nanoVNA-H – continuing USB-C woes

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.

Having tried a number of different cables that have worked reliably on other devices, I initially thought there was little difference.

I did have a good response to jetting plug and jack with IPA, but the effects are shortlived.

This brings me to consider whether the connector is degrading making debris that makes for unreliable contact, or whether this is too little spring pressure in the plug.

Above is a view into the supplied USB-C plug. The pic has been taken with care to line up the die parting marks at back and front of the connector, so the view is in line with the connector axes. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – continuing USB-C woes

Simsmith bimetal line type – a comparison around the first MLL minimum

At Simsmith bimetal line type I reported an experiment with Simsmith’s experimental bimetal line type.

The details of the model are a little sketchy, I was interested in how it modeled the phase of the layer currents, or if you like the implied velocity of propagation of the EM wave in the conductor.

Again the model is of a copper clad steel conductor, but tweaked a little to fit the apparent limit to the number of layers modeled in Simsmith, it is 1mm diameter, 500 layers (1µm per layer).

 

Above is the model with cladding thickness set to 20% or 100µm. Continue reading Simsmith bimetal line type – a comparison around the first MLL minimum

Measuring coaxial cable loss by reflection with a directional wattmeter

At Measuring coaxial cable loss by reflection with a VNA I discussed measuring terminated coax cable loss by reflection with an VNA, and you might ask the question can it be done with a scalar network analyser, return loss bridge, or directional wattmeter, all of which provide a measure of the amplitude of reflection wrt some reference impedance.

This article explores using a Bird 43 directional wattmeter to measure line loss in a similar scenario. We will use 6m of Belden 8359 (RG58A/U) @ 3.6MHz.

Expectation

A short digression, what is the specification Matched Line Loss (MLL) at 3.6MHz? Using TLLC we get 0.171dB, that is our expectation.

Return Loss of SC section

(Bird 2004) gives the following advice.

Line loss using open circuit calibration: The high directivity of elements can be exploited in line loss measurements, because of the equality of forward and reflected power with the load connector open or short circuited. In this state the forward and reflected waves have equal power, so that φ = 100% and ρ = ∞.
Open circuit testing is preferred to short circuit, because a high quality open circuit is easier to create than a high quality short. To measure insertion loss, use a high quality open circuit to check forward and reverse power equality, then connect an open-circuited, unknown line to the wattmeter. The measured φ is the attenuation for two passes along the line (down and back). The attenuation can then be compared with published data for line type and length (remember to halve Ndb or double the line length to account for the measurement technique).

This also contains the hoary old chestnut that a good OC termination is hard to achieve, but this author’s experience of measurement with modern VNAs is not consistent with Bird’s assertion.

So lets do a theoretical simulation of the Bird 43 applied to this problem.

Lets say we connect a source to the line section with a short circuit (SC) termination, and that the Bird 43 reads Pfwd=90W, and we read Pref=78W, we can calculate return loss \(RL=10 \cdot log_{10}\frac{P_{fwd}}{P_{ref}}=0.65dB\), so RL/2=0.65/2=0.325dB.

Continue reading Measuring coaxial cable loss by reflection with a directional wattmeter

Measuring coaxial cable loss by reflection with a VNA

At Measuring coaxial cable loss with a voltmeter I discussed measuring terminated coax cable loss with an RF voltmeter, and it had some real practical limitations.

This article explores using a nanoVNA to measure line loss in a similar scenario. We will use 6m of Belden 8359 (RG58A/U) @ 3.6MHz.

The same technique could be used with a quality antenna analyser.

Expectation

A short digression, what is the specification Matched Line Loss (MLL) at 3.6MHz? Using TLLC we get 0.171dB, that is our expectation.

Return Loss of SC section

A common method proposed is to measure Return Loss (RL) of a section with load end RL=0dB and halve it. Many experts advise that the section should be terminated in a short circuit (S) because short circuits are more reliable than open circuits. So let’s get cracking.

Above is measured |s11| using a nanoVNA with recent OSL calibration from 1-30MHz. |s11| @ 3.6MHz is by eye -0.651dB, RL=-|S11|, so RL/2=0.651/2=0.325dB. Continue reading Measuring coaxial cable loss by reflection with a VNA

Measuring coaxial cable loss by transmission measurement with a directional wattmeter

The article Measuring coaxial cable loss with a voltmeter discussed some pitfalls of that measurement method, starting with the influence of theoretical error in actual Zo at lower frequencies.

You might expect that using a directional wattmeter has exactly the same problems because as many online experts advise, at the end of the day they are just a voltmeter.

They are wrong, a Bird 43 might use a half wave detector driving a d’Arsonval meter and you might regard that to be a voltmeter, but the RF signal it measures is a combination of samples of forward and reflected waves wrt to its calibration impedance (usually 50+j0Ω) and we will see that makes a difference.

Where a directional wattmeter is calibrated for a purely real impedance (ie X=0), then the relationship \(P=P_{fwd}-P_{ref}\) holds true (On the concept of that P=Pfwd-Prev).

Lets take an example to explore the theoretical answer. We will use 10m of Belden 8359 (RG58A/U) @ 3.6MHz.

Lets model the scenario in TLLC. We will select the “Use Lint” switch for a better model of this specific cable at 3.6MHz and take the “Long” output.

Above is the input form. Continue reading Measuring coaxial cable loss by transmission measurement with a directional wattmeter

Measuring coaxial cable loss with a voltmeter

A question asked online about measuring terminated coax cable loss with an RF voltmeter and whether to condemn it based on comparison with specs raises an interesting case to discuss.

The subject raises some immediate concerns:

  • the accuracy of the termination;
  • the accuracy of the voltmeter;
  • the extent to which the voltmeter disturbs the thing being measured; and
  • assumptions about matched conditions.

Lets take an example to explore the theoretical answer. We will use 10m of Belden 8359 (RG58A/U) @ 3.6MHz.

Lets model the scenario in TLLC. We will select the “Use Lint” switch for a better model of this specific cable at 3.6MHz and take the “Long” output.

Above is the input form. Continue reading Measuring coaxial cable loss with a voltmeter

Simsmith bimetal line type

This article discusses various measurements and models of Wireman 551 windowed ladder line, including adapting Simsmith’s bimetal line type to bear on the problem.

Measurements

A starting point for characterising the matched line loss (MLL) of the very popular Wireman 551 (W551) windowed ladder line is the extrapolation of measurements by (Stewart 1999) to 1.8MHz. Since the measurements were made at and above 50MHz where the W551 has copper like performance, this is likely to underestimate actual MLL and such wide extrapolation introduces its own uncertainty. Nevertheless, the datapoint is MLL=0.00227dB/m.

Dan Maquire recently posted a chart summarising measurements of these lines.

For the purposes of this article, let’s tabulate the MLL at 1.8MHz in dB/m. Continue reading Simsmith bimetal line type

nanoVNA-H – recovery

I often see reports that a nanoVNA has been ‘bricked’.

The STM32F072 chip  used on the original nanoVNA has some features that make the firmware update process simple and robust, and difficult to mess up.

The normal way of doing a firmware update is using the DFU protocol from a PC over the USB interface. To use this, the device has to be “put into DFU mode”, this means that the chip is reset and started executing the bootloader in permanent system memory.

The concept of DFU is that normal client programs used with the device can easily be extended to include the DFU function as just another menu function of the client software. I am not aware of any nanoVNA client that does this.

So, you need to use a programming client, and for Windows a good choice is ST’s DfuSeDemo. You may need to convert the distributed file format using Dfu file manager from the same distribution, not all developers distribute a .dfu file.

There is a pin on the board, BOOT0, that must be held high during reset to enter the on-chip bootloader. Later firmware versions also provide a menu option to enter the bootloader, but if an attempted upgrade messes up the menu, you may need to use the BOOT0 pin bridged to the adjacent VDD pin while you power cycle the nanovna.

Above is the rear view of the board, and a jumper using pogo pins to bridge BOOT0 to VDD. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – recovery

nanoVNA-H – rework of v3.3 PCB to v3.4?

nanoVNA-H v3.4 is out, and I don’t yet see significant problem reports.

When I compare the circuit with v3.3 (which I have), apart from new battery charger IC etc, the changes are in three areas:

  1. decoupling power to the mixers;
  2. increasing the drive to the mixers; and
  3. higher attenuation of input on the rx port. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – rework of v3.3 PCB to v3.4?