Nano VNA

Ok, so these are my initial thoughts of the device. Firstly, the only issue I have so far is that Windows does not always detect the USB device. I am not sure exactly what the issue is, low voltage, USB drivers kind of flaky or what. But powering it from an external 5v supply the device turns on every time. So i think its windows and computer related, not the device.

On to testing. Not a lot of time today to do anything flash, so I ran a bunch of S11 measurements on things i had handy and the plots were as expected. I do not really have anything here to test in the upper frequency ranges, being a HF kind of guy, but on measurements up to say 100meg, where I have the ability already to compare against another tool, the measurements look legit to me.

First up, calibration is easy and it comes with open, short and 50ohm loads to calibrate to, apparently I have the 900meg firmware installed, if i can work out how to change that to use the 300meg firmware I will. I dont need to measure beyond a couple hundred meg at best anyway.

First up to be tested was the Tri-Band vertical. Yes it is poorly tuned LOL and the SWR plot is correct. LOL I need to fix that 😉

This is the smith chart for the tri bander.

And this is what the LCD screen is showing while testing the tri-bander.

Next cab off the rank was my home brew dummyload. I knew already it was good out to about 100meg, but did not think it would be fine out to 300. Guess i did ok with a handful of resistors LOL

Next up was a 70cm antenna off the MD380 DMR HT. Now i have no idea how accurate this is, but it looks like what you might expect to see with a dip where it is meant to be.

And this is what the device was displaying while testing.

All in all, so far for S11 measurements the nanovna has done exactly what it was designed to do. I was a little surprised that it is as accurate as it is. This is not a very expensive tool at all, like $90 Australian delivered from ebay. Add this in with the rest of my cheap test gear and I have a good selection of gear for not a lot of dollars. When i get some time I will do some 2 port measurements and see how it goes. I expect it will perform quiet well. Bring on the filter testing 🙂


13 thoughts on “Nano VNA

  1. Thanks for your review! I’d like to get a NanoVNA, but hands-on reviews are scarce so far. I can easily see the whole feature set from the Chinese-language youtube videos, but I’m more interested in what purchasers think about its reliability, UHF (450MHz) performance, and durability. I intend to use it for antenna tuning (HF, VHF, UHF) and HF filter analysis.

    Like you, I welcome the arrival of low-cost test equipment. I have the MR100 Asian clone of the SARK 100 for HF work, and it functions fine despite the low price. (Although for whatever reason, it does not send the sign of reactance when using the PC commands. The sign of reactance displays on the LCD when using it manually, but data sent to the PC are without the sign. Don’t know why they would design it that way.)

    1. From what playing with it I have done, I would say its accurate enough and good enough for the kinds of girls I go out with. Mostly all i care about is being ball park and this tool will get you close enough to be useful. I do not have anything here I can compare it to for 70cm and up, but the couple of 70cm antenna i put on it looked like they should and compared well to the SWR meter i have. All in all, i am pleased with it.

  2. Hi Rob,
    Thank you for your post. I have wondered if anyone has used this device. I am a bit fuzzy about it. The software appears to be a Windows XXX.exe file.I use Linux and tried to see if Wine would open it.It would not. Thus I most likely would need a windows machine to use it.My question is what is the software used for? I just need a device to get a ballpark S11 for an HDTV antenna I would like to design. 175 MHz to about 650MHZ
    Thanks again,

    1. Yes the software is windows only. It will work fine for doing S11 measurements of antenna, but you would really want to use the computer software because it makes things much clearer to see and use. You can get the information out of the device itself, but its very fiddly.

  3. Thanks for posting information about these devices. I saw a similar and thought it might be fun to figure out and use. Am I right that back in the day this kind of device came from HP, TekTronix, Beckman and other hi-end gear folks? Any suggestions on an IDIOTS guide to operation? I have a couple modern FM Stereo transmitters and I thought I could use this to tune the antenna for the best SWR. I pad the transmitters output to stay legal since some of them claim 1 and 7 watt output.

    Could a NanoVNA or similar device be used in some way to get an accurate measure of power out?

    1. there are some good guides to useing the nano vna out there, probably the best is to join one of the facebook or reddit groups and ask question from people there for the specific thing you are trying to do. As for power measurement, sure, An S21 measurement will give you a power out in dbm. Just be sure to attenuate the return input to a suitable level so as to not blow out the input protection or mixers of the vna.

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