WIA 4:1 current balun – further measurements

4-101a

I mentioned in my article WIA 4:1 current balun that the use of a single toroidal core in the above graphic compromises the balun. This article presents some simple measurements and analysis that question whether the balun works as so many users think.

The popularity of the balun derives from the work of VK2DQ and is often known as the VK2DQ 4:1 current balun (though probably not his invention).

Analysis at the limits

Often, analysis of a network as frequency approaches zero or infinity can simplify the analysis whilst allowing a reasonable test of the sanity of the design.

Above is a conventional transformer schematic of the WIA 4:1 current balun on a perfectly symmetric (balanced) load. At frequencies where the electrical length of each winding is very short, we can assume negligible phase delay along or between windings, simplifying analysis greatly. Continue reading WIA 4:1 current balun – further measurements

A common mode choke for a VDSL pair – LF1260 core

This article describes a common mode choke intended to reduce RF interference with a VDSL service.

The MDF is located where the underground cable enters the building. From here it rises vertically and travels some 25m across the ceiling to the VDSL modem. Continue reading A common mode choke for a VDSL pair – LF1260 core

nanoVNA-H – measuring an inductor – is it a no-brainer?

Let’s explore measurement of a test inductor with the nanovna.

Above is the test inductor, enamelled wire on an acrylic tube.

An online expert’s advice make this task look like a no-brainer:

For a 100 nH inductor you are probably using an air wound coil so you won’t see that much change in inductance with frequency. However, inductors made with toroids will because the permeability of the core goes down with frequency.

So, this is an air cored inductor, permeability is approximately that of free space, a constant 4πe-7 independent of frequency. Nevertheless we will see that apparent inductance can change with frequency. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – measuring an inductor – is it a no-brainer?

nanoVNA-H – continuing USB-C repair

I have reported issue with the USB-C plug / socket arrangement on the nanoVNA-H.

It is very sensitive to any jiggling of the cable or connector, causing a reset of the nanoVNA which almost always means lost work. The supplied cable was a partial cause, but sadly the jack on the PCB is also faulty.

This has progressively gotten worse to the point the nanoVNA-H is unusable. I have had a replacement socket on order for months from China where public health problems are causing chaos, it has only just shipped so could be some months yet.

I do realise that this is replacing cheap Chinese junk with cheap Chinese junk.

Anyway… it finally arrived after many months. A pack of 10 sockets cost $2.30 incl shipping, so it gives one a fair idea of how cheap the low grade connector that was used would have come.

Above, the replacement USB-C socket soldered in to the board without removing the display. The SB1 pad lifted of the board during removal of the old socket, no connection is made to it, so no harm done. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – continuing USB-C repair

LDF4-50A shield prep with simple hand tools

Commscope makes a range of prep tools that have good productivity but are quite expensive for the hobbyist.

There are different forms of connectors for LDF4-50A, this article discusses a modern type that uses a collet to clamp the cable to the connector body.

There are many ways to prepare the shield end. This article describes one using a fine tooth pull saw which makes for good results for a novice.

Above, an Excel thin kerf razor saw #55001 which has a K5 handle and 30490 46tpi pull saw (~$20 on eBay).

Above, a 3.6mm (0.14″) zip tie is pulled quite firmly into the valley of the corrugated shield to serve as a saw guide. Note the partial cut. The width of the zip tie is critical, and this width is common. The objective is to trim the shield just a little towards the end from the middle of the crest. (Normally you might have the jacket trimmed further back to accommodate the o ring and back of the connector, but it can be trimmed when the cut is complete.) Continue reading LDF4-50A shield prep with simple hand tools

nanoVNA-H – continuing USB-C woes #2

I have reported issue with the USB-C plug / socket arrangement on the nanoVNA-H.

It is very sensitive to any jiggling of the cable or connector, causing a reset of the nanoVNA which almost always means lost work. The supplied cable was a partial cause, but sadly the jack on the PCB is also faulty.

This has progressively gotten worse to the point the nanoVNA-H is unusable. I have had a replacement socket on order for months from China where public health problems are causing chaos, it has only just shipped so could be some months yet.

I do realise that this is replacing cheap Chinese junk with cheap Chinese junk.

Replacement of the USB-C socket will be difficult, fortunately it is the 12/16 pin version rather than the full 24 pins… but I do wonder at the wisdom of using a USB-C over the proven micro USB connector.

Above, the old socket has been removed from the board. One pad came off with the socket, but it is the unused SB1 pad. Of greater concern is whether the slight movement of the some other pads might cause conductor cracking. I do see signs that a couple of pins might not have tinned the full pad area, a hint of low quality board fabrication and a possible contribution to intermittent connection.

An alternate recovery is to cut the end off a USB cable and permanently wire it directly into the board.

So for now, the nanoVNA-H awaits parts again.

RF transmission lines – quite old art

From time to time I see online discussion about determining matched line loss (MLL) from Return Loss.

Something like 150 years ago a self educated genius thought about the problem of ‘smearing’ of telegraph signals in submarine cables and developed a model for the behavior of transmission lines that remains a very good model today. (The guy’s day job was as a telegraphist.)

He needed to develop new mathematics and new concepts like reactance, and he did this in the face of recognised engineers of the day dismissing the ideas.

The smearing problem was different propagation speed of the fundamental and harmonic components of the telegraphy waveform, he referred to it as distortion and in terms of his RLGC transmission line model he defined the requirements for a “Distortionless Line”. Zo for a Distortionless line is a purely real number, and a Lossless Line is a special case of a Distortionless Line. Continue reading RF transmission lines – quite old art

Windowed ladder line – single core CCS 21% IACS

There is some evidence that the common 1.024mm (#18) single core CCS windowed ladder line advertised as 30% IACS conductivity supplied recently may be closer to 21%. This is based solely on comparison of measured DC resistance with specification, but that is a strong hint that the copper cladding is less than specification.

Theoretical prediction

This article presents a theoretical prediction based o A model of current distribution in copper clad steel conductors at RF of the matched line loss (MLL) at 1.8MHz.

The assumption is a 1.024mm steel cored conductor with 30.7µm copper cladding.

Above is a plot of the predicted current magnitude and phase distribution in the conductor. Continue reading Windowed ladder line – single core CCS 21% IACS

Radcom Feb 2019 “cable balun” – comment on Radcom “The last word” letter

At Radcom Feb 2019 “cable balun” and
Radcom Feb 2019 “cable balun” – a deeper look I wrote about a novel balun by K3MT.

 

Fig 1

Above is a diagram of the so-called “cable balun”.

My evaluation essentially showed that it was not effective in an example practical scenario where one might want to use a balun, and that of itself, it was not likely to significantly reduce common mode current in most scenarios.

Radcom Mar 2020 published  a letter in “The last word” from the author defending the device citing a NEC model of one scenario, curiously though without explanation, a different topology to the diagram above from the original article. Note also that it is a structure in free space with no discussion of how that is relevant to real world antennas near ground. Continue reading Radcom Feb 2019 “cable balun” – comment on Radcom “The last word” letter

W551 CCS windowed ladder line – a guide to low end loss

At Simsmith bimetal line type – a comparison around the first MLL minimum I reported calculated matched line loss vs cladding depth for a single core copper clad steel conductor in a feed line such as Wireman 551.

The common assumption is that as frequency is reduced, so is loss, and at low frequencies loss is roughly proportional to square root of frequency.

That model is for homogenous conductors with well developed skin effect and is not applicable to the CCS line under discussion.

Above is a plot for various cladding depth on a 1.024mm (#18) 30% IACS (67µm cladding) CCS conductor at 1.8MHz where skin depth δ is 49µm. MLL is minimum around cladding depth 100µm or 2δ. Continue reading W551 CCS windowed ladder line – a guide to low end loss