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™ Reflection
– Propagating wave impinges on an object which is
large compared to wavelength
– E.g.,
E
th surface
the
f
off the
th Earth,
E th buildings,
b ildi
walls,
ll etc.
t
™ Diffraction
– Radio p
path between transmitter and receiver
obstructed by surface with sharp irregular edges
– Waves bend around the obstacle, even when LOS
does not exist
™ Scattering
– Objects smaller than the wavelength of the
propagating
ti wave
– E.g., foliage, street signs, lamp posts

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€

€

Free space is a region where these is nothing - the
vacuum of outer space is a fair approximation for most
purposes. There are no obstacles to get in the way, no
gases to absorb energy, nothing to scatter the radio
waves. Unless you are into space communications, free
space is not something you are likely to encounter, but
it is important to understand what happens to a radio
wave when there is nothing to disturb it.
In free space, a radio wave launched from a point in
any given direction will propagate outwards from that
point at the speed of light.
light The energy,
energy carried by
photons, will travel in a straight line, as there is
nothing to prevent them doing so. They will do this
forever. Actually, this is not quite true, photons do
e ent all decay
eventually
deca but
b t as the half life of a photon is of the
order of 6.5 Billion years, we don't need to worry about
it here. For all practical purposes, a radio wave when
g line forever traveling
g
launched carries on in a straight
att the
th speed
d off li
light.
ht
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q
Here are Some useful equations:
€ Free Space Loss = 32.5 + 20log(d) + 20log(f) dB,
Where D is the distance in km and f is the frequency in
MHz
€ Free
F ee Space
S a e Lo
Loss = 92
92.5
5 + 20lo
20log(d)
(d) + 20lo
20log(f)
(f) dB
dB,
Where D is the distance in km and f is the frequency in
GHz
and for the Americans:
€ Free Space Loss = 36.6 + 20log(d) + 20log(f) dB,
where D is the distance in miles and f is the frequency
in MHz

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€ In

a region extending from a height of about 50
km to over 500 km, some of the molecules of
the atmosphere are ionised by radiation from
the Sun to produce an ionised gas. This region
is called the ionosphere, figure 1.1.
€ During the day there may be four regions
present called the D, E, F1 and F2 regions. Their
approximate height ranges are:
• D region
i 50 to
t 90 k
km;
• E region 90 to 140 km;
• F1 region 140 to 210 km;
• F2 region
i over 210 k
km.

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Figure 1.1 Day and night structure of the ionosphere

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During the daytime, sporadic E is sometimes observed in
the E region,
g , and at certain times during
g the solar cycle
y
the
F1 region may not be distinct from the F2 region but merge
to form an F region. At night the D, E and F1 regions
become very much depleted of free electrons
electrons, leaving only
the F2 region available for communications; however it is
not uncommon for sporadic E to occur at night.
Only the E, F1, sporadic E when present, and F2 regions
refract HF waves. The D region
g
is important
p
though,
g
because while it does not refract HF radio waves, it does
absorb or attenuate them. The F2 region is the most
important region for high frequency radio propagation as:
• it is present 24 hours of the day;
• its high altitude allows the longest communication paths;
• it usually
ll refracts
f t th
the hi
highest
h t ffrequencies
i iin th
the HF range.
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As signals
g
spread
p
out from a radiating
g source,, the energy
gy is
spread out over a larger surface area. As this occurs, the
strength of that signal gets weaker. Free space loss (FSL),
measured in dB
dB, specifies how much the signal has
weakened over a given distance.

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Radio waves travel in a straight
g line, unless
something refracts or reflects them. But the energy
of radio waves is not “pencil thin.” They spread out
th ffarther
the
th they
th gett from
f
the
th radiating
di ti source — like
lik
ripples from a rock thrown into a pond.
The area that the signal spreads out into is called
the Fresnel zone (p
(pronounced fra-nell).
) If there is
an obstacle in the Fresnel zone, part of the radio
signal will be diffracted or bent away from the
straight-line path. The practical effect is that on a
point-to-point radio link, this refraction will reduce
the amount of RF energy reaching the receive
antenna.
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Receive Signal Level
Receive signal level is the actual received signal level
(usually measured in negative dBm) presented to the
antenna port of a radio receiver from a remote
transmitter.
Receiver Sensitivity
Receiver sensitivity is the weakest RF signal level
(usually measured in negative dBm) that a radio needs
receive in order to demodulate and decode a packet of
d t without
data
ith t errors.
Antenna Gain
Antenna gain is the ratio of how much an antenna
boosts the RF signal over a specified low-gain
low gain radiator.
radiator
Antennas achieve gain simply by focusing RF energy.
If this gain is compared with an isotropic (no gain)
radiator,, it is measured in dBi. If the g
gain is measured
against a standard dipole antenna, it is measured in
dBd. Note that gain applies to both transmit and receive
signals.
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€ Transmit

Power
€ The transmit power is the RF power coming out
of the antenna port of a transmitter. It is
measured in dBm, Watts or milliWatts and does
not include the signal loss of the coax cable or
the gain of the antenna.
€ Effective Isotropic Radiated Power
€ Effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) is the
actual RF power as measured in the main lobe
(or focal point) of an antenna. It is equal to the
sum of the transmit power into the antenna (in
dBm) added to the dBi gain of the antenna.
antenna
Since it is a power level, the result is measured
in dBm.
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Figure 3 shows how +24 dBm of power (250 mW) can be “boosted”
to +48 dBm or 64 Watts of radiated power
power.
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