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EC2353 -Antenna and wave propagation
 An antenna is an electrical conductor or system of conductors
 Transmission - radiates electromagnetic energy into space
 Reception - collects electromagnetic energy from space
 In two-way communication, the same antenna can be used for transmission and
 An antenna is a circuit element that provides a transition form a guided wave on a
transmission line to a free space wave and it provides for the collection of
electromagnetic energy.
 In transmit systems the RF signal is generated, amplified, modulated and applied
to the antenna
 In receive systems the antenna collects electromagnetic waves that are cutting
through the antenna and induce alternating currents that are used by the receiver



Hertzian dipole
A simple practical antenna is a doublet or Hertzian dipole (see a figure below). It
is very short length of wire over which the current distribution can be assumed uniform.
Maxwells equations show that such an antenna when energized by a high frequency
current is associated with an induction field which decreases inversely as square of the
distance and a radiation field which decreases inversely as distance only. The later is still
measurable at large distances from the doublet and is well-known radiation field used in
radio communications






 Radiation Intensity. In a given direction, the power radiated form an antenna per
unit solid angle.
 Directive Gain. In a given direction, 4 times the ratio of theradiation intensity in
that direction to the total power radiated by the antenna.
 Directivity. The value of the directive gain in the direction of its maximum value.
 Power Gain. In a given direction, 4 times the ratio of the radiationintensity in
that direction to the net power accepted by the antenna from the connected
transmitter. NOTES: (1) When thedirection is not stated, the power gain is usually
taken to be thepower gain in the direction of its maximum value. (2) Power gain
does not include reflection losses arising from mismatchof impedance.
 Beamwidth is the angular separation of the half-power points of the radiated

 Bandwidth is the difference between the upper and lower cutoff frequencies
of,for example, a filter, a communication channel, or a signal spectrum, and is
typically measured in hertz. In case of a baseband channel or signal, the andwidth
is equal to its upper cutoff frequency. Bandwidth in hertz is a centralconcept in
many fields, including electronics, information theory, radio communications,
signal processing, and spectroscopy
Gain is an antenna property dealing with an antenna's ability to
direct its radiated power in a desired direction, or to receive
energy preferentially from a desired direction. However, gain is
not a quantity which can be defined in terms of physical quantities
such as the Watt, ohm or joule, but is a dimensionless ratio.
As a consequence, antenna gain results from the interaction of
all other antenna characteristics.Antenna characteristics of gain,
beamwidth, and efficiency areindependent of the antenna's use for
either transmitting or receiving. Generally these characteristics are
more easilydescribed for the transmitting case, however, the
properties apply as well to receiving applications.
 Radiation resistance
An important property of a transmitting antenna is its radiation resistance which is
associated with power radiated by the antenna. If I is the r.m.s (root mean square)
antenna current and Rr is its radiation resistance, then the power radiated is I2Rr
watts where Rr is a fictitious resistance which accounts for the radiated power
somewhat like a circuit resistance which dissipates heat. The larger the radiation
resistance the larger the power radiated by the antenna. In contrast, for receiving
antenna its input impedance is important. The input impedance is defined as the ratio
of voltage to current at its input and it must be generally matched to the connecting
line or cable. The input impedance may or may not be equal to radiation resistance,
though very often it does. In most case Rr may be calculated or it can be determined
 Half-wavelength dipole
This type of antenna is a special case where each wire is exactly one-quarter of
the wavelength, for a total of a half wavelength. The radiation resistance is about 73
ohms if wire diameter is ignored, making it easily matched to a coaxial transmission
line. The directivity is a constant 1.64, or 2.15 dB. Actual gain will be a little less due
to ohmic losses.
 Folded dipole
A folded dipole is a dipole where an additional wire (/2) links the two ends of the
(/2) half wave dipole. The folded dipole works in the same way as a normal dipole,
but the radiation resistance is about 300 ohms rather than the 75 ohms which is
expected for a normal dipole. The increase in radiation resistance allows the antenna
to be driven from a 300 ohm balanced line.


 An antenna ability to transfer energy form the atmosphere to its receiver with the
same efficiency with which it transfers energy from the transmitter into the
 Antenna characteristics are essentially the same regardless of whether an antenna
is sending or receiving electromagnetic energy
An antenna with a non-uniform distribution of current over its length L can be considered
as having a shorter effective length Le over which the current is assumed to be uniform
and equal to its peak. The relationship between Le and L is given by:

 Effective aperture
The power received by an antenna can be associated with collecting area. Every
antenna may be considered to have such a collecting area which is called its effective
aperture A. If Pd is a power density at the antenna and Pr is received power, then:

 Polarization is the direction of the electric field and is the same as the physical
attitude of the antenna
 A vertical antenna will transmit a vertically polarized wave
The receive and transmit antennas need to possess the same polarization
Antenna Gain
 Relationship between antenna gain and effective area
G = antenna gain
Ae = effective area
f = carrier frequency
c = speed of light ( 3 108 m/s)
= carrier wavelength
Radiation Pattern
 Radiation pattern is an indication of radiated field strength around the antenna.
Power radiated from a /2 dipole occurs at right angles to the antenna with no
power emitting from the ends of the antenna. Optimum signal strength occurs at
right angles or 180 from opposite the antenna
 Radiation pattern

 Graphical representation of radiation properties of an antenna
 Depicted as two-dimensional cross section
 Beam width (or half-power beam width)
 Measure of directivity of antenna
 Reception pattern
 Receiving antennas equivalent to radiation pattern

Antenna Temperature
( ) is a parameter that describes how much noise an antenna produces in a given
environment. This temperature is not the physical temperature of the antenna. Moreover,
an antenna does not have an intrinsic "antenna temperature" associated with it; rather the
temperature depends on its gain pattern and the thermal environment that it is placed in.
To define the environment, we'll introduce a temperature distribution - this is the
temperature in every direction away from the antenna in spherical coordinates. For
instance, the night sky is roughly 4 Kelvin; the value of the temperature pattern in the
direction of the Earth's ground is the physical temperature of the Earth's ground. This
temperature distribution will be written as
. Hence, an antenna's temperature will
vary depending on whether it is directional and pointed into space or staring into the sun.
For an antenna with a radiation pattern given by
mathematically defined as:

, the noise temperature is

This states that the temperature surrounding the antenna is integrated over the entire
sphere, and weighted by the antenna's radiation pattern. Hence, an isotropic antenna
would have a noise temperature that is the average of all temperatures around the
antenna; for a perfectly directional antenna (with a pencil beam), the antenna temperature
will only depend on the temperature in which the antenna is "looking".
The noise power received from an antenna at temperature
can be expressed in terms of
the bandwidth (B) the antenna (and its receiver) are operating over:

In the above, K is Boltzmann's constant (1.38 * 10^-23 [Joules/Kelvin = J/K]). The

receiver also has a temperature associated with it (

), and the total system temperature

(antenna plus receiver) has a combined temperature given by

. This
temperature can be used in the above equation to find the total noise power of the system.
These concepts begin to illustrate how antenna engineers must understand receivers and
the associated electronics, because the resulting systems very much depend on each other.

A parameter often encountered in specification sheets for antennas that operate in certain
environments is the ratio of gain of the antenna divided by the antenna temperature (or
system temperature if a receiver is specified). This parameter is written as G/T, and has
units of dB/Kelvin [dB/K].
Half wave antenna


Quarter wave or unipole antenna

 The quarter wave or unipole antenna is a single element antenna feed at one end,
that behaves as a dipole antenna. It is formed by a conductor in length. It is fed in
the lower end, which is near a conductive surface which works as a reflector (see
Effect of ground). The current in the reflected image has the same direction and
phase that the current in the real antenna. The set quarter-wave plus image forms
a half-wave dipole that radiates only in the upper half of space.


Antenna array is a group of antennas or antenna elements arranged to provide the

desired directional characteristics. Generally any combination of elements can form an
array. However, equal elements in a regular geometry are usually used.
The pattern multiplication principle states that the radiation patterns of an array of N
identical antennas is equal to the product of the element pattern Fe( ) (pattern of one of
the antennas) and the array pattern Fa( ), where Fa( ) is the pattern obtained upon
replacing all of the actual antennas with isotropic sources.
The small loop antenna is a closed loop as shown in Figure 1. These antennas
have low radiation resistance and high reactance, so that their impedance is
difficult to match to a transmitter. As a result, these antennas are most often
used as receive antennas, where impedance mismatch loss can be tolerated.
The radius is a, and is assumed to be much smaller than a wavelength (a<<
). The loop lies in the x-y plane.

Figure 1. Small loop antenna.
Since the loop is electrically small, the current within the loop can be
approximated as being constant along the loop, so that I=

The fields from a small circular loop are given by:

The variation of the pattern with direction is given by

, so that the
radiation pattern of a small loop antenna has the same power pattern as that of a
short dipole. However, the fields of a small dipole have the E- and H- fields
switched relative to that of a short dipole; the E-field is horizontally polarized
in the x-y plane.
The small loop is often referred to as the dual of the dipole antenna, because if
a small dipole had magnetic current flowing (as opposed to electric current as
in a regular dipole), the fields would resemble that of a small loop.
While the short dipole has a capacitive impedance (imaginary part of
impedance is negative), the impedance of a small loop is inductive (positive
imaginary part). The radiation resistance (and ohmic loss resistance) can be
increased by adding more turns to the loop. If there are N turns of a small loop
antenna, each with a surface area S (we don't require the loop to be circular at
this point), the radiation resistance for small loops can be approximated (in
Ohms) by:

For a small loop, the reactive component of the impedance can be determined
by finding the inductance of the loop, which depends on its shape (then
X=2*pi*f*L). For a circular loop with radius a and wire radius p, the reactive
component of the impedance is given by:


Small loops often have a low radiation resistance and a highly inductive
component to their reactance. Hence, they are most often used as receive
antennas. Exaples of their use include in pagers, and as field strength probes
used in wireless measurements.

 Loop antenna
A loop antenna has a continuous conducting path leading from
one conductor of a two-wire transmission line to the other conductor. All planar loops are
directional antennas with a sharp null, and have a radiation pattern similar to the dipole
antenna. However, the large and small loops have different orientations with respect to
their radiation pattern.
 Small loops
A loop is considered a small loop if it is less than 1/4 of a
wavelength in circumference. Most directional receiving loops are about 1/10 of a
wavelength. The small loop is also called the magnetic loop because it is more sensitivie
to the magnetic component of the electromagnetic wave. As such, it is less sensitive to
near field electric noise when properly shielded. The received voltage of a small loop can
be greatly increased by bringing the loop into resonance with a tuning capacitor.
Since the small loop is small with respect to a wavelength, the
current around the antenna is nearly completely in phase. Therefore, waves approaching
in the plane of the loop will cancel, and waves in the axis perpendicular to the plane of
the loop will be strongest. This is the opposite mechanism as the large loop.
 Large loops
The (large) loop antenna is similar to a dipole, except that the
ends of the dipole are connected to form a circle, triangle () or square. Typically a loop is
a multiple of a half or full wavelength in circumference. A circular loop gets higher gain
(about 10%) than the other forms of large loop antenna, as gain of this antenna is directly
proportional to the area enclosed by the loop, but circles can be hard to support in a
flexible wire, making squares and triangles much more popular. Large loop antennas are
more immune to localized noise partly due to lack of a need for a groundplane. The large
loop has its strongest signal in the plane of the loop, and nulls in the axis perpendicular to
the plane of the loop. This is the opposite orientation to the small loop.
 AM loops
AM loops are loops tuned for the AM broadcasting band.
Because of the extremely long wavelength, an AM loop may have multiple turns of wire
and still be less than 1/10 of a wavelength. Typically these loops are tuned with a
capacitor, and may also be wound around a ferrite rod to increase aperture.
 Direction finding with loops

Loops are somewhat directional along the axis of highest gain,
but have a sharp null in the axis perpendicular to their highest gain. Therefore, when
using a loop for direction finding, the plane of the antenna is rotated until the signal
disappears. As planar loops have a 180 degree symmetry, other methods must be used to
determine if the signal is in front or behind the loop.
Frequently, a dipole and a loop are used together, to obtain a
combined cardioid radiation pattern with a sharp null on only one side.

Uniform linear array






Slot antennas are used typically at frequencies between 300 MHz and
24 GHz. These antennas are popular because they can be cut out of whatever
surface they are to be mounted on, and have radiation patterns that are roughly
omnidirectional (similar to a linear wire antenna, as we'll see). The polarization
is linear. The slot size, shape and what is behind it (the cavity) offer design
variables that can be used to tune performance.
Consider an infinite conducting sheet, with a rectangular slot cut out of
dimensions a and b, as shown in Figure 1. If we can excite some reasonable
fields in the slot (often called the aperture), we have an antenna.


Figure 1. Rectangular Slot antenna with dimensions a and b.

To gain an intuition about slot antennas, first we'll learn Babinet's principle (put
into antenna terms by H. G. Booker in 1946). This principle relates the radiated
fields and impedance of an aperture or slot antenna to that of the field of its
dual antenna. The dual of a slot antenna would be if the conductive material
and air were interchanged - that is, the slot antenna became a metal slab in
space. An example of dual antennas is shown in Figure 2:


Figure 2. Dual antennas.

Note that a voltage source is applied across the short end of the slot. This
induces an E-field distribution within the slot, and currents that travel around
the slot perimeter, both contributed to radiation. The dual antenna is similar to a
dipole antenna. The voltage source is applied at the center of the dipole, so that
the voltage source is rotated.
Babinet's principle relates these two antennas. The first result states that the
impedance of the slot ( ) is related to the impedance of its dual antenna ( )
by the relation:

In the above, is the intrinsic impedance of free space. The second major
result of Babinet's/Booker's principle is that the fields of the dual antenna are
almost the same as the slot antenna (the fields components are interchanged,
and called "duals"). That is, the fields of the slot antenna (given with a
subscript S) are related to the fields of it's complement (given with a subscript
C) by:


Hence, if we know the fields from one antenna we know the fields of the other
antenna. Hence, since it is easy to visualize the fields from a dipole antenna, the
fields and impedance from a slot antenna can become intuitive if Babinet's
principle is understood.
Note that the polarization of the two antennas are reversed. That is, since the
dipole antenna on the right in Figure 2 is vertically polarized, the slot antenna
on the left will be horizontally polarized.

Duality Example
As an example, consider a dipole similar to the one shown on the right in
Figure 2. Suppose the length of the dipole is 14.4 centimeters and the width is 2
centimeters, and that the impedance at 1 GHz is 65+j15 Ohms. The fields from
the dipole antenna are given by:

What are the fields from a slot at 1 GHz, with the same dimensions as the
Using Babinet's principle, the impedance can be easily found:

The impedance of the slot for this case is much larger, and while the dipole's
impedance is inductive (positive imaginary part), the slot's impedance is
capacitive (negative imaginary part). The E-fields for the slot can be easily


We see that the E-fields only contain a phi (azimuth) component; the antenna is
therefore horizontally polarized.
Horn antennas are very popular at UHF (300 MHz-3 GHz) and higher
frequencies (I've heard of horns operating as high as 140 GHz). They often
have a directional radiation pattern with a high gain , which can range up to 25
dB in some cases, with 10-20 dB being typical. Horns have a wide impedance
bandwidth, implying that the input impedance is slowly varying over a wide
frequency range (which also implies low values for S11 or VSWR). The
bandwidth for practical horn antennas can be on the order of 20:1 (for instance,
operating from 1 GHz-20 GHz), with a 10:1 bandwidth not being uncommon.
The gain often increases (and the beamwidth decreases) as the frequency of
operation is increased. Horns have very little loss, so the directivity of a horn is
roughly equal to its gain.
Horn antennas are somewhat intuitive and not relatively simple to manufacture.
In addition, acoustic horns also used in transmitting sound waves (for example,
with a megaphone). Horn antennas are also often used to feed a dish antenna, or
as a "standard gain" antenna in measurements.
Popular versions of the horn antenna include the E-plane horn, shown in Figure
1. This horn is flared in the E-plane, giving the name. The horizontal dimension
is constant at w.

Figure 1. E-plane horn.

Another example of a horn is the H-plane horn, shown in Figure 2. This horn is
flared in the H-plane, with a constant height for the waveguide and horn of h.


Figure 2. H-Plane horn.

The most popular horn is flared in both planes as shown in Figure 3. This is a
pyramidal horn, and has width B and height A at the end of the horn.

Figure 3. Pyramidal horn.

Horns 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 in
Figure 4 is a rectangular waveguide of width b and height a, with b>a. The Efield distribution for the dominant mode is shown in the lower part of Figure 1.


Figure 4. Waveguide used as a feed to horn antennas.

Reflector Antenna
To increase the directivity of an antenna, a fairly intuitive solution is to use a
reflector. For example, if we start with a wire antenna (lets say a half-wave
dipole antenna), we could place a conductive sheet behind it to direct radiation
in the forward direction. To further increase the directivity, a corner reflector
may be used, as shown in Figure 1. The angle between the plates will be 90

Figure 1. Geometry of Corner Reflector.

The radiation pattern of this antenna can be understood by using image theory,
and then calculating the result via array theory. For ease of analysis, we'll
assume the reflecting plates are infinite in extent. Figure 2 below shows the
equivalent source distribution, valid for the region in front of the plates.

Figure 2. Equivalent sources in free space.

The dotted circles indicate antennas that are in-phase with the actual antenna;
the x'd out antennas are 180 degrees out of phase to the actual antenna.
Assume that the original antenna has an omnidirectional pattern given by
Then the radiation pattern (R) of the "equivalent set of radiators" of Figure 2
can be written as:

The above directly follows from Figure 2 and array theory (k is the wave
number. The resulting pattern will have the same polarization as the original
vertically polarized antenna. The directivity will be increased by 9-12 dB. The
above equation gives the radiated fields in the region in front of the plates.
Since we assumed the plates were infinite, the fields behind the plates are zero.
The directivity will be the highest when d is a half-wavelength. Assuming the
radiating element of Figure 1 is a short dipole with a pattern given by
the fields for this case are shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Polar and azimuth patterns of normalized radiation pattern.

The radiation pattern, impedance and gain of the antenna will be influenced by
the distance d of Figure 1. The input impedance is increased by the reflector
when the spacing is one half wavelength; it can be reduced by moving the
antenna closer to the reflector. The length L of the reflectors in Figure 1 are
typically 2*d. However, if tracing a ray travelling along the y-axis from the
antenna, this will be reflected if the length is at least
. The height of the
plates should be taller than the radiating element; however since linear antennas
do not radiate well along the z-axis, this parameter is not critically important.

The Parabolic Reflector

Antenna (Satellite Dish)
The most well-known reflector antenna is the parabolic reflector antenna, commonly
known as a satellite dish antenna. Examples of this dish antenna are shown in the
following Figures.


Figure 1. The "big dish" of Stanford University.


Figure 2. A random "direcTV dish" on a roof.

Parabolic reflectors typically have a very high gain (30-40 dB is common) and low cross
polarization. They also have a reasonable bandwidth, with the fractional bandwidth
being at least 5% on commercially available models, and can be very wideband in the
case of huge dishes (like the Stanford "big dish" above, which can operate from 150
MHz to 1.5 GHz).
The smaller dish antennas typically operate somewhere between 2 and 28 GHz. The
large dishes can operate in the VHF region (30-300 MHz), but typically need to be
extremely large at this operating band.
The basic structure of a parabolic dish antenna is shown in Figure 3. It consists of a feed
antenna pointed towards a parabolic reflector. The feed antenna is often a horn antenna
with a circular aperture.


Figure 3. Components of a dish antenna.

Unlike resonant antennas like the dipole antenna which are typically approximately a
half-wavelength long at the frequency of operation, the reflecting dish must be much
larger than a wavelength in size. The dish is at least several wavelengths in diameter, but
the diameter can be on the order of 100 wavelengths for very high gain dishes (>50 dB
gain). The distance between the feed antenna and the reflector is typically several
wavelenghts as well. This is in contrast to the corner reflector, where the antenna is
roughly a half-wavelength from the reflector.
In the next section, we'll look at the parabolic dish geometry in detail and why a parabola
is a desired shape.
To start, let the equation of a parabola with focal length F can be written in the
(x,z) plane as:

This is plotted in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Illustration of parabola with defining parameters.

The parabola is completely described by two parameters, the diameter D and
the focal length F. We also define two auxilliary parameters, the vertical height
of the reflector (H) and the max angle between the focal point and the edge of
the dish ( ). These parameters are related to each other by the following

To analyze the reflector, we will use approximations from geometric optics.

Since the reflector is large relative to a wavelength, this assumption is
reasonable though not precisely accurate. We will analyze the structure via
straight line rays from the focal point, with each ray acting as a plane wave.
Consider two transmitted rays from the focal point, arriving from two distinct
angles as shown in Figure 2. The reflector is assumed to be perfectly
conducting, so that the rays are completely reflected.


Figure 2. Two rays leaving the focal point and reflected from the parabolic
There are two observations that can be made from Figure 2. The first is that
both rays end up travelling in the downward direction (which can be
determined because the incident and reflected angles relative to the normal of
the surface must be equal). . The rays are said to be collimated. The second
important observation is that the path lengths ADE and ABC are equal. This
can be proved with a little bit of geometry, which I won't reproduce here. These
facts can be proved for any set of angles chosen. Hence, it follows that:
All rays emanating from the focal point (the source or feed antenna) will be
reflected towards the same direction.
The distance each ray travels from the focal point to the reflector and then to
the focal plane is constant.
As a result of these observations, it follows the distribution of the field on the
focal plane will be in phase and travelling in the same direction. This gives rise
to the parabolic dish antennas highly directional radiation pattern. This is why
the shape of the dish is parabolic.
Finally, by revolving the parabola about the z-axis, a paraboloid is obtained, as
shown below.


For design, the value of the diameter D should be increased to increase the gain
of the antenna. The focal length F is then the only free parameter; typical
values are commonly given as the ratio F/D, which usually range between 0.3
and 1.0. Factors affecting the choice of this ratio will be given in the following
In the next section, we'll look at gain calculations for a parabolic reflector
The fields across the aperture of the parabolic reflector is responsible for this
antenna's radiation. The maximum possible gain of the antenna can be
expressed in terms of the physical area of the aperture:

The actual gain is in terms of the effective aperture, which is related to the
physical area by the efficiency term ( ). This efficiency term will often be on
the order of 0.6-0.7 for a well designed dish antenna:

Understanding this efficiency will also aid in understanding the trade-offs

involved in the design of a parabolic reflector. The efficiency can be written as
the product of a series of terms:

We'll walk through each of these terms.


Radiation Efficiency
The radiation efficiency is the usual efficiency that deals with ohmic losses,
as discussed on the efficiency page. Since horn antennas are often used as
feeds, and these have very little loss, and because the parabolic reflector is
typically metallic with a very high conductivity, this efficiency is typically
close to 1 and can be neglected.

Aperture Taper Efficiency

The aperture radiation efficiency
is a measure of how uniform the E-field is
across the antenna's aperture. In general, an antenna will have the maximum
gain if the E-field is uniform in amplitude and phase across the aperture (the
far-field is roughly the Fourier Transform of the aperture fields). However, the
aperture fields will tend to diminish away from the main axis of the reflector,
which leads to lower gain, and this loss is captured within this parameter.
This efficiency can be improved by increasing the F/D ratio, which also lowers
the cross-polarization of the radiated fields. However, as with all things in
engineering, there is a tradeoff: increasing the F/D ratio reduces the spillover
efficiency, discussed next.

Spillover Efficiency
The spillover efficiency is simple to understand. This measures the amount
of radiation from the feed antenna that is reflected by the reflector. Due to the
finite size of the reflector, some of the radiation from the feed antenna will
travel away from the main axis at an angle greater than , thus not being
reflected. This efficiency can be improved by moving the feed closer to the
reflector, or by increasing the size of the reflector.

Other Efficiencies
There are many other efficiencies that I've lumped into the parameter
. This
is a major of all other "real-world effects" that degrades the antenna's gain and
consists of effects such as:
Surface Error - small deviations in the shape of the reflector degrades
performance, especially for high frequencies that have a small wavelength and
become scattered by small surface anomalies
Cross Polarization - The loss of gain due to cross-polarized (non-desirable)

Aperture Blockage - The feed antenna (and the physical structure that holds
it up) blocks some of the radiation that would be transmitted by the reflector.
Non-Ideal Feed Phase Center - The parabolic dish has desirable properties
relative to a single focal point. Since the feed antenna will not be a point
source, there will be some loss due to a non-perfect phase center for a horn

Calculating Efficiency
The efficiency is a function of where the feed antenna is placed (in terms of F
and D) and the feed antenna's radiation pattern. Instead of introducing complex
formulas for some of these terms, we'll make use of some results by S. Silver
back in 1949. He calculated the aperture efficiency for a class of radiation
patterns given as:

TYpically, the feed antenna (horn) will not have a pattern exactly like the
above, but can be approximated well using the function above for some value
of n. Using the above pattern, the aperture efficiency of a parabolic reflector
can be calculated. This is displayed in Figure 1 for varying values of and the
F/D ratio.


Figure 1. Aperture Efficiency of a Parabolic Reflector as a function of F/D or

the angle , for varying feed antenna radiation patterns.
Figure 1 gives a good idea on design of optimal parabolic reflectors. First, D is
made as large as possible so that the physical aperture is maximized. Then the
F/D ratio that maximizes the aperture efficiency can be found from the above
graph. Note that the equation that relates the ratio of F/D to the angle can be
found here.
In the next section, we'll look at the radiation pattern of a parabolic antenna.
In this section, the 3d radiation patterns are presented to give an idea of what
they look like. This example will be for a parabolic dish reflector with the
diameter of the dish D equal to 11 wavelengths. The F/D ratio will be 0.5. A
circular horn antenna will be used as the feed.
The maximum gain from the physical aperture is
; the
actual gain is 29.3 dB = 851, so we can conclude that the overall efficiency is
77%. The 3D patterns are shown in the following figures.


As can be seen, the pattern is highly directional. The HPBW is approximately 5

degrees, and the front-to-back ratio is approximately 33 dB.
LENS ANTENNA.Another antenna that can change spherical waves into flat plane waves is the
lens antenna. This antenna uses a microwave lens, which is similar to an optical lens to straighten the
spherical wavefronts. Since this type of antenna uses a lens to straighten the wavefronts, its design is
based on the laws of refraction, rather than reflection. Two types of lenses have been developed
to provide a plane-wavefront narrow beam for tracking radars, while avoiding the problems
associated with the feedhorn shadow. These are the conducting (acceleration) type and
the dielectric (delay) type. The lens of an antenna is substantially transparent to microwave energy that
passes through it. It will, however, cause the waves of energy to be either converged or
diverged as they exit the lens. Consider the action of the two types of lenses. The conducting type of lens
is illustrated in figure 1-10, view A. This type of lens consists of flat metal strips placed parallel to the
electric field of the wave and spaced slightly in excess of one-half of a wavelength. To the wave
these strips look like parallel waveguides. The velocity of phase propagation of a wave is greater in a
waveguide than in air. Thus, since the lens is concave, the outer portions of the transmitted
spherical waves are accelerated for a longer interval of time than the inner portion.


Helical Antenna
Antennas List

Antenna Theory Home

Helix antennas have a very distinctive shape, as can be seen in the following


Photo courtesy of Dr. Lee Boyce.

The most popular helical antenna (often called a 'helix') is a travelling wave
antenna in the shape of a corkscrew that produces radiation along the axis of the
helix. These helixes are referred to as axial-mode helical antennas. The benefits of
this antenna is it has a wide bandwidth, is easily constructed, has a real input
impedance, and can produce circularly polarized fields. The basic geometry is
shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Geometry of Helical Antenna.

The parameters are defined below.
D - Diameter of a turn on the helix.
C - Circumference of a turn on the helix (C=pi*D).
S - Vertical separation between turns.
- pitch angle, which controls how far the antenna grows in the z-direction per

turn, and is given by

N - Number of turns on the helix.
H - Total height of helix, H=NS.
The antenna in Figure 1 is a left handed helix, because if you curl your fingers on
your left hand around the helix your thumb would point up (also, the waves
emitted from the antenna are Left Hand Circularly Polarized). If the helix was

wound the other way, it would be a right handed helical antenna.
The pattern will be maximum in the +z direction (along the helical axis in Figure
1). The design of helical antennas is primarily based on empirical results, and the
fundamental equations will be presented here.
Helices of at least 3 turns will have close to circular polarization in the +z
direction when the circumference C is close to a wavelength:

Once the circumference C is chosen, the inequalites above roughly determine the
operating bandwidth of the helix. For instance, if C=19.68 inches (0.5 meters),
then the highest frequency of operation will be given by the smallest wavelength
that fits into the above equation, or =0.75C=0.375 meters, which corresponds
to a frequency of 800 MHz. The lowest frequency of operation will be given by
the largest wavelength that fits into the above equation, or =1.333C=0.667
meters, which corresponds to a frequency of 450 MHz. Hence, the fractional BW
is 56%, which is true of axial helices in general.
The helix is a travelling wave antenna, which means the current travels along the
antenna and the phase varies continuously. In addition, the input impedance is
primarly real and can be approximated in Ohms by:

The helix functions well for pitch angles ( ) between 12 and 14 degrees.
Typically, the pitch angle is taken as 13 degrees.
The normalized radiation pattern for the E-field components are given by:

For circular polarization, the orthogonal components of the E-field must be 90

degrees out of phase. This occurs in directions near the axis (z-axis in Figure 1) of
the helix. The axial ratio for helix antennas decreases as the number of loops N is

added, and can be approximated by:

The gain of the helix can be approximated by:

In the above, c is the speed of light. Note that for a given helix geometry
(specified in terms of C, S, N), the gain increases with frequency. For an N=10
turn helix, that has a 0.5 meter circumference as above, and an pitch angle of 13
degrees (giving S=0.13 meters), the gain is 8.3 (9.2 dB).
For the same example helix, the pattern is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Normalized radiation pattern for helical antenna (dB).

The Half-Power Beamwidth for helical antennas can be approximated (in degrees)


Yagi-Uda Antenna
Antennas List

Antenna Theory .com

The Yagi-Uda antenna or Yagi is one of the most brilliant antenna designs. It is
simple to construct and has a high gain, typically greater than 10 dB. These
antennas typically operate in the HF to UHF bands (about 3 MHz to 3 GHz),
although their bandwidth is typically small, on the order of a few percent of the
center frequency. You are probably familiar with this antenna, as they sit on top
of roofs everywhere. An example of a Yagi-Uda antenna is shown below.

The Yagi antenna was invented in Japan, with results first published in 1926. The
work was originally done by Shintaro Uda, but published in Japanese. The work
was presented for the first time in English by Yagi (who was either Uda's
professor or colleague, my sources are conflicting), who went to America and
gave the first English talks on the antenna, which led to its widespread use.
Hence, even though the antenna is often called a Yagi antenna, Uda probably
invented it. A picture of Professor Yagi with a Yagi-Uda antenna is shown below.


In the next section, we'll explain the principles of the Yagi-Uda antenna.
The basic geometry of a Yagi-Uda antenna is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Geometry of Yagi-Uda antenna.</FONT< CENTER>

The antenna consists of a single 'feed' or 'driven' element, typically a dipole or a
folded dipole antenna. This is the only member of the above structure that is
actually excited (a source voltage or current applied). The rest of the elements
are parasitic - they reflect or help to transmit the energy in a particular
direction. The length of the feed element is given in Figure 1 as F. The feed
antenna is almost always the second from the end, as shown in Figure 1. This
feed antenna is often altered in size to make it resonant in the presence of the
parasitic elements (typically, 0.45-0.48 wavelengths long for a dipole antenna).

The element to the left of the feed element in Figure 1 is the reflector. The
length of this element is given as R and the distance between the feed and the
reflector is SR. The reflector element is typically slightly longer than the feed
element. There is typically only one reflector; adding more reflectors improves
performance very slightly. This element is important in determining the frontto-back ratio of the antenna.
Having the reflector slightly longer than resonant serves two purposes. The first
is that the larger the element is, the better of a physical reflector it becomes.
Secondly, if the reflector is longer than its resonant length, the impedance of
the reflector will be inductive. Hence, the current on the reflector lags the
voltage induced on the reflector. The director elements (those to the right of the
feed in Figure 1) will be shorter than resonant, making them capacitive, so that
the current leads the voltage. This will cause a phase distribution to occur
across the elements, simulating the phase progression of a plane wave across
the array of elements. This leads to the array being designated as a travelling
wave antenna. By choosing the lengths in this manner, the Yagi-Uda antenna
becomes an end-fire array - the radiation is along the +y-axis as shown in
Figure 1.
The rest of the elements (those to the right of the feed antenna as shown in
Figure 1) are known as director elements. There can be any number of directors
N, which is typically anywhere from N=1 to N=20 directors. Each element is of
length Di, and separated from the adjacent director by a length SDi. As alluded
to in the previous paragraph, the lengths of the directors are typically less than
the resonant length, which encourages wave propagation in the direction of the
The above description is the basic idea of what is going on. Yagi antenna
design is done most often via measurements, and sometimes computer
simulations. For instance, lets look at a two-element Yagi antenna (1 reflector,
1 feed element, 0 directors). The feed element is a half-wavelength dipole,
shortened to be resonant (gain = 2.15 dB). The gain as a function of the
separation is shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Gain versus separation for 2-element Yagi antenna.

The above graph shows that the gain is increases by about 2.5 dB if the
separation SD is between 0.15 and 0.3 wavelengths. Similarly, the gain can be
plotted as a function of director spacings, or as a function of the number of
directors used. Typically, the first director will add approximately 3 dB of
overall gain (if designed well), the second will add about 2 dB, the third about
1.5 dB. Adding an additional director always increases the gain; however, the
gain in directivity decreases as the number of elements gets larger. For
instance, if there are 8 directors, and another director is added, the increases in
gain will be less than 0.5 dB.
In the next section, I'll go further into the design of Yagi-Uda antennas.
The design of a Yagi-Uda antenna is actually quite simple. Because Yagi antennas have
been extensively analyzed and experimentally tested, the process basically follows this
Look up a table of design parameters for Yagi antennas
Build it (or model it numerically), and tweak it till the performance is acceptable
As an example, consider the table published in "Yagi Antenna Design" by P Viezbicke
from the National Bureau of Standards, 1968, given in Table I. Note that the "boom" is
the long element that the directors, reflectors and feed elements are physically attached to,

and dictates the lenght of the antenna.
Table I. Optimal Lengths for Yagi-Uda Elements, for Distinct Boom Lengths

Boom Length of Yagi-Uda Array (in























































































Gain (dB)

There's no real rocket science going on in the above table. I believe the authors of
the above document did experimental measurements until they found an
optimized set of spacings and published it. The spacing between the directors is
uniform and given in the second-to-last row of the table. The diameter of the
elements is given by d=0.0085 . The above table gives a good starting point to
estimate the required length of the antenna (the boom length), and a set of lengths
and spacings that achieves the specified gain. In general, all the spacings, lengths,
diamters (including the boom diameter) are design variables and can be

continuously optimized to alter performance. There are thousands of tables that
further give results, such as how the diamter of the boom affects the results, and
the optimal diamters of the elements.
As an example of Yagi-antenna radiation patterns, a 6-element Yagi antenna (with
axis along the +x-axis) is simulated in FEKO (1 reflector, 1 driven halfwavelength dipole, 4 directors). The resulting antenna has a 12.1 dBi gain, and the
plots are given in Figures 1-3.

Figure 1. E-plane gain of Yagi antenna.


Figure 2. H-Plane gain of Yagi antenna.

Figure 3. 3-D Radiation Pattern of Yagi antenna.

The above plots are just an example to give an idea of what the radiation pattern
of the Yagi-Uda antenna resembles. The gain can be increased (and the pattern
made more directional) by adding more directors or optimizing spacing (or rarely,
adding another refelctor). The front-to-back ratio is approximately 19 dB for this
antenna, and this can also be optimized if desired.
A LONG-WIRE ANTENNA is an antenna that is a wavelength or more long at the operating frequency.
These antennas have directive patterns that are sharp in both the horizontal and vertical planes.

BEVERAGE ANTENNAS consist of a single wire that is two or more wavelengths long.

A V ANTENNA is a bi-directional antenna consisting of two horizontal, long wires arranged to form a V.

The RHOMBIC ANTENNA uses four conductors joined to form a rhombus shape. This antenna has a
wide frequency range, is easy to construct and maintain, and is noncritical as far as operation and
adjustment are concerned.


The TURNSTILE ANTENNA consists of two horizontal, half-wire antennas mounted at right angles to
each other.

In telecommunication, a log-periodic antenna (LP,
also known as a log-periodic array) is a broadband, multielement,
unidirectional, narrow-beam antenna that has impedance and
radiation characteristics that are regularly repetitive as a
logarithmic function of the excitation frequency. The individual

components are often dipoles, as in a log-periodic dipole array
Log periodic antennas are arrays that are designed to be
self-similar and thus are fractal antenna arrays.
It is normal to
drive alternating elements with a circa 180o ( radian) phase shift
from the last element. This is normally done by wiring the
elements alternatingly to the two wires in a balanced transmission
line.The length and spacing of the elements of a log- increase
logarithmically from one end to the other.The result of this
structural condition is that if a plot is made of the input impedance
as a function of log of frequency then the variation will be periodic
i.e. the impedance will go through the cycles of variation in such a
way that each cycle is exactly like its preceding one and hence the
Log.-Periodic Antenna, 250 2400 MHz

Mutual impedance& self-impedance

 The method helps us to compute voltages, currents and
impedances in antenna systems. The method understands the
voltage, which is observed at the input port of every single
antenna element, being induced by the radiation of all the
antenna elements (including the own element). The voltage
can be composed from contributions of single elements. Each
contribution is proportional to the current of the respective

element. E.g., voltage U 1 at the input of the first antenna
element equals to the summation
 where I 1, I 2, I 3 are currents at the input ports of single
elements, Z 11, Z 12, Z 13 are impedances. Z 11 is selfimpedance, Z 1n are mutual impedances between the first
element and the other elements in the antenna system. These
impedances depend on the mutual position and mutual
distance of antenna elements
Biconical antenna
A biconical antenna consists of an arrangement of two conical conductors, which is
driven by potential, charge, or an alternating magnetic field (and the associated
alternating electric current) at the vertex. The conductors have a common axis and vertex.
The two cones face in opposite directions. Biconical antennas are broadband dipole
antennas, typically exhibiting a bandwidth of 3 octaves or more.

Omnidirectional Biconical Antenna

Microstrip or patch antennas are becoming increasingly useful because they can
be printed directly onto a circuit board. They are becoming very widespread
within the mobile phone market. They are low cost, have a low profile and are
easily fabricated.
Consider the microstrip antenna shown in Figure 1, fed by a microstrip
transmission line. The patch, microstrip and ground plane are made of high
conductivity metal. The patch is of length L, width W, and sitting on top of a
substrate (some dielectric circuit board) of thickness h with permittivity
The thickness of the ground plane or of the microstrip is not critically

important. Typically the height h is much smaller than the wavelength of

(a) Top View

(b) Side View

Figure 1. Geometry of Microstrip (Patch) Antenna.
The frequency of operation of the patch antenna of Figure 1 is determined by
the length L. The center frequency will be approximately given by:


The above equation says that the patch antenna should have a length equal to
one half of a wavelength within the dielectric (substrate) medium.
The width W of the antenna controls the input impedance. For a square patch
fed in the manner above, the input impedance will be on the order of 300
Ohms. By increasing the width, the impedance can be reduced. However, to
decrease the input impedance to 50 Ohms often requires a very wide patch. The
width further controls the radiation pattern. The normalized pattern is
approximately given by:

In the above, k is the free-space wavenumber, given by

of the fields, given by:

The fields are plotted in Figure 2 for W=L=0.5

. The magnitude


Figure 2. Normalized Radiation Pattern for Microstrip (Patch) Antenna.

The directivity of patch antennas is approximately 5-7 dB. The fields are
linearly polarized. Next we'll consider more aspects involved in Patch
(Microstrip) antennas.

Spiral antenna
In microwave systems, a spiral antenna is a type of RF antenna. It is shaped as a twoarm spiral, or more arms may be used.[1] Spiral antennas operate over a wide frequency
range and have circular polarization. Spiral antennas were first described in 1956.


A spiral antenna transmits EM waves having a circular polarization. It will receive
linearly polarized EM waves in any orientation, but will attenuate signals received with
the opposite circular polarization. A spiral antenna will reject circularly polarized waves
of one type, while receiving perfectly well waves having the other polarization.
One application of spiral antennas is wideband communications. Another application of
spiral antennas is monitoring of the frequency spectrum. One antenna can receive over a
wide bandwidth, for example a ratio 5:1 between the maximum and minimum frequency.
Usually a pair of spiral antennas are used in this application, having identical parameters
except the polarization, which is opposite (one is right-hand, the other left-hand oriented).
Spiral antennas are useful for microwave direction-finding.[2]

The antenna includes two conductive spirals or arms, extending from the center outwards.
The antenna may be a flat disc, with conductors resembling a pair of loosely-nested clock
springs, or the spirals may extend in a three-dimensional shape like a screw thread. The
direction of rotation of the spiral defines the direction of antenna polarization. Additional
spirals may be included as well, to form a multi-spiral structure. Usually the spiral is
cavity-backed, that is there is a cavity of air or non-conductive material or vacuum,
surrounded by conductive walls; the cavity changes the antenna pattern to a
unidirectional shape. The output of the antenna

Measuring Radiation Pattern

and an Antenna's Gain
Antennas (Home)

Antenna Measurements

Previous: Measurements

Now that we have our measurement equipment and an antenna range, we can
perform some measurements. We will use the source antenna to illuminate the
antenna under test with a plane wave from a specific direction. The polarization
and gain (for the fields radiated toward the test antenna) of the source antenna
should be known.
Due to reciprocity, the radiation pattern from the test antenna is the same for both
the receive and transmit modes. Consequently, we can measure the radiation
pattern in the receive mode for the test antenna.
The test antenna is rotated using the test antenna's positioning system. The
received power is recorded at each position. In this manner, the magnitude of the
radiation pattern of the test antenna can be determined. We will discuss phase
measurements and polarization measurements later.

The coordinate system of choice for the radiation pattern is spherical coordinates.
Measurement Example
An example should make the process reasonably clear. Suppose the radiation
pattern of a microstrip antenna is to be obtained. As is usual, lets let the direction
the patch faces ('normal' to the surface of the patch) be towards the z-axis.
Suppose the source antenna illuminates the test antenna from +y-direction, as
shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A patch antenna oriented towards the z-axis with a Source illumination
from the +y-direction.
In Figure 1, the received power for this case represents the power from the angle:
. We record this power, change the position and record again.
Recall that we only rotate the test antenna, hence it is at the same distance from
the source antenna. The source power again comes from the same direction.
Suppose we want to measure the radiation pattern normal to the patch's surface
(straight above the patch). Then the measurement would look as shown in Figure


Figure 2. A patch antenna rotated to measure the radiation power at normal

In Figure 2, the positioning system rotating the antenna such that it faces the
source of illumination. In this case, the received power comes from direction
. So by rotating the antenna, we can obtain "cuts" of the radiation
pattern - for instance the E-plane cut or the H-plane cut. A "great circle" cut is
when =0 and is allowed to vary from 0 to 360 degrees. Another common
radiation pattern cut (a cut is a 2d 'slice' of a 3d radiation pattern) is when is
fixed and varies from 0 to 180 degrees. By measuring the radiation pattern
along certain slices or cuts, the 3d radiation pattern can be determined.
It must be stressed that the resulting radiation pattern is correct for a given
polarization of the source antenna. For instance, if the source is horizontally
polarized (see polarization of plane waves), and the test antenna is vertically
polarized, the resulting radiation pattern will be zero everywhere. Hence, the
radiation patterns are sometimes classified as H-pol (horizontal polarization) or
V-pol (vertical polarization). See also cross-polarization.
In addition, the radiation pattern is a function of frequency. As a result, the
measured radiation pattern is only valid at the frequency the source antenna is
transmitting at. To obtain broadband measurements, the frequency transmitted
must be varied to obtain this information.


Measuring Gain
Antennas (Home)

Antenna Measurements

Back: Measurement of
Antenna Radiation

On the previous page on measuring radiation patterns, we saw how the radiation
pattern of an antenna can be measured. This is actually the "relative" radiation
pattern, in that we don't know what the peak value of the gain actually is (we're
just measuring the received power, so in a sense can figure out how directive an
antenna is and the shape of the radiation pattern). In this page, we will focus on
measuring the peak gain of an antenna - this information tells us how much power
we can hope to receive from a given plane wave.
We can measure the peak gain using the Friis Transmission Equation and a "gain
standard" antenna. A gain standard antenna is a test antenna with an accurately
known gain and polarization (typically linear). The most popular types of gain
standard antennas are the thin half-wave dipole antenna (peak gain of 2.15 dB)
and the pyramidal horn antenna (where the peak gain can be accurately calculated
and is typically in the range of 15-25 dB). Consider the test setup shown in Figure
1. In this scenario, a gain standard antenna is used in the place of the test antenna,
with the source antenna transmitting a fixed amount of power (PT). The gains of
both of these antennas are accurately known.

Figure 1. Record the received power from a gain standard antenna.

From the Friis transmission equation, we know that the power received (PR) is
given by:


If we replace the gain standard antenna with our test antenna (as shown in Figure
2), then the only thing that changes in the above equation is GR - the gain of the
receive antenna. The separation between the source and test antennas is fixed, and
the frequency will be held constant as well.

Figure 2. Record the received power with the test antenna (same source antenna).
Let the received power from the test antenna be PR2. If the gain of the test
antenna is higher than the gain of the "gain standard" antenna, then the received
power will increase. Using our measurements, we can easily calculate the gain of
the test antenna. Let Gg be the gain of the "gain standard" antenna, PR be the
power received with the gain antenna under test, and PR2 be the power received
with the test antenna. Then the gain of the test antenna (GT) is (in linear units):

The above equation uses linear units (non-dB). If the gain is to be specified in
decibels, (power received still in Watts), then the equation becomes:

And that is all that needs done to determine the gain for an antenna in a particular

Efficiency and Directivity

Recall that the directivity can be calculated from the measured radiation pattern
without regard to what the gain is. Typically this can be performed by
approximated the integral as a finite sum, which is pretty simple.
Recall that the efficiency of an antenna is simply the ratio of the peak gain to the
peak directivity:

Hence, once we have measured the radiation pattern and the gain, the efficiency
follows directly from these.
In the next section, we'll look at measuring the phase of an antenna's radiation

Anechoic chamber

An anechoic chamber
An anechoic chamber is a room designed to stop reflections of either sound or
electromagnetic waves. They are also insulated from exterior sources of noise. The
combination of both aspects means they simulate a quiet open-space of infinite
dimension, which is useful when exterior influences would otherwise give false results.
Anechoic chambers were originally used in the context of acoustics (sound waves) to
minimize the reflections of a room. Their radiofrequency counterpart have also been in
use for a few decades, for example to test antennas, radars, or electromagnetic
The wavelength of audible sound in air falls in the same range as that of commonly used
radio waves, and their propagation patterns bear many similarities. This is why both types
look similar.

Anechoic chambers range from small compartments to ones as large as aircraft hangars.
The size of the chamber depends on the size of the objects to be tested and the frequency
range of the signals used, although scale models can sometimes be used by testing at
shorter wavelengths.

Acoustic anechoic chambers

Anechoic chambers are commonly used in acoustics to conduct experiments in nominally
"free field" conditions. All sound energy will be traveling away from the source with
almost none reflected back. Common anechoic chamber experiments include measuring
the transfer function of a loudspeaker or the directivity of noise radiation from industrial
machinery. In general, the interior of an anechoic chamber is very quiet, with typical
noise levels in the 1020 dBA range. According to Guinness World Records, 2005,
Orfield Laboratory's NIST certified Eckel Industries-designed anechoic chamber is "The
quietest place on earth" measured at 9.4 dBA. [1][2] The human ear can typically detect
sounds above 0 dB, so a human in such a chamber would perceive the surroundings as
devoid of sound.
The University of Salford has a number of Anechoic chambers, of which unofficially one
is the quietest in the world with a measurement of 12.4 dBA.[3]

Semi-anechoic chambers
Full anechoic chambers aim to absorb energy in all directions. Semi-anechoic chambers
have a solid floor that acts as a work surface for supporting heavy items, such as cars,
washing machines, or industrial machinery, rather than the mesh floor grille over
absorbent tiles found in full anechoic chambers. This floor is damped and floating on
absorbent buffers to isolate it from outside vibration or electromagnetic signals. A
recording studio may utilize a semi-anechoic chamber to produce high-quality music free
of outside noise and unwanted echoes.

Radio-frequency anechoic chambers

An RF anechoic chamber.
The internal appearance of the radio frequency (RF) anechoic chamber is sometimes
similar to that of an acoustic anechoic chamber, however, the interior surfaces of the RF
anechoic chamber are covered with radiation absorbent material (RAM) instead of

acoustically absorbent material [1]. The RF anechoic chamber is typically used to house
the equipment for performing measurements of antenna radiation patterns,
electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and radar cross section measurements. Testing can
be conducted on full-scale objects, including aircraft, or on scale models where the
wavelength of the measuring radiation is scaled in direct proportion to the target size.
Coincidentally, many RF anechoic chambers which use pyramidal RAM also exhibit
some of the properties of an acoustic anechoic chamber, such as attenuation of sound and
shielding from outside noise.

Radiation absorbent material

The RAM is designed and shaped to absorb incident RF radiation (also known as nonionising radiation), as effectively as possible, from as many incident directions as
possible. The more effective the RAM is the less will be the level of reflected RF
radiation. Many measurements in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and antenna
radiation patterns require that spurious signals arising from the test setup, including
reflections, are negligible to avoid the risk of causing measurement errors and
One of the most effective types of RAM comprises arrays of pyramid shaped pieces, each
of which is constructed from a suitably lossy material. To work effectively, all internal
surfaces of the anechoic chamber must be entirely covered with RAM. Sections of RAM
may be temporarily removed to install equipment but they must be replaced before
performing any tests. To be sufficiently lossy, RAM can neither be a good electrical
conductor nor a good electrical insulator as neither type actually absorbs any power.
Typically pyramidal RAM will comprise a rubberized foam material impregnated with
controlled mixtures of carbon and iron. The length from base to tip of the pyramid
structure is chosen based on the lowest expected frequency and the amount of absorption
required. For low frequency damping, this distance is often 24 inches, while high
frequency panels are as short as 34 inches. Panels of RAM are installed with the tips
pointing inward to the chamber. Pyramidal RAM attenuates signal by two effects:
scattering and absorption. Scattering can occur both coherently, when reflected waves are
in-phase but directed away from the receiver, or incoherently where waves are picked up
by the receiver but are out of phase and thus have lower signal strength. This incoherent
scattering also occurs within the foam structure, with the suspended carbon particles
promoting destructive interference. Internal scattering can result in as much as 10dB of
attenuation. Meanwhile, the pyramid shapes are cut at angles that maximize the number
of bounces a wave makes within the structure. With each bounce, the wave loses energy
to the foam material and thus exits with lower signal strength. [4]
An alternative type of RAM comprises flat plates of ferrite material, in the form of flat
tiles fixed to all interior surfaces of the chamber. This type has a smaller effective
frequency range than the pyramidal RAM and is designed to be fixed to good conductive
surfaces. It is generally easier to fit and more durable than the pyramidal type RAM but is
less effective at higher frequencies. Its performance might however be quite adequate if
tests are limited to lower frequencies (ferrite plates have a damping curve that makes
them most effective between 301000 MHz)[2].

There is also a hybrid type, a ferrite in pyramidal shape. Containing the advantages of
both technologies the frequency range can be maximized while the pyramid remains
small (10 cm)[3].

Effectiveness over frequency

Close-up of a pyramidal RAM

Waves of higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths and are higher in energy, while
waves of lower frequencies have longer wavelengths and are lower in energy, according
to the relationship = v / f where lambda represents wavelength, v is phase velocity of
wave, and f is frequency. To shield for a specific wavelength, the cone must be of
appropriate size to absorb that wavelength. The performance quality of an RF anechoic
chamber is determined by its lowest test frequency of operation, at which measured
reflections from the internal surfaces will be the most significant compared to higher
frequencies. Pyramidal RAM is at its most absorptive when the incident wave is at
normal incidence to the internal chamber surface when the pyramid height is
approximately equal to / 4, where is the free space wavelength. Accordingly,
increasing the pyramid height of the RAM for the same (square) base size improves the
effectiveness of the chamber at low frequencies but results in increased cost and a
reduced unobstructed working volume that is available inside a chamber of defined size.

Installation into a screened room

An RF anechoic chamber is usually built into a screened room, designed using the
Faraday cage principle. This is because most of the RF tests that require an anechoic
chamber to minimize reflections from the inner surfaces also require the properties of a
screened room to attenuate unwanted signals penetrating inwards and causing
interference to the equipment under test and prevent leakage from tests penetrating

Chamber size and commissioning

The actual test setups usually require extra room than that required to simply house the
test equipment, the hardware under test and associated cables. For example, the far field
criteria sets a minimum distance between the transmitting antenna and the receiving
antenna to be observed when measuring antenna radiation patterns. Allowing for this and
the extra space that may be required for the pyramidal RAM means that a substantial
capital investment is required into even a modestly dimensioned chamber. For most

companies, such an investment in a large RF anechoic chamber is not justifiable unless it
is likely to be used continuously or perhaps rented out. Sometimes for radar cross section
measurements it is possible to scale down the objects under test and reduce the chamber
size provided that the wavelength of the test frequency is scaled down in direct
RF anechoic chambers are normally designed to meet the electrical requirements of one
or more accredited standards. For example, the aircraft industry may test equipment for
aircraft according to company specifications or military specifications such as MIL-STD
461E. Once built, acceptance tests are performed during commissioning to verify that the
standard(s) are in fact met. Provided they are, a certificate will be issued to that effect,
valid for a limited period.

Operational use
Test and supporting equipment configurations to be used within anechoic chambers must
expose as few metallic (conductive) surfaces as possible, as these risk causing unwanted
reflections. Often this is achieved by using non-conductive plastic or wooden structures
for supporting the equipment under test. Where metallic surfaces are unavoidable, they
may be covered with pieces of RAM after setting up to minimize such reflection as far as
A careful assessment of whether to place the test equipment (as opposed to the equipment
under test) on the interior or exterior of the chamber is required. Normally this may be
located outside of the chamber provided it is not susceptible to interference from exterior
fields which, otherwise, would not be present inside the chamber. This has the advantage
of reducing reflection surfaces inside but it requires extra cables and particularly good
filtering. Unnecessary cables and/or poor filtering can collect interference on the outside
and conduct them to the inside. A good compromise may be to install human interface
equipment (such as PCs), electrically noisy and high power equipment on the outside and
sensitive equipment on the inside.
One useful application of fiber optic cables is to provide the communications links to
carry signals within the chamber. Fiber optic cables are non-conductive and of small
cross-section and therefore cause negligible reflections in most applications.
It is normal to filter electrical power supplies for use within the anechoic chamber as
unfiltered supplies present a risk of unwanted signals being conducted into and out of the
chamber along the power cables.

Health and safety risks associated with RF anechoic chamber

The following health and safety risks are associated with RF anechoic chambers:

RF radiation hazard
Fire hazard
Trapped personnel

Personnel are not normally permitted inside the chamber during a measurement as this
not only can cause unwanted reflections from the human body but may also be a radiation
hazard to the personnel concerned if tests are being performed at high RF powers. Such
risks are from RF or non-ionizing radiation and not from the higher energy ionizing
As RAM is highly absorptive of RF radiation, incident radiation will generate heat within
the RAM. If this cannot be dissipated adequately there is a risk that hot spots may
develop and the RAM temperature may rise to the point of combustion. This can be a risk
if a transmitting antenna inadvertently gets too close to the RAM. Even for quite modest
transmitting power levels, high gain antennas can concentrate the power sufficiently to
cause high power flux near their apertures. Although recently manufactured RAM is
normally treated with a fire retardant to reduce such risks, they are difficult to completely
Safety regulations normally require the installation of a gaseous fire suppression system
including smoke detectors. Gaseous fire suppression avoids damage caused by the
extinguishing agent which would otherwise worsen damage caused by the fire itself. A
common gaseous fire suppression agent is carbon dioxide. Normally the fire detection
system is linked into the power supply to the chamber, so that the fire detection system
can disconnect the power supply if smoke or a fire is detected.


Propagation Modes
 Ground-wave propagation
 Sky-wave propagation
 Line-of-sight propagation
Ground-wave propagation


Follows contour of the earth

Can Propagate considerable distances
Frequencies up to 2 MHz
 AM radio
Sky Wave Propagation

 Signal reflected from ionized layer of atmosphere back down
to earth
 Signal can travel a number of hops, back and forth between
ionosphere and earths surface
 Reflection effect caused by refraction
 Amateur radio
 CB radio
Line-of-Sight Propagation

 Transmitting and receiving antennas must be within line of

 Satellite communication signal above 30 MHz not
reflected by ionosphere
 Ground communication antennas within effective line
of site due to refraction
 Refraction bending of microwaves by the atmosphere
 Velocity of electromagnetic wave is a function of the
density of the medium
 When wave changes medium, speed changes
 Wave bends at the boundary between mediums
 Optical line of sight
 Effective, or radio, line of sight


 d = distance between antenna and horizon (km)

 h = antenna height (m)
 K = adjustment factor to account for refraction,
rule of thumb K = 4/3
 Maximum distance between two antennas for LOS

3.57 h1 + h2

 h1 = height of antenna one

 h2 = height of antenna two

Great-circle distance
The great-circle distance or orthodromic distance is the shortest distance between any
two points on the surface of a sphere measured along a path on the surface of the sphere
(as opposed to going through the sphere's interior). Because spherical geometry is rather
different from ordinary Euclidean geometry, the equations for distance take on a different
form. The distance between two points in Euclidean space is the length of a straight line
from one point to the other. On the sphere, however, there are no straight lines. In nonEuclidean geometry, straight lines are replaced with geodesics. Geodesics on the sphere
are the great circles (circles on the sphere whose centers are coincident with the center of
the sphere).
Between any two different points on a sphere which are not directly opposite each other,
there is a unique great circle. The two points separate the great circle into two arcs. The
length of the shorter arc is the great-circle distance between the points. A great circle
endowed with such a distance is the Riemannian circle.
Between two points which are directly opposite each other, called antipodal points, there
are infinitely many great circles, but all great circle arcs between antipodal points have
the same length, i.e. half the circumference of the circle, or r, where r is the radius of
the sphere.
Because the Earth is approximately spherical (see Earth radius), the equations for greatcircle distance are important for finding the shortest distance between points on the
surface of the Earth (as the crow flies), and so have important applications in navigation.

Let be the geographical latitude and longitude of two points (a base "standpoint" and the
destination "forepoint"), respectively, and their differences and the (spherical) angular

difference/distance, or central angle, which can be constituted from the spherical law of
A useful way to remember this formula is cos(central angle)= cos(longitude difference
CTM ) , where CTM could be taken to mean 'Only the cos terms in longitude angle
difference cosine expansion to be multiplied with cos(latitude difference)'.
The central angle is alternately expressed in terms of latitude and longitude differences
dlat,dlong, using only cosines, as: arccos( cos(dlat) - cos(lat1)*cos(lat2)*(1 - cos(dlong)
The distance d, i.e. the arc length, for a sphere of radius r and given in radians, is then:
This arccosine formula above can have large rounding errors for the common case where
the distance is small, however, so it is not normally used for manual calculations. Instead,
an equation known historically as the haversine formula was preferred, which is much
more numerically stable for small distances:[1]
Historically, the use of this formula was simplified by the availability of tables for the
haversine function: hav() = sin2 (/2).

Although this formula is accurate for most distances, it too suffers from rounding errors
for the special (and somewhat unusual) case of antipodal points (on opposite ends of the
sphere). A more complicated formula that is accurate for all distances is the following
special case (a sphere, which is an ellipsoid with equal major and minor axes) of the
Vincenty formula (which more generally is a method to compute distances on
When programming a computer, one should use the atan2() function rather than the
ordinary arctangent function (atan()), in order to simplify handling of the case where the
denominator is zero, and to compute unambiguously in all quadrants.
When using a spreadsheet program such as Excel the arccosine formula is suitable since
it is simpler and rounding errors disappears with high precision used.
If r is the great-circle radius of the sphere, then the great-circle distance is .

Vector version
Another representation of similar formulas, but using using n-vector instead of
latitude/longitude to describe the positions, is:[3]
where and are the n-vectors representing the two positions s and f. Similarly to the
equations above based on latitude and longitude, the expression based on arctan is the
only one that is well-conditioned for all angles. If the two positions are originally given
as latitudes and longitudes, a conversion to n-vectors must first be performed.

From chord length
A line through three-dimensional space between points of interest on a spherical Earth is
the chord of the great circle between the points. The central angle between the two points
can be determined from the chord length. The great circle distance is proportional to the
central angle.
The great circle chord length may be calculated as follows for the corresponding unit
sphere, by means of Cartesian subtraction[4]:

Spherical cosine for sides derivation

By using Cartesian products rather than differences, the origin of the spherical cosine for
sides becomes apparent:

] Radius for spherical Earth

The shape of the Earth closely resembles a flattened sphere (a spheroid) with equatorial
radius a of 6,378.137 km; distance b from the center of the spheroid to each pole is
6356.752 km. When calculating the length of a short north-south line at the equator, the
sphere that best approximates that part of the spheroid has a radius of b / a, or
6,335.439 km, while the spheroid at the poles is best approximated by a sphere of radius
a2 / b, or 6,399.594 km, a 1% difference. So as long as we're assuming a spherical Earth,
any single formula for distance on the Earth is only guaranteed correct within 0.5%
(though we can do better if our formula is only intended to apply to a limited area). The
average radius for a spherical approximation of the figure of the Earth is approximately
6371.01 km (3958.76 statute miles, 3440.07 nautical miles).

LOS Wireless Transmission Impairments

 Attenuation and attenuation distortion
Free space loss
Atmospheric absorption
Thermal noise
Atmospheric absorption water vapor and oxygen contribute
to attenuation
Multipath obstacles reflect signals so that multiple copies
with varying delays are received

Refraction bending of radio waves as they propagate
through the atmosphere

Multipath Propagation
 Reflection - occurs when signal encounters a surface that is
large relative to the wavelength of the signal
 Diffraction - occurs at the edge of an impenetrable body that
is large compared to wavelength of radio wave
 Scattering occurs when incoming signal hits an object
whose size in the order of the wavelength of the signal or less
The Effects of Multipath Propagation
 Multiple copies of a signal may arrive at different phases
 If phases add destructively, the signal level relative to
noise declines, making detection more difficult
 Intersymbol interference (ISI)
 One or more delayed copies of a pulse may arrive at the
same time as the primary pulse for a subsequent bit
Types of Fading
 Fast fading
 Slow fading
 Flat fading
 Selective fading

 Rayleigh fading
 Rician fading
Error Compensation Mechanisms
 Forward error correction
 Adaptive equalization
 Diversity techniques