Switching times in Class-E RF power amplifiers

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

One of, if not the main contribution to efficiency in a Class-E RF amplifier is the operation of the active device in switching mode where it is either not conducting, or conducting hard (saturated, with very little voltage across it). Both of these are very low dissipation conditions, but in the transition between these states there is significant current and voltage present, the product of which gives significant instantaneous power… so the idea is to make this transition very fast so that the average power is low.

This article discusses effect of slowed switching times on PA efficiency.

Above is a circuit above is from (Sokal 2001) which explains the amplifier and gives guidance on selection of components. Continue reading Switching times in Class-E RF power amplifiers

NanoVNA-H4 – inductor challenge – part 7

One method described online on YouTube and in social media is the 90° method as I will call it.

The reason why people make measurements at +/- 90 degrees on the smith chart is because the measurement accuracy using the shunt configuration when trying to measure the nominal value of an inductor or capacitor is highest at 0+j50 ohms (or 0-j50 ohms… OD).

To be clear, this is the phase of s11 or Γ being + or – 90° as applicable.

Is there something optimal when phase of s11 is + or – 90°?

Does the software / firmware / hardware give significantly more accurate response under such a termination?

Above is a diagram from a HP publication, slightly altered to suit the discussion. Continue reading NanoVNA-H4 – inductor challenge – part 7

NanoVNA – measuring Q of an inductor using s21 – fails?

There is a fashion of seeing s21 measurements as the answer to all things, and amongst the revelations is an explanation of measuring inductor Q using s21 shunt through configuration.

Let’s explore the use of s21 shunt through to directly find the half power bandwidth of a series tuned circuit and calculate the Q from that and the resonant frequency (as demonstrated by online posters).

To eliminate most of the uncertainties of measurement, let’s simulate it in Simsmith.

The simulation has a series tuned circuit resonated at 3400kHz, and the source and plot are set to calculate |s21| in dB. Though the model specifies Q independent of frequency, the D block adjusts Q for a constant equivalent series resistance (ESR) which simplifies discussion of resonance and Q. Continue reading NanoVNA – measuring Q of an inductor using s21 – fails?

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

NanoVNA – Port 1 port extension

A VNA is usually calibrated by the user at some chosen reference plane using standard parts, commonly an open circuit, short circuit, and nominal (50Ω) load. As a result of this OSL calibration, the VNA is able to correct measured s11 to that reference plane, and display its results wrt that reference plane.

There are occasions where it is not possible, or not convenient to locate the DUT at the reference plane. This article discusses the problem created, and some solutions that might give acceptable accuracy for the application at hand.

The discussion assumes the VNA is calibrated for nominal 50+j0Ω.

Above is a diagram of a configuration where the unknown Zl is not located exactly at the reference plane, but at some extension. Continue reading NanoVNA – Port 1 port extension

NanoVNA – DiSlord NanoVNA-D v1.1.00 & NanoVNA-App-v1.1.209-OD10 calibration

This article explains the interworking of DiSlord NanoVNA-D v1.1.00 firmware and NanoVNA-App-v1.1.209-OD10 with respect to calibration.

This applies to the specific combination of versions of firmware and software client, do not assume it applies to other combinations.

DiSlord NanoVNA-D v1.1.00 firmware supports a scan_bin command where bit 3 of the outmask field is used to request raw measurement data, ie uncorrected measurements.

NanoVNA-App-v1.1.209-OD10 supports exploitation of that capability when it recognises that firmware version and command support.

Above, NanoVNA-App-v1.1.209-OD10  has a dropdown list to choose calibration mode. Continue reading NanoVNA – DiSlord NanoVNA-D v1.1.00 & NanoVNA-App-v1.1.209-OD10 calibration

NanoVNA – trying the DiSlord built in cable length measurement feature

A recent discussion online on the use of this facility in some model or other NanoVNA/firmware combination quickly ran to over 100 posts, and you might think it is really difficult, or plain does not work.

Let me say I am leery of built in features that invite users to perform something they do not understand, and may misinterpret the outcome.

Lots of the discussion ran to explaining why measurement of a sample of coax  would be out by 5% or more, lots of pseudo tech discussion about age related, contamination related, quality related explanations for the measurement, things which might cause the measurer to condemn the sample, to discard it.

Well, you would want to be pretty confident in yourself to make that call, given that the explanation might well be measurement error.

I don’t use this facility, so I am quite unfamiliar with it, and there is no documentation, so one make make an informed guess as to how to use it.

Let’s measure… Continue reading NanoVNA – trying the DiSlord built in cable length measurement feature

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

NanoVNA phase confusion

One sees online discussions and videos where phase from a NanoVNA display is central to the subject, and more often than not, the use is quite confused.

Let’s look at some examples.

Example 1

A poster advising on how to measure inductance using a NanoVNA posted a .s1p file of his measurements of a SM inductor of nominally 4.7µH from 1-5MHz and discussed the use of phase in determining the inductance.

Above is a plot of the data in the VNWA PC client. Four values are plotted: Continue reading NanoVNA phase confusion