Finding the electrical length of the branches of an N type T – #1

An interesting problem arises in some applications in trying to measure the electrical length of each branch of a N type T piece.

Let’s make some assumptions that the device is of quality, that the connection from each connector to the internal junction is a uniform almost lossless transmission line of Zo=50Ω. Don’t that the left and right branches above are of the same length (though they often are) and we should not assume that the nearest branch is of the same length as the others (and they are often not).

Something to keep in mind is that the reference plane for the female connectors is about 9mm inside the T, and you can see the reference plane on the male connector, the nearest end of the shield connection.

With a ruler, the physical length of the left and right female branches looks to be about 13mm, and around 28mm for the male branch… but electrical length will be longer due to an unknown (as yet) deployment of dielectric of unknown type inside the T.

So, put your thinking caps on.

A solution to follow…

Performance of a small transmitting loop with varying height – NEC-5.0

Around 2015 I constructed a series of models exploring the effect of ground proximity on a small transmitting loop (STL).

At frequency 7.2MHz, the loop was octagonal with area of 1m^2 equivalent radius a=0.443m, ka=0.067rad, 3.15mm radius copper conductor, lossless tuning capacitor, and centre height above ground (σ=0.007  εr=17 ) was varied from 1.5 to 10m (0.036-0.240λ).

The model series was run in NEC-2, NEC-4.1, NEC-4.2 and NEC-5.0, and the results varied. NEC-4.1 showed serious problems, eg negative input resistance at some heights. The problem was discussed the Burke, and he explained that there was a known problem in NEC-4.1 for small loops near ground, and sent me an upgrade to NEC-4.2 to try with the GN 3 ground model, but that the better solution was in NEC-5 if it was ever released.

NEC-4.2 solved the negative resistance problem, but some issues remained.

With the recent release of NEC-5.0, opportunity arises to compare all four approaches.

(Burke 2019) p45 discusses loop antennas over ground and NEC-5.0.

The plot above of radiation efficiency gives an overall comparison of the different model techniques. (Burke 2019) states Since the mixed-potential solution ensures that the approximated integral of scalar potential around the loop is zero, whether the potential is accurate or not, it might be expected to do better than NEC-4. Continue reading Performance of a small transmitting loop with varying height – NEC-5.0

Adjustable plank refurbishment

I have an adjustable aluminium plank (2.4-3.9m) which after years in the weather, has needed replacement of the plated steel 1/4″ pop rivets used in its construction.

These are strictly for DIY use as long plank spans have not been allowed on work sites for a very long time.

On assurances from the retailer I purchased for $99 a Kincrome CL960 Heavy Duty Hand Riveter Long Arm 525mm (21″) designed for 1/4″ stainless steel poprivets. It failed with less than a dozen rivets with what seems to be a serious design fault (rivet mandrels jam in the inner tube) so it was returned at my cost for a refund. Whilst I have bought lots of Kinchrome product over time, it is when there is a problem one learns a wider lesson.

On assurances from another seller, I then purchased a similar tool on eBay for $36, a tool claimed to work up to 5/16″ stainless steel rivets… so some reserve there?

It failed on the fifth rivet, one of the collets cracked in two and the inside of the chuck sleeve (top right) was grooved suggesting it was not hardened properly. Again, refunded but his time without paying return shipping. Continue reading Adjustable plank refurbishment

Calculation of impedance of a ferrite toroidal inductor – from first principles

A toroidal inductor is a resonator, though it can be approximated as a simple inductor at frequences well below its self resonant frequency (SRF). Lets take a simple example, a ferrite toroid of rectangular cross section.

From the basic definition \(\mu=B/H\) we can derive the relationship that the flux density in the core with current I flowing through N turns is given by \(B=\frac{\mu_0 \mu_r N I}{2 \pi r}\). Continue reading Calculation of impedance of a ferrite toroidal inductor – from first principles

nanoVNA – measuring cable velocity factor – demonstration – coax

The article nanoVNA – measuring cable velocity factor discussed ways of measuring the velocity factor of common coax cable. This article is a demonstration of one of the methods, 2: measure velocity factor with your nanoVNA then cut the cable.

Two lengths of the same cable were selected to measure with the nanoVNA and calculate using Velocity factor solver. The cables are actually patch cables of nominally 1m and 2.5m length. Importantly they are identical in EVERY respect except the length, same cable off the same roll, same connectors, same temperature etc.

Above is the test setup. The nanoVNA is OSL calibrated at the external side of the SMA saver (the gold coloured thing on the SMA port), then an SMA(M)-N(F) adapter and the test cable. The other end of the test cable is left open (which is fine for N type male connectors). Continue reading nanoVNA – measuring cable velocity factor – demonstration – coax

nanoVNA – measuring cable velocity factor

With the popularity of the nanoVNA, one of the applications that is coming up regularly in online discussion is the use to measure velocity factor of cable and / or tuning of phasing sections in antenna feeds.

‘Tuning’ electrical lengths of transmission line sections

Online experts offer a range of advice including:

  1. use the datasheet velocity factor;
  2. measure velocity factor with your nanoVNA then cut the cable;
  3. measure the ‘tuned’ length observing input impedance of the section with the nanoVNA; and
  4. measure the ‘tuned’ length using the nanoVNA TDR facility.

All of these have advantages and pitfalls in some ways, some are better suited to some applications, others may be quite unsuitable.

Let’s make the point that these sections are often not highly critical in length, especially considering that in actual use, the loads are not perfect. One application where they are quite critical is the tuned interconnections in a typical repeater duplexer where the best response depends on quite exact tuning of lengths. Continue reading nanoVNA – measuring cable velocity factor

PllLdr application – ATTiny44 & AD9833 in Codan 6801

The Codan 6801 is an older SSB transceiver using a single crystal per simplex SSB channel, for up to 10 channels. The channel switch selects the crystal and also a band pass filter for that channel.

The cost of crystals to populate the 6801 runs towards $1000. A recent project implemented a functional replacement for the crystals using PllLdr and an inexpensive DDS module.The cost of crystals to populate the 6801 runs towards $1000. A recent project implemented a functional replacement for the crystals using PllLdr and an inexpensive DDS module suitable for use in the ham bands.

Above, the modified radio with 8 channels on ham bands (this radio is missing the last two channel filters, so it is only equipped internally for 8 channels). Continue reading PllLdr application – ATTiny44 & AD9833 in Codan 6801

An experimental propagation beacon on 144MHz

An experimental beacon on 144MHz has been deployed for evaluation.


  • frequency: 144.245MHz, 144.244MHz USB dial freq, 144.245MHZ dial frequency in CW mode on modern transceivers (accuracy should be withing 200Hz);
  • power: 20W EIRP towards Melbourne (225°) from Bowral, NSW, horizontally polarised, antenna is 6m AGL;
  • modulation: ~5 minute cycle uses A1 Morse modulation (OOK) QRSS1 (1s dits) callsign (VK2OMD) followed by key down for the rest of the cycle.

The oscillator on the keyer can have accuracy as bad as 1000ppm, and a power interruption would cause it to restart at a random time, so the modulation pattern is not syncronised to the wall clock.

The narrow band modulation means it can be decoded in 1Hz receiver bandwidth, allowing decoding with packages such as SpectrumLab some 20dB or more lower than by ear.

Above is a screenshot from SpectrumLab, albeit a relatively strong signal where S/N in 2kHz is about 0dB… but as can be seen from the plots, there is around 30dB of margin left. A settings file for SpectrumLab is linked below. Continue reading An experimental propagation beacon on 144MHz

Arduino Nano – FT232RL test pin floats

The Arduino Nano leaves the FT232RL TEST pin floating which may give rise to initialisation and communications problems.Grounding the test pin by bridging pins 25 and 26 with a small solder bridge seems to overcome the problem.



Above, a fixed chip.

Small untuned loop for receiving – it’s not rocket science

I have written several articles on untuned loops for receiving, as have others. A diversity of opinions abounds over several aspects, but opinions don’t often translate to sound theory.

This article analyses a simple untuned / unmatched loop in the context of a linear receive system.

An example simple loop for discussion

Let’s consider a simple single turn untuned loop with an ideal broadband transformer. The example loop is 3.14m perimeter and 10mm diameter conductor situated in free space. The loop has perimeter 0.0744λ at 7.1MHz, less than λ/10 up to 9MHz, so we can regard that loop current is uniform in magnitude and phase. This simplifies analysis greatly.

Above is a schematic diagram of the example loop. The transformer initially is a 1:1 ideal transformer, it serves to isolate the loop from a coaxial feedline, allowing fairly good loop symmetry and reduction of common mode feed line current contribution to pickup. This works, and subject to symmetry and a good transformer design, it will work well over the stated frequency range, though its gain at some frequencies might not be sufficient to overcome receiver internal noise. Continue reading Small untuned loop for receiving – it’s not rocket science