Today’s tribander is a full size element multi-band antenna with a performance closed to a mono-band antenna. A traditional tribander with LC traps is quite popular today as well. If you are limited by space to install a few towers it could be the only option to try a serious contesting.
If band isolation of the filter system of Triplexer and BPFs is a sufficient number than there is no interference between bands at all except the 2nd harmonics from 20M TX to 10M band RX.
In a contesting environment it is a RUN on 20M band and MULT on 10M band. The harmonics noise is unavoidable as it generated by antenna itself as a noise over the 10M band (depends on an antenna type, TX phase noise etc.,). As soon as 10M band opened the noise goes below the station levels and not a problem any more.
Please, listen how Triplexer with BPFs sounds on most difficult bands, 20 and 10 meter bands. This is OR2F and ON5RA as OT70OSB with their WRTC-2018 equipment (Low power BPFs with VA6AM HP Triplexer).
- Channel L – FT-1000MP, Pout = 120W, QRG= 14216 KHz fixed
- Channel R – Elecraft K3, Pout = 110W, QRG= S&P 10m band (CW + SSB)
- After 03:38 from beginning of the file, 10M band switched to SSB and you can hear the harmonics noise increased.
- They were able to work stations +- 5KHz from harmonics around 28432 KHz frequency.
10 and 20 meter bands audio file.
From the beginning, I would like to show how much of band isolation we need for SO2R setup. As always, I am considering Tribander with Triplexer and BPFs setup.
I am not considering a damage signal level to the radio as this number usually unknown. I would start with a radio blocking level. This level means that the radio blocked and no reception can be done.
As an example, for the main receiver of TS-590S and PREAMP OFF the worst case is +20dBm and with PREAMP ON it is +10dBm with OFFSET frequency >100KHz ( Up-Conversion).
- Blocking level + 10dBm is 0.01watt or 0.7 volts signal level at the 2nd radio antenna port if the 1st one in SO2R setup is on TX mode.
Now, lets calculate the minimum band isolation with different output power levels with level of 0.7 volts going to the 2nd radio while 1st on a TX mode.
At this level the second radio will be blocked while the first one trasmitting, so we need a band isolation better than that from our Triplexer + BPFs system.
The required filter system band isolation at a transceiver blocking level:
- 100 W – 40dB or -30dB with PREAMP OFF
- 1500 W – 52dB
- 3000 W – 55dB
- If your filter system delivered only -40dB of the next band attenuation you cannot operate 100 watt two radios the same time.
- Numbers above show that triplexer alone with isolation level of -30dB cannot provide a sufficient isolation level if used without BPFs.
If this is not a tribander setup but multiple close located antennas it should be at least -40 dB of antenna isolation. Usually, it is not a difficult number to achieve especially if antennas are of a different polarization.
How to define the comfortable level of band isolation when we can operate both radios the same time?
- As per Rob Sherwood, NCØB measurements, IC-7300 and IC-7610 OVF (overflow) level is -10dBM out of a pass-band signals. It means Triplexer+BPFs set MUST deliver a better than that number to allow operate a new SDR radios.
I can assume that -13dBM or lower signal level can be handle by most of today’s radio.
- -13dBm is 0.05mW or 50mV on a radio antenna port.
- This is 59 + 60dB on a radio S-meter and as it is a level from adjacent bands it is actually a very safe approach for calculation.
The numbers below are a very safe levels of a band isolation for using Tribander antenna with Triplexer and connected BPFs:
- 100 W – 66dB
- 1500 W – 74dB
- 3000 W – 77dB
So, for a low power setup Triplexer with BPFs system should deliver -66dB of adjacent band isolation to work with any available radios including SDRs.
VA6AM High Power set is able to deliver better than -85dB isolation level.
- As I mentioned above I calculated a VERY safe level of band isolation. For many today’s radios even -50-55dB of isolation between bands is a sufficient number to operate SO2R at 100 watts output power.
- I am not considering a TX phase noise as if this noise at a high level it could be a limitation factor for the adjacent bands reception. Usually, this is a critical factor for the same band TX and RX the same time.
- VC3S used IC-7300 with a success with VA6AM Triplexer and BPFs to setup a new Canadian M/S CQWW RTTY record. The filter system kept band isolation at a required level and IC-7300 receiver was not overloaded. Their short story and 3830 Result.
WRTC contest is a M2 category for participating teams. It means they use two bands simultaneously all the time and two switching approaches can be used:
- one set of BPFs switchable between radios using 2×6 antenna switch
- fully independent two sets of BPFs switched by internal relays as required
I think the first approach has some benefits, such as simpler switching and as a result simpler way of replace any BPF if broken and less expensive.
The same time the first approach requires a 2 x 6 switch with good band isolation. Please, see some graphs and measurements. It is not a problem at all for low power setup but with a higher power it should be considered.
For a high power setup, 2×6 switch could be a limitation factor for high band isolation and some other approach can be applied using 1×2 switches which can be designed with up to -90dB of a port isolation.
Please, see below some of possible connection diagram. 1×2 switches installed a little different than those A/B switches on NP2N diagram below allowing more band combinations for every radio in SO2R or M2 configuration.
Below is NP2N connection diagram using Top Ten Devices A/B switches and VA6AM high power triplexer and BPFs.
I highly recommend that every 1×2 switch installed after BPFs contains 50Ohm resistor to connect unused band port with 50 Ohm load.
Top Ten Device A/B switch has open relay ports. George, W2VJN ran some test to see a difference between 50Ohm loaded and open switch ports.
It is up to 7.7 dB better band isolation with 50Ohm loads connected to every port.
- I would like to stress it out because Triplexer is a balanced filter system and required every port to be loaded for the best performance and reliability.
- If triplexer used at its maximum power, 50 Ohm load to every unused port MUST be installed.
TABLE 1. High Power Triplexer with BPFs – No back terminations on BPFs
TABLE 2. High Power Triplexer with BPFs – 50 ohm back terminations on BPFs