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Bird RF Watt Meter Questions

Discussion in 'CB and Export Equipment and Accessories' started by Sniper308, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Sniper308

    Sniper308 Member

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    I would like to add a Bird Watt Meter to my radio room setup. I have been looking around at various web sites that sell them but I must admit that I am a bit confused. I would like a meter that will read average and peak power for both AM and SSB. There seem to be quite a few different meters to choose from and I'm not really sure which model fills the requirements for what I am looking for.

    A few other questions I have regarding these meters is.....

    Slugs - What do I need for AM and SSB? Do I need to get a specific frequency slug or do certain slugs cover any channel in the listed bands.

    Also, ATM my largest amp is 500w. Do I need a 500w slug? To be honest, Im not really sure of how these slugs work.

    Is this type of meter something that can be left inline all the time? Will it cause any SWR problems or interference on the coax being inline at all times?



    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I see that these meters are not cheap. The ones I have been looking at are $400-$800. I just want to make sure I'm getting the right meter for what I want before I make such a large investment. Thanks.
     

  2. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    So evaluate what you will be measuring and how. If you want to have Pep readings then a meter that will give you that type of measure. What power range maximums do you want to measure? Only with the 500 watt amplifier, then a slug that will read more than 500 watts. Going to measure something in the 4 - 50 watt range? Then a slug that will cover that range. The frequency range of the various slugs are sort of 'broad' in general, HF, VHF, or UHF. So select from slug 'sizes' in the applicable range group.
    There's nothing wrong with Bird meters, but there's nothing all that exceptional about them either. In most cases, especially with CB or ham radio, it's the 'name' that's the biggy, not it's measuring ability. They are not 'fool proof' at all, they have the same liabilities as any other decently designed/built meter. If you want one, get it! Or just write "Bird" on another meter's face...
    - 'Doc
     
    4 people like this.
  3. RADIOOMAN

    RADIOOMAN Active Member

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    Your thread is somewhat similar to another thread that is still active in this forum.

    http://www.worldwidedx.com/general-cb-services-discussion/151925-10-watt-25-watt-slug-7.html

    A BIRD wattmeter is not an end-all/tell-all wattmeter.
    There are numerous other wattmeters available that will give you the needed accuracy and utility at a much reduced cost for what you would have to spend on a BIRD.
     
  4. Sniper308

    Sniper308 Member

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    Can you name some of the other meters so I can look them up online. Im just going with Bird because they are the only "professional" type meters I am aware of. If there are others, I'd be willing to take a look at them. Im not dedicated to getting a Bird, I just want something better than what I have.

    I noticed a problem with my current meter when trying to read power on SSB. I was told that if the meter does not have its own power then it is not giving an accurate reading. If this is true then I'd like to find a meter that will give me accurate readings.
     
  5. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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    Isn't there another meter that's similar to the Bird that uses the same slugs?

    Can't recall name.
     
  6. vo1ks

    vo1ks Active Member

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    Coaxial Dynamics has a similar meter.
    Many of the plug in elements are compatible with Bird.

    Welcome to Coaxial Dynamics
     
  7. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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    That's it....

    My amp does 2000 Coaxial Dynamics watts!
     
  8. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur
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    FWIW Bird meters are about the most over rated piece of gear out there. Nothing wrong with them mimd you but they are not what most people think they are. I like my Diawa CN801HP crossneedle true pep meter. It works well.
     
    #8 Captain Kilowatt, Mar 20, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  9. Marconi

    Marconi Usually if I can hear em' I can talk to em'.

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    308, the Bird is somewhat cumbersome and complicated to use and IMO is overkill considering the information you get. Even if the Bird were to be 100% accurate in all regards, what would you do different just using your radio...knowing the power and reflection were right on the money as apposed to being only 95% correct?

    I assume you may be using the Ranger RHF-618 radio shown on you profile signature, and this radio shows all the info the Bird does, and it is far less cumbersome to use. So, what is the problem then?

    Think about it this way, the Bird meters you priced above probably cost more than your radio, and you still need to buy slugs. Your radio is showing everything you really need to know to operate safely.
     
  10. gamegetter

    gamegetter Well-Known Member

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  11. RADIOOMAN

    RADIOOMAN Active Member

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    1 person likes this.
  12. mr_fx

    mr_fx Sr. Member

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    just get a good cross needle type meter and you will be happy, very easy to read, and they can tell you everything you want to know and maybe a little more, I loved MFJ-962 one built into my MFJ-962 tuner
     
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  13. Sniper308

    Sniper308 Member

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    The rhf-618 does have SWR, POWER, and MODULATION meters built in but they show readings as percentages of what the radio is capable of not true value readings. As for power with the RF PWR knob turned all the way up the meter reads 100%. Not only is this not a true value reading but it also is not reading the power after the amp only the power percentage being sent to the amp. For this reason the meters in the radio are useless to me.
     
  14. RADIOOMAN

    RADIOOMAN Active Member

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    I believe for AM or SSB it is important to have a meter that will read forward power in the PEP mode.
    Second of importance is for it to be able to read reflected power. ( a swr meter will serve that function )
    For AM or SSB I would feel crippled if all I had was a average reading meter.

    The AUTEK or the PALSTAR or the COXIAL DYNMAICS are suitable choices.
    .
     
  15. Shockwave

    Shockwave Sr. Member

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    It all comes down to how accurate you need to be. With an accurate PEP meter you can set your carrier and modulation fairly well. Knowing that the peaks should be 4 times the carrier level. Unfortunately many watt meters read high in the average mode and low in the peak mode. That kills your ability to do what I just said accurately without a scope.

    What you were told about peak reading watt meters requiring their own power source is true. If it does not, you're guaranteed one of two things. Either the carrier will read high in the PEP mode and the peaks will be close or the carrier will be close and the peaks will read lower than they are. I know I over paid to get a Bird 43P but I'm happy with my choice 20 years later.
     

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