Near-field/far-field transformation by non-plane wave synthesis
Near-field antenna measurements have many advantages, but also some limitations, which can be mainly attributed to the need for costly facilities or severe environmental effects. Although anechoic chambers are widely employed, absorbing material is very expensive and the whole construction becomes a considerable project, especially if it is required to accommodate various size antennas over wide frequency ranges.
ISAR measurement techniques applied to antenna measurements and diagnostics
A pulsed, coherent radar system was used in the inverse synthetic aperture radar mode to obtain 1-way high resolution images of simple antennas. These high resolution images display the amplitude and phase distribution of the received wave. The images were then edited and reconstructed using System Planning Corporation's Image algorithms contained in the SPC RPS software package. The 2-D (range vs. cross range) image data is very useful for detecting defects in antennas and can also 0be applied to modification of illumination conditions such as wavefront sphericity (phase taper) and/or amplitude variabilities (taper, ripple). This technique offers an alternate approach to near field/far field transformation.
The technique involves rotation of the antenna under test at a controlled, uniform rate.
The antenna port is connected to the radar receiver and the radar transmitter attached to an illuminating antenna. The radar transmits a step chirp wave form. The received signal is recorded to tape and processed off-line on the SPC Image Reduction Facility. A calibration technique was developed using simple wide bandwidth horn antennas. The downrange and cross range resolution of these 1-way ISAR antenna images is half as large as with 2-way radar ISAR for the same bandwidth and angular integration interval.
Image data will be shown on reflector-type antennas to illustrate the technique.
Effects of measurement errors on reflector surface reconstruction using microwave holographic metrology
Microwave holographic metrology is considered to be a key technique for achieving improved performance from large reflector antennas, especially at the shorter wavelengths. An important benefit of microwave holography is that the mathematically transformed data yields precise information on panel alignments on a local scale [1-5]. Since the usage of the holographic technique requires both the amplitude and phase data of the measured far-field patterns, one must carefully assess the impact of systematic and random errors that could corrupt the data due to a variety of measurement error sources.
Antenna diagnosis using microwave holographic techniques on a far-field range
The holographic antenna measurement system developed for the COMSAT Labs far-field range was tested with various antennas including axis-symmetric reflector antennas, offset single and dual reflector antennas, and phased-array antennas. Numerous examples which demonstrate the value of holographic measurement as an antenna diagnostic tool are presented.
Microwave holography utilizes the Fourier transform relation between the antenna radiation pattern and the antenna aperture electromagnetic field distribution. Complex far-field date are collected at sample points and a Fourier transform is performed to give amplitude and phase contours in the antenna aperture plane. These contours facilitate reflector antenna diagnosis. The feed illumination and blockage pattern are provided by the amplitude distribution. The aperture phase distribution allows simple determination of deviations in the reflector surface and feed focusing. For phased-array antennas, the contours provide a measure of the complex element excitation.
Measurement system parameters including pointing accuracy, phase stability, and measurement dynamic range were studied and refinements implemented to increase speed, accuracy, and resolution of the contour plots. To prevent aliasing errors, sampling criteria were explored to determine the optimum parameter ranges. For most antenna positioners, the antenna center is displaced from the rotation center. The importance of properly accounting for this displacement is discussed in the final section.
High resolution three-dimensional imaging of the current distributions on radiating structures
Imaging by microwave holography was initially envisaged as a two dimensional diagnostic technique applicable to a wide variety of objects and environments , , being particularly relevant to reflector antenna metrology . For electrically large paraboloidal reflectors the radiation is well collimated and can be assumed to arise from an effective aperture field at a specified plane within the antenna volume. Fresnel or far field measurements are then restricted to a small angular range around boresight so as not to violate the assumptions made for reconstruction of the aperture field. The processed image represents the aperture illumination function whose phase can be accurately related to feed position and profile error by comparison with 'a priori' knowledge of the ideal reflector shape . Since the aperture field approximation imposes severe restrictions on the data window size the intrinsic depth resolution of the image is characteristically poor, and wide angle scattering from feed support struts for example is not recorded causing the struts to appear as geometric shadows on the image. Regions of the reflector surface lying beneath these blockages cannot therefore be reconstructed. Moreover, the narrow data recording bandwidth also produces inferior transverse resolution of profile perturbations on the reflector surface.
Antenna calibrations using pulsed-CW measurements and the planar near-field method
For over a decade the National Bureau of Standards has utilized the Planar Near-field Method to accurately determine antenna gain, polarization and antenna patterns. Measurements of near-field amplitudes and phases over a planar surface are routinely obtained and processed to calculate these parameters. The measurement system includes using a cw source connected to an accessible antenna port and a two channel receiver to obtain both amplitude and phase of the measurement signal with respect to a fixed reference signal.
Many radar systems operate in a pulsed-cw mode and it is very difficult if not impossible to inject a cw signal at a desired antenna port in order to calibrate the antenna. As a result it is highly desirable to obtain accurate near-field amplitude and phase data for an antenna in the pulsed-cw mode so that the antenna far-field parameters can be determined.
Whether operating in the cw or pulsed-cw modes, one must be concerned with calibrating the measurement system by determining its linearity and phase measurement accuracy over a wide dynamic range. Tests were recently conducted at NBS for these purposes using a precision rotary vane attenuator and calibrated phase shifter. Such tests would apply not only to measurement systems for determining antenna parameters but also to systems for radar cross section (RCS) measurements. The measurement setup will be discussed and results will be presented.
Optimized collimators-theoretical performance limits
Over the last five years a considerable attention has been paid to further developments of Compact Antenna Test Ranges for both antenna and RCS measurements. For many applications, these devices proved to be more attractive than outdoor ranges or near-field/far-field transformation techniques. On the other hand, accurate operation at very low or very high frequencies can cause considerable difficulties.
It is the aim of this paper to describe the theoretical limitation of collimating devices, in particular for low frequencies. For this purpose, an idealized collimator will be defined. Using the spectral components analysis a comparison of achievable accuracy will be made between collimators and outdoor ranges. Theoretical limits in the accuracy for RCS measurements will be computed for all applicable frequencies.
Finally, a comparison will be made between the experiments on a dual-reflector Compact Antenna Test Range and theoretically achievable limits. Representative targets, like cylinders and rectangular plates have been used for experimental investigation. These data will also be presented.
Measurement techniques for the RADARSAT SAR antenna
A study of RF testing methods was conducted for the Radarsat SAR antenna. The implementation tolerances of a planar and a cylindrical near-field facility were computed, by simulation of the effects of different types of measurement errors on the reconstructed far field. The results are presented and the two types of near-field facility are compared.
A Portable microwave holography system for antenna measurement
We describe a portable system for performing microwave holography of reflector antennas. This technique derives the complex (amplitude and phase) aperture current distribution from the measured complex far field of an antenna. The amplitude of the current distribution displays directly the effects of feed and support leg shadowing, and illumination taper. The phase of the current distribution is used to optimize feed and/or sub-reflector location, and to generate a table of recommended panel adjustments.
Shaped serrated diffraction fence tops for improved far-field range performance
This paper reports on a project carried out at Georgia Tech to reduce forward scattering from the top edge of far-field range diffraction fences over a wide frequency band. It is shown that the addition of serrations with length greater than ten wavelengths and a flower petal shape reduce the stray radiation in the quiet zone by as much as 10 dB. Several variations on the basic shape are investigated and computed results are shown.
Concepts of the new spherical near field measurement system at the David Florida Laboratory
A new spherical near field test facility is under development by Canadian Astronautics Limited at the David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa. It provides for a wide range of antenna measurements, including far-field, far-field from near field, and near-in and very near-in field reconstruction. Many user-friendly, user-interactive, and graphics features are incorporated. This paper outlines some of the underlying concepts for the facility.
New near field RCS--and antenna--measurement techniques
In this paper a new system consisting of a single parabolic reflector and a point source will be presented. Such a system is capable of producing a cylindrical wavefront over a wide frequency range. Moreover, physically large text-zone dimensions can be realized. The principle of operation is identical to that of the near-field/far-field cylindrical scanning, however, the far-field antenna pattern or RCS response can be computed more efficiently by performing a simplified transformation procedure in one dimension only. It will be shown that such a system is suitable for both antenna and RCS measurements. Finally, experimental RCS data will be presented.
Parasitic multimode/corrugated (PMC) feed for a compact range
The radar cross section of large targets has previously been measured on large outdoor far field ranges. Due to environmental and security limitations of outdoor ranges, low cost indoor compact ranges are preferred. To optimize compact range performance and to minimize size, careful attention must be paid to the design of feeds which are required for the proper illumination of the reflector. This paper describes a new polarization diversified parasitic multimode/corrugated (PMC) feed for a compact range reflector. The performance attributes of the PMC feed are presented. The PMC feed provides several advantages over other known commercially available compact range feeds.
A Low cost, PC based far-field antenna range
A far-field antenna range has been assembled on the roof of the Electrical Engineering building at Virginia Tech. Antenna radiation patterns and polarization patterns can be measured. The system consists of two Scientific-Atlanta azimuth positioners, a Scientific-Atlanta 1711 receiver, a Scientific-Atlanta 1832A amplitude display unit, a DC motor controller, a synchro-to-digital converter, an IBM PC, and signal sources.
The DC motor controller has been interfaced to the PC along with the synchro-to-digital converter, forming a closed loop positioning control system that can be used with either of the azimuth positioners. One of the positioners is used for the antenna under test while the other positioner controls the polarization of the transmit antenna. The receiver and amplitude display provide a 60 dB dynamic range for antenna measurements. The PC has been programmed in TURBO Pascal to control the antenna positioner, record antenna patterns, store pattern data on disk, and provide antenna pattern plots. This modular approach provides permanent storage on PC disk of all measurements as well as allowing many plot combinations including linear or logarithmic form and rectangular or polar format.
Calibrating antenna standards using CW and pulsed-CW measurements and the planar near-field method
For over a decade the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) has used the planar near-field method to accurately determine the gain, polarization and patterns of antennas either transmitting or receiving cw signals. Some of these calibrated antennas have also been measured at other facilities to determine and/or verify the accuracies obtainable with their ranges. The facilities involved have included near-field ranges, far-field ranges, and compact ranges.
Recently, NBS has calibrated an antenna to be used to evaluate both a near-field range and a compact range. These ranges are to be used to measure an electronically-steerable antenna which transmits only pulsed-cw signals. The antenna calibrated by NBS was chosen to be similar in physical size and frequency of operation to the array and was also calibrated with the antenna transmitting pulsed-cw. This calibration included determining the effects of using different power levels at the mixer, the accuracy of the receiver in making the amplitude and phase measurements, and the effective dynamic range of the receiver. Comparisons were made with calibration results obtained for the antenna transmitting cw and for the antenna receiving cw. The parameters compared include gain, sidelobe and cross polarization levels. The measurements are described and some results are presented.
A Roof top antenna range at Bellcore
A roof-top antenna range has been installed at the Bellcore facility in Red Bank, New Jersey. This facility is used as a far field range to measure highly directive antennas at millimeter wave frequencies. Theoretical and experimental studies were performed to characterize the range environment and identify reflections.
Two computer programs were used to analyze the strength and location of interfering signals at both UHF and millimeter wave frequencies. These programs use Geometrical Optics and the Geometrical Theory of Diffraction to predict the location and strength of diffracted and reflected energy from the surrounding structures. Both singly and doubly diffracted interferences were considered.
A bi-static radar, with an 850 MHz carrier, bi-phase modulated by a 40 Mbit/s pseudonoise code, was used to measure the impulse response of the environment.
The antenna range measurements are compared with the analysis done at 850 MHz and calculated results are printed for the behavior of the range in the millimeter wave regime.
Pattern, gain and temperature measurements of reflector antennas
An overview of results are presented for far field pattern, antenna gain and antenna temperature measurements of reflector antennas in several frequency bands. The pattern and gain measurements were taken in the compact range at The Ohio State University. The dynamic range available, which gives the ability to take a full 360 degree pattern, and the relatively high speed at which data is collected, are major advantages for pattern and gain measurements in the compact range. In a series of related measurements an 8-foot diameter Cassegrain reflector was used for antenna temperature measurements under clear weather conditions in an outdoor environment.
Comparison of antenna boresight measurements between near-field and far-field ranges
This paper describes the results of electrical boresight measurement comparisons between one far-field and two near-field ranges. Details are given about the near-field alignment procedures and the near-field error analysis. Details of the far-field measurements and its associated errors are not described here, since the near-field technique is of primary interest. The coordinate systems of the antenna under test and the measurement ranges were carefully defined, and extreme care was taken in the angular alignment of each. The electrical boresight direction of the main beam was determined at a number of frequencies for two antenna ports with orthogonal polarizations. Results demonstrated a maximum uncertainty between the different ranges of 0.018 deg. An analytical error analysis that predicted a similar level of uncertainty was also performed. This error analysis can serve as the basis for estimating uncertainty in other near-field measurements of antenna boresight.
Development of a lab-sized antenna test range for millimeter waves
In the last few years, the interest in millimeter wave systems, like radars, seekers and radiometers has increased rapidly. Though the size of narrow-beamwidth antennas in the 60-200 GHz range is limited to some 20 inches, an accurate far-field antenna test range would need to be very long.
The achievement of precision antenna pattern measurements with a 70' or even longer transmission length requires the use of some power that is hardly available and expensive.
A cost-effective and more accurate solution is to use a lab-sized compact range that presents several advantages over the classical so-called far-field anechoic chamber: - Small anechoic enclosure (2.5 x 1.2 x 1.2 meters) meaning low cost structure and very low investissement in absorbing material. No special air-conditioning is needed. This enclosure can be installed in the antenna laboratory or office. Due to the small size of the test range and antennas under test, installation, handling and operation are very easy.
For spaceborne applications, where clean environment is requested, a small chamber is easier to keep free of dust than a large one.
- The compact range is of the single, front fed, paraboloid reflector type, with serrated edges.
The size and shape of the reflector and serrations have been determined by scaling a large compact range of ESD design, with several units of different size in operation.
The focal length of 0.8 meter only accounts in the transmission path losses and the standard very low power millimeterwave signal generators are usable to perform precision measurements.
The largest dimension of the reflector is 1 meter and this small size allows the use of an accurate machining process, leading to a very high surface accuracy at a reasonable cost. The aluminum alloy foundry used for the reflector is highly temperature stable.
- Feeds are standard products, available from several millimeter wave components manufacturers. They are corrugated horns, with low sidelobes, constant and broad beamwidth over the full waveguide band and symmetrical patterns in E and H planes.
- The compact range reflector, feeds and test positioner are installed on a single granite slab for mechanical and thermal stability, to avoid defocusing of the compact range.
- A micro-positioner or a precision X Y phase probe can be installed at the center of the quiet zone. Due to their small size, these devices can be very accurate and stable.
Due to the compactness of this test range, all the test instrumentation can be installed under the rigid floor of the enclosure and the length of the lossy RF (waveguide) connections never exceeds 1 meter.
Measurement of phased array patterns by near-field focusing
Performance verification of an adaptive array requires direct, real-time sampling of the antenna pattern. For a space-qualified array, measurements on a far-field range are impractical. A compact range offers a protected environment, but lacks a sufficiently wide field of view. Conventional near-field measurements can provide antenna patterns only indirectly.
This paper shows how far-field antenna patterns can be obtained in a relatively small anechoic chamber by focusing a phased array in the near-field. The focusing technique is based on matching the nulls of far-field and near-field antenna patterns, and is applicable to conformal or nonuniform phased arrays containing active radiating elements with independent amplitude and phase control.
The focusing technique was experimentally verified using a 32-element, linear, L-band array. Conventionally measured far-field and near-field patterns were compared with focused near-field patterns. Very good agreement in sidelobe levels and beamwidths was achieved.