MF and HF Receive Antenna Splitter
As a radio experimenter, I have numerous MF and HF receivers to listen to but usually only 1 main outdoor antenna. Typically, this means that only my main radio receiver is connected to the outdoor antenna and my other receivers must use small indoor antennas with or without RF preamplifiers. I wanted to to permanently connect my main radio shack receiver and the receiver in the room directly above the shack to my main MF and HF antenna at the same time. The solution was to build a simple antenna splitter which allows the 2 radio receivers to connect to the single coaxial antenna feed line while preserving the correct impedance at all connection points. This project is based upon the splitter presented in EMRFD labeled Figure 3.81.
Each receiver and the antenna feed line have a 50 ohm characteristic impedance. This in-phase splitter is passive and has a loss of just over 3 dB. It is designed to operate from 500 KHz up to 30 MHz.
Please do not transmit through this device.
The schematic to the left illustrates the entire splitter network from the antenna input to the input of the 2 receivers. T1 and T2 are broadband ferrite transformers with enough inductive reactance to tune down to the bottom of the broadcast band. If you only require a splitter for HF, then wind T1 with 10 total turns and a tap at 7 turns from the grounded end and T2 with just 10 bifilar windings. I used FT50-43 cores to allow the use of thicker gauge wire which provides reasonable securement of the coils without external anchors, and because bigger inductors are easier to photograph. The FT37-43 ferrite core would also be a good choice, especially if miniaturization is a design goal.
Circuit Building Details
The antenna splitter breadboard is shown to the right. I used 3 colors of 22 gauge enamel covered wire to make my inductors. T2 is the actual splitter network coil and is the lower transformer in the photograph. The 100 ohm resistor serves to isolate the 2 ports connected to the receivers and absorbs impedance mismatches which may present when one terminal is not properly terminated. Note that the characteristic impedance at the input of this 3 port network is only 25 ohms. You can choose to ignore this or use an additional network such as a broadband transformer or an L- match between your antenna coax and the splitter to match this 25 ohm impedance.
I chose to use T1 which is an autotransformer with a tap at approximately the 25 ohm point. The splitter network worked well during my tests. Having only 1 receiver versus 2 receivers connected made no difference to the signal strength due to the excellent output port isolation.
Note that Wes, W7ZOI uses this 3 port network network several times in EMRFD. One example is the Lichen transceiver while another is the 6M superhet receiver presented in Chapter 6. Consult EMRFD for further discussion of this and other multiple port networks.
T2 is a bifilar transformer. The 2 wires were twisted together by securing one end of the 2 wires in a vise and the other end of these 2 wires in the chuck of a brace and bit (manual) hand drill. I twisted the hand drill until I had 8 twists per inch on the 2 wires . I used 2 color wire for ease of construction, however, it is almost as easy to tell the windings from one another by using an ohm meter or audible continuity tester.
To the right is the completed project showing the SO-239 connectors which are wired to the antenna splitter output ports. A chassis from an old project was recycled for this new project. The large bolts seen in some of the of the photos were used to fill in holes which had been drilled for the old project. This was done to provide improved RF shielding. The bolts also increased the weight of the chassis and help keep it from tipping over. Although it does not look as attractive as if I had used a brand new project chassis, considerable cost savings were realized. These little Hammond project boxes are getting very expensive. Also the splitter is kept an the back of my main radio desk where it is out of sight anyway.
Update August 10, 2008 - Contribution by Dave, G4AON
This original network was designed for use in the MF to HF spectrum. Limiting this network is the input matching transformer T1 which negatively effects the T2 output port isolation; especially at 41 meters and higher. Testing by Dave, G4AON confirmed this. Dave designed, built and tested a trifilar wound, UNUN input matching transformer which provides a much flatter response for T2 port isolation from 0.1 to 52 MHz.
To the left you can see the G4AON input circuit for T1. In keeping with a design optimized for higher frequencies, less total turns are used on the transformers. His trifilar wound input transformer version is going to generate an impedance of (16/24)^2 x 50 = 22 Ohms at mid-band. My variation will generate (10/14)^2 * 50 = 25.5 ohms at mid-band. Using his version of T1 as opposed to my simple auto-transformer, Dave was able to provide better isolation of the output ports than the original design across a wider range of frequencies.
In the two popular, commercially sold RF splitters we have examined, the company did not even bother to match the input to the T2 transformer and some builders have written me to say they just omitted T1 and for their typical SWL listening this worked out fine for them. Increasing isolation across a wider frequency band and also matching the T2 input are issues that you the builder will have to consider. Certainly the lossy and often non-predictable #43 ferrite material is a factor which might affect your transformer performance. While a trifilar transformer is a little more difficult build for a novice as compared to an auto-transformer, this improved design might work very well at your QTH. Testing like Dave did is certainly the way to go and I greatly appreciate his contribution.
To the right are Dave's excellent bench measurements. He used a Marconi 2018 signal generator, a Racal 9301 RF millivoltmeter and a Bird load on the other port. Kudos to Dave for performing this experiment and contributing to the receive antenna splitter knowledge base.
Dave's web site.
It is really awesome to be able to connect 2 receivers to the same outdoor antenna. The 3 port
network and cabling to the additional receiver does not seem to increase
receive noise levels from RFI in the house. Most likely this is due to the fact I am using shielded coax,
a shielded project box and have a good RF ground system.
This is a simple project you can build in one evening.
I hope you receive some good DX! 73 es CUL, VE7BPO
Here is a link from F6AOJ