[eagle] Re: Eagle Microwave Antenna Arrays -- RF concepts

Louis McFadin w5did at amsat.org
Mon Apr 2 07:55:00 PDT 2007


This sounds like a scheme we could live with. It is very much like  
what I thought we would need. I especially like the part about "This  
scheme works no matter what the geometry of the array.  Software just  
generates the phases, and sends 'em down some bus". Being modular  
adds greatly to the overall reliability.

I must remind everybody that power is very critical and will  
ultimately determine the size and shape of the spacecraft. For the  
170w average power predicted at the San Diego meeting, it will  
require a 250w solar power capability. This could be reduced by  
reducing the power during eclipse or by relaxing the requirement for  
operating at all possible sun angles.


Lou McFadin
W5DID
w5did at mac.com


On Apr 2, 2007, at 1:56 AM, Franklin Antonio wrote:

> I think I've figured out a good scheme, which may be the right way to
> build the C-band antenna.  It's a bit different than you guys have
> been thinking.
>
> You've been thinking about how to accomplish the phasing of the RF
> signal, but ignoring the physical distribution of RF.  Physical
> distribution of C-band RF signal to 35 or so elements is
> nontrivial.  It could be done with splitters and cables and
> connectors, or printed splitters and microstrip lines, but with any
> of these schemes there will be amplitude mismatches and various phase
> shifts associated with just the distribution.  If we distribute RF,
> we'll have to compensate for those amplitude and phase
> variations.  Can be done of course.
>
> How about this.  Instead of distributing RF, we distribute a much
> lower reference frequency which is multiplied up by a PLL at each
> antenna element.  A PLL is one chip these days, so it certainly
> doesn't cost much in dollars weight or power.  We've already got a PA
> and phase control stuff at each element after all.  So maybe we
> distribute 100 MHz or something easy.  It is only gonna be used as a
> reference, so we don't need to match amplitudes.  We design the
> reference distribution network for high isolation between the
> outputs, so the individual element circuits have least chance to
> couple.  We don't need to match phases of the distributed reference
> because we're gonna adjust the phase of each element under software
> control anyway.  (We'll build a calibration table which the software
> will use as a term it adds into the total phase shift it specifies
> for each antenna element.)
>
> At each element we have a PLL to generate the RF frequency, followed
> by a digitally controlled analog phase shifter chip, and a digitally
> controlled attenuator chip (to adjust out variations in the phase
> shifter chip vs control input), and a balanced mixer to generate the
> 180 degree phase shift of BPSK.  (If the phase shift chip has a 180
> degree input, we can leave out the balanced mixer.)  Next, of course,
> the signal goes to the local PA.
>
> This entire circuit fits on a small board smaller than the antenna
> element (ie patch) itself, and bolts to the back of the antenna  
> element.
>
> This design is highly modular.  The only things distributed are
> power, reference, data-to-be-modulated, and data to control the
> individual elements.  The controls are on/off, phase, and gain.
>
> It is also possible to move the digital phase shifter to BEFORE the
> PLL, at which point it may be possible to remove the digital
> attenuator entirely.  You would no longer need it to compensate for
> the changing attenuation of the phase shifter vs control input, as
> long as the PLL could handle the range of possible amplitudes.  (On
> the other hand you might still want the attenuator as an easy way to
> balance the gain and/or power output level of the PAs. With the
> digitally controlled phase shifter operating at a lower frequency it
> would likely be more accurate and have less amplitude variation  
> anyway.
>
> This scheme works no matter what the geometry of the array.  Software
> just generates the phases, and sends 'em down some bus.
>
> The thing I have described easily makes unfiltered BPSK or even
> QPSK.  Somebody was talking about possible filtering.  That's
> harder.  I hope we don't need filtering.  Distributed filtering is
> not an easy thing.
>
> What do you think?
>
> _______________________________________________
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> Eagle at amsat.org
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