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

Design / build project: Guanella 1:1 ‘tuner balun for HF’ – #4

Fourth 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.

Packaging

The prototype fits in a range of standard electrical boxes. The one featured here has a gasket seal (a weep hole would be advisable in a permanent outdoor installation).

AtuBalun201

Above, the exterior of the package with M4 brass screw terminals each side for the open wire feed line, and an N(F) connector for the coax connection. N type is chosen as it is waterproof when mated.

AtuBalun203

The interior shows the layout. The wires use XLPE high temperature, high voltage withstand, moderate RF loss insulation. Two short pieces of 25mm electrical conduit serve to position the balun core against the opposite side of the box, and a piece of resilent packing between lid and core holds the assembly in place.

AtuBalun202

Differently to the example shown in the earlier articles, this prototype uses twisted PTFE insulated wires which have voltage breakdown higher than the XLPE shown earlier.

Clip 124

The self resonant frequency of the built balun was measured as 7.4MHz and the predictive model above calibrated. The balun has high choking impedance on the lower half of HF.

Updated: Calculate initial load line of valve RF amplifier

Calculate initial load line of valve RF amplifier was written as a companion to my RF power amplifier tube performance computer tool to provide a starting point for building a model, but as it turns out, the initial load line (and related values) is a very good estimate and further modelling may not be needed.

Although written for an application to valves, it is quite applicable to any active device, keeping in mind that it assumes a linear transfer characteristic.

The update provides for both single ended and push-pull configurations.

For example, the requirement is for a single ended Class C bipolar amplifier to deliver 25W from a 13.8V DC supply. What is the ratio for a broadband output transformer to 50Ω.

Screenshot - 13_02_16 , 08_51_22

Above is the solution. The required Rl is 3.3Ω, and the required turns ratio is (50/3.3)^0.5=3.9. a 1:4 (turns) transformer would be selected for a prototype. Bear in mind that output power would fall to around 20W at 12V DC supply.

Another example is the common 100W 13.8V Class B push-pull design.

Screenshot - 13_02_16 , 09_22_26

With a requirement for around 3Ω collector to collector (or drain to drain), a transformer with 1:4 turns ratio would be selected.

Reconciling my #52 choke design tool with G3TXQ’s measurements

A correspondent wrote with concern of the apparent difference between graphs produced by my #52 choke design tool with a graph published by G3TXQ of his measurement of 11t on a pair of stacked FT240-52 cores.

I published a note earlier about my concerns with a similar graph by G3TXQ compared to the Fairrite datasheet, and he reviewed the data, found the error and published a corrected graph.

FT240-52x2-11t

The corrected graph above might at first glance appear different to my model’s graphs, and the first obvious difference is that G3TXQ uses a log Y scale (which is less common). The effect of the log scale is to compress the variation and give the illusion perhaps that in comparison with other plots, this balun has a broader response.

Screenshot - 09_02_16 , 18_29_42

To compare the two, I have roughly digitised G3TXQ’s graph above and plotted the data over that from my own model (with linear Y scale). Continue reading Reconciling my #52 choke design tool with G3TXQ’s measurements

Exploiting your antenna analyser #14

Insertion Loss, Mismatch Loss, Transmission Loss

A correspondent asks about the effect of RCA connectors at HF on his proposed noise bridge. The question is very similar to that considered at Exploiting your antenna analyser #13 for UHF series connectors.

I have made a simple measurement of a BNC 50Ω termination (to check calibration) then inserted a BNC-RCA and RCA-BNC adapter.

Measurements of input impedance only for such an electrical short transmission line will not give useful data for determining TransmissionLoss which is the result of conversion of RF energy to heat. The measurements do give ReturnLoss and given that InsertionLoss=MismatchLoss+TransmissionLoss, they set a lower bound for InsertionLoss.

To jump to the chase, it also has a Smith chart plot up to 200MHz that suggests it might be well modelled by a TL segment of 30-35Ω.

Screenshot - 07_02_16 , 16_58_55

Above is a plot of VSWR when Zref is adjusted for the flattest response from DC, and it can be seen that with Zref=33, response is quite flat to 200MHz. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #14

Exploiting your antenna analyser #13

Insertion Loss, Mismatch Loss, Transmission Loss

A correspondent having read Exploiting your antenna analyser #12 asks whether the measurement provides evidence of loss of the connectors, and referred me to (Arther nd) where he reports some measurements of UHF series adapters and conclusions.

Duffy

Let’s deal with interpretations of my own measurements first.

Measurements of input impedance only for such an electrical short transmission line will not give useful data for determining TransmissionLoss which is the result of conversion of RF energy to heat. The measurements do give ReturnLoss and given that InsertionLoss=MismatchLoss+TransmissionLoss, they set a lower bound for InsertionLoss.

Screenshot - 01_02_16 , 11_40_57

Above is a plot of ρ and ReturnLoss for the DUT. ReturnLoss curiously is plotted ‘upside down’ as ReturnLoss increases downwards… a quirk of AIM software, but remember that ReturnLoss in dB is +ve.
Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #13

A low cost home made USB CI-V interface with open collector and solid Windows drivers

This article describes an inexpensive USB adapter for Icom’s CI-V interface.

There are four common options for USB-serial adapters:

  • Prolific;
  • FTDI;
  • WCH; and
  • Silabs.

This article describes an adapter based on an inexpensive FTDI adapter (~$5 on eBay).

opc478ftdi01

You will need the module, a Schottky signal diode (eg 1N5711), wire and a 3.5mm TRS plug or two. I have connected two plugs, one wired for TS (CT-17) and one for RS (OPC-478x). Continue reading A low cost home made USB CI-V interface with open collector and solid Windows drivers

Voltage and current on a transmission line with standing waves

Folk often ask how to calculate the maximum voltage on an antenna feed line with standing waves, often to get a feel for the necessary voltage withstand of baluns, feed line, switches and relays, and ATUs.

Feeding at a current maximum outlines the method described in detail at (Duffy 2011), but the approach is more complex than a lot of hams want.

A simpler method is to treat the transmission line as lossless, and to simply find the worst case voltage and current that can occur… and design for that, or perhaps do the more detailed analysis depending on the outcome.

A new calculator, Calculate Vmax, Vmin, Imax, Imin for lossless line from Zload (or Yload) and Zo, does just that.

Screenshot - 29_01_16 , 19_45_17

Above is the built-in example of a G5RV with tuned feeder on 80m with feed point impedance derived from a modelling package. The voltage and currents calculated are those for a long lossless feed line.
Continue reading Voltage and current on a transmission line with standing waves

Exploiting your antenna analyser #12

Is there a place for UHF series connectors in critical measurement at UHF?

Seeing some recent discussion by a chap who was trying to construct a low power 50Ω termination on a UHF series plug, it bought to mind the futility of using some kinds of connector for critical measurement above perhaps 100MHz.

There is a lot of conjecture about the nature of UHF series connectors, whether they act line a simple transmission line section with fairly uniform Zo, whether they are really just a lumped shunt capacitance, whether it is even important at UHF etc.

To illustrate the issue, I have assembled a simple test jig comprising an N(M)-UHF(F) adapter, UHF(M)-N(F) adapter and a 50Ω N termination (which was also used to calibrate the analyser. This set was assembled and plugged onto a calibrated AIMuhf analyser and swept from 1-500MHz… just into the UHF range (which is 300-3000MHz).

UhfTL

Above, the test jig.

Screenshot - 29_01_16 , 14_15_27

Above is an expanded scale centre of the Smith chart of the sweep. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #12

Exploiting your antenna analyser #11

Backing out transmission line

Often we make measurements through a section of transmission line, and the measurements are wrt the reference plane, which for many analysers is the connector on the instrument.

Some analysers, or their associated software allow the effects of the transmission line to be backed out.

Screenshot - 17_01_16 , 09_16_18

Above is a Smith chart view of measurement of a test antenna through some length of RG58. The antenna will have R<50Ω at minimum VSWR, so the angle of the complex reflection coefficient Γ will be close to 180° at the feed point. Antscope uses a different notation, but shows here the angle at the point of measurement to be -15.1°, so we need to increase it by 180–15.1=195.1°, which will take about half that electrical length of line, 97.6°. From TLLC, I calculate the length involved is 7.6m of RG58, which is an estimate that gives a starting point for backing out the cable. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #11