Don’t wind chokes on red toroids!

I happened to stumble across some antenna projects showing common mode chokes 1:1 baluns made of some turns of coax wound on T200-2 iron powder toroids.

Will they work?

The role of a choke

A choke BALUN works by letting through the differential current and by hindering the common mode one by opposing some impedance. The key value showing chokes merit is the CMRR, or Common Mode Rejection Ratio. This value is the ratio of common mode gain over differential mode gain. In other words, CMRR is the attenuation of common mode currents in dB minus the insertion loss in dB. The latest is usually negligible in this kind of BALUNs on short waves.An article by Ron W6WO appeared on QEX 11/12-2010 estimates that CMRR should be at least -20dB on the whole range of interest, -30dB on narrow band BALUNs.

Iron powder vs. ferrite

In order to evaluate the choking characteristics of the “red” toroids, I prepared two chokes by winding 12 coils of RG-58 on a iron powder T200-2 toroid and a ferrite FT240-43 one.

Using a vectorial network analyzer, I measured the CMRR on both chokes obtaining the following results:

As we can see, the CMRR of the T200-2 is well below the -20dB lower limit set by W6WO, becoming negligible in most bands. On the other side, the CMRR of the choke on the FT240-43 ferrite is very good on a wide range of frequencies.

Our valuable friend Steve G3TXQ, to whom I send my sincere wish for a speedy recovery, published on his website a famous analysis of several types of chokes. He determined the quality of a choke BALUN by considering its common mode impedance |Z|. Values below 500Ω are not considered “choking” at all, values between 500Ω and 1000Ω are marked in red as “very poor”, while the “green area” starts at 4000Ω.

We can now evaluate the two contenders using the |Z| criterion set by G3TXQ:

In the 1.8 to 30MHz range, the choke made of the T200-2 never goes even close to the 500Ω barrier: in G3TXQ table would not even appear (and in fact it doesn’t list any iron powder choke).

The conclusion is quite evident: don’t make short wave chokes with iron powder toroids!

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  1. I have been working with 1:1 Balun/Chokes for a while now, mainly to determine its 1st job of reducing CMC TO -20 db or better. I have wound the DG0SA designed 1:1 Balun/Choke, I measured the CMC reduction in my HP 8711A VNA and my Rigol DSA815 Spectrum Analyzer finding the results very similar. I do not have the software to determine the Choking Z however I would think that it would be quite adequate. I believe that one must first determine how well the 240-43 Toroid acts by winding 10 turns of wire and viewing how well the Toroid acts on the VNA first and also checking its Inductance. Mine measured 138 uh. The type of wire that is used is extremely important as Wolfgang has stated. His AWG 18 PTFE is slightly different then what I was able to obtain here in the states. The results though were different and my Balun/Choke exhibited a greater reduction in CMC than Wolfgang’s. Again, Toroid difference, wire differences make the big difference. So we can justifiably state that there are different flavors of these. As long as it prevents RF from coming into the shack and presents a good SWR we can safely say we have a good Balun/Choke. I am sad to report that I have purchased several so called Baluns and most have less than 7 db of CMC reduction. 73’d

  2. HI, I did notice that before I came to this page. I had 2 toroids T-240-43 large and a T-200-30 Red.
    When I did hook up analyzer and on the computer as well.. I was amazed at how much lower the SWR Reading on the Toroid was for my 4:1 Balun transformer T-240-43

  3. Hi,
    how did you connected the balun to the VNA to measure the CMRR?
    Did you used the BNC connectors or measured the coax braid only?

    Thanks and 73s

  4. Thank you for posting the information. I find this most useful to save wasting time kidding oneself the balun was wound as well as possible. With out the correct material it would obviously be just a waste of time. 73 de John – G0WXU.

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