Checkout of SimSmith v16.3 – spot check of transmission line database

I am not a SimSmith user, and with upgrade of my desktop computer, I have lost access to the Smith chart application I have used for 20+ years. That has given me reason to evaluate various Smith chart applications for a replacement.

Smith charts are about modelling problems in transmission line terms, and what better test than a simple transmission line problem.

Above, a model of Belden 8216 (an RG-174 type cable) picked from SimSmith’s library of transmission line data (source KN5L). The model is at 1MHz and essentially indicates the Matched Line Loss of 100m by deducting the left hand dBW figure from the next one to the right, -5.88228e-3–2.33357=2.33dB. (Duh, I could not copy and paste these values, they had to be read and typed in by hand which is not only laborious but more importantly gives scope for error.)

Lets check the Manufacturer’s data sheet. Continue reading Checkout of SimSmith v16.3 – spot check of transmission line database

Inexpensive 4-20mA source – review

I bought a little 4-20mA source on eBay for under $10.

The device has a backlit LCD display, and a rotary encoder with steps of 0.05mA (or 0.3125% of 16mA). The current setting can be set as power on default by pressing the knob. It is supplied with a 250Ω resistor which could be used as a load resistor in projects delivering 500mV FSD.
Continue reading Inexpensive 4-20mA source – review

Measuring ambient noise level using a spectrum analyser

The external noise figure Fa is defined (from ITU P.372-13) as:

I have taken a sweep of the 40m band when this is a little activity, but little enough to see the ambient noise floor at the time. It is raining and it is relatively noisy.

Above, the noise floor in 9kHz bandwidth with a CISPR quasi peak detector is about -78dBm. This is 12dB above the instrument noise floor, sufficient to not bother making a correction and we can take the external noise to be -78dBm (see below for correction calculation if needed). Lets allow 1dB loss in the antenna system, and call it -77dBm at the air interface.
Continue reading Measuring ambient noise level using a spectrum analyser

Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review – v2.6

At Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review I wrote a review of a meter which I had purchased a little over a year ago, it was at v4.5.

One of the many problems identified was inconsistency of displayed values.

v2.6

Surecom’s versions are confusing, the highest number is not necessarily the latest version. It appears a partial version history from their current page advertising the SW-102 is:

OLD VERSION : V3.3 ,V3.8 ,V4.5,V4.9 ,V5.0,V5.1
2017-8 NEW VERSION : V2.02 ,V2.03

The following image is from Surecom’s current page advertising the SW-102, and I assume that the version shown here (v2.6) is the latest at time of writing.

The image captures the outputs of two tests with poor and good dummy loads.

Let’s check the displayed values for internal consistency. Continue reading Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review – v2.6

Is |s21| measurement of a common mode choke meaningful to antenna systems?

A common theme among online experts is to measure, or ask for measurement of a common mode choke connected between the centre conductor of a VNA’s tx and rx ports. That raises the question of whether |s21| with both ends shorted is meaningful, whether it in any useful way characterises the choke as a component of an antenna system.

Direct measurement of common mode current is not difficult, and it is almost always the best way to determine the effect of a choke on common mode current.

That said, analytical and simulation techniques can be of great value in the antenna design process, well before a prototype antenna is built.

An example choke at 7MHz

Lets perform an experiment using NEC to model the effect of a choke in a 7MHz antenna.

The choke used uses 11t on a FT-240-43 ferrite core. The values are from a calibrated model, values confirmed by measurement.

We will use NEC-4.2 with one of the scenarios detailed in the article Baluns in antenna systems, Model 4, but using the choke described above which has an impedance of 3175+j2502Ω at 7MHz.

Above is a simulation of the connection. Zcm of the choke in this case at 7MHz, 3175+j2502Ω, has been converted to an equivalent inductance and resistance to suit the simulator. (Note that the equivalent circuit it valid only for a narrow band, there is no simple wideband circuit equivalent for this ferrite cored choke (more later).) Continue reading Is |s21| measurement of a common mode choke meaningful to antenna systems?

Effect of shorting turns on a tapped air cored solenoid at RF #2

Effect of shorting turns on a tapped air cored solenoid at RF offers a simple model for estimating the effect of shorting turns on inductance (L) and Q.

A correspondent sent me a set of measurements he made of an air cored solenoid using a Q meter.

The coil was a 22t air solenoid of length 99.5mm and radius 31.56mm. Q of the whole coil (L12) was measured at 6MHz to be 475.

L and Q were estimated and measured with three different tapping points at one end of the coil.

Whilst the method described in the reference article does not attempt to estimate the effect of tapping where the unused turns are left open circuit, we might expect than when the unused section is a small part of the coil, that the effect is similar to that if the unused turns were not there.

A model as described in the reference article was constructed.

The notation is L1 is the used part of the coil, L2 is the unused part, L12 is the whole coil with no taps, Lms is measured L unused shorted, Lmo is measured L unused open, like wise for the Q subscripts.

Above, the model results There is quite good reconciliation with the predicted behaviour. Continue reading Effect of shorting turns on a tapped air cored solenoid at RF #2

Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line using the velocity factor solver

This article is a tutorial in use of Velocity factor solver to find the velocity factor of a sample coaxial transmission line using an antenna analyser.

Example 1: Youkits FG-01

we have two lengths of H&S RG223 terminated in identical BNC connectors at both ends. Let’s connect each in turn to a Youkits FG-01 antenna analyser and find the quarter wave resonance of each (ie the lowest frequency at which measured X passes through zero).

Above, the line sections are connected to the Youkits, and the length overall is measured from the case of the analyser to the of the cable.
Continue reading Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line using the velocity factor solver

Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line – a challenge

An upcoming article works through an approach to finding the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial cable using an antenna analyser.

As a precursor, this article poses a challenge that will identify the issues relevant to the problem.

Case 1:

A Rigexpert has been used to measure the first quarter wave resonance of a length of ‘unknown’ semi air dielectric RG6.

The length of RG6 Dual Shield is terminated in an F connectors at one end, the other end cut cleanly square. It is connected via  N(M)-BNC(F) and BNC(M)-F(F) adapters to a Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyser and the quarter wave resonance noted (ie the lowest frequency at which measured X passes through zero).

Above, the line section is connected to the Rigexpert via adapters, and the length overall is measured from the case of the AA-600 to the of the cable. The measured length is 1.077m, make any adjustment to that length that you think is justified on the information presented here.
Continue reading Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line – a challenge