An Interface Between a Near-Field Acquisition System and Active Arrays with Digital Beamformers

Authors: Scott T. McBride
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

Phased-array antennas have always presented challenges in their interface to an acquisition system. Active arrays, especially those with a Digital Beam- Former (DBF), further complicate this interface. Whereas a passive phased array might be readily controlled with a simple digital code from the acquisition system, an active array tends to require more sophisticated communication to exercise the capabilities that must be tested. Furthermore, a DBF has receivers built into the array, and the simultaneous readings on these multiple receivers represent the data to be stored by the acquisition system vs. position and frequency.

The increased complexity of an active array's transmit beams by itself elevates the need for an interface between the array and the acquisition system. With the embedded receivers of a DBF, however, standard antenna testing of a DBF becomes nearly impossible without such an interface.

MI Technologies has developed a reasonably general interface between its acquisition system and active arrays with digital beamformers. MI has produced minor variations of this interface for multiple customers, and these customers will each use the interface to test multiple types of DBF active arrays. This paper discusses the challenges, capabilities, and architecture of this interface.

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