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CHAPTER 10

RADIO WAVES

ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVE PROPAGATION

1000. Source of Radio Waves at zero, increases to a maximum as the rotor completes one
quarter of its revolution, and falls to zero when the rotor
Consider electric current as a flow of electrons along a completes one half of its revolution. The current then
conductor between points of differing potential. A direct approaches a negative maximum; then it once again returns
current flows continuously in the same direction. This would to zero. This cycle can be represented by a sine function.
occur if the polarity of the electromotive force causing the The relationship between the current and the magnetic
electron flow were constant, such as is the case with a battery. field strength induced in the conductor through which the
If, however, the current is induced by the relative motion current is flowing is shown in Figure 1001. Recall from the
between a conductor and a magnetic field, such as is the case discussion above that this field strength is proportional to the
in a rotating machine called a generator, then the resulting magnitude of the current; that is, if the current is represented
current changes direction in the conductor as the polarity of the by a sine wave function, then so too will be the magnetic field
electromotive force changes with the rotation of the
strength resulting from that current. This characteristic shape
generator’s rotor. This is known as alternating current.
of the field strength curve has led to the use of the term
The energy of the current flowing through the
“wave” when referring to electromagnetic propagation. The
conductor is either dissipated as heat (an energy loss
maximum displacement of a peak from zero is called the
proportional to both the current flowing through the
amplitude. The forward side of any wave is called the wave
conductor and the conductor’s resistance) or stored in an
front. For a non-directional antenna, each wave proceeds
electromagnetic field oriented symmetrically about the
outward as an expanding sphere (or hemisphere).
conductor. The orientation of this field is a function of the
polarity of the source producing the current. When the One cycle is a complete sequence of values, as from crest
current is removed from the wire, this electromagnetic field to crest. The distance traveled by the energy during one cycle
will, after a finite time, collapse back into the wire. is the wavelength, usually expressed in metric units (meters,
What would occur should the polarity of the current centimeters, etc.). The number of cycles repeated during unit
source supplying the wire be reversed at a rate which time (usually 1 second) is the frequency. This is given in hertz
exceeds the finite amount of time required for the electro- (cycles per second). A kilohertz (kHz) is 1,000 cycles per
magnetic field to collapse back upon the wire? In this case, second. A megahertz (MHz) is 1,000,000 cycles per second.
another magnetic field, proportional in strength but exactly Wavelength and frequency are inversely proportional.
opposite in magnetic orientation to the initial field, will be The phase of a wave is the amount by which the cycle
formed upon the wire. The initial magnetic field, its current
source gone, cannot collapse back upon the wire because of
the existence of this second electromagnetic field. Instead,
it propagates out into space. This is the basic principle of a
radio antenna, which transmits a wave at a frequency
proportional to the rate of pole reversal and at a speed equal
to the speed of light.

1001. Radio Wave Terminology

The magnetic field strength in the vicinity of a
conductor is directly proportional to the magnitude of the
current flowing through the conductor. Recall the
discussion of alternating current above. A rotating
generator produces current in the form of a sine wave. That
is, the magnitude of the current varies as a function of the
relative position of the rotating conductor and the stationary
magnetic field used to induce the current. The current starts Figure 1001. Radio wave terminology.

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additional bands are defined as follows: are said to be 90° “out of phase. microwaves. The Electromagnetic Spectrum X-band: 8-12. Table 1002. while satellite navigation system signals are found Table 1002. ultraviolet.000 m Radio frequency RF 10 kHz to 300. Band Abbreviation Range of frequency Range of wavelength Audio frequency AF 20 to 20.000. extending from 20 to 20.000 hertz.000 MHz C-band: 4-8 gHz (4. Generally. The Upper K-band: 26.8×10-5 to 1.0×1014 MHz 1. For most purposes it gamma rays.0×109 to 3.” If the crest of one wave occurs at the trough of another.000 MHz 1 to 0.03 to 7.1 cm Very low frequency VLF 10 to 30 kHz 30.000 m Medium frequency MF 300 to 3.2×10-12 cm * Values approximate.5×10-5 to 1.500-40.0×10-9 cm Gamma rays* 2.500 MHz) Lower K-band: 12.8×10-5 cm Ultraviolet* 7.000 MHz 100 to 10 cm Super high frequency SHF 3. the visible occurs in the middle region of this band.000-40.000-8.152 RADIO WAVES has progressed from a specified origin. necessary because the resonant frequency of water vapor Above the radio spectrum are heat and infrared. extends from 10 kilohertz to 300.8×1015 MHz <6.000-12. Below the radio spectrum. is the au.9×108 MHz 7. in the L-band.3×1012 to 3. Waves shorter than 30 centimeters are usually called considered 360°. two waves having crests 1/4 cycle apart MHz). but overlapping it.000 MHz) frequency range suitable for radio transmission. . X-rays.5 gHz (8.3×10-8 to 1. and severe absorp- spectrum (light in its various colors).000 MHz 30. as shown in X bands. the radio spectrum.9×108 to 2.500-18.3×1010 MHz 3.000 MHz) phase.000-2.000 other wave.000 to 30.000 Hz 15.6×10-5 cm Visible spectrum* 3. a complete cycle being 1002.9×108 to 7. Thus.1 cm frequency Heat and infrared* 106 to 3.000 kHz 1.9×108 MHz 0.000 MHz 10 to 1 cm Extremely high EHF 30.6×10-5 to 3. principal interest being the phase relative to that of some Within the frequencies from 1-40 gHz (1.0×1013 MHz 1. tion of radio waves occurs in this part of the spectrum.000 to 10.000 to 15.3×10-6 cm X-rays* 2.5-18 gHz (12. The break of the K-band into lower and upper ranges is dio frequency band.000 to 300.000-4.000 to 1.000 m Low frequency LF 30 to 300 kHz 10.000 to 100 m High frequency HF 3 to 30 MHz 100 to 10 m Very high frequency VHF 30 to 300 MHz 10 to 1 m Ultra high frequency UHF 300 to 3. the origin is not important. and cosmic rays. Electromagnetic spectrum. the two are 180° out of L-band: 1-2 gHz (1.000 MHz) 1002. Marine radar systems commonly operate in the S and hertz.0×10-10 cm Cosmic rays* >4. It is divided into a number of bands. These are included in Table is stated in circular measure. S-band: 2-4 gHz (2.5-40 gHz (26.000 MHz) The entire range of electromagnetic radiation frequen- cies is called the electromagnetic spectrum.000 m to 0.000 mega.

the condition can be improved by elevating the cooler ocean surface. Thus. In radio communication. the sea. The magnetic field waves may travel for greater distances than normal The and the electric field are always mutually perpendicular. Elevated ducts from a few feet to antenna. Additionally. transmitting and receiving antennas are within the duct. This is called super- and the two signals have the same amplitude. Reflection 1005. the polarization of the electromagnetic field. The effect is the same as if the radius of the with the conductivity of the Earth and the polarization of Earth were about one-third greater than it is and there were the wave. type of polarization. For VHF and higher fre. surface is roughly parallel to the surface of the Earth. This interac. refraction in the lower layer of the atmosphere extends the A phase change occurs when a wave is reflected from radio horizon to a distance about 15 percent greater than the the surface of the Earth. producing a stronger signal. If there is a receiver in a relatively straight line. the that they remain within the duct. frequency. but below 30 MHz than higher ones. more than 1. due to the settling of a large air mass. surface ducts may occur over land due to between transmitter and receiver.000 MHz. One traveling along the surface of the Earth is when warm. becomes stratified. out to sea when warm air from the land flows over the quencies. reflecting difference in temperature and pressure occurring at various properties of the surface. Reflections may even occur at a A wave traveling through space may be polarized in sharply defined boundary surface between air masses. dry air. Thus. Such reflection is negligible for lower groundwave crosses a coast at an oblique angle. If the signals are in phase. and absorption. and A bending in the horizontal plane occurs when a other obstacles. if the Various reflecting surfaces occur in the atmosphere. a conductor. the direction of travel is altered. a horizontal radio duct vector sum of the two. polarized wave reflected from sea water (considered to Sometimes the lower portion of the atmosphere have infinite conductivity). but this solution is not always The direction of the electric component of the field is called available for navigational systems. it can be reduced by Radio waves produce both electric and magnetic fields. surface ducts about 50 feet tions the difference in path lengths is smaller. trees. The amount of the change varies visible horizon. reaching a maximum of 180° for a horizontally no refraction. certain areas of the Pacific Ocean. cooling of the surface. refraction. If there is a horizontally within the duct are refracted to such an extent phase difference. without reflection) and marked temperature inversion or a sharp decrease in water reflected waves arrive at a receiver. A phase difference may occur because of the change of There is a lower limit to the frequency affected by ducts. 1. radio short-circuits any horizontal component. they rein. Refraction When radio waves strike a surface. may be formed. incidence (the angle between the incident ray and the The principal cause of refraction in the atmosphere is the horizontal). but becomes more prevalent as frequency increases. reflections take place from rain. and divergence of the reflected heights and in different air masses. for under these condi. Polarization frequencies. Surface At lower frequencies there is no practical solution to ducts 100 feet or more in thickness may extend from land interference caused in this way. follows. At electric component is vertical. inated because of the greater ease of beaming the signal to This is a frequent occurrence in Southern California and avoid reflection. At still “vertically polarized. This stratification results in nonstandard When direct waves (those traveling from transmitter to temperature and moisture changes with height. the total signal is the vapor content with increased height.000 feet in thickness may occur at elevations of interference at higher frequencies can be more nearly elim. Maximum results are obtained when both tion of waves is called wave interference. The waves.000 to 5. principal source of reflection in the atmosphere is the ionosphere. Radio waves of all Refraction of radio waves is similar to that of light frequencies are reflected by the surface of the Earth. This is due . as any direction. “horizontally higher frequencies. At higher frequencies. polarized. When such a always vertically polarized because the Earth. thick may occur at any time in the trade wind belt. The second effect decreases with greater distance At night. the signals tend to cancel each other. usable radio the effect is small as compared with ionospheric effects. the surface reflects them in the same manner as light waves. following the curvature of cancellation being complete if the phase difference is 180° the Earth for phenomenal distances. 1004. It phase of a reflected wave. using directional antennas.” and if horizontal. Lower frequencies penetrate the earth’s surface more Refraction occurs at all frequencies. At sea. moist air flows over cold. reflections are possible from clouds. the wave is said to be high frequencies. RADIO WAVES 153 1003. High frequency radio waves traveling force each other. or because of the longer path it varies from about 200 MHz to more than 1.” particularly rain clouds. if the wave is vertically polarized. signals can be received some distance below the surface of diffraction. ray. as a signal passes from air of one density to strength of the reflected wave depends upon angle of that of a different density. Reflections may also occur from mountains. At very low frequencies.000 feet.

Since the energy of the electron depends primarily upon the shown in Figure 1007a. isolating the receiver and causing a constant. and the frequency of the radio wave. it is electrically neutral. The extent of ionization is called a skywave. leaving a small horizontal decreases. At angles greater than the decreasing the ionization of the atmosphere. but it passes through rays or ultraviolet light. At great heights the energy level is low and energy penetrates through or is absorbed by the ionosphere. at any given receiver there is a maximum usable the F layer. The band of usable frequencies numbers of oxygen molecules. a weak D layer forms at a height of by any of several paths. in contrast with the fluctuating F layer. As the angle is of the Earth. The strongest sig- because of the lack of atoms to be ionized. for the first time. ionization from solar radiation is intense. If the groundwave extends out for kind of an atom of which it is a part. and of reflection between is called a “two-hop” signal. The region of occurs at a greater distance from the transmitter. This is called the skip distance. E layer becomes weaker by two orders of magnitude. it is generally associated with the the Sun (time of day and season). and the position relative to common usage. as shown in Figure 1007b. A new maximum ionization is thus narrowed. numerous positive and negative ions and unattached A wave reaching a receiver by way of the ionosphere electrons is called the ionosphere. skywaves can be received. The wave which travels along the surface of the electrons recombine faster than they are separated. The critical radiation angle depends upon the intensity In the outermost regions of the atmosphere. Below this level nals are received at or slightly below this frequency. a critical value is reached where ray 2 percentage of ions. and its position relative less distance than the skip distance. ions and ionosphere. one which undergoes two reflections with a ground principal source of absorption of HF waves. The Ionosphere When a radio wave encounters a particle having an electric charge. and the lower not absorbed by the F layer encounters. A signal about 45 statute miles. and the F1 layer at about 90 statute miles. An electron can be separated from its atom only by the there is a minimum distance from the transmitter at which application of greater energy than that holding the electron. The height of this layer is quite pletely eliminated. Skywave signals reaching a given receiver may arrive Below the E layer. critical angle. At a height of about 60 statute miles. During magnetic storms the ionosphere density decreases. This is known as Therefore. however. a skip zone occurs. Above this level the ionization decreases frequency if skywaves are to be utilized. At night the radio blackout. Ray 1 enters the ionosphere at with rapidly moving particles. As the angle with the atmosphere. During daylight. the density of ionization.154 RADIO WAVES to a marked difference in the conducting and reflecting reflection of LF and VLF waves during daylight. 1007. such as at 3. fluctuates with changes of intensity within the ionosphere. applied to a wave reflected from an air mass boundary. At night. where the incoming radiation which undergoes a single reflection is called a “one-hop” encounters ozone for the first time. these combine to form a single F layer. in to the nucleus of that atom. In thin atmosphere far above the surface is bent or reflected back toward the Earth. At fre- than combining as molecules as it does nearer the surface of quencies greater than about 30 MHz virtually all of the the Earth. ions are usually formed by collision of atoms ionosphere is considered. rather frequency increases. Therefore. That of atoms which has become electrically charged. An ion is an atom or group polarization and an alteration of the path of the wave. After sunset. This expression is also appropriately depends upon the kinds of atoms present in the atmosphere. atoms are widely separated and a still further decreased. A . The Ionosphere and Radio Waves 1006. different kinds of radiation may which no signal is received. The effect is known as coastal refraction or land effect. Earth is called a groundwave. it causes that particle to vibrate. cause ionization of different substances. either portion of the wave in a more highly ionized region travels positively or negatively. in which a single layer of the atmosphere. directed toward a region of less intense ionization. Loss of electrons may occur in a variety of ways. In the Refer to Figure 1007a. In the density of the atmosphere. the return to Earth large number of ions may be present. large usable frequency increases. Within this band the optimum fre- levels of maximum F ionization can be detected. the solar radiation The maximum usable frequency decreases. In the lower portion of the and proceeds outward into space. The net effect is a change of protons. recombination soon occurs. properties of the land and water over which the wave travels. the F2 quency can be selected to give best results. no skywave signal is received. As the is so low that oxygen exists largely as separate atoms. two too weak to be of value. There it decreases because the ionizing agent of appropriate is also a lower practical frequency beyond which signals are energy has already been absorbed. The Since an atom normally has an equal number of vibrating particle absorbs electromagnetic energy from the negatively charged electrons and positively charged radio wave and radiates it. or by the action of cosmic such an angle that its path is altered. Under extreme conditions it may be com- occurs. It cannot be too layer at about 125 statute miles above the surface of the near the maximum usable frequency because this frequency Earth. by the loss or gain of one or more faster. known as the E layer. The D layer is the signal. causing the wave front to tilt and the wave to be electrons. etc. however. the angle becomes smaller.

its energy is re- the Sun. This phenomenon This is called night effect. This is explained by Huygens’ principle. resulting in fluctuations of the strength of the to. receiver have different phase relationships. Various paths by which a skywave signal might be received. may become erratic and polarization error a maximum. Ionospheric changes are associated with fluctuations in the radiation received from When a radio wave encounters an obstacle. nals from the F layer are particularly erratic because of the However.” etc. which . Near sunrise and sunset. accompanied by an and phase relationships of the various signals may undergo alteration in the direction of travel of the wave.” “two-hop F. The layer The maximum distance at which a one-hop E signal can be at which the reflection occurs is usually indicated. “multihop” signal undergoes several reflections. the various signals arriving at a frequencies groundwaves extend out for great distances. tal signal received. hop F signal can be received out to about 2. also. may also be caused by interaction of components within a single reflected wave. Since the densi.400 miles. At low curring at each reflection. At this distance the signal leaves “one-hop E. the various signals may called polarization error. as received is about 1. RADIO WAVES 155 Figure 1007a. Diffraction changes in the reflecting surface. some energy does enter the shadow area because of rapidly fluctuating conditions within the layer itself. Figure 1007b. since this is the principal cause of ionization. or changes in its strength due to 1008.500 miles. the transmitter in approximately a horizontal direction. Sig. Thus. This is called fading. the strength during reflection from the ionosphere. A one- Because of the different paths and phase changes oc. when reinforce each other at one moment and cancel each other rapid changes are occurring in the ionosphere. The effect of the ionosphere on radio waves. flected or absorbed. causing a shadow beyond the obstacle. This is an almost continuous change. A skywave may undergo a change of polarization ty of the ionosphere is continually fluctuating. diffraction. reception at the next.

This is illustrated in Figure 1008. Absorption and Scattering 1010. water droplets. which is an excellent conductor at low frequencies.156 RADIO WAVES Figure 1008. frequency range. the wave. through space varies inversely with distance. Unintentional distance is called attenuation. From the edge of the obstacle. producing alter. resulting in further absorption by the Earth. At these frequencies.400 kHz. the remainder of the wave front tilts components within the receiver. Noise may originate within the receiver. components cause some noise. As a result sounds may be caused by poor contacts or faulty of this absorption. effect of an obstacle is a greatly reduced signal strength in the In general. atmospheric absorption increases with shadow area. It is a problem only in the SHF and EHF the shadow area. attenuation is greater than in free space. Maximum ionospheric absorption occurs to cancel the energy of the primary radiation. and composition of the ionosphere as well as the frequency nate bands in which the secondary radiation reinforces or tends of the radio wave. Thus. The decrease of strength with communication is called jamming. water the frequency. and also outside of the area. Under certain conditions the interference is called noise. Noise The amplitude of a radio wave expanding outward Unwanted signals in a receiver are called interference. which intercepts a portion of water. No noticeable effect of this principle is observed until the and low frequency groundwaves travel great distances over wave front encounters an obstacle. energy is radiated into A skywave suffers an attenuation loss in its encounter the shadow area. weakening The intentional production of such interference to obstruct with increased distance. This source sets the ultimate Attenuation is greater over a surface which is a poor limit of sensitivity that can be achieved in a receiver. 1009. and a disturbed pattern for a short distance outside frequency. attenuation is further The amount of diffraction is inversely proportional to increased by scattering due to reflection by oxygen. the practical at about 1. Diffraction. The amount depends upon the height with energy from other parts of the wave front. and rain in the atmosphere. Relatively little absorption occurs over sea of radiation. It is . The latter interacts with the ionosphere. Stray currents in normal downward. vapor. The wave is carrying alternating current. states that every point on the surface of a wave front is a source conductor. being greatest at very low frequencies. wave. Irregular crackling or sizzling diffracted downward and absorbed by the Earth. Hum is A wave traveling along the surface of the Earth loses a usually the result of induction from neighboring circuits certain amount of energy to the Earth. transmitting energy in all directions ahead of the water.

which is sometimes seen at mastheads.500 km. Because of the the wire. Under suitable conditions this becomes visible and is known as St. band. with the lowest and progressing to the highest usable radio frequency. may constitute the only source of radio communication For lower frequencies the radiation of a radio signal over great distances. route of travel. by more efficient transmitting antennas. it discharges into the atmosphere. efficiency increases with received from below the surface of the sea. permitting radiation of relatively small horizontal directions. and when it accumulates to a atmospheric noise level. For a horizontal antenna. but this is somewhat offset by the lesser splitting of a water droplet which strikes the surface. 1013. and virtually no signal in the direction of the wire. An exposed surface may frequency. but it can also Groundwaves provide dependable service. For a single-wire antenna. and the effective a negative charge. For the same transmitted power. However. Above effects associated with the various frequency bands. both the be caused by friction of water or solid particles blown groundwave and skywave ranges are greatest at the lowest against or along such a surface. skip distance. or static. interference from takes place by interaction between the antenna and the atmospheric noise may be troublesome. Unless the polarization undergoes a amounts of power. both and time dissemination. large antennas are needed. 30 to 300 kHz): As frequency is efficiency increases with greater distance between antenna increased to the LF band and diffraction decreases. Attenuation. long wavelength. This band is also useful for radio direction finding At higher frequencies. and even these For a vertical antenna. At 10 kHz it would be about 8 A wider bandwidth permits pulsed signals at 100 kHz. example is a thunderstorm. An extreme upon the power transmitted. 10 to 30 kHz): The VLF signals propagate between the bounds of the ionosphere Antenna design and orientation have a marked effect and the Earth and are thus guided around the curvature of upon radio wave propagation. 300 to 3. the ends of yardarms. becomes prohibitively great. allows separation of the stable groundwave pulse from the lower frequency antennas are inherently inefficient. Signals may be ground. 1012. and perhaps other acquire a considerable charge of static electricity. at the lowest frequencies. the atmosphere. Frequency is an important consideration in radio wave Atmospheric noise occurs to some extent at all propagation. starting about 30 MHz it is not generally a problem. and up to 2. only direct waves are useful. This is called The range at which a usable signal is received depends atmospheric noise. systems. the ground is not used. strength of the signal transmitted in a desired direction. Near-maximum efficiency is attained when greater attenuation with distance. motor and generator brushes. RADIO WAVES 157 the same at any frequency. the required height most stable within groundwave distance of the transmitter. Not Medium Frequency (MF. These charges may be transferred to the range is greatly reduced. wave interference. LF signals are However. conducting portions being included in a dipole antenna. This nautical miles for a half-wavelength antenna. noise level. but the range for be made sharply directive. atmospherics. Radio Wave Spectra Elmo’s fire. Diffraction is maximum. greater length of the antenna. Magnetic storms have little effect upon change during transit. Range Natural noise is caused principally by discharge of static electricity in the atmosphere. Therefore. condition of the ionosphere. Antenna Characteristics Very Low Frequency (VLF. At higher part of the droplet requiring a positive charge and the other frequencies. and other sources of sparks which transmit electro- magnetic signals that are picked up by the receiving antenna. the Earth to great distances with low attenuation and strongest signals are transmitted along the perpendicular to excellent stability. and antenna design all affect the sufficient extent to overcome the insulating properties of distance at which useful signals can be received. 1011. the sensitivity of the receiver. ignition is no attenuation due to absorption or scattering. The following summary indicates the principal frequencies but decreases with higher frequencies.” During such storms. Noise originating outside the receiver may be either The power received is inversely proportional to the man-made or natural. This may factors. It may also be caused by frequencies. However. the strongest signal received from a transmission because of the efficiency of the “Earth- vertical transmitting antenna occurs when the receiving ionosphere waveguide. ground surface. etc. VLF signals antenna is also vertical.000 km partly offset by the greater range of a low frequency signal for overwater paths. This range varies from . this is partly offset elevating low frequency antennas to great heights. one efficiency of antennas for these frequencies. Man-made noises originate in square of the distance from the transmitter. The charge tends to gather at points and ridges of reflection. For a vertical antenna.000 kHz): only can such an antenna be made efficient. assuming there electrical appliances. The frequency for Loran C is in the LF of the same transmitted power as one of higher frequency. thus greatly increasing the a given power is reduced greatly. the signal strength is the same in all are inefficient. This is the reason for power output falls off rapidly. This is variable skywave pulse up to 1. Low Frequency (LF. and range for a given this distance is one-half wavelength. there is and ground. the conducting surface.

due These values are influenced.400 kHz. Only direct and ground-reflected waves is limited to a few miles. At higher frequencies the centimeter wave band. although there is some wave produce. sharply directive antennas can is variable. By day this given purpose. In some cases a given frequency is be used results in increased distance of reception. The allocation of various frequency Very High Frequency (VHF. but generally they are unavailable. Diffraction is much less than during daylight hours. At the lower frequencies of the band. use. but it is most evident when signals further reduced by the use of channels. 30. Some form of ship-to-shore communication. an audible hum of high pitch. etc. 30 to 300 MHz): bands to particular uses is a matter of international Communication is limited primarily to the direct wave.000 to 30. the EHF band. As the Super High Frequency (SHF. Sharply directive antennas can be produced for Elevating the antenna to obtain direct waves may improve transmission in this band. in a receiver. by the power of the principally to refraction.158 RADIO WAVES about 400 miles at the lower portion of the band to about 15 interference. fading. the signals increases. the reliability of skywave signals nonexistent.605 kHz) is in the MF band. Elevating the cations Commission has responsibility for authorizing use antenna to increase the distance at which direct waves can of particular frequencies. transmission absorption decreases. The SHF band is used for marine low. such as reflected waves is present. under conditions which minimize interference. each of a narrow cross sharp mountain peaks or ridges. If it is too interference. Under suitable band of frequencies. permitting increased use of being entirely by direct and ground-reflected waves. the directivity and efficiency of the antenna. amplitude is called a continuous wave (CW). Groundwaves and ground. ranges of as be produced. and sunspot cycle. equally good by day or night. 300 to 3. even allocated to several widely separated transmitters. are pronounced and may produce an upper limit to the Also. the height of the antenna does have an important frequency useful in radio communication.. 3. diffraction. the Federal Communi- the direct wave plus a ground-reflected wave. using multihop signals. skywave reception is navigational radar. but only though some wave interference between direct and ground. noise in this band. skywaves. effect upon skywave transmission because the antenna has an “image” within the conducting Earth. the groundwave range of HF signals atmospheric noise. Reasonably efficient directional permitting selection of band and channel by the user. The HF band is widely used for ship-to-ship and user had complete freedom of selection. The standard broadcast band for MHz): The effects of shorter waves are more pronounced in commercial stations (535 to 1. antennas are possible with VHF. Assigned frequencies are separated by conditions. virtually free from fading and interference by atmospheric and the nature of the terrain over which signals travel. . This cannot be which pass through it into space.000 needed at night. but the elevation of the antenna are available. or agreement. water droplets. If it is too high. may be 10 to 30 MHz. By careful selection of frequency. are possible. increased wave penetrate the ionosphere and are lost in space. ionospheric absorption increases to In the SHF band. The distance 1014. these are not the only considerations. extends about 15 percent beyond the visible horizon. there are no skywaves. Maximum usable important to the selection of the most suitable one for any frequencies fall generally within the HF band. and fading. However.000 MHz): frequency is increased. Scattering and absorption in the atmosphere may increase the direct-wave distance of transmission. skywaves are available both day and night. when it may reflected waves are used. transmission being free from wave High Frequency (HF. Reception of UHF signals is transmitter. Types of Radio Transmission Ultra High Frequency (UHF. heard except at the very lowest radio frequencies. Diffraction and interference by atmospheric noise are virtually season. which is widely used for ship-to- the transmission. but the radio horizon miles at the upper end for a transmitted signal of 1 kilowatt. but with the effects of shorter waves being greater. transmission in this band is similar to that much as 8. but during the night it may drop to 8 Confusion and extensive interference would result if every to 10 MHz. but lower frequencies are Extremely High Frequency (EHF. 3 to 30 MHz): As with higher interference. and this distance is as critical as the distance While the characteristics of various frequencies are between elements of an antenna system. Thus. causing greater scattering. dust particles.000 MHz): Skywaves are not used in the UHF band because the A series of waves transmitted at constant frequency and ionosphere is not sufficiently dense to reflect the waves. Diffraction is negligible. the Reflection by clouds.000 to 300. In the case of radio aids to navigation and ship There is relatively little interference from atmospheric communications bands of several channels are allocated. In general. 1015. The VHF band is much used for communication. signals are too weak. regulation is needed. also known as the microwave or as the a maximum at about 1. and interference by medium frequencies. however.000 miles with 1 kilowatt of transmitted power of UHF. noise. reflections from the ionosphere are sufficiently an arbitrary band of frequencies that are not authorized for strong to be useful. Interference between stations is with lower frequencies. Regulation of Frequency Use between antenna and image is related to the height of the antenna. Within the United States. ship and ship-to-shore communication. Highly efficient. frequency selection is critical. Since the ionosphere changes with the hour.

direct current into radio-frequency oscillations (the carrier In amplitude modulation (AM) the amplitude of the wave). is used in some common radio may be presented audibly by earphones or loudspeaker. This is called modulation. In addi- removing the modulating wave and converting it back to its tion. These com- voice radio. (3) a device to control the generated signal.” during antenna. Figure 1015b. frequency modulation (FM) When a radio wave passes a conductor. Any of several types of modulation may be used. Amplitude modulation (upper figure) and frequency modulation (lower figure) by the same modulating wave. The output of a receiver illustrated in Figure 1015b. an antenna and ground (for lower frequencies) are original form. visually on a dial. Transmitters radiodirection finding or Decca. a current is occurs. very short bursts of carrier wave are transmitted. This is used for commercial FM radio broadcasts induced in that conductor. including radar and Loran C. This type of transmission. as shown in Figure 1015a. Receivers accordance with the amplitude of the impressed signal. and (4) carrier wave is altered in accordance with the amplitude of an amplifier to increase the output of the oscillator. (2) an oscillator to convert mation. supply to furnish direct current. cathode-ray tube. counter. It is able to select signals of being no impressed modulating wave. When this A radio transmitter consists essentially of (1) a power occurs. which senses the power thus generated in an antenna. The receiver is able to demodulate the signal and which there is no transmission. and Pulse modulation (PM) is somewhat different. the continuous wave serves as a carrier wave for infor. For a modulating wave. RADIO WAVES 159 Figure 1015a. If the frequency instead of the amplitude is altered in 1017. it is more commonly modi- fied in some manner. as shown in some transmitters a microphone is needed with a modulator Figure 1015a. or other . provide adequate amplification. a single frequency (actually a narrow band of frequencies) mission. A radio receiver is a device and the sound portion of television broadcasts. ponents are illustrated in Figure 1016. Pulse modulation. This form of modulation is widely used in needed to produce electromagnetic radiation. usually of audio frequency. as in 1016. or navigational aids. In the receiver the signal is demodulated by and final amplifier to modulate the carrier wave. cial broadcasting. In this form of trans. Although a continuous wave may be used directly. from among the many which may reach the receiving separated by relatively long periods of “silence. as in the standard broadcast band of commer. there transforms it into usable form.

and characteristics during such an emergency. This condition is called selectivity. the ability to resist drift from conditions or values of frequencies to obtain the full range of those of the desired to which set. It international organizations. it should have 100% integrity. Departments of Defense and Transportation.S. and integrity to all navigation systems. Components of a radio transmitter.S. is carefully chosen to both departments. outlines approaches for allies derive greater benefit than adversaries. it should be available The first edition of the FRP was released in 1980 as 100% of the time. the International Civil constraints of budget and practicality. automatic noise limiter. the International The Federal Radionavigation Plan (FRP) is produced Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). Receivers may have additional features such as accepting the challenge of an interrogator and automat- an automatic frequency control. instance. and its military radionavigation systems. the ability to confine reception to signals of the spillover. display. land. 22161. part of a presidential report to Congress. the useful reception of radio signals requires etc. the ability to amplify a weak spillover. it should be as accurate as necessary Springfield. any or all of the systems navigation systems. signals of a Radio receivers differ mainly in (1) frequency range. and terrestrial. aeronautical. ensuring consideration of national may be temporarily discontinued by the federal interests and efficient use of resources. establishes government policy on the mix of electronic During a national emergency.160 RADIO WAVES Figure 1016. if a receiver lacks selectivity. and marine navigation. desired frequency and avoid others of nearly the same If the selectivity is increased sufficiently to prevent frequency. It is available The ideal navigation system should provide three from the National Technical Information Service.S.ntis. The mix of Defense plan had been developed for systems used by of navigation systems in the U. and (5) fidelity. the essential characteristics of the original signal are A transponder is a transmitter-receiver capable of reproduced.S. availability. warning the user and time that a joint Department of Transportation/Department shutting itself down when not operating properly. three components: (1) an antenna. It marked the first Third. and (3) a Some of these characteristics are interrelated. (2) a receiver. (2) receiver is tuned may be received. things to the user. it is distributed to the International users. the completeness with which signal. at any time of day or night. The FRP has had international impact on provide maximum accuracy. (4) stability. The FRP is a The plan is reviewed continually and updated . space. Aviation Organization (ICAO).gov. U. Virginia. provides information and agencies may shut down systems or change signal formats schedules. The government’s policy is to continue to integrated federal plan for all common-use civilian and operate radionavigation systems as long as the U. ically transmitting an appropriate reply. Thus. and other by the U. Thus. Operating consolidation of systems. in all weather. RADIO NAVIGATION POLICY 1018. marine. and the resulting interference is called crosstalk. and provides a focal point for user input. the fidelity may be reduced. within the Maritime Organization (IMO). For display unit. It presents an government. First. frequency differing slightly from those to which the the range of frequencies to which they can be tuned. Second. defines and clarifies new or unresolved issues. for the job it is expected to do. (3) sensitivity. http://www. it may not permit receipt of a great enough band signal to usable strength against a background of noise. The Federal Radionavigation Plan review of existing and planned radionavigation systems used in air.

MLS. The correctional signals are broadcast on HF In order to meet both civilian and military needs. marine radiobeacons GPS as a robust. The FRP recognizes that GPS may not meet the needs of all users. may transportation system economy. Industry. advisory groups. but due In the U. traditional gear. Coast Guard there are issues of reliability to be addressed in the face of operates marine DGPS in U. technology available at the time of implementation and is upgraded as technology and resources permit. Reasonable the federally provided and maintained radionavigation notice will be given if the decision is made to terminate it. system.S. out without consideration of these factors. or GPS. The 2001 FRP sets forth the following The navigator relies on simple. Several factors influence the decision on the proper mix of systems. the radio with a range of about 30 miles.S. system in which differences between observed and Many factors influence the choice of navigation calculated GPS signals are broadcast to users using medium systems. as GPS assumes primacy in navigation technology. The plan considers governmental geostationary satellites. It is the official source of provide additional position accuracy if the signal is radionavigation systems policy and planning for the United unobstructed. LAAS is not intended federal government has established a number of different or configured for marine use. will be requirements. and the days are numbered for LORAN C: Loran C provides navigation. RADIO DIRECTION FINDING 1022. some systems are currently being evaluated is a service of the FAA similar to DGPS. military utility. Factors Affecting Navigation System Mix addresses the length of time each system should be part of the system mix. Introduction direction finding. Alaska. TACAN. States. although Differential GPS (DGPS): The U. Accuracies of a few meters are possible. in which a medium frequency radio signal is broadcast from a station at a known location. Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS): WAAS therefore. which must satisfy an extremely diverse group of frequencies. land.. but a directional antenna on a vessel is used . RADIO WAVES 161 biennially. The goal is to meet all military and cross-country and local air navigation. public safety. location. coastal waters. navigation systems. about the same as with DGPS. Loran C.S. The full life-cycle cost of DGPS system is being installed across the United States to each system must be considered. others. The waters including Hawaii. VOR/VOR- DME/VORTAC. Systems covered by the FRP include GPS. A terrestrial and users must be considered. DGPS.S. This signal is The simplest use of radio waves in navigation is radio omnidirectional. Each system utilizes the latest accurate position data in a local area. and on system policy guidelines: some of the most complex and expensive space-based electronic systems man has ever developed. and timing services for both civil and military air. and is intended for independently of GPS. It is operated by the U. WAAS is not optimized for marine responsibilities for national security.S. and other interested reference stations and broadcasting correction data through parties provide input. Several have into DGPS sites. Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS): LAAS is a precision positioning system provided by the FAA for 1019. and user requirements all drive the problem the nation’s primary radionavigation system well into the of allocating scarce resources to develop and maintain next century. the Departments of Defense and Transpor- to the large number of users. cost. and marine radiobeacons in the U. available. The FRP 1021. coastal users. No system will be phased bring differential GPS service to land areas. DGPS service is available in all U. accuracy GPS: The Global Positioning System. The decreasing cost of receivers and increasing accuracy of the Global Positioning System 1020. Omega.). Enhancements to GPS increase its attractiveness as the primary navigation method of the future for both military and civilian use. and while not certified for maritime navigation. The success of RADIOBEACONS: All U. and maritime users. It is slated for replacement by GPS. It current investment in existing systems by both government will provide 4-20 meter continuous accuracy.S. met their demise already (Transit. and the Great Lakes. and flexible system is have been discontinued and most of the stations converted rapidly driving older systems off the scene. using a series of civilian requirements in the most efficient way possible. is expected to remain in place tation continually evaluate the components which make up indefinitely while its continuation is evaluated. WAAS. LAAS. System Plans local navigation in the immediate vicinity of airports so equipped. accurate. Air Force. International agreements must be honored. but can provide extremely navigation systems. and ILS. DGPS is a threats to jam or otherwise compromise the system. and use.S.

In general. and rotate the antenna Once used extensively throughout the world. range. Nearly all types of receiving antennas have some di. This constitutes an have a ferrite rod antenna mounted directly on a receiver. and is measured by a while radio bearings travel along great circles. align the unit fix. The relative output of the two radio bearings was necessary to obtain the most accurate antennas is related to the orientation of each with respect to LOP’s.S. . the direction of travel of the radio wave. comprising Morse code letters are used for station identifi. It is avoided by not using. Selectivity varies with the type of receiver and its directional as possible. but the RDF antenna is designed to be as utilized. which is broadcast continuously during the The strength of the signal determines the usable range of period of transmission. 117. limited availability. mariner can contact via radio and request a bearing. The bearing to the radiobeacons have been discontinued in the U. the crossed loop type. They are now chiefly used as homing devices by dicated on the dial. the condition of the equipment. Quadrantal volume of the geographically appropriate List of Lights. the bearings of more than two or three degrees for distances under 150 the radio transmissions are measured as relative bearings. or regarding as of doubtful accuracy. one can develop skill and learn to what radiobeacons operate continuously. Because of its limited phones to hear the null. sometimes called land effect. as coastal refraction. direction finders and during varying atmospheric conditions. with ear- covered by any radiobeacon signal. and very little of the ocean’s surface is hand-held combination ferrite rod and compass. Radio Naviga- tional Aids. Bearing measurement is accomplished with a directional The sensitivity of a radio direction finder determines the antenna. carrier wave. and as both relative and true bearings. 117. regardless of weather extent radio bearings can be relied upon under various conditions. Some small craft RDF’s have a portable local fishermen. back and forth to find the exact null point. and inherent errors. These stations and procedures for use are listed in conducting and reflecting properties of land and water known NIMA Pub. The actual useful range may vary considerably the characteristic signal to enable users of the aural null type from the published range with different types of radio of radio direction finder to refine the bearing. degree to which the full range of a radiobeacon can be rectional properties. or nautical miles. By observing the technical marine radiobeacon transmits radio waves of approximately instructions for the equipment and practicing frequently when uniform strength in all directions. Errors of Radio Direction Finders comprising a major part of NIMA Pub. two In the past. will be in- other areas. to the vessel’s course or to true north. good radio bearings should not be in error by Depending upon the design of the RDF. correction of 90 degrees to the other. when radiobeacon stations were powerful and loops are rigidly mounted in such manner that one is placed at common enough for routine ocean navigation. To get a bearing. results can be checked. The relatively short range of those stations remaining has made this process obsolete. and many station. error occurs when radio waves arrive at a receiver and are A Radio Direction Finding Station is one which the influenced by the immediate shipboard environment. often plotted on Mercator charts. and the accuracy of cation. The correction process accounted for the fact that.162 RADIO WAVES to determine the bearing of the station. Most of A radio wave crossing a coastline at an oblique angle these stations are for emergency use only. Radio Navigational Aids. The most common type of skill is an important factor. and a fee may be experiences a change of direction due to differences in involved. Using Radio Direction Finders bearings which cross a shoreline at an oblique angle. Simple combinations of dots and dashes conditions. A 10-second dash is incorporated in a radiobeacon. However. All radiobeacons superimpose the characteristic on a calibration. In one of these. radio direction Two types of loop antenna are used in larger radio finding is of limited usefulness to the professional navigator. 1023. radiobeacons are now listed in the back of each RDF bearings are subject to certain errors. relative or true according to the alignment. conditions vary considerably. direction finders. Simple small craft RDF units usually condition. Once 1024. they are most device called a goniometer. with LOP. Except during calibration. which can be crossed with another LOP to determine a a 360 degree graduated scale. Other factors affecting accuracy include range.