Velocity factor solver

It is convenient or necessary sometimes to infer transmission line velocity factor from measurements of the first resonance of two significantly different lengths of the same transmission line. The advantage of this method is that it approximately nulls out the residual time offset of the instrument and in fact permits practical measurement fixtures for attaching the test sections to the instrument.

The method relies upon an assumption that velocity factor is independent of frequency. That assumption may introduce some small error for lossy lines at frequencies below about 10MHz, and is probably not suitable below 1MHz.

Since most analysers are better at measuring low impedances, use an O/C termination for quarter wave sections, and S/C termination for half wave sections.

The shorter section should be long enough to be able to measure its first resonance. The longer section needs to be short enough to be able to measure its first half wave resonance. Within those constraints, the greater the difference in length, the better. be consistent with how you measure length, and the S/C or O/C used, and measure frequency very carefully.

Electrical length (both sections)
Length (m) Frequency of fundamental resonance (MHz)
Section #1
Section #2
 Offset (ps)  
Offset (ps)
Velocity factor (pu)
Velocity factor (%)


Offset is the time offset determined in the fixture, and which was deducted to obtain the velocity factor. If you leave Section #2 blank, the calculator will use the specified offset which must be in terms of Zo of the cable under test (which can be obtained from a paired measurement with the same fixture).

The calculator does not do a lot of error checking, if you enter nonsense, it will probably produce nonsense.

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