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The March/April Morseman Problem

The Problem as stated was:

A toroidal transformer is used in directional coupler versions of an SWR bridge. The primary
winding is the single wire running through the toroid, the secondary is wound with equal-spaced turns
around the toroid. A diagram of the complete coupler, and an explanation of how it works, can be
downloaded from my website1 The figure shown in the column is figure 3, on the following page. The
first diagram showing the coupler circuit from my website document is figure 1.

Figure 1: The Bruene SWR detector, showing centre-tapped toroidal transformer.

The mutual inductance between primary and secondary is found using Faradays Law, with a straightforward integration. Questions:
How can the primary wire shown be a winding? (A winding must be a closed loop, but this is
just a single wire.)
The wire is always shown threading through the exact centre of the toroid. Will it still work if it
goes through off-centre? How will the mutual inductance change if this wire is off-centre?
Before tackling these questions, we revise how mutual inductance is defined and calculated.

Mutual Inductance
Mutual inductance is a joint property of two closed conducting loops. Figure 2 shows two coils in
proximity. Coil 1 carries a current, giving rise to the magnetic field shown by the field lines. Some
of this field passes through coil 2. If the current in the first coil changes, the flux intercepted by the
second coil will also change, and by Faradays Law, a voltage will also be induced in its windings.
This flux coupling is utilised in all transformers. The degree of coupling is a function of the geometry
of the system, and is specified by their Mutual Inductance.
Let the total flux passing through the windings of coil 1, having inductance L1 , be 1 . Let the total
flux passing through coil 2 be 2 , and the voltage induced in its winding be V2 . Using Faradays Law,
Inductance is defined as L =

d1 dt
dt dI1

Download from the link on my website to The Bruene Directional Coupler and Transmission Lines.


Figure 2: Two coils in proximity coupled by mutual inductance.



and V2


= L1


The negative signs imply that the induced voltage in each case opposes the flux increase. Let the
proportion of flux intercepted by coil 2 be . Then
2 = 1
= +L1
= M
where M = L1 = the mutual inductance
then M =
or, for a linear medium, M =
and the voltage induced across L2 is V2 = M


Mutual Inductance of a Toroidal Coil Threaded by a Wire.

In general mutual inductance is difficult to calculate. Only a few configurations, including that of the
central wire toroidal transformer described here, are analytically tractable. Figure 3 shows such a
toroid around which a coil (windings not shown) is wound. The toroid is threaded by a wire passing
normally through its exact centre, part of a closed loop through which current flows. When an rf
current flows in the wire, mutual inductance between the wire and the toroidal winding cause an
induced voltage to form across the toroidal winding.
The toroid has a rectangular cross-sectional dimensions h and W , and inner radius R. For computational simplicity, the wire is assumed to be infinitely long, so that its magnetic field inside the toroid
can be calculated using Amperes Law. This law states that

B.d` = I


In words, this says that the magnetic field component B.d`, integrated over any complete closed
path ` around a current I flowing anywhere through this path, is proportional to the current, with
constant of proportionality , the permeability of the medium.

Figure 3: An infinitely long straight wire passing through the centre of a toroid.
Assume that a current I flows in the straight wire. The magnetic field lines due to the wire will be
symmetric and circular, centred on the wire. Those between radii of R and R + W will pass through
the toroid. We can calculate the flux through the toroid using this integration, evaluating the magnetic
field using Amperes Law. At radius r, the path length is 2r, and B is constant along it, so
from Amperes Law, 2rB(r) = I
Re-arranging, the magnetic field magnitude at radius r is B(r) =


The flux passing through a small cross-section of the toroid from radius r to r + dr will be
d2 =
integrating, 2 =
2 =
but from equation 10, M

so M

IN h
IN h R+W dr

IN h
loge 1 +

N h
loge 1 +


Both plots of field-lines shown next were produced using a numerical field-calculation program (see
the Appendix) because analytic calculation for the right-hand case is analytically intractible.
Figure 4, left, shows the magnetic field lines surrounding a centrally placed wire through the toroid
having a relative permeability of 20 (that is, = 20o . This value is rather low for a toroid used as a
balun or SWR bridge detector, but this low value shows the lines better). The current in the wire is
flowing into the page.
In this case, all field lines are circular, and are either completely inside or outside the toroid. Those
inside are closer together than those outside, indicating that the field strength is higher inside the
toroid. The strength of the field is the same at all points in the toroid.
Figure 4, right, shows the field-lines resulting from an off-centre central wire. The field-lines from the
wire are circular at low radii, but as the radius increases some of them cut the surface of the toroid,
where the permeability abruptly increases by a factor of 20. On entering the toroid, they are bent
away from the normal, on leaving, towards the normal. Each field-line is still continuous.
The boundary conditions between the media, used to find the angle of diffraction, are derived from
the two Maxwell equations
. B = 0


B = J


In words, the first one states that the divergence of the magnetic field is zero, the second states that
the curl of the magnetic field equals the current density at the point where the curl is calculated.
The macroscopic form of this law is Amperes Law, equation 11 above.

Figure 4: Magnetic field-lines induced in the toroid by Left: A central wire, Right: An off-centre wire.
The diffraction boundary conditions for field-lines travelling between magnetic media are described in
many references, for example
The right-hand plot of figure 4 also shows that the field-lines inside the toroid are spaced more closely
in the section nearest the wire, than those in the section directly opposite. This indicates that the field
inside the toroid closest to the wire is higher than that directly opposite. In this figure, the difference
in magnitude is about a factor of 2. Furthermore, the changing spacing of the field lines shows that
magnetic intensity varies continuously around, and inside the toroid.

The Effect of Wire Position on the Toroids Inductance.

If an evenly-spaced coil is wound around the toroid, its inductance turns out to be exactly the same for
both situations. Physically, you can see this is reasonable because the larger inductance induced by the
closely-spaced lines in the toroid near the wire might be exactly balanced by the smaller inductance
induced by the more widely-spaced lines further away. And in fact, it is.
Mathematically, this is a consequence of Amperes law, stated again as

B.d` = I


This, paraphrased, states that the total magnetic intensity integrated around any closed path is
always proportional to the current flowing through the path. It does not matter where inside the loop
the current passes! If the coil is wound uniformly around the whole toroid, this integrated intensity is
therefore the same for both cases shown in figure 4, and since this total intensity is what determines
the inductance, the inductance will also be the same!

Note, however, that the integration is not along a field line inside the toroid, since some lines enter and
exit the toroid, and do not follow radial paths inside it. The integration is along a circular (radial)
path, using the component of the field line resolved along this path. Its the constantly-changing
direction of this component which makes an analytic solution for this case so intractable.
But theres an interesting wrinkle to this, which affects the operation of the Bruene SWR bridge,
shown in figure 1.

The Bruene SWR Bridge

A modified version of this toroidal transformer is the basis of the SWR measuring technique used in
this Bridge, shown in figure 1. Here, the winding is also wound completely around the toroid, but
is centre-tapped, and one half is used to induce a voltage proportional to the forward current, the
other half the reverse current
Assume that the centre-tap is positioned half-way between the maximum and minimum field intensity
positions, that is, at an angle of 90o to the line joining the wire in figure 4, right, to the closest point
of the toroid (at about the 2 oclock position.)
The lower coil-half (nearest the wire) will then have a higher mutual inductance with the wire than
the upper coil-half (furthest from the wire), because the integrated field intensity through the lower
portion will be higher than that through the upper. Hence, even if the detection components (diode
rectifier and smoothing) are identical in the forward and backward circuits, the voltages induced
in the two halves will always be unequal.
In practice, this effect is small, and does not matter anyway, because adjustable resistances shown as
Rcal in figure 1 are always included to compensate for this effect - and for any difference in the diodes,
capacitors and voltmeters used in the two sections.
Note that figure 1 also shows that one of the capacitors used in the voltage divider section, at left, is
variable. This is adjusted at the factory to make the reverse voltage zero when a pure resistance
equal to the characteristic impedance of the line to be measured is used to terminate the bridge. You
can also adjust this capacitor if you suspect the calibration, though most instructional pamphlets
dont mention this - mine, for my MFJ bridges, dont, anyway.

The plots of figure 1 were made using the program Vizimag, downloadable from

You have to pay $39.75 (US) for a single-user license, but you can use it free for 30 days. The program
has an easily-mastered graphical interface, and enables you to calculate, plot, and read magnetic
field magnitudes and directions at any point for a variety of configurations involving wires, toroids,
magnets, magnetic materials. You can also make animations!
Gary ZL1AN