Advanced Positioner Control Techniques in Antenna Measurements

Author: Jacob Kunz

Antenna, Radome, and RCS measurement systems rely on high-fidelity positioner systems to provide high-precision positioning of measurement articles. The industry currently relies on linear PID control techniques in current, velocity, and position control loops on individual axes to drive the positioners. Recent control advancements have been made in the use of position feedback devices, brushless DC motors, VFD AC motors, and multi-drive torque-biased actuation along with high-speed computing in all digital controllers. Current advanced control techniques including open-loop error correction and multi-axis global error compensation have been implemented to improve positioner accuracy. Here, an assessment is conducted on the viability of advanced control techniques in similar positioner industries to provide insight into the potential future control and capabilities of positioning systems in the RF measurement industry. Candidate advanced techniques include closed-loop error compensation using laser feedback devices to provide superior positioning accuracy. Input-shaping and feedforward model-based techniques could help suppress dynamic vibrations and nonlinear behavior to improve dynamic tracking for improved continuous-measurement scanning accuracy. Gain scheduling and sliding-mode control could provide improved motion over a wider range of conditions to maintain scanning motion fidelity.

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