How to Read a Bird 43 Wattmeter

Written by darby stevenson
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How to Read a Bird 43 Wattmeter
Always observe caution when working with RF transmission equipment. (antenna 2 image by Madrider from

The Bird 43 wattmeter measures radio frequency (RF) power in 50 ohm coaxial transmission lines. It can be used with continuous wave (CW), TV, FM, and AM modulation but not pulse modulation. Wattmeters are used by many HAM radio operators to measure the amount of power running to and from their equipment. Bird Technologies Group has been producing RF power measuring products for more than six decades. In addition to wattmeters, Bird produces analyzers, antennas, components, signal boosters, as well as other power monitors.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Bird 43 Wattmeter

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  1. 1

    Connect the plug-in element (AKA "slug") which matches the frequency range of your device to the wattmeter. This ensures an accurate reading. Make sure the power is off before connecting the wattmeter.

  2. 2

    Turn the arrow on the element towards the load to measure forward power.

  3. 3

    Turn on the RF power source and note the reading. Turn the power back off.

  4. 4

    Turn the arrow on the element towards the transmitter, turn the power on and note the reflected power measurement.

  5. 5

    Refer to the Voltage Standing Wave Ration (VSWR) conversion graph, included with your Bird wattmeter. You will find your VSWR on the graph by locating the readings taken from the forward and reflected power.

Tips and warnings

  • This type of equipment is quite technical, sensitive, and expensive. If you are new to using an RF wattmeter, speak with other enthusiasts to ensure the safety of yourself and your equipment.
  • Do not replace components or make adjustments to the equipment while the power supply is on.
  • Do not remove the transmission line while power is present.
  • Do not adjust any equipment alone. If accidents occur with high-voltage equipment, you will need someone else around.
  • Ground the test instruments to the main power supply.
  • Do not remove or connect equipment while the power is still on.
  • Read all instructions and warnings supplied with the equipment before using this or any other high-voltage equipment.

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