Enhanced PNF Probe Positioning in a Thermally-Uncontrolled Environment using Stable AUT Monuments

Authors: John H. Wynne, Farzin Motamed, George E. McAdams
Publication: AMTA 2018
Copyright Owner: NSI-MI Technologies

The need for thermal stability in a test chamber is a well-established requirement to maintain the accuracy and repeatability sought for high frequency planar near-field (PNF) scanner measurements. When whole chamber thermal control is impractical or unreliable, there are few established methods for maintaining necessary precision over a wide temperature range.

Often the antenna under test (AUT) itself will require a closed-loop thermal control system for maintaining stable performance due to combined effects from transmission heat dissipation and the environment. In this paper, we propose a new approach for nearfield system design that leverages this AUT stability, while relaxing the requirement of strict whole chamber thermal control. Fixed reference monuments strategically placed around the AUT aperture perimeter, when measured periodically with a sensing probe on the scanner, allow for the modeling and correction of the scanner positioning errors. This process takes advantage of the assumed stability of the reference monuments and attributes all apparent monument position changes to distortions in the scanner structure. When this monument measurement process is coupled with a scanner structure that can tolerate wide thermal variations, using expansion joints and kinematic connections, a robust structural error correction model can be generated using a bilinear mapping function. Application of such a structure correction technique can achieve probe positioning performance similar to scanners that require tightly controlled environments. Preliminary results as well as a discussion on potential design variations are presented.

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