Exploiting your antenna analyser #29

Resolving the sign of reactance – a method – Smith chart detail

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28 gave an example of use of one method to resolve the sign of reactance comparing measurements made with a slightly longer known transmission line.

One way to predict the input impedance to the longer line is using a Smith chart. This article presents a Smith chart prediction of the expected input impedance of a 8′ section of RG8 at 14.17Mhz (vf=0.66, length=0.175λ) for the cases of Zload being 60.3+j26.9Ω and  60.3-j26.9Ω.

60.3+j26.9Ω

The impedance is normalised to 50Ω and plotted on the Smith chart, point 1 above. A radial from the centre through point 1 is drawn to the edge of the chart. Another radial is drawn a distance towards the generator of 0.175λ and using a pair of dividers or ruler, point 2 is plotted on that radial at the same distance from the centre (same VSWR) as point 1.

These points are on a constant VSWR arc but the arc has not been draw because the two arcs would overlap and might be confusing to some readers.  Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #29

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28

Resolving the sign of reactance – a method

Many analysers do not measure the sign of reactance, and display the magnitude of reactance, and likewise for magnitude of phase and magnitude of impedance… though they are often incorrectly and misleadingly labelled otherwise.

The article The sign of reactance explains the problem and dismisses common recipes for resolving the sign of reactance as not general and not reliable.

This article gives an example of one method that may be useful for resolving the sign of reactance.

My correspondent has measured VSWR=1.68 and |Z|=66 and needs to know R and X. From those values we can calculate R=60.3 and |X|=26.9.

Method

The method involves adding a short series section of known line, short enough to provide a measurement difference in R, and that R would be different for the case of =ve and -ve X, all of these measured at the same frequency. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #28

A check load for antenna analysers with UHF series socket

Hams embrace the UHF series connectors like no one else, including for its use on test equipment where its performance is lacking.

This is the likely reason why it is so hard to find low VSWR 50Ω terminations with UHF series plug. It is rare to find something with VSWR quoted in specifications, and nigh on impossible to find one at a reasonably low price.

On the other hand, SMA terminations start at about $2 each (posted), and it is not too hard to find ones specified with VSWR<1.2 to several GHz.

Above is a low cost, low quality solution. It is a SMA termination selected from a bunch using a high accuracy DMM (selected, R is 49.86Ω) and a SMA(F)-UHF(M) adapter, total cost $7 (posted) (but you might be advised to buy 5 loads to select the best one). Despite the specification, they are probably only good to 100MHz, and can be unreliable. Continue reading A check load for antenna analysers with UHF series socket

Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Measuring SSB transmitter power has been surrounded in some mystique since the deployment of such transmitters in the Amateur service. Some oft cited wisdom includes:

  • Peak Envelope Power (PEP) can only be measured with a two tone waveform;
  • PEP can only be measured with an oscilloscope;
  • PEP of an unmodulated sine wave is twice the average power;
  • PEP is meaningless for anything but SSB.

Lets firstly look at what PEP means in the real world.  Continue reading Measuring SSB telephony Peak Envelope Power

Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

An Insertion VSWR test gone wrong

We often learn more from failures than successes, this exercise is one of those opportunities.

An online poster tried to validate his newly purchased MFJ-918 by measuring Insertion VSWR.

That is done preferably by measuring a good termination (dummy load) to validate that it has a very low VSWR, then inserting the Device Under Test (DUT) and measuring the VSWR as a result of insertion of the DUT.

The poster did not mention measurement of the dummy load alone, and it is a type that warrants validation.

Above is the poster’s test setup, his Rigexpert AA-170 is connected to the balun’s input jack using a M-M adapter. The output wires on the balun form a rough circle of about 550mm perimeter by eye. Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #27

Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review

I recently purchased a Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter. It looked a little like a supercharged RedDot copy.

sw102-02

Above the Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter with backlight and photographed under normal interior lighting. The display lacks contrast, and overall is difficult to read due to size of text, fonts used, and lack of contrast. (The pic is taken with a screen protector installed, but the evaluation is based on the bare meter with original protective film removed as it degraded readability.) Continue reading Surecom SW-102 VSWR meter review

Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

A common task is to measure the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial transmission line using an instrument that lacks facility to backout cable sections or measure SOL calibration (as discussed in other articles in this series). The older models and newer budget models often fall into this category.

The manuals for such instruments often explain how to measure coaxial cable velocity factor, and the method assumes there is zero offset at the measurement terminals (whether they be the built-in terminals or some fixture / adapters). In fact even the connectors are a source of error, especially UHF series connectors.

It is the failure to read exactly Z=0+j0Ω with a S/C applied to the measurement terminals that adversely impacts efforts to measure resonant frequency of a test line section.

The method described here approximately nulls out offsets in the instrument, measurement fixture, and even in the connectors used and for that reason may sometimes be of use with more sophisticated analysers.
Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser #26

Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

A convenient list of ‘Exploiting your antenna analyser’ and short subject sub-titles, a table of contents for the series as it grows.

Exploiting your antenna analyser #30 Quality of termination used for calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #29 Resolving the sign of reactance – a method – Smith chart detail

Exploiting your antenna analyser #28 Resolving the sign of reactance – a method

Exploiting your antenna analyser #27 An Insertion VSWR test gone wrong

Exploiting your antenna analyser #26 Find coax cable velocity factor using a very basic analyser

Exploiting your antenna analyser #25 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser without using SOL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #24 Find coax cable velocity factor using an antenna analyser with SOL calibration

Exploiting your antenna analyser #23 Seeing recent discussion by online experts insisting that power relays are not suitable to RF prompts an interesting and relevant application of a good antenna analyser Continue reading Exploiting your antenna analyser – contents

Another speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference

Remote speaker-microphones and DMR portables discussed RF ingress to Speaker Mics (RSM) used with DMR radios in digital mode.

The problem

I purchased a RSM branded Kenwood but obviously a Chinese fake for an MD-390 for about $5 posted, but it turned out to be lousy with RF interference in the form of the ‘motorboat noise’ on transmit audio.

Dismantling the RSM  I found there is precious little RF filtering, just a single SMD cap near the electret capsule.

A solution

Above is the modified RSM. Continue reading Another speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference

LP-100A impedance measurement

A correspondent wrote seeking clarification of the Telepost LP-100A claims re impedance measurement in the context of some of my previous articles on the sign of reactance.

I could see several mentions in the LP-100A manual and the LP_100Plot documentation and they do seem a little inconsistent.

The LP-100A manual states very clearly:

Note: The LP-100A cannot determine the sign of X automatically.

and;

If you QSY up from your current frequency, and the reactance goes up, then the reactance is inductive (sign is “+”), and conversely if it goes down, then the reactance is capacitive (sign is “-“). A suitable distance is QSY is about 100 kHz or more. The LP-Plot program has the ability to determine sign automatically, since it can control your transmitter’s frequency. When it plots a range of frequencies, it uses the slope of the reactance curve to determine sign, and plots the results accordingly.

The first part states clearly that the instrument cannot directly measure the sign of reactance, and presumably measures the magnitude of reactance |X|.

Lets explore the second part in light of the overarching statement of the first part.

Above is the calculated R and X looking into 7m of Belden RG58C/U with a load 25+j0Ω. Also shown is |X|(as would be measured by the LP-100A) and calculated magnitude of phase of R,X, |φ|. Continue reading LP-100A impedance measurement