A Cost effective, versatile antenna and radome instrumentation test system
A cost-effective, versatile instrumentation system for measuring antennas and radomes is described. The system features the use of high load capacity, high accuracy stepper motor based positioners as the primary system axes. The system is capable of being easily reconfigured to perform tests on antenna/radome systems with antennas fixed relative to the radome, or with the antenna and radome capable of movement relative to one another. Measurements may be performed at RF, IF or baseband, depending on the portions of the seeker or monopulse assembly to be included in the test. The system also contains analysis capabilities that simulated mode forming and beam forming functions to isolate antenna effects.
A Planar near-field system with high precision 22M x 8M vertical scanner
A new 1-50 GHz Near-Field measurement system is now in operation at Matra Marconi Space, Portsmouth, UK. The system has the largest vertical planar scanner installed so far.
The planar scanner is constructed of steel and has four moving axes: 22 meter horizontal X axis, 8 meter vertical Y axis, 25 cm Z axis for probe alignment and a 540o Roll axis for polarization. Precision bearings are used to ensure straightness over the full length of the X-Y travel. The vertical Y axis is exceptionally fast, 500 mm/sec, to minimize acquisition time.
The scanner has extremely high positioning accuracy and planarity - ±0.2 mm over the entire 22m x 8m range – allowing uncorrected operation (without laser) up to 26.5 GHz. To achieve higher accuracy and a higher frequency range an advanced 3-axis (X, Y, Z) laser correction system automatically creates correction tables for use by the transformation routines. The scanner’s exceptional repeatability allows the use of correction tables created off-line, without need for an on-line laser correction system, considerably reducing measurement time. To create these correction tables, the scanner is fitted with laser interferometers for X and Y axes and with a spinning-diode laser to calibrate for planarity.
Additional features include a shielded constant-radius cable carrier, giving minimal phase errors due to cable flexing.
Near-field data processing using MATLAB version 5.0
A sophisticated software package FARANA (FAR-field ANAiysis) is presented for transforming planar near-field test data to far-field antenna patterns, including enhanced analysis of far-field results. FARANA is coded in MATLAB version 5.0. MATLAB (MATrix LABoratory) is an interactive mathematical modelling tool based on matrix solutions without dimensioning. Using MATLAB, numerical engineering problems can be solved in a fraction of time of time required by programs coded in FORTRAN or C.
FARANA operates with a state-of-the-art graphical user's-interface, is intuitive to use and features high speed and accuracy.
This paper addresses an assessment of the program, discusses its use and enhanced far-field analysis capabilities.
Novel cellular/PCS basestation antenna measurement system, A
Cellular and PCS basestation antennas are basically arrays with highly directive elevation patterns and broad azimuth patterns. This causes measurement problems because they are large but not directive in both principal planes. As a result, the pattern measurements of these antennas that have been performed outside have been unreliable in many cases because they are very receptive to interference and range clutter. Thus, one wants to move inside but the antenna size can significantly impact the overall range cost. This paper describes a very practical solution to this problem.
Since basestation antennas are long and narrow, one can use a near field scanner approach to deal with the length. In fact by using a sectorial horn probe, the narrow dimension of the antenna-under-test is illuminated by a cylindrical wave. Thus, the scanner need only probe the field along the antenna length. This linear scan data can then be transformed to generate the desired far field elevation pattern. The details of this novel design will be described as well as the results, to illustrate the system capability and accuracy.
Near-field measurement deconvolution
A technique was developed to recover the near-field function on a larger data set than the one that is measured. It requires the preliminary determination of functions containing the information relating the two data sets. The simplest way of obtaining such a function is to measure the near-field function on the larger and the smaller data set. This seems to be a drawback to the technique. However. after making one such pair of measurement it is therefore non necessary to do so again and the field of the antenna can be obtained, from the smaller data set measurement, with comparable accuracy. The technique is somewhat different when compensating for a sampling rate reduction. However, in both cases an analytical extension is required to fill the desired domain of definition, followed by a division. In the case of the sampling area the division of the spectral functions f2 by f1 is made in the spectral domain while in the case of the sampling rate the division of the near-field functions E' by E is made in the near-field domain.
An experiment was performed to demonstrate the applicability of the above technique. A full near-field measurement of a linear array antenna was performed and processed, then after displacement of the antenna, measurements were done, in one case, on a truncated smaller scan area, and in another case with a larger sampling interval. The technique was applied to recover the complete far-field characteristics of the antenna from the smaller data set. The far-field characteristics of the antenna obtained by this technique were shown to be very similar to the results obtained from a more complete near field measurement.
Far-field accuracy vs sampling parameters of a linear array
The far-field parameters of an antenna are obtained from near-Field measurement with an accuracy that is limited by the sampling area and the sampling rate used to collect the measurement data. It is therefore important to know the relation between the far-field parameters and the sampling parameters. A parametric study of the far field parameters accuracy versus the sampling parameters was made. In order to determine the optimal choice of the sampling parameters to achieve the desired far-field accuracy, planar near-field measurements of a linear array were performed in an anechoid chamber at the Canadian Space Agency. A program performing Fast-Fourier Transform was used to process the data and to obtain spectral domain and reconstruct the far field patterns. A methodology developed in  was used to compare different spectral and far field patterns obtained from different sampling conditions. Parametric curves were developed for the far-field parameters such as gain, beam pointing, beam width, sidelobes, etc.
Application of an image-based near-field to far-field transformation to measured data
The image-based near-field to far-field transformation is based on a reflectivity approximation that is commonly used in ISAR imaging. It is a limited but computationally efficient transform whose accuracy, for appropriate targets, rivals that of computationally more intense transforms.
Previous results include applications of the transform to lOA. long wire and lOA. long conesphere numerical data. Here, 1-D and 2-D versions of the transform are applied to conesphere near-field measurements data and the results are compared to corresponding far-field measurements data. Transform errors obtained for these data are compared to corresponding results obtained using newly generated near-field and far-field numerical data.
The image-based transform is believed to be especially applicable to the far-field correction of near-field measurements of complicated targets like aircraft or vehicles that are too large or too poorly defined to be simulated numerically.
Implementation of a spherical near-field measurement system in mainland China
Far-field range testing has been the standard at the Southwest China Research Institute of Electronic Equipment (SWIEE) and at other facilities in mainland China. SWIEE has recently commissioned a new spherical near-field measurement system from Nearfield Systems Inc. (NSI) and Hewlett Packard (HP) to improve its antenna measurement capability. The near-field system provides significant advantages over the older far-field testing including elimination of weather problems with outdoor range testing, complete characterization of the antenna, and improved accuracy. This paper will discuss the antenna types at SWIEE tested with the NSl/HP near-field system, and the results being achieved.
Sensor measurements up to 200 GHz in the compensated compact range with broadband transmit and receive modules
The measurement of the characteristic antenna data by means of conventional far-field ranges in frequencies up to 200 GHz requires measurement distances of some kilometers. The high atmospherical attenuation and the low available transmit power limit the dynamic range of the measurements considerably. The DASA Compensated Compact Range (CCR) /1/ is a high precision test facility; which avoids these disadvantages and allow measurements with considerably higher accuracy under controlled environmental conditions. The precision reflectors have an extremely high surface accuracy of 25 µm RMS, which allow their use even in the mm-wave range. For the frequency band of about 200 GHz, the relative roughness is in the order of N/60. This results in considerably lower degradation for the DASA CCR compared to the typical degradation on far-field ranges (N/16).
For mm-wave application the test facility is equipped with broadband transmit and receive moduls, which covers the frequency range from 75 to 220 GHz. The basic transmit frequency is generated in a tunable Gunn oscillator, which is phaselocked to an externally supplied I 0 MHz reference signal. This optimized concept allows measurements with a dynamic range of more than 60 dB at 200 GHz. For a cost efficient solution the complete equipment for the transmit and receive moduls consists of commercial components.
Keywords: MM-Wave Antenna Measurement, Compensated Compact Range, MM-Wave Transmit Module Tracking Converter
Alignment errors and standard gain horn calibrations
The DTU-ESA Spherical Near Field Antenna Test Facility in Lyngby, Denmark, which is operated in a cooperation between the Danish Technical University (DTU) and the European Space Agency (ESA), has for an ex tensive period of time been used for calibration of Standard Gain Horns (SGHs).
A calibration of a SGH is performed as a spherical scanning of its near field with a subsequent near-field to far-field (NF-FF) transformation. Next, the peak directivity is determined and the gain is found by subtracting the loss from the directivity. The loss of the SGH is determined theoretically.
During a recent investigation of errors in the measurement setup, we discovered that the alignment of the antenna positioner can have an extreme influence on the measurement accuracy. Using a numerical model for a SGH we will in this paper investigate the influence of some mechanical and electrical errors. Some of the results are verified using measurements. An alternative mounting of the SGH on the positioner which makes the measurements less sensitive to alignment errors is discussed.
Application of RCS reference targets for frequencies above 30 GHz
For frequencies above 30 GHz, RCS reference target method is, in general, more accurate than scanning the field by a probe. Application of mechanically calibrated targets with a surface accuracy of 0.01 mm means that the phase distribution can be reconstructed accurately within approximately 1.2 degrees across the entire test zone at 100 GHz. Furthermore, since the same result can be obtained for both azimuth and elevation patterns, all data is available for the characterization of the entire test zone. In fact, due to the fact that the reference target has a well known radar cross-section, important indication of errors in positioning can be obtained directly from angular data as well.
In the first place the data can be used in order to recognize the first order effects (+/- 5 degrees in all directions). Applying this data, defocussing of the system reflector or transverse and longitudinal CATR feed alignment can be recognized directly. Furthermore, mutual coupling can be measured and all other unwanted stray radiation incident from larger angles can be recognized and localized directly (using timedomain transformation techniques). Inmost cases even a limited rotation of +/- 25 degrees in azimuth and +/- 10 degrees in elevation will provide sufficient data for analysis of the range characteristics. Finally, it will be shown that sufficient accuracy can be realized for frequencies above 100 GHz with this method.
Feasibility of automated analysis of diagnostic radar images
This paper discusses the efforts of an on-going research program which has been exploring the use of expert systems (artificial intelligence) techniques to support automated analysis of wideband radar scattering data. The primary objective of this research is to explore and demonstrate the applicability of expert system techniques to the analysis of diagnostic radar images. There are two modes which are being explored. The first is an automated system that would allow lesser skilled (in radar imaging science) individuals to do the work of highly skilled engineers and analysts. The second mode would aid the highly skilled worker with the application and correct implementation of software tools, interpretation of phenomenology, and data quality assessment. In both cases, the expert system should allow for the increase through-put and accuracy of data being analyzed. A software prototype is being developed and tested with real data to demonstrate the feasibility and potential accuracy of such as system.
Analysis of radar measurement system stability factors, A
Instrumentation Radar systems evolution includes improved stability. Metrologists know frequency within Hertz. Amplitude and Phase variations are low. Ranges check drift with reference systems. Still, with increased capability, expectations of accuracy have increased.
Todays instrumentation makes analysis of stability factors practical. This study analyzes Radar Cross Section (RCS) return of a stable target under controlled conditions.
Methodology will be an analysis of a constant RCS target return. The target is a stable object at a typical measurement site. Data points are at several discrete frequencies in bands between S and Ku. This study sample is a set of data taken over a 87 hour span with several duty factors. Duty factors will range from minimal 0.1% to 1.5%, near the 2% maximum for the output amplifiers. Acquisition times for data sets are chosen for outdoor temperatures ranging from hot -- desert afternoon -- through cool in the early morning.
This data will be analyzed statistically. If statistical correlations exist, analysis will quantify factor contributions with multiple linear regression. Hypothesis: Drift does not correlate to variables such as duty factor, & temperature.
ERP Measurement Issues
Measurements of the ERP radiated by an antenna and the ERP received from a distant antenna are addressed. Alternative measurement techniques are described and correction for polarization mismatch loss, pointing error and propagation loss is discussed. The statistics of the measurement errors are presented for error budget projections of measurement accuracy.
Probe Correction Effects on Planar, Cylindrical and Spherical Near-Field Measurements
The accuracy of the probe antenna pettern used for the probe-corrected near-field measurements is critical for maintaining high accuracy results. The probe correction is applied differently in the three standard near-field techniques - planar, cylindrical, and spherical. This paper will review the differences in sensitivity to probe correction for the three techniques and discuss practical of probe correction models and measurements.
Phased-Array Simulation for Antenna Test Range Design
A simulation tool used during the design of near-field ranges for phased array antenna testing is presented. This tool allows the accurate determination of scanner size for testing phased array antennas under steered beam conditions. Estimates can be formed of measured antenna pointing accuracy, side lobe levels, polarization purity, and pattern performance for a chosen rectangular phased array of specified size and aperture distribution. This tool further allows for the accurate testing of software holographic capabilities.
Time Domain Near-Field Scattering Measurements
In this paper, a near-field time domain scattering measurement technique is described. Near-field measurements are typically performed for radiation applications but not scattering applications. This time domain measurement approach borrows from many of the principles developed in the frequency domain and is ideally suited for broadband scattering characterization.
The goal of determining the scattered far-fields of a structure is accomplished by the transformation of near-field data collected over a planar sampling surface. The scattered near-fields were generated with a probe excited by a fast rise time step. In particular, the near-fields were sampled with a second probe and digitized using a digital sampling oscilloscope. The bandwidth of the excitation pulse was approximately 15 GHz.
The overall accuracy of this approach is examined through a comparison of the transformed far-field pattern to a numerical calculation.
Far-Field to Near-Field Test Comparison Results for Evaluation of Test Article
Over the past six years the Navy has developed a portable measurement capability. As part of the validation of this tool a comparison test was developed to understand the issues involving testing complex targets in a near-field cluttered environment. The test was designed to evaluate not only the effects of near field curvature, but how clutter from ceiling and walls have an effect on the accuracy of the measurement.
The test measured all test objects in the far-field as a baseline, then repeated the same measurements at five different near-field configurations. The results of the test will be shown on a simple 15 ft. pole target, along with the metrics for evaluation of the results.