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[TowerTalk] Balanced line myth?

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Balanced line myth?
From: (
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 23:05:41 EST
In a message dated 26.11.99 20:03:11 Pacific Standard Time, K7GCO writes:

<< In a message dated 26.11.99 11:59:08 Pacific Standard Time, writes:
 << Something has really been bothering me.  It is the statement which often 
appears here. "Balanced line doesn't radiate" I wonder.  I think this 
statement is only true if it is feeding a matched balanced load and the RF 
source is matched and balanced.  In practice, is this true enough to still 
state "balanced line doesn't radiate"?  Anybody who has gotten RF into the 
shack must conclude that balanced line does indeed radiate.  I'd like to 
suggest that the press release is generally false.  
 How much it radiates (in practice) is the question. Who would like to offer 
some quantitative data to determine how much load/or source imbalance is 
necessary to get significant feedline radiation?  It would be useful to know 
if any of our non-straight wire antennas over non-flat (varying height of 
antenna above ground), obstacle studded terrain present sufficiently balanced 
loads or not--especially those for the lower frequency bands.   
     Only those offering quantitative data are invited to reply.  I'm not 
interested in innuendoes and testimonials.
 de Brian/K3KO  
     I keep suggesting the use of RF ammeters or any current measuring device 
like 2 shunted light bulbs to check for balanced currents in open wire line 
and 10:1 SWR doesn't cause feedline radiation.  One ham thought that was too 
much work.  
     I have an open wire line 1/4 WL long on 160M connected to a 75M 
horizontal quad loop 20' off the ground which has a balanced 12,000 ohm 
feedpoint on 160M and the Z at the end of this feedline is 17 ohms--that's a 
26:1 SWR.  It's matched with an unbalanced step down mobile toroid-in one leg 
only--set on 17 ohms.  Note!: Since this is 17 ohms in this one leg only 
perhaps it was really a 34 ohm balanced Z at the end of the balanced line.  I 
only had to match 1 wire to get total transfer of power.  The bandwidth is 
narrow due to the severe Z step down ratio.  But with a BC 3 gang variable in 
the other leg I can tune it over the whole 160M band which is a very rare 
feat--one tuning component and the ultimate of simplicity K7GCO style.  I get 
great signal reports on 160&80-75 and no TVI. 
     The transfer of RF energy from the rig to the antenna has certain ground 
rules depending on how it's done.  Learn them or stick to coax and SWR 
    Is the tuner shielded?  When I learned how to do it right I no longer had 
to shield the tuner.
     Is the coax shield connected to the tuner chassis because the link is 
grounded there?  Is there a variable Xc in the ground side of the link?  A 
ground connection to a chassis is only a relative thing.  It may not be the 
open wire line spilling RF all over--the tuner could be.     
     I used balanced coax to a 2 element quad on 6 M as I had TVI with every 
other 6M antenna and feed system I had using 100W.  I used a Johnson MB with 
a 6M tank coil and used a 200 ohm balanced link and a 1/2 WL coax (shield not 
grounded on the tuner chassis) connected to give a balanced 200 ohm line from 
50 ohm coax to the tuner.  Despite an open tuner 15' from a TV on cable there 
was no TVI.  
     15' from the TV is an open wire line used on 160-10M with 600W.  
     Whenever I did it right I've never had RF in the shack with either a 
Hi-Z or a Lo-Z at the end of the open wire line.  You need a serious review 
of your RF technical and physical practices using open wire line--they leak 
     There was a tuner in QST a year or two ago using an unbalanced e 
component L network to match balanced lines.  Normally there would be RF 
spill over on the tuner case and coax shield to the rig.  About 20' of 50 ohm 
feed line to the rig is coiled to form a RF choke to prevent the RF spill 
over.  This is a great tuner circuit.
      I have even used a 1/2 WL of open wire line from a 1/2 WL 80M dipole 
where I connected one open wire lead to the coax switch center lead and the 
other balanced wire to the coax switch ground.  Some call that a no-no--it 
works!  I then connected a BC variable in series with the grounded (rotor 
grounded) wire to tune it up the band and even unbalancing the currents.  No 
RF interference anywhere from the connection process on the coax switch and 
the HI-I or Lo-Z open wire line area and connection was right in the shack.  
      Open wire line requires proper handling or don't use it.  That's all 
that was used prior to say 1940 and for a some time after--I never stopped as 
I haven't found any system any better.  Some of QST's circuits in the old 
handbooks etc didn't work as they never tried them.  How many hundred dollars 
of coax have been thrown away by the average ham and even me?  I haven't 
thrown one open wire line away since 1936 except that cheap 450 ohm stuff.    
      Long live open wire line and properly designed tuners--build your own.
 k7gco >>

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