I’ve wanted a RigExpert analyzer for some time. I saw one in action at Field Day this past year and was very impressed. It was the AA-230 Zoom model. It scanned a 4BTV very quickly and having recently purchased a 4BTV I figured that I’d have to get one of these devices at some point. The problem is that they aren’t inexpensive and just how often will I really need to use all of its capabilities when I already have a 259B that works just fine. Yah, you already know where this is going.
After a long afternoon of tuning my 4BTV in its new location with 30 radials using my 259B the “need” for the RigExpert started to move up the priority list. The video of the AA-230 Zoom scanning the 4BTV in about 2 seconds was on continuous loop in my head as I turned the frequency selector switch on my 259B and rotated the 10 turn tune pot to and then through the interested range, changed the frequency band, rotated the ten turn tune pot, lather, rinse, repeat. All while recording measurements of key points to track my progress. Plus I added the DX Engineering 17m Add-On kit so I was attempting to tune five bands. A little voice in my head kept saying “Tim, there’s a better, faster way” and the video would start again.
I honestly ran out of daylight before I had the antenna where I wanted it. Plus I was out of time in terms of weather as that day turned out to be the last nice (40 deg F) day. Now that antenna season has officially started in Wisconsin (it’s 14 deg F as I write this and the forecast is calling for somewhere between 3-7 inches of snow over the next two days) if I wanted to tweak the 4BTV before spring I obviously would need to be able to work faster so as not to succumb to hypothermia right? At least that’s what I told my XYL. It’s for my health and well-being. I told her that she really didn’t want to chip me off the base of the base of the antenna with my fingers frozen midway through the seventh turn of a ten turn pot. No one would want to put their XYL through that would they?
So with Christmas drawing near and being in a general gift giving mood I thought I’d see if RigExpert had any stocking stuffer specials on offer. Little did I know that they had already set the trap. I popped up the RigExpert site and there it was, the AA–55 Zoom. What! A new model! Just released in November! If you’ve looked at their line of analyzers you will see that the RigExpert folks are masters at the technique of up-selling. They have a wide range of products nicely spaced in terms of features and price. You go in thinking I’ll just spend $200 but the next model up can measure magneto-reluctance and it’s only $75 more and the next one after that can calculate capacitive diractance to seven decimal points and goodness knows you need to be able to do that. The next thing you know you’ve talked yourself into the positive necessity of a $500 device in $75-$100 increments.
I can state that I barely succumb to such marketing tactics. Well that’s not completely true. I was going to be happy with the AA-54 but the AA-55 Zoom has a color display and it’s A\D converter is 12 bits instead of 10 bits and… you already know the rest of the story.
While the AA-55 Zoom comes with a half-decent soft case I wanted better protection so I have it in a Pelican 1170.
This thing is AMAZING!!! The combination of the device and its associated software can do so many things it will open a whole new chapter in my antenna experimenting. It’s a very nice device that is very intuitive to operate. I’m very happy with it. A quick scan of my 4BTV w\17m shows that I have a bit of work to do.
It’s completely usable where it is but now that I can quickly measure changes I can tweak it without suffering hypothermia. Let antenna season begin in earnest!!!
Ps- Alas, the AA-55 Zoom cannot measure magneto-reluctance or calculate capacitive diractance so I’ll not be able to use it with the Retro Encabulator: