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Designation : Lecturer.
Branch : ECE.
Institute : G.P.W, Hindupur.
Semester : Third.
Subject : Analog communication.
Code : EC-305.
Topic : Transmission line and wave propagation.

Sub-topic : Free space propagation.

Duration : 50Mts.
Teaching Aids : PPTs,Diagrams.
EC305.69 1

Upon completion of this period, you would be able to

• Know the details of free space propagation,

The free space equation, and
The expression for path loss.

EC305.69 2

Already we have learnt about

• The behavior of EM waves.
• Refraction of EM waves.
• Reflection of EM waves.
• Diffraction of EM waves

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Free space

• Free space is the space that does not interferes with the
normal radiation and propagation of radio waves.

• It has no magnetic or gravitational fields, no solid bodies

and no ionized particles.

• Free space in unlikely to exist any where.

• It does not exist near the earth.

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• Free space concept is used to simplify the approach to
wave propagation.

• Actual effect can be predicted based on the practical

properties, assuming the free space initially.

• Satellite communication comes under free space


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Wave propagation in free space

• Radio wave propagation through free space in a straight

line with a velocity of 3×1010 cm/sec.

• There will be no loss of energy in free space , but there

will be attenuation due to the spreading of the waves.

• For normal calculation, the earth’s atmosphere can be

treated as free space

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Isotropic radiator

A hypothetical antenna having zero physical size and no

loss and radiating equally in all directions is isotropic
• A wave front from a isotropic radiator has the same
phase in all directions.
• A point source is treated as isotropic radiator

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Isotropic radiator

• Isotropic radiator produce

spherical wave as shown
in fig

Fig.isotropic radiator

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Power density of isotropic radiator

• The power density, in watts per square meter, would be

simply the total power divided by the surface area of the

pd=pt/4пr2 .................(1)

Pd=power density in watts per square meter.
Pt=total power in watts.
r=distance from the antenna in meters

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Problem 1

• A power of 100w is supplied to an isotropic radiator.

What is the power density at a point 10km away? And
find the electric field strength .

pt=total power =100w

Power density pd=pt/4пr2
=100/4п(10×103)2=79.6 nw/m2

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Relation between electric field and power
• The strength of the signal is more often given in terms of
its electric field intensity έ rather than power density as it
is easy to measure electric field intensity.
pd=(έ )2/£ £=Intrinsic impedance=377Ω.
from equation 68.1
pd=(έ )2/£=pt/4пr2 ..........(2)
by rearranging
έ2 =pt. £/4пr2
έ =√(pt. £/4пr2 )

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For free space £ =377Ω and the equation simplifies to
έ =√[(377.pt)/(4пr2)]
έ =√[(30.pt)/r] .............(3)
έ = electric field strength in volts per meter.
pt = total power in watts.
r=distance from the source in meters.

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Factors effecting Receiver signal strength

• In a practical communication system the signal

strength at the receiver input depends on
• Transmitted power:’ pt ‘
• distance from transmitter to receiver: ‘r’
• Gain of the transmitting antenna : Gt and
• effective area of the receiving antenna : Aeff

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Power density pd

• Power density at the receiving point, in a particular

direction from the transmitter is increased by the amount
of antenna gain.
PD =PT GT/4пr2 ...............(4)

PD=power density in watts per square meter.
PT= total transmitted power in watts.
GT=gain of the transmitter antenna.
r=distance from transmitter to receiver, in meter

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Effective area
The area from which a receiving antenna can be
considered to extract all the energy in an E.M. wave is
called effective area.

power extracted from a EM wave by a receiving antenna

depends on its
a) physical size and
b) gain.
physical size determines effective area

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Effective area Aeff is given by
Aeff=PR/PD ........... (5)

Aeff=effective area of the antenna in square meters
PR=power delivered to the receiver in watts.
PD=power density of the wave in watts per square meter

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Receiver power

PR= Aeff. PD
By substituting the value of PD
PR= Aeff. PTGT/4пr2 .........(6)
It can be shown that the effective area of a
receiving antenna is
Aeff=λ2GR/4п ..........(7)
GR=antenna gain as power ratio.
λ= wave length of the signal.
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Receiver power in terms of the gains of the two antennas
and the wave length , by combining equation (6) with
equation (7)


=λ2GRPTGT/(4п)(4 пr2)

PR= λ2PT.GT.GR/16 п2 r2

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Path loss

Attenuation of free space, that is , ratio of

received power to transmitter power

PR/PT=λ2GT. GR/16п2r2 .............(9)

equation (9) is the fundamental equation for the
space propagation and is also called FRIIS
FREE SPACE equation.
It can also be expressed as

PR/PT=GT.GR/(4пr/λ)2 ..............(10)

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Expressing equation (10) in decibel

10 log PR/PT=10 logGT+10logGR+10log[λ /4пr]2

10 log PR- 10log PT=10 log GT +10 log GR+10 log[λ /4пr]2
10 log PR=10log PT+10log GT+10logGR+20log [λ /4пr]
PR (dbw)=pT (dbw)+ GT (db)+ GR (db)-L(S)
L fs =20 log [λ /4пr]
=32.44+20 log f + 20 log r ..........(11)

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Free space loss or path loss: Lfs=10log PT/Pr
replacing ‘d’ for distance in the place of r,

Lfs =32.44+[20 log d (km)]+[20 log f (MHz) ]

=-[G T (dBi) ]-[GR(dBi)] .........(12)

Where d=distance between transmitter and receiver in


f=frequency in mega hertz

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A transmitter has a power output of 150 w at a carrier

frequency of 325 MHz. it is connected to an antenna with
a gain of 12dBi. The receiving antenna is 10 km away
and has a gain of 5dBi. Calculate the power delivered
tom the receiver; assuming free space propagation.
assume also that there are no losses or mismatches in
the system.

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Free space loss
Lfs=32.44+20 log d (km)+[20 log f (MHz)]-
=32.44+20 log 10+20 log 325-12-5
Lfs =85.7dB
Lfs =10log PT/PR=85.7
PT/PR=anti log (85.7/10)
PR =PT/anti log (85.7/10)
PR =404×10-9w=404nW

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• Radio waves propagate through free space in a straight

line with a velocity of 3×1010 cm/sec

• There will be no loss of energy in free space but there

will be attenuation due to spreading of the waves

• A hypothetical antenna having zero physical size and no

loss and radiating equally in all direction is isotropic

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• The area from which a receiving antenna can be
considered to extract all the energy in an
electromagnetic wave is called effective area.
• Fundamental equation for the space propagation, also
called as FRIIS FREE SPACE equation is
PR/PT=λ2 GT GR/16п2r2
• Path loss =Lfs=10 log PT/PR
Lfs(in dB)=32.44+[20logd(km)]+[20 log f(MHz)]

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1. An electromagnetic wave travel in free space , only

one of the following can happen to them
b. Absorption
c. Attenuation
d. refraction
e. Reflection

Ans . b

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2. The signal strength at the receiver input depends on

a) Transmitted power and distance from transmitter.

b) Gain of the transmitting antenna.
c) Effective area of the receiving antenna.
d) All the above.

Ans .d

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3. All else being equal, larger receiving antennas receive a
stronger signal than smaller antennas. Why is this?

Ans .larger receiving antennas has greater effective area.

So, they intercept a greater proportion of the radiated

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Frequently asked questions

1. What is an isotropic radiator? could such a radiator be

built? Explain?

4. What are the factors which determine the amount of

power extracted from a wave by a receiving antenna?

3. Derive the expression for path loss in free space


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