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Measurements on extended objects for radar field probes
An extended long object usually gives rise to a bright reflection (a glint) when viewed near its surface normal. To take advantage of this phenomenon and as a new concept, a discrete Fourier transform (DFT) on the RCS measurements, taken within a small angular range of broadside, would yield a spectrum of incident wave distribution along that object; provided that the scattering is uniform per unit length, such as from a long cylinder [1, 2]. In this report, we examine the DFT spectra obtained from three horizontal long objects of different lengths (each of 60, 20, and 8 feet). Aside from the end effects, the DFT spectra looked similar and promising as an alternative to the conventional field probes by translating a sphere across a horizontal path. Keywords: RCS measurements, compact range, field probes, extended long objects 1. The Boeing 9-77 compact range The Boeing 9-77 indoor compact range was constructed in 1988 based on the largest Harris model 1640. Figure 1 is a schematic view of the chamber, which is of the Cassigranian configuration with dual-reflectors. The relative position of the main reflector and the upper turntable (UTT) are as shown. The inside dimensions of the chamber are 216-ft long, by 80-ft high, and 110-ft wide. For convenience, we define a set of Cartesian coordinates (x: pointing out of the paper, y: pointing up, z: pointing down-range), with the origin at the center of the quiet zone (QZ). The QZ was designed as an ellipsoidal volume of length 50-ft along z, height 28-ft along y, and width 40-ft along x. The back wall is located at z = 75 ft, whereas the center of the roll-edged main reflector (tilted at 25 o from vertical) is at z =-110 ft. It is estimated that the design approach controls the energy by focusing 98% of it inside the QZ for target measurements. The residual field spreading out from the main reflector was attenuated by various absorbers arranged in arrays and covering the chamber walls.-, Tel. (425) 392-0175 2. Anechoic chamber In order to provide a quiet environment for RCS measurements, the inside surfaces of an anechoic chamber are typically shielded by various pyramidal and wedged-shaped absorbers, which afford good attenuation at near-normal incidence for frequencies higher than ~2 GHz. At low frequencies and oblique angles , however, Figure 1. A schematic view of the Boeing 9-77 compact range with dimensions as noted. insufficient attenuation of the radar waves by the absorbers may give rise to appreciable backgrounds. Figure 2 shows a panorama view inside the compact range, as viewed from the lower rear toward the main reflector and the UTT. With the exception of the UTT, all other absorbers are non-moving or stationary. A ring of lights on the floor shows the rim around the lower turntable (LTT), prior to the installation of absorbers. In order to minimize the target-wall interactions, the surfaces facing the QZ from the ceiling, floor, and two sidewalls are covered with the Rantec EHP-26 type of special pyramidal absorbers.
Update of IEEE Std 1720-2012 Recommended Practice for Near-Field Antenna Measurements
The IEEE Standards Association Standards Board (IEEE-SASB) approved the IEEE Std 1720™ "Recommended Practice for Near-Field Antenna Measurements" in 2012 . More than forty dedicated people from industry, academia and other institutions contributed to the creation of this new document. The main motivation for a new standard dedicated to near-field measurements was to complement the existing IEEE Std 149-1979™ "Test Procedures for Antennas" . According to the IEEE-SA policies, the existing standard IEEE Std 1720-2012™ is approaching expiration in 2022. A working group of the APS Standard Committee has been formed to review the current document. Most of the current standard is still relevant and useful for individuals designing and evaluating near-field antenna measurement facilities and other people involved in antenna measurements. However, the standard needs update and renewal in areas in which new developments and technologies have matured. This paper gives an overview of the current standards and discusses the suggested potential changes.
Use of OTA System Performance Metrics in the Design & Optimization of CATRs for 5G Testing
Delivering on the promise of 5G measurements requires the adoption of new RF system technologies that encompass both the mobile user equipment and the active base station. Keeping pace with the impact of new wireless system test parameters such as: Data throughput, Error Vector Magnitude, Symbol Error Rate, and technologies such as mm-wave Massive MIMO, OFDM, and QAM presents significant challenges to antenna test community. For the most part, the market has attempted to react by adapting traditional test equipment to the wireless market however 5G testing presents an ever-greater challenge and demands the incorporation of simulation effects when designing and optimising an antenna test system, especially as these systems have increased in complexity with the adoption of the indirect far-field method and specifically the compact antenna test range (CATR). This paper discusses how 5G communication system parameters affect the design of the CATR and how newly developed simulation capabilities have been incorporated to optimize the CATR design for 5G test applications.
Accurate Calibration of Truncated Spherical Near Field Systems with Different Ground Floors using the Substitution Technique
The calibration of the antenna measurements system is a fundamental step which directly influences the accuracy of any power-related quantity of the device under test. In some types of systems, the calibration can be more challenging than in others, and the selection of a proper calibration method is critical. In this paper, the calibration of the truncated spherical near-field ranges typically used for automotive tests is investigated, considering both absorbing and conductive floors. The analyses are carried out in a 12:1 scaled multi-probe system, allowing access to the "true", full-sphere calibration which is used as reference. It will be demonstrated that the substitution (or transfer) method is an excellent calibration technique for these types of systems, if applied considering the efficiency of the reference antenna.
Small Antenna Testing in a Compact Antenna Test Range
The Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) was initially conceived as an efficient way of testing electrically large antennas at very much reduced, fixed, range lengths than would otherwise be the case. However, when testing lower gain, physically smaller antennas, the measurements can become susceptible to inhomogeneities within the CATR QZ including phenomena associated with edge diffraction effects, feed spill-over, chamber multipath etc. Whilst it has been demonstrated experimentally that many of these measurement artefacts may be effectively mitigated using standard and modern more sophisticated post-processing techniques. This paper supports those findings through simulation of the direct and indirect far field ranges and by careful examination of the data processing chain. Results are presented, the relative success of the various techniques examined and the utility of this is set, and expounded, in the context of modern, i.e. 5G, communications systems.
Comparative Investigation of Spatial Filtering Techniques for Ground Plane Removal in PEC-Based Automotive Measurements
Radiating performances of vehicle-installed antennas are typically performed in large spherical near-field systems able to accommodate the entire car. Due to the size and weight of the vehicle to be tested, such spherical systems are often nearly hemispherical, and the floor is conductive or covered with absorbers. The main advantage of the first is the ease of the accommodation of the vehicle under test. Conversely, the latter is more time consuming in the setup of the measurements because the absorbers need to be moved in order to be placed around the vehicle. On the other hand, the absorber-covered floors emulate a free-space environment which is a key enabling factor in performing accurate measurements at low frequencies (down to 70 MHz). Moreover, the availability of the free-space response allows easy emulation of the cars' behaviors over realistic automotive environments (e.g. roads, urban areas etc.) with commercially available tools. Such emulations are instead much more challenging when a conductive floor is considered. Furthermore, the raw measurements over conductive floors are a good approximation of realistic grounds (such as asphalts) only in a limited number of situations. For these reasons, when PEC-based automotive measurements are performed, it is often required to retrieve the free-space response, or equivalently, to remove the effect of the conductive ground. In this paper two spatial-filtering techniques (the spherical modal filtering and the equivalent currents) will be experimentally analyzed and compared to verify their effectiveness in removing the effect of the conductive floor. For this purpose, a scaled automotive PEC-based measurement setup has been implemented considering a small spherical multi-probe system and a 1:12 scaled car model. The two techniques will be analyzed considering two different heights of the scaled car model with respect to the conductive floor.
Non-contact Characterization of Antenna Impedance, Gain and Pattern through Open-Fixture Network Calibration
We present a novel, non-contact characterization technique for simultaneous characterization of conventional antenna parameters, including the antenna port input impedance, antenna gain and its radiation pattern, without requiring a network analyzer connection to the antenna port. The test antenna and the network analyzer are considered as a 2-port open-air fixture whose network representation corresponds to the desired antenna parameters. The unknown network parameters of the 2-port open-air fixture are determined via a novel calibration process using 4 offset-short termination standards. The error parameters determined by the calibration are then related to the test antenna port impedance and its gain as a function of frequency. Furthermore, the radiation pattern of the test antenna can also be characterized using measured reflection coefficient at the network analyzer port for two offset-short terminations of the test antenna port, while rotating the test antenna over the desired angular range. This novel technique is particularly attractive for installed-antenna applications where an active connection to the test antenna port is either difficult or undesirable, such as on-chip antennas and implanted antennas, to name a few. To demonstrate the efficacy our new method, we present the measured impedance, gain and radiation pattern of a diagonal-horn antenna operating over 360-450 GHz, and a lens-integrated planar butterfly antenna for the 220-325GHz band.
On the Minimum Range Length for Performing Accurate Direct Far-Field Over-the-Air Measurements
Over-the-air (OTA) performance evaluation requires large investments in anechoic environments. The question of minimizing the test distance is hence critical, and even more in this time where millimeter-wave technologies are about to be largely deployed in 5G devices. A recent publication has identified that direct far-field measurements can be accurately carried out at a much shorter range length than the well-known Fraunhofer distance. This paper introduces a further validation of this reduced distance, by employing an innovative method to simulate spherical measurements with arbitrary DUT, test probes and range lengths. The studies carried out confirm the relevance of this shorter distance, not only for the evaluation of the peak equivalent istropic radiated power (EIRP) or sensitivity (EIS), but also for the total radiated power (TRP) or sensitivity (TIS). In addition, it is demonstrated that the usual assumption that the TRP or TIS measurement is almost independent from the range length is flawed. Two main reasons relating to the test antenna are established which create this dependence: (i) OTA test probes have a finite resolution, and (ii) the probe and instrumentation typically captures the magnitude of two components of the E-field, which are not straightforwardly related to the power density in the near-field.
Generalized Test-Zone Field Compensation
Antenna measurement errors occur due to reflections and diffractions within the measuring chamber. In order to extract and correct the undesired signals, a technique based on test-zone field compensation and spherical wave expansion is applied to Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) and Spherical Near-Field (SNF) measurements of a base transceiver station antenna. The required spherical test-zone field is acquired by simulating the corresponding measurement environment with the multi-level fast multipole method. Due to the numerical complexity of the problem, only the parts of the chamber with a significant influence on the measurement results are modeled. Comparing the determined directivities after applying the correction method, an exact overlap is achieved between the SNF and CATR solution.
Comparative Testing of Devices in a Spherical Near Field System and Plane Wave Generator
The Plane Wave Generator (PWG) is an array of elements generating an approximately plane wave over a finite volume in the test area called Quiet Zone (QZ). The plane wave condition can be achieved in close proximity to the array with suitably optimized complex coefficients. The PWG thus achieve far-field testing conditions in a manner similar to the Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) but with a reduced distance to the QZ [1-2]. As a complete system the PWG has the advantage of reduced physical size compared to the a CATR with equivalent testing capabilities, in particular at lower frequencies. In [3-4], the concept of a high performance, dual polarized PWG supporting up to 1:10 bandwidth was presented. A prototype of a dual polarized PWG has been designed, manufactured and tested in the 600MHz to 6GHz frequency range. This paper presents the initial verification of the prototype PWG. The testing is performed using a representative analog beam forming network with narrow bandwidth. The QZ uniformity of the PWG is verified by spherical near-field measurements and back-propagation. The peak gain of a low directivity antenna is measured at different distances in the QZ and compared to reference measurements in a spherical near-field system. The aim of the comparison is to access the measurement accuracy of the PWG.
Experimental validation of Reference Chip Antennas for 5G Measurement Facilities at mm-Wave
In this paper, the experimental validation of a micro-probe fed reference antenna targeting the upcoming 5G applications (24.25-29.5GHz band) is presented. The main purpose of these reference antennas is to serve as "gold standards" and to perform gain calibration of 5G test facilities through the substitution method. The outline of these antennas is based on a square array of four printed patches enclosed in a circular cavity. The RF input interface is a stripline-to-coplanar waveguide transition and allows for feeding the device with a micro-probe. Performance obtained by high-fidelity modeling is reported in the paper and correlated to experimental data. Interaction and unwanted coupling with the test equipment are discussed. The use of echo-reduction techniques and spatial filtering is investigated to mitigate these effects.
Improvements in the Measurement of Very Low Cross Polarization Using the Three Antenna Polarization Technique
The Three-antenna polarization measurement technique is used to determine the axial ratio, tilt angle and sense of polarization of three antennas from measurements on each of three antenna pairs. The three antennas are generally nominally linearly polarized and the measurement data consists of the change in amplitude from the initial antenna orientation where they are co-polarized to the orientation where one of the antennas is rotated about its axis to the null amplitude position. The sign of the phase change is also noted and the phase change at the null position is known from theoretical calculations to be either plus or minus 90 degrees. The correct sign is determined from the sign of the phase change. For antennas with axial ratios in the range of 50 to 80 dB that will be used as near-field probes or as feeds for reflector antennas, it is imperative to measure the polarization parameters as accurately as possible. The primary source of uncertainty in the measurement is due to scattered signals in the measurement range that arise from multiple reflections between the two antennas and from the absorber on the chamber walls. For antennas with very large axial ratios, the scattered signals can be larger than the true measurement signal. These scattered signals can change the sign of the phase and produce large errors in the amplitude at the null. If the separation distance between the antennas is adjusted after rotating to the null to produce a maximum amplitude, the scattered signal is in phase with the true measurement signal. If the distance is adjusted for the minimum at the null, the scattered and true signals are out of phase. Measurements at these two positions will produce the best measurement of the phase sign and the true amplitude. But if measurements are being performed at a number of frequencies, the maximum and minimum amplitude positions will be different for each frequency, and this will complicate automated multifrequency measurements. New improvements have been developed in the details of the measurements that greatly improve the determination of the phase sign and the amplitude at the null for multiple frequency measurements and these will be described and illustrated in the following paper. With these improvements, the estimated uncertainty of a 60 dB axial ratio is on the order of 1.8 dB. A new technique has also been developed to improve the source correction of the pattern data for probes with large axial ratios that guarantees that the on-axis polarization of the pattern data will be identical to the results of the Three-antenna measurement. The probe correction processing will then produce the highest accuracy results for the polarization of the AUT.
Portable Laser Guided Robotic Metrology System
This paper introduces the new Portable Laser Guided Robotic Metrology (PLGRM) system at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Glenn Research Center. Previous work used industrial robots in fixed facilities to characterize antennas and required fixtures that do not lend themselves to portable applications. NASA's PLGRM system is designed for in-situ antenna measurements at a remote site. The system consists of a collaborative robot arm mounted on a vertical lift and a laser tracker, each on a mobile base. Together, they enable scanning a surface larger than the robot's reach. To accomplish this, the robot first collects all points within its reach, then the system is moved and the laser tracker is used to relocate the robot before additional points are captured. The PLGRM implementation will be discussed including how safety and planning are combined to effectively characterize antennas. Software defined triggering is a feature, for flexible integration of vector network analyzers and antenna controllers. Lastly, data will be shown to demonstrate system functionality and accuracy.
Active Array Measurements using the Portable Laser Guided Robotic Metrology System
In this paper, we will discuss the impact of mounting structures on the installed performance of phased arrays. In particular, performance data for the Conformal, Lightweight Antennas for Aeronautical Communications Tech-nology (CLAS-ACT) antenna will be presented. Performance data from a series of mounting configurations will show that null depth and location is particularly susceptible to change while the main beam steering angle remains relatively stable. In addition, the Portable Laser Guided Robotic Metrology (PLGRM) system will be discussed as a suitable instrument for measuring antenna patterns in complex or difficult locations that are challenging for traditional ranges. The PLGRM system was recently developed at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Glenn Research Center (GRC) and deployed to measure in situ antenna patterns.
Comparison of Antenna Measurements Obtained Using an Electro-Optical Probe System to Conventional RF Methods
There are certain applications where the use of electro-optical (EO) probes to acquire near-field measurements can provide major advantages as compared to conventional RF measurement techniques. One such application is in the area of high power RF measurements that are required for calibration and test of active electronically scanned arrays (AESA). The family of EO probes presented herein utilizes the Pockels effect to measure the time-varying electric fields of the antenna under test (AUT). The use of a non-invasive, broadband EO probe facilitates measurement of the tangential electric field components very close to the AUT aperture in the reactive near-field region. This close proximity between the AUT and the measurement probe is not possible with conventional metallic probes. In this paper, the far field gain patterns acquired using the EO probe will be compared to the corresponding gain patterns obtained from conventional far-field and near-field methods. The measurement results, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the EO system configuration, will be presented.
Recent Changes to the IEEE std 1502 Recommended Practice for Radar Cross-Section Test Procedures
Radar scattering is typically represented as the RCS of the test object. The term RCS evolved from the basic metric for radar scattering: the ratio of the power scattered from an object in units of power per solid angle (steradians) normalized to the plane-wave illumination in units of power per unit area. The RCS is thus given in units of area (or effective cross-sectional area of the target, hence the name). Note that the RCS of the test object is a property of the test object alone; it is neither a function of the radar system nor the distance between the radar and the test object, if the object is in the far field. Because the RCS of a target can have large amplitude variation in frequency and angle, it is expressed in units of decibels with respect to a square meter and is abbreviated as dBsm (sometimes DBSM or dBm2). In terms of this definition, the RCS of a radar target is a scalar ratio of powers. If the effects of polarization and phase are included, the scattering can be expressed as a complex polarimetric scattering (CPS) matrix. The measurement of the RCS of a test object requires the test object to be illuminated by an electromagnetic plane wave and the resultant scattered signal to be observed in the far field. After calibration, this process yields the RCS of the test object in units of area, or the full scattering matrix as a set of complex scattering coefficients. This paper describes the planned upgrades to the old IEEE Std 1502™-2007 IEEE Recommended Practice for Radar Cross-Section Test Procedures . The new standard will reflect the recent improvements in numerical tools, measurement technology and uncertainty estimates in the past decade.
Using Standard Wideband Antennas as Probe in Spherical Near Field Measurements with Full Probe Correction: Experimental Validation
Full probe compensation techniques for Spherical Near Field (SNF) measurements have recently been proposed [1-5]. With such techniques, even antennas with more than decade bandwidth are suitable probes in most systems. The abolition of otherwise frequent probe changes during multi-service campaigns is a highly desirable feature for modern measurement applications such as automotive. In this paper, a standard dual-ridge horn with 15:1 bandwidth is investigated experimentally as probe in a SNF automotive range. The accuracy of the probe compensation technique is validated by comparison to standard single probe measurement.
Near-Field Spherical Scanning Measurement of a 3D Printed Horn at WR-8 Frequencies
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has measured a WR-8, 3D printed horn at 112.25, 118.75, and 125.25 GHz using the near-field spherical scanning method. The data were processed with both the NIST standard software and the probe-position compensation software. We conclude that the positioning capability of the NIST Configurable Robotic Millimeter-wave Antenna System is so accurate that probe-position compensation is negligible at these frequencies.
Low-Cost Pressure/Temperature Measurements of Wideband Antennas
This paper discusses design and fabrication of a low cost, combined pressure / thermal test-bench engineered for environmental tests of UAV mounted antennas. Both test-beds are mainly made of commercial of-the-shelf (COTS) parts and in-house made frames. They occupy small space and do not require specific professional skills for operation or high maintenance cost. Measurement setup is designed to reliably reproduce temperature and pressure corresponding to altitudes from sea level to 6000 m (20000 ft) with dynamic load equivalent for 200 m/s (400 knots) of air speed. Experimental results of radome enclosed wideband antenna are presented.
Spherical Phaseless Probe-Corrected Near-Field Measurements of the DTU-ESA VAST12 Reflector Antenna
An experimental case of spherical probe-corrected phaseless near-field measurements with the two-scans technique is presented, based on magnitude measurements at two surfaces of the VAST12 reflector antenna performed at the DTU-ESA Facility. Phase retrieval using strictly the directly measured near-field magnitude was unfeasible in this setup, due to the small sphere separation allowed by the probe positioner, which led to incorrect and excessively slow convergence. Phase retrieval with larger separation between spheres has shown remarkable results. For these tests a measured magnitude was used in combination with calculated near-field magnitudes at different (larger and smaller) spheres with larger separations than allowed by the experimental setup. It has been seen that larger separation between measurement spheres improves accuracy of phase retrieval. A measurement with a backprojected measurement with 3 m sphere separation is of particular interest because it can be potentially replicated in the DTU-ESA Facility assuming such range of movement was allowed, while being accurate down to an error of less than-35dB. Measurements with larger spheres show even better accuracy. These good results were obtained with the normal spatial sampling rate for complex measurements and with a very simple Hertzian dipole initial guess, and show the superior performance of spherical phaseless measurements with the two-scans technique, compared to a planar setup.
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