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Reflectivity Evaluation in NF antenna Measurement Facilities Using Gated Time - Domain Technique
A widely used time-gating technique can be effectively implemented in near-field (NF) antenna measurements to significantly improve the measurement accuracy. In particular, it can be implemented to reduce or remove the effects of the following measurement errors : -multiple environmental reflections and leakage in outdoor or indoor NF ranges -edge diffraction effects on measurement accuracy of low gain antennas on a ground plane  In addition, reflectivity in the range can be precisely localized, separated and quantified by using the time – gating procedure with only one addition (a subtraction operation) added to the standard near-field to far-field (NF – FF) transformation algorithms. In this paper a step by step procedure is described which includes acquisition of near-field data, transformation of the raw near-field data from the frequency to the time domain, definition of the correct time gate, transformation of the gated time domain data back to the frequency domain, and the transformation of the time gated near-field data to the far-field. The time gated results, as already shown in , provides for more accurate far-field patterns. In this paper it is shown how the 3D reflectivity/multiple reflections in the measurement chamber or outdoor range can be determined by subtracting the time gated results from the un-gated data. This technique is illustrated through use of several measurement examples. It is demonstrated that the time gated method has a clear physical explanation, and, in contrast with other techniques [4,5] is less consuming (does not require mechanical AUT precise offset installation, additional measurement and processing time) and allows for a better localization and quantization of the sources of unwanted radiation. Therefore, this technique is a straightforward one and is much easier to implement. The main disadvantage cited by critics regarding use of the time gating technique is the narrow frequency bandwidth used in many NF measurements. However, it is shown, and illustrated by the examples, that the technique can be effectively implemented in NF systems with a standard probe bandwidth of 1.5:1 and an AUT having a bandwidth as low as 5% to 10%.
Antenna Pattern Measurement of Space-borne W-band Doppler Radar
The cloud profiling radar (CPR) for the Earth, clouds, aerosols and radiation explorer (EarthCARE) mission has been jointly developed by JAXA and NICT in Japan. The development of CPR has required several technical challenges from the aspects of hardware designing, manufacturing and testing, because very large antenna reflector of 2.5m diameter with high surface accuracy, high pointing accuracy and high thermal stability had been required to realize the first space-borne W-band Doppler radar. In order to verify the RF design, we have just begun to perform antenna pattern measurement by using a CPR Engineering Model (EM). For this RF testing, we introduced a Near-Field Measurement (NFM) system with necessary capabilities for high accuracy measurement. This paper will present the summary of preliminary test results of the CPR EM antenna and the other technical efforts being taken for the antenna pattern measurement.
Practical Methods to Develop Complete and Accurate Error Budgets for Antenna Measurements
There are only a handful of commercially available antenna calibration laboratories in the US that are accredited to ISO-17025. Satimo has been operating an accredited laboratory in Atlanta since 2005 and an accurate and documented evaluation of measurement uncertainty has been a key element of the accreditation process. In order to develop the budgets, the parameters affecting the accuracy of the antenna measurement must be well understood. There are several references [2-9] that outline the method for preparing a measurement uncertainty budget, but few encompass the unique attributes associated with antenna measurements. Many of the papers published on the subject of the measurement uncertainty for antenna measurements address the characterization of a specific error term associated with an uncertainty budget, but few describe all of the terms contributing to the error budget nor how to practically determine their values. The intent of this paper is to outline and briefly describe the derivation of the uncertainty terms that contribute to the overall error budget for antenna measurements. Topics that will be discussed include: the uncertainty types, how to obtain or derive the error term for each uncertainty type, the distributions associated with each uncertainty type, the determination of the confidence level and coverage factor, how to combine the error terms as the references listed above are not in agreement on the method for combining the terms.
The application of hardware gating in testing antennas on satellite
Hardware gating has been widely used to eliminate stray signals in the test range for single antenna. While testing the antenna on satellite, several issues should be considered to obtain accurate result. The difference come from several new conditions such as complicated electro-magnetic circumstance, desired stray signals from the satellite and varying of time delay due to antenna rolling. The width of hardware gating pulses and time delay of these two pulses are carefully set to ensure the measurement accuracy. Several methods are presented in this paper. These methods have been used in several test of antenna with satellite, which prove to be very efficient.
High Accuracy Spherical Near-Field Measurements on a Stationary Antenna
Most conventional spherical near-field scanning systems require the antenna under test to rotate in one or two axes. This paper will describe a novel rolling arch near-field scanner that transports a microwave probe over a hyper-hemispherical surface in front of the antenna. This unique scanning system allows the antenna to remain stationary and is very useful for cases where motion of the antenna is undesirable, due to its sensitivity to gravitational forces, need for convenient access, or special control lines or cooling equipment. This allows testing of stationary antennas over wide angles with accuracies and speeds that historically were only available from planar near-field systems. The probe is precisely positioned in space by a high precision structure augmented by dynamic motion compensation. The scanner can complete a hyper-hemispherical multi-beam, multi-frequency antenna measurement set of up to eight feet in diameter in less than one hour. The design challenges and chosen techniques for addressing these challenges will be reviewed and summarized in the paper.
A new absorber Layout for a spherical near field scanner
A well designed absorber configuration is a key factor for precise antenna measurements. Unfortunately, even a scanner covered with pyramidal absorbers can cause reflections that could degrade the measurement accuracy. A novel scanner absorber configuration using bent absorbers is presented in this paper. Another problem is that in most cases it is necessary to remove the absorbing material at the scanner to change the antenna under test. The absorbers covering the scanner suffer abrasion caused by the frequent manual movement. For this reason it was also the intention to find a faster and easier solution which also preserves the absorbing material. The new and the old absorber layout were benchmarked using a number of spherical nearfield measurements as well as time domain reflection measurements with a broadband probe antenna. A comparison of the results is also shown in this paper.
IMPROVEMENT IN LOW FREQUENCY TEST ZONE PERFORMANCE IN THE BENEFIELD ANECHOIC FACILITY
Anechoic chambers simulate open air test conditions and are advantageous for testing avionics systems in a secure, quiet electromagnetic environment. The 412th Electronic Warfare Group’s Benefield Anechoic Facility (BAF), located at Edwards AFB, California was designed for testing systems in the radio frequency (RF) range from 500 MHz to 18 GHz. For frequencies below 500 MHz, the installed radar absorbent material (RAM) does not effectively absorb incident RF energy, thereby allowing undesired RF scattering off the chamber’s floor, ceiling, and walls. This leads directly to measurement inaccuracies and uncertainty in test data, which must be quantified for error analysis purposes. In order to meet the desired measurement accuracy goals of antenna pattern and isolation measurement tests below 500 MHz, RF scattering must be mitigated. BAF personnel developed a test methodology based on hardware gating, range tuning and improved RAM setup, to improve chamber measurement performance down to 100 MHz. Characterizing the chamber using this methodology is essential to understanding test zone performance and thus increases confidence in the data. This paper describes the test methodology used and how the test zone was characterized with resulting data.
Planar Near-Field Measurements for Small Antennas
We introduce a new type of planar near-field measurement technique for testing small antennas which, heretofore, have been traditionally tested via spherical or cylindrical scanning methods. Field acquisition in both these procedures is compromised to a certain extent by the fact that probe movement induces change in relative geometry with respect to, and thus interaction with, the anechoic chamber enclosure. Moreover, obstructing equipment, such as antenna pedestals, may significantly impede, or even reduce the available angular scope of any given scan. Our proposed procedure, by contrast, minimizes both the residual interaction contaminant and the threat of obstruction. We have in mind here a variant, a hybrid version of planar scanning wherein, on the one hand, we limit severely the size of the acquisition rectangle (and thus minimize the contaminating influence of a variable probe/chamber interaction), while, on the other, we really do collect near-field data throughout a complete range of solid angle around any candidate AUT, front, back, above, below, and on both sides. Such completeness is achieved through the mere stratagem of undertaking six independent planar scans with the AUT suitably rotated so as to expose to measurement, one by one, each of the faces of an enclosing virtual box. In the meanwhile, the inevitable AUT pedestal per se remains immobile and removed from any occupancy conflict with the scanned probe. We have accordingly named our new planar near-field data acquisition scheme the “Boxed Near-Field Measurement Procedure.” With subsequent use of our Field Mapping Algorithm (FMA), elsewhere reported, we obtain the entire field exactly, everywhere, both interior and exterior to the surrounding (virtual) box. In particular, we achieve enhanced accuracy in the far-field patterns of primary interest by virtue of the completeness of data acquisition and its relative freedom from spurious contamination. The angular completeness of data acquisition conferred by our procedure extends in principle to antennas of arbitrary size, provided, of course, that due provision is made for the necessary scope of measurement rectangles. The benefits are seen to be especially valuable in the case of narrow-beam antennas, whose back lobe pattern details, usually deemed as inaccessible and hence automatically forfeited during conventional (i.e., utilizing a “onefaced box,” in our new way of thinking) planar near-field testing, are thrust now into full view. Our new, full-enclosure planar acquisition technique as now described has been verified by analytic examples, as well as by hardware measurements, with excellent results evident throughout, as we are about to demonstrate.
Adaptive Acquisition Techniques For Planar Near-Field Antenna Measurements
The use of adaptive acquisition techniques to reduce the overall test time in planar near-field antenna measurements is described. A decision function is used to track the accuracy of a measurement as the data acquisition proceeds, and to halt such acquisition when this is considered sufficient for the measured quantity of importance. Possible decision functions are defined and compared. Several test cases are presented to show that significant test time reduction is possible when compared to traditional acquisition schemes.
Planar Near-Field Measurement Error Analysis for Multilevel Plane Wave Based Near-Field Far-Field Transformation
This paper describes the behavior of the antenna radiation pattern for different planar near-field measurement errors superimposed on the near-field data. The disturbed radiating near field is processed using multilevel plane wave based near-field far-field transformation to determine the far-field. Errors like scan area truncation, transverse and longitudinal position inaccuracy of measurement points, and irregular sample spacing are analyzed for an electrically large parabolic reflector at 40 GHz. The error behavior is then compared with the standard transformation technique employing 2D Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) using the same near-field data. In order to exclude the effect of any other measurement or environmental error, electric dipoles with appropriate magnitude profile and geometrical arrangement are used to model the test antenna.
A Conformal 2D FDFD Eigenmode Method for Wave Port Excitation and S-parameter Extraction in 3D FDTD Simulation
The 2D full wave finite difference frequency domain (FDFD) method can provide propagation constant and eigenmode information for various guided wave structures. In addition, the mode information is well suited for exciting the waveguides and extracting the modal S-parameters in 3D FDTD simulation. However, most 3D full wave FDTD solvers have used conformal techniques to improve the accuracy and efficiency. To match these two methods and take advantage of the conformal features, it is necessary to apply the conformal techniques to the 2D FDFD method. In this paper, a conformal 2D FDFD eigenmode method is derived for solving arbitrarily shaped waveguides or transmission lines. The numerical results showed that the propagation constants obtained by the proposed method agree well with those obtained by the analytical solutions and commercial circuit solvers. The eigenmodes obtained by the developed conformal 2D FDFD eigenmode solver can be used to excite various transmission lines and to extract the modal S-parameters in 3D conformal FDTD simulation. Some examples such as horn antennas, circular waveguide filters and differential pairs are presented to show the capabilities of the developed conformal 2D FDFD eigenmode solver. The simulation results are also verified by some measurement results.
A Study of Near-Field Sampling Grid Errors and Their Effect on Phased Array Beam-pointing Error
Large phased arrays have stringent beam-pointing accuracy requirements over their scan volume. Measuring the beam-pointing accuracy of a phased array with a planar near-field scanner is convenient but can lead to erroneous results if the near-field sampling grid is not well controlled. This paper describes numerical experiments that were carried out to assess the impact of various types of grid errors on the measurement of beam-pointing accuracy. The types of grid errors considered include skewing and curvature in the plane of the grid. The numerical experiments use infinitesimal dipoles as the radiating elements and assume an ideal probe. It is shown that beam-pointing errors induced by grid errors that can be described by an affine transformation can be estimated in closed form. For more complicated grid errors, the model is shown to be a useful tool in estimating their impact on measuring beam-pointing error. Finally, the amount of over-scan required for accurate beam-pointing measurements over a large scan volume is examined.
Evaluation of Multilevel Plane Wave Based Near-Field Far-Field Transformation Employing Adaptive Field Translations
The radiation pattern of an antenna can be determined accurately by near-field measurement and transformation techniques. Low numerical complexity, full probe correction capabilities, and high accuracy of the transformed far-field pattern are important features of near-field transformation algorithms. The multilevel plane wave based near-field transformation algorithm achieves an efficient full probe correction by plane wave representations of antenna and field probe and realizes the low numerical complexity by hierarchical grouping of measurement points. Field translations are carried out to the boxes on the coarsest level and are further processed to the measurement points by disaggregation and anterpolation. Disaggregation is a simple phase shift of the plane waves and anterpolation reduces the sampling rate corresponding to the spectral content of the plane wave spectra on the various levels. The accuracy of the transformation is influenced by several variables where the number of buffer boxes between antenna and measurement point groups is crucial. A higher accuracy due to more buffer boxes can be achieved at the cost of increased computation time. Adaptive field translations structure the measurement setup such that individual groups are transformed with the required accuracy at lowest costs. A detailed investigation for a planar near-field measurement will be shown.
OEWG Probe Pattern Comparisons between NPL Measurements, EM-Model and Analytical Model
This paper compares 3 sets of far-field patterns of an S-Band Open Ended Waveguide (OEWG). The sources for the data are measurements from NPL, an EM-Model and the commonly used NIST analytical model. Both co-polarized (co-pol) and cross-polarized (x-pol) patterns are compared. Results indicate that accuracy improvements are possible by utilizing an EM-Model in certain applications. These applications as well as the pros and cons of doing this are discussed. Understanding the differences between these 3 independent sets of data enables near-field range engineers to better understand the directional dependence of probe correction accuracies over the majority of the forward hemisphere. Information and insight gained from this comparison, along with specific AUT requirements, better equips the near-field range user to address probe correction concerns and ultimately to determine if a calibrated probe solution is required for their unique testing scenario.
Efficient Method for Representing Antenna Pattern Illumination in Method of Moments (MoM) Radar Cross-Section (RCS) Predictions
The use of computational electromagnetics (CEM) prediction codes in the analysis and interpretation of RCS measurements has become increasingly prevalent. This is in large part due to rapid advances in computing capability over the last several years, particularly for rigorous techniques such as the method of moments (MoM). In many instances, however, these codes are still limited to plane waves and/or elementary dipoles as the sources of target illumination. Modeling of the illumination from an arbitrary antenna therefore requires meshing and solution of the combined antenna-target geometry for each frequency and aspect angle, with an associated increase in the computational complexity of the problem, even if the interactions between the antenna and the target are negligible. In this paper, we describe a method by which measurements or predictions of the antenna pattern are used to develop an equivalent representation of the antenna in terms of an array of non-interacting elementary dipole current sources in a MoM code that uses RWG basis functions. The representation can then be used to efficiently derive the antenna’s illumination on the target as a function of frequency and aspect angle with only a minor increase in the computational burden relative to plane wave illumination. Results are presented using antenna pattern predictions for an ETS-Lindgren 3164-01quad-ridged VHF antenna which illustrate the accuracy and efficiency of the technique.
Multiplexed Pulsed Transmit and Receive RF Measurement System for Active Phased Array Testing
Radar antennas are typically required to operate in transmit and receive modes, and may or may not support both CW and pulsed signal operation. In active antenna applications, these modes may require different operating parameters, which currently dictate testing the antenna independently in transmit and receive using different test system configurations. In testing highly-integrated active arrays, electrical and thermal considerations make it preferable to test the antenna in its nominal Tx/Rx (Transmit/Receive) operating mode as opposed to transmit-only or receive-only. An extension to the NSI Panther 9100 RF measurement system has been developed to support multiplexed transmit and receive, pulse-mode measurements with different measurement parameters during the course of a single data acquisition. This capability allows pulsed transmit and receive tests to be interleaved using a single measurement setup, reducing overall test time and improving the real-world accuracy of the test results.
A "Two–Level GTD" Anechoic Chamber for VHF/UHF Antenna Measurements: Design and Experimental Validation
Recently ORBIT/FR Inc. has introduced a far – field antenna measurement anechoic chamber design method called “ Two Level GTD “ , which combines shaped chamber walls with a specific absorber layout intended to achieve a better level of reflectivity in the test zone [1-3]. The sidewalls may have the shape of an “inverted open book “, while the back wall may be a pyramidal shape with a small subtended angle at the base. A wedge type foam absorber with a variable orientation of the wedge tips can treat the sidewalls in a “fishbone” layout, while the back wall may be treated by using conventional foam based pyramids. The’ fishbone’ like layout is intended to adverting the reflected waves by the sidewalls out of the test zone, while the back wall pyramid layout is applied to utilize both: the optimum pyramid reflectivity at almost normal incidence; the back wall shape diverting the reflected incident plane or quasi - plane wave out of the test zone. It well known that GO and GTD principles are widely applicable to electrically large structures, delivering a high quality simulation accuracy and good correlation with measurement results. Therefore, the application of the “Two –Level GTD “ is expected to deliver well predicted improvement in the reflectivity of anechoic chambers operating at relatively high frequencies , where the chamber sidewall characteristic dimensions may reach 30. where . is the wavelength at lowest operating frequency. The key question to be answered is - Can the method be successfully applied to cases where the chamber sidewall characteristic dimensions are only – 2-3.? This represents a typical situation in anechoic chambers designed for operation at VHF/UHF frequency bands. In order to answer the question, a full wave 3D simulation has been performed on two anechoic chambers having similar dimensions: 20’ x 20’ x 33’ (L). The two cases are a conventional anechoic chamber and a shaped wall chamber designed based on the “Two – Level GTD” principle. The simulation results were compared, and the “Two - Level GTD” has shown superior performance. Based on these encouraging results, the anechoic chamber was constructed and measurements were performed in the tests zone at a number of frequencies down to 100 MHz. The chamber construction, simulation and measurement results are discussed in the paper below.
Wideband in-situ Soil Permittivity Probe and Novel Iterative Permittivity Calibration Method
A novel probe design for measuring complex permittivity of soils in-situ from 10 to 1000 MHz without taking soil samples is presented. The dielectric constant and conductivity of soil is derived from step-frequency reflection taken inside a small freshly bored hole. As a result, permittivity at various depths with in-situ moisture content and soil texture can be obtained in the fields. A novel calibration method was developed to account for the frequency- and material-dependent geometrical factor which causes bias errors in conventional calibration methods. Experimental measurement results and simulation results are used to prove the efficiency and accuracy of this method.
Practical Gain Measurements
Collecting accurate gain measurements on antennas is one of the primary tasks for our community. One of the primary concerns in making gain measurements is choosing one of the well known gain measurement techniques to make the measurement. Each gain measurement technique has an inherent accuracy limit based on the measurements made, the measurement environment and the equipment required. The frequency band of interest may also have an impact on the gain measurement scheme employed. In addition, each technique can affect the throughput of the range in question. Balancing the cost of obtaining the gain versus the required accuracy of the gain measurement is a difficult task. This paper will discuss the basic accuracy limitations for several of the standard gain measurement techniques and will catalog the accuracy limitations of the various gain measurement techniques versus the cost associated with obtaining that quality of measurement.
A Highly Accurate Spherical Near-Field Arch Positioning System
Highly accurate spherical near-field measurement systems require precise alignment of the probe antenna to the measurement surface. MI Technologies has designed and constructed a new spherical near field arch positioner with a 1.5 meter radius to support measurements requiring accurate knowledge of the probe phase center to within .0064 cm throughout its range of travel. To achieve this level of accuracy, several key design elements were considered. First, a highly robust mechanical design was considered and implemented. Second, a tracking laser interferometer system was included in the system for characterization of residual errors in the position of the probe. Third, a position control system was implemented that would automatically correct for the residual errors. The scanner includes a two position automated probe changer for automated measurements of multi-band antennas and a high accuracy azimuth axis. The azimuth axis includes an algorithm for correcting residual, repeatable positioning errors. This paper defines the spherical near-field system and relation of each axis to the global coordinate system, discusses their associated error sources and the effect on global positioning and presents achieved highly accurate results.
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