I ordered an AW07A antenna analyser from a well known radio supplier in China, the price was very cheap compared to others on the internet, just under $170 USD at the time which I thought was a real bargain.
On impulse, I bought it and then when searching around the internet I found a few amateurs who were happy and some not so happy with the performance of this unit.
Six hours passed from online purchase and after reading a lot more owners woes, I was having serious doubts so I tried to cancel the order by contacting customer service. A reply soon came, “Sorry your order has been dispatched” a statement which I later found out to be false.
(It was in fact dispatched from their stock/warehouse in China 4 days later.)
Anyway after an unsuccessful attempt at cancelling barely hours after I had paid for the item, I let the order process take its course.
The supplier has a logistics base in Germany so I thought Okay, it cannot be that much of a gamble. I paid via paypal ..safe enough..so I waited for the “slow boat” to do its stuff.
The item cost of the item at the time with shipping costs included was $167.99 USD
Not bad for an analyser I suppose compared to the pricing of MFJ259s and 269s over here..or so I thought.
The item duly arrived to me here in the UK about 4 weeks after initial order which is roughly what I expected.
The item arrived in a very thin cardboard box, smaller than I expected.
Inside was the tester, 2 very poor quality (but very shiny) coaxial connector adaptors and a dc power lead with bare ends.
Strangely, the PL259 and N type connector adapters were packed inside a piece of foam with tape wrapped around..It seemed as if Radio***** were proud of those , more so than the actual tester iteslf evidently as that only had a poly bag for protection. A couple of very small polystyrene blocks about the size of a matchbox completed the packing.
I wasnt happy, the item packing was woeful considering it was a technical instrument.
Look at what has happened on the “even slower boat” from the factory to the vendor, or from the vendor to me.
The punctured box right where the analyser main antenna connector is.
On to the item itself, well the powder coating had been scratched and the black coat was coming off at a number of locations around the enclosure. Not what you would expect for a brand new item.
The display screen seemed more recessed in the middle than what it did at the corners, also there was no protection for the LCD screen although there was what I can only describe as a clear set jelly like membrane over it, I dont know if thats the default standard issued by the 16×2 LCD manufacturers or if its been fitted afterwards.
A simple perspex protective window set in to the case body and no jelly would have been so much better.
On to the rotary capacitor control, Oh dear !
The shaft is off centre and bent, there is a noticeable grinding noise at a point from 6 oclock to 10 oclock positions. The plastic bush washer underneath the knob has scratches where its touching the control knob skirt as it turns. Under the washer/bush, the powder black coat had started to wear at the point where things were too close.
Considering this is a fine tune control, and its intended by design to be used constantly this is unacceptable.
When I powered up the unit to run a test on my 2mtr colinear antenna, the display flickered on and off, back on then off. The DC supply and dc plug was all good, If i applied pressure with my finger to the dc socket, the unit came back to life, when I took it off, it died.
With power on, The unit would not stabilise at all, drifting uncontrollably, the control having no effect.
Putting to one side the very questionable adaptors.. I Tried 14mhz with a Bird 50 ohm load, then with my 20 mtr dipole , again readings all over the place up and down it went although I couldnt read part of the LCD as that was faulty as well.
Character portions were missing on the display, all of the above probably due to poor connections in the unit..but where was anyone’s guess. there is certainly a whole lot going on in one of these instruments.
Just to be certain on the power, I tried another device on the DC supply and plug, No faults with that, so it must be a bad joint in the rear of the DC socket of the AW07A, or a loose wire somewhere in that locality plus a shed load more internal issues going on.
The pair of connector adaptors… Putting it very mildly, well whoever made those should be excommunicated from the Church of Radio and RF.. at the very least.
Their truly awful offerings should be put in in the International Radio Industry Chamber of Horrors if there was one.
The “engineers” who make or sell these Excuses for a connector should perhaps be suitably Tarred , feathered paraded around Dayton Hamvention for all to see. That might be a better suggestion.
I alerted Radio***** on the day of receipt of goods, at first they offered a 25% discount.
Thanks.. but No thanks ! was my reply.
The item was faulty, these are very complex devices and trying to trace the fault of the unit drifting around all over the place and acting in such a strange way plus replacing an LCD was something I really didnt fancy doing. In actual fact the time to diagnose properly , stripping and replacing faulty LCD and dry joints wasnt worth the 25% gain. My thinking was, Who knows what you would find in there workmanship wise and you may open a door to new faults that haven’t manifested themselves just yet. I play around with electronics a lot and I am confident I could have repaired the unit but somehow I didnt have trust in the manufacture. Okay I have decent test kit & I could have spent a few hours and $20 in parts to make it happy but there was the issue of something else falling over later. I dont know what it is about trust in an item, service guys will know exactly what Im talking about though. A strange feeling that making a repair on this was going to be a “boomerang job”.
So on to returning the item,
I requested the return by email, supplied photos, then found out I had to pay for the return of the faulty item..okay
“As soon as we have proof of posting we will issue a full refund”..okay
The RMA form was received with delivery instructions to an address in Berlin , Deutschland.
So I packed it up (a lot better than they did originally) went over to the local Post Office (Royal Mail here in the UK) and off it jolly well went to Germany,with its tracking number. fully insured for the original cost of the item. The cost of sending was around £16 or $20 usd.
As “J” from Radio***** requested a few days earlier , I sent on via email a scan of my receipt from the post office which stated the tracking number and the full address of the recipient.
No reply received, in fact the contact a few days earlier of
“As soon as we have proof of posting we will issue a full refund” was the last I heard from Radio*****.
Proof of delivery was obtained and an accompanying signature via Royal Mails website.
3 weeks and many failed attempts to contact “J” or anyone at Radio***** by email I decided to send a final email stating I would open a case with paypal to recover my costs.
Definitely Not something I relished doing.. but I had no alternative.
No reply again.
Sorry Radio***** I had no alternative, I opened a case, Paypal rang me straight away from their centre in Ireland and the guy who I spoke with was very helpful. He assured me that someone would be in touch to help and sure enough within an hour I received an email with a link to supply documents to evidence my case which was very easy considering the amount of emails I sent trying to get in touch with the vendor, and having the postage receipt and proof of delivery.
A few days later I received a full refund , including postage.
Thank You Paypal.
Radio***** never made contact throughout the case , nor did they contact me afterwards to apologise.
In closing I should state that the price of this unit was very attractive, much less than other options but the unit was let down by poor quality control/testing of the unit before dispatch, penny pinching in the design, woeful packaging and even worse after sales service.
The AW07A unit seems to be a bit like buying a car brand new out of the factory, fine if you get a good one made mid week, but really awful if you get a bad one made on a Friday afternoon !
Mine was a definite 4.50pm Friday job.
I think its fair to say the quality control has much to be desired, not the whole fault of Radio***** but their Manufacturer.
Lots of customers are happy with their purchases from Radio*****, hey have sold gargantuan amounts of Baofengs all over the place… good for them ..but I am one customer who is not happy.
I can only assume all is fine and dandy if you get a good unit of whatever you buy from them, its when you get a bad or faulty item that things start to go downhill very fast indeed.
The minute I had posted the item back was the minute they disconnected themselves from the issue. They should have at the very least made contact and offered an apology, maybe then I would have considered ordering more items in the future but I have been bitten and made my escape never to return.
I enjoy writing about the many good products and suppliers out there in “radio land” and pass on my experiences to others. There are some fantastic companies out there especially the smaller one man band / family run ones who will stop at nothing to make their clients (new or returning) happy with their purchase and they really do appreciate your business as a customer which is refreshing in today’s marketplace. After all your business in their livelihood. I have a great deal of respect for these guys, they put themselves out there and make or sell excellent products of top quality for the hobbyist.
More posts to come about these guys, perhaps a series of posts, “Great Purveyors to the hobby of Radio Listening”.