DL4YHF 50MHz counter on a Chinese TB-244746 PCB

DL4YHF published a frequency counter design based on the PIC16F628.

The design has been modified by many, copied by even more, and usually without attribution.

This article documents one of these copies (TB-244756 printed under the chip footprint), a $6 kit off eBay which comes with no documentation, though the screen mask is enough to correctly place components.

It turns out to be DL4YHF’s “DISPLAY_VARIANT 2”, the variation is that it uses a common cathode display.

Above the built kit with the 7550 voltage regulator replaced with a 78L05. Continue reading DL4YHF 50MHz counter on a Chinese TB-244746 PCB

“No short antenna is more efficient than a resonant-length antenna”

A recent online posting asserted that an antenna is optimal when itself resonant, and fed with a resonant feed line length so delivering a purely resistive load to a source, and further that implementors needed to be careful that a shorter dipole could be offset to some extent by a longer feed line but it would be inferior because:

no short antenna is more efficient than a resonant-length antenna

… but does that stand scrutiny?

An NEC experiment

Lets walk though an experiment using NEC-4.2 models of a dipole of 2mm copper wire at 10m height at 7.1MHz over average ground (0.005,13).

Key assumptions:

  1. source has a Thevenin equivalent source impedance of 50+j0Ω;
  2. feed line is lossless.

The results are sensitive to the model assumptions.

We will calculate the ratio of radiated power to the power delivered by the transmitter to a matched load, let us call it TransmitEfficiency for the purposes of this article. Continue reading “No short antenna is more efficient than a resonant-length antenna”

Small untuned loop with MMIC LNA on 80m

This article documents a small experiment with a quite small untuned loop, and LNA and receiver on 80m to assess its ability to copy signals on the band as well as the station transceiver on large antenna.

A significant factor at 80m is that ambient noise is quite high. Let’s consult ITU P.372-12 for guidance.

Curve E is the median city noise, at 3.6MHz Fa is about 62dB. At a more detailed level, P.372-12 gives the median noise figure for Rural precincts at 51.8dB and that figure is more appropriate to the test location (large block rural residential).

The test was carried in a few spots, at 50-100 m from the main station dipole. Continue reading Small untuned loop with MMIC LNA on 80m

Failure to treat impedance as a complex quantity leads to…

A ham recently posted a graph on QRZ to educate his fellow hams on the behaviour of transmission lines under mismatch.

Above is one of his graphs (the red arrow is my annotation). It plots Impedance variation along a mismatched 75Ω transmission line. The curves look graceful, but are they science or just pretty artwork? Continue reading Failure to treat impedance as a complex quantity leads to…

Demonstration of the GR1606B for antenna Z measurement and calcs

This article demonstrates use of a GR1606B RF impedance bridge for measurement of the feed point impedance of a MHz loaded mobile whip. The antenna is roof mounted on a vehicle and measurements are made looking into 4m of RG58C/U, then transformed to feed point impedance using three tools:

Key metrics are:

  • F=7.05MHz
  • R=35Ω
  • ReactanceDial offset=200
  • ReactanceDial=442
  • X=(442-299)/7.05=34.33Ω
  • Z=35+j34.33Ω;
  • Feed line is 4m of Belden 8262 (RG58C/U).

Continue reading Demonstration of the GR1606B for antenna Z measurement and calcs

BG7TBL noise source

This is a review of the BG7TBL noise source available on eBay for about $20 incl post. I have seen this recommended in various online forums and thought it worthy of review.

A quick mention of Excess Noise Ratio (ENR), it is a commonly used measure of the characteristic of noise sources. A noise source for testing low noise RF amplifiers needs to be less than 10dB, 5dB is common; for other receiver testing around 15dB is common, and for massive output for filter alignment etc the noise needs to be well above a spectrum analyser noise floor so an ENR of 50dB might be appropriate (but such high noise output makes it useless for LNA noise figure measurement),

Above is the device. The layout is pretty simple, it is a Zener noise source at the left followed by three MMIC amplifier stages. The circuitry at mid left is a DC-DC converter to supply 25V to the Zener.

There are a host of aspects so far that are concerning:

  • there is no need to operate the Zener at such high voltage;
  • lack of regulation of MMIC power supply;
  • the noise output of the Zener source should be quite high; and
  • three stages of MMIC will give rise to huge output, notwithstanding the on-board attenuators at Zener output and final MMIC output.

Continue reading BG7TBL noise source

Inductance of a loop of CAT5 pair

An online expert recently reported:

I tried to make an antenna loop for longwave with cat 5 and after it did no good I realized the twisted wires canceled each other out.

Or did they really cancel?

Parallel connection

I constructed a loop of one Cat 5 pair and measured its inductance when both wires are bonded at the ends.

The conductors are 0.5mm diameter and spaced 0.9mm. To estimate the inductance we use the geometric mean radius (GMR) as the equivalent radius of the pair. GMR=(0.5*0.9)^0.5=0.67, diameter=1.34mm. So let’s calculate the inductance of a single turn circular loop of 0.8m perimeter and round conductor of 1.34mm diameter.

The estimate above is 850nH.

Above is the measurement, the screen is not readable, but it is 852nH, very close to the estimated 850nH. Continue reading Inductance of a loop of CAT5 pair

Calibrating the Elecraft N-GEN

The Elecraft N-GEN is a low cost noise source which is quite suited to many applications, more so if the Excess Noise Ratio (ENR) is known.

ENR is a commonly used property to describe the noise power density of a source, it is calculated as ENR=10*log(Tne-T0)/T0 dB where Tne is the effective noise temperature and T0 is 290K.

This article describes a calibration procedure. Note that the calibration is specific to the device and cannot be applied to another N-GEN.

Above is a screenshot of the Spectrum Analyser scan. A text file of the frequency,power pairs is saved for input to a spreadsheet to calculate ENR vs frequency. Continue reading Calibrating the Elecraft N-GEN

Calculation of received noise power given ENB and ENR

At Effective noise bandwidth – IC-7300 SSB Rx Filter2 (2400Hz) the ENB of the receiver was measured at 2088Hz. This article goes on to calculate the power received from a Elecraft N-Gen noise source which has been measured to have Excess Noise Ratio (ENR) at 10.1MHz of 48.2dB.

Lets input the data to Field strength / receive power converter and find the received power.

The measurement is made is preamp off (so that the S meter is more realistic), and the supplied NoiseFigure is a guess… but the noise source is so strong (being some 30+dB above the receiver internal noise) that the result is barely sensitive to that assumption.

The calculator returns many results, we are interested in just the receive power in dBm. The results follow. Continue reading Calculation of received noise power given ENB and ENR

Effective noise bandwidth – IC-7300 SSB Rx Filter2 (2400Hz)

For a lot of experiments, knowledge of the Effective Noise Bandwidth (ENB) of a receiver is necessary. The ENB is the bandwidth of an ideal rectangular filter with the same gain as some reference frequency, 1kHz is usually specified for SSB telephony receiver sensitivity measurement.

Though filters are often specified in terms of bandwidth at x dB down, that metric is of relatively little value, the x is often 6dB but not always, the filters depart significantly from ideal or even common response.

In brief, a white noise source is connected to the receiver input, Filter2 (nominal 2400Hz bandwidth soft response) selected and set to standard PBT, and the audio output captured on a PC based audio spectrum analyser, Spectrogram 16 in this case.

Spectrogram is set to integrate over 30s to average the variations due to the noise excitation. The resulting graph and text spectrum log are saved.

The method is explained in detail at Measure IF Bandwidth.

Above is the spectrum plots, as receivers go this is relatively flat, lacking the usual tapering off above 1kHz (a technique to cheat on sensitivity specs).
Continue reading Effective noise bandwidth – IC-7300 SSB Rx Filter2 (2400Hz)