Module 10—Introduction to Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas
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A LONG-WIRE ANTENNA is an antenna that is a wavelength or longer at the operating frequency. In general, the gain
achieved with long-wire antennas is not as great as the gain obtained from the multielement arrays studied in the
previous section. But the long-wire antenna has advantages of its own. The construction of long-wire antennas is
simple, both electrically and mechanically, with no particularly critical dimensions or adjustments. The long-wire
antenna will work well and give satisfactory gain and directivity over a frequency range up to twice the value for
which it was cut. In addition, it will accept power and radiate it efficiently on any frequency for which its
overall length is not less than approximately 1/2 wavelength. Another factor is that long-wire antennas have
directional patterns that are sharp in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Also, they tend to concentrate the
radiation at the low vertical angles. Another type of long-wire antenna is the BEVERAGE ANTENNA, also called a
WAVE ANTENNA. It is a horizontal, long-wire antenna designed especially for the reception and transmission of
low-frequency, vertically polarized ground waves. It consists of a single wire, two or more wavelengths long,
supported 3 to 6 meters above the ground, and terminated in its characteristic impedance, as shown in figure 4-34.
Figure 4-34.—Beverage antenna.
Q44. To radiate power efficiently, a long-wire antenna must have what minimum overall length?
Q45. What is another name for the Beverage antenna?
A V ANTENNA is a bi-directional antenna used widely in military and commercial communications. It consists of two
conductors arranged to form a V. Each conductor is fed with currents of opposite polarity.
The V is formed
at such an angle that the main lobes reinforce along the line bisecting the V and make a very effective
directional antenna (see figure 4-35). Connecting the two-wire feed line to the apex of the V and exciting the two
sides of the V 180 degrees out of phase cause the lobes to add along the line of the bisector and to cancel in
other directions, as shown in figure 4-36. The lobes are designated 1, 2, 3, and 4 on leg AA', and 5, 6, 7, and 8
on leg BB'. When the proper angle between AA' and BB' is chosen, lobes 1 and 4 have the same direction and combine
with lobes 7 and 6, respectively. This combination of two major lobes from each leg results in the formation of
two stronger lobes, which lie along an imaginary line bisecting the enclosed angle. Lobes 2, 3, 5, and 8 tend to
cancel each other, as do the smaller lobes, which are approximately at right angles to the wire legs of the V. The
resultant waveform pattern is shown at the right of the V antenna in figure 4-36.
Figure 4-35.—Basic V antenna.
Figure 4-36.—Formation of directional radiation pattern from a resonant V antenna.
Q46. What is the polarity of the currents that feed the V antenna?
The highest development of the long-wire antenna is the RHOMBIC ANTENNA
(see figure 4-37). It consists of four conductors joined to form a rhombus, or diamond shape. The antenna is
placed end to end and terminated by a noninductive resistor to produce a uni-directional pattern. A rhombic
antenna can be made of two obtuse-angle V antennas that are placed side by side, erected in a horizontal plane,
and terminated so the antenna is nonresonant and unidirectional.
Figure 4-37.—Basic rhombic antenna.
The rhombic antenna is WIDELY used for long-distance, high-frequency transmission and reception. It is
one of the most popular fixed-station antennas because it is very useful in point-to-point communications.
The rhombic antenna is useful over a wide frequency range. Although some
changes in gain, directivity, and characteristic impedance do occur with a change in operating frequency, these
changes are small enough to be neglected.
The rhombic antenna is much easier to construct and maintain
than other antennas of comparable gain and directivity. Only four supporting poles of common heights from 15 to 20
meters are needed for the antenna.
The rhombic antenna also has the advantage of being noncritical as far
as operation and adjustment are concerned. This is because of the broad frequency characteristics of the antenna.
Still another advantage is that the voltages present on the antenna are much lower than those produced by the same
input power on a resonant antenna. This is particularly important when high transmitter powers are used or when
high-altitude operation is required.
The rhombic antenna is not without its disadvantages. The principal one
is that a fairly large antenna site is required for its erection. Each leg is made at least 1 or 2 wavelengths
long at the lowest operating frequency. When increased gain and directivity are required, legs of from 8 to 12
wavelengths are used. These requirements mean that high-frequency rhombic antennas have wires of several hundred
feet in length. Therefore, they are used only when a large plot of land is available.
is that the horizontal and vertical patterns depend on each other. If a rhombic antenna is made to have a narrow
horizontal beam, the beam is also lower in the vertical direction. Therefore, obtaining high vertical-angle
radiation is impossible except with a very broad horizontal pattern and low gain. Rhombic antennas are used,
however, for long-distance sky wave coverage at the high frequencies. Under these conditions low vertical angles
of radiation (less than 20 degrees) are desirable. With the rhombic antenna, a considerable amount of the input
power is dissipated uselessly in the terminating resistor. However, this resistor is necessary to make the antenna
unidirectional. The great gain of the antenna more than makes up for this loss.
Figure 4-38 shows the individual radiation patterns produced by the four legs of the rhombic antenna and the
resultant radiation pattern. The principle of operation is the same as for the V and the
Figure 4-38.—Formation of a rhombic antenna beam.
The terminating resistor plays an important part in the
operation of the rhombic antenna. Upon it depend the unidirectivity of the antenna and the lack of resonance
effects. An antenna should be properly terminated so it will have a constant impedance at its input. Terminating
the antenna properly will also allow it to be operated over a wide frequency range without the necessity for
changing the coupling adjustments at the transmitter. Discrimination against signals coming from the rear is of
for reception. The reduction of back radiation is perhaps of lesser importance for transmission. When
an antenna is terminated with resistance, the energy that would be radiated backward is absorbed in the resistor.
Q47. What is the main disadvantage of the rhombic antenna?
The TURNSTILE ANTENNA is one of the many types that has been developed primarily for omnidirectional vhf
communications. The basic turnstile consists of two horizontal half-wave antennas mounted at right angles to each
other in the same horizontal plane. When these two antennas are excited with equal currents 90 degrees out of
phase, the typical figure-eight patterns of the two antennas merge to produce the nearly circular pattern shown in
figure 4-39, view A. Pairs of such antennas are frequently stacked, as shown in figure 4-40. Each pair is called a
BAY. In figure 4-40 two bays are used and are spaced 1/2 wavelength apart, and the corresponding elements are
excited in phase. These conditions cause a part of the vertical radiation from each bay to cancel that of the
other bay. This results in a decrease in energy radiated at high vertical angles and increases the energy radiated
in the horizontal plane. Stacking a number of bays can alter the vertical radiation pattern, causing a substantial
gain in a horizontal direction without altering the overall horizontal directivity pattern. Figure 4-39, view B,
compares the circular vertical radiation pattern of a single-bay turnstile with the sharp pattern of a four-bay
turnstile array. A three-dimensional radiation pattern of a four-bay turnstile antenna is shown in figure 4-39,
Figure 4-39.—Turnstile antenna radiation pattern.
Figure 4-40.—Stacked turnstile antennas.
A vertical quarter-wave antenna several wavelengths above
ground produces a high angle of radiation that is very undesirable at vhf and uhf frequencies. The most common
means of producing a low angle of radiation from such an antenna is to work the radiator against a simulated
ground called a GROUND PLANE. A simulated ground may be made from a large metal sheet or several wires or rods
radiating from the base of the radiator. An antenna so constructed is known as a GROUND-PLANE ANTENNA. Two
ground-plane antennas are shown in figure 4-41, views A and B.
Figure 4-41.—Ground-plane antennas.
When a unidirectional radiation pattern is desired, it can be
obtained by the use of a corner reflector with a half-wave dipole. A CORNER-REFLECTOR ANTENNA is a half-wave
radiator with a reflector. The reflector consists of two flat metal surfaces meeting at an angle immediately
behind the radiator. In other words, the radiator is set in the plane of a line bisecting the corner angle formed
by the reflector
sheets. The construction of a corner reflector is shown in figure 4-42. Corner-reflector antennas are
mounted with the radiator and the reflector in the horizontal position when horizontal polarization is desired. In
such cases the radiation pattern is very narrow in the vertical plane, with maximum signal being radiated in line
with the bisector of the corner angle. The directivity in the horizontal plane is approximately the same as for
any half-wave radiator having a single-rod type reflector behind it. If the antenna is mounted with the radiator
and the corner reflector in the vertical position, as shown in view A,
maximum radiation is produced in a very
narrow horizontal beam. Radiation in a vertical plane will be the same as for a similar radiator with a single-rod
type reflector behind it.
Figure 4-42.—Corner-reflector antennas.
Q48. What is the primary reason for the development of the turnstile antenna?
RF SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Although electromagnetic radiation from transmission lines and antennas is usually of insufficient
strength to electrocute personnel, it can lead to other accidents and compound injuries. Voltages may be induced
in ungrounded metal objects, such as wire guys, wire cable (hawser), hand rails, or ladders. If you come in
contact with these objects, you could receive a shock or rf burn. This shock can cause you to jump or fall into
nearby mechanical equipment or, when working aloft, to fall from an elevated work area. Take care to ensure that
all transmission lines or antennas are deenergized before working near or on them.
Either check or have
someone check all guys, cables, rails, and ladders around your work area for rf shock dangers. Use working aloft
"chits" and safety harnesses for your own safety. Signing a "working aloft chit" signifies that all equipment is
in a nonradiating status. The person who signs the chit should ensure that no rf danger exists in areas where you
or other personnel will be working.
Nearby ships or parked aircraft are another source of rf energy that
you must consider when you check a work area for safety. Combustible materials can be ignited and cause severe
fires from arcs or heat generated by rf energy. Also, rf radiation can detonate ordnance devices by inducing
currents in the internal wiring of the devices or in the external test equipment or leads connected to them.
ALWAYS obey rf radiation warning signs and keep a safe distance from radiating antennas.
The six types of warning signs for rf radiation hazards are shown in figure 4-43.
Figure 4-43.—Examples of rf radiation warning signs.
Close or direct contact with rf transmission lines or antennas may
result in rf burns. These are usually deep, penetrating, third-degree burns. To heal properly, these burns must
heal from the inside to the skin's surface. To prevent infection, you must give proper attention to all rf burns,
including the small "pinhole" burns. Petrolatum gauze can be used to cover these burns temporarily, before the
injured person reports to medical facilities for further treatment.
DIELECTRIC HEATING is the heating of an insulating material by placing it in a high-frequency electric field. The
heat results from internal losses during the rapid reversal of polarization of molecules in the dielectric
In the case of a human in an rf field, the body acts as a dielectric. If the power in the rf field exceeds 10
milliwatts per centimeter, a person in that field will have a noticeable rise in body temperature. The eyes are
highly susceptible to dielectric heating. For this reason, you should not look directly into devices radiating rf
energy. The vital organs of the body also are susceptible to dielectric heating. For your own safety, you must NOT
stand directly in the path of rf radiating devices.
PRECAUTIONS WHEN WORKING ALOFT
When radio or radar antennas are energized by transmitters, you must not go aloft unless advance tests show that
little or no danger exists. A casualty can occur from even a small spark drawn from a charged piece of metal or
rigging. Although the spark itself may be harmless, the "surprise" may cause you to let go of the antenna
involuntarily and you may fall. There is also a shock hazard if nearby antennas are energized.
antennas also might cause you to fall when you are working aloft. Motor safety switches controlling the motion of
rotating antennas must be tagged and locked open before you go aloft near such antennas.
When working near
a stack, you should draw and wear the recommended oxygen breathing apparatus. Among other toxic substances, stack
gas contains carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is too unstable to build up to a high concentration in the open, but
prolonged exposure to even small quantities is dangerous.
This chapter has presented information on the various types of antennas. The information that follows
summarizes the important points of this chapter.
An ANTENNA is a conductor, or system of
conductors, that radiates or receives energy in the form of electromagnetic waves.
(half-wave) and MARCONI (quarter-wave) are the two basic classifications of antennas.
RECIPROCITY of antennas means that the various properties of the antenna apply equally to
transmitting and receiving.
RADIATION RESISTANCE is the amount of resistance which, if inserted in place of the
antenna, would consume the same amount of power that is actually radiated by the antenna.
RADIATION PATTERNS can be plotted on a rectangular- or polar-coordinate graph. These patterns are a
measurement of the energy leaving an antenna.
An ISOTROPIC RADIATOR radiates energy equally in all directions.
Introduction to Matter, Energy, and Direct Current, Introduction
to Alternating Current and Transformers, Introduction to Circuit Protection,
Control, and Measurement, Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques,
and Schematic Reading, Introduction to Generators and Motors,
Introduction to Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies,
Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies,
Introduction to Amplifiers, Introduction to
Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits, Introduction to Wave Propagation, Transmission
Lines, and Antennas, Microwave Principles,
Modulation Principles, Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits, Introduction
to Microelectronics, Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros,
Introduction to Test Equipment, Radio-Frequency
Communications Principles, Radar Principles, The Technician's Handbook,
Master Glossary, Test Methods and Practices, Introduction to Digital Computers,
Magnetic Recording, Introduction to Fiber Optics