IC-7300 S-meter calibration accuracy

This article documents measurement of the calibration of an IC-7300 S-meter in SSB mode using a continuous sine wave at 1kHz tone frequency.


There has been a long standing convention that S-meters are calibrated for 50μV in 50Ω to be S9, and S-points laid out at 6dB per S-point. IARU Region 1 formalised this with Technical Recommendation R.1 which defines S9 for the HF bands to be a receiver input power of -73 dBm (equivalent to 50μV in 50Ω).

IC-7300 measurement

A test was conducted where a Standard Signal Generator was connected to the receiver and slowly increased from -125dBm in steps of 1dB and the point at which the S-meter display segments lit was noted.

Above is a chart of the error between the S meter indication and the value per IARU Region 1 Technical Recommendation R.1.  Continue reading IC-7300 S-meter calibration accuracy

Kenwood R5000 thermals

I have a Kenwood R5000 that is now 30+years old and warrants a check of its health.

R5000s are infamous for VCO problems, the early production used ‘yella glue’ to stabilise the VCO components and that decomposed into corrosive components that damage the electronic parts. Repair is not usually economically rational.

This is one of the later model R5000s that used the hard white adhesive which has remained stable.

The R5000 is built on phenolic PCB and operates at relatively high temperature for a simple receiver, reflecting the power consumption of synthesisers of the 1980s.


Above, the case temperature is up to 20° above ambient over the power transformer (upper right of pic).  Continue reading Kenwood R5000 thermals

Polarisation of man made noise – an 80m case

Polarisation of man made noise discussed an explanation for the common observation more ambient noise is captured by a vertically polarised antenna than for a horizontally polarised antenna.

This article documents an analysis of a case on 3.6MHz and is to be read in the context of Polarisation of man made noise.


Remembering that P.368-9 publishes a set of graphs like the one above, and that they show that ground wave attenuation is dependent on distance, soil type and frequency.

Though ground wave attenuation is lower on 80m than 40m, the horizontal antenna used in the example is at a fixed height, so it is electrically lower on 80m which increases horizontal attenuation significantly. Continue reading Polarisation of man made noise – an 80m case

Polarisation of man made noise

Ham lore has it that man made noise on lower HF is radiated predominantly vertically polarised, this is offered and accepted by hams without explanation.

It can be shown by simple observation that the ambient noise level on lower HF is quite different in business or commercial areas, residential areas, and rural areas (ITU-R P.372-12). Not only is there a significant difference, the change happens quite rapidly with distance which suggests there is a dominant component (man made noise) and that the propagation path is a very local one (ground wave).

If you look around a typical residential neighborhood where hams might establish stations, the most obvious conductors that might carry and radiate noise currents from noise generators like appliances, leaky insulators etc are aerial power lines… which are usually closer to horizontal orientation (with horizontal E field) than vertical which seems inconsistent with the common observation that vertically polarised receiving antennas tend to capture more man made noise power than horizontal ones.

This article proposes a mechanism that may explain the apparent inconsistency between noise radiators and noise receivers.

Though this explanation is based on experience, the quantitative analysis here depends on interpretation of Recommendation ITU-R P.368-9 (2/2007) Ground-wave propagation curves for frequencies between 10 kHz and 30 MHz.

screenshot-24_10_16-22_00_39Whilst P.368-9 publishes a set of graphs like the one above for a limited set of grounds, ITU-R also publishes the program (GRWAVE.EXE) which can be used to calculate values for the user’s choice of ground and that is what was used for this article. The graph above is for a vertical monopole over ground with 1000W radiated, the antenna has directivity of 3, and the dashed line (inverse distance curve) is the field strength for a lossless ground (PEC). This can be verified with a spot calculation at 1km. Continue reading Polarisation of man made noise

Expected ambient noise – in practice

This posts shows a measurement of ambient noise and comparison with the data given at Expected ambient noise and its more detailed references.

The test scenario is my 40m station, a G5RV inverted V dipole with tuned feeders, a balun and ATR-30 ATU. Antenna system losses are less than 1dB.

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The chart above gives a range for expected ambient noise at 40m.


Above is a screen shot from a spectrum analyser measuring power in 1kHz bandwidth from 7.0 to 7.1MHz. The band is mostly unoccupied, and the mean noise power is about -99dBm, it would be 3dB higher in 2KHz bandwidth (ie -96dBm). Continue reading Expected ambient noise – in practice

Expected ambient noise

One of the casualties of the cessation of VK1OD.net was an article on expected ambient noise.

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The original work was based on ITU-R P.372-8 which has been updated to -10 and now -12, but the updates do not alter the basis for the original article.

Since the work was a reference cited on my FSM pages, it has been updated and copied to Expected ambient noise level. The graphics and tables in the article and the PDF file all refer to ITU-R P.372-8 but remain correct wrt ITU-R P.372-12 (2015).

Reconciling my #52 choke design tool with G3TXQ’s measurements

A correspondent wrote with concern of the apparent difference between graphs produced by my #52 choke design tool with a graph published by G3TXQ of his measurement of 11t on a pair of stacked FT240-52 cores.

I published a note earlier about my concerns with a similar graph by G3TXQ compared to the Fairrite datasheet, and he reviewed the data, found the error and published a corrected graph.


The corrected graph above might at first glance appear different to my model’s graphs, and the first obvious difference is that G3TXQ uses a log Y scale (which is less common). The effect of the log scale is to compress the variation and give the illusion perhaps that in comparison with other plots, this balun has a broader response.

Screenshot - 09_02_16 , 18_29_42

To compare the two, I have roughly digitised G3TXQ’s graph above and plotted the data over that from my own model (with linear Y scale). Continue reading Reconciling my #52 choke design tool with G3TXQ’s measurements

Low noise Yagis and 50MHz noise

After reading my post Some thoughts on noise on 6m (50MHz)…, a correspondent asked about the content in the context of comments by G0KSC.

Under the altruistic heading “Low Noise Yagis Explained”, G0KSC takes a competitor to task over the accuracy of statements regarding the importance or not of G/T at 50MHz.

G0KSC says:


Have you ever heard the saying ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’?…

What is G/T? Continue reading Low noise Yagis and 50MHz noise

A low cost home made USB CI-V interface with open collector and solid Windows drivers

This article describes an inexpensive USB adapter for Icom’s CI-V interface.

There are four common options for USB-serial adapters:

  • Prolific;
  • FTDI;
  • WCH; and
  • Silabs.

This article describes an adapter based on an inexpensive FTDI adapter (~$5 on eBay).


You will need the module, a Schottky signal diode (eg 1N5711), wire and a 3.5mm TRS plug or two. I have connected two plugs, one wired for TS (CT-17) and one for RS (OPC-478x). Continue reading A low cost home made USB CI-V interface with open collector and solid Windows drivers

Some thoughts on noise on 6m (50MHz)…

External noise

External noise is the noise external to the receiver system.

(ITU-R 2015) gives some guidance on expected ambient noise.

Screenshot - 10_01_16 , 09_49_56

Above is Figure 10 which gives guidance on the expected median ambient noise figure.

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The table above gives calculates noise power in a 2kHz bandwidth receiver with lossless antenna system for the lower ham bands from the equations given in (ITU-R 2015). Note that the medians vary somewhat with location and time, see (ITU-R 2015).

From the table, business (city) man made noise (A) is 17dB higher than galactic (E), and rural (C) is 7dB higher than galactic. Unless there is some ionospheric absorption occurring, you are unlikely to observe noise below galactic level.

Noise can be expected to vary by hour of day, from day to day, and season to season. Importantly, noise may vary with direction, eg pointing through busy roads, office buildings, shopping centres etc, neighbouring buildings, powerlines etc.

Measurement of external noise is not too difficult, but rarely do hams understand quantitatively their own noise environment.

Internal noise

Noise contributed by the various stages of a receiver system can be reduced to an equivalent input noise at the input of a noiseless receiver, and that is often expressed in the form of the receiver Noise Figure.

A typical receiving system for 6m would have a noise figure around 6dB (at the antenna connector). As will be seen, there is little need for better noise figure.

The noise floor of a receiving system with NF=6dB (4.5dB receiver and 1.5dB line loss) is -135dBm. In such a receiver, AGC action is typically delayed until the signal is around 25dB above the noise floor, around -110dBm in this case. There will be no S meter deflection in traditional receivers below AGC onset.

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Above, the median expected noise falls below the typical AGC threshold (S meter threshold) for the example receiver (-110dBm), and apart from Curve A, the noise may not cause S meter deflection.

In a single isolated measurement at my location, I measured -123dBm which is in the range expected of a semi rural residential with underground power.

Receivers with an additional preamp may show significant S meter deflection, the preamp will increase gain without significantly improving S/N ratio, indeed they may degrade S/N ratio.

Total noise power

The internal and external noise power add, but it is the power in watts or in equivalent temperature that can be added, not the dBm figure.

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The chart above shows the effect of combining two additive power values. If they differ by more than 20dB, the sum is within 0.05dB of the higher power. For lesser ratios, the weaker power needs to be factored in, and the graph provides a simple means if you don’t want to crunch the numbers.

For example, if we took the median power in a quiet rural precinct from the table above to be -119.9dBm, and noise floor to be -135dBm, looking up -135–119.9=-15.1dB on the horizontal axis we see that the combined power is 0.15dB more than the higher power, so -119.1+0.15=-119.8dBm. This is unlikely to cause S meter deflection most of the time as the median is almost 10dB lower than AGC onset.

Working the numbers for residential precinct from the table above to be -114.6dBm, and noise floor to be -135dBm, looking up -135–114.6=-20.4dB on the horizontal axis we see that the combined power is 0.05dB more than the higher power, so -114.6+0.05=-119.8dBm., -114.6. This is likely to cause S meter deflection occasionally as the median is just 5dB lower than AGC onset.

Low noise antennas

One of the recent market directions is so-called low noise antennas. The term is used to describe directional antennas with reduced side lobe response inspired perhaps by (Bertelsmeier 1987) who contrived a rather naive statistic based on the noise power captured by a Yagi in free space tilted up 30° from the Z=0 plane and excited by two arbitrary noise scenarios in the upper and lower hemispheres, the statistic labelled G/Ta, transformed by others to G/T in  ignorance of the true meaning of the industry term G/T.

Reduced side lobe response sounds a good idea, but what is the expected impact on total external noise power received?

For a Yagi in free space, if the distribution of external noise is uniform in three dimensional space:

  • the same noise power will be received irrespective of the pointing of the antenna; and
  • a lossless antenna captures the same amount of noise power irrespective of its gain.

But we are not in free space, are we.

For Yagi pointing horizontally over flat ground, if the distribution of external noise is evenly distributed over all azimuth headings:

  • the same noise power will be received irrespective of the pointing of the antenna; and
  • a lossless antenna captures the same amount of noise power irrespective of its gain.

The situation changes if the noise intensity is not uniform with azimuth bearing and elevation if there are more concentrated noise sources.

It should be apparent that reducing the average gain off the main lobe reduces power from noise sources to the side and rear, but if the pattern is not even, and it never is, then it is a matter of chance as to whether pattern nulls or peaks coincide with concentrated noise sources when pointing in a desired direction.

The complexity of this environment mitigates against a meaningful single metric for the noise capture of a Yagi.

One cannot argue against the logic that reduced sidelobe gain is an advantage in reducing off boresight noise, but it does imply increased main lobe gain (and possibly noise pickup) the question is really how much net advantage there is on 50MHz in your station with your noise environment on the paths you see as high priority.


    • Bertelsmeier, R. 1987. Effective noise temperatures of 4-Yagi-arrays for 432MHz. DUBUS.

Duffy, O. May 2013. Noise and receivers presentation. http://owenduffy.net/files/NoiseAndReceivers.pdf.

  • ITU-R. 2000. Recommendation ITU-R S.733-2 (2000) Determination of the G/T ratio for earth stations operating in the fixed-satellite service .
  • ITU-R. Jul 2015. Recommendation ITU-R P.372-12 (7/2015) Radio noise.