Improved Coordinated Motion Control for Antenna Measurement

Authors: Charles Pinson, Marion Baggett
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

Some antenna measurement applications require the precise positioning of an antenna along a prescribed path which may be realized by a combination of several, independent physical axes. Coordinated motion allows for emulation of a more complex and/or precise positioning system by utilizing axes which are mechanically less complex or precise and are correspondingly more easily realizable.

An ideal coordinated motion system should 1) Allow for the description of coordinated paths as parametric mathematical functions and/or interpolated look-up tables 2) Support control variable parameters which affect the trajectory 3) Compute a feasible trajectory within given kinematical constraints 4) Generate measurement trigger signals along the trajectory 5) Minimize control-induced vibration 6) Compensate for multivariate positioning errors.

This paper will describe a novel approach to virtual-axis coordinated motion which offers significant improvements over existing motion control systems. This advancement can be applied to many antenna measurement problems such as Helicoidal Near-Field Scanning and Radome Characterization.

Making Transient Antenna Measurements

Authors: Roger Dygert, Steven R. Nichols
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

In addition to steady state performance, antennas also have transient responses that need to be characterized. As antennas become more complex, such as active phased arrays, the transient responses of the antennas also become more complex. Transient responses are a function of internal antenna interactions such as coupling and VSWR, active circuitry, and components such as phase shifters and attenuators. This paper will show techniques for measuring antenna transient responses.

The first measurements utilize standard instrumentation capable of sampling at up to 4 MHz, giving 250 nS time resolution of the transient effect. Recognizing that some transient measurements require finer time resolution, a higher sampling rate prototype receiver was developed with 1 nS time resolution. After verification of its performance, the prototype receiver was used to measure the transient effects of a 50 nS pulse through a broadband antenna. The spectrum of the pulse yields information on the time and frequency domain responses of the antenna.

Phased arrays may exhibit transient signals when switching between beam directions as well as switching between frequencies. The methods presented in this paper are applicable to both.

Measuring Low Cross Polarization Using a Broadband Log Periodic Probe

Authors: Allen Newell, Pat Pelland
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

There are a number of near-field measurement situations where it is desirable to use a broad band probe to avoid the need to change the probe a number of times during a measurement. But most of the broad band probes do not have low cross polarization patterns over their full operating frequency range and this can cause large uncertainties in the AUT results. Calibration of the probe and the use of probe pattern data to perform probe correction can in principle reduce the uncertainties. This paper reports on a series of measurements that have been performed to demonstrate and quantify the cross polarization levels and associated uncertainties that can be measured with typical log periodic (LP) probes. Two different log periodic antennas were calibrated on a spherical near-field range using open ended waveguides (OEWG) as probes. Since the OEWG has an on-axis cross polarization that is typically at least 50 dB below the main component, and efforts were made to reduce measurement errors, the LP calibration should be very accurate. After the calibration, a series of standard gain horns (SGH) that covered the operating band of the LP probe were then installed on the spherical near-field range in the AUT position and measurements were made using both the LP probes and the OEWG in the probe position. The cross polarization results from measurements using the OEWG probes where then used as the standard to evaluate the results using the LP probes. Principal plane patterns, axial ratio and tilt angles across the full frequency range were compared to establish estimates of uncertainties. Examples of these results over frequency ranges from 300 MHz to 12 GHz will be presented.

On the Development of 18-45 Ghz Antennas for Towed Decoys and Suitability thereof for Far-Field and Near-Field Measurements

Authors: Matthew Radway, Nathan Sutton, Dejan Filipovic
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

The development of a wideband, high-power capable 18-45 GHz quad-ridge horn antenna for a small towed decoy platform is discussed. Similarity between the system-driven antenna specifications and typical requirements for gain and probe standards in antenna measurements (that is, mechanical rigidity, null-free forward-hemisphere patterns, wide bandwidth, impedance match, polarization purity) is used to assess the quad-ridge horn as an alternative probe antenna to the typical open-ended rectangular waveguide probe for measurements of broadband, broad-beam antennas. Suitability for the spherical near-field measurements is evaluated through the finite elementbased full-wave simulations and measurements using the in-house NSI 700S-30 system. Comparison with the near-field measurements using standard rectangular waveguide probes operating in 18-26.5 GHz, 26.5-40 GHz, and 33-50 GHz ranges is used to evaluate the quality of the data obtained (both amplitude and phase) as well as the overall time and labor needed to complete the measurements. It is found that, for AUTs subtending a sufficiently small solid angle of the probe’s field of view, the discussed antenna represents an alternative to typical OEWG probes for 18-45 GHz measurements.

Parametric Study of Probe Positioning Errors in Spherical Near-field Test Systems for mm-Wave Applications

Author: Daniël Janse van Rensburg
Publication: The International Union of Radio Science (URSI) 2012 Conference, Chicago, July 2012.
Copyright Owner: URSI

This paper describes a parametric study performed to investigate the viability of testing at frequencies above 100 GHz, using positioners implementing a theta/phi scanner. Parameters like probe radial distance, axis intersection and angular positioning are investigated to assess to what extent spherical near-field testing can be performed using commercially available positioners.

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Copyright 2012 URSI. Reprinted from The International Union of Radio Science (URSI) 2012 Conference, Chicago, July 2012.

This material is posted here with permission of URSI. Such permission of the URSI does not in any way imply URSI endorsement of any of NSI-MI Technologies' products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the URSI.

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Precision Motion in Highly Accurate Mechanical Positioning

Author: Tim Schwartz, Eric Kim
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

Numerous applications for antenna, radome and RCS measurements require a very accurate positioning capability to properly characterize the product being tested. Testing of weapons (missiles), guidance systems, and satellites, among other applications, require multi-axis position accuracies of a few thousandths of an inch or degree. For global positioning, spherical error volumes can be extremely small having diameters of .002 inches to .005 inches. This paper addresses the issues that must be resolved when highly accurate mechanical positioning is required. Many factors such as thermal stability, axis configuration, bearing runout and mechanical alignment can adversely affect the overall system accuracy. Additionally, when examined from a global positioning system perspective, the accuracy of the entire system is further degraded as the number of axes increases. Successful system implementation requires carefully examining and addressing the most dominant error factors. The paper will cover current tools and techniques available to characterize and correct the contributing errors in order to achieve the highest possible system level accuracy. A recently delivered 4 ft radius SNF arch scanner, which achieved ± .0043° global positioning accuracy, will provide insight into these methods and show how the dominant factors were addressed.

Range Multipath Reduction in Plane-Polar Near-Field Antenna Measurements

Author: Stuart Gregson, Allen Newell, Greg Hindman, Pat Pelland
Publication: AMTA 2012
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

This paper details a recent advance that, for the first time, enables the Mathematical Absorber Reflection Suppression (MARS) technique to be successfully deployed to correct measurements taken using plane-polar near-field antenna test systems with reduced AUT-to-probe separation. This paper provides an overview of the measurement, transformation, and post-processing. Preliminary results of range measurements are presented and discussed that illustrate the success of the new planepolar MARS technique by utilising redundancy within the near-field measured data that enables comparisons to be obtained and verified by using two existing, alternative, scattering suppression methodologies.

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