FAQ by Category




Bird Line Sections and Meters 

Analog Meters

Seven Segment Displays

Bar Graph       

SWR/Alarm Functions      

Configuration Sets

Using MB-1 with Analog Sensors

Demo Mode    

External Display Devices


Multi-Coupler Display Feature

Q: What is the maximum distance the external 7-Segment Display module and external Bar Graph module can be placed  from the control head?
The length should be limited to two feet.
Q: Does the sticky bar feature also work with the external bar graph module?
Yes. The sticky bar operates in an identical fashion to the sticky bar on LCD's Bar graph.

Q: Do you provide an enclosure for the External Display Modules?
No. The intent is for you to provide your own enclosures for the external display modules. These can be mounted in accessory enclosures, such as a speaker enclosure if room permits. Mounting these modules is relatively straightforward.



Multi-Coupler Display Feature

Q: Are any of the V1.0 features affected?

All V1.0 features are retained in V2.0 with the exception of the Display Settings screens for the Alarm and Bar Graph settings. The Multi-Coupler Display feature required more ram than was available in V1.0. Deleting these two routines freed up the required ram.

You can still display the Alarm settings and Bar Graph settings.  In V1.0, you would accomplish this by selecting either the Alarm or Bar Graph menu, and then apply a short press to the Display/Setup button to display the settings. In V2.0, instead of applying a short press to the Display/Setup button, apply a long press. This enters the Setup mode for the selected menu. To view the settings in a "read only" mode, simply tap the M3 button (which is the SKIP function). This will advance you through each of the settings and allow you to view them without making any changes.

And as mentioned in the feature description for the Multi-Coupler Display feature, the Coupler menu was modified to add a fourth option, which is used to toggle the Multi-Coupler feature on and off.



Q: The number of display devices seem a bit excessive.

Possibly. However, the displays are totally configurable, and you can activate them all, or a subset of them to meet your needs. Different users will have different preferences, and those preferences may change for different operating conditions (e.g., contest, Field Day, Club Activity, antenna being used). 

One reasonable setup is as follow:
Display instantaneous forward power and instantaneous reflected power on the analog meter. Display Average Power, Peak Power,  and SWR on three of the four 7-segment displays. This gives you a good overview of you operating conditions. Displaying the selected coupler on the fourth 7-segment  LED is useful if you have more than one coupler connected to MB-1.  With these settings, peak power will provide you with a good indicator of whether your amplifier is operating normally, and average power will provide a good indication of your talk power. Most other meters do not allow you to display both peak power and average power in numeric form simultaneously. By monitoring only peak power, your compressor or other audio settings could be significantly misadjusted, and you might never notice. On the other hand, the effect of such maladjustments would be obvious on the average power display.


  • Processor, memory tests, and peripheral chips.
  • Display devices (LCD, panel meters and panel meter drive circuits, Internal 7-segment LED displays, External 7-segment display, External Bar Graph Module)
  • Coupler inputs and Programmable Gain Amplifier/A-to-D Chain
  • Front Panel Switches including Switch LED indicators
  • Front Panel Hi Precision Pot
  • RS-232 Transmit/Receive
  • Piezo Sounder
  • Alarm Relay

These should catch the majority of assembly errors.


Q: Why no PC features?

Some of the other popular meters available on the market require a PC to control or configure some of their features.  A primary design goal of MB-1 was to provide a meter that could be controlled entirely without being tied to a PC.  When it came time to consider what "add-on" PC features might be good candidates for a product , the choices came down to bits and pieces of what some of the other popular meters already offer in their PC-based applications. While some of these features are clearly useful, we opted to not be a "me too" meter in this area.

Q: What is the Min/Max Feature?

This feature is similar to the Min/Max feature found in the Bird 4391A Digital Meter. MB-1 allows you to define one of several parameters, which is then processed by the Min/Max function. Looking for a dropout, a power spike, or variations in your SWR? Select the appropriate parameter  to process with the Min/Max function. MB-1 will monitor that parameter indefinitely (or until you reset the min/max values), and will capture that parameter's minimum and maximum values. The Min/Max values can be displayed on any of MB-1's display devices.

The Min/Max function can process the following measurement types: 

  •  FWD (instantaneous) Power
  •  Peak Power
  •  Average Power
  • Delivered Power
  • Reflected Power
  •  SWR
  •  RF Current
  •  Generic Measurements (using analog sensors)
Q: Why would I need Performance Metrics?
This feature allows you to display the number of measurement cycles per second and the number of Bar Graph updates per second that the meter is currently processing. This tool was useful during the software development cycle since it allowed us to continually monitor the performance as features were developed or as changes were made. As a user, you may find this tool useful as well. It can be used to see what the performance impact is of processing various measurements, activating the various display devices, and modifying the display update rates. 

To display the metrics, bring up the SPEED menu. Wait approximately ten seconds without pushing any additional buttons.  Then press the DISPLAY button. The metrics will be displayed on the LCD. (The 10 second wait time prevents processing cycles from being used for servicing  the switch requests, which would negatively impact the metrics.)


Q: I am skeptical of the advertised Performance Numbers and the numbers displayed by the Metrics.
The most demanding claims made in the specifications section are the measurement rate of MB-1, and the peak capture and dropout capture intervals.  Here is an experiment you may be able to run.
While it is difficult to reliably generate a very short controlled pulse, you may be able to reliably generate a repeatable 3 ms RF dropout (approximately) due to an implementation "quirk" in the VFO design of some modern transceivers. When tuning across a band on some transceivers, the VFO implementation is such that some switching takes place at discrete frequency points. If you place the transceiver in the transmit mode, as you "roll through" these frequency switching points, you will see a momentary power loss of a couple of milliseconds. I observed this on a Mark V transceiver. Some of the frequencies at which this occurs (in kHz) are:

3522.65,  3603.60,  3685.60, 3767.40,      7126.15, 7208.00,      14,091.15,      21,134.45.

You can determine if your transceiver exhibits this behavior, and if so, what the dropout duration is by placing a scope on the FWD coupler DC input and capturing the voltage dropout corresponding to the signal dropout. If the dropout interval on your radio is sufficiently short to test the dropout response of MB-1, you can run the following experiments.

Configure the Min/Max feature on MB-1 (on any of the 7 segment displays, the LCD, the Bar Graph, or the Panel Meter) to capture Min/Max instantaneous power. This corresponds to the TUN option in the Min/Max menu. (If you are using the Bar Graph or Panel meter, since these devices can only display one parameter at a time, set the Bar Graph or Panel meter to display Min power captured by the Min/Max function.)

Apply power to a dummy load. With power applied, reset the Min/Max value (long press on the Min/Max button.) Your display device should show Min/Max values both equal approximately to the current key down power. Continue to transmit, and change the transmit frequency so that you make an excursion through one of the frequencies where your transceiver has a short duration drop-out as discussed above. MB-1 should be able to capture  this event consistently (by showing a min power of 0). In order to consistently measure a single event whose duration is 3 ms, the interval corresponding to the measurement update rate would have to be smaller than the duration of the event. This corresponds to a measurement update rate of > 333 measurements per second. 

Another way you can observe this is by setting the Panel Meter to display instantaneous power (TUN choice in the Panel Meter menu). Place the panel meter update rate (via the SPEED menu) to its highest setting (9). Apply power and change the frequency to traverse through the transceiver dropout frequencies. You will see a momentary dip on the needle corresponding to the short term power drop out. (You will not see this dip on other digital power meters that have an analog meter.)

The numbers displayed in the Performance Metrics correspond to the actual update rates being measured by the software. MB-1's update rate is much faster when measuring time varying signals such as SSB or keyed CW.  As MB-1 becomes popular, I'm sure others will put it through its paces with regard to the performance claims.


Can I use the EEPROM Backup/Restore utility to clone all MB-1 settings, including Coupler Calibration tables and Panel Meter Calibration Tables?
Yes. All settings and calibration tables are stored in the User Data section of EEProm. Use the EEPROM Backup/Restore utility to do a backup from the source meter using the EEPRM-BKP-U option. Then using that backup file, do a restore to the destination meter with the EEPRM-RST-U option. You will still have to adjust the trim pots on the cloned meter.