Design / build project: Guanella 1:1 ‘tuner balun for HF’ – #6

Sixth part in the series documenting the design and build of a Guanella 1:1 (current) balun for use on HF with wire antennas and an ATU.

This article documents measurement of impedance.

Impedance measurement


The antenna system is a G5RV with tuned feeders (9m of home made 450Ω open wire). The tuned feeders terminate on the balun described in this series, and it is located on the outside of the antenna feed entrance panel shown above. Continue reading Design / build project: Guanella 1:1 ‘tuner balun for HF’ – #6

Precision GPS experiment #1

This article reports an experiment to evaluate the usefulness of precision GPS for the purpose of location data for automated antenna field strength surveys.

The experiment was conducted with the rover located in a fixed location 13km North of the reference station at Symonston and with very wide view of the sky, about 7:00 am 07/04/2016.

Only GPS satellites were used for the rover.

The software was RTKLIB v2.4.3b8.


The GPS was a UBLOX LEA-6T with a small patch antenna (as sold for small UAVs). The LEA-6T provides binary data as used by RTK for carrier phase measurements. Above is the GPS and a USB-RS232 adapter. Continue reading Precision GPS experiment #1

Design / build project: Guanella 1:1 ‘tuner balun for HF’ – #5

Fifth part in the series documenting the design and build of a Guanella 1:1 (current) balun for use on HF with wire antennas and an ATU.



Installation / testing


The balun packaged in a non-conductive housing was designed to have minimal stray capacitance to ground to minimise common mode current with asymmetric loads.


Above, the balun is attached to the exterior side of the antenna feed entrance panel using a male to male N adapter, done up very tight. The feed line connections are liberally coated with marine grease to prevent ingress of water and oxygen, a measure to reduce corrosion. Continue reading Design / build project: Guanella 1:1 ‘tuner balun for HF’ – #5

Improved cooling for the MFJ-949E


At A look at internal losses in a typical ATU I demonstrated that it is quite easy to raise the temperature of the coil in the MFJ-949E to an unsafe level, even with quite modest power.

The most heat sensitive component in this ATU is the coil, specifically the coil supports which are probably polystyrene, and the glass transition temperature of polystyrene is around 100°.

This article documents modification of my MFJ-949E to reduce the risk of damage under some operating conditions. Continue reading Improved cooling for the MFJ-949E

Some thoughts on a two turn small transmitting loop

Small transmitting loops (STL) are very popular with hams, and a fashion is developing for N turn loops. This article lays out some thoughts on a 2 turn STL.

Firstly, to the meaning of “small transmitting loop’. There are a range of definitions used, and they mostly centre around the concept of a size sufficiently small that current is approximately uniform. The issue is about the meaning of sufficiently. Accuracy of estimation of radiation resistance of small transmitting loops sets out a rationale for a single turn loop for criteria that perimeter<λ/10.

This article will compare NEC-4.2 models of loops with the following key parameters:

  • 1m diameter (the loop perimeter is 0.07λ);
  • 20mm copper conductor;
  • frequency is nominally 7.1MHz;
  • 16 segments per turn
  • when not specified as in free space, the loop centre is 1m above ‘average’ ground (0.005,13);
  • the loop is directly fed in the middle, opposite to the tuning capacitor position, cap down;
  • pitch is 0.15m.

The model is sensitive to all these parameters. Continue reading Some thoughts on a two turn small transmitting loop

End fed Zepp

The so-called End fed Zepp (EFZ) is often cited as the basis for many more recent antenna designs, and is leveraged to provide and explanation… though few hams understand how the EFZ actually works.

End fed Zepp

Screenshot - 13_03_16 , 08_38_13

Above is a diagram from the ARRL Antenna Handbook  (Silver 2011).

Though a short conductor is shown to the right of the right hand feed line wire, the length is not specified or discussed in the accompanying text. It is popularly held that this is a “counterpoise” that provides a path for current equal to that flowing left into the main horizontal wire.

Let us explore the EFZ using NEC. The models are a reflection left to right of the above diagram, ie the feed is on the left hand end. Continue reading End fed Zepp

A tutorial on initial design of operating conditions for a valve amplifier

A correspondent asked for a walk through of use of a couple of my online design tools for a 6m 350W single ended valve PA using three QQE06-40 valves. The request was perhaps inspired by a design he had seen, but I sound a caution about a large number of parallel valves (6 sections in this case).

Key design parameters:

  • HV power supply fully loaded: 1200V;
  • Power output: 350W;
  • Class: AB1;
  • Vak min: 180V (from datasheet anode curves);
  • Pi output network, Q at least 12 (for reduction of harmonics on the FM broadcast band), select 15.

The datasheet gives max supply voltage at 450 for plate and screen AM, which implies max ‘instantaneous’ DC supply voltage in AB1 SSB telephony of 900V… so 1200V goes beyond the guaranteed ratings. Of more concern, it is probably close to 1400V lightly loaded, 56% greater than the maximum instantaneous supply implied by the AM specifications.


  • output network efficiency 90%;
  • valves load share equally.

An advantage of a high Q design is that it requires higher input C which makes accommodating the self capacitance of the 6 valve sections somewhat easier. A disadvantage is lower efficiency.

Screenshot - 12_03_16 , 16_21_24

Above is a calculation using Calculate initial load line of valve RF amplifier. Note the anode dissipation, a total of over 190W is quite high for 120W total valve rating (though these are pretty robust valves). Total DC anode current will be almost 0.5A, so the HV power supply must deliver 1200V @ 0.5A. The 0.5A figure is within the absolute maximum of 720mA (for 6 sections).
Continue reading A tutorial on initial design of operating conditions for a valve amplifier

Thinking about SOTA, EFHW and EMR safety

There seems to have been a revival in use of the so-called End Fed Half Wave antenna.

The prospect that a small radio such as the FT817, a magic match box and 10m of wire makes a good 20m field station appeals to many a SOTA enthusiast.

Let us model a scenario with a FT817 powered by internal battery and sitting on an insulating platform (eg a pack) 0.3m above natural ground, a 10m wire strung up into a tree at a 45° angle, and a 1m long mic cord stretched up at 45° in the other direction. The is the popular so-called ‘no counterpoise’ configuration.

A simplified model of just the current paths without regard to the bulk of the radio, or the effect of the helix of the mic cord illustrates an approximate current distribution. The model uses 1W RF input to the antenna over ‘average ground’ (0.005,13).


Clip 142

Above is a plot of the current distribution. Current is a minimum at the open ends, a boundary condition for the problem, and maximum in the middle of the half wave. We expect H field to be greatest near the current maximum, and E field to be greatest near the current minima. Continue reading Thinking about SOTA, EFHW and EMR safety

SPICE model of Zcm of a Guanella 9:1 current balun

At Why the preference for Guanella 1:1 current baluns for HF wire antennas I compared a 1:1 Guanella balun with a 4:1 using the same component baluns.

Broadly, the findings were that the common mode impedance of the 4:1 balun was around a quarter of that of the component baluns, and mediocre at that.

This article extends the reference, documenting the SPICE model extended to a 9:1 balun.

Screenshot - 07_03_16 , 11_17_27

Above, the same component baluns were interconnected to make a 9:1 balun. Note that Zo of the TL section has been increased to 150Ω to suit the notional nominal 50 to 450Ω broadband transformer. Continue reading SPICE model of Zcm of a Guanella 9:1 current balun

APRS duplicate removal – trial #3

The undetected long-delayed duplicate posits that are a feature of APRS VHF are a significant corruption of mapping.

In an attempt to limit the propagation of posits and hence the probability of corruption / delay etc, I have experimented with a path of WIDE1-1 on a recent trip to Canberra (about 400km for the round trip).

Whilst this should prevent packets getting to the Wagga, Newcastle and Tamworth regions which have been the main cause of corrupted posits and mapping defects, it does so at the risk of some loss of posits as some digi infrastructure was never updated to the “New N paradigm” of more than a decade ago and they ignore WIDE1.

Screenshot - 06_03_16 , 14_15_51

Above is a zoomed in view of the Canberra end of the trip, and I am pleased to say that the zig zag double backs that have been evident in recent trips did not occur. The principal reason is that with a path of WIDE1-1, the packets did not pass through VK2RWG-1/VK2KAW. Continue reading APRS duplicate removal – trial #3