Precision Positioner Alignment Techniques for Spherical Near-Field Antenna Measurements using Laser Alignment Tools
Authors: Jeffrey A. Fordham, John Proctor and Douglas Kremer
The majority of precision spherical positioner alignment techniques used today are based on procedures that were developed in the 1970’s around the use of precision levels and auto-collimation transits. Electrical alignment techniques based on the phase and amplitude of the antenna under test are also used, but place unwanted limitations on accurately characterizing an antenna’s electrical/mechanical boresight relationship. Both of these techniques can be very time consuming. The electrical technique requires operator interpretations of data obtained from amplitude and phase measurements. The autocollimation technique requires operator interpretations of optically viewed measurement data. These results are therefore typically operator dependent and the resulting error quantification can be inaccurate.
MI Technologies has recently developed a mechanical alignment technique for Spherical Near-Field antenna measurements using a tracking laser interferometer system. Once the laser system has been set-up and stabilized in the operational environment; the entire spherical near-field alignment may be completed in a few hours, as compared to the much more lengthy techniques used with level/transit or electrical techniques. This technique also simplifies the quantification of the errors due to the inaccuracy of the alignment.
This paper will discuss the effect of the alignment error on results obtained from spherical near-field measurements, and the procedures MI Technologies developed using a tracking laser interferometer system to obtain the precision alignment needed for a spherical near-field measurement.