Rigexpert AA-600 reference plane

The Rigexpert AA-600 has an inbuilt calibration which is convenient to use. It is capable of OSL calibration, but this article discusses only the inbuilt calibration.

The reference plane is the plane at which the instrument calibration is correct, at other locations there is a transmission line impedance transformation applied.

The pic above shows the reference plane, but where exactly is it and why do you want to know? Continue reading Rigexpert AA-600 reference plane

nanoVNA MOD v3 – a first look

Since I have a nanovna-H coming on a ‘slow boat from China’, whilst working with a Touchstone s1p file exported from Rigexpert’s Antscope I tried to open the file in nanoVNA MOD v3.

Above, the outcome was not good. The name of the loaded file is not shown, there were no messages during loading, and an empty graph and the stimulus data does not match the file. Continue reading nanoVNA MOD v3 – a first look

nanovna – a first plunge

The NanoVNA is a new low cost community developed VNA with assembled units coming out of China for <$50.

It is not really a project as such, but a loose collection of hardware versions manufactured in variously compliant forms, and several PC and web clients competing for space. Information is partly in the public domain, partly in restricted access forums where the controller’s identity is hidden… the modern way of ham radio.

After some research, and with some residual uncertainty, I decided upon the so-called nanovna-H design by Hugen79

Hugen79 nominates a seller on Alibaba, but I was unable to purchase there because it would not accept my suburb in an address, and unwilling to put at risk the minimal buyer protection by purchasing outside of the selling platform, I went to Aliexpress for sellers. (No listings on eBay or Amazon for AU account holders, but many listings have appears on eBay since purchase).

Aliexpress is a platform by the Chinese for the Chinese, and from experience I am too well aware of the high risk of scammers and cheats leading to loss of one’s money. I decided to exceed my self imposed limit of A$30, a risk management strategy, and spend the $85 required by a seller offering free returns (whatever that means).

Above is the pic from the seller’s listing. Continue reading nanovna – a first plunge

SimSmith – looking both ways – an LNA design task

This article shows the use of SimSmith in design and analysis of the input circuit of an MGF1302 LNA.

The MGF1302 is a low noise GaAs FET designed for S band to X band amplifiers, and was very popular in ham equipment until the arrival of pHEMT devices.

An important characteristic of the MGF1302 is that matching the input circuit for maximum gain (maximum power transfer) does not achieve the best Noise Figure… and since low noise is the objective, then we must design for that.

The datasheet contains a set of Γopt for the source impedance seen by the device gate, and interpolating for 1296MHz Γopt=0.73∠-10.5°.

Lets convert Γopt to some other useful values.

The equivalent source Z, Y and rectangular form of Γopt= will be convenient during the circuit design phase. Continue reading SimSmith – looking both ways – an LNA design task

Transmitter / antenna systems and the maximum power transfer theorem

Jacobi’s Maximum Power Transfer Theorem

Jacobi’s law (also known as Jacobi’s Maximum Power Transfer Theorem) of nearly 200 years ago stated

Maximum power is transferred when the internal resistance of the source equals the resistance of the load.

Implied is that the internal resistance of the source is held constant, it does not work otherwise. The source must be one that can validly be represented by a Thevenin equivalent circuit. This was in the very early days of harnessing electric current, direct current initially.

Later adaptation dealt with alternating current and it became

Maximum power is transferred when the load impedance is equal to the complex conjugate of the internal impedance of the source.

Again a necessary condition is that the source must be one that can validly be represented by a Thevenin equivalent circuit. Continue reading Transmitter / antenna systems and the maximum power transfer theorem

Walter Maxwell’s teachings on system wide conjugate matching – a SimSmith example

I have written on Walt Maxell’s proposition about simultaneous system wide conjugate matching in antenna systems. I will repeat a little to set the context…

Walt Maxwell (W2DU) made much of conjugate matching in antenna systems, he wrote of his volume in the preface to (Maxwell 2001 24.5):

It explains in great detail how the antenna tuner at the input terminals of the feed line provides a conjugate match at the antenna terminals, and tunes a non-resonant antenna to resonance while also providing an impedance match for the output of the transceiver.

Walt Maxwell made much of conjugate matching, and wrote often of it as though at some optimal adjustment of an ATU there was a system wide state of conjugate match conferred, that at each and every point in an antenna system the impedance looking towards the source was the conjugate of the impedance looking towards the load.

This is popularly held to be some nirvana, a heavenly state where transmitters are “happy” and all is good. Happiness of transmitters is often given in online discussion by hams as the raison d’être for ATUs, anthropomorphism over science. Continue reading Walter Maxwell’s teachings on system wide conjugate matching – a SimSmith example

Cooking the books on VSWR – Bird43 indication

A reader of Cooking the books on VSWR asked

…so you are telling me that I could measure this Prev>Pfwd with a directional wattmeter like my Bird43… I have never seen it and I don’t believe it.

For clarification, I did not discuss Prev or Pfwd in respect of the three scenarios (other than to say Pref cannot exceed Pfwd).

I did discuss line voltage measurements you can make with a simple RF volt meter which was in the article’s reference quote. But, let’s discuss what you might measure by inserting a 50Ω Bird43 directional wattmeter in the Load case 2 scenario.

Above is a calculated plot of the expected Pfwd and -Prev readings, Prev is shown negated so you can add it by eye with Pfwd to obtain the net power Power (blue line). Continue reading Cooking the books on VSWR – Bird43 indication

Cooking the books on VSWR

Having recently seen the suggestion that …

Most tools and most derivations of SWR will produce negative SWR reports because they are more interested in mathematics than in measurements you can make with a simple RF volt meter.

…, this article explores the expected voltage on a practical transmission line under two mismatch scenarios, voltage that ought be measurable with a simple RF voltmeter.

VSWR concepts… by the book

Textbooks on transmission lines often introduce the concept of standing waves by presenting a plot of voltage along a mismatched lossless transmission line.

Above is a plot of calculated line voltage vs displacement from the load, -ve is towards the source. Continue reading Cooking the books on VSWR

Noise Figure – Effective Noise Bandwidth

Harald Friis (Friis 1944) gave guidance on measuring the noise figure of receivers, and explains the concept of Effective Bandwidth.

Effective Bandwidth

The contribution to the available output noise by the Johnson-noise sources in the signal generator is readily calculated for and ideal or square-top band-pass characteristic and it is GKTB where B is the bandwidth in cycles per second. In practice, however, the band is not flat; ie, the gain over the band is not constant but varies with frequency. In this case the total contribution is ∫GfKTdf where Gf is the gain at frequency f. The effective bandwidth B of the network is defined as the bandwidth of an ideal band-pass network with gain G that gives this contribution to the noise output.

Continue reading Noise Figure – Effective Noise Bandwidth

nanovna-saver – a first look

The NanoVNA is a new low cost community developed VNA with assembled units coming out of China for <$50.

I have long held the view that these things are most useful when accompanied by a capable PC client that performs flexible text book presentations of data.

Considering buying one, my first step was to perform a desk evaluation of a popular PC client, which seems to be nanovna-saver.

Before downloading it, I examined the first screenshot on the github page.

It gives evidence that the author does not follow industry standard convention for transmission line terms and theory.

In the results shown above (s11) impedance is 39.105+j39.292Ω and some transformations of that value. Continue reading nanovna-saver – a first look