Naval Postgraduate School

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Monterey, California

Overview of Antennas for UAVs

Prof. David Jenn 833 Dyer Road, Room 437 Monterey, CA 93943 (831) 656-2254 jenn@nps.navy.mil http://web.nps.navy.mil/~jenn

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Naval Postgraduate School

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Monterey, California

Antenna Systems for UAVs
• Antennas are required for a wide variety of UAV systems • Antenna requirements depend on the specific platform and mission: > Radar/Electronic Warfare > Communications > Data links > GPS/geolocation > Other sensors (biological, UAV OBSTRUCTIONS chemical, etc.) • Ground station antennas not addressed here
GROUND STATION

RANGE

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Naval Postgraduate School

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Monterey, California

UAV Antenna Issues
• For airborne applications: > Size, weight, power consumption > Power handling > Location on platform and required field of view (many systems compete for limited real estate) > Many systems operating over a wide frequency spectrum > Isolation and interference > Reliability and maintainability > Radomes (antenna enclosures or covers) • Accommodate as many systems as possible to avoid operational restrictions • Signatures must be controlled: radar cross section (RCS), infrared (IR), acoustic, and visible (camouflage) • New architectures and technologies are being applied to UAVs
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HPBW. λ = wavelength > e = efficiency (0 < e < 1) • Field of view or beamwidth > usually half power. TA • Operating bandwidth > instantaneous > tunable • Radar cross section > in band > out of band SCAN ANGLE PEAK GAIN 3 dB HPBW GAIN (dB) MAXIMUM SIDELOBE LEVEL 0 PATTERN ANGLE θs θ 4 . θ B • Polarization • Sidelobe level > maximum > average • Antenna noise temperature. rule of thumb: G = 4πAe / λ2 > A = area. California Antenna Performance Measures • Gain.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

5 . An antenna can fall into multiple categories.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. California “New” Antenna Technologies for UAV Applications • Some “new” concepts have been around since the 1960s. but have only recently become practical due to advances in computers and micro devices • New technologies and architectures include: > Solid state (active antennas) > Adaptive > Conformal > Reconfigureable > Smart antennas > Multiple beams (“smart skins” or “living skins”) > Photonics > Superconductivity > Digital beamforming > Genetic algorithms > Fractal antennas > Wide band (shared apertures) > Frequency selective devices and surfaces > New and exotic materials Note: Most of these terms are not precisely defined and they are not mutually exclusive.

California Antenna Installation Options AIRCRAFT SKIN EXTERNALLY MOUNTED ANTENNA CONFORMAL ANTENNA MOUNTED ON THE SURFACE FREQUENCY SELECTIVE SURFACE SHIELDED ANTENNA • The choice may limit operation of the system or degrade its performance • Externally mounted > structural/environmental stress > if non-retractable. system unusable • Conformal surface mounted > aerodynamic (low profile) > curvature complicates design and manufacture • Radome enclosures > controlled environment > inefficient use of volume > radome loss > wider field of view (FOV) > includes “pods” 6 . always in view > if retracted.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. etc.. California Motivation for Wide Bandwidth • Bandwidth is the range of frequencies • Definitions (not standardized) > narrow band: < 2% over which the antenna has “acceptable” > wide band: 2-10% performance > ultra wide band: > 10% • Trend is toward wide band wave forms > low probability of intercept > frequency hopping > multiple channels (i. B = f H − f L Center frequency. EW. orthogonal Gmin frequency division multiplexing) 2 G~τ > high resolution and data rates • Shared aperture (multi-mission) antenna: a single antenna used for all EM sensors (radar.) f Bandwidth. comms. f o = ( f H + f L ) / 2 7 f L fo f H .e.

California Wide Bandwidth Approaches • Single radiating structure that operates over the entire frequency band BI-CONE d min SPIRAL d max d max > λ 2 FEED POINT > d min d min d max WIRES • Collection of nested or integrated narrow band antennas BROADBAND INPUT SIGNAL FREQUENCY MULTIPLEXER 1 2 ∆f1 ∆f2 TOTAL SYSTEM BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH OF AN INDIVIDUAL ANTENNA τ ∆f1 ∆f2 ∆f N f 8 N ∆f N .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. California Frequency Selective Surfaces (FSS) REFLECTON COEFFICIENT • Example of a FSS element (tripoles) • Band-stop frequency characteristic 1 FSS 2 FSS 1 • Applications: > stealth -. array ground planes (below) DIPOLE LENGTH AT LOW FREQUENCIES DIPOLE ARM FSS 1 FSS 2 ≅ λ /4 AT LOW FREQUENCIES HIGH FREQUENCY FEED POINTS DIPOLE LENGTH AT HIGH FREQUENCIES ≅ λ/4 AT HIGH FREQUENCIES f LOW FREQUENCY FEED POINT 9 .shield antennas at high out of band frequencies > antennas -.reflector antennas.

DEGREES 20 30 10 .4 λ ∆θ s = 2.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. dB -15 -20 -25 -30 -35 -40 -30 25 dB Taylor N = 30 d = 0.3 REFLECTOR BLASS BUTLER -20 -10 0 10 PATTERN ANGLE. California Multiple Beams • Multiple beams share the same aperture (they exist simultaneously) • Cover large spatial volumes quickly • Receiver on each beam (increases the system bandwidth) • Beam coupling losses LENS • Increased complexity 0 -5 -10 RELATIVE POWER.

California Active vs. Passive Antenna • Receive architecture LNA 1 2 3 1 2 3 TO DISPLAY N M CONVENTIONAL (LNA PER BEAM) SIGNAL PROCESSOR M BEAMS N RADIATING ELEMENTS TO DISPLAY ACTIVE (LNA PER RADIATING ELEMENT) APERTURE 1 2 3 BEAM FORMER LNA 1 2 3 RECEIVER N N M • Can be applied to transmit antennas using power amplifiers • Transmit and receive channels are packaged together to form T/R modules 11 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

or equivalently. including multiple beams 12 . y( t ) s N (t ) y (t ) = ∑ wn sn (t ) n =1 N • The complex signal (I and Q.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. California Digital Beamforming (DBF) 1 2 3 N RADIATING ELEMENT SYNCHRONOUS DETECTOR I Q I Q I Q I Q TWO CHANNEL ANALOG-TODIGITAL CONVERTER s1 (t ) s 2 (t ) SIGNAL PROCESSOR (COMPUTER) OUTPUT . amplitude and phase) are measured and fed to the computer • Element responses become array storage locations in the computer • The weights are added and the sums computed to find the array response • In principle any desired beam characteristic can be achieved.

California Digital Beamforming (DBF) • Direct conversion to baseband is preferred.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. but high speed A/Ds are a problem • Receive channel: (down conversion using two mixing stages) ANTENNA ELEMENT LNA LO 1 BPF IF AMP A/D LPF VIDEO AMP A/D LPF VIDEO AMP I Q • Transmit channel (up conversion using one mixing stage) BPF POWER AMP D/A COMPUTER ANTENNA ELEMENT D/A LO 2 Complex received signal to signal processor I LO Q 13 .

California Conformal Antennas ANTENNA APERTURE INTERNAL PRINTED CIRCUIT BEAMFORMING NETWORK AIRCRAFT BODY OUTPUT/INPUT • Conformal antenna apertures conform to the shape of the platform • Typically applied to composite surfaces. the antenna beamforming network and circuitry are interlaced with the platform structure and skin • Can be active antennas with processing embedded (i.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey..e. adaptive or “smart”) • Self-calibrating and fault isolation (errors and failures detected and compensated for or corrected) • Can be re-configurable (portion of the aperture that is active can be changed) • Infrared (IR) and other sensors can be integrated into the antenna 14 .

element 5 at center) Individual dipole element H-plane patterns (infinite ground plane ) 10 5 RELATIVE POWER. DEG 40 60 80 RELATIVE POWER. dB 0 -5 -10 -15 -20 -25 -30 -35 -40 INFINITE GROUND PLANE FINITE GROUND PLANE Infinite vs. DEG 40 60 80 15 . California Mutual Coupling • Elements in an array interact with each other (patterns of edge elements deviate from those in the center) • Example: 10 element array (element 1 is at edge. dB 0 -5 -10 -15 -20 -25 -30 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 THETA. finite ground plane ELEMENT 1 ELEMENT 2 ELEMENT 3 ELEMENT 4 ELEMENT 5 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 THETA.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

California Conformal Shapes • Curvature must be considered in the design process.7 dB) FLAT GP (14.4 dB) FLAT GROUND PLANE Relative Power (dB) -5 -10 CURVED GROUND PLANE -15 -20 -25 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 80 Theta (degrees) 16 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. mutual coupling included 0 CURVED GP (12. or pattern distortion occurs • Example below: finite ground plane.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.ideal for conformal antennas • Circular or linear polarization determined by feed configuration • Difficult to increase bandwidth beyond several percent • Substrates support surface waves • Lossy TOP VIEW • Feeding methods: PROXIMITY COUPLING PATCH SUBSTRATE SURFACE LINE FEED THROUGH LINE GROUND PLANE 17 . California Patch Antennas • Lend themselves to printed circuit fabrication techniques • Low profile .

... California True Time Delay for Wide Band Scanning • For wideband scanning the phase shifter must provide true time delay BEAM SCANNING USING CABLES TO PROVIDE "TRUE TIME DELAY" BEAM SCANNING WITH PHASE SHIFTERS GIVES A PHASE THAT IS CONSTANT WITH FREQUENCY k = 2π / λ = 2π f / c WAVE FRONT WAVE FRONT θ d 1 N k d sin θ N k d sin θ TEM CABLES N θ d 1 PHASE SHIFTERS . ... ...Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. . N .. . ..... 18 ...

California Fiber Optic Beamforming • Fiber optic beamforming architecture and T/R module • Conversion loss from microwaves to light > 20 dB (as of 1998) Element Microwave T/R Module Fiber Optios Switch T/R module Osc Circulator Power Amplifier Limiter Low Noise Amplifier Photo Diode Diode Laser Receiver Transmitter Light 19 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

California Photonic Time Delay Phase Shifters 4∆ 3∆ INPUT 2∆ ∆ OUTPUT SWITCH TIME DELAY FIBERS ∆ IS A TIME DELAY BIT ∆ INPUT 2∆ 3∆ 4∆ OUTPUT 20 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. California Photonics for Reconfigurable Arrays Low conductivity semiconductor σ ~ 10-2 S/m Becomes high conductivity region σ ~ 104 S/m LASER • High energy beams are used to produce conducting antenna-shaped regions (left) • Laser excitation of the switch activates a particular portion of the aperture (below) ARRAY ELEMENTS LASER OPTO-ELECTRONIC SWITCH OUTPUT 21 .

California MMIC • Monolilthic microwave integrated circuit (MIMIC): All active and passive circuit elements. or diffusion) • Technology developed in late 70s and 80s is now common manufacturing technique • Advantages: > Potential low cost > Improved reliability and reproducibility > Compact and lightweight > Potentially broadband > Design flexibility and multiple functions on a chip • Disadvantages: > Unfavorable device/chip area ratios > Circuit tuning not possible > Troubleshooting is a problem > Coupling/EMC problems > Difficulty in integrating high power sources 22 . of a semi-insulating substrate by some deposition method (epitaxy.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. ion implantation. sputtering. components. evaporation. and interconnections are formed into the bulk or onto the surface.

actions include: > Limit operation or shutdown the system > Adapt to new conditions when processing.. California Smart Antennas • Antennas with built-in multi-function capabilities and processing are often called smart antennas • If they are conformal as well.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. they are known as smart skins • Functions include: > Self calibrating: adjust for changes in the physical environment (i. BIT): sense when and where faults or failures have occurred • Tests can be run continuously (time scheduled with other system functions) or run periodically • If problems are diagnosed. temperature) > Self-diagnostic (built-in test. or reconfigure the antenna 23 .e.

LNA. ETC) 24 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. but module replacement easy • F-15 radar RADIATING ELEMENT EDGE ACTS AS GROUND PLANE FEED LINE MODULE (PHASE SHIFTER. California T/R Module Concept • Transmit and receive channels for each element are side by side • Depth is a disadvantage.

no. 11. Delisle and Duffy. vol 44. IEEE Trans on MTT.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. 1996 25 . Nov. California T/R Tile Concept RADIATOR FEED LINE GROUND PLANE OTHER DEVICE LAYERS • Low profile • A point failure requires that the entire tile be replaced From paper by Gouker.

increased sidelobe level from multiple reflections 26 . California Radomes GIMBAL MOUNT SCANNED ANTENNA TRANSMITTED RAYS REFRACTED AIRCRAFT BODY REFLECTIONS LOW LOSS DIELECTRIC RADOME • Radome must be transparent in the operating band • Protects the antenna from the environment • The antenna pattern with a radome will always be different than that without a radome • Radome effects on the antenna pattern: 1. gain loss due to loss in the radome material and multiple reflections 3. beam pointing error from refraction by the radome wall 2.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

California Superconductivity • Reduces loss in feed lines (as much as 25 dB for a 16 element array operating at 60 GHz) PROXIMITY COUPLED ARRAY ELEMENTS VACUUM ENCLOSURE (RADOME) CRYOCOOLER POWER DIVIDER INPUT SUPERCONDUCTING TRANSMISSION LINES • Makes possible “super-directive” arrays > gain much higher than expected for the given array area > requires some feed lines to have very high current.Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. and therefore I2R losses are prohibitive in conventional conductors 27 .

California Antenna Temperature • Antenna noise temperature is specified in degrees Kelvin • Indication of the noise power out of the antenna when no signal is present • Depends on background radiation • Especially important when very low signal power is expected SKY BACKGROUND SIDELOBE MAINBEAM Pr EMITTED REFLECTED EARTH BACKGROUND 28 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

California Example: Mini.and Micro-SAR • MicroSAR • MiniSAR MiniSAR installed http://www.imicrosensors.com/ 29 .Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. and yaw patterns 30 . roll. California Vertical Takeoff UAV • USN VTUAV has multiple missions • Use EM simulation codes to study > antenna placement > effect of nearby structure on patterns > interference with other systems VTUAV mesh model Pitch.

Naval Postgraduate School Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Monterey. California JSOW Captive Carry • Problems similar to a UAV Gain specification > blockage (dashed) > radome losses HPBW contour of captive antenna (solid) ELEVATION AZIMUTH POD WITH AFT LOOKING ANTENNA 31 .