Transmit performance of 2m hand held transceivers – absolute gain estimates

Transmit performance of 2m hand held transceivers reported relative field strength measurements for some transceiver / antenna combinations.

This article documents a more careful measurement of the absolute field strength of one combination, and application of that knowledge to the other results.

Measurements of field strength were done with Lou Destefano’s (VK3AQZ) VK3AQZ RF power meter (RFPM1) and a small loop antenna.

RFPM1-10

Above, the RFPM1 RF power meter.

VhfUhfLoopAbove is the small loop used for field strength measurement. It is 2mm hard drawn round copper wire formed into a circle 185mm in circumference, and a common mode choke is used to connect the loop to the RFPM1 power sensor. The common mode choke is 0.6m of RG58C/U with 0.5m of ferrite sleeves over it and its loss is accounted for in the “Other Loss” item.
Continue reading Transmit performance of 2m hand held transceivers – absolute gain estimates

An interesting case study – in service evaluation of coax loss

A poster sought advice of the forum experts about in service evaluation of the loss of some coax feed lines…

Has anyone tested old coax cable to see if the loss increased over time? I just tested two different coax cables at 146 Mhz with the use of a Bird Model 43 Wattmeter. Power measurements were taken at the input of each cable followed by the output. The load in both cases was a 146 Mhz Ground Plane.

The test results seem to show losses similar to new coax although Berk-Tek foam coax may have had a lower loss when new.

1. Berk-Tek 6211 RG-8X Ultra Flex Foam Coax – 68 feet

Measured 25 watts in and 11.7 watts out which represents a 3.3 db loss. …

Assuming that the stated measured power is in fact the indicated forward power on the Bird 43 directional wattmeter and given that the actual Zo of the line should be very close to the calibration impedance of the Bird (50+j0Ω), then the Matched Line Loss (MLL) is very close to 10*log(PfIn/PfOut)=10*log(25/11.7)=3.3db which is significantly above the expected 2.6dB for ‘ordinary’ RG-8/X and warrants re-measurement as it suggests that the cable might have degraded a little. In fact, the OP later reports 10.7W out for 25W in which is MLL of 3.7dB against spec of 2.6dB… a more convincing case for replacement! Continue reading An interesting case study – in service evaluation of coax loss

RC4 thermistor characterisation.

I have a little RC-4 temperature logger which has been a really handy device for ensuring that our freezers are cold enough, but no colder.

RC-4The RC4 has an internal sensor and is supplied with an external sensor that plugs into a 2.5mm TS jack on the side.

This article explores an alternative sensor that could be embedded in equipment of interest. The sensor is a NTC thermistor.

Firstly, I found that none of the 2.5mm TS plugs I had connected to the RC4 properly, but the T-R of a TRS plug worked reliably.

The display was observed with two 0.1% precision resistors and the thermistor characterised.

Screenshot - 07_07_2015 , 12_25_20

Above, it looks like nominally a 110k/B=4200 thermistor… which is a little unusual. 100k thermistors with B=3950 and 4200 are fairly easy to obtain though.

Clip 155

Above is a chart of the error in using the two commonly available thermistors. At low temperatures the 100k/4200 isn’t too bad, around 60° the 100k/3950 is better.

It is a simple matter in Excel to correct readings made with a different thermistor. Here is a VBA function to perform the conversion.

Function temp2temp(ft, ft0, fr0, fb, tt0, tr0, tb)
'function to correct temperature reading to a different thermistor
r = Exp((1 / (ft + 273.15) - 1 / (ft0 + 273.15)) * fb) * fr0
temp2temp = 1 / (1 / (tt0 + 273.15) + Log(r / tr0) / tb) - 273.15
End Function

You could squeeze all this into a cell formula if you wished to avoid using a VBA function.

Clip 134

Above is an example measurement run made with a 100k/3950 sensor (Indicated) and the corrected data in brown.

 

Accuracy of AIMuhf system – AIM910A vs several recent versions on a ferrite cored inductor

AIMuhf

Yet another release of AIM software is available, 910A at the time of writing. I have downloaded and tested 8 versions this year, most have been wanting. Again, there is very little detail on what has changed and likely impact on historical measurments.

Inductor1

A quick set of measurements was made on my test inductor pictured above. Continue reading Accuracy of AIMuhf system – AIM910A vs several recent versions on a ferrite cored inductor

Matching a quarter wave monopole with two variable caps

Two recent correspondents have discussed matching a quarter wave monopole with two variable caps.

Two capacitor shunt/series match

The matching scheme involves a shunt variable cap at the end of the coax feed line, and a series variable cap to the monopole base. The radials are of course connected to the feed line shield.

This type of matching scheme requires that the monopole feed point has sufficient +ve reactance, ie the monopole is longer than resonant. Lets assume the R component of feed point Z is 35Ω.

This scheme incorporates the simple shunt match, and the value of the shunt capacitor can be found knowing the R value to be matched to 50Ω.

Screenshot - 08_07_2015 , 06_43_07

Above is a Smith chart of a model of the match at 14MHz. The monopole has been lengthened to have 100Ω reactance along with 35Ω resistance. In this case a series cap of 148pF and shunt cap of 150pF are required. Continue reading Matching a quarter wave monopole with two variable caps

Transmit performance of 2m hand held transceivers

This article documents measurements of transmit performance of three hand held 2m radio with several antennas.

Measurements of field strength were done with Lou Destefano’s (VK3AQZ) VK3AQZ RF power meter (RFPM1) and a small loop antenna.

RFPM1-VhfLoop

Above, the field strength meter, a RFPM1 with small loop antenna oriented for max gain in the direction of the DUT.  The instrument reads -73.5dBm with no signal, -69.5dBm with the strongest transmitter with the loop removed, and around -30dBm for the various transmitters with the loop in place… so the meter reading is predominantly due to the loop mode pickup.

All three transmitters have different power. The table below reports power into a 50Ω load and does not take account of mismatch with the various antennas.

Screenshot - 06_07_2015 , 12_53_56

Above a comparison of the configurations on a field strength test at 1λ. The relative column factors the different transmitter power and FS to obtain  a comparative figure independent of power. Mismatch is almost certainly a significant part of the explanation of different performance, but it is quite difficult to measure in this sort of application without disrupting the DUT.

BoafengINF641Antenna

It is interesting that there is little difference observed with the Baofeng on two different antennas, when the Boafeng antenna is clearly inefficient, see the thermograph above.

 

Balanced ATUs and common mode current

This Feb 2012 article has been copied by request from my VK1OD.net web site which is no longer online. The article may contain links to articles on that site and which are no longer available.

Many designs have a ‘balanced output’ or an option of a ‘balanced output’, but what does that mean, and are they effective in minimising common mode current in an antenna feed line?

ATUs achieve ‘balanced output’ in one of several ways, the common ones are:

  • a grounded impedance transformation network followed by an internal voltage balun;
  • a grounded impedance transformation network followed by an internal current balun;
  • a current balun followed by a symmetric impedance transformation network that may or may not be directly grounded at its centre;
  • a link coupled ATU where the output circuit is symmetric and may or may not be directly grounded at its centre.

Much has been written about the merits of one approach or another, mostly qualitative and often subjective, but there is little in the way of quantitative analysis of the impedance that the ATU offers to common mode current. Continue reading Balanced ATUs and common mode current