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

DS18B20 input for the generic heating / cooling controller

The generic heating / cooling controller (hcctl) is a flexible bang-bang thermostat controller based on an ATTiny25.

The project has been expanded to accept a Dallas / Maxim DS18B20 1-Wire temperature sensor. The DS18B20 produces a digital output (signed sixteenths of a degree) has a range of -85° to 125°, accuracy of about 0.5°, and costs a dollar for bare chips, a few dollars for an encapsulated probe.

Above is a development prototype with the DS18B20 being heated by a small incandescent dial lamp to test function.

Continue reading DS18B20 input for the generic heating / cooling controller

A Demagnetisation Risk Index for a sensorless brushless DC drive

The article Demagnetisation in a sensorless brushless DC drive gave a broad overview of demagnetisation in a sensorless brushless DC drives that depend on Zero Crossing (ZC) detection to synchronise the next commutation phase.

There is no widely recognised method of prediction whether a drive is at risk of excessive demagnetisation time, not even in the steady-state wide open throttle (WOT) scenario.

This article proposes a statistic that might be used as a risk indicator, it is dimensionless and approximately proportional to the ratio of energy stored in the self inductance of a coil to the energy consumed by the motor in the time available for demagnetisation. Continue reading A Demagnetisation Risk Index for a sensorless brushless DC drive

ic9350 updated to support 3040

Announcement: ic9350 is updated to v1.03 to add support for the Codan 3040 automatic antenna.

The ic9350 is protocol converter to permit use a Codan 9350 or 3040 automatic antenna with an Icom radio. Most Icom radios support the Icom AH-4 ATU, so the approach is to design a protocol converter that converts the protocol used by the 9350 and 3040 to the AH4 protocol to allow full integration with the Icom radios that support the AH-4.

The ic9350 Protocol Converter uses the interface uses the radio’s ATU interface in the way that Icom intended, and will not disrupt radio operation . Continue reading ic9350 updated to support 3040

Modifications for Jasic 200A TIG welder and pedal

In about 2009 I purchased a Uni-mig Jasic 200A TIG welder (though these are sold under many brands).

The welder came with unusual 2 and 5 pin connectors for the torch trigger switch and an optional pedal. The optional pedal was quoted at around $500, probably partly as the seller had locked the market up with the unusual connectors. (I note that the XS12K2P etc connectors are now available on Aliexpress.)

There is no standardisation of these connectors, but the pedal internals are pretty common. A quite common configuration is a 2 pin Foster (microphone) connector for the trigger switch and 3 pin Foster (microphone) connector for the current pot.

A further usability issue is that the pedal varies current from 5 to 200A, it is not possible to set the maximum current when the pedal is fully depressed. Continue reading Modifications for Jasic 200A TIG welder and pedal

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.