Exploiting your antenna analyser #1

I often see posts in online fora by people struggling to make sense of measurements made with their antenna analyser.

This article is about exploitation of a modern antenna analyser beyond its capability as a self excited VSWR meter. The latter is fine, and it is often not only all you need, but the best tool in optimising some antenna systems… but if you want to exploit the other capabilities of the instrument, read on.

Great benefit can be obtained by measuring some known loads, and reconciling the measurement with the known.

A quite simple set of equipment can be used to create a scenario rich with opportunity to prove your understanding of the basics of complex impedance, transmission lines, and measurement. Lets explore a simple example.

AnTestJig01

Above is a test jig. It is two equal lengths of identical coax connected to a tee piece on the analyser. The end of one piece of coax has a tee piece with two nominal 50+j0Ω loads as used on Ethernet 10base2 networks. The analyser is a Rigexpert AA-600. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #1

Win 10 Threshold 2 issues

I have recently installed the Threshold 2 update to Win 10, and apart from a number of small issues, it seriously broke my grabber environment on a 64 bit machine.

The error messages:

5 [main] lftp 2944 C:\bin\lftp\bin\lftp.exe: *** fatal error in forked process - fork: can't reserve memory for parent stack 0x600000 - 0x800000, (child has 0x400000 - 0x600000), Win32 error 487
1481 [main] lftp 2944 cygwin_exception::open_stackdumpfile: Dumping stack trace to lftp.exe.stackdump
6 [main] lftp 5008 fork: child -1 - forked process 2944 died unexpectedly, retry 0, exit code 0x100, errno 11
...

For that environment, I use an lftp port to Windows (https://nwgat.ninja/lftp-for-windows/), and had installed the 64bit verion which is essentially a cygwin compilation packaged with the necessary DLLs. (This issue probably more widely affects cygwin, or perhaps just the bash shell under cygwin.) Continue reading Win 10 Threshold 2 issues

Expression of VSWR as a simple decimal real number

Voltage Standing Wave Ratio is the ratio of the voltage maximum (antinode) to the adjacent voltage minimum (node) on a transmission line. (This assumes a fully developed standing wave, that the maximum and minimum are not forced by end of line). Continue reading Expression of VSWR as a simple decimal real number

VSWR=1 and X≠0

Another of those threads has broken out on eHam illustrating that lots of hams do not understand the complex nature of impedance and cannot see the consequences of the formula to calculate VSWR from load impedance and transmission line characteristic impedance.

Most methods of measuring VSWR are indirect, and they are based on an assumed Zo which is purely real (ie Xo=0Ω), and we speak loosely of that as the VSWR even though the standing wave that might exist on a practical transmission line is a little different as a consequence of that assumption being a little bit in error. Continue reading VSWR=1 and X≠0

Revised thinking on STC chips

I have successfully implemented a few projects on the STC 15F104E, a Chinese 8051 architecture MCU.

STC15fF04EThe chip includes EEPROM, and some flexible extensions to the timers which potentially make it more useful than a standard 8051.

I have previously observed that the documentation is poor, and the programming tool is poor.

The project that led to the latest observations was an attempt to implement RC PWM – ON/OFF switch originally on one of these chips as it contained sufficient resources to suit the application. One of those resources was an +/- edge triggered INT0.

The code worked fine, but for only a short and variable period. Essentially, the the main loop was executing fine, the chip stopped triggering the interrupt service routing for INT0 after a variable time from 10s to 1000s… but it ALWAYS stopped working. Cycle the power and the same thing is observed. Continue reading Revised thinking on STC chips

AUT – MobileOne M40-1 40m helical

This article describes an Aerial Under Test (AUT) that features in some of my experiments and write ups and is subject of some current experiments. It is a MobileOne M40-1 helically loaded vertical for 40m installed in the car roof. It is in the style of the popular US antenna, the Hamstick, but this is a little longer and the results are not directly applicable.

I hasten to add that this configuration is not suited to travelling, it is just a rather ideal mounting of a helically loaded whip without the questions that arise from the effects of roof racks, bumper mounts etc.

M40-1

The M40-1 is fitted in the centre of the station wagon roof, the roof is 1.5m above ground and the antenna is 1.5m long including a 200mm unloaded tip (tip of the antenna is highlighted with a pink dot). (The setting is not the test site.) Continue reading AUT – MobileOne M40-1 40m helical

RC PWM – ON/OFF switch

This article describes a remote ON/OFF switch which uses an RC receiver and adapter chip to convert the RC PWM signal into an ON/OFF output. (Suitable RC transmitters are on hand.)

The immediate application is for remote ON/OFF PTT or KEY of a transmitter for field strength testing at various locations.

Background

Remote control hobbies have long used a multi channel digital proportional protocol for control of planes etc. The simplest multi channel receiver has an independent PWM output for each servo.

The PWM signal is a 1000-2000µs pulse with a repetition rate from about 50Hz up to 500Hz or so, the duration of the pulse conveys the information.

Implementation

The converter chip is a ATTiny25 MCU with firmware that monitors the PWM stream and provides ON/OFF and OFF/ON output pins. For the immediate application, the ON/OFF (or non inverted) output drives a 2N7000 FET with ‘open collector’ output suited to the PTT and KEY lines of most modern transceivers.

The firmware ignores PWM signals with duration outside the range 900µs to 2100µs, and switches ON at 1600µs, and OFF at 1400µs to provide some hysteresis. If PWM input is lost for 125ms, the output will fail safe OFF.

rcsw01Above is the schematic. The 2N7000 is good for 60V, can handle up to 100mA without a heat sink, and had a body diode to absorb transients if the load is a relay. Continue reading RC PWM – ON/OFF switch

Proposed 60m amateur band power limit

The WIA announced on 19/11/2015:

The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva has agreed on a secondary allocation of 5351.5-5366.5 kHz for the Amateur Service, with regional power limits of 15 watts to 25 Watts measured in effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP).

This prospect has lots of hams excited, and some wringing their hands over the power limit expressed in the release.

Compliance with this power limit (1W EIRP in this region) may well challenge most modern hams (though EIRP power limits are not new to the Amateur LCD) and perhaps if that is to be the limit, a set of simple compliance guidelines be endorsed by ACMA to assist compliance. Continue reading Proposed 60m amateur band power limit

QRP antennas

We see more and more reference to “QRP antennas” online these days, and it begs the question, what makes an antenna more or less suited to QRP.

To a novice, the obvious possibilities for a low power antenna system are that they are:

  1. highly efficient to offset the lower power; and/or
  2. unable to withstand higher power.

Continue reading QRP antennas

Trial of prototype stand alone GPS logger

An upcoming project calls for a stand alone GPS logger.

The requirement is for a GPS stream that allows correction using RTKLIB, but this trial is of a lesser GPS as proof of concept.

SAGPS001

Above, the equipment consists here of a Ublox NEO-6M based GPS module (~A$15 incl on eBay) at left, an Openlogger (~A$15 incl post on eBay) at right, and a 12V-5V converter (~A$7 from Hobbyking) at bottom. The latter is a 5A converter, way overkill, but it was on hand. The GPS module has a 3V regulator on board for the NEO-6M chip.
Continue reading Trial of prototype stand alone GPS logger