Field electron emitters are the most advanced cold cathodes used in electron microscopes and electron lithography systems due to their low operating voltages, low energy spread and high brightness. Understanding the field emission characteristics of their materials is essential for the development of new cathodes/emitters. The limited budgets and the high cost of the characterization tools have restrained many researchers from investigating their materials and have restricted the parallel development of new cathodes. It is therefore, aimed to provide an integrated description of a characterization tool with which a complete field emission investigation is possible with high accuracy and relatively low cost. A simple configuration of a retarding field analyzer has been optimized, fabricated, and utilized for combined Fowler-Nordheim and quantitative total energy distribution measurements. A description of the instrumental set-up and the device performance are presented along with a calibration procedure of the instrument. Utilization of the analyzer for complete characterization of metallic and semiconducting field emitters is presented with in-depth analysis of the results.