Foundations
Consider a transmission line of length L driven by a constant voltage source V_{G} with a source resistance R_{G}, and terminated by a resistive load R_{L}, as shown in Figure 1. Z_{C} is the characteristic impedance of the transmission line and T is the time it takes for the voltage wave to travel from the source to the load.
When the switch closes at t = 0 a forward voltage wave, V +, originates at z = 0 and travels toward the load. This is shown in Figure 2.
The value of this voltage is
(1)
As this wave travels along the transmission line, the voltage along the line changes from 0 to V + and remains at that value (for now). At the time T (about 18 ns for a 12 ft RG58 cable) the voltage wave reaches the load and sets up a reflection, V –. This is shown in Figure 3(a).
The reflected voltage, V –, is related to the incident voltage, V +, by
(2)
where Γ_{L} is the load reflection coefficient:
(3)
The total voltage at the load is the sum of the incident and reflected voltages
(4)
The reflected voltage wave, V –, now travels back to the source, as shown in Figure 3(b). As this wave travels back to the source, the voltage along the line changes from V + to V + + V –. This wave reaches the source at the time 2T and sets up another reflection V +. This is shown in Figure 4(a).
The voltage reflected at the source, V +, is related to the incident voltage,V –, by
(5)
(6)
where Γ_{S} is the source reflection coefficient:
The total voltage at the source is now
(7)
The voltage wave, V + now travels forward to the load, as shown in Figure 4(b).
If the source is matched to the transmission line, i.e., R_{G }= Z_{C} then the reflection coefficient at the source is zero and therefore there is no reflection at the source. Then the total voltage at the source upon the arrival of the reflected voltage is
(8)
and the reflection process terminates.
Verification
The experimental setup and the circuit model for reflection measurements is shown in Figure 5.
Its circuit model is shown in Figure 6.
A 2 V_{pp} (opencircuit voltage) pulse signal was sent from the function generator along the 12 ft coaxial cable (RG58) to the resistive load. The voltages at the source (V_{S}) and at the load (V_{L}) were measured using the oscilloscope probes. Four cases of the load values were considered as shown in Figure 5.
Calculations for each case were performed and are summarized in Table 1. The measurement results are shown in Figure 7.
R_{L} = ∞ 
R_{L} = 22Ω 
R_{L} = 47Ω 
R_{L} = 47Ω 

Initial voltage at the source, 
1V 
1V 
1V 
1V 
Load reflection coefficient, ΓL 
1 
0.39 
0.03 
0.624 
Voltage reflected at the load, 
1V 
0.39V 
0.03V 
0.624V 
Total voltage at the load, V+ + 
2V 
0.61V 
0.97V 
1.624V 
Total voltage at the source, V+ + 
2V 
0.61V 
0.97V 
1.624V 
Table 1: Calculated values
The calculated and measured values, shown in Table 1, closely match, verifying the concept of the transmission line reflections.
Dr. Bogdan Adamczyk is a professor and the director of the EMC Center at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). He is also the founder and principal educator of EMC Educational Services LLC which specializes in EMC courses for the industry. Prof. Adamczyk is the author of the upcoming book “Foundations of Electromagnetic Compatibility with Practical Application” (Wiley, 2017). He can be reached at profbogdan@emcspectrum.com.
Dear Doctor Adamczyk,
Thank you! Your experiment has solved the mystery of the unusual frequency response of the pickups used by BBC in the 1950s to replay their transcription disks.
You have made my day!
Kind regards Wolfgang Leister
PS: There is a typo in your table, column (d): RL should be 220 Ohms