22 Aug 2010

136kHz RX loop calibration

Today I attempted to calibrate my 136kHz 80cm loop antenna by measuring the signal strength of DCF39 in Germany on 138.83kHz. I'm told that the field strength of this signal in daytime in this area is around 1mV/m. The level of DCF39 was -4.5dB on the Spectran screen with the settings I used. So, by extrapolation 0dB on the screen should be close to 1.7mV/m.

I then measured the signal level of my QRSS3 beacon on 137.675kHz  to see how much lower the level was at the same point about 1.5km away from the home QTH. My QRSS3 beacon was measuring -42dB approximately, corresponding to a field strength level of 12uV/m at 1.5km.

To work back to my ERP from the earth electrode antenna I used the formula ERP = (E * d)^2 /49 and this gives a result of 6.3uW and an antenna "loss" factor of 56dB (power in to RF out).

There are several sources of error:
  • loop orientation +/-3dB
  • loop Q/tuning +/-3dB
  • measurement accuracy +/-2dB
So, the ERP could be as high as 40uW or as low as 1uW.

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