Antenna Basic Concepts

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1 ANTENNA An antenna is a device to transmit and/or receive electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves are often referred to as radio waves. Most antennas are resonant devices, which operate efficiently over a relatively narrow frequency band. An antenna must be tuned (matched) to the same frequency band as the radio system to which it is connected, otherwise reception and/or transmission will be impaired. WAVELENGTH We often refer to antenna size relative to wavelength. For example: a 1/2 wave dipole is approximately half a wavelength long. Wavelength is the distance a radio wave travels during one cycle. The formula for wavelength is: λ = c f Where: λ is the wavelength expressed in units of length, typically meters, feet or inches c is the speed of light (11,802,877,050 inches/second) f is the frequency For example: wavelength in air at 825 MHz is Note: X 109 in./sec 825 x 106 cycles/sec. = inches The physical length of a half-wave dipole is slightly less than half a wavelength due to end effect. The speed of propagation in coaxial cable is slower than in air, so the wavelength in the cable is shorter. The velocity of propagation of electromagnetic waves in coax is usually given as a percentage of free space velocity, and is different for different types of coax. IMPEDANCE MATCHING For efficient transfer of energy, the impedance of the radio, the antenna and the transmission line connecting the radio to the antenna must be the same. Radios typically are designed for 50 Ohms impedance, and the coaxial cables (transmission lines) used with them also have 50 Ohms impedance. Efficient antenna configurations often have an impedance other than 50 Ohms. Some sort of impedance matching circuit is then required to transform the antenna impedance to 50 Ohms. Larsen antennas come with the necessary impedance matching circuitry as part of the antenna. We use low-loss components in our matching circuits to provide the maximum transfer of energy between the transmission line and the antenna. VSWR AND REFLECTED POWER Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) is an indication of the quality of the impedance match. VSWR is often abbreviated as SWR. A high VSWR is an indication the signal is reflected prior to being radiated by the antenna. VSWR and reflected power are different ways of measuring and expressing the same thing. A VSWR of 2.0:1 or less is often considered acceptable. Most commercial antennas are specified to be 1.5:1 or less over some bandwidth. Based on a 100 watt radio, a 1.5:1 VSWR equates to a forward power of 96 watts and a reflected power of 4 watts, or the reflected power is 4.2% of the forward power.

2 BANDWIDTH Bandwidth can be defined in terms of radiation patterns or VSWR/reflected power. The definition used is based on VSWR. Bandwidth is often expressed in terms of percent bandwidth, because the percent bandwidth is constant relative to frequency. If bandwidth is expressed in absolute units of frequency, for example MHz, the bandwidth is then different depending upon whether the frequencies in question are near 150 MHz, 450 MHz or 825 MHz. Percentage bandwidth is defined as: F H - F L F C BW = 100 F H is the highest frequency in the band F L is the lowest frequency in the band F C = F H + F L F C is the center frequency of the band 2 Example: If you need an antenna to operate in the 150 to 156 MHz band, you need an antenna covering at least a % bandwidth = 3.9% The problem might need to be worked in a different way. If the antenna is tuned to 460 MHz and provides a VSWR bandwidth of 5%, what are F L and F H? The equations above can be solved for F L and F H : F H = F C ( 1 + BW ) and F L = F C ( 1 - BW ) Plugging the numbers into the equations, the answers are: F H = 460 ( ) F L = 460 ( ) = MHz = MHz

3 DECIBELS Decibels (db) are the accepted method of describing a gain or loss relationship in a communication system. The beauty of db is they may be added and subtracted. A decibel relationship (for power) is calculated using the following formula. db = 10 log Power A Power B A might be the power applied to the connector on an antenna, the input terminal of an amplifier or one end of a transmission line. B might be the power arriving at the opposite end of the transmission line, the amplifier output or the peak power in the main lobe of radiated energy from an antenna. If A is larger than B, the result will be a positive number or gain. If A is smaller than B, the result will be a negative number or loss. Example: At 1700 MHz, one fourth of the power applied to one end of a coax cable arrives at the other end. What is the cable loss in db? Loss in db = 10 log 1 = 10 X (-) Loss = (-) 6.02 db In the above case, taking the log of 1/4 (0.25) automatically results in a minus sign, which signifies negative gain or loss. It is convenient to remember these simple db values which are handy when approximating gain and loss: Power Gain Power Loss 3 db = 2X power - 3 db = 1/2 power 6 db = 4X power - 6 db = 1/4 power 10 db = 10X power -10 db = 1/10 power 20 db = 100X power -20 db = 1/100 power In the case of antennas, passive structures cannot generate power. db is used to describe the ability of these structures to focus energy in a part of space. DIRECTIVITY AND GAIN Directivity is the ability of an antenna to focus energy in a particular direction when transmitting or to receive energy better from a particular direction when receiving. There is a relationship between gain and directivity. We see the phenomena of increased directivity when comparing a light bulb to a spotlight. A 100-watt spotlight will provide more light in a particular direction than a 100-watt light bulb and less light in other directions. We could say the spotlight has more directivity than the light bulb. The spotlight is comparable to an antenna with increased directivity. Gain is the practical value of the directivity. The relation between gain and directivity includes a new parameter (η) which describes the efficiency of the antenna. G = η D For example an antenna with 3 db of directivity and 50% of efficiency will have a gain of 0 db.

5 BEAMWIDTH Beamwidth describes the angular aperture where the most important part of the power is radiated. In general, we talk about the 3 db beamwidth which represents the aperture (in degrees) where more than 90% of the energy is radiated. For example, for a 0 db gain antenna, 3 db beamwidth is the area where the gain is higher than 3 db. θ Value of θ in degree = 3 db beamwidth. NEAR-FIELD AND FAR-FIELD PATTERNS The radiation pattern in the region close to the antenna is not exactly the same as the pattern at large distances. The term near-field refers to the field pattern existing close to the antenna. The term far-field refers to the field pattern at large distances. The far-field is also called the radiation field, and is what is most commonly of interest. The nearfield is called the induction field (although it also has a radiation component). Ordinarily, it is the radiated power that is of interest so antenna patterns are usually measured in the far-field region. For pattern measurement, it is important to choose a distance sufficiently large to be in the far-field, well out of the near-field. The minimum permissible distance depends on the dimensions of the antenna in relation to the wavelength. The accepted formula for this distance is: r min = 2D 2 λ Where: r min is the minimum distance from the antenna D is the largest dimension of the antenna λ is the wavelength

7 Collinear Two or three radiating elements separated by phasing coils for increased gain. Four common styles are: 1) 5/8 over 1/4: The top element is 5/8 wave and the bottom element is 1/4 wave. Directivity 5.4 dbi, 3.2 dbd. 2) 5/8 over 1/2: The top element is 5/8 wave and the bottom is 1/2 wave. Directivity 5.6 dbi, 3.4 dbd. 3) 5/8 over 5/8 over 1/4: The top 2 elements are 5/8 wave and the bottom element is 1/4 wave. Directivity 7.2 dbi, 5.0 dbd. 4) 5/8 over 5/8 over 1/2: The top 2 elements are 5/8 wave and the bottom element is 1/2 wave. Directivity 7.6 dbi, 5.4 dbd. Using more than three radiating elements in a base-fed collinear configuration does not significantly increase gain. The majority of the energy is radiated by the elements close to the feed point of the collinear antenna so there is only a small amount of energy left to be radiated by the elements which are farther away from the feed point. Please note the directivity is given above for common antenna configurations. Gain depends upon the electrical efficiency of the antenna. Here is where the real difference between antenna manufacturers is seen. If you cut corners in building an antenna, the gain may be significantly lower than the directivity. Larsen uses low-loss materials to minimize the difference between the gain and the directivity in our antennas. Whip The vertical portion of the antenna assembly acting as the radiator of the radio frequency GPS Active GPS antennas include an amplifier circuit in order to provide better reception of the satellite signal. This active stage generally includes a low noise amplifier and a power amplifier. Combi GPS/Cellular structures include several antennas in one radome to allow reception and transmission in different frequency bands. Dipole An antenna - usually 1/2 wavelength long - split at the exact center for connection to a feed line. Dipoles are the most common wire antenna. Length is equal to 1/2 of the wavelength for the frequency of operation. Fed by coaxial cable. Sleeve Dipoles are realized by the addition of a metallic tube on a coaxial structure. Printed Dipoles have a radiation structure supported by a printed circuit. Embedded Omni Embedded omni antennas are generally integrated on a base for applications such as access points. This structure could be externally mounted (ex: sleeve dipole) or directly integrated on the PC board of the system (ex: printed dipole). Yagi A directional, gain antenna utilizing one or more parasitic elements. A yagi consists of a boom supporting a series of elements which are typically aluminum rods.

8 Panel Single Patch describes an elementary source obtained by means of a metallic strip printed on a microwave substrate. These antennas are included in the radiating slot category. Patch Arrays are a combination of several elementary patches. By adjusting the phase and magnitude of the power provided to each element, numerous forms of beamwidth (electric tilt, sectoral, directional...) can be obtained. Sectoral antennas can be depicted like a directive antenna with a beamwidth greater than 45. A 1 db beamwidth is generally defined for this kind of radiating structure. Omni Ceiling Mount Omni ceiling mount antennas are used for the propagation of data in an in-building environment. In order to provide good coverage, these antennas are vertically polarized and present an omnidirectional pattern in the horizontal plane and a dipolar pattern in the vertical plane. Parabolic An antenna consisting of a parabolic reflector and a radiating or receiving element at or near its focus. Solid Parabolics utilize a dish-like reflector to focus radio energy of a specific range of frequencies on a tuned element. Grid Parabolics employ an open-frame grid as a reflector, rather than a solid one. The grid spacing is sufficiently small to ensure waves of the desired frequency cannot pass through, and are hence reflected back toward the driven element. PULSE-LARSEN ANTENNA TYPES Mobile: Collinear, Whip, Low Profile, Active GPS, Combi GPS/Cellular Portable: Whip, Helical, End Fed Half Wave, Sleeve, Half Wave Dipole, Embedded Omni, Printed Dipole Base Station: Whip, Collinear, Yagi, Panel, In-building Sectoral, Omni-ceiling Mount MOBILE ANTENNA PLACEMENT Correct antenna placement is critical to the performance of an antenna. An antenna mounted on the roof of a car will function better than the same antenna installed on the hood or trunk. Knowledge of the vehicle may also be an important factor in determining what type of antenna to use. Do not install a glass mount antenna on the rear window of a vehicle in which metal has been used to reduce ultraviolet light. The metal tinting will work as a shield and not allow signals to pass through the glass. Trunk Corner -3.4 db Corner of Roof db (Reference Antenna) Permanent Mount Center of Roof 0.0 db Center of Roof db Trunk Center -2.1 db Permanent Trunk Mount -2.8 db Trunk Lip Mount Trunk Center -2.8 db On Glass (Lower) Center -3.0 db On Glass (Middle) Center -1.2 db On Glass (Upper) Center -0.5 db Corner of Hood -2.4 db

9

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