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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON BROADCASTING, VOL.34, N 0 . 4 , DECEMBER 1988

451

PLANAR ANTENNAS FOR SATELLITE RECEPTION


K O I C H I I T O , MEMBER, IEEE
Department of Electrical Engineering, Chiba University
1 - 3 3 Yayoi-cho, Chiba-shi, Chiba, 2 6 0 Japan
K E N J I OHMARU

Science and Technical Research Lab., N H K


1 - 1 0 - 1 1 Kinuta, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 1 5 7 Japan
FELLOW, IEEE
Uniden Corporation
Onitaka, Ichikawa-shi, Chiba, 2 7 2 Japan
YOSHIHIRO K O N I S H I ,

4-7-4

Abstract - Direct broadcast from a satellite


(DBS) requires a circularly polarized antenna
with high gain and low axial ratio. Recently,
various types of planar antennas have been
studied and developed for DBS reception at 1 2
GHz band because of their advantages. This
paper summarizes properties and classification
of the planar antennas commercialized or reported by now. Next, described are the basic
configurations, working principles and performances of various planar antennas.
INTRODUCTION

Direct broadcast from a satellite (DBS)


requires a circularly polarized antenna with
high gain and low axial ratio. Such technical
specifications can be met by conventional
reflector antennas. However, reflector antennas are rather bulky to handle and their performances may sometimes be degraded due to
rain and snow falls as well as the winds.
These factors have led to the research on
flat-plate array antennas. Recently, with the
advent of low-noise amplifiers and low-loss
substrate materials, various types of planar
antennas have been studied and developed for
DBS reception at 1 2 GHz band.
This paper firstly summarizes properties
and classification of the planar antennas
commercialized or reported by now.
Secondly
described are the basic configurations, working principles and performances of various
planar antennas.

From the viewpoint of the feed systems,


planar antennas are divided into two groups;
printed array antennas and waveguide slot
array antennas.
Printed array antennas employ microstrip
lines, strip lines (triplate structure) and
suspended lines [ 1 1 , [ 2 3 as their principal
feed network. Many types of radiating elements [ 1 1 - [ 3 1 are used in combination with
such feed lines. At present, the feeder losses vary from about 2 to 6 dB/m at 1 2 GHz according to the feeding structure and substrate
material.
It is quite important to minimize
the feeder losses to obtain high aperture
efficiency.
On the other hand, the feeding component
of the waveguide slot array antennas is a
radial waveguide or a rectangular waveguide.
The feeding losses in such waveguides are
negligible, so that we can expect high aperture efficiency of more than 7 0 %.
TABLE I
TYPE

VARIOUS PLANAR ANTENNAS


FEED

I RAD.
I

ELEMENT

WIDE SLOT

I PO

I LP

LINE
PR I NTED
ARRAY

SQ. PATCH

ANTENNAS

PLANAR ANTENNAS

Flat-plate or planar antennas for DBS


reception consist of hundreds of radiating
elements arrayed on thin dielectric substrates
or metal plates. Planar antennas have several
advantages such as:
a ) easiness for handling and installation
on the wall of houses,
b) less degradation of performances due
to wind, rain and snow falls,
c) fitness for the design of houses,
and so on.

WAVEGUIDE
SLOT ARRAb
ANTENNAS

0018-9316/88/1200-0457$01.00 0 1988 IEEE

LP: Linear p o l a r i z a t i o n
CP: C i r c u l a r p o l a r i z a t i o n

458

Table I summarizes various planar array


antennas aimed at DBS reception at 1 2 G H z
band. Linearly polarized antennas require
additional polarizers such as a metal-plate
polarizer or a meander-line polarizer [ 4 1 .
Each antenna will be briefly explained in the
following chapter.

VARIOUS ANTENNAS

In this chapter, various planar antennas


aimed at DBS reception at 1 2 G H z band will be
surveyed according to the order of Table I.
The latest information has been gathered and
the performance figures shown here are as of
October 1 9 8 8 .

Die I ect r ic
..
..

.
.

. ,

.'

. -/.-/.:...-..-'.'.';..

A ) Wide-slot array (Fig. 1 )

[51
To cover the wide bandwidth ( 1 1 . 7

- 12.5

Fig. 2. Microstrip line slot array.

G H z ) , a wide slot fed corporately by a micro-

strip line was chosen as a basic element. The


board was mounted at a distance of a quarter
wavelength from a reflector. An array having
5 1 2 elements was fabricated with slot spacings
of a wavelength in the H-plane and a half
wavelength in the E-plane. The measured power
gain was about 25 dBi and the 3 dB bandwidth
was more than 1 4 %.
An additional advantage
is the ease of manufacture which allows fairly
large production tolerances.

C) Combline array (Fig. 3 ) [ 7 1


A single combline array antenna consists
of many "fingers", a half wavelength printed
dipoles, attached directly to a microstrip
line with the spacing of about a half guide
wavelength.
The widths and lengths of the
fingers will be adjusted to meet the antenna
requirements.
Four identical subarray units were constructed and arranged in a 4 x 1 matrix for a
large DBS receiving antenna. Each subarray
had 1 6 comblines which were designed to create

Microstrip

M i c r o s t r i p line
Fig. 1 . Wide-slot array.

B ) Microstrip line slot array


(Fig. 2 ) [ 6 1

This array consists of a number of slot


pairs (shown as In and Jn in Fig. 2 ) placed on
a ground plane.
The slot pairs are arranged
in series along a microstrip line with the
spacing of about a guide wavelength. A reflector is attached about a quarter wavelength
apart from the substrate surface.
A completed 320-slot array was designed
and fabricated with a uniform aperture distribution on a conventional dielectric substrate.
The measured gain was around 28 dBi. By combining outputs from the four identical arrays
(totally 1 2 8 0 slots), good pictures could be
received in February 1 9 7 9 .

Fig. 3. Combline array.

459

a beam tilt of about 25 degrees. The average


gain of the subarrays was 29.4 dBi. The measured gain of the large antenna was 3 3 dBi at
1 1 . 9 GHz and the overall aperture efficiency
was about 20 %.

A medium-size planar antenna was designed


and fabricated on a conventional dielectric
substrate as the first trial, The antenna had
3 2 0 basic elements on a 3 5 4 x 272 mm board and
the measured gain was about 29 dBi.

D) Crank-type microstrip line array


(Fig. 4 ) t 8 1
The basic structure of this antenna is
made up of two crank-type microstrip lines
which are placed to have a half period shift.
The dashed box shows the fundamental radiating
element.
This type of planar antenna was
commercialized for DBS reception for the first
time in Japan.
The latest model has 332 fundamental elements on a foamed polyethylene substrate.
Each pair of microstrip lines is terminated
with a square patch to improve the antenna
efficiency. The size is 6 4 0 x 4 3 0 mm and its
maximum gain and aperture efficiency are reported to be 3 4 . 2 dBi and 62 %, respectively.

F ) Square-patch array (Fig. 6 ) [I1 1


A square patch antenna with two-layer
structure has been proposed to minimize the
feed network loss and to increase the bandwidth. After the investigation of microstrip
line losses, an appropriate substrate thickness has been chosen to minimize the overall
feeder loss. The air gap between the patch
and the ground plane contributes to increasing
the bandwidth.
A 512-element planar antenna sized 680 x
3 6 0 mm was experimentally manufactured by
using a foamed polyethylene substrate. The
antenna was made up of 8 subarray units fed by
rear-mounted rectangular waveguides.
The
measured gain was 3 4 . 0 dBi at 12 GHz which
implies an aperture efficiency of about 60 %
was achieved.

Fundamental element
Mitered bend

Feed line

// Microstrip patch
Ground plane

Microstrip I ine

Fig. 4. Crank-type microstrip line array.

E) Strip-dipole and slot array


(Fig. 5 ) [ 9 1
The basic element of the array consists
of a strip dipole in a window and a slot which
are fed in series by a microstrip line [IO].
They are almost half -wavelength long and the
spacing between them is a quarter guide wavelength. The window is placed in the ground
plane in order to increase effectively the
gain and bandwidth of the strip dipole.
It is easy to control aperture distribution by adjusting the element-line coupling
gaps. The antenna performance can be optimized in terms of the gain and bandwidth by
choosing an appropriate feed network.

h =0.381 mm
E,=

2.17

(a) Two-layer structure patch antenna

i'0

Slot

Window

StriD diPole

1
xg/4

A I - 4 : Patches

Microstrip line
(b) &element

Fig. 5. Strip-dipole and slot array.

subarray

Fig. 6. Square-patch array.

460

G) Flat folded-dipole array (Fig. 7) [ I 2 1


The basic radiating element is composed
of two symmetrical flat folded dipoles made in
a top metallic plate. The folded dipoles are
fed corporately by a strip line laid between
the top and bottom metallic plates. Roundshape windows around the flat folded dipoles
are designed not to deteriorate the strip-line
characteristics.
A large array antenna containing 1024
symmetrical folded dipoles was manufactured by
using a conventional substrate of 1 . 5 9 mm
thickness. The element spacing was 0.89 wavelength in free space. The maximum gain of
about 37 dBi was measured and the aperture
efficiency was estimated at about 50 %.

Folded dipoles

H) Rectangular-slot array (Fig. 8 )


This antenna has a triplate structure
supported by honeycomb-foam spacers to reduce
the feeder losses. The radiating element in a
top metallic plate consists of a rectangular
slot with a hexagonal patch fed by electromagnetic coupling to the strip line.
The basic
radiating element of this antenna seems to be
complementary to a square patch with a diagonal slot [ I ] for circular polarization.
Several types of this planar antenna have
already been commercialized. For example, as
the latest model, a 384-element array antenna
sized 420 x 6 0 0 mm is reported to have the
gain of 34.2 dBi and the aperture efficiency
of 6 5 %.
A larger antenna sized 780 x 780 mm
with a 35.5 dBi gain and a 12-degree beam tilt
is also available.

Recta ngu Iar

Hexagona I

patch

slot

(a) Top metallic plate


(a) Top metallic plate

I
(b) Feed network
Fig. 7. Flat folded-dipole array.

(b) Feed network


Fig. 8. Rectangular-slot array.

46 1

J ) Circular-horn array (Fig. 10) [I41


The radiating element consists of a circular aperture or a circular horn excited by a
"probe" which is an extended feed line. The
probe is suspended in the aperture by thin
dielectric substrates. A 16-element experimental array antenna was fabricated and tested
at 12 GHz band.
The corporate feed provides
uniform amplitude and phase distribution to
the radiating elements. The measured gain was
around 21 dBi and the 2:l VSWR bandwidth was
about 15 %.
Circular polarization could be easily
provided by using two orthogonal probes with
90-degree phase difference.
Based on this
principle, a planar antenna with circular
polarization was fabricated [151. The antenna
sized 378 x 378 mm have achieved the gain of
about 32.5 dBi.

I) Circular-patch array (Fig. 9 ) [I31


This planar antenna also has a triplate
structure to reduce especially the unwanted
radiation l o s s from its feed network. A thin
film for the feed network is supported by
foamed sheets. The radiating element in a top
plate is a notched circular patch placed in a
circular slot. As shown in Fig. 9(a), paired
elements [21 are employed to increase the
bandwidth and the element spacings are chosen
to create a sufficient beam tilt.
A planar antenna sized 662 x 540 mm containing 1024 elements has been commercialized.
It is said that the antenna gain is 34.5 dBi
and that the beam tilt of 23 degrees has been
realized.

Ci rcu lar
patch

Feed.
,
line
( Robe 1

I1
I 1

I
I

I/-------

(a) 4-element subarray

Circular
patch

Feed
network

Metal dates
Top plate

Bottom
plate

(b) Antenna construction


Fig. 9. Circular-patch array.

Fig. IO. Circular-horn array.


K) Suspended circular-patch array
(Fig. 11)
The antenna consists of two metal plates
and a suspended thin film substrate between
the plates. There is an about 1 mm air gap
between the film and each metallic plate.
Because of this suspended structure, the feeder l o s s can be considerably reduced.
Circularly polarized patches with a single feed
point and the feed lines are printed on the
film substrate. Circular slots are opened on
the top metal plate for signal reception.
A 476-element planar antenna sized 556 x
476 mm has also been commercialized. It is
reported that the antenna gain of 34.1 dBi has
been realized with the beam tilt of about 1 0
degrees.
L ) Radial line slot array (Fig. 12) [161
The antenna belongs to a class of slotted
waveguide antennas and high aperture efficiency can be expected in principle. Three metal
plates compose a twofold radial line waveguide, the top of which is an aperture with

462

Circular
Darch

Ci rcu lar

slot

Feeder

/
/

(a) Top metallic plate

(b) Patches and feed network

Fig. 1 1 . Suspended circular-patch array.

tY

radiating slots. A radially outward traveling


TEM mode is transferred into a radially inward
traveling one in the upper waveguide. Slot
pairs are excited by the inward traveling wave
and provide circular polarization. A slowwave structure is installed inside the upper
waveguide to suppress the grating lobes.
Some antennas with different parameters
have been designed and fabricated. High aperture efficiencies have been achieved as expected.
For example, an antenna with 600 mm
diameter has produced the gain of 36.3 dBi at
12 GHz, that is, the efficiency of 76 8 .

Slot, pair

MI Leaky-wave long slit array


(Fig. 13) [ I 7 1

1
structure
Fig. 1 2 . Radial line slot array.

Vehicular planar antennas for mobile DBS


reception will be placed on the roof of vehicles and their position will be controlled
mechanically or electronically to catch the
satellite. It is quite effective t o use a
waveguide leaky-wave antenna as such a planar
antenna because of its tilted main beam and
negligible feeder l o s s .
Beam shift with frequency variation, one of the serious disadvant a g e s , c a n be compensated by the control
system mentioned above.
Although this planar antenna has not been
completed yet, an outline of the antenna has
been fixed as shown in Fig. 1 3 .
This antenna
will consist of a number of waveguide leakywave antennas fed by a feeding waveguide. The
antenna gain of more than 3 4 dBi and the beam
tilt of about 55 degrees will be expected for
30 slits of 600 mm long.

463

Radome and Polarizer

TABLE I I

TYPICAL PERFORMANCES (AS OF OCT. 1988)

I ANT. I

1 WEIGHT]

SIZE

F) I 6 8 0 x 3 6 0 x 3 0

4.0

6 0 0 @ xNI

Feeder

Waveguide

Slit
Fig. 13. Leaky-wave long-slit array.

N) Leaky-wave cross-slot array

(Fig. 14) [I81


Another type of a leaky-wave antenna has
a simple feeding structure and utilizes a lot
of cross slots to produce circular polar zation. It would be easy to analyze and manufacture the whole array because of its single
layer structure. The antenna could be mounted
vertically on the house walls by setting properly its beam-tilt angle.
With a 38-degree beam tilt, the aperture
efficiency of more than 80 % will be estimated
for the antenna of a 495 mm long feeder and a
519 mm long waveguide.

Cross s l o t

CAIN

I BEAM^
1

34.0

0"

36.3

N I : No Information

CONCLUSION

Firstly, the present paper has summarized


properties and classification of the planar
array antennas commercialized or reported by
now.
Secondly, the basic configurations,
working principles and performances of various
planar antennas have been described.
Of course t h e s e performances will be
improved from day to day, so that you may find
much better planar antennas tomorrow.
Moreover, it should be noted that printed
array antennas possess potential abilities to
control the beam direction electronically and
to shape different radiation patterns. In the
near future, such planar antennas for DBS
reception would be used to select the desired
satellite and to track the satellite without
mechanical control.
REFERENCES

Waveguide
Feeder
Fig. 14. Leaky-wave cross-slot array.

Table I1 tabulates the typical performances of the completed planar array antennas
described above as of October 1988. Comparison between aperture efficiencies would be of
interest to antenna researchers.

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