Small untuned loop for receiving – simple model with transformer

I have written several articles on untuned loops for receiving, as have others. A diversity of opinions abounds over several aspects, probably none more than the idea of an optimal load impedance for the loop.

This article analyses a simple untuned / unmatched loop in the context of a linear receive system (ie no IMD) of known Noise Figure. Continue reading Small untuned loop for receiving – simple model with transformer

nanoVNA-H – Port 1 attenuator for improved what???

At nanoVNA-H – Port 2 attenuator for improved Return Loss I explained the reasons for essentially permanent attachment of a 10dB attenuator to Port 2 (Ch 1 in nanoVNA speak).

 

Above, the 10dB attenuator is semi permanently attached to Port 2 principally to improve the Return Loss (or impedance match) of Port 2, a parameter that becomes quite important when testing some types of networks than depend on proper termination (eg many filters). I should remind readers that the improvement in Port 2 Return Loss comes at a cost, the dynamic range of Port 2 is reduced by 10dB. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – Port 1 attenuator for improved what???

nanoVNA-H – woolly thinking on MLL measurement

There is little doubt that the nanoVNA has made VNAs very popular in the ham community, possibly more so that any other device.

Eager owners are trying to apply them to solve lots of problems, often without sufficient knowledge or experience to properly inform the measurements.

An example that has a appeared a few times on online forums in the last weeks is measuring the matched line loss (MLL) of a section of RG6 coax… to inform a decision to discard it or keep it.

The common approach is to use a measurement of |s11| and to calculate Return Loss and infer the MLL.

DUT

For discussion, lets consider an example of 30′ of Belden 1694A RG6 solved in Simsmith. We should note that unlike most RG6 in the market today, this uses a solid copper centre conductor.

Short circuit termination

Some authors insist that the half return loss method is to be performed using a short circuit test section. Bird does this in their Bird 43 manual.

Above is a plot of calculated |s11| (-ReturnLoss) from 1 to 20MHz for the test section. The three plots are of |s11| wrt 50Ω, 75Ω and frequency dependent actual Zo (as calculated for the model). The cursor shows that the actual |s11| is -0.37474dB (ReturnLoss=0.37474dB). Using the half return loss method MLL=ReturnLoss/2=0.37474=0.187dB/m. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – woolly thinking on MLL measurement

RG6 cladding thickness report

N0TZU recently report his perception that a length of Logico COX3520 RG6 Quad cable he purchased exhibited higher than expected Matched Line Loss (MLL) at 10MHz.

Most RG6 type cable sold these days at low cost uses a copper clad steel centre conductor, and much of it has insufficient copper cladding thickness for copper like performance at HF.

Above is a pic N0TZU gave of the centre conductor cross section. It is possible to measure the cladding thickness from the pic knowing that the overall diameter is 1.024mm. The copper thickness measured 13.7µm, lets round it to 14µm. Continue reading RG6 cladding thickness report

nanoVNA-H – thinking laterally

A question was asked in an online forum specific to nanoVNA as to how the use the nanoVNA to check the attenuation loss in some old & weathered RG-6 (75 ohm) cables for the TV signal frequencies. Excuse the term attenuation loss, lets assume the poster is asking for matched line loss (MLL).

The assembled experts are offering solutions to transform the ports to 75Ω and make a measurement, deducting the loss of the transformation (minimum loss pads were suggested).

There is a very simple solution that should be quite practical for the scenario described. Let’s work through two examples using 35.5m of unbranded quad shield RG6 with CCS centre conductor (of unknown quality) for the DUT. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – thinking laterally

MFJ ATU hand effects on capacitor knobs

The problem

Users of some ATUs may have noticed particular sensitivity to hands on the capacitor adjustment knobs. It is a common problem with cheap implementations of the T match as the capacitor rotor is usually at high RF voltage and if that shaft is extended to the adjustment knob, under certain circumstances tuning becomes very sensitive to hands on the knobs.

In some of these implementations, if the users hand touches the metal grub screw in the knob, or the metal panel bushing behind the knob they may get a significant RF burn.

The cause

Let’s use the MFJ-949E as a discussion example. It is a T match, and the metal capacitor shafts in the knobs and panel bushings carry RF voltages.

So why is this only sometimes a problem?

The RF voltage across the coil, and impressed on the capacitor shafts can be extremely high when using loads with small resistance and large negative reactance, more so on the lower bands. Continue reading MFJ ATU hand effects on capacitor knobs

nanoVNA-H – de-embedding the feed line in remote measurement

There are often times when it would be useful to transform measurements made looking into a feed line to the other end of the feed line.

Ham lore

Common advice given by online ham experts include:

  1. it just cannot be done, the best (only) point to measure an antenna is at the feed point;
  2. it can be done, but only with an integral number of half waves of feed line;
  3. use the port extension facility in your software;
  4. use software package x;
  5. do an OSL cal with the feed line being part of the fixture.

Continue reading nanoVNA-H – de-embedding the feed line in remote measurement

WIA 4:1 current balun – further measurements

4-101a

I mentioned in my article WIA 4:1 current balun that the use of a single toroidal core in the above graphic compromises the balun. This article presents some simple measurements and analysis that question whether the balun works as so many users think.

The popularity of the balun derives from the work of VK2DQ and is often known as the VK2DQ 4:1 current balun (though probably not his invention).

Analysis at the limits

Often, analysis of a network as frequency approaches zero or infinity can simplify the analysis whilst allowing a reasonable test of the sanity of the design.

Above is a conventional transformer schematic of the WIA 4:1 current balun on a perfectly symmetric (balanced) load. At frequencies where the electrical length of each winding is very short, we can assume negligible phase delay along or between windings, simplifying analysis greatly. Continue reading WIA 4:1 current balun – further measurements