Typical zinc thickness on zinc coated products used for antennas

Recent articles discussed a model for current distribution in coated conductors leading to an estimate of effective RF resistance:

A correspondent wrote asking about the case of galvanised steel tube used as a mast, or in a lattice tower structure.

Over time I have measured the coating thickness of a range of galvanised products by scraping the zinc down and measuring the coated and uncoated sections. It is laborious and of course destructive.

This article documents a survey of on-hand materials using a non-destructive electronic coating thickness meter.


Above the EC-770 electronic coating thickness gauge used for the survey.  Continue reading Typical zinc thickness on zinc coated products used for antennas

Finding the inductance of the outside of LDF4-50A

There are applications for estimating the inductance of the outside of LDF4-50A at radio frequencies.

For the purpose of calculating the inductance, the geometric mean radius is appropriate. This article offers two methods for estimating the geometric mean diameter (GMD) of the conductor.

Above a section of LDF4-50A.


Above is a magnified view of the profile, it is corrugated copper outer conductor with a shallow but not quite symmetric profile.  Continue reading Finding the inductance of the outside of LDF4-50A

Loss components in an NEC model of a Small Transmitting Loop

This article is a tutorial on using an NEC to model a small transmitting loop in proximity of ground.

NEC-4.2 model parameters:

  • single turn;
  • 1m loop diameter;
  • 20mm OD conductor;
  • loop centre 1.5m above ground;
  • ‘average’ ground (0.005,13);
  • 20 segments in loop;
  • conductor loss modelled as 0.0033Ω per segment;
  • tuning capacitance 197pF with Q=1000 (ie 0.112Ω series R).

Note that NEC-2 is more restricted in the size of segments for good results, and this same problem will require fewer / longer segments in NEC-2, and give slightly different results.

The model tuning capacitance and frequency were adjusted to resonate at about 7.1MHz.

Above is a VSWR plot of the matched main loop, half power bandwidth (ie between VSWR=2.6 or ReturnLoss=6.99dB points) is 12.5kHz, and we can calculate Q=7106/12.5=568.5.

A model run at 7.106 gives us several interesting metrics.

Gain is 9.77dB, and as expected maximum gain is at the zenith.  Continue reading Loss components in an NEC model of a Small Transmitting Loop

Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Measuring SSB transmitter power has been surrounded in some mystique since the deployment of such transmitters in the Amateur service. Some oft cited wisdom includes:

  • Peak Envelope Power (PEP) can only be measured with a two tone waveform;
  • PEP can only be measured with an oscilloscope;
  • PEP of an unmodulated sine wave is twice the average power;
  • PEP is meaningless for anything but SSB.

Lets firstly look at what PEP means in the real world.  Continue reading Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Exploiting waveguide mode of the loop conductor in a small transmitting loop

Small transmitting loop enthusiasts search for explanations of why their antennas are so fantastic.

One of those fantastic explanation is from KK5JY:

I have spent some time thinking about this discrepancy, and how to account for it  within the typical ham home-made loop. This is not to say that I am asserting this as correct, but I suspect there are straightforward reasons why the efficiency of a small loop of typical construction could be better than the classic formulae predict.

One simple possibility has to do with construction. Many loop designs, mine included, use open-ended copper tubing for the radiating element. Mechanically, this means that the loop itself actually has two conductors, wired in parallel. One is the outside of the loop conductor, and one is the inside of the loop conductor. The reason for this is skin effect. Anybody who has run high power RF into a coaxial cable that is poorly matched to a balanced antenna is familiar with the “feedline radiation” effect, where the shield of the coaxial cable forms two conductors, with current flowing on both. In the loop case, The outer and inner surfaces of the loop conductor are connected together at the ends, so the two conductor shells carry current in parallel. Depending on the difference in diameter of the two surfaces, the effective increase in surface area can be almost 100%, roughly doubling the surface area of the main element. “But the inner conductor is shielded from the environment by the outer conductor,” someone might object. This is true for the electrical field, but not the magnetic field, which just happens to be the largest component of the EM near-field created by this type of antenna. A small loop is driven almost completely by the magnetic field generated by the driven element, and the lines of magnetic flux cut both the inner and outer surfaces of the main (large) loop, inducing current flow into each one, independently, and the two are able to create a combined magnetic field around the antenna.

Continue reading Exploiting waveguide mode of the loop conductor in a small transmitting loop

IC-7300 S-meter calibration accuracy

This article documents measurement of the calibration of an IC-7300 S-meter in SSB mode using a continuous sine wave at 1kHz tone frequency.


There has been a long standing convention that S-meters are calibrated for 50μV in 50Ω to be S9, and S-points laid out at 6dB per S-point. IARU Region 1 formalised this with Technical Recommendation R.1 which defines S9 for the HF bands to be a receiver input power of -73 dBm (equivalent to 50μV in 50Ω).

IC-7300 measurement

A test was conducted where a Standard Signal Generator was connected to the receiver and slowly increased from -125dBm in steps of 1dB and the point at which the S-meter display segments lit was noted.

Above is a chart of the error between the S meter indication and the value per IARU Region 1 Technical Recommendation R.1.  Continue reading IC-7300 S-meter calibration accuracy

Kenwood R5000 thermals

I have a Kenwood R5000 that is now 30+years old and warrants a check of its health.

R5000s are infamous for VCO problems, the early production used ‘yella glue’ to stabilise the VCO components and that decomposed into corrosive components that damage the electronic parts. Repair is not usually economically rational.

This is one of the later model R5000s that used the hard white adhesive which has remained stable.

The R5000 is built on phenolic PCB and operates at relatively high temperature for a simple receiver, reflecting the power consumption of synthesisers of the 1980s.


Above, the case temperature is up to 20° above ambient over the power transformer (upper right of pic).  Continue reading Kenwood R5000 thermals

Estimating the voltage impressed on the tuning capacitor of a small transmitting loop

The ‘net abounds with calculators for design of small transmitting loops (STL), and most estimate the voltage impressed on the tuning capacitor. Most of these calculators give an incorrect estimate.

This article describes a measurement based approach to estimating the capacitor voltage for a STL.
Continue reading Estimating the voltage impressed on the tuning capacitor of a small transmitting loop

A QRP small transmitting loop evaluation

The ‘net abounds with articles describing easy to build low cost small transmitting loops (STL).

This article describes measurement of a STL for 4MHz using RG213 coaxial cable for the main loop and its tuning capacitance, and a smaller plain wire loop for transformation to 50Ω. Continue reading A QRP small transmitting loop evaluation