Short Antenna Theory

A standard antenna works by concentrating signals, that are picked up along its axis, to a single point. This point is called the focal point. The receiving amplifier is usually placed near the focal point and the concentrated signals are collected into the receiver using a small horn. This serves to further concentrate the signals to get the maximum possible signal level at the amplifier input. The focal point can be offset from the main axis so that the receiving equipment does not obstruct the beam in any way. This offset has the effect of raising the beam of the antenna. The exact amount that the beam is raised is equal to the amount of offset. Thus, if the offset is 20 degrees then the beam is raised by

20 degrees.

Antenna shapes and sizes vary but they all do the same thing, every antenna dish you see including radio telescopes, which are basically receive only antennas, all perform this function. they all focus the signals they receive from a specific point oin space onto a small area where they can be received and amplified. The principle works in exactly the same way for transmitting a signal. The transmit amplifier produces a large signal to a horn set at the focal point. The signal is then radiated onto the dish which in turn focuses the signal into a parallel beam of energy out into space to the satellite.

All About Satellite Communications
Satcoms (Satellite Communications) is the generic term for communication via satellite. Transmitting a signal from the earth upto a satellite and then receiving that signal back at earth. The satellite does not have to be a huge expensive array of electronics and solar panels. In fact the moon was used, in the early years of satcom research, to bounce the signals off. The time it took for our signals to get to the moon and back was about 2 seconds. This time is called satellite delay and is still present today in all our satellite communications. The ability to transmit your signal upto such a high relay point and then receive it again back on earth allows us to receive it where ever we are in the world as long as we can see the relay point. Taking the moon as our example, as long as we can see the moon then we can point a dish at it and receive the signal. This wide range broadcasting ability has given rise to a multitude of different satellites carrying all kinds of information such as telephone calls, television channels, internet traffic military communications, weather data, Global Positioning signals, and even radio stations.

So how does it actually work?
Well, this can be a massively complex and confusing subject, so to keep things simple I will use

our receiver may pickup our own transmit signal and be swamped by it. The light bulb is our signal generator. The satellite also has an antenna. such as digital TV pictures. So in a satellite communications system we have a signal generator of some sort. The signal it receives is at frequency A but it will move this signal to frequency B before sending it back to earth. If you can see the light on the wall. This is so that we can keep our transmit signals separate from our receive signals. Otherwise.000 Km is the average distance it has to travel. We can also now send our signal to the satellite. and the atmosphere generally. find a white wall. Next. We point the antenna at the satellite and we can receive a signal. The receiver has to amplify this signal without amplifying the noise. can reduce the size of the signal by half. receiver. in a way our eyes do exactly that. Next we have our antenna.. and switch it on. It is cheaper to receive than it is to transmit. The wall is our satellite. data or whatever you want to long as you can see the light on the wall. and modulates it onto a signal carrier for transmission and can also demodulate the data from a received carrier to produce the data or digital TV picture. The beam is our satellite transmission. Rain and weather generally also affects the signals.a simple analogy: The Torch.. A small white piece of card is perhaps better for this analogy . This is usually a modem (modulator/ demodulator) which takes in digital information. aim the beam at the wall. This is also the reason why our receive signal is so small. If we were only receiving we would only have the receive side of the system. About 36. Now comes the bit that gets hard to visualise. The reflector behind our bulb is our antenna or dish. transmitter and another antenna. because the satellite that sent it is 36. Rain. this is why our satellite TV boxes are small and affordable. be it voice. Take a torch. Then we have a transmitter and a receiver amplifier for two way communications. In terms of size our transmit signal is huge compared to our receive signal because it has to go a long way to the satellite. then you can see the satellite and if your eyes are the receiver then the light is travelling from the torch to the wall and is then being spread out over a larger area and your eyes are receiving the light where ever you are . Now if you have a particularly good torch you will notice that the light is not sent in all directions but is focussed into a beam. this varies depending on where .000 Km away.

Antenna Gain The ratio of the power required at the input of a loss-free isotropic reference antenna to the power supplied to the input of the given antenna to produce. the same field . the Isotropic antenna. TDMA. Reverse Power. C/No. they will tell you transponder EIRP readily but not PFD sat. Decibels. This is of little use and is a theoretical antenna. What about the terminology? Well. It has unity gain so what you put in you get out.m for a commercial Ku band transponder. The measurement is calculated by adding the antenna gain and forward power minus any loss. that is the power flux density measured in watts per sq. The power flux density from an earth station is its EIRP divided by (4 x pi x distance squared).in the world you are. there are several terms you need to know as a satcoms engineer. Now an Isotropic reference antenna radiates. or transmits equal amounts of power or signal in all directions. Here are just a few: EIRP. Forward Power. PFD is expressed as dBW/sq. in a given direction. EIRP: This is the Effective Isotropic Radiated Power of an antenna. PFD. A typical value is -80 dBW/sq. Eb/No and the type of modulation . m at the input to the satellite's antenna which produces maxiumum power output. Having said all this it's very difficult to extract the actual figures from satellite operators. So now we can send out our signal and we can also receive someone elses.QPSK. PFD : Power Flux Density Normally expressed as PFD for saturation. In dBs. Antenna Gain. So the EIRP is a comparative measurement which is used to compare every antenna to one single reference. HPA. CDMA.m.

Scientists tend to do things the hard way but for this example we will be engineers and take the easy path. The amount of power reflected should be very low in a well designed system.strength at the same distance. (Actually scientists also use dB because its so much easier. not suprisingly. An antenna that is not very efficient will refelect some of the power back into the RF system. the 'i' refers to the reference used to compare the antenna against. the Isotropic antenna . The latter is more like a valve in it's characteristic and uses a helix tube and a cathode in it's make up. For a 50W HPA the forward power is 10 Log (50) which is 17 dBW or 47 dBm. Decibels: As engineers we like to use the good old Decibel (dB). measured at the point of entry to the feed and the antenna. They can be either Solid State (SSPA or SSHPA) or they can be Travelling Wave Tubes (TWTA). Here is or was a very good explanation of Klystron TWTA's. HPA High Power Amplifiers are used to amplify the relatively small signals big enough to reach a satellite. Reverse Power: Reverse Power is the opposite of Forward Power. the power from the HPA less any losses in the system. Forward Power: This is the power we put into the dish.) Antenna gain is usually measured in dBi. Solid State amps are more stable and reliable and are increasingly used to replace TWT's but the high power 3kW+ amplifiers are still TWTA's. this is because it makes life so much easier. Klystron Amplifiers are amongst the most common of the really big TWT amplifiers. and is used to determine how well matched a feed system is to a HPA.

to the receiver noise power density.30? Well because when calculating dB's we take a power which is in Watts and find the LOG of it. where 'C' is the received carrier power in watts. Then we multiply it by 10 to get decibels. Eb/No: This is classically defined as the ratio of Energy per Bit (Eb) to the Spectral Noise Density (No). LOGs are Logarithmic functions common in everyday mathematics. EIRP (dBm) = Forward Power (dBm) + Antenna Gain (dBi) Why is dBW just dBm . 'No'. Decibels allow engineers to work with both large and small values easily. we just add 30 to the dBW value to get dBm. (Scientists seem to insist on using dBW which is just dBm . the ratio of the received carrier power. Forward power is usually measured in dBm. It is measured at . It is a measure of signal to noise ratio for a digital communication system. 100 Watts = 10 Log 100 = 20 dBW or 50 dBm 10 Watts = 10 Log 10 = 10 dBW or 40 dBm C/No or (C/Kt) : In satellite communications. and 'No' is dervied from 'k' which is Boltzmann's constant in joules per kelvin. and 'T' which is the receiver system noise temperature in kelvins. 'C'.mentioned earlier.30) To calculate the EIRP then we just add the two numbers together. So 1 Watt = 10 x LOG(1) in dBW Since milli Watts are 1000 times smaller than a Watt and 10 x the LOG of 1000 is 30. 'kT' or 'No' is the receiver noise power in 1 hertz.

each carrier can be distinguished from the others by means of a specific modulation code. A multiple access technique whereby users share a transmission medium by being assigned and using (one at a time) for a limited number of time division multiplexed channels. thereby allowing for the reception of signals that were originally overlapping in frequency and time. Modems (Modulator / Demodulator) What are they? . The four angles are usually out of phase by 90°. On reception. TDMA: Time-Division Multiple Access (TDMA): A communications technique that uses a common channel (multipoint or broadcast) for communications among multiple users by allocating unique time slots to different users. When encoding bits.the input to the receiver and is used as the basic measure of how strong the signal is. in which multiple channels are independently coded for transmission over a single wideband channel." or the phase shift could be -90 for "0" and +90° for a "1. used as a modulation technique. Quadrature phaseshift keying (QPSK) is PSK in which four different phase angles are used." and 180° for encoding a "1. CDMA: Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA): A coding scheme. QPSK: Phase-shift keying (PSK) involves shifting the phase of the carrier to represent digits." thus making the representations for "0" and "1" a total of 180° apart. the phase shift could be 0° for encoding a "0.

The data can then be fed into a TV and watched. At the destination antenna. The demodulator works just as any radio receiver. be used on their own.What is a modem? How does it work? A modem is a modulator / demodulator which is a two part system. your signal is then received at a demodulator. the TV data hops off the carrier signal and is then demodulated. They can however. This is a demodulator only and separates the TV data from the carrier signal for you to watch on your TV. for example. just like your home Satellite TV receiver. This is the same process as any radio transmission. . This principle is the same for any modulator and demodulator. this signal is transmitted to the satellite and back to earth again. Once modulated your data is hitching a ride on the carrier signal. So how do we get our TV picture from our camera into the antenna? The transmit path up to the satellite uses a modulator to take you TV data and modulate it onto a carrier signal. What? In any satcom system the reason for broadcasting via satellite is that you want to get information from one part of the world to another. These two quite separate devices are usually packaged together to make a Modem.

Frequency Division Multiple Access. Demand Assignment Multiple Access. The power of each carrier is balanced across the whole satellite channel and with DAMA. The diagram above shows 4 ellipses one in each quadrant. This technique spreads the data across a wide area of frequency such that there is very little or no detectable carrier. 180 degrees and 270 degrees. Each transmitter is commanded to a frequency by the use of a common control channel. We don't notice but our phones are continually changing frequency and power level as we speak. and is most commonly used with satellites. Modulation techniques is such a technical area I am struggling to keep things simple here. Four times the amount of data can therefore be transmitted with this technique or four times the accuracy. The system is old but it is only recently being exploited to it's full potential and is being used in everything from the latest mobile phone technology to vehicle telematics applications. so a new article will cover the techniques in more depth. There are many modulation techniques of which QPSK is just one. It increases the accuracy of data at higher data rates by having 4 states. 90 degrees being state 2 and so on. This then crams in more signals in the same frequency range requiring less space. The data is coded and can be recovered from the noise by decoding the signal providing the correct range of frequencies or bandwidth is used. each access has its own frequency. the frequencies of each carrier are controlled by a central control center. Quite simply. This is implemented in our every day lives through the management of our cellular phone network. CDMA also allows multiple signals to be stacked upon each other at the same frequency. With 0 degrees being state 1. These vary in shape with the data that is modulated onto each phase. keying is a method of communication and is probably a word left over from the old morse code method. This is acheived by using a sine wave which is phased shifted (delayed) by 90 degrees. . The most useful sounding technique is CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access. Another technique is FDMA.So what is QPSK? QPSK stands for Quadrature Phased Shift Keying.

The circulator is used to make sure that the transmit signals go out through the dish and not back into the receive chain. It also makes sure that the receive signals come from the dish into the receive chain and not into the transmit chain. In other words every satcoms terminal that can transmit and receive to and from a satellite has the following parts: An antenna. The dotted line represents the hub box which is a box attached to the back of the dish. A circulator. It works much like a roundabout in principle. built into the feed assembly. HPA and waveguide filters as described below. . For more information on antenna principles click here. these days. This box houses the LNA. This is often referred to as an Orthomode Transducer or OMT and is.Anatomy of a Satcom Terminal: A satellite communications terminal has several parts which are essential for all such communications terminals.

A HPA. The signals arrive at the dish at anything from 10 to 40 GHz and are then filtered and amplified. the result is both the sum and difference of the signals. This has the effect of reducing the unwanted signals from being accidentally transmitted onto the stallite and prevents interference to outside of the transmit band of frequencies. sometimes known as an LNB on receive only terminals. sufficiently large to enable the antenna to beam them up to the satellite. . The Tx or transmit filter is usually a waveguide filter which tightly controls the frequencies allowed into antenna. The 2nd downconverter then downconverts the L Band signals to an Intermediate Frequency (IF) of around 70 MHz. A Tx filter. The smallest look more like a lump of metal bolted to a small heatsink.lower down in the frequency spectrum. otherwise known as a TWTA (Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier) or an SSHPA (Solid State High Power Amplifier. By filtering out the original and the sum frequencies the result is that the original frequencies are now the difference frequencies . has one job. Various kinds exist which all do the same thing. An example would be the downconversion of 10 GHz to 1 GHz which is Ku band to L Band. It amplifies a specific band of frequencies by a large amount. The Rx or receive filter is usually a waveguide filter which tightly controls the frequencies allowed into the receive chain. The largest have to be cooled using liquid nitrogen and resemble electron microscopes. The bigger the dish. The LNA (Low Noise Amplifier). they convert signals down in frequency. they provide enough signal level to demodulate the data from the carrier. they now need to be moved down the frequency spectrum so that the equipment can be made cheaper and easier. This has the effect of reducing the unwanted noise from space and prevents interference from outside of the receive band of frequencies. These can range in power from a few watts upto over 1000 watts in power. 1st & 2nd Down Converters. usually the bigger the power amp. The 1st downconverter mixes the signals with another frequency. An LNA. The HPA (High Power Amplifier). this is then ready for the demodulator.An Rx filter. is a very good amplifier which has the job of amplifying the small signals picked up by the antenna without amplifying the noise. The down converters 'do exactly as they say on the tin'.

higher up in the frequency spectrum. Just like the computer modem you may have at home. they convert signals up in frequency. MPEG 2 is the most common at the moment and is the format used on Sky Digital. Our Sky Digiboxes are simply demodulators that do exactly that. The L Band is further downconverted within the Digibox but other than that the principle is the same. The received data is converted from MPEG 2 into analogue video by another converter within the demodulator side of the modem. The outside broadcast cameras on the news plug into the modem as ordinary analogue video. By filtering out the original and the difference frequencies the result is that the original frequencies are now the sum frequencies . the result is both the sum and difference of the signals. this is then ready for the HPA to transmit through the antenna. The 2nd upconverter then upconverts the L Band signals to a Radio Frequency (RF) of around 10 GHz. Often. The 1st upconverter mixes the signals with another frequency. the input is analogue and a converter inside them modem converts from analogue to digital. Computer modems use audio frequency carriers but the end result is the same. An example would be the upconversion of 70 MHz to 1 GHz which is IF to L Band. The data isn't always provided in digital form to the modem. This is usually then compressed into one of many video compression formats. (MODEM) These two units are often combined as one and are known as modems. these units take digital data and modulate it onto a carrier and they demodulate the digital data from a carrier. They now need to be moved up the frequency spectrum so that the HPA can amplify them and transmit them through the antenna. This is then converted to MPEG 2 digital data and is modulated onto the carrier. especially in digital TV. Demodulator / Modulator. the difference being that the downconversion to L Band takes place in the LNB on the dish. This video is then viewable on a video monitor. The signals are sent to the up converters at at around 70 MHz. The up converters 'do exactly as they say on the tin' aswell.1st & 2nd Up Converters. What Are Satellite Payloads? .

A payload is the part of the satellite that performs the purpose it was put in space for. Satellite Broadcast Simulator Digital Video Broadcasting DVB is the method used for all digital TV and Radio broadcasting which is a multi-million pound industry. is where the frequency is translated or any demodulation. you could tune in and point at more than one satellite. the data can then be processed before being modulated and retransmitted. There are many different types of satellite but communications satellites are the kind we are interested in here. The data can be stored for later retransmission or modulated using a different method. Alternatively. They receive the signals and then demodulate them to access the data. They receive the signals that are transmitted to them and then retransmit them at a different frequency back to earth. To recieve DVB is not as expensive as it is to transmit it. This opens up a variety of normally unseen . So why buy anything else? Well. The central area shown as 'Processing'. Related Pages : Anatomy of a Satcom Terminal. processing and modulation would take place. You can see the uplink receiver chain and the downlink transmit chain. The payloads on communications satellites are effectively just repeaters. even at a different data rate. a suitable LNB and a PC with a receiver card. Modern satellites do more than this. you could buy a Sky minidish and receiver. having spent a few hundred pounds on a PC setup with a motorised dish. All that you would need is a suitable steerable antenna and motor controller. The accompanying picture shows an anatomy of a typical satellite. this is afterall a DVB receiver.

Having said that we have seen many feeds of countryside and mountains with nobody in site for over half an hour. Then the news program is sent to Astra for us to see at home on our minidish. But whats the point? It's quite ammusing to watch those galant war reporters rehearsing their lines. However. This is probably the engineering setup There is no point . if you want that specialist kit here is a relatively cheap solution: • • • • Channel Master offset feed motorised antenna with LNB Motor controller Resonably Fast PC with decent graphics card Pentamedia Pent@Value or Pent@Vision DVB Receiver Card More information on the PC DVB receiver cards is available from http://www. All of this is not widely known about because you need specialist kit to see it. For For a list of satellite internet service providers try More information on the Channel Master antenna is available from http://www. The satellites almost cover the whole planet in this way. Whether you are north or south of the arc is irrelevant. he gets booked onto a satellite that can be seen from South Africa aswell as Europe. messing with their hair and generally standing about for long periods of So how does it all work? Well the satellites all sit on a geostationary arc around the equator. If the news room run out of time then the satellite time is wasted.channels for your viewing pleasure. From there they are sent to the news studio where they are edited into the Sometimes the engineers that put the uplinks together and test the feeds are to be seen having fun and cracking jokes in front of the camera. so when a european news reporter in South Africa wants to send his live report back to the news room. the news feeds from war torn countries are to be found on a variety of satellites that bring the news reports back to this country or europe generally. or a handover between reporters. The time on the satellite is charged and is not cheap so the news room has to try and fit in the report with the rest of the news and then the report is made. Often the time is shared amongst a group of reporters from different news channels so that if the report is cancelled the overall cost is reduced because another reporter can step in.

No smart card required. a receiver card for your PC and start receiving those news feeds. There are a number of companies making a number of 'Fly Away' satcom terminals which are specifically designed for SNG (satellite news gathering). upconverters.shutting down a link only to bring it back again in half an hour. Maybe not.satcodx. Quite simply you can now get on a plane with a small handheld digital video camera and a briefcase uplink system. this is a good question. but for those of you who are mad on satellites and want to know whats out there. yes indeed. They probably have receivers aswell but not always. this information includes the location of the satellite as well as the programme parameters for each transponder and channel.lyngsat. The SATCODX website provides information for every Digital TV and Radio satellite. engineering audio channels. There are even companies selling all of this technology in a brief case. But how do the reporters uplink their story? and also at http://www. fly to a war zone and report back in minutes of your arrival. These terminals are fairly small. at what frequency and a few other parameters. digital MPEG2 video & audio encoders. all you need to know is on which satellite to find them. So what are you waiting for? Go out and buy a huge 2m antenna. If you want to get the movies and other pay to view channels you will need a Conditional Access Module (CAM) which attaches to the decoder card in the PC. self contained uplink terminals that have video and audio inputs. These CAM's allow you to plug in your viewing card which you will also have to get from the service provider in the same way that you do to receive both of these sites provide detailed information on the satellites and channels so you can find out where to look. amplifiers and an antenna. they are free to air. You can get all this information at : http://www. Satcom Systems .

This diagram shows these blocks in a basic form to help you understand what they are. there are some fundamental building blocks. we use a bearer. Subscribers Finally the signal is received back on earth at the subscriber terminal. The most commonly used bearer supplier is BT but they are not the only supplier of such communications. Broadcasting is usually one way and point to point transmission . filters and high power amplifiers.F. The modems then give an intermediate frequency output (I.In any satcom system. Many forms of bearer exist and are mainly fibre optic high speed lines or lower speed kilostreams and even permanent leased line (telephone line) connections. Bearers can be occassional use such as 64k or 128k ISDN lines. Bearers In order to get this data to the teleport for onward transmission via satellite. This could be a large VSAT for distribution of many data streams or a small terminal such as a Sky TV system or video conferencing system. Suppliers Where ever the data to be transmitted via satellite is coming from is the supplier base. Even the internet can be used for some applications. This whole system can be two way or one way depending on the requirements. More than one antenna is used if the data is required on more than one satellite to increase coverage. The signal containing the suppliers data is then braodcast to the satellite through one or more antennae at the teleport. Even banks or communications headquarters. Teleports Once the data arrives at the teleport then it is passed to a satellite modem or multiplexed with several other data streams before reaching the modem. The end aim is to deliver error free data to the teleport.) which are adjusted for level and frequency before entering the RF system which contains the up conversion. this could be anything from an outside broadcast unit to a studio or office complex.

is usually two way. Modulation Techniques . The principles are the same for all satellite systems however big or small.

0 or later (the latest version is presently available at http://www. v1. we are changing its characteristics to correspond to either a 1 or 0.In the above example. Distribution of the work or derivative of the work in any standard (paper) book form is prohibited unless prior permission is obtained from the copyright holder. Phuong Ma Copyright © 2001 by Commandprompt. Copyright © 2001 by Eugene Blanchard. . this article refers to telephone modems and analogue audio modulation. The 3 basic modulation techniques are as follows: • • • AM (amplitude modulation) FM (frequency modulation) PM (phase modulation) All 3 modulation techniques employ a carrier signal. Absence--or no carrier--indicates a 0. Copyright © 2000 by Eugene Blanchard. For digital. Modulation techniques are methods that are used to encode digital information in an analog world. When we modulate the carrier. A carrier signal is a single frequency that is used to carry the intelligence (data). the intelligence is either a 1 or 0. Inc.' to the license reference or copy. a 1 is represented by the presence of the carrier for a predefined period of 3 cycles of carrier. the same principles apply to satellite modems. AM . This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication Distribution of substantively modified versions of this document is prohibited without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Edited by Joshua Drake.Note: Although. By Eugene Blanchard.Amplitude Modulation Amplitude Modulation modifies the amplitude of the carrier to represent 1s or 0s. Bill Randolph.opencontent.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful