Posted on Feb 6, 2014

For many years, the Q meter has been an essential piece of equipment for laboratories engaged in the testing of radio frequency circuits. In modem laboratories, the Q meter has been largely replaced by more exotic (and more expensive) impedance measuring devices and today, it is difficult to find a manufacturer who still makes a Q meter. For the r

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adio amateur, the Q meter is still a very useful piece of test equipment and the writer has given some thought to how a simple Q meter could be made for the radio shack. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of instrument, a few introductory notes on the definition of Q and the measurement of Q, are included. The Q factor or quality factor of an inductance is commonly expressed as the ratio of its series reactance to its series resistance. We can also express the Q factor of a capacitance as the ratio of its series reactance to its series resistance although capacitors are generally specified by the D or dissipation factor which is the reciprocal of Q. A tuned circuit, at resonance, is considered to have a Q factor. In this case, Q is equal to the ratio of either the inductive reactance, or the capacitive reactance, to the total series loss resistance in the tuned circuit. The greater the loss resistance and the lower the Q, the greater the power lost on each cycle of oscillation in the tuned circuit and hence the greater the power needed to maintain oscillation. Sometimes we talk of loaded Q (such as in transmitter tank circuits) and, in this case, resistance for calculation of Q is the unloaded tuned circuit series resistance plus the additional loss resistance reflected in series into the circuit from its coupled load. There are other ways of expressing Q factor. It can be expressed approximately as the ratio of...

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