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Three-dimensional electric field distributions in a waveguide-based microwave plasma source (MPS) have been determined numerically. Tuning characteristics of the MPS have been calculated using a direct and newly proposed two-port network method. A method for easy assessment of the quality of a set of the tuning characteristics is presented. Optimization of the plasma source has been performed using these characteristics to ensure good power coupling and stability of the plasma source operation. The calculated tuning characteristics have been compared with experimental ones. Good agreement has been found.