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Old July 15th 03, 06:32 AM
Dr. Slick
Posts: n/a
Default 50 Ohms "Real Resistive" impedance a Misnomer?


I'd like to start a discussion (or light a brush-fire, as the
case may be for this NG!), about what a 50 Ohm impedance match really

On our trusty Smith Chart, assuming it is normalized to 50 Ohms,
the center is considered and labeled as the "real resistive" 50 match
point. In fact, the entire middle horizontal line is the "real" part
of the impedance.

I'm sure many of you have read the popular description/model of a
transmission line as an infinite chain of alternating series inductors
with shunt capacitors, with the resulting characteristic impedance as
Z=(L/C)**1/2, where the L and C are distributed inductances and

So, in theory, if you have achieved a perfect match with your
antenna, you will have matched the impedance to the 377 Ohms of free
space, you will not have reflections at the matching point, and the
energy will radiate in whatever pattern you have designed for.

The funny thing about this, is that you cannot say that the 50
Ohms in the center of the chart is a "resistive" 50 Ohms, as there is
very little real resistance in the average antenna. This "resistive"
50 Ohms is really what people call the "radiation" resistance, which
is something of a misnomer again, because this is trying to equate the
successful impedance matching and subsequent non-reflected EM
radiation with a truly real resistance like an ideal dummy load.

Of course, it's well known that a truly real resistive 50 Ohm
dummy load should appear exactly like a properly matched antenna to
the transmitter.

Why do i ask all this? Well, if you believe that complex
impedance measurements (series equivalent) by MFJ antenna analyzers
are not completely inaccurate, then it appears that two 1/4 watt 100
Ohm resistors in parallel (lead lengths short) are a much more
consistent 50 Ohms over the VHF band than almost all the higher power
dummy loads we have tested.

Problem is, the high power dummy loads will vary from 52 to 45
"real" ohms depending on the frequency, with the "real" part of the
impedance getting lower with increasing frequency, so it doesn't seem
to be a "skin effect". The spread gets much worse when you put a 3'
jumper coax in between, and even more worse when you add a power/swr
meter. Then the "real" Ohms will be from 65 to 35 ohms, with the max
and mins not correlating with frequency at all, and the stray
reactances will be much more too, but just as varied with frequency.
So much for "50 ohm" jumper cables! I suppose they are as close as
they can get them for a particular price.

My theory is that the "real" part of the impedance is mainly the
truly resistive 50 ohms of the dummy load at low frequencies around 10
MHz or so...but as you go up in frequency, the parasitics of the dummy
load and the coax jumper cable will cause "radiation" resistance to be
mixed in with this truly real 50 ohms, giving us readings all over the

What do you folks think?

Dr. Slick