End fed matching – design review

A correspondent asked me to review an end fed matching unit that uses a FT82-43 ferrite transformer to transform the high impedance of a 40m end fed half wave down to approximately 50+j0Ω.

His design uses a primary (radio side) of 3t and secondary of 24t.

If the transformer is simply used without an ATU between it and the radio, and we assume that the antenna system is adjusted to present low VSWR50 to the radio, a simple approximation involves calculating the magnetising admittance of the 3t 50Ω winding, and calculating the portion of total input power that is dissipated in that admittance.

Screenshot - 13_09_2015 , 16_07_17

Using the calculator at Calculate ferrite cored inductor (from Al), the admittance (G+jB) of the 3t winding is 0.00596-j0.00859S. (The impedance of a sample wind could be measured with a suitable analyser and converted to admittance.)

For a 50Ω match, the total conductance G is 1/50=0.02, and the percentage power lost in the magnetising admittance is Gcore/Gtotal*100=0.00596/0.02*100=30%.

Now cores of this type heat up relatively slowly, but long term the temperature rise is around 10K/W/m^2 in free air. The surface area of the core is about 0.001m^2, and for temperature rise of say 70K, maximum long term average power dissipation is around 0.8W, less if enclosed.

Pulling all this together, maximum continuous average RF power is around 0.8/0.3=2.7W, again less if enclosed.

This transformer might work ok at up to 100W PEP SSB telephony (no speech processing) because of the very low average/PEP ratio of SSB telephony, but it would probably fail quite quickly tuning up with a 100W carrier.

Because of the risk of explosion of the ferrite (a ceramic material with risk of dangerous flying shards) under rapid temperature rise, such a device should be enclosed if used with a transmitter over a few watts… exacerbating the heating problem.

For this application, I would be considering a higher Q core material (which could be ferrite or powdered iron), and then a size appropriate to the power requirement. Note though that reducing the core loss will reduce the bandwidth, so system tuning becomes sharper.

A good exercise for the reader would be to run the same analysis for a FT140-61 (µi=125, Al=150nH) with a 4t primary.