An absorption wavemeter is a simple electronic instrument used to measure the frequency of radio waves. It is an older method of measuring frequency, widely used from the birth of radio in the early 20th century until the 1970s, when the development of inexpensive frequency counters, which have far greater accuracy, made it largely obsolete. A wavemeter consists of an adjustable resonant circuit calibrated in frequency, with a meter or other means to measure the voltage or current in the circuit. When adjusted to resonance with the unknown frequency, the resonant circuit absorbs energy, which is indicated by a dip on the meter. Then the frequency can be read from the dial.
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. The period is the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. For example: if a newborn baby's heart beats at a frequency of 120 times a minute, its period—the time interval between beats—is half a second. Frequency is an important parameter used in science and engineering to specify the rate of oscillatory and vibratory phenomena, such as mechanical vibrations, audio signals (sound), radio waves, and light.
Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies as high as 300 gigahertz (GHz) to as low as 30 hertz (Hz). At 300 GHz, the corresponding wavelength is 1 mm, and at 30 Hz is 10,000 km. Like all other electromagnetic waves, radio waves travel at the speed of light in vacuum. They are generated by electric charges undergoing acceleration, such as time varying electric currents. Naturally occurring radio waves are emitted by lightning and astronomical objects.
A frequency counter is an electronic instrument, or component of one, that is used for measuring frequency. Frequency counters usually measure the number of cycles of oscillation, or pulses per second in a periodic electronic signal. Such an instrument is sometimes referred to as a cymometer, particularly one of Chinese manufacture.
Wavemeters are used for frequency measurements that do not require high accuracy, such as checking that a radio transmitter is operating within its correct frequency band, or checking for harmonics in the output. Many radio amateurs keep them as a simple way to check their output frequency.Similar devices can be made for detection of mobile phones. As an alternative, a dip meter can be used.
A harmonic is any member of the harmonic series. The term is employed in various disciplines, including music, physics, acoustics, electronic power transmission, radio technology, and other fields. It is typically applied to repeating signals, such as sinusoidal waves. A harmonic of such a wave is a wave with a frequency that is a positive integer multiple of the frequency of the original wave, known as the fundamental frequency. The original wave is also called the 1st harmonic, the following harmonics are known as higher harmonics. As all harmonics are periodic at the fundamental frequency, the sum of harmonics is also periodic at that frequency. For example, if the fundamental frequency is 50 Hz, a common AC power supply frequency, the frequencies of the first three higher harmonics are 100 Hz, 150 Hz, 200 Hz and any addition of waves with these frequencies is periodic at 50 Hz.
An nth characteristic mode, for n > 1, will have nodes that are not vibrating. For example, the 3rd characteristic mode will have nodes at L and L, where L is the length of the string. In fact, each nth characteristic mode, for n not a multiple of 3, will not have nodes at these points. These other characteristic modes will be vibrating at the positions L and L. If the player gently touches one of these positions, then these other characteristic modes will be suppressed. The tonal harmonics from these other characteristic modes will then also be suppressed. Consequently, the tonal harmonics from the nth characteristic modes, where n is a multiple of 3, will be made relatively more prominent.
There are two categories of wavemeters: transmission wavemeters, which have an input and an output port and are inserted into the signal path, or absorption wavemeters, which are loosely coupled to the radio frequency source and absorb energy from it.
The most simple form of the device is a variable capacitor with a coil wired across its terminals. Attached to one the terminals of the LC circuit is a diode, then between the end of the diode not wired to the LC circuit and the terminal of the LC circuit not bearing the diode is wired a ceramic decoupling capacitor. Finally a galvanometer is wired to the terminals of the decoupling capacitor.
A capacitor is a device that stores electrical energy in an electric field. It is a passive electronic component with two terminals.
An LC circuit, also called a resonant circuit, tank circuit, or tuned circuit, is an electric circuit consisting of an inductor, represented by the letter L, and a capacitor, represented by the letter C, connected together. The circuit can act as an electrical resonator, an electrical analogue of a tuning fork, storing energy oscillating at the circuit's resonant frequency.
A diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts current primarily in one direction ; it has low resistance in one direction, and high resistance in the other. A diode vacuum tube or thermionic diode is a vacuum tube with two electrodes, a heated cathode and a plate, in which electrons can flow in only one direction, from cathode to plate. A semiconductor diode, the most commonly used type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material with a p–n junction connected to two electrical terminals. Semiconductor diodes were the first semiconductor electronic devices. The discovery of asymmetric electrical conduction across the contact between a crystalline mineral and a metal was made by German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1874. Today, most diodes are made of silicon, but other materials such as gallium arsenide and germanium are used.
The device will be sensitive to strong sources of radiowaves at the frequency at which the LC circuit is resonant.
This is given by
When the device is exposed to an RF field which is at the resonant frequency a DC voltage will appear on the terminals on the left hand side. The coil is often outside the case of the unit so it can be brought close to the object being probed.
At the higher frequencies it is not possible to use lumped components for the tuned circuit. Instead methods such as stripline or resonant cavities are used. One design for ultra high frequencies (UHF) and super high frequencies (SHF) is a resonant λ/4 (quarter wave) rod which can vary in length. Another design for X-band (10 GHz) is a resonant cavity which can be changed in length.
Stripline is a transverse electromagnetic (TEM) transmission line medium invented by Robert M. Barrett of the Air Force Cambridge Research Centre in the 1950s. Stripline is the earliest form of planar transmission line.
A microwave cavity or radio frequency (RF) cavity is a special type of resonator, consisting of a closed metal structure that confines electromagnetic fields in the microwave region of the spectrum. The structure is either hollow or filled with dielectric material. The microwaves bounce back and forth between the walls of the cavity. At the cavity's resonant frequencies they reinforce to form standing waves in the cavity. Therefore, the cavity functions similarly to an organ pipe or sound box in a musical instrument, oscillating preferentially at a series of frequencies, its resonant frequencies. Thus it can act as a bandpass filter, allowing microwaves of a particular frequency to pass while blocking microwaves at nearby frequencies.
As an alternative for UHF, Lecher transmission lines can be used.It is possible to measure roughly the frequency of a transmitter using Lecher lines.
An electronic oscillator is an electronic circuit that produces a periodic, oscillating electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave. Oscillators convert direct current (DC) from a power supply to an alternating current (AC) signal. They are widely used in many electronic devices ranging from simplest clock generators to digital instruments and complex computers and peripherals etc. Common examples of signals generated by oscillators include signals broadcast by radio and television transmitters, clock signals that regulate computers and quartz clocks, and the sounds produced by electronic beepers and video games.
A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1891. It is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Tesla experimented with a number of different configurations consisting of two, or sometimes three, coupled resonant electric circuits.
A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current (AC), which periodically reverses direction, to direct current (DC), which flows in only one direction.
A diode bridge is an arrangement of four diodes in a bridge circuit configuration that provides the same polarity of output for either polarity of input.
The Hartley oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit in which the oscillation frequency is determined by a tuned circuit consisting of capacitors and inductors, that is, an LC oscillator. The circuit was invented in 1915 by American engineer Ralph Hartley. The distinguishing feature of the Hartley oscillator is that the tuned circuit consists of a single capacitor in parallel with two inductors in series, and the feedback signal needed for oscillation is taken from the center connection of the two inductors.
An envelope detector is an electronic circuit that takes a (relatively) high-frequency amplitude modulated signal as input and provides an output which is the envelope of the original signal.
A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) is an electronic oscillator whose oscillation frequency is controlled by a voltage input. The applied input voltage determines the instantaneous oscillation frequency. Consequently, a VCO can be used for frequency modulation (FM) or phase modulation (PM) by applying a modulating signal to the control input. A VCO is also an integral part of a phase-locked loop.
A tuner is a subsystem that receives radio frequency (RF) transmissions like radio broadcasts and converts the selected carrier frequency and its associated bandwidth into a fixed frequency that is suitable for further processing, usually because a lower frequency is used on the output. Broadcast FM/AM transmissions usually feed this intermediate frequency (IF) directly into a demodulator that convert the radio signal into audio-frequency signals that can be fed into an amplifier to drive a loudspeaker.
An Oudin coil, also called an Oudin oscillator or Oudin resonator, is a resonant transformer circuit that generates very high voltage, high frequency alternating current (AC) electricity at low current levels, used in the obsolete medical field of electrotherapy around the turn of the 20th century. It is very similar to a Tesla coil, with the difference being that the Oudin coil was connected as an autotransformer. It was invented in 1893 by French physician Paul Marie Oudin as a modification of physician Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval's electrotherapy equipment and used in quack medicine until perhaps 1930. The high voltage output terminal of the coil was connected to an insulated handheld electrode which produced luminous brush discharges, which were applied to the patient's body to treat various medical conditions in electrotherapy.
An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.
In microwave and radio-frequency engineering, a stub or resonant stub is a length of transmission line or waveguide that is connected at one end only. The free end of the stub is either left open-circuit or short-circuited. Neglecting transmission line losses, the input impedance of the stub is purely reactive; either capacitive or inductive, depending on the electrical length of the stub, and on whether it is open or short circuit. Stubs may thus function as capacitors, inductors and resonant circuits at radio frequencies.
A Q meter is a piece of equipment used in the testing of radio frequency circuits. It has been largely replaced in professional laboratories by other types of impedance measuring device, though it is still in use among radio amateurs. It was developed at Boonton Radio Corporation in Boonton, New Jersey in 1934 by William D. Loughlin.
In electronics, a Lecher line or Lecher wires is a pair of parallel wires or rods that were used to measure the wavelength of radio waves, mainly at UHF and microwave frequencies. They form a short length of balanced transmission line. When attached to a source of radio-frequency power such as a radio transmitter, the radio waves form standing waves along their length. By sliding a conductive bar that bridges the two wires along their length, the length of the waves can be physically measured. Austrian physicist Ernst Lecher, improving on techniques used by Oliver Lodge and Heinrich Hertz, developed this method of measuring wavelength around 1888. Lecher lines were used as frequency measuring devices until frequency counters became available after World War 2. They were also used as components, often called "resonant stubs", in UHF and microwave radio equipment such as transmitters, radar sets, and television sets, serving as tank circuits, filters, and impedance-matching devices. They are used at frequencies between HF/VHF, where lumped components are used, and UHF/SHF, where resonant cavities are more practical.
Grid dip oscillator (GDO), also called grid dip meter, gate dip meter, dip meter, or just dipper, is a type of electronic instrument that measures the resonant frequency of unconnected, nearby radio frequency circuits. It is a variable frequency oscillator that circulates a small-amplitude signal through an exposed coil, whose electromagnetic field can interact with adjacent circuitry. The oscillator loses power when its coil is near a circuit that resonates at the same frequency. A meter on the GDO registers the amplitude drop, or “dip”, hence the name.
A decoupling capacitor is a capacitor used to decouple one part of an electrical network (circuit) from another. Noise caused by other circuit elements is shunted through the capacitor, reducing the effect it has on the rest of the circuit. An alternative name is bypass capacitor as it is used to bypass the power supply or other high impedance component of a circuit.
In radio, a detector is a device or circuit that extracts information from a modulated radio frequency current or voltage. The term dates from the first three decades of radio (1888-1918). Unlike modern radio stations which transmit sound on an uninterrupted carrier wave, early radio stations transmitted information by radiotelegraphy. The transmitter was switched on and off to produce long or short periods of radio waves, spelling out text messages in Morse code. Therefore, early radio receivers had only to distinguish between the presence or absence of a radio signal. The device that performed this function in the receiver circuit was called a detector. A variety of different detector devices, such as the coherer, electrolytic detector, magnetic detector and the crystal detector, were used during the wireless telegraphy era until superseded by vacuum tube technology.
A variety of types of electrical transformer are made for different purposes. Despite their design differences, the various types employ the same basic principle as discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, and share several key functional parts.
An ESR meter is a two-terminal electronic measuring instrument designed and used primarily to measure the equivalent series resistance (ESR) of real capacitors; usually without the need to disconnect the capacitor from the circuit it is connected to. Other types of meters used for routine servicing, including normal capacitance meters, cannot be used to measure a capacitor's ESR, although combined meters are available which measure both ESR and out-of-circuit capacitance. A standard (DC) milliohmmeter or multimeter cannot be used to measure ESR, because a steady direct current cannot be passed through the capacitor. Most ESR meters can also be used to measure non-inductive low-value resistances, whether or not associated with a capacitor; this leads to a number of additional applications described below.
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