Exploiting your antenna analyser #3

The sign of reactance

At Exploiting your antenna analyser #2, the matter of determining sign of reactance was mentioned.

If you have an analyser that does not measure the sign of reactance, this information should be important to you.

Screenshot - 9_12_2015 , 8_24_15 AM

Above is a Smith chart plot of  measurements from 15MHz to 25MHz.

One can see that the locus of Zin on the Smith chart forms an arc, and the points on the arc rotate clockwise about the arc centre with increasing frequency. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #3

Exploiting your antenna analyser #2

Reconciling the single stub tuner results

So having found that the length of the RG58 lines sections are both 1.98m (approximately 2m), let’s try to reconcile measurement and prediction of Zin at 9MHz.

The examples discussed in this series of articles are designed for the test jig as described at Exploiting your antenna analyser #1 with a pair of nominally 2m length RG58 patch leads, a pair of 50Ω loads and some tee pieces and adapters to connect it all up. If you duplicate it, you will experience the same learning opportunities (the examples are structured). If you presume to redesign the experiment, your outcome will probably be different.

Before you read on, take a measurement of Zin at 20MHz and write down the impedance value. Do whatever you do to determine the sign of the reactance. If your instrument displays the sign properly, use it, otherwise use the method in your user manual or whatever wisdom you trust.

Done that? If so, read on… Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #2

Exploiting your antenna analyser #1

I often see posts in online fora by people struggling to make sense of measurements made with their antenna analyser.

This article is about exploitation of a modern antenna analyser beyond its capability as a self excited VSWR meter. The latter is fine, and it is often not only all you need, but the best tool in optimising some antenna systems… but if you want to exploit the other capabilities of the instrument, read on.

Great benefit can be obtained by measuring some known loads, and reconciling the measurement with the known.

A quite simple set of equipment can be used to create a scenario rich with opportunity to prove your understanding of the basics of complex impedance, transmission lines, and measurement. Lets explore a simple example.


Above is a test jig. It is two equal lengths of identical coax connected to a tee piece on the analyser. The end of one piece of coax has a tee piece with two nominal 50+j0Ω loads as used on Ethernet 10base2 networks. The analyser is a Rigexpert AA-600. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #1

Expression of VSWR as a simple decimal real number

Voltage Standing Wave Ratio is the ratio of the voltage maximum (antinode) to the adjacent voltage minimum (node) on a transmission line. (This assumes a fully developed standing wave, that the maximum and minimum are not forced by end of line). Continue reading Expression of VSWR as a simple decimal real number

VSWR=1 and X≠0

Another of those threads has broken out on eHam illustrating that lots of hams do not understand the complex nature of impedance and cannot see the consequences of the formula to calculate VSWR from load impedance and transmission line characteristic impedance.

Most methods of measuring VSWR are indirect, and they are based on an assumed Zo which is purely real (ie Xo=0Ω), and we speak loosely of that as the VSWR even though the standing wave that might exist on a practical transmission line is a little different as a consequence of that assumption being a little bit in error. Continue reading VSWR=1 and X≠0

AUT – MobileOne M40-1 40m helical

This article describes an Aerial Under Test (AUT) that features in some of my experiments and write ups and is subject of some current experiments. It is a MobileOne M40-1 helically loaded vertical for 40m installed in the car roof. It is in the style of the popular US antenna, the Hamstick, but this is a little longer and the results are not directly applicable.

I hasten to add that this configuration is not suited to travelling, it is just a rather ideal mounting of a helically loaded whip without the questions that arise from the effects of roof racks, bumper mounts etc.


The M40-1 is fitted in the centre of the station wagon roof, the roof is 1.5m above ground and the antenna is 1.5m long including a 200mm unloaded tip (tip of the antenna is highlighted with a pink dot). (The setting is not the test site.) Continue reading AUT – MobileOne M40-1 40m helical

QRP antennas

We see more and more reference to “QRP antennas” online these days, and it begs the question, what makes an antenna more or less suited to QRP.

To a novice, the obvious possibilities for a low power antenna system are that they are:

  1. highly efficient to offset the lower power; and/or
  2. unable to withstand higher power.

Continue reading QRP antennas

DK7ZB’s balun

(Steyer nd) describes the DK7ZB balun / match for VHF and UHF Yagis.


To understand how the “DK7ZB-Match” works look at the left picture. Inside the coax cable we have two currents I1 and I2 with the same amount but with a phase shift of 180°.

No. At any point along the coaxial line, a current I on the outer surface of the inner conductor causes an equal current in the opposite direction on the inner surface of the outer conductor.

As the currents are shown with the designated directions, I2=I1, not I2=I1<180.

A consequent simplification is that I4=I2-I3=I1-I3.

There is an issue with the current arrow I3 in the lower right of the diagram. It might imply that the only current in the conductors is I3, but the current between the nearby node and lower end of the shield is I3-I1.

If the structure was much much shorter than the wavelength, there would be negligible phase change in currents along the structure, so I1 would be uniform along the centre conductor, I2 uniform along the inside surface of the outer conductor, and I3 uniform along the outer surface of the outer conductor.

The diagram notation does show that I3 (which is equal to the dipole drive imbalance) is uniform along the structure, and that I3 flows to ground.

DK7ZB goes on:

If we connect a dipole or the radiator of a Yagi direct to the coax, a part of I2 is not running to the arm 2 but down the outer part of the coax shield. Therefore I1 and I4 are not in balance and the dipole is fed asymmetric.

But how can we suppress the common-mode current I3? A simple solution is to ground the outer shield in a distance of lambda/4 at the peak of the current.

So, the length of the structure is in fact a quarter wavelength electrically, or close to it to achieve the choking effect. I3 will be in the form of a standing wave with current maximum at the lower (‘grounded’) end, and current minimum at the upper end.

It happens also that his usual configuration of this balun is that there is a standing wave on the inside of the coax, and so I1 and I2 are not uniform along the conductor, and whilst it is relevant to the designed impedance transformation, it is inconsequential to reduction of dipole current imbalance.

DK7ZB continues with the development of his variation of a Pawsey balun:

But now we get a new interesting problem: For the transformation 28/50 Ohm we need a quarterwave piece of coax with an impedance of 37,5 Ohm (2×75 Ohm parallel). The velocity of the wave inside the coax is lower than outside (VF = 0,667 for PE).

The outside of the shield has air (and a litle bit of insulation) in the surrounding and VF = 0,97. For grounding the common mode currents this piece should have a length of 50 cm, with a VF = 0,667 and a length of 34,5 cm this piece of coax is to short. By making a loop of this two cables as shown in the picture down we get an additional inductivity and we come closer to an electrical length of lambda/4. Ideal is coax cable with foam-PE and a VF = 0,82

schleifeAbove is DK7ZB’s implementation of his balun with the loop and additional inductivity.

I copied the above implementation and measured the common mode impedance Zcm.


Above is the Zcm measurement. There is a quite narrow self resonance where Zcm is quite high for about 10MHz bandwidth centred on 125MHz, but at 144MHz Zcm=83-j260Ω which is too low to qualify as a good common mode choke.

Like all narrowband / tuned common mode chokes, tuning to the desired frequency band is essential to their effective operation.

Like most published balun designs, this one is published without measurements to demonstrate its operation or effectiveness.


Does VSWR damage HF ham transmitters

This Jan 2011 article has been copied from my VK1OD.net web site which is no longer online. It is for reference in further articles discussing the popular reflections explanations. The article may contain links to articles on that site and which are no longer available.

The statement is often made to the effect that:

VSWR will damage a HF ham transmitter, and the mechanism is that the ‘reflected power’ in a standing wave will be absorbed by the Power Amplifier (PA), increasing heat dissipation and damaging the PA.

There are two problems with this statement: Continue reading Does VSWR damage HF ham transmitters

Transmission line loss under mismatch explanations – the missing TWLLC model

At Transmission line loss under mismatch explanations I wrote that there is a lot of woolly thinking amongst hams about transmission line loss under mismatch and worked a simple example that could be done ‘by hand’ to show that formulas that some authors have produced as implementations of their explanations don’t stack up.

I also gave a solution to the Zo*3 scenario using TWLLC, but not the Zo/3 scenario which a few eagle hounds have pounced on as evidence that the solution would not support the article.

Not at all, the Zo/3 TWLLC solution was not given so as to keep the article short and within the attention span of modern hams though it was eventually a quite long article, and for that reason I will address it separately, here. Continue reading Transmission line loss under mismatch explanations – the missing TWLLC model