[AMRadio] Re: Open Wire Line

jeremy-ca km1h at jeremy.mv.com
Wed Nov 14 17:01:49 EST 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "D. Chester" <k4kyv at charter.net>
To: <amradio at mailman.qth.net>
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2:02 PM
Subject: [AMRadio] Re: Open Wire Line

>> In addition, VSWR on open wire will radiate and can cause all sorts of
>> problems from RFI/TVI, telephones, and strange pattern distortion not
>> encountered with coax using a sleeve choke at the antenna.
> I have to disagree an that.  If the rf currents in the open wire feeders 
> are closely balanced for the full length of the transmission line, there 
> will be negligible radiation regardless of VSWR  The out of phase currents 
> in the adjacent wires almost completely cancels out and this is unrelated 
> to SWR.

In a perfect world only.

> There is an infinitesimal amount of radiation because there is a finite 
> amount of spacing between the wires, but this can be neglected if the wire 
> spacing is a very small fraction of a wavelength, as is the case with 2-6" 
> spacing at HF.

Commercial and shortwave broadcasters went to extremes to minimize feedline 
radiation. I doubt that many ham installations can claim that. Twist, wind, 
rain, less than perfectly vertical drops, feedthrus/standoffs, ground 
reflections can all affect radiation. The classic photo of a feedline 
swooping away down and horizontal is a classic example of a radiation 

> Radiation will occur only if there exists common-mode current on the open 
> wire feeders, but the same goes for coax cable, where the common mode 
> appears as rf current on the outside of the shield.  This current will 
> have standing waves.

Radiation will ALSO occur from common mode currents developed by the 
mismatch of the line to antenna impedences.

> You can think of coax as a three conductor line:  the centre conductor, 
> the interior of the shield and the exterior of the shield.  The balanced 
> transmission line currents exist between the centre conductor and the 
> interior of the shield.  There should be zero current on the exterior of 
> the shield.  That is the purpose of a balun, to suppress this current over 
> the exterior.  Any current over the exterior of the shield is "common 
> mode".

No offense but I dont need a tutorial on common mode issues, Ive authored 
several papers on the subject over the past 25+ years.

A balun in the true sense of the definition which is a voltage device does 
not suppress common mode; installing one at the antenna feed point performs 
the function of a 2 port device. What is commonly called a sleeve, common 
mode, or choke balun is really just a RF choke performing a similar function 
to slipping a ferrite bead over a transistor lead to stop parasitics. It 
forces (not transforms) almost equal currents into a dipole. Many yagis use 
a coiled up length of coax to perform the same function.

> One of the advantages of open wire  line is that its loss is negligible 
> even with VSWR as high as 10:1.  That is the definition of  a tuned 
> feedline.  An untuned line is one that operates flat, or as near to 1:1 as 
> is practicable. Tuned feeders allow the dipole to operate at nearly equal 
> efficiency from one end of the band to the other.  By definition, this 
> requires a substantial SWR on the feeders.

A dipole will operate efficiently no matter what is used for a feed line; 
you are mixing antenna and feedline theory together. What goes in to a 
dipole or any other antenna gets radiated minus I squared R loss. I refer 
you to the Antenna Engineering Handbook by H. Jasik.

> With coax, there is way too much anxiety amongst amateurs over SWR.  It is 
> a waste of time to spend hours and hours trying to trim a 1.2:1 SWR down 
> to 1:1.

I completely agree. As I said earlier, if my amp will load into the cable I 
could care less at HF.
Maxwell has been trying to get this thru many thick heads for decades. It 
would also result in a lot less junk tuners being sold.

 I use about 140' of RG-213 between my transmitter at the shack and the
> antenna tuner shelter at the base of the tower, where I have separate 
> tuners pre-tuned for each band.  I don't worry about SWR's below about 
> 2.5:1 on that coax transmission line, even at maximum power.

I regularly operate with up to 4:1 when covering the  80/75M band with the 
high dipole. Its never stopped me from working anything I can hear or 
maintaing QSO runs in a contest. With ~ 450' of CATV 3/4" hardline my 
maximum VSWR loss is under 0.4dB. Total loss is then around .8db at the high 
end of 75; I can live with that.  A 160M dipole is in parallel and that loss 
never exceeds 0.4dB. I could never do that good with open wire on either 
band by running 250' thru the woods and then up the tower. That same antenna 
is used on all 3 WARC bands sans tuner and Ive WAZ plus around 300 countries 
on all 3 bands. I shudder at the 12M loss!

I forgot about a more recent experience with open wire which was about 15 
years ago. I tried to make a 8JK work on 80/75 but it performed so poorly 
compared to either dipole or the 4 Square that it came down in a month. It 
was 80' high strung between 2 other towers and the feed came straight down 
to the tuner.

> I have found measurable loss on that 140' run, even on 160m with the SWR 
> adjusted exactly to 1:1.

If you measured over 0.375 dB loss then either the cable or measurement was 
defective. I dont consider that a loss to even talk about.

 It has measured about the same with RG-213 and
> RG-214.  I replaced the 214 because it jacket was deteriorating from UV. 
> Apparently it was not designed for exterior use.

It is rated used for exterior applications but the silver plated shield 
reacts with the jacket and dielectric over time. That is why most silver 
plated cables are Teflon.

 I now run 213 directly
> buried, using a variety designed for  that purpose.  Regardless of the 
> coax used, at 100 watts at the transmitter, I measure no more than about 
> 93 watts at the opposite end into a 50-ohm dummy  load.

Thats close enough for government work to published loss. Again it is 
inconsequential and as useless as worrying about VSWR on HF.

The old RG-214 had
> deteriorated to the point that I measure only about 80 watts at the far 
> end, due to moisture contamination from the deteriorated jacket, and 
> creatures that ate tiny holes in the jacket of the buried section.
>> Whether it is coax or open wire the tuner losses themselves will be more
>> than the feedline in most cases, even with the best designs.
> Plus losses in the PA tank circuit.  The combined losses of tank  circuit, 
> tuner and feedline are substantial when added together.  The 70% or so 
> efficiency given in the tube manuals represents the plate loss in the tube 
> itself.  Combine all these losses, and a class-C final is apt to be more 
> like 50% efficent in terms of DC input VS rf input to the radiating 
> element of the antenna.

Disagree there. Using a pi network and 50 Ohm load at the TX you will 
determine the transmitter efficiency and it should be at least in the high 
60's for Class C. My 3-500Z linears are around 62% right up to 10M. Hook the 
Bird and load at the far end of the coax and you then have the combined 
efficiency. Antenna efficiency is something alltogether different.

I have no idea what PP amp link coupled efficiency runs at. End link can be 
measured at 50 Ohms but how the heck do you determine center link accurately 
at 600 Ohms?  A 12:1 balun with 98-99% efficiency into a load right there 
will be the most accurate IMO. RF ampmeters are notoriously inaccurate and 
good for only a relative tuning indication. I suspect that the link 
efficiency is not as good as many believe. One way to statically test is 
with a VNA and the tank coil terminated in the tube load impedence. Ive a 
VNA here and use that method to look into VHF/UHF amps I design and build as 
well as the occasional customer HF industrial amp.

The N2PK developed, PC based VNA project that has been getting very popular 
lately will be something that all builders should be considering. It can 
take most of the guesswork out of all sorts of projects.


> Don k4kyv
> ______________________________________________________________
> Our Main Website: http://www.amfone.net
> AMRadio mailing list
> List Rules (must read!): http://w5ami.net/amradiofaq.html
> List Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/amradio
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.html
> Post: mailto:AMRadio at mailman.qth.net
> To unsubscribe, send an email to amradio-request at mailman.qth.net with
> the word unsubscribe in the message body.

More information about the AMRadio mailing list

This page last updated 22 Feb 2018.