Baselining an antenna system with an analyser

I often receive emails from folk trying to validate continued performance of an installed antenna system using their analyser.

With foresight they have swept the antenna system from the tx end and saved the data to serve as a baseline.

The following are example sweeps from one of my own antennas, a Diamond X50N with 10m of LDF4-50A feed line.

Now I have plotted Return Loss rather than VSWR for several reasons:

  • Return Loss is more sensitive to the problems that we might want to identify;
  • Rigexpert in this case decided that the Antscope user could not be interested in plotting VSWR>5 (Return Loss<3.5dB).

Now a hazard in working with Return Loss is that many authors of articles and software don’t use the industry standard meaning.

Return Loss

Lets just remind ourselves of the meaning of the term Return Loss. (IEEE 1988) defines Return Loss as:

(1) (data transmission) (A) At a discontinuity in a transmission system the difference between the power incident upon the discontinuity. (B) The ratio in decibels of the power incident upon the discontinuity to the power reflected from the discontinuity. Note: This ratio is also the square of the reciprocal to the magnitude of the reflection coefficient. (C) More broadly, the return loss is a measure of the dissimilarity between two impedances, being equal to the number of decibels that corresponds to the scalar value of the reciprocal of the reflection coefficient, and hence being expressed by the following formula:

20*log10|(Z1+Z2)/(Z1-Z2)| decibel

where Z1 and Z2 = the two impedances.

(2) (or gain) (waveguide). The ratio of incident to reflected power at a reference plane of a network.

Return Loss expressed in dB will ALWAYS be a positive number in passive networks.

The relationship between ReturnLoss in dB and VSWR is given by the equations:

  • ReturnLoss=-20*log((VSWR-1)/(VSWR+1))
  • VSWR=(1+10^(-ReturnLoss/20))/(1-10^(-ReturnLoss/20))

Diamond X50N on 2m

So now that we are on the same page about Return Loss, lets look at my 2m plot.

The X50N does not have VSWR or Return Loss specs, but we might expect that at the antenna itself, VSWR<1.5 which implies Return Loss>25dB. Measuring into feed line, you can add twice the matched line loss to the Return Loss target (see why Return Loss is a better measure).
Continue reading Baselining an antenna system with an analyser

Thompson’s coax common mode explanation

A recent online discussion on common mode feed line current was directed to Thompson’s article with the recommendation that is ALL basically needed to discuss the common mode current.

Above is Thompson’s diagram of currents in a feed coax, and it contains two significant errors that could / would lead to formation of the wrong concepts in a learner’s mind. Continue reading Thompson’s coax common mode explanation

An RF choke for a 1.8-30MHz coax power injector – LF1260 core

This article describes a prototype RF choke (RFC) for use in a power injector for 50Ω coax over range 1.8-30MHz. Power injector / extractors are often used to connect power and / or signalling on a shared common RF coax feed line to accessories such as remote antenna switches and ATUs.

Design criteria are:

  • Insertion VSWR of the RFC in shunt with 50+j0Ω < 1.1;
  • Dissipation < 2% of a 100W transmitter.

The core chose is a LF1260 ferrite suppression bead from Jaycar. It is a medium / high µ core readily available in Australia at $7.50 / 6.

 

Above is the prototype RFC wound with data cable wire for the purpose of measurement. In application it could be wound with 1mm enamelled copper or PTFE insulated wire (Curie point is lowish at 120°+, but it still benefits from higher temperature insulation). Continue reading An RF choke for a 1.8-30MHz coax power injector – LF1260 core

End Fed Half Wave matching transformer – 80-20m

A prototype broadband transformer for a End Fed Half Wave operated at fundamental and first, second, and third harmonic is presented.

The transformer comprises a 32t of 0.65mm enamelled copper winding on a FT240-43 ferrite core, tapped at 4t to be used as an autotransformer to step down a load impedance of around 3300Ω to around 50Ω. The winding layout is unconventional, most articles describing a similar transformer seem to have their root in a single design.
Continue reading End Fed Half Wave matching transformer – 80-20m

Line loss under standing waves – recommendation of dodgy tool on eHam

In a discussion about using a 40m centre fed half wave dipole on 80m, the matter of feed line loss came up and online expert KM1H offered:

Use this to help make up your mind. Add it to the normal coax loss. http://www.csgnetwork.com/vswrlosscalc.html

This is to suggest that the feed line loss under standing waves can be calculated with that calculator.

He then berates and demeans a participant for commenting on his recommendation, bluster is par for the course in these venues.

Calculator analysis

The calculator in question states this calculator is designed to give the efficiency loss of a given antenna, based on the input of VSWR (voltage standing wave ratio) and other subsequent factors.

This is a bit wishy washy, efficiency loss is not very clear. The usual meaning of efficiency is PowerOut/PowerIn, and the usual meaning of loss is PowerIn/PowerOut, both can be expresssed in dB: LossdB=10*log(Loss) and EfficiencydB=10*log(Efficiency). Continue reading Line loss under standing waves – recommendation of dodgy tool on eHam

End fed half wave matching – voltage rating of compensation capacitors

The so-called End Fed Half Wave antenna system has become more popular, particularly in the form of a broadband matching transformer in combination with a wire operated harmonically over perhaps three octaves (eg 7, 14, 21, 28MHz).

The broadband transformer commonly uses a medium µ ferrite toroid core, and a turns ratio of around 8:1. Flux leakage results in less than the ideal n^2 impedance transformation, and a capacitor is often connected in parallel with the 50Ω winding to compensate the transformer response on the higher bands.

David, VK3IL posted EFHW matching unit in which he describes a ferrite cored transformer matching unit that is of a common / popular style.

My EFHW match box. 3:24 turns ration on a FT140-43 toroid with a 150pF capacitor across the input.

Above is David’s pic of his implementation. It is a FT140-43 toroid with 3 and 24t windings and note the 150pF capacitor in shunt with the coax connector.

The article End fed matching – analysis of VK3IL’s measurements gives the following graph showing the effects of compensation for various resistive loads. Continue reading End fed half wave matching – voltage rating of compensation capacitors

The sign of reactance – challenge reality check

The sign of reactance – a challenge posed a problem, a set of R,|X| data taken with an analyser of a quite simple network and asked readers to solve the sign of X over the range, ie to transform R,|X| to  R,X.

The sign of reactance – challenge solution gave a solution to the challenge, and The sign of reactance – challenge discussion provided some discussion about the problem and solution.

Some correspondents have asserted that the challenge (see above Smith chart) contains a response that is contrived for the purpose and not representative of real world antenna systems. Continue reading The sign of reactance – challenge reality check

The sign of reactance – challenge discussion

The sign of reactance – a challenge posed a problem, a set of R,|X| data taken with an analyser of a quite simple network and asked readers to solve the sign of X over the range, ie to transform R,|X| to  R,X.

It is widely held that this is a trivial matter, and lots of software / firmware implement algorithms that fail on some scenarios. Though the scenario posed was designed to be a small set that provides a challenging problem, it is not purely theoretical, the characteristics of the data occur commonly in real world problems and the challenge data is derived from measurement of a real network.

Above is a Smith chart plot of the measured data that was transformed to the R,|X| for the challenge. Continue reading The sign of reactance – challenge discussion

The sign of reactance – challenge solution

The sign of reactance – a challenge posed a problem, a set of R,|X| data taken with an analyser of a quite simple network and asked readers to solve the sign of X over the range, ie to transform R,|X| to  R,X.

It is widely held that this is a trivial matter, and lots of software / firmware implement algorithms that fail on some scenarios. Though the scenario posed was designed to be a small set that provides a challenging problem, it is not purely theoretical, the characteristics of the data occur commonly in real world problems and the challenge data is derived from measurement of a real network.

Imported and rendered graphically in ZPlots we have:

The network measured is comprised from analyser, a 2.8m length of RG58/CU, a tee piece feeding a 50 resistor on one branch and on the other branch, another 2.8m length of RG58/CU with a 4.7Ω resistor termination.

The challenge is: what is the sign of X across the frequency range? Continue reading The sign of reactance – challenge solution

The sign of reactance – a challenge

Over time, readers of The sign of reactance have suggested that determining the sign of reactance with an antenna analyser that does not directly measure the sign is not all that difficult, even for beginners. The article shoots down some of the most common algorithms as failures on simple cases.

This article gives measurements made from a simple network of two identical lengths of 50Ω coax, a 50Ω resistor and a 4.7Ω resistor. It is a network designed to offer a challenge to the simple algorithms, and it IS solvable analytically… but not with most algorithms and software,

Here is the data from measurement made with an AA-600 and then all – signs removed, so in fact the Xs column is |Xs|.

"Zplots file generated by AntScope"
"Freq(MHz)","Rs","Xs"
9.000000,78.13,53.66
9.250000,82.12,51.10
9.500000,86.10,47.83
9.750000,89.46,44.00
10.000000,92.30,39.90
10.250000,94.53,35.39
10.500000,96.21,30.71
10.750000,97.17,26.14
11.000000,97.49,21.54
11.250000,97.30,17.12
11.500000,96.54,13.04
11.750000,95.47,9.14
12.000000,93.92,5.68
12.250000,92.16,2.70
12.500000,90.25,0.17
12.750000,88.13,2.50
13.000000,85.94,4.50
13.250000,83.67,6.15
13.500000,81.45,7.36
13.750000,79.29,8.38
14.000000,77.22,9.21
14.250000,75.21,9.78
14.500000,73.23,10.16
14.750000,71.44,10.37
15.000000,69.70,10.25
15.250000,67.99,10.23
15.500000,66.50,9.99
15.750000,65.10,9.68
16.000000,63.81,9.27
16.250000,62.65,8.72
16.500000,61.59,8.15
16.750000,60.55,7.54
17.000000,59.69,6.86
17.250000,58.97,6.20
17.500000,58.20,5.43
17.750000,57.66,4.68
18.000000,57.14,3.81
18.250000,56.77,2.98
18.500000,56.47,2.16
18.750000,56.22,1.22
19.000000,56.04,0.38
19.250000,56.07,0.50
19.500000,56.02,1.38
19.750000,56.12,2.29
20.000000,56.41,3.15
20.250000,56.68,4.03
20.500000,57.11,4.86
20.750000,57.51,5.72
21.000000,58.06,6.61
21.250000,58.77,7.45
21.500000,59.54,8.22
21.750000,60.47,8.95
22.000000,61.44,9.75
22.250000,62.52,10.34
22.500000,63.77,10.97
22.750000,65.11,11.55
23.000000,66.56,12.02
23.250000,68.11,12.38
23.500000,69.82,12.64
23.750000,71.75,12.82
24.000000,73.67,12.84
24.250000,75.96,12.67
24.500000,78.12,12.27
24.750000,80.40,11.72
25.000000,83.05,10.69
25.250000,85.56,9.68
25.500000,88.29,8.09
25.750000,90.92,6.21
26.000000,93.63,3.91
26.250000,96.17,1.13
26.500000,98.61,2.16
26.750000,100.68,5.92
27.000000,102.51,10.11
27.250000,103.87,14.90
27.500000,104.65,19.98
27.750000,104.71,25.32
28.000000,103.98,30.95
28.250000,102.58,36.48
28.500000,100.14,41.97
28.750000,97.08,47.32
29.000000,93.07,51.86

Imported and rendered graphically in ZPlots we have:

The challenge is what is the sign of X across the frequency range? Continue reading The sign of reactance – a challenge