Reflected power alarm for the MFJ-993B

This article describes an add-on to a MFJ-993B auto ATU to provide an audible alarm when reflected power exceeds a set threshold. A deficiency of the original design IMHO.

The solution uses the generic heating / cooling controller (hcctl) configured for its alarm function only, including a function to silence the alarm.

screenshot-03_12_16-18_34_50Above is the directional coupler part of the MFJ-993B. The REF test point is designed to present voltages within the range 0-5V when used within the stated power ratings. Continue reading Reflected power alarm for the MFJ-993B

Radio-Kits SWR meter – build and review

This article describes my build of a Radio-Kits SWR meter (v1.1) and post implementation review.

Advertised features:

  • HF coverage – 1.8-30MHz
  • Displays VSWR, forward power, reverse power and supply voltage
  • Peak reading power meter
  • Bar graph or numerical format
  • Reverse power alarm with adjustable threshold
  • Auto turn on in presence of RF – sensitivity about 1 watt
  • Optional turn off after preset time – 10-240 seconds
  • Backlit LCD display with variable brightness
  • Reverse polarity protection

I purchased the kit some years ago, and on receiving it and reviewing the circuit I formed the view that it was likely to have unacceptable Insertion VSWR on 1.8Mhz, and probably 3.5MHz bands… so I lost interest in assembling the kit. However, I have belatedly constructed the kit, calibrated and tested it.

Implementation

The kit is supplied as a PCB and parts, no casework is supplied.

The board was difficult to solder, the strain relieved ground plane connections of components have very little donut to contact for heat transfer and are much harder to solder than the other pads. The strain relief is a dubious feature that makes soldering difficult.

rkswr01

Above, the kit assembled in a die-cast aluminium box. An opening for the LCD was milled into the box, and holes drilled for the rest of the fit up. The kit does not lend itself to this boxing as the buttons out the top and display out the front are a problem to fit up. A poor mechanical design.

rkswr02

Above is the interior of the box showing the LCD display and the external BNC connectors fitted (substituted for the ubiquitous UHF connectors supplied with the kit). Continue reading Radio-Kits SWR meter – build and review

Grebenkember’s original Tandem match

(Grebenkemper 1987) describes a directional coupler that has become very popular, especially in commercial implementation.

screenshot-22_11_16-07_23_25The simplified circuit above from Grebenkemper’s article illustrates the key elements of the directional coupler.

An important detail of the design is that the primary of the right hand transformer appears in shunt with the antenna load, and the magnetising impedance of that transformer core compromises Insertion VSWR. It is important that the magnetising impedance is sufficiently high (or the admittance sufficiently low) to not cause significant Insertion VSWR.
Continue reading Grebenkember’s original Tandem match

KitsAndParts.com QRP SWR bridge

The project is to build a test a couple of QRP VSWR detectors by KitsAndParts.com (http://www.kitsandparts.com/bridge.php) rated at 10W.

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Above are the completed kits.

bridge_sch

Above is the schematic. The bridge uses a type of Sontheimer coupler (Sontheimer 1966) and these are commonly poorly designed. The first question is whether the magnetising impedance of T2 which appears in shunt with the load is sufficiently high to not give rise to poor insertion VSWR. Continue reading KitsAndParts.com QRP SWR bridge

A prototype small 4:1 broadband RF transformer using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

Discussion at A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use was around a 9:1 transformer on a BN-43-2402 core. In that design, 4t was proposed as a suitable winding for a nominal 50Ω primary.

This article describes a 4:1 transformer needed for a project and based on the same 4t primary design, and using a separate 8t secondary.

First, lets find the largest wire that will fit 12t in the core aperture.

screenshot-06_10_16-12_06_33

Ok, so allowing a bit or working room, lets use 0.25mm enamelled wire (~0.28mm dia). Continue reading A prototype small 4:1 broadband RF transformer using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

A simplified design for small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use.

The characteristic of typical medium µ ferrite mixes, particularly NiZn, are well suited to this application.

This article continues with the design discussed at BN-43-2402 balun example, but using a 4t primary and 12t secondary for a nominal 1:9 50:450Ω transformer.

Lets consider a couple of simple starting points for low end and high end rolloff.

Low end roll off

A simple model for these devices with low flux leakage is an ideal transformer with primary shunted by the magnetising impedance. To obtain low InsertionVSWR, we want the magnetising impedance in shunt with 50+j0Ω to have a low equivalent VSWR.

Typically complex permeability changes in-band, and although it tends to decrease, increasing frequency means that the critical point for magnetising impedance is the low end.

High end roll off

At the high end, transformation departs from ideal usually when the length of wire in a winding exceeds about 15°.

Going forward

A small core makes for short windings to obtain high frequency performance, and sufficient turns are needed for low end… but not too many as it restricts the high end.

There are lots of rules of thumb for minimum magnetising impedance, most treat the inductor as an ideal inductor and these ferrites are not that.

A quick analysis using the method in BN-43-2402 balun example hints that a 4t primary is probably good enough down to 1.8MHz, depending on one’s limit for InsertionVSWR. We are not being too fussy here… this is not an application that demands InsertionVSWR < 1.2.

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Above is a plot of expected R and X for a 4t winding using my common mode choke design tool. Z at 1.8MHz is 49+j199Ω, or Y=0.00117-j0.00474S. (If your design tools are not giving you similar values, you might consider validating them.) Adding the shunt 50Ω (Y=0.02), we get Yt=0.02117-j0.00474S, and plugging that in to calculate VSWR… Continue reading A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

BN-43-2402 balun example

An online poster recently sought to design a broadband 9:1 transformer for HF.

Choosing a BN-43-2402 balun core, he planned to use a 2t primary and 6t secondary for a nominal 50Ω input. He subsequently posted measurements of the prototype.

What might we expect… is it a good starting point.

A first approximation at the low frequency end with a medium µ core is that it is like an ideal transformer withe the magnetising impedance in shunt with the primary. Continue reading BN-43-2402 balun example

The sign of Return Loss

I was browsing a ham forum recently when I came across a Return Loss plot apparently from a ham grade miniVNA Tiny.

Lets just remind ourselves of the meaning of the term Return Loss. (IEEE 1988) defines Return Loss as:

(1) (data transmission) (A) At a discontinuity in a transmission system the difference between the power incident upon the discontinuity. (B) The ratio in decibels of the power incident upon the discontinuity to the power reflected from the discontinuity. Note: This ratio is also the square of the reciprocal to the magnitude of the reflection coefficient. (C) More broadly, the return loss is a measure of the dissimilarity between two impedances, being equal to the number of decibels that corresponds to the scalar value of the reciprocal of the reflection coefficient, and hence being expressed by the following formula:

20*log10|(Z1+Z2)/(Z1-Z2)| decibel

where Z1 and Z2 = the two impedances.

(2) (or gain) (waveguide). The ratio of incident to reflected power at a reference plane of a network.

Return Loss expressed in dB will ALWAYS be a positive number in passive networks.

Return Loss according to the miniVNA Tiny

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Above, the miniVNA Tiny presents Return Loss as a negative value. Continue reading The sign of Return Loss