Constructing a 2m colinear Part 2

Hi all,

This is a continuation of Constructing a 2m colinear Part 1.

Repairing the Colinear

On a recent SOTA activation trip, I tested the colinear in the field. As discussed in that post, the lower SWR point seemed a little high. At the second and third activations on that trip, I was unable to use the colinear due to a persistent short. This short turned out to be in the BNC connector.

After coming back from the trip, I set about repairing the antenna and upgrading the connections to make them more robust. This was done using some spare foam dialectic from some RG6 cable I had lying around. I had previously used the braid from this for another project. This dialectic could now make itself useful as a physical shunt to give the joins of coax some structural integrity. I simply inserted the dialectic into the join area and secured it with tape. Seems to work well, and the colinear does not feel anywhere near as fragile.

Analysing the Colinear

Once getting the colinear fixed, I put it up at home in the backyard to have a look at its frequency characteristics. I used a MiniVNA Pro with the BlueVNA app running on a Samsung Galaxy S2, using bluetooth connectivity. Here is a screenshot:

Colinear screenshot from BlueVNA showing SWR, impedance, resistance and reactance

Colinear screenshot from BlueVNA

Several things to note from this picture is the SWR is unacceptably high. The FT-817 reports a lower SWR as some is being burnt up by warming the coax. Also, the resonant point is at 147MHz, when I was expecting 145. Before we get too excited, one thing to remember is this is a picture of what is at the BNC connector, not what is actually at the “feedpoint” which is through the common mode choke, up to the first coax connection, about 910mm of coax away.

Here is the same data using Zplots, which is an excel spreadsheet. The data from BlueVNA was saved to a s parameter file, which can be loaded into Zplots.

A Zplots render of the Colinear at the BNC connector, showing a graph and a smith chart.

Colinear at the BNC connector in Zplots

This zplots chart shows much the same information as the screenshot from BlueVNA, which is no surprise given it is based on the same data.

Zplots has the capability of compensating for the effects of transmission lines. I could then algorithmically have a look at what is going on at the actual feedpoint, which would be very difficult to physically access. Here is a screenshot from Zplots at the “feedpoint”.

A Zplot, consisting of a graph and Smith chart with compensation for the transmission line.

Colinear characteristics at feedpoint

This graph shows the antenna is resonant at 144.7MHz, which is not far from what the antenna was designed for: 145MHz. The gotcha is that the resistance at the point of resonance is about 14 ohms. No wonder there is bad SWR on this thing. This is a prime example of how a resonant antenna does not necessarily have low SWR.

Remediation

What to do about about this antenna that is resonant where planned, but effectively gives me an SWR of 3 to 4 over the entire 2m band? I am going to have to do some impedance transformation to match to this antenna. What to do?

There is another Smith chart shown below. The purple dots represent the impedance at various points from about 144MHz up to about 146.5MHz. These points are effectively the same as the “feedpoint” data calculated by Zplots, with 910mm of 52ohm coax (RG58/U) being added to the data obtained at the BNC connector. Along the coax from the connector to the feedpoint, they essentially rotate on the Smith chart around the centre point. The centre point is, by the way, a 50ohm 1:1 SWR point. This is where we want to be, or at least within the red circle on the Smith chart.

I have more choices than right at the BNC connector or at the “feedpoint”. The first 500mm from the feepoint is a bit hard, as it is inside the aluminium sleeve of the colinear. This bit of coax is inaccessible. About a 290mm segment is also not accessible because it is in the common mode choke. There is a section about 350mm (360mm from where MiniVNA would have measured from) from the BNC connector that looks nice. This is 545mm from the “feedpoint”. This is represented by the smaller green dots. From here, I can use a parallel shunt bit of coax. If this bit of shorted shunt coax is 160mm long, then the impedance is transformed into the “matched” zone.

Impedance matching the colinear antenna using a Smith chart tool. The Smith chart shows a transmission line and then a shorted coax parallel shunt

Transformation of feedpoint impedance

One draw back is the cable will have a DC short because of the parallel shorted coax shunt, but this is a “nice” short.

73 de Wayne VK3WAM

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4 comments on “Constructing a 2m colinear Part 2

  1. […] activation was performed with my colinear. I decided not to do the match yet (as discussed in the linked article) as I wanted to make the stub […]

  2. […] would be 2m only. I took the colinear, and had done some work to improve the match, as discussed in Constructing a 2m colinear Part 2. Unfortunately, RG58 is a bit of a pain to work with, because if a little too much dialetric is […]

  3. […] have discussed the construction of this device before. I used the MiniVNAPRO and obtained s11 data which was then used with a smith chart tool called […]

  4. […] have described my efforts in building a colinear for 2m over several posts. The base unmatched colinear was sort-of ok at 146.5, but not very good at 144.1, soI set about […]

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