Author Topic: Mister Mike's Bird Wattmeter Page  (Read 13683 times)

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Offline W1RC

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Mister Mike's Bird Wattmeter Page
« on: May 25, 2014, 06:33:03 AM »
The Bird Electronics Company of Cleveland (Solon) Ohio manufactures a product line of R.F. power measurement instruments primarily for the commercial and broadcast markets.  The Bird Model 43 Wattmeter is generally considered the "standard" piece of power measurement equipment and these are highly sought-after by radio amateurs.  Accuracy is rated at +/- 5% full scale. 

They are expensive as you might expect but what makes them particularly costly are the elements, or "slugs" that determine power level and frequency range.  Many commercial shops prefer the Telewave or other more costly Wattmeters especially for peak power reading applications.  For amateur use you will do very well with a Bird 43 and a couple of elements.

Manufacturer's suggest list price for the Model 43 With Type N connectors is currently (May 2014) $347.95.  Element prices range from $94.95 for elements covering above 30 MHz.  HF elements covering from 2-30 MHz are more expensive; $189.95 up to 1000 Watts and $289.95 for the 5000 and 10,000 Watt elements.  Used prices vary.

There is also a Model 43-P that reads peak power with an accuracy of +/- 8%.  There are several aftermarket kits available to add this feature.  The official Bird upgrade kit sells for around $180.00.

Connectors vary and are interchangeable.  Meters usually come with Type ?N? connectors but they are also found with BNC and UHF connectors.  There are also several types of carry cases in leather, faux and genuine as well as Pelican cases that all have provision for element storage. 

A 43 can hold three elements, one on the coupler and two in the case itself.  Here is a list of the elements covering from 2 MHz up to 500 MHz in five ranges.

H is 2-30 MHz
A is 25-60
B is 50-125
C is 100-250
D is 200-500

They run 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Watts.  The H elements start at 50 Watts.

Thus, a 50H element is one that covers 2-30MHz 0-50 Watts, 100C covers 100-250MHz 0-100 Watts and so on.

5 Watt elements are usually used for portables.  Mobile radios use 25 and 50 Watt elements.

So for CB and 6 meters you could use the same A element,
Two meters and 220 MHz use a C element and for UHF you could use the D element that covers 200-500 MHz (which will also cover 220 MHz.)

Huge BIRD Wattmeter resource page.......

Bird Electronics Catalog: 
Bird Electronics General Catalog & Applications Guide

Original Bird Model 43 manual

Original manual

Current manual (2011)

Bird Electronics manual archive

Reviews: Bird Model 43 Reviews

General Information on Elements, aka Slugs:

Photo Tour of a Bird Wattmeter Element

How to Repair Defective Elements
Bird Element Repair video

K5LAD's Repair and Modification Information Page.

Dealers and Sales Resources