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3/28/2018 Test, measure balun, and compare antenna baluns or balums

Related pages:

Sleeve baluns Balun and Transformer Core Selection 4:1 Balun Analysis Verticals and Baluns Antenna Tuner Baluns Common mode current Common-
Mode Noise toroid balun winding Steel wool balun

Skip down this page to actual dipole measurements

Balanced and Unbalanced


Many articles and technical sources on baluns or balun
design ignore voltage, focusing only on current. Focusing
only on current is a serious oversight that can result in
defective system design.

Equal currents alone do not assure balance, and SWR is not a


confirmation of proper system operation.

Properly working systems, both balanced and unbalanced,


have exactly equal and opposite currents in each conductor.
VOLTAGE distribution determines if a system is balanced or
unbalanced.

Perfectly balanced line or perfectly balanced ports


have equal and opposite voltages from each conductor
or terminal to an earth-neutral reference ground.
Current must be equal and opposite at every point in
the system, and voltage must also be equal and
opposite on each conductor at every point in the
system to be perfectly balanced!

Perfectly unbalanced lines or perfect unbalanced ports


have zero potential (volts) from the shield or ground
terminal to an earth-neutral reference ground. This is
why coaxial connectors and shields can be directly
grounded or left floating from ground in a properly
functioning system without causing changes of any
kind in system behavior. Unbalanced lines and ports
must have equal and opposite currents on the shield
and the center conductors, even though shield voltage
to earth neutral ground reference is zero.

BOTH line or port types have equal and opposite


direction currents on each conductor, but the voltages
are very much different!

Balance Quality Test for Current Baluns


Current balun balance quality can be evaluated by moving a ground (common with signal source) to points A, B, and C while watching voltages or currents in the load. As
a current balun becomes better, it will show less input SWR change or less current change through R1 and R2 as the test ground is moved.

The lack of system perturbations with grounds at any point are good current baluns function also perfectly as un un's!

The sum of R1 and R2 are selected to equal system load impedance. In this case the test is for a 4:1 current balun with 50 ohm unbalanced and 200 ohm balanced ports.

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The same test above can be used, at high power with suitable resistors, to roughly evaluate balun power handling in ideal systems. The balun should not overheat at full
power in the experimental worse case jumper position. Heating limits in an HF balun, regardless of load impedance, is almost exclusively due to losses in the core. This is
true for any type of balun in the real world. Do not confuse heating with flux-saturation of magnetic materials. Flux saturation does not necessarily cause heating, it
simply means the core cannot carry any more flux and any additional current causes a reduction in inductance. Virtually all HF cores heat from the loss tangent of the
core. The loss tangent causes the core impedance to appear as a complex combination of resistance and reactance. The resistive part represents the dissipative
characteristics, while reactance is lossless.

All baluns, even transmission line baluns, will have significant flux in the core with real-world loads. This flux density is the primary loss or heating mechanism in a
balun.

See 4:1 balun page for an analysis of winding common mode currents, which can be represented by voltages across the winding.

Impedance and SWR Test


This page shows measurements of various baluns and how various baluns compare.

Choke Impedance

This data shows the common mode impedance of the balun. In general, the highest impedance at the operating frequency or over the operating frequency range is
desirable. This impedance isolates the antenna from undesired signals on the feed line shield, and prevents antenna terminal voltage from exciting the feed line with
unwanted currents. Common mode impedance is directly related to the care in design and construction.

Pay particular attention to the impedance peak in air-core baluns. For narrow-band applications they make excellent baluns if load common mode impedance is not
capacitive.

Unfortunately common-mode impedance is all over the place, as this Smith Chart plot shows:

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The air-core balun is good only for a three or four-to-one frequency range, unless you pick a winding style and size that places unwanted series resonances outside desired
bands, and is only good where common mode impedance is inductive or the same sign as the balun's common mode impedance. If we are not careful with system design,
an air-core balun can make system balance worse!

In contrast a good core-type balun looks like this:

SWR

The lowest SWR is desirable, although any mismatch can often be compensated by adjustment of antenna dimensions. This SWR mainly comes from incorrect wire
impedance inside the balun. It may be caused by excessive length of internal leads, or incorrect cable or winding impedance inside the balun. It generally is a construction
related problem.

Measured SWR and Choking Impedance

The following data is measured using a currently certified network analyzer with low capacitance test fixture:

Centaur DXE W2DU(1) W2DU(2) Force 12 Scramble Solenoid W2AU volt


Choke Impedance Note 2
R+X@1.8 84 129j 554 1.4k j 378 617j 230 325j 169 286j 1.67 245j 1 +1.18k j .488 5j

835 -1.84k
R+X@15 3.76 2.7k j 727 -611j 761 -10j 883 -105j 11.97 -850j 62 -895j 1.36 42j
j

R+X@30 143 -729j 153 -893j 284 -440j 610 -296j 538 -381j 73 162j 68 -168j 8.2 68j

Max Z@F 17 MHz 6.65 MHz 7.16 MHz 15.3 MHz 13.24 MHz 6.42MHz 4.25 MHz 60 MHz
R+X at max Z 5.87k -943j 4.5K -340j 1.3K -13j 770 -20j 914 2.25j 42.7k 0j 34K 37K j 75 286j

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Min Z@F 27.68MHz 11.7Mhz


R+X at min Z 10 -2j 198 -252j

SWR
21.15
F SWR=1.25 6.8 MHz 65 MHz 20.2 MHz note 1 note 1 20.9 MHz
MHz
1.8MHz 1.07 1.02 1.03 1.03 1.43
15MHz 1.58 1.04 1.17 1.18 1.2
30MHz 2.16 1.08 1.37 1.39 1.35

note 1: SWR not measured because construction and cable type affects SWR

note 2: This is a W2AU voltage balun. It is only shown as a example of poor shield isolation offered by voltage baluns if the antenna is not perfectly matched to the balun
with the feed line exiting the balun at right angles. This type of balun is unsuitable for non-symmetrical systems such as off-center-fed antennas, verticals, or antennas
with the feed line paralleling the antenna (even at a fairly large distance).

The W2DU baluns were manufactured by Unidilla. (1) is a Maxi balun and 2 is a 10-40 meter model.

The DX Engineering balun is the dipole balun type DXE-BAL050-H05-P

The scramble-wound choke was about 20 feet of RG8X in a six-inch diameter "bundle".

The solenoid balun was about 60 feet of RG-8X on a 4" PVC thin wall drain pipe coated with rubberized roofing tar.

Power Dissipation and feed line Common-mode Current Estimates


Note: This section revised 1/2/2003 to correct model error. Please report any other errors to me!

Balun power dissipation is estimated using Eznec to simulate a perfectly balanced dipole.

Here is a copy of the model used:

160m balun EZ

Please be aware I made no special effort to create a "bad antenna" other than I intuitively understand what the worse case condition of feed line length would
normally be and I selected that length. I dropped the wire representing the feed line vertically from the center of a perfectly balanced dipole, and made that wire 1/4
wl long.

Here is a view of the model with no balun:

SWR is 1.46:1 power is 1500 watts

Currents at 1500 watts are approximately:

5.65 amperes into wire 1

2.63 amperes into wire 2

3.73 amperes into wire 3 (coaxial cable shield)

Using this model (a 135 foot high 160-meter dipole) we can add each of the balun impedances in the coaxial cable shield and estimate feed line current and power
dissipated in the balun:

Centaur DXE W2DU(1) W2DU(2) Force 12 Scramble Solenoid W2AU


0.90 amp 0.12 amp .25 amp .47 amps .57 amps .87 amps .16 amp .4 amps
1.3 watts .03 watt (74w TL
69 watts 8.5 watts 25 watts 51 watts 55 watts 34 watts
loss)
(26w TL loss)

From this we can see the following:

Adding more beads is very inefficient. W2DU(1) has about twice the beads as W2DU(2), yet it has 53% of the current and 49% of the power dissipation! This does
increase power rating by a factor of four, but it is still too low to prevent balun heating.
The solenoid has (by far) the lowest choking or balancing power loss, but it is 60-feet of RG-8X wound on a 4" diameter form in a single layer. It adds transmission
line loss of 74 watts, but since the area is so large it will not overheat.
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The scramble wound balun has inadequate impedance since wire length is only 20 feet. It has low loss, but it really isn't acting like a balun (at 6.5 MHz it would be
super, having 42K ohms of impedance).
Of the baluns above, only the DXE, scramble wound, and solenoid would not be overheated in normal operation for continuous Morse CW transmissions.

Perspective of Heat
Think about the heating this way. Imagine you had a 60-watt light bulb. Nearly all of the applied power is turned to heat, and the surface area of the bulb and conduction
through the base radiates that heat. Would you hold a 60 watt light bulb?

Now picture a balun core with a surface area a fraction of the size of the light bulb. This core area is enclosed in a case that often has poor thermal conductivity.

The large air-core baluns mainly produce heat from transmission line losses.
W2DU and other style baluns mainly have CORE losses. Transmission line losses are negligible since the transmission lines are very short.

Currents

Every ampere of current not going onto the cable shield goes to the dipole's shield-fed leg! The total is not the exact sum, because of phase differences. Here is a view of
currents in the dipole with the DXE balun:

Currents are:

Wire 1 4.52 amperes

Wire 2 4.52 amperes

Wire 3 .12 ampere

Remember power radiated increases by the square of current. The feed line shield
current is now .12A compared to 3.73A without a balun! The feed line radiates
about .1% of the power it radiated without a balun. While pattern distortion on
transmit may not hurt, the feed line radiation probably aggravates RFI and allows
noise to couple into the antenna when receiving.

Remember this model is worse case in the NO BALUN condition. This does not mean every system or most systems will be this bad. This example was only intended
to show how bad balance can be and how much power baluns (even with a matched load) can dissipate!

Ladder Line Voltage and Current tests


The data below was taken with a half-wave 80 meter doublet about 120 feet or so above ground. This doublet is suspended between two towers and is suspended by rope
for at least 30 feet from each tower. Nothing is within 100 feet of the doublet. feed line is a vertical drop of Wireman "heavy duty" ladder line, twisted to maintain
electrical balance and reduce wind oscillation.

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In the table below, "D C" is


a standard dual-core two-
transmission line balun. It
has two independent
magnetic paths for each
balun transmission line.

Look at how terrible balance


is on a single-core 4:1
"current balun" below. A 4:1
single-core "current balun",
as presented in "Baluns and
Unun's" and used in some
commercial designs, forces
a system into gross voltage
unbalance. It is not a balun.
This is what happens when
we offer a balun design
without understanding or
measuring balance.

Date 7/9/2010
DC = dual core Voltage in volts, current in milliamperes
Balun type Frequency Voltage A Voltage B V Phase Current A Current B I Phase V Unbal I unbal note
Dual Core 200 ohm res 3.5 6 5.5 -2 63.33 63.33 0 0.54 0.00 floating
D C resistor 200 3.5 5.7 5.7 -3.5 63.00 63.67 0.5 0.35 0.87 CT Gro
D C resistor 200 14 4.55 4.65 -5 55.00 55.00 -4.5 0.41 4.32 floating
D C resistor 200 14 4.55 4.65 -6.5 55.00 55.00 -4.5 0.53 4.32 CT Gro
Single Core 4:1 200 3.5 2.85 8.75 0 63.33 63.33 0 5.90 0.00 floating
Single Core 4:1 200 3.5 3.7 7.1 -32 41.67 78.33 -30 4.42 47.11 CT Gro

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Single Core 4:1 200 14 1.6 12 120 65.00 75.00 36 12.87 44.30 floating
Single Core 4:1 200 14 5 5.75 -4 58.33 70.00 -30 0.84 35.07 CT Gro
Unmatched source cannot be used for power, balance only
D C unmatched 3.5 6.25 7.75 -14 88.33 90.00 1 2.26 2.28
D C unmatched 3.7 4.085 4.265 -26 98.33 100.00 1 1.89 2.40 lowest Z

D C unmatched 4.5 3.1 2.8 -2.5 19.00 19.00 -1.5 0.33 0.50 highest

D C unmatched 5.8 3.475 5 -11 120.00 120.00 4.5 1.72 9.42 low Z

D C unmatched 7 7.5 6.25 1 20.33 21.67 -2 1.26 1.52


D C unmatched 7.4 8.5 10 4 6.33 6.75 6 1.63 0.80 highest

D C unmatched 14 2.6 2.1 -22 61.67 62.33 -3.5 1.02 3.84


D C unmatched 14.2 5.75 4.75 -12 63.33 64.00 -2.2 1.48 2.53 low Z

D C unmatched 21 2.9 3.5 5.5 51.67 50.00 -2.5 0.67 2.77

D C unmatched 28.85 3.75 9.5 30 113.33 160.00 16 6.53 59.86 bad hand
from balu
Single core 4:1 3.5 8 2.3 2 25.67 18.67 6 5.70 7.37
Single core 4:1 3.77 5 1 -9 27.67 23.33 -11 4.02 6.52
Single core 4:1 4.5 9.5 3.75 -1.5 4.33 3.00 130 5.75 6.67

Single core 4:1 5.8 4.85 1.85 -10 35.00 31.67 6 3.05 4.82

Single core 4:1 7 8.1 3.7 36 33.33 21.33 -24 5.55 16.34
Single core 4:1 7.4 10.25 3.25 16 4.67 1.10 -120 7.18 5.30

Single core 4:1 14 5.6 2.6 155 46.67 58.33 -40 8.03 37.55
Single core 4:1 14.2 10.25 6.25 140 50.00 63.33 -90 15.57 80.69

Single core 4:1 21 3.4 4.4 80 50.00 50.00 34 5.07 29.24

Single core 4:1 28.85 1.75 3 20 32.00 50.00 27.5 1.48 26.18

Balun type Frequency Voltage A Voltage B V Phase Current A Current B I Phase V unbal I unbal note
Matched to gen
Johnson MB 3.5 5.75 7.25 -3.5 81.67 81.67 -2.5 1.55 3.56
Johnson MB 3.77 3.7 3.4 -16.5 75.00 76.67 -3 1.06 4.31
Johnson MB 4.5 13.75 16.25 8 62.00 68.67 -22 3.26 25.78

Johnson MB 5.8 4 5.25 -5.5 118.33 120.00 0 1.33 1.67

Johnson MB 7 16 15.75 3 46.67 47.33 15.5 0.87 12.69


Johnson MB 7.4 19.5 21.25 -0.8 14.67 14.00 -26 1.77 6.48

Johnson MB 14 3.4 3.5 -9 93.33 88.33 1.5 0.55 5.54


Johnson MB 14.2 6 6.5 -3 76.67 72.00 4.5 0.60 7.47

Johnson MB 21 8.25 6 25 130.00 103.33 6.5 3.79 29.73

Johnson MB 28.85 3.75 6.25 22 96.67 108.33 6 3.11 15.84 hand ef

ATR30 3.5 5 7.5 -5 78.33 83.33 9 2.56 13.63


ATR30 3.77 3.2 3.4 -14 78.33 77.33 7 0.83 9.56
ATR30 4.5 17.5 12.5 7.5 68.33 68.33 3.5 5.36 4.17

ATR30 5.8 4.3 6 2 130.00 130.00 3 1.71 6.81

ATR30 7 16.5 15 14 50.00 45.00 2.5 4.12 5.41


ATR30 7.4 17.25 21.25 28 15.00 14.00 40 10.09 9.96

ATR30 14 3.5 3.25 -18 96.67 95.00 2.5 1.08 4.50


ATR30 14.2 6.5 5.75 -6 78.33 76.67 1.5 0.99 2.63

ATR30 21 6 7.5 3 113.33 110.00 1.5 1.54 4.43

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ATR30 28.85 4.65 4.75 15 110.00 95.00 3 1.23 15.93 hand ef

D C on
ATR30 3.5 5.75 7.4 -7 81.33 82.67 7.5 1.83 10.81

D C on 7 16.5 14.5 11 46.67 48.33 3 3.58 2.99


ATR30
14 4.7 3.5 -14 95.00 95.00 1.5 1.55 2.49

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