Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line – a challenge

An upcoming article works through an approach to finding the velocity factor of a sample of coaxial cable using an antenna analyser.

As a precursor, this article poses a challenge that will identify the issues relevant to the problem.

Case 1:

A Rigexpert has been used to measure the first quarter wave resonance of a length of ‘unknown’ semi air dielectric RG6.

The length of RG6 Dual Shield is terminated in an F connectors at one end, the other end cut cleanly square. It is connected via  N(M)-BNC(F) and BNC(M)-F(F) adapters to a Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyser and the quarter wave resonance noted (ie the lowest frequency at which measured X passes through zero).

Above, the line section is connected to the Rigexpert via adapters, and the length overall is measured from the case of the AA-600 to the of the cable. The measured length is 1.077m, make any adjustment to that length that you think is justified on the information presented here.
Continue reading Finding velocity factor of coaxial transmission line – a challenge

Discussion of WA7ARK’s contribution to a QRZ thread on an End Fed Dipole

In another long running discussion on QRZ about End Fed Antennas, WA7ARK offered a contribution:

(1) Back in post #30 I showed that with a halfwave wire fed close to its end works just like the same wire fed in the center; the only difference being the feed point impedance. I let EzNec figure this out; I didn’t have to explain it with any mysterious “displacement” currents. Shown as (1) in the attached.

Since, in the model, the source is a constant current source, that forces the current on either side of the source to be equal, and the radiation pattern predicted by EzNec reflects that, because the patterns for the end-fed and center-fed match… (go back and look at post #30)

His post #30 is of a 67′ dipole at 66′ above poor ground @ 7.18MHz, fed at one end.

Above is the current distribution of my approximate re-creation of his model in NEC-4.2. It reconciles with his published graphs. Continue reading Discussion of WA7ARK’s contribution to a QRZ thread on an End Fed Dipole

Baluns – wire size insanity

An online expert recently expounded on detailed design of a balun, this is an excerpt about wire sizing.

The wire gauge used limits the current handling capacity of the wire, run too thin a wire and it will heat up. Run much too thin of a wire for the power in use and it will fuse open. Current carrying capacity of wire is typically rated for either power transmission applications or chassis wiring applications. The latter, and higher, current capacity for a wire is relevant to designing a balun. How much current your 50 watt signal generates depends on the impedance its looking into. If you’re talking about a 50 ohm system, with a perfect match you’ll deliver one amp through your balun wires when driving 50 watts into it. Allowing for say a 4:1 SWR the worst case current(@12.5 ohms) is 2 amps. If you’re using this as a tuner balun, perhaps to drive a multi-band doublet then the impedance can vary widely so over sizing the wires is easy insurance. Here’s a table of wire current carrying capability: https://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

For convenience, the relevant part of the table linked above is quoted for discussion.

So, the poster recommends wire with chassis wiring rating of 2A for 50W with reserve capacity for worst case VSWR=4. Continue reading Baluns – wire size insanity

Baselining an antenna system with an analyser

I often receive emails from folk trying to validate continued performance of an installed antenna system using their analyser.

With foresight they have swept the antenna system from the tx end and saved the data to serve as a baseline.

The following are example sweeps from one of my own antennas, a Diamond X50N with 10m of LDF4-50A feed line.

Now I have plotted Return Loss rather than VSWR for several reasons:

  • Return Loss is more sensitive to the problems that we might want to identify;
  • Rigexpert in this case decided that the Antscope user could not be interested in plotting VSWR>5 (Return Loss<3.5dB).

Now a hazard in working with Return Loss is that many authors of articles and software don’t use the industry standard meaning.

Return Loss

Lets just remind ourselves of the meaning of the term Return Loss. (IEEE 1988) defines Return Loss as:

(1) (data transmission) (A) At a discontinuity in a transmission system the difference between the power incident upon the discontinuity. (B) The ratio in decibels of the power incident upon the discontinuity to the power reflected from the discontinuity. Note: This ratio is also the square of the reciprocal to the magnitude of the reflection coefficient. (C) More broadly, the return loss is a measure of the dissimilarity between two impedances, being equal to the number of decibels that corresponds to the scalar value of the reciprocal of the reflection coefficient, and hence being expressed by the following formula:

20*log10|(Z1+Z2)/(Z1-Z2)| decibel

where Z1 and Z2 = the two impedances.

(2) (or gain) (waveguide). The ratio of incident to reflected power at a reference plane of a network.

Return Loss expressed in dB will ALWAYS be a positive number in passive networks.

The relationship between ReturnLoss in dB and VSWR is given by the equations:

  • ReturnLoss=-20*log((VSWR-1)/(VSWR+1))
  • VSWR=(1+10^(-ReturnLoss/20))/(1-10^(-ReturnLoss/20))

Diamond X50N on 2m

So now that we are on the same page about Return Loss, lets look at my 2m plot.

The X50N does not have VSWR or Return Loss specs, but we might expect that at the antenna itself, VSWR<1.5 which implies Return Loss>25dB. Measuring into feed line, you can add twice the matched line loss to the Return Loss target (see why Return Loss is a better measure).
Continue reading Baselining an antenna system with an analyser

Thompson’s coax common mode explanation

A recent online discussion on common mode feed line current was directed to Thompson’s article with the recommendation that is ALL basically needed to discuss the common mode current.

Above is Thompson’s diagram of currents in a feed coax, and it contains two significant errors that could / would lead to formation of the wrong concepts in a learner’s mind. Continue reading Thompson’s coax common mode explanation

An RF choke for a 1.8-30MHz coax power injector – LF1260 core

This article describes a prototype RF choke (RFC) for use in a power injector for 50Ω coax over range 1.8-30MHz. Power injector / extractors are often used to connect power and / or signalling on a shared common RF coax feed line to accessories such as remote antenna switches and ATUs.

Design criteria are:

  • Insertion VSWR of the RFC in shunt with 50+j0Ω < 1.1;
  • Dissipation < 2% of a 100W transmitter.

The core chose is a LF1260 ferrite suppression bead from Jaycar. It is a medium / high µ core readily available in Australia at $7.50 / 6.

 

Above is the prototype RFC wound with data cable wire for the purpose of measurement. In application it could be wound with 1mm enamelled copper or PTFE insulated wire (Curie point is lowish at 120°+, but it still benefits from higher temperature insulation). Continue reading An RF choke for a 1.8-30MHz coax power injector – LF1260 core

Vacuum capacitors – construction implications for SRF

Vacuum capacitors are used for high end applications that require high voltage withstand and low loss.

Though they are called capacitors, and simple analyses treat them as a capacitance with some small equivalent series resistance (ESR), there is more to it.

Above is a view (courtesy of N4MQ) looking into one side of a vacuum capacitor. It consists of an outer cup, and a series of 5 inner cups progressively smaller in diameter. The other side of the capacitor has a similar structure but the cups site in the middle of the spaces between cups in the first side.
Continue reading Vacuum capacitors – construction implications for SRF

Vacuum capacitors – construction implications for Q

Vacuum capacitors are used for high end applications that require high voltage withstand and low loss.

Though they are called capacitors, and simple analyses treat them as a capacitance with some small equivalent series resistance (ESR), there is more to it.

Above is a view (courtesy of N4MQ) looking into one side of a vacuum capacitor. It consists of an outer cup, and a series of 5 inner cups progressively smaller in diameter. The other side of the capacitor has a similar structure but the cups site in the middle of the spaces between cups in the first side.
Continue reading Vacuum capacitors – construction implications for Q

Line loss under standing waves – recommendation of dodgy tool on eHam

In a discussion about using a 40m centre fed half wave dipole on 80m, the matter of feed line loss came up and online expert KM1H offered:

Use this to help make up your mind. Add it to the normal coax loss. http://www.csgnetwork.com/vswrlosscalc.html

This is to suggest that the feed line loss under standing waves can be calculated with that calculator.

He then berates and demeans a participant for commenting on his recommendation, bluster is par for the course in these venues.

Calculator analysis

The calculator in question states this calculator is designed to give the efficiency loss of a given antenna, based on the input of VSWR (voltage standing wave ratio) and other subsequent factors.

This is a bit wishy washy, efficiency loss is not very clear. The usual meaning of efficiency is PowerOut/PowerIn, and the usual meaning of loss is PowerIn/PowerOut, both can be expresssed in dB: LossdB=10*log(Loss) and EfficiencydB=10*log(Efficiency). Continue reading Line loss under standing waves – recommendation of dodgy tool on eHam

The sign of reactance – challenge reality check

The sign of reactance – a challenge posed a problem, a set of R,|X| data taken with an analyser of a quite simple network and asked readers to solve the sign of X over the range, ie to transform R,|X| to  R,X.

The sign of reactance – challenge solution gave a solution to the challenge, and The sign of reactance – challenge discussion provided some discussion about the problem and solution.

Some correspondents have asserted that the challenge (see above Smith chart) contains a response that is contrived for the purpose and not representative of real world antenna systems. Continue reading The sign of reactance – challenge reality check