Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

A common task is to measure the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial transmission line using an instrument that lacks facility to backout cable sections or measure OSL calibration (as discussed in other articles in this series). The older models and newer budget models often fall into this category.

The manuals for such instruments often explain how to measure coaxial cable velocity factor, and the method assumes there is zero offset at the measurement terminals (whether they be the built-in terminals or some fixture / adapters). In fact even the connectors are a source of error, especially UHF series connectors.

It is the failure to read exactly Z=0+j0Ω with a S/C applied to the measurement terminals that adversely impacts efforts to measure resonant frequency of a test line section.

The method described here approximately nulls out offsets in the instrument, measurement fixture, and even in the connectors used and for that reason may sometimes be of use with more sophisticated analysers.
Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

A convenient list of ‘Exploiting your antenna analyser’ and short subject sub-titles, a table of contents for the series as it grows.

Exploiting your antenna analyser #26 Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

Exploiting your antenna analyser #25 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser without using OSL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #24 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser with OSL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #23 Seeing recent discussion by online experts insisting that power relays are not suitable to RF prompts an interesting and relevant application of a good antenna analyser Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

Exploiting your antenna analyser #25

Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser without using OSL calibration

A common task is to measure the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial transmission line using an instrument without using OSL calibration.

Whilst this seems a trivial task with a modern antenna analyser, it seems to challenge many hams.

We will use a little test fixture that I made for measuring small components, and for which I have made test loads for OSL calibration. We will find the frequency where reactance passes through zero at the first parallel resonance of an O/C stub section, this is at a length of approximately λ/2 (a good approximation for low loss coaxial cables above about 10MHz).

We will use a little test fixture that I made for measuring small components, and for which I have made test loads for OSL calibration.

The text fixture used for this demonstration is constructed on a SMA(M) PCB connector using some machined pin connector strip and N(M)-SMA(F) adapters to connect to the instrument.

VfMeasurement01

Above is a pic of the test fixture with adapters (in this case on a AA-600). Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #25

Exploiting your antenna analyser #24

Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser with OSL calibration

A common task is to measure the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial transmission line using an instrument that supports OSL calibration, an AIMuhf in this example.

Whilst this seems a trivial task with a modern antenna analyser, it seems to challenge many hams.

There are a thousand recipes, I am going to demonstrate just one that suits the instrument and application.

We will use a little test fixture that I made for measuring small components, and for which I have made test loads for OSL calibration. We will find the frequency where reactance passes through zero at the first parallel resonance of an O/C stub section, this is at a length of approximately λ/2 (a good approximation for low loss coaxial cables above about 10MHz).

The text fixture used for this demonstration is constructed on a SMA(M) PCB connector using some machined pin connector strip and N(M)-SMA(F) adapters to connect to the instrument.

VfMeasurement01

Above is a pic of the test fixture with adapters (in this case on a AA-600). Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #24

Exploiting your antenna analyser #23

Seeing recent discussion by online experts insisting that power relays are not suitable to RF prompts an interesting and relevant application of a good antenna analyser.

Screenshot - 03_08_16 , 14_12_56

Above is a sweep of an A/B changeover relay intended for HF application at up to 100W and lowish VSWR. The sweep is actually from 1 to 61MHz to be confident that there is not poor behaviour just outside of the HF range that might present on another implementation of the same design. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #23

Exploiting your antenna analyser #22

On a transmission line with standing waves, the voltage varies cyclically along the line, and is dependent also on power.

This article explains a method to use an analyser to predict the peak voltage level at a point for a given frequency and power based on measurement or estimation of complex Z or Y at that point using a suitable antenna analyser.

The problem

Lets say you have some critical  voltage breakdown limit and want to use your analyser to find any non-compliance at the proposed power level.

Let us assume that the not-to-exceed voltage at that point is 1000Vpk. Let’s allow a little margin for variation due to factors not fixed, let’s actually use 800Vpk as the limit. We will use the maximum permitted power in Australia, 400W.
Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #22

Exploiting your antenna analyser #21

A correspondent wrote about the apparent conflict between Exploiting your antenna analyser #11 and Alan, K0BG’s discussion of The SWR vs. Resonance Myth. Essentially the correspondent was concerned that Alan’s VSWR curve was difficult to understand.

K0BG’s pitch

For convenience, here is the relevant explanation.

By definition, an antenna’s resonant point will be when the reactive component (j) is equal to zero (X=Ø, or +jØ). At that point in our example shown at left, the R value reads 23 ohms, and the SWR readout will be 2.1:1 (actually 2.17:1). If we raise the analyzer’s frequency slightly, the reactive component will increase (inductively) along with an increase in the resistive component, hence the VSWR will decrease, perhaps to 1.4:1. In this case, the MFJ-259B is connected to an unmatched, screwdriver antenna mounted on the left quarter panel, and measured through a 12 inch long piece of coax. This fact is shown graphically in the image at right (below).

 

Clip 201

Note that the graph is unscaled, and that frustrates interpretation. The text is also not very clear, a further frustration. It is easy to draw a graph… but is the graph inspired by a proposition or is it supporting evidence. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #21

Exploiting your antenna analyser #20

Finding resistance and reactance with some low end analysers #2

Exploiting your antenna analyser #8 was about finding resistance and reactance with some low end analysers that don’t directly display those values of interest. The article showed how to calculate the values starting with |Z| from the analyser and included links to a calculator to perform the calcs.

This article describes an extension to that calculator Find |Z|,R,|X| from VSWR,|Z|,R,Ro to use R, VSWR, and Ro as the starting point. Note that the sign of X and the sign of the phase of Z cannot be determined from this starting point, there just isn’t enough information.

You will probably not find the equation for |X|(R,VSWR,Ro) in text books or handbooks, and the derivation is not shown here but if there is interest, I may publish a separate paper.

Lets say you knew VSWR=2, R=75Ω, Ro=50Ω, what is |X|?

Screenshot - 24_05_16 , 08_20_01

Above, entering the values in the calculator we find that |X|=35.4Ω. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #20

Exploiting your antenna analyser #19

Critically review your measurements

A recent post on an online forum provides a relevant example to discussion of this subject.

I have personally seen ratios similar to 3:1 or higher at the feed point become 1:1 at the rig over 100 or so feet of coax cable.

First point is that in good transmission line, it takes an infinite length to deliver the observations made above. Less might deliver almost VSWR=1 at the input end of the line.

Let us consider a practical scenario, 100′ of RG58A/U with a load of 150+j0Ω at 14MHz, the load end VSWR(50) is 3, the input impedance is 32.50-j22.86Ω and input VSWR(50) is 2.01. In this scenario, the line loss is 2.5dB which might be unacceptable for some applications. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #19

Exploiting your antenna analyser #18

Measure velocity factor of open wire line

One of the measurement tasks that one often encounters is to measure the velocity factor of a transmission line.

Often this is an indirect task of tuning a tuned line section, my method is to often measure some line off the role, find the velocity factor (vf), and use that to cut line for the tuned section making appropriate allowance for connectors etc.

Measuring vf for an open wire line includes all that is done for measuring vf of coax, but requires measures to ensure that common mode current does not affect measurement significantly.

To minimise common mode current effects, I will use two measures:

  • a high common mode impedance Guanella balun; and
  • form the line section being measured into a loose helix supported on some fishing line to spoil any common mode resonance.

Aa600BalunRg316

Above is the balun used, it is described at Low power Guanella 1:1 balun with low Insertion VSWR using a pair of Jaycar LF1260 suppression sleeves. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #18