Reviews of the NanoVNA: An Ultra Low Cost $50 Vector Network Analyzer

A vector network analyzer (VNA) is an instrument that can be used to measure antenna or coax parameters such as SWR, impedance and loss. It can also be used to characterize and tune filters. It is a very useful tool to have if you are building and tuning home made antennas, filters or other RF circuits. For example if you are building a QFH or ADS-B antenna to use with an RTL-SDR, a VNA can help ensure that your antenna is properly tuned to the correct frequency. Compared to a standard SWR or network analyzer a VNA supplies you with phase information as well.

Until just recently, VNA's have cost roughly US$500 for a decent USB PC based unit like the miniVNA or PocketVNA, and have set people back thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for bench top units.

However, the cost of owning a VNA has now been reduced to only US$50 thanks to the NanoVNA. The open source NanoVNA project by @edy555 and ttrftech has been around since 2016, but only recently have Chinese sellers begun mass producing the unit and selling them on sites like Aliexpress, eBay and now Amazon. We note that it seems that there are some sellers selling them without shielding, so it might be worth double checking the listing to see if they mention that. All the listings we've seen seem to come with simple calibration kits as well.

The NanoVNA: A $50 Vector Network Analyzer
The NanoVNA: A $50 Vector Network Analyzer

The NanoVNA is a small credit card sized VNA. It has a built in LCD screen that can be used to display graphs directly, or it can also be connected to a PC and the graphs viewed via the NanoVNA Windows software. When purchasing you can opt to include a small battery for portable operation for a few dollars extra. The frequency range is from 50 kHz to 900 MHz, although you should note that above 300 MHz dynamic range performance is reduced.

Over on YouTube several hams and radio enthusiasts have recently uploaded videos demonstrating and reviewing the NanoVNA. The overall consensus is that the unit is accurate and works well. For additional support there is forum available at Groups.IO.

Below YouTube user IMSAI Guy reviews the NanoVNA. Check out IMSAI Guy's other videos too as he has several where he tests the NanoVNA on difference filters and antennas, and checks the accuracy.

#350 NanoVNA Vector Network analyzer 900MHz VNA for $50

Below is YouTube user joe smith's review. He also has two other NanoVNA videos on his channel where he shows how to use the NanoVNA to measure antenna impedance, and how to use the NanoVNA to create SPICE models for simulation.

The NanoVNA, a beginners guide to the Vector Network Analyzer

Finally YouTube user Oli gives another overview. Please note that the following video is in Polish, but YouTube captions can be set to English.

NanoVNA - omówienie, kalibracja, pomiar anteny i filtra [english subtitles]

We've also seen several recent text reviews:

NanoVNA - A short review. In this review nuclearrambo shows off the calibration kit, and shows a practical measurements of a directional coupler and 137 MHz QFH antenna.

NanoVNA compared with a Keysight fieldfox N9952A. Here nuclearrambo provides a comparison between the $50 NanoVNA and the $40,000+ Keysight FieldFox N9962A.

The NanoVNA, a real VNA at less than 48 €!. A review written in French, but Google Translate can be used. In this review David Alloza compares the NanoVNA against an Agilent E5062A benchtop VNA, and results look comparable.

18 comments

  1. Uwe

    I would need a device to test, trim and adjust self-built antennas for 868MHz (Lora) band. Would you recommend to use the nanoVNA for this purpose? I’m not sure if the frequency (to be measured) is too close to the maximum frequency of the nanoVNA?

  2. Skogsgurra

    Works OK for me. Came complete with short, “load” 50 ohms and “open”. Plus two cables with connectors. I never do anything above 300 MHz and the problem with running on third harmonic “stimulus” is not hurting in my applications. Mostly filters for measurements on bearing discharge, EDM.

    BUT I still haven’t got the PC software running. Not even been able to download it. I get a message like “Too many requests, try again later”. I have tried and tried, later and later but no luck so far. Any links that you think work in Sweden?

  3. R

    how can you measure an antenna’s ADSB suitability if this device can only handle f up to 900 MHz while ADSB is 978/1090?

  4. radiolistener

    N1201SA / N2201SS is single port VNA, it allows to measure S11 only. NanoVNA is two port VNA, it allows to measure S11 and S21. You can measure filters with it. N1201SA / N2201SS don’t allows that.

  5. VE3XGS

    I bought one of these but didn’t realize that the listing indicated no dummy lid was included (only an SMA short and open) so I can’t properly calibrate it until the one I ordered separately arrives. It would only have cost a couple bucks more to buy one with a fully set of calibration accessories… so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

  6. wergor

    other low cost VNAs exist, e.g. N1201SA / N2201SS based devices which are advertised to cover a frequency range from 140MHz – 2.7GHz.

Leave a Reply to Matt Cancel reply

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.