## Differential and common mode components of current in a two wire transmission line

A pair of conductors in proximity of some other conductors or conducting surface (such as the natural ground) can operate in two modes simultaneously, differential mode and common mode.

Differential mode is where energy is transferred due to fields between the two conductors forming the pair, and common mode is where energy is transferred due to fields between the two conductors forming the pair together and another conductor or conducting surface.

The currents flowing in the two conductors at any point can be decomposed into the differential and common mode currents.

Differential current Id is the component that is equal but opposite in direction, it is half the difference in the two complex line currents I1 and I2.

Common mode current Ic is the component of the line currents common to both conductors, it is half the sum of I1 and I2.

• Id=(I1-I2)/2
• Ic=(I1+I2)/2
• I1=Ic+Id
• I2=Ic-Id

So, for example, if I1=2A and I2=-1A, Id=(2–1)/2=1.5A, Ic=(2-1)/2=0.5A.

A line that is operating with perfect current balance has only differential current, ie common mode current is zero. It is unlikely that a feed line in a practical antenna system is perfectly balanced, but with due care, it can have very low common mode current, 20dB or more less than the differential component.

## Using the AIM to measure matched line loss

A correspondent wrote seeking explanation of difficulty he was having measuring line loss using the advice given in the AIM manual using a scan with either O/C or S/C termination:

Note the one-way cable loss is numerically equal to one-half of the return loss. The return loss is the loss that the signal experiences in two passes, down and back along the open cable.

Because my correspondent was using one of the versions of AIM that I know to be unreliable, I have repeated the measurements on a cable at hand using AIM_900B to demonstrate the situation.

The test cable I have used is 10m of RG58C/U which I expect should have matched line loss (MLL) of 0.26dB, but I expect this to be a little worse as it is a budget grade cable that I have measured worse in the past. Continue reading Using the AIM to measure matched line loss

## AIM 885A produces internally inconsistent results

A new release, AIM885A appeared recently.

In the common theme of one step forward, two steps backwards, this version produces error popups when started.

The above popup appears twice when starting AIM885A. Just another symptom to undermine confidence in the system. It doesn’t make sense to me, and the program appears to otherwise start and run. Continue reading AIM 885A produces internally inconsistent results

## Speaker wire is so popular as an RF transmission line

I received a sample of speaker wire from a correspondent who asked me to characterise it.

Even if I had the time, a 50mm sample isn’t sufficient to characterise in a meaningful way… but let’s have an abbreviated look which will highlight the pitfalls of this stuff.

First thing to do is measure the conductors, stranding and diameter. There are 14 strands and several measurements fall just below 0.15mm diameter. This is probably nominal 0.15mm with new drawing dies which are a little undersize. Continue reading Speaker wire is so popular as an RF transmission line

## Feeding at a current maximum, and three other options

Feeding at a current maximum visited the common practice of designing to feed a multi band dipole with open wire feed at or very near to a current maximum.

I explained that feeding at the current maximum may provide sub-optimal performance on the popular T-match ATU as its losses tend to be worst with low R loads, aggravated by the use of 4:1 baluns for even lower R.

On the other hand, feeding at a voltage maximum might exceed the ATU’s voltage capacity, or perhaps be outside of the matching range of the ATU.

Well if neither of these is optimal in all cases, what about half way between. It has been done, the odd eighths wave feed line on an 80m half wave is another of the recipes you will hear.

Lets explore the options of a half wave dipole at 3.6MHz with four different feed line lengths (Wireman 551). Continue reading Feeding at a current maximum, and three other options