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Author Topic: thermal camera for radiating antenna?  (Read 1874 times)

Posts: 39

« on: March 30, 2012, 11:37:58 AM »

if i had a thermal camera, could i use it to see anything useful when transmitting out of my mobile setup to see loss or leaks? 160 watts to a 7/8 wave antenna.. we were talking on another forum to see about losses or radiated power and someone mentioned borrow a thermal IR camera..... what would i see if anything

Posts: 10248


« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 01:03:50 PM »

Depends on the antenna, and the IR camera you use. You said 7/8 wave, but I think you meant 5/8 wave. I didn't check and of the VHF antennas I have, but I suspect you could see heat radiated from the coil assembly if you ran close to full rated power.

Looking at an HF antenna depends on the antenna. Some with a lot of metal mass around and inside the coil like a HiQ, take a much longer time to heat up than say a hamstick does. However, it is just as telltale where the along the antenna the heat radiates. Quite obviously, the loading coil is always first to show signs of heating, and then the matching coil if there is one.

If all you have is 100 watts of carrier, and the antenna in question is of decent quality, and the ambient isn't too cold or too warm, the usual time it takes to see a change can be as long as 90 seconds. In some case, like an ATAS or Lil Tarheel, it takes less than 30 seconds. Part of the delay is of course the camera.

I have a FLIR i5 (≈$1,700), and it does a decent job if you set things up correctly. The one I borrowed was a FlukeTi4R (≈$17,000). The big difference is their resolution. The Fluke will see changes as small as .1 degree C. Some nitrogen cooled ones, can do a magnitude better, but they cost upwards of $100,000!

After all is said and done, you have to download the images to a computer software program to sort of the real world temperature change, albeit the camera figures are darn close (at least in the Fluke)! The app however, allows you to adjust the pseudo color to better show the temperature change.

The bottom line is, it is nice to see where the losses are, but they're not definitive with respect to efficiency. You can assume that the quicker things heat up, the more loss there is, but you have to be careful as the total mass of the coil assembly has to be considered too. I plan on doing more testing, but I have to wait until Fall, and cooler weather.


Posts: 39

« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 12:45:51 PM »

oh ok, well its something im not gonna mess with. it is a 7/8 wave tho, SG7900NMO , but its not worth my time to assess with a thermal camera. 73

Posts: 7718

« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2012, 06:00:47 AM »

The loss in this antenna will be at the base matching circuit and the two coils. It looks like the surface area of these three items combined are less than 10 square inches. If they were running hot enough to sizzle water the power dissipated would be 30 watts or so. Out of 160 watts that is a loss of 1 dB. The touch test will do. Transmit for a couple of minutes, shut the RF OFF then touch these items. If they aren't really hot the loss is negligible.
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