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Home ATS-1 20m SSB Kit Test Equipments Design & Construct Your Own RF Probe

Design & Construct Your Own RF Probe

An RF probe, sometimes also called RF detector is a simple test device to detect radio frequency oscillation in an electronic circuit. This device will work as a RF rectifier and give a pulsed DC voltage.

An RF probe is used to directly measure the level of RF voltage present at a particular point and is one of the most useful test instrument in the hands of the home brewer. It is normally used with a digital multimeter(DMM) to indicate the voltage level as dc voltage which is equivalent to the RMS value of the RF voltage being measured.

However, the level of RF voltage being measured provides useful information only when the probe has been designed for use with a specific multimeter. The design of the RF probe is a function of the DC input resistance of the meter we intend to use with it. If a new meter with a different input resistance is used with the probe the reading will be inaccurate.

Design & Construct Your Own RF ProbeLook at the figure which shows the construction of the RF probe. The rectified DC voltage at the cathode of the diode is at about the peak level of the RF voltage at the tip. The value of the resistor R1 is so chosen that when this resistor is connected in parallel with the input resistance of the digital multi meter, the peak value is about 1.414 times the RMS voltage. R1 has to drop this excess voltage so the meter indication is accurate. If we know the input resistance of the meter, we can calculate the value of R1 as follows. Usually, digital multi meters have an input resistance of 11 meg ohms. In this example we shall take the input resistance of the meter as 10 meg ohms which will make calculation easier to understand.

10,000,000 X 1.414 = 14,140,000

R1 = 14,140,000 - 10,000,000 = 4,140,000 Ohms = 4.14 Meg Ohms

4.7 meg ohms is the value chosen in all circuits since digital multimeters have input resistance of 11 meg ohms

Using only 3 electronic components, it may rank as one of the simplest and cheapest homebrew projects. When used with a high-impedance DC Voltmeter, it can be used to measure RF voltage (and power), trace RF signals in a new design, and troubleshoot malfunctioning RF circuits. It has its limits, of course, but once you understand how it's used, and how easy it is to build, you'll wonder why you never built one before!

References & More Construction Ideas & Circuits:


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WARD - World Amateur Radio Day April 18th

April 18th is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years). This day marks the founding day of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), thus the official birthday since 1925 has been celebrated as World Amateur Radio Day.  

By all means World Amateur Radio Day remains an individual thing, there is absolutely no compulsion or fancy events to commemorate the day organized on a global or national scale. This being a special day though each HAM is encouraged to promote the hobby, increase awareness, get on air and spread the good word.

Amateur Radio has come a long way over the years. The first spark-gap devices served as transmitters for first three decades of the radio (1887 - 1916) and today we have moved on to digital signals, SDRs integration with computers has shown how HAM Radio remains in the forefront of evolving technology.