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Antenna Fundamentals

Antenna Fundamentals



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Published by: api-3804614 on Oct 17, 2008
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There are two fundamental types of antennas, which, with reference to a specific threedimensional (usually horizontal or vertical) plane are:1.either omni-directional (radiate equally in the plane)2.directional (radiates more in one direction than in the other).All antennas radiate (or emanate) some energy in all directions in free space but carefulconstruction results in large directivity in certain directions and negligible energyradiated in other directions.By adding additional conducting rods or coils (called elements) and varying their length,spacing, and orientation (or changing the direction of the antenna beam), an antenna withspecific desired properties can be created, such as aYagi-Uda Antenna(oftenabbreviated to "Yagi"). An "antenna array" is a plurality of active antennas coupled to acommon source or load to produce a directive radiation pattern. Usually the spatialrelationship also contributes to the directivity of the antenna. By the use of term "activeelement" it is intended to describe an element whose energy output is modified due to the presence of a source of energy in the element (other than the mere signal energy which passes through the circuit) or an element in which the energy output from a source of energy is controlled by the signal input. The "antenna lead-in" is the conductive means(as for example atransmission lineor feed line
) for conveying the signal energy betweenthe active antenna and the signal source. It extends directly from the active antennatowards the source. The "antenna feed" refers to the components between the activeantenna and anamplifier .The "antenna counterpoise" is the structure of conductive material most closely associated with ground but insulated from (or capacitively coupledto) the natural ground. It aids in the function of the natural ground, particularly wherevariations (or limitations) of the characteristics of the natural ground interfere with its proper function. Such structure are usually connected to the terminal of the signalreceiver or source opposing the active antenna terminal.A "antenna component" is a portion of the antenna performing a distinct function andlimited for use in an antenna, as for example, a reflector, director, or active antenna."Parasitic elements" are usually metallic conductive structures which reradiates into freespace impinging electromagnetic radiation coming from or going to the active antenna.The "electromagnetic wave refractor " is a structure which is shaped or positioned todelay or accelerate transmitted electromagnetic waves, passing through such structure, anamount which varies over the wave front. The refractor alters the direction of  propagation of the waves emitted from the structure with respect to the waves impingingon the structure. It can alternatively bring the wave to a focus or alter the wave front inother ways, such as to convert a spherical wave front to a planar wave front (or viceversa). The velocity of the wave radiated have a component which is in the samedirection ("director") or in the opposite direction ("reflector") that of the velocity of theimpinging wave. A "director" is usually a metallic conductive structure which reradiatesinto free space impinging electromagnetic radiation coming from or going to the active
antenna, the velocity of the reradiated wave having a component in the direction of velocity of the impinging wave. The director modifies the radiation pattern of the activeantenna and there is no significant potential relationship between the active antenna andthis conductive structure. A "reflector " is usually a metallic conductive structure (e.g.,screen, rod or plate) which reradiates back into free space impinging electromagneticradiation coming from or going to the active antenna. The velocity of the returned wavehaving a component in a direction opposite to the direction of velocity of the impingingwave. The reflector modifies the radiation of the active antenna. There is no significant potential relationship between the active antenna and this conductive structure.An "antenna coupling network " is a passive network (which may be any combination of a resistive, inductive or capacitive circuit(s)) for transmitting the signal energy betweenthe active antenna and a source (or receiver) of such signal energy. Typically, antennasare designed to operate in a relatively narrowfrequencyrange. The design criteria for receiving and transmitting antennas differ slightly, but generally an antenna can receiveand transmit equally well. This property is called "reciprocity".The vast majority of antennas are simple vertical rods a quarter of a wavelength long.Such antennas are simple in construction, usually inexpensive, and both radiate in andreceive from all horizontal directions (omnidirectional). One limitation of this antenna isthat it does not radiate or receive in the direction in which the rod points. This region iscalled theantenna blind cone or null. Antennas have practical use for thetransmission  andreceptionof radio frequencysignals (radio, TV, etc.), which can theroretically travel over great distances at the speed of light(the true velocity depends on the transmission medium over which it passes). These signals can also pass through nonconducting walls(although often there is a variable signal reduction depending on the type of wall, andnatural rock can be very reflective to radio signals).
Antenna parameters
There are several critical parameters that affect an antenna's performance and can beadjusted during the design process. These areresonant frequency,impedance,gain, aperture or radiation pattern, polarization,efficiency and bandwidth. Transmit antennas may also have a maximum power rating, and receive antennas differ in their noiserejection properties.
Resonant frequency
The "resonant frequency" and "electrical resonance" is related to theelectrical lengthof  the antenna. The electrical length is usually the physical length of the wire multiplied bythe ratio of the speed of wave propagation in the wire. Typically an antenna is tuned for aspecific frequency, and is effective for a range of frequencies usually centered on thatresonant frequency. However, the other properties of the antenna (especially radiation pattern and impedance) change with frequency, so the antenna's resonant frequency maymerely be close to the center frequency of these other more important properties.
Antennas can be made resonant on harmonicfrequencies with lengths that are fractions of the target wavelength. Some antenna designs have multiple resonant frequencies, andsome are relatively effective over a very broad range of frequencies. The most commonlyknown type of wide band aerial is the logarithmic or log periodic, but its gain is usuallymuch lower than that of a specific or narrower band aerial.
In antenna design, "gain" is the logarithm of the ratio of the intensity of an antenna'sradiation pattern in the direction of strongest radiation to that of a reference antenna. If the reference antenna is anisotropic antenna, the gain is often expressed in units of dBi(decibels over isotropic). For example, adipole antennahas a gain of 2.14 dBi[1]. Often, the dipole antenna is used as the reference (since a perfect isotropic reference isimpossible to build), in which case the gain of the antenna in question is measured indBd (decibels over dipole).The gain of an antenna is a passive phenomena - power is not added by the antenna, butsimply redistributed to provide more radiated power in a certain direction than would betransmitted by an isotropic antenna. If an antenna has a positive gain in some directions,it must have a negative gain in other directions as energy is conserved by the antenna.The gain that can be achieved by an Antenna is therefore trade-off between the range of directions that must be covered by an Antenna and the gain of the antenna. For example,a dish antenna on a spacecraft has a very large gain, but only over a very small range of directions - it must be accurately pointed at earth - but a radio transmitter has a verysmall gain as it is required to radiate in all directions.For dish-type antennas, gain is proportional to theaperture (reflective area) and surface accuracy of the dish, as well as the frequency being transmitted/received. In general, alarger aperture provides a higher gain. Also, the higher the frequency, the higher thegain, but surface inaccuracies lead to a larger degradation of gain at higher frequencies.

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