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Horn Antenna Design

Rhea Vanessa Acut

Gerfel Philip Gonzales
This report documents the design of a portable outdoor antenna range, as well as design and
fabrication, and measurement techniques of practical antennas for TV Reception.
ABS-CBN Sports and Action Iligan is on Channel 26. The Program operates between 542MHz to 548MHz.
A rectangular waveguide and a pyramidal horn are designed and built for 542 548MHz frequency. Both
antennas are designed for maximum radiation with minimal ohmic loss. There are several important
facors taken into the design of these two antennas, such as skin depth factor, cut-off frequency, and the
structure of the radiating element.
The material used for building the waveguide and the pyramidal horn is aluminum with thickness of
0.5486 of a millimeter. Aluminum has high electrical conductivity; its conductivity is second copper and
the cost is significantly cheaper. This insures the radio wave transmitted in the waveguide is properly
reflected and surface current on the waveguide does not produce much Ohmic loss. To ensure the
copper used in construction is thick enough for a 1.2MHz electromagnetic wave to propagate with the
least amount of attenuation, the skin depth must be calculated. The skin depth or the depth of
penetration of a conductor:

The aluminum used in the construction is approximately 548.6 micrometers, which is much thicker than
the skin depth. This ensures the waveguide will not be lossy.

Radio waves can propagate in many different modes in a rectangular waveguide. For our purpose, the
dominant mode of transverse electric propagation is selected. This TE10 mode has the lowest
attenuation of all modes in a rectangular waveguide and its electric field is vertically polarized. In order
to design the dimension of the waveguide, we must calculate the cut-off frequency for the dominant
mode of propagation. For 1.2GHz wave to propagate inside the waveguide, the cutoff frequency must
be lower then the mode of propagation. Plotting the attenuation of the transverse electromagnetic
wave in the dominant mode within the waveguide will give us a good idea of the cut-off frequency to
Horn antennas are typically fed by a section of a waveguide, as shown in Figure 4. The waveguide itself is
often fed with a short dipole, which is shown in red in Figure 4. A waveguide is simply a hollow, metal
cavity. Waveguides are used to guide electromagnetic energy from one place to another. The waveguide
is a rectangular waveguide of width b and height a, with b > a.
Antenna texts typically derive very complicated functions for the radiation patterns of horn antennas.
Since the pyramidal horn antenna is the most popular, we'll analyze that. The E-field distribution across
the aperture of the horn antenna is what is responsible for the radiation.
The radiation pattern of a horn antenna will depend on B and A (the dimensions of the horn at the
opening) and R (the length of the horn, which also affects the flare angles of the horn), along with b and
a (the dimensions of the waveguide). These parameters are optimized in order to taylor the
performance of the horn antenna, and are illustrated in the following Figures.

Figure 5. Cross section of waveguide, cut in the H-plane.

Figure 6. Cross section of waveguide, cut in the E-plane.

Observe that the flare angles (flare angle in the E-plane and flare angle for horn antenna) depend on the
height, width and length of the horn antenna.

Given the coordinate system of Figure 6 (which is centered at the opening of the horn), the radiation will
be maximum in the +z-direction (out of the screen).

The E-field distribution across the opening of the horn antenna can be approximated by:

The above equation states that the far-fields of the horn antenna is the Fourier Transform of the fields
at the opening of the horn.
Horn antennas are basically apertures with an electric field across them, which gives rise to the radiation.
Now, we can model an electric field as a "magnetic surface current" Ms:

In [18], is a unit vector perpendicular to the surface. The far field results can then be calculated using
[18] in place of Js, and replacing the electric field with the magnetic field. That is, we can calculate E
directly from Js, and H directly from Ms. In addition, since we are looking at radiated fields, we can
calculate E from H, or H from E as:


In Equation [19], characteristic impedance of free space is a constant (about 377 Ohms), known as the
characteristic impedance of free space, and is the direction of propagation for the plane wave.
The horn antenna geometry affects its antenna gain. For a desired antenna gain, there are tables and
graphs that can be consulted in antenna handbooks that describe the optimal geometry in terms of the
length and aperture size of the horn. However, this optimal geometry is only valid at a single frequency.
Since horn antennas are to operate over a wide frequency band, they are often designed to have
optimal gain at the lowest frequency in the band. At higher frequencies, the geometry is no longer
optimal, so the E-field across the aperture is not optimal. However, the horn's aperture becomes
electrically larger at higher frequencies (the aperture is more wavelengths long as the frequency
increases or the wavelength decreases). Consequently, the loss of an optimal aperture field is offset by
an electrically larger horn, and the antenna again actually increases as the frequency increases.
1. New method for optimum design of pyramidal horn antennas, Leandro de Paula Santos
Pereira; Marco Antonio Brasil Terada, Antenna Group, Electrical Engineering Dept., University of

2. Antennas, Antenna Basics, Antenna Gain. http://www.antenna-

3. Pyramidal Horn Antenna, ETS-Lindgren Inc.

4. Horn Antenna, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_antenna