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 human 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 human 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 human 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

Motorola TAD1000B Folded Coaxial Antenna – discussion

This article is a discussion about the Motorola TAD1000B Folded Coaxial Antenna series.

Above is an image from Moto’s documentation, it shows what appears to be a simple coaxial or sleeve dipole, bit with the top quarter wave element folded like half of a folded dipole. Continue reading Motorola TAD1000B Folded Coaxial Antenna – discussion

An explanation of W5DXP’s ‘line extender device’

A correspondent wrote seeking explanation of W5DXP’s no-tuner tuner which purports to obtain a near match by adjusting the length of the transmission line using relays or switches of some kind.

The particular device that is of interest is one using a single double pole knife switch as a three position On-Off-On switch.

The accompanying explanations states that this “is a way to use a single DPDT knife switch to obtain one, two, or three feet of ladder-line depending on the position of the switch”. Continue reading An explanation of W5DXP’s ‘line extender device’

Rigexpert’s Antscope takes a bigger step backwards

At Rigexpert’s Antscope takes a step backwards I wrote of Rigexpert’s determination to cripple Antscope by reducing the maximum value of R and X on graph axes to +/- 1600Ω.

I have deferred trying the new Antscope2 until now to allow it to reach some maturity.

This article is a brief review of Antscope2 v1.0.10, brevity driven by the need to cut losses and run.

The first thing I noted is the difficulty in reading some textual data due to low contrast. The mid blue on mid grey above is very hard to read and would be even harder outdoors if measurements were being made in that environment. I did not search for alternative themes, none jumped out, but out of the box, this is very limiting. FAIL. Continue reading Rigexpert’s Antscope takes a bigger step backwards

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

Measuring ambient noise level using a spectrum analyser #2

The article Measuring ambient noise level using a spectrum analyser was a walk through of measuring ambient noise using a spectrum analyser.

This article details a method that uses an online calculator to conveniently perform the calcs that permit more accurate answers by factoring the internal noise of the spectrum analyser into the calcs.

Step 1: measure instrument noise figure

Measure the noise floor of the instrument with 50Ω input termination using an average power (RMS) detector.

Now calculate the Noise Figure (Field Strength Noise Figure on output report). Continue reading Measuring ambient noise level using a spectrum analyser #2

AE7PD’s transmitting loop measurements

AE7PD documented his measurements of a 3.16m perimeter circular transmitting loop, 1.8m centre height above ground, that he made using 16mm copper tube and a split stator tuning capacitor:

AE7PD gives the radiation efficiency on 20m as 30.5% or -5.2dB.

I present here an alternative analysis of the antenna as measured on 20m.

Assuming the measurements were made with the antenna clear of disturbing conductors etc, and that 5/8″ tube means 16mm OD.

The key measurements were:

  • centre frequency 14.165MHz, VSWRmin=1.0;
  • VSWR=2.62 bandwidth 22kHz.

A NEC-4.2 model of the antenna at 14MHz was built and calibrated to the measured half power bandwidth (22kHz). Model assumptions include:

  • ‘average’ ground (0.005,13);
  • Q of the tuning capacitor = 2000;
  • conductivity of the loop conductor adjusted to calibrate the model half power bandwidth to measurement.

Note that the model may depart from the actual test scenario in other ways.

Above is the VSWR scan of the calibrated model, the load is matched at centre frequency and half power bandwidth is taken as the range between ReturnLoss=6.99dB points. Continue reading AE7PD’s transmitting loop measurements

Findling & Siwiak 2012 measurements of an Alexloop – discussion

I mentioned in Findling & Siwiak 2012 measurements of an Alexloop issues with their efficiency calculation.

Above is an extract from (Findling & Siwiak 2012).

(Siwiak & Quick 2018) give an equivalent circuit of lossless loop structure in free space.

When tuned to resonance, the response is simply that of a series RLC circuit where R=Rr (the radiation resistance) which is dependent on frequency, but varies very slowly with frequency compared to the net reactance X.

Above is a NEC simulation of such a loop. Continue reading Findling & Siwiak 2012 measurements of an Alexloop – discussion