You are on page 1of 2

ANTENNAS

G3LDO

PETER DODD
37 THE RIDINGS, EAST PRESTON,
W SUSSEX BN16 2TW.
E-MAIL G3LDO@UKONLINE.CO.UK

Feeding doublets
This month, G3LDO looks at losses on
twin-line and coaxial feeders.

70

In Antennas, November 2005, I


recommended the multiband doublet as the
most flexible and practical solution for a
portable antenna. The main advantage of
this antenna is that the doublet length is not
at all critical, a major advantage when
planning an antenna for a location that you
have never seen. I also noted that a 20m
centre-fed length, supported in the centre
using a collapsible telescopic fibreglass pole,
worked very well for all bands 40m to 10m.
I suggested that the antenna be fed with
black 300 slotted-line twin feeder, on the
grounds that it is very convenient for
running through gaps in doors or windows
that might be encountered in a location not
seen before.
FEEDER LINE LOSSES. I received an
e-mail from Brian Austin, G0GSF,
commenting on this antenna and its feed
arrangement. He says: Theres a much more
important reason not to use coax and thats
the very high SWR (easily > 10:1) likely to
occur at some frequencies (which ones will
depend on the antenna length). With coax,
the increased line loss, over an above its
inherent loss/m, can be very significant and
will soon turn the transmitted signal into QRP
or even QRPP, depending on what you
started out with! Likewise, the receiver will
sound very flat on those bands. By contrast,
slotted line has a considerably lower intrinsic
loss and a higher characteristic impedance
than coax. The end result is that the SWR
excursions tend to be smaller (because of the
higher Z0) and the increased loss due to the
inevitable mismatch on some frequencies
will be a lot less too.
My 23m inverted-V, which is fed with
300 slotted line, is very poor on 80m. The
receiver sounds as if theres 10dB of
attenuation permanently in circuit; which
there is because the feed-point resistance of
the antenna is so low and the SWR so high
that even the low-loss line becomes
increasingly lossy on that band and is made
worse the longer the feed-line.
So low-loss line is mandatory if the

THE MFJ-989C HIGH-PASS T-NETWORK


TUNER WITH A FERRITE-CORED BALUN
FOR A TWIN FEEDER.

matching network sits at the transmitter end,


which is where it usually is.
I was aware of the greater losses caused
by using coax cable rather than slotted-line
twin feeder and described a problem I had
with a multiband doublet in [1]. This also
referred to losses caused by SWR graphs in
G3SEKs In Practice column [2], which
graphically illustrated this. I also described

how replacing the existing 25m of coax


cable with 450 ladder line made a
significant predictable improvement to the
higher HF band performance of my centrefed multiband antenna.
However, I didnt think that the SWR
problem would be significant when using a
portable HF antenna with a short length of
feeder (say 5m) and decided to use available
software to make a few calculations. The
centre feed impedance of the antenna was
calculated using EZNEC4. The feeder losses
were then calculated using TLW
(Transmission Line Calculator for Windows)
available on a CD with The ARRL Antenna
Handbook [3].
My portable antenna was examined first,
comparing 5m of RG-58 (taking the view
that lightweight coax would be used on a
portable antenna) and comparing it with
450 slotted twin feeder. Actually 300
slotted line was used with my portable
antenna, but it is not included in the library
of feeders in TLW and 400 was the nearest
I could get. The results are shown in Table
1. The SWRs column represents the
calculated SWRs at the antenna and at the
ATU respectively, 11/9 for example. You can
see that the greater the transmission line loss
the greater the difference between these two
SWR figures. Using slotted line, even on a
short 5m length, gives an average increase
on all bands of over 3dB in antenna gain
compared to using coax.
If we now look at a more permanent
installation of, say, a 22m inverted-V
antenna fed with 15m, which is similar to

FIGURE 1
Antenna

Ladder line feed to antenna

Conventional T network ATU


Coax to
transceiver

Coax

Normal ATU
twin feed

External balun

Internal balun

RADCOM 644

FIG 1: A CONVENTIONAL HIGH-PASS T-NETWORK TUNER WITH A BALUN FOR CONNECTING TO A


TWIN FEEDER. WITH THIS COMUDIPOLE ARRANGEMENT, THE INTERNAL BALUN CAN BE BYPASSED AND
A SEPARATE BALUN PLACED OUTSIDE THE SHACK AND CONNECTED VIA A SHORT LENGTH OF COAX.

TABLE 1
Calculated losses on 5m of transmission line feeding a 22m-long inverted-V,
comparing RG-58 with 450 slotted line.
Band
MHz
7.0
10.1
14.2
18.1
21.2
25.0
28.5

the G0GSFs antenna, how do the


transmission line losses compare? Using the
transmission line shown in Table 2, we can
expect an average increase in gain of around
5 or 6dB using slotted line rather than good
quality RG-213. G0GSF noted that on 80m
The receiver sounds as if theres 10dB of
attenuation permanently in circuit. From
Table 2 the calculated value of the slotted
line loss is just over 2dB, which isnt a high
enough loss to be that noticeable on short
skip 80m contacts. There could be another
reason for the poor performance.
While the efficiency of an electrically
quarter-wave short dipole is quite reasonable,
being only about 1dB down on a full halfwave, the feed impedance is very low. In the
example shown in Table 2 the reflected
impedance at the ATU, for our 22m antenna
with 15m of slotted line feeder, is 4.0 +j40 .
Very low impedances can be matched
using the conventional high-pass T-network
tuner, but settings are rather critical and the
losses are very high. According to the ATU
section of TLW, the losses are in the region
of 5dB. The problem is made worse by the
4:1 impedance step-up balun at the output.
According to TLW, a low-pass L-network is
required to match this very low impedance
to 50 . The problem can be avoided
altogether by avoiding low impedance
antennas where possible this is achieved
in practice by using a doublet that
approximates a half-wavelength on the
lowest frequency in use.
LOSSES ON THE G5RV ANTENNA.
The G5RV antenna, which uses a section of
twin-line transmission line as tuned line,
normally uses a length of coax from the
bottom of the transmission line to the shack.
So how efficient is this arrangement?
The calculations, shown in Table 3,
indicate that losses can be quite high on
most bands, with the exception of 20 and
12m. These results also indicate that an
ATU is essential if a G5RV is used as a
multiband antenna. The figures in the SWR
column again show the SWRs at the
antenna and the ATU respectively. Note that
the thin RG-58 coax, with its higher losses,
gives a lower SWR at the ATU when
compared with the better quality RG-213. It
follows that if you have a nice low SWR
measured in the shack on all bands there
might be something wrong with the coax
between the rig and the antenna.

Centre Z
Rj
101
700
828
107
200
1329
298

+205
+365
-1820
-264
+488
+688
-880

RG-58
SWRs
Loss dB
11/9
69/29
94/30
15/11
16/29
79/23
56/20

0.18
2.9
5.5
1.8
2.8
5.4
4.35

450 slotted line


SWRs
Loss dB
5.1/5
8.8/8.7
12.3/12
5.46/5.41
5.28/5.22
9.77/9.52
8.37/8.18

0.024
0.027
0.123
0.066
0.051
0.121
0.099

TABLE 2
Calculated losses on 15m of transmission line feeding a 22m-long inverted-V,
comparing RG-213 with 450 slotted line. *The impedance at the ATU was 4.0
+j40 as calculated using TLW.
Band
MHz
3.6
7.0
10.1
14.2
18.1
21.2
25.0
28.5

Centre Z
Rj
12
101
700
828
107
200
3829
298

-810*
+205
+365
-1820
-264
+488
+688
-880

RG-58
SWRs
Loss dB
600/44
11/8
68/19
95/18
15/8
28/11
79/13
72/12

14
1.2
5.5
7.0
2.7
4.0
7.8
6.7

450 slotted line


SWRs
Loss dB
148/106
5.1/5.0
8.8/8.4
12/11.5
4.46/5.28
5.28/5.1
9.77/7.88
8.3/7.8

2.1
0.065
0.162
0.324
0.155
0.15
0.34
0.30

TABLE 3
Calculated losses on 15m of coax feed to a G5RV antenna, comparing RG-213
and RG-58. The impedances have been calculated at the point were the coax
feeder is connected to the twin tuned line.
Band
MHz
3.6
7.0
10.1
14.2
18.1
21.2
25.0
28.5

R j, tuned
line end
25
202
337
104
322
235
177
1233

+260
-444
+966
-4
-706
-684
-131
-1215

RG 213
SWRs
Loss dB
64/27
24/14
65/19
2.1/1.9
37/12.8
44/12.8
5.5/4.2
49/11.6

A PRACTICAL METHOD OF USING


TWIN FEEDER. Most commercial ATUs use
a high-pass T-network as shown in Fig 1.
Most of these tuners can be used with twin
feeders by using an internal balun at the
output of the tuner as shown in Fig 1,
although this method of feeding twin lines is
not regarded with favour by some authorities
[4]. However, as mentioned in [5], I have
used the small MFJ-901B with a 20m long
doublet and a twin feed. The balun in this
ATU is mere 25mm OD toroid and its
temperature rose to just slightly above
ambient temperature after several hours of
100W CW contest-type operation on various
bands, so it is obviously not that inefficient.
The main problem with twin feeder can be
routing it into the shack. The feeder must not
be allowed to come in close contact with
metal objects or bundled together with other
feeders or conductors. A solution was
described by PA2ABV [6] in which the balun,
normally located inside the ATU, is placed in
such a position that there is an RF obstacle-

3.1
2.3
5.2
0.6
4.8
5.3
1.4
6.1

RG58
SWRs
Loss dB
64/21
24/10.8
65/13
2.1/1.8
37/9.5
44/9.3
5.5/3.7
49/8.5

3.4
3.7
6.2
0.8
5.8
6.9
1.9
7.6

free path between it and the antenna. The ATU


is connected to the balun with a short length
of coax cable as shown in Fig 1. Such an
arrangement was called the Comudipole. The
internal balun can be removed from the ATU
and used externally or a separate balun can be
constructed, which is very simple, see [7]. A
balun wound on a T200 ferrite toroid can be
waterproofed by simply smearing it in grease.
PA0SE describes a balun constructed with
coax cable on a coil former [7], which is
claimed to have a better performance over
ferrite-cored baluns when handling the highly
reactive impedances seen in Tables 1 and 2.
REFERENCES
[1] Antennas, RadCom September 2002.
[2] Losses from High SWR, G3SEK, In Practice RadCom,
March 2002.
[3] TLW Transmission Line Program for Windows, by N6BV, The
ARRL Antenna Book, 19th edition.
[4] HF Antennas for all Locations, L A Moxon, G6XN, 1984
edition, p54.
[5] Antennas, RadCom November 2005.
[6] Electron, December 1992, reported in Technical Topics
RadCom, July 1984.
[7] Backyard Antennas, G3LDO, RSGB.

71