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Shiawassee Amateur Radio Association [SARA]

Established: January, 1958 an ARRL Affiliated Club since 1961

"Whiskey 8 Quack Quack Quack"

Meets at: James P. Capitan Center, Lower Level; 149 E. Corunna Ave.; Corunna, MI 48817 Monthly: 2nd Tuesday @ 7:00 PM

Club station located in the James P. Capitan Center - Lower Level.
IARU: 2 Grid Square EN72wx   Latitude: 42.9819 N   Longitude: -84.1164 W   Alitude: 760 ft.

Contact us at:   SARA / W8QQQ <Email>

You're invited to a club meeting!  7:00 PM the 2nd Tuesday of each month in Corunna, MI.


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SARA's Electronics Reference Page


Shiawassee Amateur Radio Association presents the following Electronics Reference Information which we hope is useful to our viewers. Here is a very basic discussion of: Frequency and Wavelength; Ohm's Law; Capactiance & Inductance which includes Reactance; and Resonance. These "basics" require an understanding to move forward in electronics and Ham radio.

We also have a Mathematics Reference page ~ Mathematics Reference Page to assist with some of the math.

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Dielectric Constants

The dielectric constant is important in several areas used in amateur radio (Capacitors, Coaxial cables, etc.). A small list here should get you started, but we suggest you use Wikipedia for further searching (remember those Web link lists at the bottom of a Wikipedia page for further detailed information).

Material Dielectric Constant (k)   ε, Product of (k) and free space permittivity  
Vacuum1 (by definition)8.8542E12
Air (Earth)1.00068.8595E12
Ruby Mica6.5 ~ 8.75.7552E13 ~ 7.731E13
Glass (flint)108.8542E13
Barium titanate (class I)5 ~ 4504.4271E13 ~ 3.9844E15
Barium titanate (class II)200 ~ 12,0001.7708E15 ~ 1.0625E17
Kraft Paper2.62.3021E13
Mineral Oil2.231.9745E13
Castor oil4.74.1615E13
Diphenyl - Clorinated5.34.6927E13
Polyethylene terephthalate32.6563E13
Aluminum Oxide8.47.4375E13
Tantalum pentoxide282.4792E14
Niobium oxide403.5417E14
Titanium oxide807.0834E14

Dielectric materials have two important characteristics to consider. The dielectric constant and the magnetic permeability. A material's true dielectric constant, ε, which comes from the material type chosen, is just a product of εr and εo, or ε = εr * εo. Where εr is the relative dielectric constant (table above) and εo is the permittiviity of free space (vacuum) which is 8.85419 x 10^12 F/m [Farads per meter]. The "Electric Constant, "εo", is the name used in most current standards.

Frequency, Wavelength & Bands

The speed of light is the constant rate of propagation of electromagnetic waves. Using the value in atmospheric environment (air) propagation at a frequency can be ratioed to determine the length corresponding to one complete wave. Further, a 'rounded / approximate' value for the speed of light is 300,000,000 which is generally used for establishing radio frequency band limits. Its exact value is defined as 299,792,458 metres per second (from 'Wikipedia' December, 2019). Thus "Lamda" (wavelength) is speed of light [c] divided by frequency in hertz [Hz]. The unit of hertz is named after Henrich Rudolf Hertz [1857 ~ 1894] and is defined as one cycle per second. Wavelength for a given frequency or frequency for a given wavelength are represented as: {using c=300,000,000 }

Lamda equals c divide by frequency     or     Frequency equals c divided by Lamada

A band is a small section of the spectrum of radio communication frequencies, in which sub-divisions are defined by various regulations.

To prevent interference and allow for efficient use of the radio spectrum, similar types of services are allocated into the various bands. For example, broadcasting, mobile radio, or navigation devices, will be usually allocated in non-overlapping ranges of frequencies. As a matter of convention, bands are divided at wavelengths of 10^n metres, or frequencies of 3 x 10^n hertz { 10^n is in integer powers of 10 }. For example, 30 MHz or 10 m divides shortwave (lower and longer) from VHF (shorter and higher). Further use has officially named the various bands as:

Band NameAbbreviation ITU Band Frequency Wavelength
 Extremely Low FrequencyELF13 - 30 Hz100,000 km - 10,000 km  
 Super Low FrequencySLF230 - 300 Hz10,000 km - 1,000 km
 Ultra Low FrequencyULF3300 - 3000 Hz1,000 km - 100 km
 Very Low FrequencyVLF43 kHz - 30 kHz100 km - 10 km
 Low FrequencyLF530 kHz - 300 kHz10 km - 1 km
 Medium FrequencyMF6300 kHz - 3000 kHz1 km - 100 m
 High FrequencyHF73 MHz - 30 MHz100 m - 10 m
 Very High FrequencyVHF830 MHz - 300 MHz10 m - 1 m
 Ultra High FrequencyUHF9300 MHz - 3000 MHz 1 m - 100 mm
 Super High FrequencySHF103 GHz - 30 GHz100 mm - 10 mm
 Extremely High Frequency   EHF1130 GHz - 300 GHz10 mm - 1 mm

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Ohm's Law

An electrical circuit has a power source with voltage and current, some external circuit attached to the power source with electrical conductors. A direct current source has 'steady state' electrical characteristics. The external circuit restricts the current to a value based on the voltage and the amount of restriction. Under these steady values, the restriction to current flow (charge motion) is identified by the term resistance [R]. The electromotive force [E] or electric potential is called voltage. The charge motion is called electrical current [I]. The relationship between these characteristics was developed by Georg Ohm [1789~1854] and is called "Ohm's Law". The relationship is expressed as:

I(current) = E(voltage) / R(resistance)    or    E(voltage) = I(current) * R(resistance    or    R(resistance) = E(voltage) / I(current)

Electrical power [watts] is the product of voltage [ E } and current [ I ]. It follows that there are relationships for power using just voltage or current and the resistance values. They are:

Power = I(currrent) * E(voltage)   or    Power = I(currrent)^2 * R(resistance)   or    Power = E(voltage)^2 / R(resistance)


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For purposes here we are defining capacitance as the storage of electrical charge between two metal surfaces. They are separated by a distance with an insulating material which is between the metal surfaces (the dielectric). The capacitance is directly proportional to the surface area and inversely proportional to the spacing distance. The permittivity of the dielectric material between the plates establishs the capacitance value. Using dry, atmospheric pressure air as a 'base material', which is defined as having permittivity of 1.0, different materials can be classified as modifying the actual capacitance (the area/spacing values get multiplied by the capacitance). For many materials the permittivty is independent of the voltage, thus only a direct multiply is required. Restating: "The capacitance is a function only of the geometry of the design (area of the plates and the distance between them) and the permittivity of the dielectric material between the plates of the capacitor." If the charges on the plates are +q and -q, and V they establish the voltage between the plates. Capacitance [C] is then defined and by:

Capacitance Equation 1

which gives the voltage/current relationship

Capacitance Equation 2

The SI unit of capacitance is the farad (symbol: F), named after the English physicist Michael Faraday. A 1 farad capacitor, when charged with 1 coulomb of electrical charge, has a potential difference of 1 volt.

The energy stored in a capacitor is found by integrating the work W:

Work in Capacitance Equation

The most common subunits of capacitance in use today are the microfarad (μF), nanofarad (nF), picofarad (pF). Capacitance can be calculated if the geometry of the conductors and the dielectric properties of the insulator between the conductors are known.

Calculation of Capacitance Equation


      C  is the capacitance, in farads;

      A  is the area of overlap of the two plates, in square meters;

      εr  is the relative static permittivity (sometimes called the dielectric constant) of the material between the plates
(for a vacuum, εr = 1);

      ε0  is the electric constant (ε0 ~ 8.85419 x 10^-12 F / m) (Farads per meter)  and

      d  is the separation between the plates, in meters (thickness of dielectric).

   NOTE: the εr * ε0 term is listed in table at the top of this page under "Dielectric Constants".

Capacitance can vary with applied voltage and/or frequency but these topics are beyond this discussion. If desired go to and search "capacitance" for further details in this area. Also, there are formulas for various shaped plate capacitors and other details that you can review.

The electric constant or vacuum permittivity or permittivity of free space is the capability of a vacuum to permit electric field lines and relates the units for electric charge to mechanical quantities such as length and force. Historically, the parameter ε0 has been known by many different names. The terms "vacuum permittivity" or its variants, such as "permittivity in/of vacuum", "permittivity of empty space", or "permittivity of free space" are generally widespread. Standards Organizations worldwide now use "electric constant" as a uniform term for this quantity.

Physical capacitor markings Vs values can be found at SARA's Capacitor Markings chart.

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Capacitive Reactance

An opposition to the change in voltage across a capacitive device is defined as Capacitive Reactance. Capacitive Reactance is inversely proportional to the frequency and the capacitance. As either the capacitance or frequency get larger, the reactance value gets smaller. Reactance acts like a "resistance value" when applied voltage varies at a frequency [AC]. At low frequencies a capacitor is an open circuit so no current effects flow in or through the dielectric space.

A DC voltage applied across a capacitor causes positive charge to accumulate on one side and negative charge to accumulate on the other side; the electric field due to the accumulated charge is the source of the opposition to the current. When the potential associated with the charge exactly balances the applied voltage, the current goes to zero.

A capacitor driven by an AC supply only accumulates a limited amount of charge before the voltage changes polarity and the charge dissipates. The higher the frequency, the less charge will accumulate and the smaller the opposition to the current (reactance).

Reactance and resistance have similar effects and similarity of the mathematics results, thus making it easier for you to remember the equations involved. There is a choice on mathematical signs in various equations (more advanced concepts can get involved). For our purposes, it easiest to assume capacitive reactance has a negative value - so that is what we will do! {Later we will define inductive reactance as a 'positive'}

Capacitive Reactance Equation

A DC voltage applied across a capacitor causes positive charge to accumulate on one side and negative charge to accumulate on the other side; the electric field due to the accumulated charge is the source of the opposition to the current. When the potential associated with the charge exactly balances the applied voltage, the current goes to zero.

Capacitive reactance, when we get involved with inductive reactance, is where all the fun gets started ~ stay tuned! [pun intended]. That introduces the concept of resonance.

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The following is a direct quote from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

= = = = = = = Start quote = = = = = =

In electromagnetism and electronics, inductance is the property of an electrical conductor by which a change in current flowing through it induces an electromotive force in both the conductor itself and in any nearby conductors by mutual inductance.

These effects are derived from two fundamental observations of physics: a steady current creates a steady magnetic field described by Oersted's law, and a time-varying magnetic field induces an electromotive force in nearby conductors, which is described by Faraday's law of induction. According to Lenz's law, a changing electric current through a circuit that contains inductance induces a proportional voltage, which opposes the change in current (self-inductance). The varying field in this circuit may also induce an e.m.f. in neighboring circuits (mutual inductance).

The term inductance was coined by Oliver Heaviside in 1886. It is customary to use the symbol L for inductance, in honor of the physicist Heinrich Lenz. In the SI system, the measurement unit for inductance is the henry with the unit symbol H, named in honor of Joseph Henry, who discovered inductance independently of, but not before, Faraday.

= = = = = = = End quote = = = = = = [from 'Wikipedia']

An Inductor is a component used to add inductance to an electrical circuit. A conductor in a closed loop develops the magnetic field concentration and linkages to nearby conductors (including itself) to cause the effect of inductance. This field develops a "back EMF" across the inductor that impacts the rate of change of the current through the inductor(s). This impact is directly proportional to the frequency. The relationship between the self-inductance L of an electrical circuit, the voltage v(t), and the current i(t) through the circuit is:

Inductance Equation 1

When a change in one inductor induces a voltage in another inductor it is called "mutual inductance". This could be a wanted or unwanted effect. In the case of transformers it is considered a wanted effect.

Mutual Inductance


     Mutual Inductance Symbol is the mutual inductance, and the subscript specifies the relationship of the voltage induced in coil 2 due to the current in coil 1.

     N1 is the number of turns in coil 1,

     N2 is the number of turns in coil 2,

     P21 is the permeance of the space occupied by the flux.

The complete study of inductance versus physical shape(s) and various mutual inductance relationships is beyond this dialog. You can research these on you own time and pace. We will go on to Inductive Reactance and then to resonance effects.

Inductive Reactance

An opposition to the change in current thru an inductor is defined as Inductive Reactance. Inductive Reactance is directly proportional to the frequency and the inductance value. As either the inductance or frequency get larger, the reactance value gets larger. Reactance acts like a "resistance value" when the applied current varies at a frequency [AC]. At high frequencies an inductor starts to have very large value of reactance {opposition to current flow}. The equation for calculating inductive reactance is:

Inductive Reactance Equation

Of note between the capacitive and inductive reactance is that one gets smaller and one gets larger as frequency is increased. Or, the reactance values 'switch' characteristics as the frequency gets lower. That starts to imply a topic which is our next topic ~ Resonance. In electronics this where the magic starts to happen.

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The Frequency where Equal Capacitive and Inductive Reactance Occur in a Circuit

Near the 'middle frequency ranges' for reactance values, we set the frequency values as equal and we rearrange the equations. Set the inductive and capacitive reactance equal and then solve for frequency. The equation for "resonance" will then be derived as:

Resonance Equation 1

Omega, ω = 2πf is a very common substitution in many physical or electronic mathematical operations. Setting reactances to equal values means that ωL = 1/ωC, so the equation above results. Recognize that these are inductance and capacitance values and not the reactance values. If you solve each reactance equation for 2πf and set them equal to each other, the above equation can easily be seen. Note that the LC product is a constant value. This means that various capacatance or inductance values yields the same exact resonant frequency. The 'Q' value (sharpness of the bandwidth) is usually sharper with higher capacitance values. Or higher 'Q' at the same resonant frequency is a matter of raising the inductance value and lowering the inductance value to get the same resonant frequency. This is a 'just nice to know' piece of information.

If one considers the real world where resistances are required to be accounted for, the result is an R-L-C type of circuit for further analysis. The exact topology of the circuit can have different forms from the simple series connection of the resistors, inductors and capacitors (or simple three parallel connections) lead to quite complex series-parallel connections of many multiple devices analysis. The basic result is that most circuits can be described in "2nd order liner equations" and solved quite readily (Note: It does not say 'easily solved').

The addition of the resistor term in the R-L-C results in a continuous 'loss of electrical energy' in the circuit, if it is not resupplied by the source. The rate of loss establishes a 'Q factor' for the circuit. We will leave that for you study on your own.

The 'tuned circuit' is used widely in electronics. Oscillators, filters [band-pass filter, band-stop filter, low-pass filter or high-pass filter], and any 'tuning circuit' all use the resonance effect to achieve a desired result. You can study on-line or in books on these topics to get at whatever level of understanding you desire. The study of resonant circuits leads to a large amount of information.

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Coaxial Cable & Stubs

The proper use of coaxial cable is a complex topic!

Coaxial cable stubs can be used for tuning effects and frequency filtering (like resonant circuits). We have placed the coaxial topic on its own page - Coaxial Cable & Stubs.

The radio amateur has many uses for coaxial cable. Understanding the loss effects in the antenna/transmission line system is key to good system performance. Matching antennas to coaxial cable and then to receivers/transmitters is a complex topic of it's own. If you do not pay attention to these details, then a very lossy system can be the result (very poor performance). We have summarized some coaxial cable characteristics for quick comparisons and provide a link to one of SARA's Excel spreadsheets for doing some additional calculations.

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We suggest a mathematics review using SARA's reference page ~ Mathematics Reference Page.

We suggest you look at Wolfram Language and Mathematica for additional mathematics assistance. Note: Mathematica is included 'free' on Raspberry Pi computers. In 'today's' world, mathematics can be solved using your computer. This greatly simplifies the process, you just need to learn how to use the process.

Coax that connects things! topic divider

NOTE: The equations shown on this page are presented by using "Latex" and the equation writing capabilities from the Code Cogs Web Site. Images are then stored "locally" to allow proper HTML5 validation and display results.

Coax that connects things! topic divider

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