Inherently balanced ATUs

Hams are taken by fashion and pseudo technical discussion more than objective circuit analysis, experiment, and measurement. Nowhere is this more evident that the current fashion for “True Balanced Tuners”.

LB Cebik in 2005 in his article “10 Frequency (sic) Asked Questions about the All-Band Doublet” wrote

In recent years, interest in antennas that require parallel transmission lines has surged, spurring the development of new inherently balanced tuners.

Open wire lines require current balance to minimise radiation and pick up, the balance objective is current balance at all points on the line.

Cebik goes on to give examples of his “inherently balanced tuners”.

Above, Cebik’s “inherently balanced tuners” all have a common mode choke at the input, and some type of adjustable network to the output terminals. Continue reading Inherently balanced ATUs

Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns – finding TLT Vout/Vin

I have been asked to expand on the calculation of voltage magnitude and phase set out in Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns.

Above is Ruthroff’s equivalent circuit, Fig 3 from his paper (Ruthroff 1959). Focusing on the left hand circuit which explains the balun as a transmission line transformer (TLT), and taking the node 1 as the reference, the loaded source voltage appears at the bottom end of the combined 4R load, and transformed by the transmission line  formed by the two wires of the winding, and inverted, at the top end of the combined 4R load.

It is the transformation on this transmission line that gives rise to loss of symmetry.

The complex ratio Vout/Vin is dependent on the complex reflection coefficient Gamma at both ends of the line and the line propagation constant gamma, all of which are frequency dependent complex quantities. Continue reading Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns – finding TLT Vout/Vin

A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail #3

This article expands on the detail behind A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF with focus on InsertionVSWR and possible compensation schemes.

A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail #2 discussed the imperfection caused by the quite short pigtails, and although small, it is measurable.

Chris, NX0E, related experience with Dr E M T Jones at TCI where they made, among other things, TCI’s HF baluns. These baluns were compensated using capacitors, and we see that very occasionally in ham grade baluns.

The pigtails can be seen as a short transmission line of higher Zo, and although not uniform, it provides a model for understanding their effect.

Above is a Simsmith model that treats the pigtails as short sections of 300Ω line, the lengths adjusted to calibrate the model to the observed impedance at 30MHz.
Continue reading A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail #3

A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail #2

This article expands on the detail behind A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF with focus on InsertionVSWR.

Insertion VSWR is the VSWR looking into the balun with a matched load (termination) on its output, it is a measure of imperfection of the balun. It ought to be a specification item for low Insertion VSWR baluns, but it rarely given.

What is not mentioned in the above definition is the symmetry or balance of the load.

Above is a Smith chart plot of input Z of the balun with an isolated load of 50+j0Ω. Isolated to mean that there is no direct path from either load terminal to ground, it could be seen as a symmetric load with extremely high common mode impedance. All of the external connections use N type connectors with Zo=50Ω.
Continue reading A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail #2

Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 1:1 baluns

Well, I guess Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns begs the question, what about Ruthroff 1:1 voltage baluns?

The Ruthroff 1:1 voltage balun can be seen as two back to back Ruthroff 4:1 voltage baluns with the redundant winding removed… and that prompts the thinking that the cascade of two baluns back to front might cancel the phase delay.

Let’s measure a popular Ruthroff 1:1 voltage balun.

RAK BL-50A

Above, the RAK BL50-A was a quite popular balun, and probably the balun of choice for half wave dipoles… well until the message about current baluns escaped. Continue reading Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 1:1 baluns

Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns

Much is written about antenna system balance, this article looks at balance issues with the very common ATU configuration that uses a Ruthroff 4:1 voltage balun to adapt coax transmitter output to two wire open feed line. This type of balun is employed in most ham market ATUs that contain an integral balun.

Above is Ruthroff’s equivalent circuit, Fig 3 from his paper (Ruthroff 1959).

If one looks carefully at the transmission line form, there is effectively a two wire line wound into a helix (usually on a magnetic core) and connected from the unbalanced source to one half of the load inverting the connection for the necessary phase reversal.

Ideally, Vout of this line is equal to Vin, ie Vout/Vin should be 1∠0°. That is unlikely as it implies a zero length transmission line which provides the decoupling of the phase inverting line.

This article looks at the Ruthroff 4:1 balun balance using the very popular MFJ-949E as an example.

Above is a pic of the MFJ-949E Ruthroff 4:1 balun. The transmission line is not uniform, but let’s make an approximation to predict its behavior with a centre tapped 100Ω load, the centre of which is connected to the ground terminal. Continue reading Voltage symmetry of practical Ruthroff 4:1 baluns

Equivalent circuit of an antenna system

Common practice is to treat antenna systems as a two terminal device in free space.

Pickup most handbooks, and even text books, and antennas and often antenna systems are described in this way.

That model is quite inadequate for many or most antenna systems installed in proximity of natural ground. For example, a two terminal dipole and feed line system representation cannot have feed line common mode current, and it follows that thinking in terms of two terminal models denies a full understanding of the antenna system.

A three terminal model of an antenna system

(Schmidt nd) sets out a three terminal model of an antenna system in presence of ground using quite conventional linear circuit theory.

Above is Schmidt’s Y network based on values of three intermediate impedances, ZD, ZU, and ZC. These are found from measured values Za, Zb and ZC as explained by Schmidt: Continue reading Equivalent circuit of an antenna system

AIM 916 produces internally inconsistent results

 

AIMuhf

AIM915a was recently pulled from the distribution site and replaced by a new release, AIM916.

AIM916 chokes on some calibration files created with earlier versions, so again historical scan data is rendered worthless. Note the illogical diagnostic message… typical AIM quality.

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 AIM915a, it persists in AIM916.

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 916 produces internally inconsistent results

VU3SQM directional wattmeter build – #4

VU3SQM directional wattmeter build – #1 laid out the first steps in design review and build of a directional wattmeter.

At long last, some PTFE rod arrived to permit assembly of the transformers.

For reasons discussed in an earlier article, the transformers use a larger core than the original VU3SQM. They need to stand above the board, and whilst that compromises the mechanical strength of the assembly, it should have better performance. Continue reading VU3SQM directional wattmeter build – #4

W5KV’s transmitting loop measurements – DELUXE HG-1 PreciseLOOP 7MHz

W5KV documented his measurements of a 3m perimeter circular transmitting loop, DELUXE HG-1 PreciseLOOP, 2.0m centre height above ground.

This article explores his 7MHz observations.

Assuming the measurements were made with the antenna clear of disturbing conductors etc, in good condition.

Above is his VSWR scan.

The key measurements were:

  • centre frequency 7.175MHz, VSWRmin=1.1;
  • VSWR=3 bandwidth 36kHz.

Based on that, we can estimate the half power bandwidth to be 30kHz if R is less than Ro, more like 33kHz in the other case, but we will be optimists.

A NEC-4.2 model of the antenna at 14MHz was built and calibrated to the implied half power bandwidth (30kHz). 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 W5KV’s transmitting loop measurements – DELUXE HG-1 PreciseLOOP 7MHz