Sontheimer coupler – transformer issues

It is not uncommon that ham designs for Sontheimer coupers (aka Tandem coupler, Grebenkemper coupler) fall short in the design of the magnetic components resulting in one or both of:

  • high InsertionVSWR; and
  • high core loss.

The above circuit is from (Grebenkemper 1987) and is an embodiment of (Sontheimer 1966). In their various forms, this family of couplers have one or sometimes two transformers with their primary in shunt with the through line. Let’s focus on transformer T2. It samples the though line RF voltage, and its magnetising impedance and transformed load appear in shunt with the through line. T2’s load is usually insignificant, but its magnetising impedance is significant and is often a cause of: Continue reading Sontheimer coupler – transformer issues

Ferrite cored RF chokes in Class-E RF power amplifiers – core material issues

At Ferrite cored RF chokes in Class-E RF power amplifiers a design was offered for a choke using a Fair-rite 2843000202 core (commonly sold as a BN43-202), and the point was made that some products sold as BN43-202 might be significantly different.

Let’s look at the calibrated model estimates of choke impedance and core loss, side by side. Continue reading Ferrite cored RF chokes in Class-E RF power amplifiers – core material issues

Ferrite cored RF chokes in Class-E RF power amplifiers

Class-E RF power amplifiers have become quite fashionable in ham radio in the last decade or two.

This article discusses a common issue with the design of the RF choke providing DC to the Class-E stage.

Above is a circuit above is from (Sokal 2001) which explains the amplifier and gives guidance on selection of components. One key recommendation is that the usual choice of XL1 being 30 or more times the unadjusted value of XC1. This spells out that L1’s role is essentially an RF choke, it is intended to pass DC but to largely prevent RF current, it needs a high impedance at RF, and low DC resistance. Continue reading Ferrite cored RF chokes in Class-E RF power amplifiers

ESP WiFi relay project – preview

The impetus behind the project is a remotely WiFi controllable relay for reset function in a remote controlled ham station.

The information presented here applies to development v0.1.

Features:

  • support typical multi channel relay boards;
  • ESP8266 and ESP32 firmware versions;
  • WiFi credentials programmable via a captive web interface;
  • DHCP or static IP;
  • nMDNS responder;
  • flexible configuration stored as json file in on-board LittleFS file system;
  • optional authentication to secure remote access.

A variety of integrated relay boards

Above, a Yunshan relay, not recommended as RESET pin is tied high. This one was binned, quite a waste of money. It exemplifies a common problem in that the RESET line is often not available on a header pin, this one is worse in having tied RESET high and no header pin for EN. Continue reading ESP WiFi relay project – preview

Choosing a ferrite mix for a 160m unun rationally

One often sees people ask for help in choosing a ferrite mix for a particular application. A recent thread on social media asks for help designing a unun for the 1.8MHz amateur band, and it has provided the opportunity for participation, even if the content was not good.

An important early step in designing a ferrite cored transformer is to find a combination of ferrite material, core geometry, and number of turns to deliver acceptable core loss at the lowest desired frequency.

Design of a transformer to cover just the 1.8MHz ham band is a relatively simple exercise. Continue reading Choosing a ferrite mix for a 160m unun rationally

Chinese batteries – replacements for Makita 1220 battery pack

Buying Chinese batteries is a minefield. Experience has been that they rarely meet specified capacity, and less that 10% of specified capacity is not that unusual.

So, with that background I searched eBay for replacement batteries for a Makita drill / driver. The current pair of batteries are Chinese source, purchased about 5 years ago, label rating is 2.0Ah, and measured capacity now is 1.3-1.4Ah… which is not too bad, they were 1.7-1.8Ah when new (yes, below spec).

There were very many sellers selling a lot of two packs rated at 3.6Ah for around $34 including delivery. That is very cheap, too good to believe? Let’s rely on eBay Buyer Protection to put them to the test.

The two batteries arrived quickly and were put through charge / discharge cycles to condition them.

Above are the C/5 discharge curves for both batteries on the third cycle, capacity is 1.3Ah, just 36% of the label rating. Continue reading Chinese batteries – replacements for Makita 1220 battery pack

Yet another ferrite toroid calculator – but is it any good?

In a recent online thread, a ‘new’ online calculator was touted:  https://miguelvaca.github.io/vk3cpu/toroid.html .

References without any qualification surely imply a recommendation.

In the same thread, Roger Need compared his measurement of a FT50-43 with Calculate ferrite cored inductor (from Al) (one of a set of related calculators), and Ferrite permeability interpolations.

Above, his calculation reconciles well with measurement at 3.6MHz. Continue reading Yet another ferrite toroid calculator – but is it any good?

Review of inexpensive Chinese thermostat – DST1020

The DST1020 targets the market for inexpensive digital thermostats, the most popular being the STC1000. There are two novel features to the DST1020:

  • uses DS1820B digital temperature sensor (well probably a Chinese clone);
  • two line display shows PV and SV simultaneously.

The DS1820B should be considerably more accurate and overcome the significant error in the conversion of NTC resistance to temperature in the other thermostats (experience is that the approximation used for the NTC characteristic is simple and inaccurate).

It is sold with brief and inadequate / incorrect user instructions.

Above, the front of the DST1020. Continue reading Review of inexpensive Chinese thermostat – DST1020