Using notch filters for Rx and TX and extending the range of a notch duplexer (Draft)
I have a six cavity notch duplexer for 70 cm. At the original frequencies, outside the amateur band, the RX and TX notch responses are a mirror of the other, as notch filter responses are asymmetrical, compared to symetrical for band pass..
The mirroring of the responses are achieved by adding a quarter wave line to each cavity in the TX half. Being a quarter wave length, it changes with frequency when the duplexer was tuned about 20 MHz lower from its original frequencies. This was enough to stop the mirroring, making the RX and TX curves much the same; high losses for TX.
The desired TX shape can be restored by adding about 10 mm to the quarter wave lines on the TX side. The length was calculated as the difference in quater wave between the two TX frequencies, in this case about 8 mm. For this duplexer, it was quite easy as the join to the cavity was soldered. The cable was lengthened by adding a 10 mm piece of coax with the cover and shield removed. The join is wrapped with insulation tape. The shield was made from a strip of copper shim wrapped around the cable and soldered to the other cables shield.
The duplexer RX cans on the right, TX cans on the left.
The RX cans showing a simple T join on the coupling loop.
The TX cans showing the extended quarter wave link between the T and the coupling loop.
The normal RX response with the low-loss on the low frequency side. The T is connected directly to the cavity.
Sunday, 16 October 2016
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
DVB-T TX Filter: 23 cm filter using 70 cm duplexer
I came across a commercial UHF bandpass cavity filter that was as long as a VHF cavity. I removed a coupling to see inside. The probe was nearly 500 mm long, rather than the 170 mm in most UHF filters. They were using the probe as a three quarter length, rather than the typical quarter wave length. I checked the cavity at VHF and, sure enough, there was another peak.
The obvious question then was whether the 70 cm duplexer filter would have another bandpass at three times the frequency, about 23 cm? It does!
With careful tuning it should be possible to use the ubiquitous 70 cm duplexer at 23 cm.
Raw responseWith the filter set to 7 MHz at 446.5 MHz, I had scanned three times that frequency and a very wide span. Sure enough, there was a passband, although at a different frequency and three times wider.
The frequency of these cavity tuners are determined by a fixed length probe (tube) and a capacitive screw adjustment. The relationship between the probe and the adjustment screw is probably affected by frequency.
The bandwidth is three times greater as the upper and lower frequencies are multiplied by three.
TuningWith a bit of tuning, an acceptable 7 MHz filter at 1290 MHz can be achieved. The losses across the channel are a little high but there is usually reserve TX drive. The notches are about -50 dB, which should be adequate as a TX filter.
DiscussionThe general idea of using the filter at three times its normal frequency works. However, the duplexer needs adjust to achieve the desired frequency, bandwidth and notch depth.
I am happy to just measure the performance at the moment. I have a Darko 23 cm amplifier but it is not attached to a heatsink.
It may be better to modify a common 900 MHz duplexer by reducing the length of the tubes, but it is a fair amount of work to pull them apart.
A notch duplexer can be used at three times its nominal frequency as the probes act as three quarter rather than one quarter "antennas".
Monday, 3 October 2016
Duplexer DVB-T TX filter: Technical details
Bandpass is addition of two notches
Three cavities RX to ANT
Reverseded notch TX to ANT
Sum of two notches with six cavities RX to TX
Two left hand couplings are conventional, the two right hand couplings, with plastic spacers are unusual, give reverse notch (not sure how).
SWR of Duplexer filter7 MHz on 70 cm, not great but probably affected by tuning, possibly by coupling design.
Coupling for reversed notch needs further investigation
Friday, 30 September 2016
Duplexer DVB-T TX filter; Low bandwidths: 2 and 1 MHz.
IntroductionThe duplexer DVB-T TX filter was adjusted to see if it would work at low bandwidths, specifically 2 and 1 MHz at 70 cm. It achieved this easily, but with a small increase in losses.
TestingThe duplexer was original adjusted for a 7 MHz bandwidth with a spectrum analyser and tracking generator. I only moved the lower frequency notch, one side of the duplexer.
At the request of a USA operator, wanting to work DX, I readjusted the filter for a 2 MHz bandwidth. This was possible, with with little effect on losses.
For interest, I adjusted it to a 1 MHz bandwidth, again possible, but with slight losses.
DiscussionThe filter works surprising well at the lower bandwidths. I thought losses may have been higher.
The losses are not a major issue as the DVB-T amplifier can be driven a little harder to make up for them, and possible even more because of the filter.
Notch cavity filters could be used, in principle, for DVB-T in other bands as such filters are relatively common, although less so with the notch going both ways. I will discuss this in another post.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Testing a cheap Chinese duplexer as a 70cm DATV DVB-T 7 MHz TX filter- Wow!
IntroductionIn my last post I described a cheap Chinese duplexer re-tuned as 70 cm DATV DVB-T 7 MHz TX filter. The duplexer uses notch cavity filters, six in all. The notch filters have a much sharper edge, compared to a band-pass filter. The sharp notch seems suited to the vertical edges of a DVB-T signal.
I initially check the signal source, a HiDes camera with direct DVB-T output at 1080P. I was a little surprised at the spread, but the filter cleaned it up well. This would indicate the need for a filter before the main power amplifier.
I pressed on with just one filter and tried it at the output of the amplifier, a 10 W device, from Darko OE7DBH, using a RA60H4047M1 60 W module. Even with the indifferent input, the filter was able to reduce the spread to -60 dB and give a clean 10 W output.
The notch duplexer/filter seems to overcome some of the major hurdles with DVB-T amplifiers and warrants further investigation.
I have not investigated the effects of the filter and different power levels on signal quality at the receiver. I have limited instrumentation, but will report my findings in the next post.
InstrumentationA 20 dB directional coupler, plus an additional 30 dB of attenuation, was used to tap a signal from the transmit path to a HP 8591A spectrum analyser. A cheap SWR/Power meter was used in line to give some idea of output.
Filter before the amplifier
The duplexer/filter works remarkably well. In setting up to test the amplifier, I checked the source from a HiDes camera with direct DVB-T output; 7MHz channel, centered on 446.5 MHz, just to check it was clean. It wasn't too good, acceptable maybe at -40 dB, but with quite a spread.
Inserting the duplexer/filter cleaned it up almost perfectly!
Now I need another duplexer/filter to put after the amplifier.
Preliminary tests with just output filterWith the amount of gear needed to test a DVB-T amplifier, I thought I might see how the filter works, even with the less than perfect signal from the camera source.
With no filter and adjusting the input to keep spread at about -30 dB gives about 6 W, but it is not pretty.
Filter after the amplifierWith the filter after the amplfier, the results are surprising; with adjustment, a clean 10 W signal. The spread is 60 dB down. Magic! Drawing about 8 A at 13.8 V.
The power meter is showing 10 W. However I am not sure that is the full envelope power of a 7 MHz wide DVB-T signal. Cheap meters are for measuring low bandwidth CW and SSB signals, not complex ones. (I would like this clarified/explained by someone in the Yahoo group).
For amusement, I tried the direct signal input, thus over-driving the amplifier and putting out a few extra Watts of power.
The result shows the notch-nature of the cavities and duplexer. There is some rubbish, still -40 dB, above and below the filter's two notches.
Taking out the filter, and about 20 W output, with terrible spread. It sure does some clean-up job!
ConclusionThe notch duplexer/filter seems to overcome many of the problems of amplifiers for DVB-T.
A filter seems to be needed both before and after the main power amplifier.
There is still probably a need for a lowpass filter to stop harmonics.
The received signal quality needs to be checked.
This is a preliminary study and needs to be tried by others.
I again thank Martin VK4JVC for suggesting a duplexer rather than building an interdigital filter.
Monday, 26 September 2016
A 70cm DATV DVB-T 7 MHz band-pass filter using a cheap Chinese duplexer
DATV transmitters for DVB-T are notorious for "spread" outside the channel, to the point that keeping it 30 dB or more below the signal becomes a limit for power output, typically 10 W out of a 70 W module amplifier.
Even with -30 dB spread, it is desirable to have a band-pass filter before further amplification or transmission. Usually an interdigital filter is used, but they are either expensive to buy or a bit difficult to build.
VK4JVC suggested using a cavity filter duplexer instead. I tried a four cavity notch duplexer, but the pass-band losses were too high, more than 20 dB. I had bought a cheap, ~A$100, Chinese Jiesai duplexer, but had put it aside as the response looked bad. After try other duplexers (notch and pass-reject types), I tried the Chinese one again, this time successfully.
The result is that the Chinese filter seems to provide a good pass-band for the 7 MHz DVB-T DATV signal with acceptable pass-band losses and steep skirts. The next test is to try it with my 10 W amplifier from Darko in Austria.
The duplexer is a typical mobile device available on eBay for about A$100 delivered, taking a week or so to Australia. The store insisted I supply some tuning data, even though I was immediately going to change it. I specified 440.5 and 446.5 MHz to keep them happy. It came with notches at those frequencies, but had not been well tuned.
The filter has three square cavities for each of RX and TX. The only adjustment is a screw at the top that capacitively alters the cavity's resonate frequency. There are no other adjustments. Each cavity has an cable in and out, but they seem to be notch filters rather than pass-band.
I am not sure what the power handling capacity is, 25 W, from memory. That would make it an adequate final TX filter for most DATV applications.
The Australian 70 cm DATV band is 7 MHz wide centered on 446.5 MHz, with edges at 443 and 450 MHz. I use the whole 7 MHz as it makes reception on conventional TVs easier and I want high quality 1080p.
Using a HP 8591A spectrum analyser and tracking generator, re-tuning is quite easy. Three cavities at a time first (RX-ANT, TX-ANT), then checking all six with the input and output through the RX and TX connectors, ignoring the antenna connector.
I have tuned the cavities to about -3 dB at the channel edges. The loss through all six cavities is about 2 dB which indicates quite reasonable construction. The side slopes are quite steep.
I am not sure this tune will be adequate to suppress the channel spread, but I will re-tune to find an acceptable compromise. I may need to narrow the width, but without affecting the TX signal.
A cheap Chinese duplexer has bee re-tuned to produce what appears to be an acceptable TX band-pass filter for a 7 MHz wide channel on 70 cm.
Despite their reputation, the Chinese duplexer seems of reasonable quality and has typical characteristics for this type of device. The original tuning was indifferent, so should always be checked.
Friday, 15 April 2016
Airspy, Spectrumspy, noise source and UHF cavity filter characteristics; a low cost spectrum analyzer?
Airspy, SpectrumSpy, noise source and UHF cavity filter characteristics; a low cost spectrum analyzer?
IntroductonA basic spectrum analyzer/tracking generator for less than $250? Yes. Can it be used to do a demanding task like tuning a UHF cavity filter from a repeater? Seems so.
The "proof of concept", spectrum analyzer software, SpectrumSpy, can be used with the Airspy SDR and a noise source to show the characteristics of a pass-reject UHF cavity filter.
SpectrumSpy and AirspySpectrumSpy, "proof of concept", spectrum analyzer software is a new addition to the SDR# download for use with the Airspy SDR. It has the potential for a new direction with low cost SDRs, spectrum analyzers. Spectrum analyzers are expensive; $1500 then skyward. SpectrumSpy: http://airspy.com/download/ (separate executable in SDR# folder).
Airspy has a 24 – 1800 MHz native RX range, but down to DC with the SpyVerter option. http://airspy.com/ $199 and US$59
An earlier post is of SpectrumSpy used as a spectrum analyser: http://vk4zxi.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/low-cost-spectrum-analyser-scanner-with.html
However, a spectrum analyzer needs a tracking generator to be really useful and to test radio filters. A noise source can be used to achieve much the same purpose.
Noise sourceA low cost Zenar diode based noise source is available for about $20. It uses three Mini-Circuits ERA-5+ wideband amplifiers (DC-4 GHz) to get the noise to a usable level.
I did a quick check of the white noise with SpectrumSpy right up to 1 GHz. The level dropped a little with frequency, but that could be either the noise source or Airspy.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/SMA-noise-source-Simple-spectrum-external-tracking-source-DC-12V-0-3A-/111831285650?hash=item1a09a9ff92:g:K0UAAOSwnipWUtgZ and many others.
Noise source output
Cavity filter characteristicsA cavity filter is part of a duplexer that allows a radio repeater to simultaneously transmit and receive with the same antenna, an amazing feat in itself and one of my other interests. Duplexers are fairly complex in design and setup.
Pass/reject is one type of cavity filter that passes the receive signal on one frequency, but rejects the re-transmit of the repeater on another frequency with a notch for the receive side of the duplexer and the opposite for the transmit side.
An expensive spectrum analyzer/tracking generator is needed to adjust the pass and reject frequencies and to minimize losses.
However, SpectrumSpy with a noise source does a pretty good job. The shape, frequencies and depth of notch (>30 dB) are about right in this very preliminary test.
Characteristics of single cavity filter using SpectrumSpy and noise source
Spectrum analyzer/tracking generator plot of similar but different filter.Typical characteristics from half a duplexer (two cavities) with my old HP spectrum analyzer and tracking generator ($12K in 1990s and about $1000 secondhand now). (I will do it for the same filter another time and edit.) It has different tuning to the one in this post, hence the mirrored shape. http://vk4zxi.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/duplexer-isolation-limits-of.html
DiscussionAirspy with SpectrumSpy does a good job in this demanding task. It probably could be used to tune a duplexer; amazing for the very low cost.
Two immediate issues however. First, SpectrumSpy is not calibrated or necessarily linear. Second, it does not have the bells and whistles of a spectrum analyzer such as digital analysis and data, or amplitude/frequency markers.
SpectrumSpy is proof of concept of an SDR used as a spectrum analyzer. This is a very good additional application for low cost SDRs, normally used as receivers. Similar software could be developed for other SDRs, as has been done, but less successfully, for the RTL-SDRs.