SteppIR SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer – DOA out of the box

** Please see Comments for Updates **

Back in September I bought from SteppIR a SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer – promoted as a combination SWR Meter, TDR, and Antenna Analyzer.

Actually a sort of pocket single-port Vector Network Analyzer.

SARK-110 Stock Photo

I purchased the SARK-110, brackets for use with my CrankIR Antenna, Calibration Adapters, Rubber Overcase, stands and basically everything SteppIR had on offer.

Out of the box the device lighted up, and after a charge basically did nothing.

There is no manual provided, despite some important steps and precautions a user would benefit from knowing.

Dutifully downloaded and color printed I got nowhere with making the unit do anything.

So it got put away while the weather was good so I could focus on outside work.

Now with snow on the ground I’ve returned to the unit and after again repeating everything suggested in the manual and the user forums, reached out to SteppIR requesting an RMA to get the unit serviced.

ZERO response from SteppIR. I mean simply ZERO.

So I reached out to the Sark-110 builders at their website and received a cut & paste email asking me to repeat the self-tests I’d already done. Still no joy. I’ll run them again taking pictures and send them in to see what happens next.

The initial suggestion is that the first stage protection has been damaged. Other hand handling the unit, charging it (which is by USB and avoids the first stage), trying it on the CrankIR as an Analyzer where it did nothing, and lastly trying it cable test mode on a new cable still it is box where it also did nothing, I’m puzzled what could have damaged the unit. As the unit seems to “roll over and play dead” only if a MCX-to-SMA adapter is inserted I’m thinking the diagnosis-by-email is misdirected, and the fault is in the MCX socket.

Melchor EA4FRB has walked me through the test procedures and made some further suggestions which I’m going to try. I also ordered some other jumpers, as I’m suspicious about the one SteppIR supplied.

EA4FRB also hinted that the TDR (Cable Test) mode is a bit tricky, but I’m going to guess it is beyond tricky if the SMA Male to SMA Female cable is a dud.

In my testing I was using the supplied MCX to SMA Female adapter, then supplied SMA Male to SMA Female Jumper and then a SMA Male to N-connector Female adapter. If you have used TDRs have a adapter setup isn’t that unusual.

In the cables I’ve ordered I’ve included a MCX to N-connector Female jumper, so that will cut out the multiple transitions.

I’ll persevere, wait for Amazon & eBay to deliver my new jumpers, and keep my eyes open for a response from SteppIR.

In doing the diagnostics the particular unit I received in September 2019 was several versions of firmware behind and had actually been built in 2017!! Thinking SteppIR isn’t seeing these units fly off the shelf if the stock is over twenty months old when they sold it to me.

Here are some links:

https://consumer.steppir.com/steppir-sark-110/
http://www.sark110.com/home

More if I can get the unit going or if something else has to happen. Maybe it is nothing more than “user error” and I get it figured out?!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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One thought on “SteppIR SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer – DOA out of the box

  1. k9zw says:

    Wanted to add a follow up that once SteppIR became aware of the issue, they jumped right on it. I’ve done a factory reset, a full firmware update and completed the test procedures. Alas I either have the worst case possible of operator-error or this particular unit in faulty.

    SteppIR sent me a repair RMA letter to include with my return, and it is starting its trip to SteppIR out at Bellevue, WA.

    More once the repaired/replace unit is in my hands.

    73

    Steve
    K9ZW

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