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

Rigexpert Antscope2 – v1.1.1

A new version of Antscope2 has been released.

Online posters are excited that it supports some versions of nanoVNA, and one thread attempts to answer the questions:

The SWR image shows that the SWR minimum is at the center phase angle as you would expect. My question is:

  1. what are the other points that look like resonance,

  2. and should I trim my antenna based on phase?

  3. If so which one?

They are interesting questions which hint the ham obsession with resonance as an optimisation tartget.

Properly interpreting VNA or analyser measurements starts with truly understanding the statistic being interpreted.

In this case, the statistics being discussed are Phase and VSWR, and their relationship.

What is the Phase being discussed?

Above is an Antscope2 phase plot for an archived antenna measurement. The measurements are of a 146MHz quarter wave mobile antenna looking into about 4m of RG58C/U cable. We will come back to this. Continue reading Rigexpert Antscope2 – v1.1.1

Rigexpert AA-600 N connector dimensions

A recent post by David Knight described dimensional issues with the N connector on his AA-600 and problems with the seller in having it resolved.

Warned of a potential quality issue, I measured my own AA-600.

Above, the test of the inner pin forward surface distance from the reference plane on the N jack on the AA-600. The acceptable range on this gauge for the female connector is the red area, and it is comfortably within the red range.

Above is a table of critical dimensions for ‘ordinary’ (ie not precision) N type connectors from Amphenol.

This dimension is important, as if the centre pin protrudes too much, it may damage the mating connector.

Pleased to say mine is ok, FP at 0.192″.

I used a purpose made gauge to check this, but it can be done with care with a digital caliper (or dial caliper or vernier caliper), that is what I did for decades before acquiring the dial gauge above.

nanoVNA-H – measure ferrite transformer – Noelec balun

At nanoVNA-H – measure ferrite transformer I gave an example of using a nanovna to measure loss of a ferrite cored transformer.

Noelec makes a small transformer, the Balun One Nine, pictured above and they offer a set of |s11| and |s12| curves in a back to back test. (Note: back to back tests are not a very reliable test.) Continue reading nanoVNA-H – measure ferrite transformer – Noelec balun

VSWR ripple

Having seen some recent discussion where the online experts opined that an example given of a VSWR plot that contained a fairly consistent ripple was quite normal, this article suggests there is an obvious possible explanation and that to treat it as quite normal may be to ignore the information presented.

Above is a partial simulation of a scenario using Rigexpert’s Antscope. It starts with an actual measurement of a Diamond X-50N around 146MHz with the actual feed line de-embedded. Then a 100m lossless feed line of VF=0.66 is simulated to produce the plot that contains a ripple apparently superimposed on an expected V shaped VSWR curve.

This is the type of ripple that the expert’s opine is quite normal. Continue reading VSWR ripple

nanoVNA-H – woolly thinking on MLL measurement

There is little doubt that the nanoVNA has made VNAs very popular in the ham community, possibly more so that any other device.

Eager owners are trying to apply them to solve lots of problems, often without sufficient knowledge or experience to properly inform the measurements.

An example that has a appeared a few times on online forums in the last weeks is measuring the matched line loss (MLL) of a section of RG6 coax… to inform a decision to discard it or keep it.

The common approach is to use a measurement of |s11| and to calculate Return Loss and infer the MLL.


For discussion, lets consider an example of 30′ of Belden 1694A RG6 solved in Simsmith. We should note that unlike most RG6 in the market today, this uses a solid copper centre conductor.

Short circuit termination

Some authors insist that the half return loss method is to be performed using a short circuit test section. Bird does this in their Bird 43 manual.

Above is a plot of calculated |s11| (-ReturnLoss) from 1 to 20MHz for the test section. The three plots are of |s11| wrt 50Ω, 75Ω and frequency dependent actual Zo (as calculated for the model). The cursor shows that the actual |s11| is -0.37474dB (ReturnLoss=0.37474dB). Using the half return loss method MLL=ReturnLoss/2=0.37474=0.187dB/m. Continue reading nanoVNA-H – woolly thinking on MLL measurement

RG6 cladding thickness report

N0TZU recently report his perception that a length of Logico COX3520 RG6 Quad cable he purchased exhibited higher than expected Matched Line Loss (MLL) at 10MHz.

Most RG6 type cable sold these days at low cost uses a copper clad steel centre conductor, and much of it has insufficient copper cladding thickness for copper like performance at HF.

Above is a pic N0TZU gave of the centre conductor cross section. It is possible to measure the cladding thickness from the pic knowing that the overall diameter is 1.024mm. The copper thickness measured 13.7µm, lets round it to 14µm. Continue reading RG6 cladding thickness report