Electronics > RF, Microwave, Ham Radio

Which entry-level VNA is recommended in 2024 (Guide)?

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Songhua:
At the time of writing, in June 2024 we have many entry-level opensource/closesource hardware/software VNA devices.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

For example, NanoVNA V2 (0-3GHz) It's opensource hardware.

NanoVNA V3 (also known as VNA6000) freq range:50kHz - 6GHz, closesource hardware

NanoVNA F-V3 (A clone of NanoVNA V3 but cheaper) freq range: 50 kHz - 6.3 GHz,  closesource hardware

LiteVNA (A clone of NanoVNA V2) freq range: 50 kHz - 6.3 GHz, closesource hardware. It's different from NanoVNA V3(VNA6000) and NanoVNA F-V3. Because LiteVNA uses harmonics to predict received signals from 3GHz to 6GHz which is not accurate.

LibreVNA freq range: 100k-6GHz, opensource hardware claiming to be lab-graded. And it's pricy.

I saw a video doing comparision about NanoVNA V2, NanoVNA F-V3 and LiteVNA



Which wide-range VNA do you suggest?

Appreciate your comments!

Solder_Junkie:
I recommend the NanoVNA H4 version as it can be configured as a Phase Frequency Analyser by loading alternative firmware. You can swap between the uses by re-loading firmware.

Two instruments in one!

I have a H4, and a TinyPFA, which is a bit extravagant as the H4 can easily do both jobs.

In case you are wondering, this is what a PFA is used for:
https://www.qsl.net/g4aon/gpsdo/

SJ

ftg:

--- Quote from: Songhua on June 10, 2024, 09:09:37 am ---At the time of writing, in June 2024 we have many entry-level opensource/closesource hardware/software VNA devices.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

LiteVNA (A clone of NanoVNA V2) freq range: 50 kHz - 6.3 GHz, closesource hardware. It's different from NanoVNA V3(VNA6000) and NanoVNA F-V3. Because LiteVNA uses harmonics to predict received signals from 3GHz to 6GHz which is not accurate.
...
Which wide-range VNA do you suggest?


--- End quote ---

LiteVNA uses 23.5MHz to 6000MHz MAX2870 synth above 100MHz and Si/MS5351 below 100MHz.

So the synth goes properly to 6.3GHz, no harmonic mixing required.
But the mixers, bridges and switches start to degrade in performance when used that high.

As for which one, it depends on your use cases.

I have A clone NanoVNA V1, original NanoVNA V2.2 from NanoRFE and recently got a LiteVNA at the office.

Everyone of them is better than the others at something.

With stock firmwares NanoVNA V1 is the best for measuring narrow High-Q filters like SSB crystal filters.
It has a very fine frequency step and the output is constant due to it having 3x mixers and ADC channels.

V2 has a more coarse frequency step and the internal ECAL, which makes it exceptionally temperature stable causes the output to have an AM modulation, which makes high-Q filters ring.

As said, V2 is very temperature stable and does not drift after it warms up, unlike V1 and LiteVNA.
The official nanorfe made V2's also have very good dynamic range across the specified frequency range, for the price.
So V2 is best of the bunch for repeatable lab measurements.

And LiteVNA goes to 6.3GHz, so it covers all cellular bands and all wifibands outside of 6GHz wifi 6e and 60GHz.
But as some folks have demonstrated here on the forum, it seems to drift with temperature as it warms up.
But if one wants to tinker with 5.8GHz things or check that harmonic filters work up to 6GHz, then LiteVNA is the cheapest choise for that.
Not that it's dynamic range on 6GHz is anywhere near the best.

So, it all depends on your interests and usecases.
This comparison also does not take into account what the devices can do with alternative firmware.

pdenisowski:

--- Quote from: Solder_Junkie on June 11, 2024, 09:44:55 am ---I recommend the NanoVNA H4 version as it can be configured as a Phase Frequency Analyser by loading alternative firmware. You can swap between the uses by re-loading firmware.

--- End quote ---

So it looks like you can use the TinyPFA like a traditional (analog) vector voltmeter, at least in terms of comparing phases.  Interesting.

dobsonr741:
@Songhua, why do you need a VNA? That answer should guide which one to choose.

I bought a simplest V2, when I built a QRP kit, and had to measure the inductors I wound, SWR and impedance of antenna. I do not mind the max 150MHz it goes without harmonics. It worked great for HF.

IMO, three are very little use of the 6GHz super specs version, unless you don’t mind spending on i

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