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S - parameter characterisation of coaxial

to microstrip transition
J.R. Souza, M.Sc, and E.C. Talboys, B.Sc.(Eng), C.Eng., M.I.E.E.
Indexing terms: Microwave components, Microwave systems, Microwave measurements

Abstract: A coaxial to microstrip transition is characterised in terms of S-parameters, thus enabling a simple
correction to be applied to measurements made on devices in microstrip. The transition, the model of which
includes a fixed length of the microstrip line, is represented by S-parameters which are simple linear
functions of frequency over the band 2-4 GHz.
A simple computer program may be used to de-embed a device in the microstrip, or to calculate the
expected values of the S-parameters at the inputs to the coaxial transitions when a known device is inserted
into the microstrip line.

1 Introduction 2.2 Principle of method

The accurate measurement of a device situated in a microstrip Consider the schematic, shown in Fig. 1, where a 50 2 micro-
line requires the correction of the measured values, to account strip line of length L = 2L0 + AL is placed between two
for the mismatch at the transition from the coaxial line to the identical type-A/coaxial-to-microstrip connectors.
microstrip line. Let Sn , S22 , Sl2 a n d S2i be the S-parameters representing
A simplified procedure, based on scattering parameters, the transition. The configuration of Fig. 1 can then be
characterises a well-matched transition, which consists of one described by the signal flow-graph shown in Fig. 2. When port
type-N coaxial-to-microstrip connector and a fixed length of 2 is terminated by a 50 1 load, the reflection coefficient at
microstrip line. Any additional length of line usually means port 1 can be calculated using Mason's nontouching loop
change only in the angle of Sn, ^21 a n d S22. everything else rule [3]
being constant.
Sn -S22ASexp(-2/8)
There are many papers on lumped equivalent circuit models (1)
with values independent of frequency [1, 2], for a very broad l-S 2 2 2 exp(-2/0)
band of frequencies. However, for a more limited frequency where
range, in this case 2 to 4 GHz, the S-parameter characterisation
is simpler. The procedure presented in this paper uses AS SnS22 (2)
transmission and reflection measurements for two different
lengths of microstrip line. The value of the line wavelength is Q = 2-nAL/Xg
required at each operating frequency. and \g is the line wavelength.
With the assumption of a small reflection this expression
2 Characterisation of coaxial to microstrip transition can be simplified to
2.1 Model of transition S22Sl2S2l exp(-2/0) (3)
The transition from coaxial line to microstrip line consisted of
a type-TV connector and a fixed length Lo of microstrip line. The transmission coefficient from port 1 to port 2 can be
The results found in the literature [1, 2] show that it is not calculated as
unreasonable to assume that there is only one discontinuity, at Sl2S2l exp(-/0)
the junction between the coaxial connector and the microstrip T = (4)
line. This was checked on a TDR, and proved to be substantially -Sli exp(-2/0)
correct. It is also assumed that the reflection coefficient, due which, after simplification, leads to
to the discontinuity, is small, and that the connection is
repeatable. T =* S12S21 e x p ( - / 0 ) (5)
Because of the above assumptions, | 5 U | should be equal
Eqn. 5 shows that the product Sl2S2l can be found directly
to \S22\ But, once the losses in the connection and microstrip
from a transmission measurement with a microstrip line of
are not the same on either side of the discontinuity, this is
length 2LQ (0 = 0). Sn and S ^ can then be calculated,
not true.
using eqn. 3, for two different lengths of microstrip line:
Sn = I (6)
2 sin 6

S22 = /
r- r (7)

Fig. 1 50 SI microstrip line and coaxial connectors

Paper J734H, first received 24th June and in revised form 19th October
The authors are with the Department of Klectricul & Electronic
Engineering, The City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V
OHB, England Fig. 2 Signal flow graph describing the configuration shown in Fig. 1

IEEPROC, Vol. 129, Pt. H, No. 1, FEBRUARY 1982 0143- 7097/82/010037 + 04 $01.50/0 37
where rfn is the reflection coefficeint at port 1, when small, this ratio provides a convenient way to determine
AZ, = 0 (6 = 0) and port 2 is terminated by a 50ft load; the proper phase of (Sl2S2i)2. The ambiguity in the phase of
F,-n is the reflection coefficient at port 1, when AL^0 Si2S2i can be sorted out by comparison with the measured
(0 = 0!) and port 2 is terminated by a 50ft load; To = value.
512iSl2i is the transmission coefficient from port 1 to port 2, The routine used to calculate the S-parameters of the
when AL = 0 (0 = 0). transition, consisting of one coaxial-to-microstrip connector
This procedure presents some advantage over those found and a length Lo of 50 ft microstrip line, was based on:
in References 1 and 2, because it does not require the use of (i) measurement of the transmission coefficient of a
open- or short- circuited microstrip lines. microstrip line of length 2L0. This gives the amplitude of
It was noticed that the product SnS2i > obtained from the ^12 ^2i and a not very accurate phase angle
measured transmission coefficient, was the most important (ii) measurement of the reflection coefficient at one
term in the calculation of S2i end of this microstrip, when the other one is terminated by a
The apparatus used in the measurements consisted of a 50 ft load
network analyser (Hewlett-Packard 8410A), together with (iii) measurement of the reflection coefficient at one end
reflection (HP 8742A) and transmission (HP 8740A) test (Fj n ) when the other one is terminated by a load with a
units. The measurement of the phase angle of the transmission reflection coefficient (F L ), of constant and small amplitude
parameter proved to be very critical, due to the positioning (< 0.1), and variable phase. Measurements should be made for
of the extensible coaxial air line in the transmission test unit. at least four different values for the phase of VL. The results
It was observed that it was not impossible to find a variation are then used to plot the ratio Fj n /F L on a polar diagram,
of about 10 degrees in the phase angle, measured at 4.0 GHz, and a best fitting circle is then drawn
when the device under test was repeatedly connected to the (iv) measurement of the reflection coefficient at one end
measurement unit. The amplitude of the transmission of a microstrip line of length 2L0 + AL, when the other end
coefficient was not affected. So, another method is necessary is terminated by a 50ft load.
to determine the proper transmission phase.
When port 2 is terminated by a load other than 50 ft (with The results obtained in steps (ii) and (iv), together with the
AL = 0), the reflection coefficient at port 1 can be calculated value of Sl2S21 obtained from steps (i) and (iii), are then used
as in eqns. 6 and 7 to calculate Sn and S22

(8) 2.3 Results

The microstrip lines used in the measurements were designed
where Fj, is the load reflection coefficient. [4] to present characteristic impedances of 50ft, and were
As |F L | tends to zero, the ratio r'in/VL tends to etched on Rexolite 2200 (manufactured by Atlantic
Laminates; nominal dielectric constant: 2.62; thickness of the
r- + 022 "12 " 2
substrate: 1/16 inch, 1 ounce copper layer on both sides of
the substrate). The lengths used were: 2L 0 = 5.43cm and
2L0 + AL = 7.17 cm. Measurements were made from 2.0 to
If |F L | is kept constant and small, and the phase of F L is 4.0 GHz in steps of 0.5 GHz. The line wavelength had been
varied, eqn. 9 will represent a circle with centre at (Sl2S2i)2 measured previously and was found to agree very well with
and radius equal to the amplitude of (Sn + S22S nS 2i)/rL. theoretical formulation found elsewhere [5]. It was also noted
Fig. 3 shows a plot of the ratio F) n /F L , as calculated from that dispersion could be neglected in this frequency range.
eqn. 8, for a hypothetical set of S-parameters and various Fig. 4 illustrates the determination of the proper phase
values for F L . It seems clear that when | F L | is kept sufficiently angle for the product SnS2i > a t 2.0 GHz. Similar results were
obtained for the other frequencies. It was observed that the
calculated S-parameters could easily be expressed as linear


Fig. 3 Plot of the ratio r , n / r L according to eqn. 8

IS,, 1= 0.065;aTgSu = 155.2; IS221 = 0.061; arg S 2 = 93.0 -90
IS, 2 S 21 I = 0.90;arg S 1 2 S 2 , = 130.0
Fig. 4 Determination of proper phase angle ofSi2S2l from reflection
a WL\= 0.05 measurements
b | F L | = 0.10
a r g C = 2(argS 12 .S 21 ) = 159.2
a r g C = 260.0 = 2(argS 1 2 S 2 1 ) frequency = 2.0 GHz

IEEPROC, Vol. 129, Pt. H, No. I, FEBRUARY 1982

functions of frequency, without loss of accuracy interface; AS = SnS22 Sl2S2i', and Sn ,S22,S12S2i are the
S-parameters for the transition from coaxial line to microstrip
| 5 n | = 0.01F-0.016 (10a) line, as previously defined.
arg5n = -20.45F+232.51 (\0b) In order to test this procedure, several lengths of open-
circuited microstrip line were used. Table 1 lists the phase
\S22\ = 0.031 F- 0.054 (llfl) angle of the reflection coefficient in the open circuit de-
embedded from 3.5 cm and 4.7cm long microstrip lines. The
argS22 = - 84.1 F+ 394.59 (lib) Table also shows the theoretical phase angle [6]. The open
\S12S2l\ = -0.047 F+ 1.079 (12a) circuit de-embedded from one of the lines was used to predict
the total input reflection coefficient for the other line. The
argS12S21 = -141.1F+362.11 (12b) results are listed in Table 2, together with the measured
where F is the frequency in GHz and arg S is in degrees. reflection coefficient.
In order to ensure that the approximations made are valid,
the results were compared with those obtained from the full 3.2 Device placed between two transitions from coaxial to
expression, and the difference was found to be negligble. microstrip line
In this case it is necessary to find the 5-parameters for the
3 De-embedding a device situated in microstrip line device under test. Two slightly different formulations are
required, depending on whether the device is nonreciprocal, or
A device can be embedded in microstrip in two different reciprocal and symmetrical. If one of the transitions is
ways. terminated by a known load, the situation can be represented
by the signal flow-graph shown in Fig. 6. The reflection
3.1 Device placed at end of transition coefficient at the input of the other transition can be
In this case the device can easily be de-embedded. This situation calculated [3] as:
can be represented by the signal flow graph shown in Fig. 5.
S22AS Fi ~SltS22 ~S2
where Sn , S22, Sl2, S2l are 5-parameters for the transition
AS = SnS22 ~Si2S2i
where S'n , S22, S[2, S'2l are S-parameters for the DUT, which
Fig. 5 Signal flow graph for device connected to length of 50 1 are to be calculated:
microstrip line
By using the nontouching loop rule [3], the reflection (15)
coefficient in the device under test is calculated as
where rL is the load reflection coefficient.
r, = (13) The transmission coefficient from one transition to the
other can be calculated as
where F L is the reflection coefficient for the device under test;
Vin is the reflection coefficient measured at the connector T = (16)
l-S22(S'n +S'22) AS'S2
Table 1 : Phase angle (in degrees) for reflection coefficient of open 22
circuit on 50 SI microstrip line If the device under test is nonreciprocal, four S-parameters
De-embedded from From From must be calculated. If the device under test is turned around,
open-circuited Reference 2 Reference 6 with respect to.Fig. 6, another input reflection coefficient
microstrip lines of F,'n and transmission coefficient T' can be calculated by
making S'n change places with S'22 and S i 2 , with S2i, and
3.5cm 4.7cm vice-versa, in eqns. 14 and 16. Four equations are now available,
F(GHz) arg r o c arg r o c arg r o c arg r O c
and all the S-parameters can be calculated. The case of a non-
symmetrial and reciprocal device is solved by making T = T'.
2.0 - 4.7 - 3.5 - 5.1
2.5 - 7.8 - 9.2 5.1 - 6.3 If the device under test is reciprocal and symmetrical, only
3.0 -11.7 -12.7 -6.1 - 7.6 two 5-parameters, namely S'n and S 2 1 , need to be calculated.
3.5 -14.2 -12.9 7.1 - 8.9 But, in this case, eqns. 14 and 16 are not enough, because of
4.0 -13.9 -15.5 -8.1 -10.1

Table 2: Predicted and measured input reflection coefficients for
open-circuited 3.7 cm long 50 S~2 microstrip line
Predicted using the Measured S
open-circuit de-embedded 22 i,S22
from the 4.7 cm line
F(GHz) arg P.- ir,- arg
Sl2 S'i2
2.0 0.94 21.6 0.93 20.3 Fig. 6 Signal flow graph for device situated between two equal lengths
2.5 0.94 - 69.9 0.94 - 68.5 of 50 ft microstrip line
3.0 0.97 - 153.4 0.95 - 152.8
3.5 1.00 123.7 0.97 122.5 O ,, I
4.0 0.87 31.2 0.93 32.5

IEEPROC, Vol. 129, Pt. H, No. 1, FEBRUARY 1982 39

Table 3: De-embedded and theoretical S-parameters for 1.74 cm 72.37 1 microstrip line, including step discontinuity from 50 2 microstrip lines

De-embedded from measurements From Reference 2

F(GHz) IS,, I argS,, \Sl2S21\ argS n S 2 1 IS., I argS,, IS,,S 2I I argS 12 S 21
2.0 0.33 23.6 0.93 - 66.2 0.30 24.7 0.95 - 65.3
2.5 0.35 11.4 0.94 - 80.1 0.34 9.4 0.94 - 80.6
3.0 0.33 - 3.7 0.94 - 95.4 0.35 - 5.7 0.93 - 95.7
3.5 0.29 -10.4 0.95 -110.4 0.35 -20.7 0.94 -110.7
4.0 0.28 - 29.6 0.98 -124.6 0.33 -35.8 0.94 -125.8

the presence of AS'. The missing equation is given by the over the 2-4GHz frequency range. These S-parameters can
calculation of the input reflection coefficient with another then be used to either de-embed or predict the behaviour of
known load (T- n ). The use of the expressions for r / n , T, devices, situated in a 5012 coaxial-microstrip system, by
T-n will make it possible to write a system of linear equations, running simple computer programs. The whole procedure has
which will then be solved for S'n and S'2i a simple mathematical formulation, and the experimental
This routine was used to de-embed lengths of high- results obtained show its adequacy.
characteristic-impedance microstrip line, placed between two
equal lengths of 502 microstrip line. The line used in the 5 References
measurements had a characteristic impedance of 72.3712. The
S-parameters for three different lengths (1.0, 1.3 and 1.74 cm) 1 CHAPMAN, A.G., and AITCHISON, C.S.: lA broad band model
of this line were then de-embedded from transmission and for coaxial to stripline transition', IEEE Trans., 1980, MTT-28,
pp. 130-136
reflection measurements. The loads used in the-reflection 2 WIGHT, J.S., JAIN, O.P., CHUDOBIAX, W.J., and MAKIOS, V.:
measurements were 5012 and a short circuit. The de-embedded 'Equivalent circuit of microstrip impedance discontinuities and
S-parameters include the step discontinuity from 5012 lines. launchers', IEEE Trans., 1974, MTT-22, pp. 48-52
Table 3 lists the results for the 1.74cm long line, together 3 MASON, S.J.: 'Feedback theory - further properties of signal flow
with the theoretical values [2]. Similar agreement was graphs', Proc. IRE, 1956, 44, pp. 920-926
4 WHEELER, H.A.: 'Transmission-line properties of a strip on a
achieved with the other lengths of line. dielectric sheet on a plane', IEEE Trans., 1977, MTT-25, pp.
4 Conclusion 5 SCHNEIDER, M.V.: 'Microstrip line for microwave integrated
circuits', Bell Syst. Tech. J., 1969, 48, pp. 1421-1444
A routine has been presented characterising the transition 6 SILVESTER, P., and BENEDEK, P.: 'Equivalent capacitance of
from coaxial line to microstrip line, in terms of S-parameters microstrip open circuits', IEEE Trans., 1972, MTT-20, pp. 511-516

40 IEEPROC, Vol. 129, Pt. H, No. 1, FEBRUARY 1982