EME237 70cm Preamplifier

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EME237-70CM KIT Description:

The EME237-70CM is a High performance masthead mount Receiver Pre-amplifier that is specifically designed for the 70cm 430 to 450MHz band. The Pre-amplifier has an adjustable 20 to 29dB gain, and can be used to optimize gain distribution for coaxial cable losses and the total gain of the receiver system. The design uses the Mini-Circuits PGA-103 that has a very high dynamic range and ultra low 0.38dB noise figure. The input circuit consists of a tunable T type filter that can be tuned to optimize the noise figure to less than 1dB while giving high rejection of signals below 200MHz. The output of the PGA-103 is filtered with a low pass filter giving high rejection of signals above 500MHz, and is then further amplified by a low noise Avago MGA82563 PHEMT MMIC. The design incorporates high isolation RF changeover Relays to bypass the pre-amplifier when not required, or when RF power from a transmitter is applied to the antenna. An on board bias tee ( DC power injector ), allows the pre-amplifier to be antenna mounted and powered via the coaxial cable. The Preamplifier is able to handle 50 Watts ( +47dBm ) CW, when unsequenced, or up to 100 Watts ( +50dBm ) PEP when sequenced.

Tests so far have not shown RF power loss as radiant heat when tested with a thermal imaging camera, so further testing is required at higher power levels to determine if a higher RF power can be used.

The PC board is designed to suit a low cost GME mast head enclosure which makes installation easy and provides high protection of the circuitry from weather.

Kit Constructors Alert:

1/ There are no current alerts for this Kit.

EME237-70CM Kit Notes:

The pictures below are a final revision so should be carefully followed in construction. Be careful when fabricating and fitting L5 as it needs to be done correctly to achieve the lowest transmit power loss and high return loss. On a prototype I was not very careful when fitting the QF0.085 cable under the board between points A and B, so this created a short from the braid to one on the PCB pads which was not very obvious so check this carefully. Slight filing of the two slots at the top of the board is required to fit the GME masthead enclosure. This was unfortunate as the PCB manufacturer made a slight mistake with the board route out. The board should be fully cleaned with Isopropyl Alcohol and thoroughly dried using a hair drier before testing. Through loss tests may not be achievable if there is Isopropyl still under the connectors and relays. The performance tests below are as measured on a number of built products and were nearly all identical. BUY THIS PRODUCT

EME237-70CM Top View
Top view of the EME237-70CM

The picture shows the basic EME237-70CM Kit with Molex TNC connectors that have been used for high reliability and low loss.

EME237-70CM Top View
Top view of the EME237-70CM

The picture shows how the QF0.085 cable is connected between the A and B connections for the Transmit bypass.

EME237-70CM-L1
Fitting of the input inductor L1, and the approximate position on the trimmer capacitor C2
EME237-70CM-L5
How L5 is fitted and spaced for lowest transmit power loss, ( High return loss )
EME237-70CM-CAB
How the QF0.085 cable is connected to the board providing clearance between the circuit board pad and the outer braid to avoid shorting.

EME237-70CM Performance Tests:

EME237-70CM-S21
EME237-70CM S21 Gain Test Showing T input and lowpass output filter response
EME237-70CM-S21>
EME237-70CM TX S21 Bypass loss
EME237-70CM-S11
EME237-70CM TX S11 Return loss
EME237-70CM-Relay-Isolation
EME237-70CM RX Relay Isolation using 330nH inductors

Mounting into a Die cast Enclosure:

The Hammond 1590S or 1590SFL die cast enclosure is ideal for mounting the preamplifier module for in shack use. The enclosure allows either the TNC or BNC type R/Angle PC board mount connectors to be easily used for minimum loss. The board sits on M3 x 8mm high brass spacers mounted to the enclosure with M3 x 6mm countersunk screws.

1590S-ENC-1
The EME237 board mounted in a Hammond 1590S Enclosure
1590S-ENC-2
The EME237 board mounted in a Hammond 1590S Enclosure
1590S-Countersunk-Holes
3mm holes drilled to suit the M3x6mm Countersunk screws
1590S-BNC-Holes
Holes drilled to suit the diameter of the BNC connectors
1590S-DC-Connector
Hole drilled to 6mm to suit the 2.1mm DC socket
1590S-BNC-Connectors
Fitting of BNC connectors and connection to the board

Mounting Procedure:

This is for advanced constructors that have experience and access to a workshop with metal working tools. The basic tool requirements are a drill press, Vice, M1.5, M3, M6, M12, and 1.4 inch drill bits, scriber, metal punch, and a hammer.

  • Place an unpopulated EME237 PC board into the enclosure and mark the four mounting holes using a fine felt tip pen. Using a punch and hammed mark the centre of the mounting holes for drilling. Drill out the four holes starting with a 1.5mm drill bit followed by a 3mm bit. Counter sink the holes on the bottom of the enclosure to suit M3 x 6mm countersunk screws.

  • Mount the PC board into the enclosure on M3x8mm brass spacers using 4x M3x6 countersunk screws and 4x M3x6 Phillips head screws. Mark the positions for the BNC connectors using a felt tip pen, and then remove the PC board.

  • Mark and drill two 12.5mm holes in the die cast enclosure as shown in the picture above to suit the BNC connectors, and a 8mm hole to suit the 2.1mm DC connector.

  • Mount the completed PC board pre-amplifier module into the enclosure and fit the BNC connectors to the enclosure. The board when fitted to the enclosure should have a tight fit around the BNC connectors not requiring any fastening of the connectors to the enclosure.

  • Mount the 2.1mm DC connector to the enclosure rotating it to the position as shown in the pictures. Carefully fully tighten the nut using a small spanner or wrench.

  • Connect the 2.1mm DC connector to the +ve connection on the terminal connector for the power using a small length of insulated hookup wire.

  • Finally tune the pre-amplifier as per the Kit construction notes for the best noise figure.

Mounting into a Masthead Enclosure:

The GME Masthead enclosure will accept cables up to around 8mm in diameter. Therefore larger cables like RG8/213 cannot be used. Larger cables would also place too much strain on the TNC sockets on the pre-amplifier board. To connect the Antenna feed line to the pre-amplifier, and pre-amplifier output to the main feed line, we recommend the use of CNT®240 ( 240 Type ) cable with crimped TNC connectors. CNT®240 is double shielded and has losses similar to RG213 cable, but has a much smaller 6mm diameter. Use the website search box and search for 240 series cable and connectors.

GME Enclosure 1
The EME237 board mounted in a GME Masthead Enclosure
EME237-ENC-1
The Enclosure has a locking Tab that holds the board firmly in place. Be careful to not break the tab if removing the board.
Masthead Installation 1
Picture shows the masthead amplifier mounted directly on the support pole under the 70cm yagi antenna. The TNC male connectors are fully sealed with heatshrink.
Masthead Installation-2
A short 0.5m long CNT-240 patch cable with a TNC male to N type female is used on the output of the Preamp to connect to the main CNT-400 feedline.

CONNECTION TO A TRANSCEIVER:

1/ Mini-Kits cannot be expected to take responsibility to make this product work on your Transceiver, we can only give guidance on how best to use this product. Using this product with high power FM or SSB modes does have the risk of damaging the Pre-amplifier if the transceiver switches from RX to TX modes faster than the pre-amplifiers relays. Some protection is built into the pre-amplifier circuit including a RF sensing circuit and Limiter diode protection, but high RF levels into the pre-amplifier before it has fully switched from RX to TX mode can damage the pre amp. Some Transceivers are prone to producing a spike on the RF output when going into transmit mode. This can be due to the ALC in the Radio not acting fast enough. This is where a sequencer circuit is useful to sequence the switching of RF amplifiers and pre-amplifiers so that the relays etc have enough time to switch RX to TX mode before RF power is applied. The Relay isolation that has been tested on the EME237-70CM Kit should easily allow up to 100Watts PEP( +50dBm ) of RF to be used.

2/ Transceivers including the ICOM IC-475, IC-1275, IC-820/821, IC-910, IC-9100, and IC-9700, have a pre amp switch with delay sequencing built in, so they are all able to directly power a pre-amplifier through the antennas coaxial cable connection so require no external bias tee.

3. For other Transceivers including the TS2000, TS2000X and IC706 series without inbuilt preamplifier switching and bias tee, the preamplifier can be powered either by running a DC power cable directly to the pre-amp board, or by feeding it up the coaxial cable. For FM operation, the onboard RF sensing circuitry can be simply used, but for SSB it is much better to use an external bias tee to power through the coaxial cable. Many Transceivers have access to a +12 volt TX connection on the accessories socket on the rear. This can be used to control the bias tee switching the +12vdc to the pre amp in RX mode, and disconnecting it in TX mode. At this time the RF sensing circuit should still be used on the pre-amp as a fail safe, as there is no delay sequencing built into the bias tee.

Refer to the basic application blocks below for the TS2000, and page 104 in the TS2000 owners manual.

Kit Changes and Repairs:

EME237-70CM

1/ There are no current changes to this Kit.

2/ There have been some issues reported with low return loss causing RF power loss in TX bypass mode. This has in most cases been traced to constructors deciding to not use the recommended RF connectors directly on the board, and using coaxial cable that is poorly terminated to external connectors. This can also be caused after cleaning the board with isopropyl alcohol that has not fully dried and remains between the connectors and the board. The board should be heated using a hair drier to help with evaporation of cleaning fluids, and left for some time to dry fully before testing. Some issues may also be poor soldering of the relays to the board, and the solder not being flowed into the boards plated holes fully. In rare cases a relay could have been damaged in transit especially on a built product. This can be tested using a multimeter for continuity.

4/ There have been reports of failure of the PGA-103 due to lightning damage. It is suggested that the preamplifier power is turned off when there are storms to prevent any damage.

5/ Instability type noise that randomly lifts the S meter when in SSB mode was traced to a damaged PGA-103. It was suspected that it may have been damaged by excessive heat when soldering.