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CENTAUR is an antenna development towards an electronically steered antenna in Ka-band, to be used on a gimbaled platform.
Beside the aeronautical the land and maritime segment was targeted as user terminal.
The solution consists of two separate apertures, one to cover the Rx band from 18.3 – 20.2 GHz and another one covering the Tx band from
28.1 – 30 GHz.
Due to design constraints only two bits of phase control per element are available to steer the beam which will degrade the performance of the array due to quantization effects.
In this contribution we focus on the beam synthesis using a biquadratic programming method applied to phase-only optimization to maximize the array gain under these constraints.
For an accurate beam synthesis it is important to have an accurate model of the element patterns of the array. For this purpose, a tool based on the Finite Element Method and Modal Analysis is used to compute the array patterns with a tool from CADMIA Technologies S.L.
The CADMIA tool allows to accurately take into account the finite number of elements, element rotations and the finite size of the ground plane.
The demonstrator Tx array made of 48 antenna elements, based on a COTS phase shifter RFIC by Qorvo,was manufactured and the radiating performance for different scan angles.
The antenna radiator element was developed to be integrated into a dense monolithic PCB + RFIC structure, with standard RF-substrates. It was the key challenge to keep a very good circular polarisation over a larger bandwidth.
The beam steering was limited to 2-bit control on the phase shifter RFIC, via SPI lines. Special approach was used by combining the Finite Element and Modal Analysis of the single antenna element inside the array environment, to improve the overall radiation performance.
The selected antenna element design is optimized for circular polarisation performance and large bandwidth.
A very compact and thin PCB structure could be achieved. The hybrid antenna approach intends to combine the best features of fully mechanical and fully electronic antennae in a hybrid compromise which offers overall advantages in terms of RF performance, size, power consumption and cost.
These attributes together form a unique selling proposition that will result in a successful commercialisation.
The hybrid antenna concept combines electronic and mechanical beam steering system. Aspects of the beam pointing are mechanical or electronic depending on the concept being considered. Generically, the architecture of the antennae is composed of three main parts:
The plan consists of the following phases:
The demonstrator Tx array made of 48 antenna elements, based on a COTS phase shifter RFIC by Qorvo, was sucessfully manufactured, and the radiation pattern performance for different scan angles measured.