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Cheap spectrum analyzer: Tiny SA


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Hi,

I am looking for a cheap spectrum analyzer to find the best UHF band for my wireless transmitters (Sony UWP-D) on location.

The receivers can perform an auto scan for the best channels, but I first have to set the Band (for example TV21 to 23 or 24 to 26 or 27 to 29) and Channel group, so they will not interfere.

Did anybody try these cheap scanners like Tiny SA?

You can get it in Germany for about 50 Euros.

https://www.tinysa.org/wiki/

Somebody here was already talking about RF Explorer (about 200 Euros), but I was wondering, if it is so much better than the cheap Tiny SA.

Screenshot 2021-06-01 at 13.42.32.png

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While it is not a substitute for an RF scanner,  Sennheiser's online Frequency Finder can identify TV stations in a specific area.  Avoid channels with Prx signal strength in excess of -80 dBm or so.

The USA/FCC data is out of date, I do not know about Germany.

There are other frequency finder websites to ID TV channels/frequencies signal strength as well.

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2 hours ago, Rick Reineke said:

While it is not a substitute for an RF scanner,  Sennheiser's online Frequency Finder can identify TV stations in a specific area.  Avoid channels with Prx signal strength in excess of -80 dBm or so.

The USA/FCC data is out of date, I do not know about Germany.

There are other frequency finder websites to ID TV channels/frequencies signal strength as well.

The best website I found so far for Germany is fmscan.org. You can even see all the data on a map.

Still I would feel a little safer with a real scanner, even if its just a cheap one.

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So the Sony cannot scan its own entire spectrum? That’s weird. 
The tiny SA doesn’t seem to be primarily intended for frequencies above 350 MHz, so I‘d say it’s not ideal. Since all devices discussed in this thread are not exactly high end devices, I would steer clear of the one that says itself that it’s not meant for scanning your main freq range. 
 
I mean, is it because of €55 price difference?

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1 hour ago, Constantin said:

So the Sony cannot scan its own entire spectrum? That’s weird. 
The tiny SA doesn’t seem to be primarily intended for frequencies above 350 MHz, so I‘d say it’s not ideal. Since all devices discussed in this thread are not exactly high end devices, I would steer clear of the one that says itself that it’s not meant for scanning your main freq range. 
 
I mean, is it because of €55 price difference?

Sony can scan the entire range, but not if you use channel groups to organize multiple transmitters.

and Even if you use group 00 you still have to select the band first (for example scan all 63 channels from tv21 to 23) see image above.


what do you mean by 55 euros? To the nano vna-f ?

or to the ref explorer? (That’s 145 euros difference)

 

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1 hour ago, Sound said:

Sony can scan the entire range, but not if you use channel groups to organize multiple transmitters.

and Even if you use group 00 you still have to select the band first (for example scan all 63 channels from tv21 to 23) see image above.


what do you mean by 55 euros? To the nano vna-f ?

or to the ref explorer? (That’s 145 euros difference)

 


Is there a specific reason for you to use channel groups? You can use apps like FreqFinder to keep track if you transmitters and to coordinate them - as we discussed elsewhere. 

Yeah sorry, so the difference is around €100, I looked at the 433 band version. And I saw TinySA for around €50, RFExplorer basic package sells for €146.

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7 hours ago, Constantin said:


Is there a specific reason for you to use channel groups? You can use apps like FreqFinder to keep track if you transmitters and to coordinate them - as we discussed elsewhere. 

Yeah sorry, so the difference is around €100, I looked at the 433 band version. And I saw TinySA for around €50, RFExplorer basic package sells for €146.

Thanks. Channel groups are much faster than setting each channel manually. I guess I will stick to channel group 7 most of the time to have the widest coverage. If I use to to 21 to 23 there is still a large Space covered.

I guess you mean the model wsub1g?

that’s right, this is 135 euros.

 

https://www.digikey.de/product-detail/de/seeed-technology-co.,-ltd/109990010/1597-1172-ND/5488223

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I am not affiliated in any way to RF Explorer, but there is some important aspect that would make me avoid the TinySA. 

 

Fortunately they are honest (a rare quality these days!)

https://tinysa.org/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.Limitations

 

Specifically:

  • The high input (240MHz to 960MHz) has very limited image suppression and only one level optional built in attenuator which makes it difficult to interpret complex signals.

Which means: unless you have a couple of attenuators in hand and maybe a filter or two it might give very misleading readings and lead you to a goose chase. 

 

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You can also go the easy (lazy?) way and not scan your frequencies all the time. If all frequencies within a group are coordinated then you set them on your receivers and then just look at your receiver display first thing in the morning. If there is no big interference visible you‘re good to go. Then you just need to re-scan the one channel that might be causing issues when in use. 

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21 hours ago, Constantin said:

You can also go the easy (lazy?) way and not scan your frequencies all the time. If all frequencies within a group are coordinated then you set them on your receivers and then just look at your receiver display first thing in the morning. If there is no big interference visible you‘re good to go. Then you just need to re-scan the one channel that might be causing issues when in use. 

Thanks! I guess thats what I will do. There has only been one time where I had massive problems with autoscan and that was years ago on a mountain near a tv-station. And I was in the wrong channel group, so the autoscan gave me only the channels from the group that it thought were the best. But they all had very bad reception. If I had looked on the display of the deviced I guess I would have seen that there was a weak signal for all of them. And even looking on websites like fmscan.org before going up a mountain would have helped me a lot ;) I will cancel my order of Tiny SA, I think it will make more problems as it solves. And it seems very easy to overload and destroy the unit when the signal is too strong.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, I couldnt cancel my order, but I must say: the tiny SA just works.

I could set the frequencies my wireless transmitters can cover and added two markers to separate the bands I can choose from.

I can just switch I on and see the whole spectrum in a second. Not bad.

IMG_2548.jpg

And I checked the results with my lav mics. It seems to be accurate.

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Great to know it's working for you!


Just in case I would keep a couple of cheap attenuators in hand. If you see too much interference it might be the front end overloading due to strong signlas out of the displayed frequencies and attenuators help in that case. 

 

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