltage waves are set, the power is reflected.
This is an important aspect when choosing a SWR meter, but the absolute value of sensitivity is not defined by anyone. It is clear that a good SWR meter should not have excessively high sensitivity, because it could damage the transmitter.
Which SWR meter will you find in the store? It will be a meter with a 100 uA full scale deflection. The fact is that this is the most common value for a SWR meter and it is OK.
Be sure the connectors are good quality so you will get an accurate reading. The SWR meter must have a connector for the antenna (usually labeled ANT), as well as a TX connector for the transmitter (to be connected to the radio).
Each SWR meter has a different frequency range. You must be sure that this range is what your equipment uses, because if you use the SWR meter out of range, it will not be sensitive enough.
Why do you need an SWR meter?
The fact is that many people are deeply convinced that tuning the radio can be done successfully done without using a SWR meter. This is a big misconception.
The SWR meter is needed to measure the voltage standing wave ratio. You can use it when you tune the radio. When configured, the meter will show you the degree of inconsistency between the transmission line and its load. Plus, you can use the SWR meter to measure the effectiveness of the impedance matching effort.
It is important to use the SWR meter when you tune in a CB radio or a handheld mobile ham radio , because it will allow you to minimize or eliminate interference. An SWR meter will help you keep the radio and antenna safe.
How Do I Use An SWR Meter?
There is nothing complicated about using an SWR meter, you just need to follow a few steps:
- Use a low-power channel (or a clean channel) if you do not know the characteristics of an antenna or SWR meter;
- Your goal is to find at least one standard two-way contact, to do this, spend time listening to the signal;
- Reduce the transmitter’s output power so as not to damage the transmitter if SWR is low;
- Set the mode switch so that a constant output is set (CW, AM or FM) – it will allow you to set a steady reading;
- Set the SWR meter (switch to the Forward position) and turn the adjustment knob (or CAL) to the down position. It is important to prevent overloading the meter;
- Adjust the direct reading (using the same adjustment knob or CAL);
- Reverse the measurement and read the SWR value;
- After you receive the coefficient value, you need to stop the transmission of the signal quickly in order not to interfere with other radio stations and not to break the transmitter.
And it is important to remember: if you want to use a large number of channels, check the SWR readings for channels 1 and 40, because the values will change. And when you measure at full power, shut down the SWR meter right after that.
What Is A Bad SWR?
Ideally, you will get a 1: 1 ratio. And accordingly, the situation when you get a 2: 1 or 3: 1 ratio is not the best. It turns out that the lower the difference, the better. That is 1: 1 – very good, 2: 1 – normal, 6: 1 – everything is bad.
What Is Return Loss?
By getting information about the SWR you can find out the “return loss”. This means a loss of power in the signal that the break in the transmission line shows. “Return loss” is expressed in decibels.
“Return loss” suggests that how much power was transferred to the load. If all power has been transferred. The return loss will be infinite. And if not all the mobility has been transferred, the return loss will be zero. To measure return loss, you need to use a SWR meter with feeders or transmission lines.
There are many standing wave ratio meters available and they come at different price points. Some meters measure several bands, including UHF and VHR frequencies.
Actually, the best SWR meter for ham radios & also for CB radios is a very relative thing. That is why before buying an SWR meter you need to know the exact characteristics of your antenna and radio.
Check our reviews to discover the newest models on the market and find the best one for you!