Date of Award

6-2018

Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Dennis Derickson

Abstract

In 2014, Toyon Research Corporation donated a 6’x6’x8’ anechoic chamber to the Cal Poly EE department to advance student education in the areas of antennas and wireless communications. An anechoic chamber is a room designed to suppress electromagnetic radiation reflections so that accurate measurement of radio frequency (RF) systems such as wireless radios and antennas can take place. Despite the fact that Cal Poly already has a larger anechoic chamber, primarily used for antenna characterization, it is the purpose of this project to design, code, and equip the new chamber so that it performs at least as good, or better than, the existing chamber.

Radiation pattern is a key characteristic that describes the directionality or gain of an antenna, and it is important for quantifying and qualifying how an antenna will perform as part of a wireless communication system. Radiation pattern measurement can be time consuming because it requires measuring an antenna’s transmission or reception in in all directions. In both the old and new antenna measurement systems (AMS), a vector network analyzer (VNA) measures signals transmitted between the antenna under test (AUT) and an RF field probe within the antireflective environment of the anechoic chamber. The new system synchronizes VNA measurement with the rotation of the AUT using the automation software LabVIEW and a Sunol Sciences FS-121 antenna positioner. Then, Matlab plots the data collected by LabVIEW as well as calculates useful antenna metrics including half power beam width (HPBW) and directivity. LabVIEW also makes the AMS easy to operate because of its graphical user interface.

The new anechoic chamber completes measurements faster than Cal Poly’s existing chamber, with good accuracy and ease of use. The new chamber works best with smaller antennas at frequencies up to 6 GHz and beyond. Radiation patterns have good SNR, and match with simulations and measurements done in the larger chamber. However, due to its smaller size the new AMS is not a replacement for the existing larger system when testing antennas larger than 1 m or at frequencies below 2 GHz.

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