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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hard Core! Wisdom and Ideas on Toroids

Gerard ZS5AAC

This morning the BITX20 mailing list has an interesting discussion of toroidal cores. I especially like Gerard's use of the cores from old CFL bulbs. Farhan wraps it up with a great explanation of why we use ferrite cores in broadband transformers:
Over the years I built quite a few BITX's. In the beginning I used the
toroids salvaged from CFL lamps. These worked quite well for the mixer
coils. For the filter coils I used 6mm bakelite slug tuned coils that were
stripped from old PYE radios. Wonder if anybody else experimented
along the same lines. I build my BITX's Manhattan style and they work from the start with few minor tunings. Happy BITX'ing, Gerard, ZS5AAC.
The purists may attack us on this, but what you propose is very
possible. I have been using a wooden-core toroid for several years as part of an antenna tuner.

I'm also using small plastic and wooden beads as toroid cores for
several other projects. Half inch long sections cut from thick-wall (schedule-40 or schedule-80) PVC pipe also makes good toroidal forms. Beauty of using non-metallic cores is that the core can be split to allow winding wire through the slot without having to thread it through the hole.
= 1.4 uh

Bending an inductor back on itself in toroidal form concentrates the
magnetic field in the center, whether the core is metallic or non-metallic. This gives you similar self-shielding properties when using either type core material.

With non-metallic cores you no longer have to worry about core saturation, so running high current finals is not a problem.

Key to doing this is being able to measure inductance of 5 turns, 10 turns,
and 20 turns, so you can calculate and plot the effective AL of your wooden core toroids. Once you know this value you can make up a chart to tell how many turns are required for a specific inductance.

Twisting wires together to make a transmission-line for bifilar or
trifilar windings is interesting because the impedance of that transmission line might affect performance of your transformer. It may require a bit of experimentation with an SWR bridge to tell when you have the best balance between twist pitch, wire diameter, and insulation thickness.
Arv - K7HKL

Robert, Arv,
There are two types of coils used in the bitx - the broadband
transformers and the RF coils in the bandpass filter and oscillators.
You could easily substitute the rf and vfo/bfo coils with just about
any kind of coil - as long as you are hitting the same inductance and
Q. But there is a catch : a few years ago, I finally got down to
measuring the Q of the nylon tap washers that I had originally used.
The q was quite modest at 70. Wes made independent measurements with similar results (his paper is on under technical stuff). In short, for good performance use good old air coils wound on a
cylindrical formers if you don't use toroids.

About the broadband transformers. These need a material that has very
low loss, very high permeability. The reasoning is like this :
1. We need an transformer's inductance such that the reactance is
at least 200 ohms at the lowest frequency. This puts the inductance at
around 30uH at 4MHz.
2. If we achieve 30uH through lots of turns (say 100), each turn will
exhibit capacitance with it's neighbor and the large number of turns
will add up the capacitance so that the coil will provide enough
self-capacitance to resonate at an unintended frequency in HF leading
to pretty bad mixer performance.
3. The only way out would be to achieve the required reactance with
lower number of turns. This means using ferrites.
- farhan VU2ESE

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  1. I forgot about the 200 Ohms minimum reatance. That's one of those values one needs to burn into memory.

    Maybe that was the problem with your transformer in the JBOT, Bill.

    Of course, you already know but torturing us until the next Solder Smoke podcast.

    Waiting with 'bated breath.......

    73.......Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"

  2. That pic of Gerard reminded me of a famous one of Marconi

    Is the right hand on the cheek a secret gesture for fellow radiomen with the 'knack' to recognise one another without making their interest blatent to others not so inducted?

    73, Peter VK3YE


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