Using Antenna Modeling Software and an RF Analyzer - A Study for Student Oriented Helical Antenna Projects

Paul Crilly, Shane Corbett
2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
Shane Corbett is currently a senior electrical engineering student at the US Coast Guard Academy. At an early age Shane found himself tinkering with electronics more than he would like to admit. His parents feared buying him new pieces of technology because inevitably they would end in pieces on a work bench next to a kid with a smile on. Once accepted to the USCGA Shane took his curiosity to the classroom and began his studies within the EE major. After an antennas course his junior year he
more » ... nd himself perplexed at the intricacies of this field of study. He then pursued an internship at MIT Lincoln Labs in the radar development group where he worked on helical antennas. Once back at the Academy for his senior year he took up time to dive further into helical design. Shane is looking forward to graduation and service in the Coast Guard aboard a cutter out of Pensacola, Fl. Abstract This paper will present a student oriented, experimental approach to learning about the axial mode helical antenna. More specifically, students design, simulate, build, and then test a helical antenna. For simulations, we use software available in the public domain. Students then construct their antennas using readily available materials. Finally, they test their helical using a portable RF analyzer to measure the SWR and radiation pattern. The results show that the measured radiation pattern does indeed match their simulations. In both our empirical testing and simulations, students gain insight on how the three basic helical parameters of circumference, , C pitch angle, , α and number of turns, N , affects the antenna's performance. We also look at how dielectric loading can be employed to electrically lengthen an antenna causing for a drop in frequency with no change in physical size. Students also explore how spatial multiplexing can be achieved with differing polarizations (right hand vs left hand). Our approach allows students the opportunity to gain more insight into the characteristics of helical antennas so they can fully appreciate their capabilities as well as their limitations. Student assessment has shown that our approach greatly enhances understanding of helical antenna systems and has caused significant increase in student enthusiasm for selected topics in antennas.
doi:10.18260/1-2--29071 fatcat:7y3nmcp2ujejjbfnt777fvvzei