G3CWI’s ground wave tests Jul 2017 using WSPRlite

Richard (G3CWI) published an interesting blog article Comparison of groundwave performance of Small Transmitting Loop and Quarterwave GP summarising a recent WSPR test on 40m over 20km distance.

This article is a walk through of the expected WSPR receive S/N for the case of the 20mW tx on a quarter wave vertical.

100% efficient tx and rx antenna systems

Ground wave suffers attenuation due to two key components:

  1. dispersion of energy as the wave spreads out from the source; and
  2. absorption of energy in heating the soil.

Item (1) is simply inverse square law effect, and Norton provides us with several approximations for estimating (2) from Sommerfields work.

Calculate efficiency of vertically polarised antenna from far field strength uses Norton’s f5 approximation for ground wave attenuation.

Above is a calculation for a 100% efficient transmitter. (The trick to getting this is to leave the measured field strength field empty and the calculator will insert the value that gives 100% efficiency.)

So the next question is what ambient noise level might we expect in a rural setting on 40m. Continue reading G3CWI’s ground wave tests Jul 2017 using WSPRlite

Exploiting your antenna analyser #29

Resolving the sign of reactance – a method – Smith chart detail

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28 gave an example of use of one method to resolve the sign of reactance comparing measurements made with a slightly longer known transmission line.

One way to predict the input impedance to the longer line is using a Smith chart. This article presents a Smith chart prediction of the expected input impedance of a 8′ section of RG8 at 14.17Mhz (vf=0.66, length=0.175λ) for the cases of Zload being 60.3+j26.9Ω and  60.3-j26.9Ω.

60.3+j26.9Ω

The impedance is normalised to 50Ω and plotted on the Smith chart, point 1 above. A radial from the centre through point 1 is drawn to the edge of the chart. Another radial is drawn a distance towards the generator of 0.175λ and using a pair of dividers or ruler, point 2 is plotted on that radial at the same distance from the centre (same VSWR) as point 1.

These points are on a constant VSWR arc but the arc has not been draw because the two arcs would overlap and might be confusing to some readers.  Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #29

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28

Resolving the sign of reactance – a method

Many analysers do not measure the sign of reactance, and display the magnitude of reactance, and likewise for magnitude of phase and magnitude of impedance… though they are often incorrectly and misleadingly labelled otherwise.

The article The sign of reactance explains the problem and dismisses common recipes for resolving the sign of reactance as not general and not reliable.

This article gives an example of one method that may be useful for resolving the sign of reactance.

My correspondent has measured VSWR=1.68 and |Z|=66 and needs to know R and X. From those values we can calculate R=60.3 and |X|=26.9.

Method

The method involves adding a short series section of known line, short enough to provide a measurement difference in R, and that R would be different for the case of =ve and -ve X, all of these measured at the same frequency. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #28

A check load for antenna analysers with UHF series socket

Hams embrace the UHF series connectors like no one else, including for its use on test equipment where its performance is lacking.

This is the likely reason why it is so hard to find low VSWR 50Ω terminations with UHF series plug. It is rare to find something with VSWR quoted in specifications, and nigh on impossible to find one at a reasonably low price.

On the other hand, SMA terminations start at about $2 each (posted), and it is not too hard to find ones specified with VSWR<1.2 to several GHz.

Above is a low cost, low quality solution. It is a SMA termination selected from a bunch using a high accuracy DMM (selected, R is 49.86Ω) and a SMA(F)-UHF(M) adapter, total cost $7 (posted) (but you might be advised to buy 5 loads to select the best one). Despite the specification, they are probably only good to 100MHz, and can be unreliable. Continue reading A check load for antenna analysers with UHF series socket

Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Measuring SSB transmitter power has been surrounded in some mystique since the deployment of such transmitters in the Amateur service. Some oft cited wisdom includes:

  • Peak Envelope Power (PEP) can only be measured with a two tone waveform;
  • PEP can only be measured with an oscilloscope;
  • PEP of an unmodulated sine wave is twice the average power;
  • PEP is meaningless for anything but SSB.

Lets firstly look at what PEP means in the real world.  Continue reading Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

An Insertion VSWR test gone wrong

We often learn more from failures than successes, this exercise is one of those opportunities.

An online poster tried to validate his newly purchased MFJ-918 by measuring Insertion VSWR.

That is done preferably by measuring a good termination (dummy load) to validate that it has a very low VSWR, then inserting the Device Under Test (DUT) and measuring the VSWR as a result of insertion of the DUT.

The poster did not mention measurement of the dummy load alone, and it is a type that warrants validation.

Above is the poster’s test setup, his Rigexpert AA-170 is connected to the balun’s input jack using a M-M adapter. The output wires on the balun form a rough circle of about 550mm perimeter by eye. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review

I recently purchased a Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter. It looked a little like a supercharged RedDot copy.

sw102-02

Above the Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter with backlight and photographed under normal interior lighting. The display lacks contrast, and overall is difficult to read due to size of text, fonts used, and lack of contrast. (The pic is taken with a screen protector installed, but the evaluation is based on the bare meter with original protective film removed as it degraded readability.) Continue reading Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review

Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

A common task is to measure the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial transmission line using an instrument that lacks facility to backout cable sections or measure OSL calibration (as discussed in other articles in this series). The older models and newer budget models often fall into this category.

The manuals for such instruments often explain how to measure coaxial cable velocity factor, and the method assumes there is zero offset at the measurement terminals (whether they be the built-in terminals or some fixture / adapters). In fact even the connectors are a source of error, especially UHF series connectors.

It is the failure to read exactly Z=0+j0Ω with a S/C applied to the measurement terminals that adversely impacts efforts to measure resonant frequency of a test line section.

The method described here approximately nulls out offsets in the instrument, measurement fixture, and even in the connectors used and for that reason may sometimes be of use with more sophisticated analysers.
Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

A convenient list of ‘Exploiting your antenna analyser’ and short subject sub-titles, a table of contents for the series as it grows.

Exploiting your antenna analyser #29 Resolving the sign of reactance – a method – Smith chart detail

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28 Resolving the sign of reactance – a method

Exploiting your antenna analyser #27 An Insertion VSWR test gone wrong

Exploiting your antenna analyser #26 Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

Exploiting your antenna analyser #25 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser without using OSL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #24 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser with OSL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #23 Seeing recent discussion by online experts insisting that power relays are not suitable to RF prompts an interesting and relevant application of a good antenna analyser Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

Another speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference

Remote speaker-microphones and DMR portables discussed RF ingress to Speaker Mics (RSM) used with DMR radios in digital mode.

The problem

I purchased a RSM branded Kenwood but obviously a Chinese fake for an MD-390 for about $5 posted, but it turned out to be lousy with RF interference in the form of the ‘motorboat noise’ on transmit audio.

Dismantling the RSM  I found there is precious little RF filtering, just a single SMD cap near the electret capsule.

A solution

Above is the modified RSM. Continue reading Another speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference