4NEC simulations + VNA measurements for vertical antenna design

image My old vertical tuner can’t withstand QRO power levels as the tuner is limited to approx 150W. I am therefore working on a new multiband vertical for QRO operation. Its best to try to be finished before winter sets in(soon approaching as I write this blog post). Instead of using traps, I will tune the antenna like a Marconi type antenna over a ground plane with switchable or tunable L/C networks down at the feed point. The challenge with multiband antennas that is going to cover all the 40, 30, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10m bands, is that there will be frequency ranges where the real impedance is very high. A high real impedance is not possible to tune out with L or C and also difficult to match with a L network. It can be fed and matched with a tapped parallel network, but  there will be high voltages present and vacuum capacitors will be needed for QRO operation. L networks are easier on most bands and I try to use only one HV capacitor in one parallel network for 18 MHz (at least that is the plan). The trick is to have a proper length radiator that is tuned so that the impedance peaks will lay outside the ham bands of use. At least one band will have high impedance, but it should be possible to have fairly low impedance above that band. I did a 4NEC numeric antenna simulation to investigate the expected impedance range before sizing the radiator in the real life. What to look for is the zero phase transitions (look at the pink curve above). The first zero phase transition is the quarter wave resonant point simulated in 4NEC to be around 8,5 MHz. The next zero phase transition is around 17 MHz. This is the half wave resonant point. The impedance is very high at this frequency. Then there is a zero phase transition  around 25,5 MHz. This is the 3/2 lambda resonant point. Here the impedance is low again. From the simulation graph it can be seen that 7, 10, 14, 21, 24 and 28 MHz will be possible to match with a L network. 18 MHz will have to be voltage fed because the impedance is very high.

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To verify the simulations made with the Numerical Electromagnetic Code (4NEC) simulator I did some vector network analyzer measurements in the feed point end of the self supporting fiberglass mast that supports the vertical. The VNA S11 plot can be seen on the PC. The VNA unit is placed inside the tuner enclosure. (The ground plane is buried and is relatively extensive). The impedance peak of the half wave resonant point can be seen on the PC. However, there were some unexpected effects that affected the VNA measurements. I suspect that the master calibration was not good. Will have to look at that later. (The blue plastic sheet placed on the ground is laid there to be able to more comfortably work on the ground without becoming wet and dirty. The gray “ring” to the right is a concrete support for my soldering iron (ELRA ca. 1980 model still in good shape). I use a chair as a “PC support” to avoid placing the laptop on the ground. Cables to the house and control cables are routed below the surface in tubing.

VNA measurements on Fair-Rite 2643167851 ferrite material

After reading the nice publication by GM3SEK (http://www.ifwtech.co.uk/g3sek/in-prac/inpr1005_ext_v2.pdf) about the Fair Rite ferrite matrial that gives a high resistive component when used for RF choking applications I wanted to do some measurements myself vith my VNA on that material used as a RF choke.

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Above is a three choke setup

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The blue trace above is the real Z ( R ) plotted from 0-30 MHz. The scale is 480 ohms/div. As you can see the material gives a resistance over a fairly large BW well over 1000 ohms peaking around 5K ohms resistive at the low frequency range. However over approx 18 Mhz, the resistive component is not that great. For QRO operation on 15 meter and 10 meter some further measures should be taken if RF currents are high.

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Here is a three stage RF-choke setup. First the three element RF-choke, then a one element RF-choke and a two element RF-choke with the material stacked on top.

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Note that the scale here is 620 ohms/div. The measurements show that the three in line setup didnt change the resistive part of the choke a lot. This may indicate that for QRGs over 18-20 MHz, a material with more loss in that frequency range could be found. I am later going to experiment with different winding diameters and cable diameters to see if that will change the resistive elements in the upper parts of the HF spectrum.