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## Transmission-line-length

A transmission line is considered to be electrically short when its physical length is short compared to a quarter wavelength of the energy it is to carry.

NOTE: In this module, for ease of reading, the value of the wavelength will be spelled out in some cases, and in other cases, the numerical value will be used.

A transmission line is electrically long when its physical length is long compared to a quarter- wavelength of the energy it is to carry. You must understand that the terms "short" and "long" are relative ones. For example, a line that has a physical length of 3 meters (approximately 10 feet) is considered quite short electrically if it transmits a radio frequency of 30 kilohertz. On the other hand, the same transmission line is considered electrically long if it transmits a frequency of 30,000 megahertz.

To show the difference in physical and electrical lengths of the lines mentioned above, compute the wavelength of the two frequencies, taking the 30-kilohertz example first:

Wavelength of the two frequencies.

Now, computing the wavelength for the line carrying 30,000 megahertz:

Wavelength of the two frequencies.

Thus, you can see that a 3-meter line is electrically very short for a frequency of 30 kilohertz. Also, the 3-meter line is electrically very long for a frequency of 30,000 megahertz.

When power is applied to a very short transmission line, practically all of it reaches the load at the output end of the line. This very short transmission line is usually considered to have practically no electrical properties of its own, except for a small amount of resistance.

However, the picture changes considerably when a long line is used. Since most transmission lines are electrically long (because of the distance from transmitter to antenna), the properties of such lines must be considered. Frequently, the voltage necessary to drive a current through a long line is considerably greater than the amount that can be accounted for by the impedance of the load in series with the resistance of the line.

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