Test Equipment

Basic Test Equipment
This is a list of some basic test equipment you should have on hand. 

- Laptop Computer Running Latest Version of Windows
In today's world the laptop computer is one of our most powerful and versatile tools. For what we are trying to setup here it is absolutely required. Your computer should be running PuTTY, WinSCP, Win32 Disk Imager and Angry IP Scanner. 

- A Good Multi-Meter
An old used Fluke 77, a new Fluke 101 or Fluke 107 are excellent options. I prefer Fluke products because of their long life and measurement consistency. There are many options out there that will work but these are my reasonably priced favorites that fit my criteria. 

- Oscilloscope
There are a huge array of oscilloscopes, for the purposes we need, a fairly cheap one will do. 
Primarily, it will be used for looking at audio frequencies. The important thing is that it have a large enough screen for accurate measurements. Many good older oscilloscopes can be had used for $100 or less. One that I have used new that works well and has a large enough screen is this one from Amazon. 

- Spectrum Analyzer
This is something that can be had for cheap new for amateur purposes. Primarily for the scope of what is being one here it would be used for measuring deviation using the Bessel Null method. This one that works well for this is on Amazon as well.  

- Function Generator
These are handy for testing audio through your radios and radio system. The two most important waveforms you need generate is the Sine Wave and the Square Wave. Here is a very affordable one that will do the job. 

- Basic Hand Tools
These you should already have but my favorites are hand tools made by Xcelite. If you are just starting out, this kit from Circuit Specialists is a good starting point. The only thing this kit lacks in my opinion is a good set of fine flush cutters, these are my everyday use cutters.  

- Soldering Station
This is something I would not cheap out on, I like Weller and Hakko Soldering irons. This one is a good solid iron for general use. 

- Hand held test radio
This kind of goes without saying but to be thorough you should have a field programmable radio handy for testing. I advise against using a Baofeng radio for this purpose due to the poor front end filtering in the receiver along with the issues with the spectral purity of its transmitter. The TYT MD-UV390 is a good choice along with anything made by Yaesu, Kenwood or Icom.  

Other Test Equipment that can be useful

- Test Radio(s) with Discriminator Audio Output
This is most likely going to be a commercial mobile radio. There are many options for these but the most commonly available ones are the Motorola Maxtrac, GM300, M120, CDM, CM300, M1225 or PM400. There are many, many more but these can be had for a reasonable price. This radio can be used to set the simulcast transmitter output deviation at each site using a test tone and AC volt meter once the desired value is known.

- RF Noise Generator
This can be used is you do not have a tracking generator to see the what the profile of a filter or tuned circuit of almost any kind looks like on a spectrum analyzer. There are a bunch of inexpensive ones that can be had on Ebay. An example of a reasonably priced one that works well can be found here. This generates a wide band RF noise which when passed through a filter or tuned circuit into a spectrum analyzer will show you the profile of the filter or tuned circuit. 

- Return Loss Bridge
This device when coupled with a tracking generator and spectrum analyzer can be handy for checking an antennas health and frequency range. This device allows you to see essentially what RF energy the DUT (device under test) is absorbing. This energy absorption is measured in dB and antenna manufacturers typically will publish the data on their frequency response of their antennas using a return loss graph. An inexpensive return loss bridge can be found here.  

- RF Watt and SWR Meter
Most hams should have one of these already but it is worth mentioning. This allows you to see the difference between the power being sent to the antenna system and the power being reflected back to the transmitter. A SWR/Watt meter isn't as precise as measuring it using the return loss method but is faster to setup and gives you a decent idea if there is a problem. One of the standard watt meters is the good old Bird Model 43. My personal favorite is the Telewave Model 44A which does not require frequency dependant slugs to operate.