Low Cost, Low Profile Steerable SATCOM Antenna

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$125K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

First RF Corp.
5340 Airport Blvd. Array
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

The small size of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms along with the need to reduce drag to increase flight time creates a need for low-profile antennas. The oldest solution, a mechanically steered parabolic reflector, does not provide a low profile. The modern electronically steered phased array is an alternative that does provide a low-profile antenna solution, but the cost of these antennas has prevented wider use. Hybrid antenna solutions that are partly mechanically steered and partly electronically steered are an approach to maintain the low profile of a phase array at much lower cost. Although existing hybrid solutions offer potential, there have been limitations in scan speed and Field-of-View (FOV).FIRST RF has demonstrated the initial proof-of-concept capability of an innovative low-profile hybrid scan phased array antenna that reduces cost by nearly an order of magnitude relative to a conventional phased array for low profile applications and removes the limitations of previous designs in scanning and FOV. This approach uses small mechanical actuators to reduce the parts count of the active components in the electronic steering portion of the aperture. Unlike other hybrid scan solutions, which have asymmetrical fast and slow steering, this approach provides symmetrical fast electronic steering at angles near boresite with slower mechanical steering for large off-boresite angles. The scan loss of this approach is actually lower than for fully electronic scanned phased array antennas, and the FOV is greater. This technology is applicable for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) applications.