Elecraft CP-1 directional coupler – magnetics review

Elecraft produces a directional coupler that may interest QRP aficionados. It comes with instructions for 20dB and 30dB coupling factors rated at 25 and 250W respectively from 1 to 30MHz.

This article reviews the magnetics design of the -20dB / 25W coupler.

The coupler uses a type of Sontheimer coupler (Sontheimer 1966) and these are commonly poorly designed. The first question is whether the magnetising impedance of T2 which appears in shunt with the load is sufficiently high to not give rise to poor insertion VSWR. Continue reading Elecraft CP-1 directional coupler – magnetics review

A fourth round with the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.

Before trusting measurements made with any instrument, its behaviour should be validated, and this article documents issues discovered in one thread of tests. The developer does not like the term “defects”, he prefers “issues”, a soft denial of “problems”.

So, the test scenario is the VA5 measuring the impedance looking into a 35m length of RG6 coax with an open circuit at the far end. The VA5 has been SOL calibrated with the higher quality loads sold by SDR-kits, and the test is a 3.5MHz. The firmware is the latest, v1.08 (about 3 months old).

The screenshots are taken with a camera, there does not seem to be a method of uploading screenshots to a PC.

Above is a swept Z measurement just above the half wave resonance of the line section. The impedance at the marker is comparable with that measured using an AA-600, so I would accept that it is probably correct. The graph is another matter. Continue reading A fourth round with the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

A third test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.

Whilst preparing A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser, issues were noticed with the user interface design / implementation. I stated in a later article that The matter of the clumsy / unproductive user interface will be explored more at a later time.

This article introduces a short video demonstration of the frustrating / unreliable user interface (UI) in firmware v1.08 where buttons do not seem to operate intuitively and consistently.

The video shows that whilst the up down buttons seem to work reliably and consistently in ‘menu’ mode, they do not do so when trying to adjust the frequency. Continue reading A third test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

A second test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.

Whilst preparing A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser, issues were noticed with the user interface design / implementation.

This article started off as a video demonstration of measuring the Matched Line Loss (MLL) of a 6m length of old / budget grade RG58CU for comparison with the datasheet.

Using the instrument was such a frustration due to the user interface design / implementation, but more time was devoted to trying to understand it and experimenting with button press timing etc… but I must admit, to no avail. I persevered and made the measurements which are reported here, the matter of the interface issues will be dealt with separately.

So, the interpolated datasheet MLL for quality cable, Belden 8262 (RG58C/U), is 0.319dB.

The measurement technique is the measure the ReturnLoss of the DUT with o/c and s/c terminations, and estimate MLL=(RLo+RLs)/4.

Above, the o/c test. Continue reading A second test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.

The analyser is a low cost kit (~A$265 including high accuracy cal kit and postage), the SM components are already fitted to the PCB, but the other components like switches, display connector etc need to be fitted. Whilst these parts are hand soldered, some pins are quite close to other components and require a fine soldering tip and steady hand. It is probably an hour’s work to complete the assembly.

Above is the completed FA-VA5. As can be seen, it has just three buttons which are used to navigate a menu system and to perform data entry, both of which can be a bit tedious but that is the trade off for a simple user interface.

This article is not a wide ranging review, it is a first test on a component that it relevant to the HF ham experience, and is challenging for most analysers in common use. Continue reading A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser

AIM 915a produces internally inconsistent results

 

AIMuhf

AIM915 was recently pulled from the distribution site and replaced by a new release, AIM915a.

I cannot recall ever finding a new release that did not have significant defects, commonly inconsistency between displayed values. In the common theme of one step forward, two steps backwards, this version has defects that were not present in AIM910B.

This problem existed in AIM915, it persists in AIM915a.

Let’s review the internal consistency of this part of the display screen.

Most of the values given above are calculated from a single measurement value, and should be internally consistent. That measurement value is translated to different quantities, many based on the stated Zref (50Ω in this case). Continue reading AIM 915a produces internally inconsistent results

AIM 915 produces internally inconsistent results

 

AIMuhf

AIM914 was recently pulled from the distribution site and replaced by a new release, AIM915.

I cannot recall ever finding a new release that did not have significant defects, commonly inconsistency between displayed values. In the common theme of one step forward, two steps backwards, this version has defects that were not present in AIM910B.

Let’s review the internal consistency of this part of the display screen.

Most of the values given above are calculated from a single measurement value, and should be internally consistent. That measurement value is translated to different quantities, many based on the stated Zref (50Ω in this case). Continue reading AIM 915 produces internally inconsistent results

WW1WW’s matching transformer for an EFHW

At PD7MAA’s BN43-202 matching transformer for an EFHW I gave an estimate of the core loss in PD7MAA’s transformer.

An online expert questioned the analysis and later measurements, and proposed his own transformer design as evidence.

Notably, his transformer uses #61 material and a larger binocular core, a Fair-rite 2861006802 with 2t for a nominal 50Ω primary, giving loss measurements at 7MHz of 0.08dB. Note that the confidence limits of that loss measurement because of the way in which it was obtained (eg a 1% error in the 1120Ω load resistor contributes 0.043dB error to the result), but the measurements do suggest that the loss is probably very low.

Though the loss is low and Return Loss is high at 7MHz, the limits for ReturnLoss>14dB (VSWR<1.5) is 5-18MHz. With compensation, that range may be changed.

Prediction

Lets apply the method laid out at PD7MAA’s BN43-202 matching transformer for an EFHW.

The best Fair-rite data I can find quickly is a chart of the impedance of a one turn winding.

Scaling from this graph, Xs is close of 35Ω at 7MHz, so lets used that to derive some basic parameters for the core. Continue reading WW1WW’s matching transformer for an EFHW

AIM 914 produces internally inconsistent results

 

AIMuhf

A new release, AIM914 appeared recently.

In the common theme of one step forward, two steps backwards, this version has defects that were not present in AIM910B.

Let’s review the internal consistency of this part of the display screen.

Most of the values given above are calculated from a single measurement value, and should be internally consistent. That measurement value is translated to different quantities, many based on the stated Zref (75Ω in this case). Continue reading AIM 914 produces internally inconsistent results