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 Propagation: how radio waves get from
point A to point B.
 The events occurring in the transmission path
between two stations that affect the
communications between the stations.
• Electromagnetic radiation comprises both
an Electric and a MagneticField.
 • The two fields are at right-angles to each
other and the direction of propagation is at
right-angles to both fields.
Two types of waves:
Transverse waves and Longitudinal
Transverse waves:vibration is from side to
side; that is, at right angles to the
direction in which they travel.
• Longitudinal waves:
 • Vibration is parallel to the direction of
propagation. Sound waves, Pressure waves
are longitudinal.Oscillate back and forth,
vibrations along or parallel to their direction
of travel.
 The polarization of an antenna is the
orientation of the electric field with respect
to the Earth's surface and is determined by
the physical structure of the antenna and by
its orientation.
 Radio waves from a vertical antenna will
usually be vertically polarized.
 Radio waves from a horizontal antenna are
usually horizontally polarized.
 Ground Wave is a surface wave that
propagates close to the surface of the Earth.
 Line of Sight (Ground wave or Direct
Wave) is propagation of waves travelling in
a straight line. The rays or waves are
deviated or reflected by obstructions and
cannot travel over the horizon or behind
 Most common of the radio propagation
modes at VHF and higher frequencies.
 Space Waves: travel directly from an antenna
to another without reflection on the ground.
 Occurs when both antennas are within line of
sight of each another, distance is longer that line
of sight because most space waves bend near the
ground and follow practically a curved path.
 Sky Wave (Skip/ Hop/ Ionospheric Wave) is the
propagation of radio waves bent (refracted)
back to the Earth's surface by the ionosphere.
 HF radio communication (between 3 and 30
MHz) is a result of skywave propagation.
 Attenuation: when the distance doubles,
the signal becomes half less strong.
obstacles placed between emitter, receiver,
and travelling around the earth; radio waves
lose their energy as they forced to bend to
follow the earth curvature.
 Reflection:similar to its optical counterpart
as wave enters in contact with a surface.
 Refraction: the bending of waves that
occurs when they pass through a medium
(air or ionosphere) produce variation in the
velocity of waves.
 Diffraction: due to its high frequency bends
around the edge of the object and tends to
make the borders of it lighter. That means that
some light reaches well some places that we
considered as plunged into darkness. Skip Zone:
It is defined as the region between the
furthest transmission points and the nearest
point refracted waves can be received. Within
this region, no signal can be received as there
are no radio waves to receive.
 Skip Distance: It is defined as the least
distance between point of transmission and
the point of reception.
 The portion of the received energy
at a distant receiving point may
travel over any of the possible
modes of propagations.
 Ground or surface wave propagation
 Sky wave or Ionospheric wave propagation
 Space wave propagation (Tropospheric propagation)
 The modes of propagation depends upon
 Frequency of operation
 Distance between transmitting and receiving
 The ground wave is a wave that is guided
along the surface of the earth and is
vertically polarized.
 This wave permits the propagation around
the curvature of the earth.
 This mode of propagation exists when the
transmitting and receiving antennas are close
to the surface of the earth and is supported
at its lower edge by the presence of the
 The earth attenuation increases as frequency
increases. So this mode of propagation is
suitable for low and medium frequency i.e.
upto 2 MHz only.
 It is called as medium wave propagation and
is used in local broadcasting.
 At high frequency, wave attenuation by
ground is much more than at low frequency
over the same ground.
 All the signals received during day time is
due to ground wave propagation.
 Electric field strength E at a distance from TX antenna due to ground wave,
E = 120 π ht hr I s (volt/meter)
120 π – Intrinsic impedance of free space
ht , hr – Effective heights of transmitting and receiving antennas
Is – Antenna currents
d – Distance between TX and RX antennas
λ – Wavelength

 If d is large, the reduction in the field strength due to ground attenuation

and atmospheric absorption increases and thus actual voltage received at
receiving point decreases.
According to sommerfield, the field strength for
ground wave propagation for a flat earth is given
Eg = E0A
Eg – Ground wave field strength at the
surface of earth at unit distance form the TX
E0 – Ground wave field strength
A – Attenuation factor (Earth losses)
D – Distance from TX antenna
 Unit distance field strength E0 depends on
 Power radiation of TX antenna
 Directivity in vertical and horizontal planes

 If the antenna is non directional in the horizontal plane,

producing a radiated field which is proportional to the
cosine of the angle of elevation, then the field at unit
distance for a radiated power is given by
E0 = 300 (√p)/d v/m,
where P is the radiated power in KW and
D is the distance in metres.
 The attenuation factor A depends on
 Frequency
 Dielectric constant
 Conductivity of earth
 The attenuation factor is expresses in terms
of two auxiliary variables, the numerical
distance p and phase constant b.
 These two constants are determined by
 Frequency
 distance and dielectric characteristics of ground.
 The parameters p and b are given by
P = πdcosb/xλ
B = tan-1[(εr+1)/x] = 2b2 – b1
X = 1.8 * 1012σ/f(Hz) mhos/cm
εr = dielectric constant of the earth relative to
σ = Conductivity of the earth.
 Theparameters p and b are given by
P = πdx/λcosb
B = 180 – b1
b1 = tan-1[(εr-1)/x]
b2 = tan-1 (εr/x)
b2 = power factor angle of the impedance
offered by the earth to the flow of current.
 Medium and high frequencies of 2 to 30 MHz
 Reflection from the ionized region in the
upper atmosphere called Ionosphere (50Km
to 400Km above earth surface).
 Ionosphere – act as a reflected surface
 More than 30 MHz- not reflected & penetrate
into Ionosphere.
 Refection from Ionosphere
–called as ionosphere propagation.
 Suitable for 2 to 30 MHz- called
as short wave propagation.
 Long distance point to point
communication- called as point
to point propagation.
 Possible with multiple reflection-
extremely long distance
 It is necessary to study
the medium above the
earth, through which the
radio waves propagate.
 The atmosphere consists
of three regions
 Troposphere
 Ionosphere
 Outer atmosphere
 Region below E layer
 Responsible for attenuation of high frequency in
day time.
 Lower most region of Ionosphere.
 Height range of 50 km to 90 km.
 Present at day
 Disappears at night
 Critical frequency is 100 KHz.
 Electron density is ranging from 1014 to 1016 per
 Reflecting – VLF Signals.
 Absorbing – HF signals.
 Ionization increases with solar activity.
 Layer occurs during day light hours.
 Electron density
 Day – 105 to 4.5x105 per cm3
 Night – 5x103 to 104 per cm3
 Max electron density at noon & summer(at
110 km)
 Useful in long distance communication in day
 Height range from 90 to 140 km.
 Critical frequency – 3 MHz to 5 MHz.
 Also known as Kennelly Heaviside layer.
 Height- 140 km to 400 km from earth
 Top most layer & highly ionized layer.
 Remains ionized irrespective of hours.
 Critical frequency is 5MHz to 7MHz.
 During day, F layer is found to split up into
two layers called,
 F1 Layer
 F2 Layer
F1 Layer F2 layer
 Upper most region  Upper most region(above
 Height – 140 km to 250 km. F1)
 Critical frequency at noon  Height – 250km to 400 km.
– 5 MHz to 7 MHz  Critical frequency at noon
 Electron Density – 2x105 to – 10 MHz to 12 MHz
4.5x 105 per cm3  Electron Density – 3x105 to
 Formed by ionization of 2x 106 per cm3
Oxygen atoms.  Formed by ionization of
 More absorption of HF UV & X rays.
waves.  More important reflecting
medium for HF Radio
 In ionosphere collisions – due to presence of
large no of electrons, neutral atoms & heavy
 Absorption of energy takes place from the
radio waves passes through ionosphere.
 Velocity of electron(V) = eE (v-j ω)/ m(v2+ ω

 Conduction current density( J)= NeV

 Conductivity (σ) = Ne2v /m(v2+ ω 2)
 Effective dielectric constant(k)= k0- [Ne2v
/m(v2+ ω 2) ]
 Sky waves reflected from ionized layers.
 Single Hop or Multi Hop reflections.
 Radio wave -> Electrons Vibration.
 Vibration creates an a.c current α velocity
of vibration.
 Effect of mag.field electron I is Inductive
 Total current decreases and dielectric
constant also reduced- causes path of radio
wave bend towards earth.
 Fading is the fluctuation in the received signal
strength at the receiver or a random variation in
the received signal is known as fading
 undesirable variations in the intensity of the
waves received at the receiver.
 Due to variation in the heights, density of
ionization in the different layers of the
ionosphere and due to interference between
two waves of different path lengths.
 The most common method to minimize fading is to
use a Automatic voltage control or Automatic gain
control in the receiver.
 When signal fades down the noise level, AVC fails to
help because no amount of amplification will make
the signal usable.
 So, diversity reception is used to duplicate some part
of signal and even if one part experiences a deep fade,
the other part may not.
 Time diversity reception:
In this method, the signal is sent through the
channel more than once. It has the
disadvantage of reducing the traffic capacity of
the circuit.
 Frequency diversity reception:
In this system, the same information is
transmitted and received on two or more
different frequencies. It is used in radio-
telegraph circuits. Since it uses additional
frequency, it leads to waste of frequency
 The voltages induced in antennas spaced a few
meters apart do not fade simultaneously.
 When one antenna system is in fading zone, one or
more of the others may not be.
 In HF band, minimum separation is 300 to 600m.
 In UHF band, minimum separation is 10 to 20m.
 Each antennas are provided with a separate
 Only the signal from the strongest receiver is
passed to the output. Thus, the reception becomes
 In ionosphere, the earth’s magnetic field exerts
a force on the vibrating electrons producing
twisting effect on their paths. This reacts on the
incident radio waves.
 The earth’s magnetic field splits up the incident
waves into two components.
 Both the waves bend different amounts by the
ionosphere and hence travel through it along
different paths.
 The rates of energy absorption and velocities also
 The waves have elliptical polarization and rotate in
opposite directions.
 The critical frequency of extra ordinary wave is
greater than critical frequency by an amount half the
gyro frequency.
 The earth’s magnetic field also effects the polarization
of the incident radio wave.
 The average strength of the terrestrial magnetic field is
 Gyro frequency is defined as the frequency whose
period is equal to the revolution of an electron in its
circular orbit under the influence of the earth’s
magnetic field of the flux B.
 ωg = B(e/m) , 2πfg= B(e/m), fg = Be/2πm
 Attenuation is maximum near fg, and so avoided in
propagation work.
 At high frequencies when f > fg, the electron motion
follows an ellipitial path.
 At lower frequencies when f < fg, the electron motion
follows an spiral path (loop).
 Defined as the highest frequency which can be
reflected by a particular layer at vertical incidence.
 Also called as plasma frequency and expresses in
 It is proportional to the square root of the
maximum electron density in the layer.
 Refractive index µ= sin i/sin r
 Fc = √81Nm
 Defined as the height to which a short pulse of
energy sent vertically upward.
 It will always be greater than the actual height.
 If it is known, it is easy to calculate the angle
of incidence required for the wave to return at a
desired point.
 The measurement of virtual height is normally
carried out by means of an instrument known
as ionosonde.
 H = CT/2 , C – velocity of light, T – Round trip
 Transmit a signal that consists pulses of RF
energy of short duration.
 Receiver which is located close to the
transmitter picks up both the direct and the
reflected signals.
 The spacing between these signals on the time
axis of CRO gives a measurement of the height
of the layer.
 Useful in transmission path calculations.
 It is the maximum frequency for which
reflection takes place for a given distance of
 If f >MUF, then wave penetrates the ionized
layer and will not be reflected back.
 Used for sky wave communication.
 Value varies from 8 to 35 MHz for a distance
of 1000 km.
 Secant law : fmuf = fc sec i
 Is a frequency limit below which the signal to noise
ratio fails to reach an acceptable value for the service
 Depends on the transmitted power.
 Day-time LUF > Night-time LUF.
 Sky wave absorption increases with decreasing
frequency and hence reducing the received field
 The atmospheric noise and man made electrical noise
increase with decreasing frequency.
 Normal variations
 diurnal, seasonal, height and thickness variations.

 Abnormal variations
 Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance
 Ionospheric storms
 Sporadic E layer reflection
 Tides and winds
 Sunspot cycle
 Fadings
 Whistlers
 The layers of air one above the other have different
temperatures and water vapour contents.
 The boundary surfaces between layers of air form a
duct or a sort of leaky wave guide which guides the
EM wave between its wall.
 The highest frequency are continuously refracted in
the duct and reflected by the ground so that they
propagate around the curvature for beyond the line of
sight even upto a distance of 1000 Km.
 Requirement – Temperature inversion.
 It is defined as
 The minimum distance from the transmitter at which a
sky wave of given frequency is returned to earth by the
 The minimum distance from the transmitter to a point
where sky wave of a given frequency is first received.
 The minimum distance within a sky wave of given
frequency fails to be reflected back.
 The higher the frequency, the higher the skip distance.
 For a frequency less than the critical frequency of a
layer, skip distance is zero.
 If a wave frequency exceeds the critical frequency, the
effect of the ionosphere depends on the angle of
incidence at the ionosphere.
 It is the distance skipped over by the sky wave.
 When f = fmuf , the skip distance is
Dskip = 2h √[(fmuf /fc)2-1]
 The coverage of transmission distance between
transmitter and receiver in more than one hop is
called multi-hop propagation.
 The longest single hop propagation is obtained
when the transmitted ray is tangential at the earth
 The maximum practical distance covered by a
single hop is 2000 km for E layer and 4000 km for
F2 layer.
 Multi-hop propagation paths occur when the semi
circumference of the earth is just over 20,000 km.
 When the wave is horizontally polarized, the
electric field is perpendicular to the plane of
incidence and parallel to the reflecting surface.
 The phase of the reflected wave differs from
that of the incident wave by nearly 180 degrees
for all angle of incidence.
 For angle of incidence near gazing, the
reflected wave is equal in magnitude but 180
degrees out of phase with the incident wave for
all frequencies and all ground conductivities.
 When the wave is vertically polarized, the
electric field is parallel to the plane of
incidence and magnetic vector H is parallel to
the boundary surface.
 When the angle of incidence increases form
zero, the magnitude and phase of the reflected
wave decreases rapidly.
 The magnitude reaches a minimum and the
phase goes through -90 degree at an angle
known as Pseudo-Brewster angle.
 At angles of incidence above Brewster angle,
the magnitude increases again and phase
approaches zero.