This article describes a current probe for use with a power meter calibrated in dBm (eg RFPM1 and RFPM2).
For use with RFPM1 and RFPM2, both of which read to 16dBm max, it is convenient that the scaling factor for the probe is 0dBA/dBm, ie that those meters read dBA directly, implying a current range of -75-16dBA or 0.186mA-6.3A. In fact for low measurement noise, the effective range would be more like -65-16dBA or 0.56mA-6.3A.
The probe comprises a ferrite cored transformer that is clamped or placed over the conductor(s) of interest, and uses a 10t secondary which has a low value resistive load, across which the power meter connects.
Above is a screen shot of a spreadsheet calculation of relevant design values. Continue reading RFPM2 – current probe
The RF Power Meter 2 is a development based on the utility of RFPM1, but it shares nothing with the RFPM1, save using an AD8307 as the sense module.
The design criteria are:
- small, portable, battery powered;
- direct reading dB scale;
- flexibility for a range of adapters to measure power, current etc;
- local display including bar graph, time, and dB value;
- log measurements to a serial port of some kind;
- offer remote access for recent measurement log.
The RFPM2 uses an AD8307 log power detector to obtain a analogue ‘DC’ voltage proportional to the log of the input power. The input port is 50Ω SMA, and accommodates from about -75dBm (the noise floor) to +15dBm.
The analogue output of the AD8307 is digitised on a microcontroller board, a NodeMCU which uses an ESP8266 processor with integral WiFi. The board also contains a CP210x USB to serial adapter for programming, power, and serial logging.
The display is deliberately generic, the units are dBm at the SMA input, but they could be dBA with a suitable current probe, or +xx dBV/m with a field strength sense antenna. Continue reading RF Power Meter 2 (RFPM2)
Should you trust your VSWR meter? asked an interesting question, and Should you trust your VSWR meter – detector linearity discussed a problem apparent in may VSWR meters.
This article illustrates one method of linearisation of the detector response of a practical VSWR meter.
Radio-kits SWR meter
This article contains an analysis of the analogue circuitry of the Radio-kits SWR meter.
The directional coupler at top left contains half wave peak detectors for forward and reflected waves. They are wired to the two compensated op amps at lower right (the connections are not shown on the circuit as the coupler may be remote, follow the terminal designations). Continue reading Should you trust your VSWR meter – linearisation
T962 IR reflow oven rework documented rework of the inexpensive T962 IR rework oven. This article reports some tests on various modules.
The solder cream used is cheap Chinese 63/37 tin/lead solder cream that has been in the fridge for a couple of years, so it is past its use by date.
Solder cream was applied to pads using a pneumatic drive of a 10ml syringe with #22 blunt needle.
A U shaped piece of 0.5mm copper wire was placed on the oven drawer tray and the boards placed on the wire. This to isolate the boards from the thermal mass of the drawer tray.
The program used is shown above. Continue reading T962 IR reflow oven rework #2
Should you trust your VSWR meter? asked an interesting question, and based on experience, including a relevant example, concluded:
The answer is no, like any measurement instrument, prove that it is trustworthy in the intended application.
It went on to ask:
If the VSWR meter is designed to fail, why does it fail?
This article contains an analysis of the analogue circuitry of the IC-7300 directional coupler to explain the likely cause of its poor behaviour.
IC-7300 directional coupler schematic
Above is an extract of the IC-7300 circuit in the area of the directional power coupler used for VSWR measurement. The circuit is a quite conventional Bruene coupler, and its response is similar to several types of directional couplers that produce a DC output voltage from a half wave detector. Continue reading Should you trust your VSWR meter – detector linearity
One often sees newbies ask about their VSWR meter readings, and a common observation is that the measured VSWR is better at low power and as power is increased, VSWR increases.
With the evolution of the ‘shack in a box’, and knowledge and experience to match, the problem is often reported observed with the transceiver’s internal VSWR meter.
Some of these ‘shack in a box’ have some pretty nifty features, for example the very popular Icom IC-7300 not only has an internal VSWR meter for the HF bands, but it can perform an assisted sweep and display the results graphically.
Isn’t that a great idea, so convenient, all good!
Or is it? Continue reading Should you trust your VSWR meter?
An exploration of a cophased collinear array with coax phasing stubs explored various structures for encouraging co-phase operation of a 3/4λ vertical over perfectly conducting earth (PCE).
This article expands that set with NEC-4.2 models of some variations on the traditional Franklin form of the antenna.
Let’s start with review of the traditional Franklin form
The graphic above shows the topology of the Franklin form. It comprises a half wave vertical element over a quarter wave element, with a quarter wave horizontal s/c stub as the device to encourage co-phased operation of the elements. The current magnitude and phase distribution is shown in green. Continue reading Co-phased collinear for 2m – discussion of phasing devices
I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.
Whilst preparing A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser, issues were noticed with the user interface design / implementation.
This article started off as a video demonstration of measuring the Matched Line Loss (MLL) of a 6m length of old / budget grade RG58CU for comparison with the datasheet.
Using the instrument was such a frustration due to the user interface design / implementation, but more time was devoted to trying to understand it and experimenting with button press timing etc… but I must admit, to no avail. I persevered and made the measurements which are reported here, the matter of the interface issues will be dealt with separately.
So, the interpolated datasheet MLL for quality cable, Belden 8262 (RG58C/U), is 0.319dB.
The measurement technique is the measure the ReturnLoss of the DUT with o/c and s/c terminations, and estimate MLL=(RLo+RLs)/4.
Above, the o/c test. Continue reading A second test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser
I recently acquired a FA-VA5 antenna analyser.
The analyser is a low cost kit (~A$265 including high accuracy cal kit and postage), the SM components are already fitted to the PCB, but the other components like switches, display connector etc need to be fitted. Whilst these parts are hand soldered, some pins are quite close to other components and require a fine soldering tip and steady hand. It is probably an hour’s work to complete the assembly.
Above is the completed FA-VA5. As can be seen, it has just three buttons which are used to navigate a menu system and to perform data entry, both of which can be a bit tedious but that is the trade off for a simple user interface.
This article is not a wide ranging review, it is a first test on a component that it relevant to the HF ham experience, and is challenging for most analysers in common use. Continue reading A first test of the FA-VA5 antenna analyser
This article documents the rework of an inexpensive Chinese IR Reflow Oven for PCB assembly.
The product is widely sold and quite modest price, but is properly criticised for a number for problems that are easily fixed in the hands of a competent person. Continue reading T962 IR reflow oven rework