Sunday, 9 April 2017

Japanese TRX use JIS not Phillips screws

Japanese TRX use JIS not Phillips screws

Ever wonder why it is so easy to damage a screw on a Japanese made radio using a Phillips head screwdriver? Obscure, but simple, they use JIS screws not Phillips!

I haven't checked, but I think they are on made-in-Japan cars, certainly lots of other gear.

JIS screws, which pre-date Phillips by 20 years, usually have a dot or other indent on the head.

The solution is simple, buy a set of JIS screwdrivers, about $25 on eBay.

RF tap for panadaptor/second SDR after IC-7300 bandpass filters

RF tap for panadaptor/second SDR after IC-7300 bandpass filters (First draft)


It is possible to tap into the IC-7300 after the bandpass filters, just before the ADC. There is a coax connector that allows an SDR tap to receive the filtered RX signal. It is shared with the low-level TX path, but the levels are low, giving a TX monitor too. Using CAT controls, the SDR can be controlled by the TRX. It can also operate as a second RX in the operating band. The RF tap is an alternative to the INRAD RX7300-receive antenna cable, with some advantages and disadvantages.

Finding the RF tap

In an SDR-based TRX there is no IF tap point, but on the IC-7300, there is a RF tap point after the band pass filter and RF amplifier, where an SDR has the good filtering of the IC-7300, but can access the whole operating band.

The RF tap point J1431 is shown in a portion of the RF unit schematic from the service manual. The schematic shows the RX, TX and power paths in green, brown and red respectively.

The connector on the board is clearly marked and accessible. There is plenty of room and a frw spots to tap 12 V if an isolation amplifier is used.

As can be seen from the schematic, the tap point is shared by both the RX and TX signal paths. However, the TX signal level is low, easily handled by a spectrum analyser of an SDR, an SDRPlay in my case. I just used an oscilloscope probe on a spectrum analyzer then the SDRPlay both working well. I forgot to take photos but will do so in due course.

I have been waiting on getting a TMP plug and socket to make a proper connection, together with an isolation amplifier, like those from Clifton labs; common for IF taps (but are no longer available). See

TMP- Taiko Denki Connectors $1-50 each

Given that the tap is shared between RF and TX, I would be interested in the views of RF engineers of any potential problems with RX and TX level controls, as the tap could affect the circuit.


The RF tap can be used in many ways:

  1. The post obvious is as a panadaptor for the TRX. It is protected by the band pass filters of the IC-7300, as many SDRs don't have much, if any, input filtering. However, in means the SDR can only be used in the operating band. Using CAT controls and the likes of HDSDR, the SDR will track the IC-7300 and allow control from either device as per the post above.
  2. The SDR can be used as a second receiver in the same band. One could be set narrow, the other wide. With SDR software it is usually possible to have multiple receivers, so you can have as many as you like.
  3. The SDR can act as a small-signal monitor of the TX signal, as it is in the TX path as well.
An RF tap can be done on most TRX. I originally considered the idea for my IC-7100.


The RF tap seems pretty much the ideal way of getting a panadaptor/CAT control for the IC-7300.

The RF tap does not require modification of the TRX, given the cable connections, so it can be taken out if the TRX needs to go for service.

Like the INRAD RX7300-receive antenna cable, it requires a splitter arrangement of some sort, as both are in the direct RX line.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Power measurements of DVB-T transmitters

Power measurements of DVB-T transmitters- first draft


I have been puzzled for some time about how power of DVB-T amplifiers were measured relative to other modes. This is an important issue in DATV as DVB-T has been criticized as inefficient compared to DVB-S. It would appear that some of the debate comes down to how the power is measured. Most amateurs use simple diode power meters that do not give an accurate reading for DVB-T.

In this post, I outline the theory and practice of measuring DVB-T power correctly with either a thermal power sensor meter or envelope power using a spectrum analyser. It is important that the correct measurements be used otherwise it is comparing apples with oranges. Different power measurements are accepted in amateur radio, vis, CW (peak power, key down) compared to SSB (peak envelope power).

I wonder if another measurement unit for digital modes may be more appropriate, such as the data rate to the DC power input and spectrum width, bits/sec Watt Hz perhaps?

Theory of power measurement of DVB-T transmitters

Others have written this better than I can, so I use a direct quote:

“The output signal of a DVB-T transmitter consists of thousands of carriers modulated in phase and amplitude. Therefore it resembles a Gaussian noise signal. It should be noted, however, that very high peaks of the sum signal are limited due to effects in the process of generating and amplifying the signal. The only simple way to define the power of a COFDM signal like DVB-T is an RMS definition. It is also closely linked to the theoretical system analysis.

As the number of carriers of a given DVB-T system (either 2k or 8k) is constant and all carriers have defined power, the total power of a DVB signal is the sum of all carrier power values. In practice only the total power can be measured. In principle one symbol is insufficient for assessing the power. With thermal power meters the integration time constant is much larger than a symbol period allowing valid measurements”. Implementation guidelines for DVB terrestrial services; Transmission aspects, Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB); RTR/JTC-DVB-304

The actual number of number of carriers for 2k is 1,705 carriers and for 8k, 6,817 carriers.

Practical power measurement of DVB-T amplifiers

Power measurement is a very complex topic. It is covered in many books and application notes available on the web. It is also very important. Try reading about satellite or cell phone power and efficiency!

Simple diode power measurements used by amateurs in SWR meters are designed for measuring CW or SSB, not complex wide-band digital TV signals, including both DVB-T and DVB-S.

Again, I use a direct quote on the practical measurement of DVB-T power:

“Power measurements on DVB-T transmitters: Mean power measurements
In the case of analog transmitters, signal power is determined by measuring the peak power of the sync pulse floor of the modulated CCVS signal. The sync pulse floor is always the reference in analog TV because this signal component must be transmitted without compression or distortion.
In DVB this is different: the “Sync 1 Inversion and Randomization” block of the DVB modulator... ensures constant mean power of the transmitter output signal. In DVB, therefore, it is not the peak power that is measured, based on the crest factor, but the mean output power. Three methods are available:
1. Mean power measurement with Power Meter NRVS and thermal power sensor (FIG 27)
Thermal power sensors supply the most accurate results if there is only one TV channel in the overall spectrum, which is nearly always the case at the DVB-T transmitter. Plus, they can easily be calibrated by performing a highly accurate DC voltage measurement, provided the sensor is capable of DC measurement.
2. Mean power measurement with Spectrum Analyzer FSEx or FSP
A frequency cursor is placed on the lower and another one on the upper frequency of the DVB channel. The spectrum analyzer calculates the power for the band between the cursors (FIG 28). The method provides sufficient accuracy as in DVB-T normally no signals are put on the air in the adjacent channels.
3. Mean power measurement with DVB-T Test Receiver EFA”
“Measurements on MPEG2 and DVB-T signals (4)” in News from Rohde&Schwarz Number 172 (2001/III)

I have left out the detail of test receivers, as most amateurs would not have access to one. A power meter and the spectrum analyser are pictured below.

The simplest way to illustrate the difference in power measurement is by commercial specification of a modern DVB-T LMDOS power transistor. The CW power is 750 W, while the DVB-T power is 150 W, with an efficiency of around 50 percent. The DVB-T power measurement would have been done with a thermal power meter. The CW (key-down) and DVB-T power represents different modes and different ways of measuring power. However, a thermal power meter can measure any type of signal, including DVB-S, and give the RMS value.

Even the CW figure is misleading as Morse is a digital mode with a low duty cycle, the RMS figure would be much lower.

Operating parameters and apparent "efficiency"

The operating parameters of an amplifier will affect apparent "efficiency". The transistor above, uses a PAR (peak-to-average ratio) of only 8 dB. Amateurs have typically used a much higher PAR (30 dB?) in order to reduce the intermodulation skirts. While this will reduce power input as well as output, there has been much debate over the achieved power out compared to the maximum possible power out, usually using the CW output.

As I have discussed in earlier posts, it is possible to use filters to reduce skirts and achieve higher power outputs, comparable to device specifications. I discovered this based on intuition and experience building, modifying and tuning cavity filters for voice FM repeaters. I have subsequently found that they are routinely used in broadcast DVB-T TV.

Using a thermal power meter and operating parameters akin to broadcast TV, the achievable power efficiency can be better understood.

DATV power efficiency; W/W or something else; b/sWHz?

To a point, power efficiency, no matter how defined or measured, is probably not what we really want to know. Power in, data rate, spectrum band-width and probably cost are what we really want. So a new unit of efficiency is data rate (bits/second) divided by power in (Watts) and band-width (Hz); b/s W Hz! There is probably a unit name for it, but I don't know what it is. I am serious and will discuss it in another post with modes and numbers. 

Let's do it!

So far has been "book learning". The next step for me is to do it. I had sufficient interest in the DVB-T power puzzle to buy a used thermal power meter and a spectrum analyser capable of measuring envelope power. New power meters and sensors are very expensive (~$10K), but I imported a used HP 438A power meter and HP 8482H thermocouple thermal sensor for about $500. The spectrum analyser is a Siglent SSA3021X. Calibrated dummy loads and attenuators are also needed.

I also have a SWR power meter, a cheap AD8307 power meter and access to a Bird power meter, all of which use diode sensors. I should use a HP diode sensor to suit my meter, but I can't afford it!

I certainly don't advocate everyone buying this gear, but I want to investigate the puzzle.

Testing power output from digital signal power amplifiers is not simple. My bench tests will be the subject of another post.


to be done- see introduction

Commercial DVB-T Amplifiers and filters and implications for DATV

Commercial DVB-T Amplifiers and filters and implications for DATV (first draft)


Commercial solid-state DVB-T amplifiers use about 250 W "pallet" amplifiers; a pair of  amplifiers, each using a pair of LMDOS transistors in a single package. The circuit boards are mounted on a piece of thick copper then on a heat sink. To get higher power, 1 to 50 KW, many pallet amplifiers are used in parallel with a system of splitters and combiners. The amplifier output passes through a series of filters, to stay within a standardized spectrum mask to limit adjacent channel interference. To conclude I note some implications for DATV.

Pallet amplifers

A typical pallet amplifier is pictured below (bought on eBay). The gold rectangle on the left splits the input to a pair of Doherty amplifiers, while the one on the right combines the amplified signal to the output. The combiner uses a type of circulator to dump RF to a dummy load, the black rectangles on either side of the combiner, that doesn't go to the output, so it does not go to the other amplifier.

The white rectangles are the LMDOS transisters in this case BLF888A. Each contains a matched pair of Mosfets. Each amplifier is a modified form of class B, with a pot to adjust the quiescent current for each to improve linearity. Each amplifier has impedance matching on the input and output. A fairly conventional RF amplifier widely used in amateur radio.

LMDOS Transistor

A snip from the data sheet for a modern form of the same transistor is below. It is specifically designed for broadcast TV, with three versions for the three TV bands and runs on 50 V.

Of significant interest is the 150 W at 50 percent efficiency on DVB-T. This would appear to be an anomaly as it is rated as a 750 W device. The anomaly comes down to how the power is measured, a long-standing misunderstanding as to how DVB-T power is measured. I will discuss this in another post, but the 750 W is for single CW carrier, compared to the RMS value of the nearly 8000 carriers in the envelope of an 8 MHz DVB-T channel.

The PAR (peak-to-average ratio) value of 8 dB is the operating parameter of the amplifier, allowing only 8 dB of Crest factor before clipping. Crest factor can be as high as 38 dB. The amplifier deliberately clips the crests to 8 dB. The reason for this is that the Crest Factor is statistical. With a large number of pallet amplifiers, the crests add up potentially to give extremely high peaks, with voltages that would damage RF equipment after the amplifier. A PAR of only 8 dB will create significant intermodulation skirts that need to be filtered out.

Complete transmitter

The block diagram of a high power amplifier using multiple pallet amplifiers and drivers. in this case there are 8 pallets per block and 8 blocks, giving 64 pallets in all. The output would be about 64 x about 250 W or probably 15 kW total.

There is a filter to remove the shoulders or skirts to an acceptable level. The filters use up to 8 cavity filters of different types, I believe including some notch filters per my 70 cm amplifier filter.

There is also a harmonics filter as cavity filters are resonant at odd harmonics of the main signal. Power and cooling are major issues.

TV stations run with at least one reserve amplifier, sometime another at a different site, such as at another channels tower.

Spectrum masks

Spectrum masks are mandated for commercial TV stations to limit adjacent channel interference, as shown below.

The spectrum masks are achieved using the cavity filters discussed in the last section. There are two masks, Critical masks with a 50 dB limit for skirt for stations that have adjacent channels, as is common in metropolitan areas. Uncritical masks are less strict at 40 dB for skirts, and are used for isolated stations common in rural areas where the interference is less of a problem.

Measuring sideband emissions of T-DAB and DVB-T transmitters for monitoring purposes Rec. ITU-R SM.1792 1, RECOMMENDATION ITU-R SM.1792

Implications for DATV

There are a number of implications for DATV particularly those using DVB-T.

DVB-T amplifier efficiency is higher than commonly understood because of the different way it is measured, just like the difference between measurement of CW and SSB amplifiers.

Commercial DVB-T amplifiers are driven much harder than most DATV amplifiers, with low PAR to clip crests, but create bigger shoulders or skirts. This can be done with DATV amplifiers, provided filters are used.

Filters to remove intermodulation skirts or shoulder are mandatory. They could be used in DATV to reduce interference and to get more power. They are probably necessary for multiple lower bandwidth channels, 2 MHz, adjacent in a band.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Building a MMDVM multi-digital mode repeater

Building a MMDVM multi-digital mode repeater- DRAFT 24/2/2017


Very draft. Will write more as I go.

Everything has arrived and I am starting to put it together.

Facebook and Yahoo

How to do everything

_Interfacing the CDM 1250 to MMDVM board.pdf in Yahoo files. For 1.01 board and updated files. (Good but had trouble connecting via the network. Will go back to full desktop)

DMR-UTAH MMDVM XFCE Raspberry Pi Image  *
*        by Chris Andrist, KC7WSU         *
* *
*  Another, includes CDM1550LS code plugs Posts on a number of guides. more guides. mmdvm/MMDVM_homebrew2.pdf

MMDVM hardware MMDVM and Duo Adrino. Arrived! Another source for modem. Bulk order kit.


List of suitable radios:

Radios I have:

MOTOROLA CDM1550LS+ UHF 403-470MHz Mobile Radio, 25W, AAM25RHF9DP6AN. Nice radios but steep learning curve programming them. However, mainly just need frequencies.

TTY MD-390 Seems OK for relatively inexpensive hand-held. I need a DMR TRX to test repeater. Again, programming not simple, but with a couple of others' code plugs, it seems to work ok.

SDR# and DSD+, SDR RX for DMR, DSTAR and other modes. Cheap way to get second RX for testing. Still working on getting it going.

ICOM IC-FR4000 repeater. Was given the repeater and will try to get it working too.

Other bits needed

  • Software- See tutorial- Github. On Windows and written to RPi SDcard.
  • Connectors for TRX- cheap repeater cable for connectors-eBay- arrived. Plugs are 16 pin, TRX are 20 pin. Just use in centre pins, with unused pins on outside on both sides.
  • Programming software for TRX-ether-Downloaded and running.
  • Programming cable for radio-eBay- Arrived. Steep learning curve for Motorola software.
  • Raspberry Pi- I think 2 is easier than 3- see tutorial. Have program on RPi and am contemplating the .ini configuration file
  • Duplexer - I have one that needs to be reduced in frequency. It uses BNC connectors on the cables. I bought some male to female BNC connectors on eBay. Adding one extra connector will electrically lengthen the cable in a simple manner. Should be close enough. Cavities need modifying by solding an extra piece to the resonator, which lows the frequency. Have done one of four and it works fine. They are pass-reject cavities, with a little piston trimmer capacitor to tune notch. Cavity frequency is changed with a screwed capacitive hat.

Tuning modem: Inexpensive tools

Tuning of the modem is covered in page 5 of F5UII's guide. An oscilloscope and spectrum analyser are used. However, many people don't have access to this equipment. However, there may be simpler and/or free ways to do this.

The RX input to the modem is modulated audio. The output to the TX audio that goes straight to the input of the amplifier????

Audio oscilloscope and spectrum analyser software

Many available. Probably work well with high quality 192 kHz USB soundcard. I have Asus Xonar.

Spectrum Lab:

SDR based spectrum analyser and tracking generator $120!

For tuning cavities and possibly modem.

Hotspots DIY


I have bought a DV4mini to get access to didital radio networks via handheld.


Seems ok, but not sure on DMR (via DMR+).
Access to Brandmeister seems limited?
Not pursued much, mainly interested in repeater.

Official? DMR sites Recently appeared??

Online streaming

Hose line is an online streaming platform for the HAM radio Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Brandmeister network.

Handy to see who is active.

Looks useful

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Using notch filters for Rx and TX and extending the range of a notch duplexer

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.
The mirrored TX as a result of the quarter wave loop. The low loss side is now on the high frequency side and the High loss on the low frequency side.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

DVB-T TX Filter: 23 cm filter using 70 cm duplexer

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 response

With 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.


With 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.


The 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".