Review of Dodd’s WSPR based antenna comparison

Dodd espoused the merit of WSPR for antenna comparison in his article (Dodd 2011).

He documented a series of WSPR spots of his transmitter on 20m in a table swapping between antennas during the test period, one side of the table for each antenna. (Don’t be misled, the dipole is not half wave dipole but some non-descript multi band loaded dipole.)

He calculates the average for each data set and states:

The average from the dipole and the loop -16.74 and -17.0dB respectively meaning that the performances were very similar.

You might reasonably interpret this to mean that there was no significant difference between the antennas, one was as good as the other. Continue reading Review of Dodd’s WSPR based antenna comparison

Loss of ladder line: copper vs CCS (DXE-LL300-1C)

DXE sell a nominal 300Ω ladder line, DX Engineering 300-ohm Ladder Line DXE-LL300-1C, and to their credit they give measured matched line loss (MLL) figures.

They make the common ham mistake of writing loss figures as -ve dB where in fact by definition they are +ve (MLL=10*log(Pin/Pout)).

The line is described as 19 strand #18 (1mm) CCS and the line has velocity factor (vf) 0.88 and Zo of 272Ω.

Let us calculate using TWLLC the loss at 2MHz of a similar line but using pure solid copper conductor with same conductor diameter, vf and Zo. We will assume dielectric loss is negligible at 2MHz Continue reading Loss of ladder line: copper vs CCS (DXE-LL300-1C)

Loss in open wire + coax hybrid feed arrangements

I saw a question posed online about the merits of a proposed antenna system which used a hybrid feed arrangment as 15′ (sic) of the feed line needed to be buried.

Above is the poster’s diagram, and his posting lacked some important details so let’s make some assumptions. Lets assume the antenna is at 150′ in height above average ground, and since the dipole is long enough to be usable on 160m, let’s study it at 1.85MHz.

Input impedance of the dipole under that scenario is around 45-j400Ω.

Let’s consider two options:

  • a tuned feeder option (ie open wire line all the way to the ATU); and
  • the hybrid feed arrangement shown.

Let’s get serious and use home made open wire line made from 2mm diameter copper spaced 150mm. The very popular 19strand windowed ladder lines using CCS do not have sufficient copper to give copper like performance, the single core CCS is marginal. Continue reading Loss in open wire + coax hybrid feed arrangements

Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

An Insertion VSWR test gone wrong

We often learn more from failures than successes, this exercise is one of those opportunities.

An online poster tried to validate his newly purchased MFJ-918 by measuring Insertion VSWR.

That is done preferably by measuring a good termination (dummy load) to validate that it has a very low VSWR, then inserting the Device Under Test (DUT) and measuring the VSWR as a result of insertion of the DUT.

The poster did not mention measurement of the dummy load alone, and it is a type that warrants validation.

Above is the poster’s test setup, his Rigexpert AA-170 is connected to the balun’s input jack using a M-M adapter. The output wires on the balun form a rough circle of about 550mm perimeter by eye. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

Loss of windowed ladder line at MF/HF/VHF

A ham in the need of help recently asked for advice on eHam about the use of Wireman Ladder Line and the like.

After a fairly well considered, detailed and lengthy answer from on online expert, another online expert stepped in to confuse the matter with conflicting advice:

Wire resistance (loss due to current ) is not a factor with higher voltages typically seen in high impedance antenna feed applications. Attenuation loss is a factor depending on dielectric properties in VHF and UHF frequencies. Their is little skin effect below 50 MHz in wire antennas and feeds.

This comes down to line strength. I would go with the solid Copperweld for HF antenna work.

Let’s examine the above quote. Continue reading Loss of windowed ladder line at MF/HF/VHF

Messi & Paoloni Ultraflex 7 coax cable

Messi & Paoloni Ultraflex 7 coax cable is being marketed as similar to RG-213 in performance, but 7mm overall (against 10mm).

There is lots of comment by online experts questioning the claims, and critical of things like the braid coverage, copper foil etc, but without real evidence that it does not live up to specification.

Accepting the specifications for Ultraflex 7 and Belden 8267 (B8267, RG-213) for a moment, how do they compare.

Let’s take the loss factors calculated for TLLC and de-construct the conductor and dielectric loss for each line type.

Above is a comparison of the cables. Continue reading Messi & Paoloni Ultraflex 7 coax cable

WSPR checkout on new workstation

I have been building a new workstation and a simple test of its reliability for logging signals via the IC-7300 sound card is to run WSPR.

So, WSJT-X was configured for WSPR on 40m and run for 24h using the low G5RV inverted V dipole with tuned feeders (designed primarily as an NVIS antenna for local contacts).

Above is a map of the spots involving VK2OMD over the 24h survey. Continue reading WSPR checkout on new workstation

NH7RO 7-foot diameter QRO STL for 40M

NH7RO describes his loop project at Building a 7-foot diameter QRO STL for 40M in my HOA backyard.

The loop appears to be made from 7/8″ copper tube, and is 7′ in diameter. He estimates its efficiency to be 66% and initially reports I’ve got it less than 4 feet above ground yet it tunes flat to 1.1>1 with roughly 10kHz bandwidth.. Curiously, 10kHz is the result calculated by AA5TB’s spreadsheet, though I have written elsewhere it is deeply flawed (Small transmitting loop calculators – a comparison).

Let us assume that these figures are correctly reported, and that the unqualified bandwidth means the half power bandwidth of a matched loop.

We can estimate the efficiency of a Small Transmitting Loop (STL) in free space.

Before getting excited about the results, let us question the validity of the model. There are three important factors that question the validity of the model:

  • bandwidth;
  • size of the loop; and
  • proximity to ground.

Continue reading NH7RO 7-foot diameter QRO STL for 40M

Check / calibrate frequency accuracy of IC-7300

The IC-7300 is a transceiver where all heterodyning oscillators are derived from a single master oscillator.

This type of radio makes for very easy checking and calibration of frequency accuracy.

The video below demonstrates the technique.

The video used a local GPS disciplined source at 50.1MHz. The frequency was chosen to provide the greater resolution in setting the oscillator, though setting it to within 1 part in 50,000,000 or 0.02ppm is better than the stability of the oscillator (specification is 0.5ppm or 5Hz at 10MHz).

Any accurate known reference can be used, it could be WWV or the like, or even a MW broadcast station, though an accurate signal at 10MHz or higher is better.

The technique can be applied to the much older IC-7000, and many transceivers released since then, of various brands. The important thing is that ALL oscillators are derived from a single master oscillator.

 

Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review

I recently purchased a Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter. It looked a little like a supercharged RedDot copy.

sw102-02

Above the Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter with backlight and photographed under normal interior lighting. The display lacks contrast, and overall is difficult to read due to size of text, fonts used, and lack of contrast. (The pic is taken with a screen protector installed, but the evaluation is based on the bare meter with original protective film removed as it degraded readability.) Continue reading Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review