Here’s a scenario. You love live TV and you love going out in your RV. So naturally you have an over-the-air antenna that you set up every night. You decided not to go for an omnidirectional one because you want the best performance. So, you end up aiming that antenna every night. It’s hard to do because you’re really just eyeballing it.
Here’s another one to think about: You’re a home theater installer who does the occasional antenna install. You need a meter that’s dependable, reliable, and not too expensive.
What can you do?
For years, Solid Signal had a good supply of prosumer-level signal meters. Unfortunately the supply started to dry up a few years ago and even the ones we were sourcing ourselves were impossible to get. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a signal meter that gives you raw signal strength AND signal-to-noise ratio without costing an arm and a leg. Finally, I have a solution.
The SignalScout ATSC/CATV Signal Meter is from Psiber, a US-based company better known for its more expensive measuring equipment. It’s a big jump from earlier signal meters we’ve tested, with a large color touchscreen and fast signal acquisition. It’s sure to satisfy everyone from amateurs to professionals.
What’s in the box
I did a whole unboxing video that you can see here, so here’s just a quick guide to what you get in the box.
The meter comes with a USB charger and a USB to MiniUSB cable. Note that this isn’t the MicroUSB that you see on most phones now. It’s MiniUSB, which is what you saw on phones a decade or so ago.
You also get a sturdy carrying case for the meter. It’s hard-backed ballistic nylon so it’s going to hold up to a lot of use.
The meter itself
The meter itself fits nicely into the hand and has a good feel to it. The plastic looks to be high quality.
There’s a handy stand attachment as you can see, and the two clips on either side can hold a pen or stylus. A simple one is included.
I guess the best thing I can say about the overall design is you won’t lose it in the grass or anything. I’m not quite sure why they went with this color scheme but it’s not really important.
The top of the unit flips up to reveal the coax connection and charge port. This is a nice touch to make sure that the ports stay clean when you’re not using them.
The basic test display gives you raw signal level and signal-to-noise ratio, which is really more important than raw power. It’s nicely color coded so that levels that are good are shown in green. The blue bar shows the peak level.
It also shows you a few more things like the pre- and post- processing error levels which are probably more than the average person needs. Still, it’s nice to know that the meter itself knows them.
There’s a built-in 10dB amplifier just to help with testing which can be disabled by tapping the button you see that says AUTO.
There’s a “Sweep” mode which shows the full range of channels across the entire band and can give you some information there. This is going to be useful for getting quick signal levels so you know where to aim.
This meter can also test clear QAM (CATV) signals, as you see above. However with a lot of systems going to switched video or IP delivery this is less important. I think that if you’re a maintenance person in a building with a headend system it’s going to help you but beyond that a serious installer would probably just get something given to them from the cable company.
It’s also nice that there’s a built-in compass so you can get very basic measurements as to where to aim.
This meter really shines in the performance department. It acquires signal faster than my Televes H45. You’ll be in and out fast with this meter, and that’s kind of the point.
My overall feeling
Here’s a video review I did where you can get an idea of the overall feeling I have for this meter. It’s solid, it works quickly, it’s nice and light, and that makes it a really good choice for casual use. It’s small enough that it can sit in your RV or maintenance closet and be ready when you need it.
Overall, I’d say it’s a big win and it’s nice to have a piece of equipment like this for sale now at Solid Signal.