Photo Voltaic Array – unbelievable efficiency from Chinese sellers

A friend recently purchased one of the many PV arrays advertised on eBay only to be disappointed.

A common metric used to evaluate cell technologies is conversion efficiency with 1000W/m^2 insolation. Most popular products are monocrystalline silicon technology which achieves 18-25% efficiency on an assumed 1000W/m^2 insolation.

If we look carefully at the above panel advertised as 200W, the active PV area is less than the frame size, probably \(A=0.93 \cdot 0.63=0.59 m^2\). We can calculate efficiency \(\eta=\frac{p_{out}}{1000 A}=\frac{200}{1000 \cdot 0.59}=34\%\), nearly double expected efficiency for monocrystalline cells. Continue reading Photo Voltaic Array – unbelievable efficiency from Chinese sellers

A dipole centre insulator from HDPE cutting board

I made a small dipole centre insulator from 10mm HDPE cutting board on the CNC router. HDPE is moderately UV resistant so should survive for some years outdoors.

The insulator is 100mm across its widest points. No provision is made for supporting coax, it is for use with home made open wire line which will fall from the dipole leg ends. If you want to use it with coax or ribbon feedline, then incorporate a tab to secure those lines.

Continue reading A dipole centre insulator from HDPE cutting board

Windows 10 – sound device Signal Enhancements

Recent versions of Windows 10 have made changes to some audio input processing.

Above is a screenshot of a Microphone Properties window, and attention is drawn to the section highlighted in pink which may appear in some devices.

The Signal Enhancements would appear to introduce certain non-linear behaviour.

I preface this with saying the ‘enhancements’ are probably hardware dependent (ie the chipset used and driver capability) but may also include Windows core, and this report applies to my specific configuration but hints issues that may be systemic.

That said, I performed a simple test switching an audio sine generator between two close frequencies and observed the level vs time in SpectrumLab.

The lower part of the screen is with ‘enhancement’ ON, the only change in the upper part is with ‘enhancement’ OFF. Continue reading Windows 10 – sound device Signal Enhancements

nanoVNA – experts on improvised fixtures

A newbie wanting to measure a CB (27MHz) antenna with a UHF plug when his nanoVNA has an SMA connector sought advice of the collected experts on

One expert advised that 100mm wire clip leads would work just fine. Another expert expanded on that with When lengths approach 1/20 of a wavelength in free space, you should consider and use more rigorous connections.

At Antenna analyser – what if the device under test does not have a coax plug on it? I discussed using clip leads and estimated for those shown that they behaved like a transmission line segment with Zo=200Ω and vf=0.8. Continue reading nanoVNA – experts on improvised fixtures

Sydney harbour is a beautiful place

One of the trips I am known to take is to Manly for lunch.

Above is a pic taken whilst waiting for the train home at Circular Quay. On the right is the ferry Freshwater arriving from Manly. The Opera House is just visible on the right north of the ‘toaster’ (one of the eyesores on the harbour).

It was a sparkling day on the harbour (Port Jackson) which bought back memories of many happy days boating and sailing, it is a beautiful waterway.

Manly is about 30min north east, 12km over the water, just on the north side of Sydney heads.

It is challenging to get pics on the ferry as tourists push their phone in front of your face to take videos, 5 to 10 minutes as a time.

Above, the route is from home to Bowral station by car, diesel train (Endeavor railcar) to Central, electric train on the Sydney underground to Circular Quay, and ferry to Manly. The return journey was similar but electric train from Circular Quay to Campbelltown then diesel train to Bowral. The round trip is just on 300km and nearly three hours for each direction of travel.

An interactive zoomable map is available. Zooming in around Sydney and a little south will show track jumps due to underground rail.

The track was captured with a Holux RCV-3000 GPS logger, logs downloaded with BT747 (Chinese firm Holux is defunct and so is their application which is now locked out of its maps provider).

Leaflet / OpenStreetMap map rendering on devices with tiny pixels

I wrote an application that presents maps on a webpage using Leaflet and OpenStreetMaps, and some readers commented that the text was hard to read on their devices.

It turns out that this issue seems present on devices with high resolution small screen (ie high pixels/mm or small pixel size).

The reports raise the question of whether it is the compatibility of the device and the user’s Visual Accuity (VA).

VA is often assessed on the familiar Snellen chart which has characters of a 5×5 grid and normal vision is indicated by reading characters that subtend 5 minutes of arc (MOA), or 1MOA for each ‘pixel’ (px).

An example phone screen calculation

My Huawei dub-lx2 has a screen height of 1520 px and 144mm, so the px size is 95µm. Keep in mind that the size of this pic may be much smaller on the phone that on your viewing device. Continue reading Leaflet / OpenStreetMap map rendering on devices with tiny pixels

Simsmith bimetal line type – revision #1

This article is a revision of an article Simsmith bimetal line type for Simsmith v17.2 and revisions to my own model for current distribution in a conductor.

This article discusses various measurements and models of Wireman 551 windowed ladder line, including adapting Simsmith’s bimetal line type to bear on the problem.


A starting point for characterising the matched line loss (MLL) of the very popular Wireman 551 (W551) windowed ladder line is the extrapolation of measurements by (Stewart 1999) to 1.8MHz. Since the measurements were made at and above 50MHz where the W551 has copper like performance, this is likely to underestimate actual MLL and such wide extrapolation introduces its own uncertainty. Nevertheless, the datapoint is MLL=0.00227dB/m.

This is a revision of an article written in Feb 2020, capturing revision of Simsmith to v17.2 and revision of my own current distribution model.

Dan Maquire recently posted a chart summarising measurements of these lines.

For the purposes of this article, let’s tabulate the MLL at 1.8MHz in dB/m. Continue reading Simsmith bimetal line type – revision #1

A model of current distribution in copper clad steel conductors at RF – capturing conductor curvature

A model of current distribution in copper clad steel conductors at RF laid out a model for current distribution, though ignoring curvature of the conductor in calculating current density vs depth.

A model for current distribution in a conductor is that for a homogenous conducting half space with surface current parallel to the interface. Current density at depth d is given by the expression \(J_r=J_R\frac{J_0(kr)}{J_0(kR)}\) where δ is the skin depth \(δ=(ω \cdot µ \cdot σ)^{0.5}\) and \(k=\frac{1-\jmath}{\delta}\), σ is the conductivity). This takes into account curvature of the conductor surface, albeit with slower compute time.

Let’s compare the two algorithms on a test case at 1.8MHz being copper cladding of 67µm copper over a steel core for an overall diameter of 1.024mm (#18).

Above is a stacked image, the simpler algorithm is the feint plot.

There is a quite small difference in this case. When the expected loss of 400Ω line using the conductor is calculated, the result with the simpler algorithm is 1.3% less than the later one using the Bessel distribution.

Distance to fault in submarine telegraph cables ca 1871 – the leap expanded

Distance to fault in submarine telegraph cables ca 1871 gave a mathematical explanation of the location of fault…

Now it is in terms of the three known values u,v,w and unknown x.


\(x^2-2wx+vw+uw-uv=0\) from which you can find the roots.

\(x=w – \sqrt{(w-v)(w-u)}\\\)

I have been asked to expand the last ‘leap’.

So we have \(x^2-2wx+vw+uw-uv=0\) which is a quadratic, a polynomial of order 2.

The solution or roots of a quadratic \(ax^2+bx+c=0\) are given by \(x=\frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2-4ac}}{2a}\).

So, for our quadratic \(a=1, b=-2w,c=vw+uw-uv\), so \(x=\frac{2w \pm \sqrt{(2w)^2-4(vw+uw-uv)}}{2}\).

Dividing the top and bottom by 2 we get \(x=w \pm \sqrt{w^2-(vw+uw-uv)}\) which can be rewritten as \(x=w \pm \sqrt{(w-v)(w-u)}\).

We want the lesser square root \(x_-=w-\sqrt{(w-v)(w-u)}\) because x must be less than w, a constraint of the physical problem.

So when measurements gave \(v=1040 \Omega\) and \(w=970 \Omega\) we can calculate that the distance to fault is the lesser root, 210.3km from Newbiggen-by-the-sea. (The greater root would imply a -ve value for x or y which is not physically possible.)

Review of MXITA SMA-8

The MXITA SMA-8 is a low cost torque wrench for 8mm, specifically for SMA connectors. It has an adjustable calibration, supplied at 1Nm but easily adjusted down to 0.6Nm to suit common brass SMA connectors, especially of doubtful quality.

I bought this after seeing several recommendations on a nanoVNA forum.

Above is the factory pic of the SMA-8. Continue reading Review of MXITA SMA-8