Ask half a dozen hams to define a Ground Plane Antenna and you will probably get half a dozen different answers, yet it is thought of as one of the basic antenna types that newcomers will be introduced to in their education.
There seems credible acceptance by some writers that the Ground Plane Antenna was invented by George Brown (more completely Brown, Lewis and Epstein (BLE)) from RCA, and is described in US Patent 2,234,333 for a
Demountable Antenna filed in 1939. The patent does not call the thing a Ground Plane Antenna, but it does describe what could be naively described as a quarter wave vertical radiator with four equally spaced quarter wave horizontal radials (plus some other embellishments).
BLE gives the dimensions for the antenna at 41.5MHz and offers that the feed point impedance is 21.5Ω, transformed up to (the then popular) 70Ω transmission line by his custom quarter wave transformer (part of the invention).
The naively basic Ground Plane Antenna
Lets look at an NEC model of the vertical quarter wave and four quarter wave radials alone (ie in free space).
An NEC-4.2 model gives the feed point impedance as 23.4+j6.11Ω. The reactance is not surprising since the elements are actually slightly longer than a free space quarter wave, and resonance would occur at a little less length. Importantly, the R value is in the ball park of their estimate, so that reconciles reasonable well. BLE do not give a gain figure, but the gain of a lossless model in NEC is 1.44dB.
Above is the pattern, no surprises there (unless you were expecting it to look like a quarter wave monopole on perfectly conducting earth). Continue reading What is a Ground Plane Antenna?
This article expands on the detail behind A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF.
Choice of core
Online experts all have a preferred core material, but there is a dearth of measurement data to show the difference in actual use. If someone recommends a particular core material and cannot provide measured Zcm data to support the recommendation, regard it as a weak recommendation.
Beware the magic of unobtainium… just because something is hard to get is not an indication that it is desirable.
Above is the complex permeability characteristic of the #43 material used. Inductance calculators that do not take that frequency dependent complex characterisitic into consideration produce invalid results. (Duffy 2015) gives a suitable approximation, and there are links to calculators that do work properly at the bottom of this article. Continue reading A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF – more detail
This article describes a Guanella 1:1 current balun which has high common mode impedance (Zcm) and low Insertion VSWR. It is for application on antennas that have low VSWR(50) on at least some bands, especially if they would be used without an ATU on some bands.
The purpose of the balun is to minimise common mode feed line current which may contribute to EMC problems when transmitting, and contribute to increased ambient noise when receiving. Reduction of feed line common mode current also helps in achievement of expected load impedance characteristic, radiation pattern and gain. This article gives measured Zcm, but the definitive test of the effectiveness of such a balun is direct measurement of common mode current Icm… and it is so easy.
Example applications are half wave centre fed dipoles, fan dipoles, trapped dipoles, G5RV with hybrid feed, ZS6BKW, trapped verticals, monopoles, ground planes.
To obtain low Insertion VSWR, the choke will be wound with 50Ω coax, to demonstrate the practicality of the design budget (but good quality) regular (ie solid PE dielectric) RG58C/U will be used. Foam dielectric is NOT recommended. Solid PTFE coax could be used, but avoid coax with steel cored inner conductor, it may be lossier than you think at low frequencies with the silver cladding is relatively thin.
The candidate core is the readily available FT240-43 (Fair-rite 2643803802, 5943003801), it is a low cost NiZn ferrite with medium µr, and its µr and loss characteristic contributes to a broad high impedance choke well suited to this application.
Above is a model of the expected Zcm with 11 turns of RG58C/U coax and an equivalent shunt capacitance of 4.6pF. Continue reading A low Insertion VSWR high Zcm Guanella 1:1 balun for HF
My article G3LNP balun explored the operation of the G3LNP 4:1 balun on a 200Ω asymmetric load and found it exhibited extreme Insertion VSWR on what should have been an ideal impedance transformation but for the asymmetric element.
The balun is in fact a Voltage Balun and cannot be expected to work properly on asymmetric loads.
A correspondent proposes that the balun probably works very well on a nearly symmetric load such as a half wave dipole.
There are two aspectes to this proposition:
- the assumption that a common half wave dipole implementation is nearly symmetric; and
- the balun works well on a nearly symmetric load.
Continue reading G3LNP balun with symmetric ‘matched’ load
G3LNP described a 4:1 balun for HF antennas in Radcom Nov 2017.
Above is the schematic supplied by G3LNP. He describes the dashed link at the bottom as optional, but uses it in his prototype so this analysis is with that link installed. The prototype used equal lengths of coax (1m PF100, an RG-6 like coax), and the toroidal choke appears to be 8t on a T130-2 powdered iron core.
Exploration of behaviour of baluns on extreme asymmetric load often reveals whether they work properly for asymmetric loads.
Continue reading G3LNP balun
A recent online posting asserted that an antenna is optimal when itself resonant, and fed with a resonant feed line length so delivering a purely resistive load to a source, and further that implementors needed to be careful that a shorter dipole could be offset to some extent by a longer feed line but it would be inferior because:
no short antenna is more efficient than a resonant-length antenna
… but does that stand scrutiny?
An NEC experiment
Lets walk though an experiment using NEC-4.2 models of a dipole of 2mm copper wire at 10m height at 7.1MHz over average ground (0.005,13).
- source has a Thevenin equivalent source impedance of 50+j0Ω;
- feed line is lossless.
The results are sensitive to the model assumptions.
We will calculate the ratio of radiated power to the power delivered by the transmitter to a matched load, let us call it TransmitEfficiency for the purposes of this article. Continue reading “No short antenna is more efficient than a resonant-length antenna”
This article documents a small experiment with a quite small untuned loop, and LNA and receiver on 80m to assess its ability to copy signals on the band as well as the station transceiver on large antenna.
A significant factor at 80m is that ambient noise is quite high. Let’s consult ITU P.372-12 for guidance.
Curve E is the median city noise, at 3.6MHz Fa is about 62dB. At a more detailed level, P.372-12 gives the median noise figure for Rural precincts at 51.8dB and that figure is more appropriate to the test location (large block rural residential).
The test was carried in a few spots, at 50-100 m from the main station dipole. Continue reading Small untuned loop with MMIC LNA on 80m
This article demonstrates use of a GR1606B RF impedance bridge for measurement of the feed point impedance of a MHz loaded mobile whip. The antenna is roof mounted on a vehicle and measurements are made looking into 4m of RG58C/U, then transformed to feed point impedance using three tools:
Key metrics are:
- ReactanceDial offset=200
- Feed line is 4m of Belden 8262 (RG58C/U).
Continue reading Demonstration of the GR1606B for antenna Z measurement and calcs
An online expert recently reported:
I tried to make an antenna loop for longwave with cat 5 and after it did no good I realized the twisted wires canceled each other out.
Or did they really cancel?
I constructed a loop of one Cat 5 pair and measured its inductance when both wires are bonded at the ends.
The conductors are 0.5mm diameter and spaced 0.9mm. To estimate the inductance we use the geometric mean radius (GMR) as the equivalent radius of the pair. GMR=(0.5*0.9)^0.5=0.67, diameter=1.34mm. So let’s calculate the inductance of a single turn circular loop of 0.8m perimeter and round conductor of 1.34mm diameter.
The estimate above is 850nH.
Above is the measurement, the screen is not readable, but it is 852nH, very close to the estimated 850nH. Continue reading Inductance of a loop of CAT5 pair
I bought an inexpensive GPS antenna on eBay, the requirement was for one that operated from 3-5V to suit both of my GPSDOs. The antenna is mounted in an electrical junction box on conduit above the roof for reliable coverage.
The question was whether the active antenna with 5m of RG174 coax and SMA male connector at A$6 posted was any good.
To map its behaviour, it was attached to a Trimble Thunderbolt GPSDO and Lady Heather used to plot rx signal level over about 30h.
Above is the plot. The pattern is not quite symmetric as there are obstructions in play, in fact some of the dips in performance are explained by specific trees and the roof profile. There is a gap to the south at low elevations, GPS satellites don’t fly there (MEO inclined 55° from the equator) .
Overall, it reaches similar strength at the zenith as other antennas tried.
Overall evaluation, it seems to work ok though the coax is a bit rough.