Quantcast Polarization electromagnetic fields, the receiving antenna must be located in the plane of polarization. This places the conductor of the antenna at right angles to the magnetic lines of force moving through the antenna and parallel to the electric lines, causing maximum induction. ">

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POLARIZATION

For maximum absorption of energy from the electromagnetic fields, the receiving antenna must be located in the plane of polarization. This places the conductor of the antenna at right angles to the magnetic lines of force moving through the antenna and parallel to the electric lines, causing maximum induction.

Normally, the plane of polarization of a radio wave is the plane in which the E field propagates with respect to the Earth. If the E field component of the radiated wave travels in a plane perpendicular to the Earth's surface (vertical), the radiation is said to be VERTICALLY POLARIZED, as shown in figure 2-5, view A. If the E field propagates in a plane parallel to the Earth's surface (horizontal), the radiation is said to be HORIZONTALLY POLARIZED, as shown in view B.

Figure 2-5. - Vertical and horizontal polarization.

The position of the antenna in space is important because it affects the polarization of the electromagnetic wave. When the transmitting antenna is close to the ground, vertically polarized waves cause a greater signal strength along the Earth's surface. On the other hand, antennas high above the ground should be horizontally polarized to get the greatest possible signal strength to the Earth's surface. Vertically and horizontally polarized antennas will be discussed in more detail in chapter 4.

The radiated energy from an antenna is in the form of an expanding sphere. Any small section of this sphere is perpendicular to the direction the energy travels and is called a WAVEFRONT. All energy on a wavefront is in phase. Usually all points on the wavefront are at equal distances from the antenna. The farther the wavefront is from the antenna, the less spherical the wave appears. At a considerable distance the wavefront can be considered as a plane surface at a right angle to the direction of propagation.

If you know the directions of the E and H components, you can use the "right-hand rule" (see figure 2-6) to determine the direction of wave propagation . This rule states that if the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger of the right hand are extended so they are mutually perpendicular, the middle finger will point in the direction of wave propagation if the thumb points in the direction of the E field and the forefinger points in the direction of the H field. Since both the E and H fields reverse directions simultaneously, propagation of a particular wavefront is always in the same direction (away from the antenna).

Figure 2-6. - Right-hand rule for propagation.

Q.8 If a transmitting antenna is placed close to the ground, how should the antenna be polarized to give the greatest signal strength? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.9 In the right-hand rule for propagation, the thumb points in the direction of the E field and the forefinger points in the direction of the H field. In what direction does the middle finger point? answer.gif (214 bytes)

ATMOSPHERIC PROPAGATION

Within the atmosphere, radio waves can be reflected, refracted, and diffracted like light and heat waves.

Reflection

Radio waves may be reflected from various substances or objects they meet during travel between the transmitting and receiving sites. The amount of reflection depends on the reflecting material. Smooth metal surfaces of good electrical conductivity are efficient reflectors of radio waves. The surface of the Earth itself is a fairly good reflector. The radio wave is not reflected from a single point on the reflector but rather from an area on its surface. The size of the area required for reflection to take place depends on the wavelength of the radio wave and the angle at which the wave strikes the reflecting substance.

When radio waves are reflected from flat surfaces, a phase shift in the alternations of the wave occurs. Figure 2-7 shows two radio waves being reflected from the Earth's surface. Notice that the positive and negative alternations of radio waves (A) and (B) are in phase with each other in their paths toward the Earth's surface. After reflection takes place, however, the waves are approximately 180 degrees out of phase from their initial relationship. The amount of phase shift that occurs is not constant. It depends on the polarization of the wave and the angle at which the wave strikes the reflecting surface. Radio waves that keep their phase relationships after reflection normally produce a stronger signal at the receiving site. Those that are received out of phase produce a weak or fading signal. The shifting in the phase relationships of reflected radio waves is one of the major reasons for fading. Fading will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

Figure 2-7. - Phase shift of reflected radio waves.

Refraction

Another phenomenon common to most radio waves is the bending of the waves as they move from one medium into another in which the velocity of propagation is different. This bending of the waves is called refraction. For example, suppose you are driving down a smoothly paved road at a constant speed and suddenly one wheel goes off onto the soft shoulder. The car tends to veer off to one side. The change of medium, from hard surface to soft shoulder, causes a change in speed or velocity. The tendency is for the car to change direction. This same principle applies to radio waves as changes occur in the medium through which they are passing. As an example, the radio wave shown in figure 2-8 is traveling through the Earth's atmosphere at a constant speed. As the wave enters the dense layer of electrically charged ions, the part of the wave that enters the new medium first travels faster than the parts of the wave that have not yet entered the new medium. This abrupt increase in velocity of the upper part of the wave causes the wave to bend back toward the Earth. This bending, or change of direction, is always toward the medium that has the lower velocity of propagation.

Figure 2-8. - Radio wave refraction.

Radio waves passing through the atmosphere are affected by certain factors, such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and density. These factors can cause the radio waves to be refracted. This effect will be discussed in greater detail later in this chapter.

Diffraction

A radio wave that meets an obstacle has a natural tendency to bend around the obstacle as illustrated in figure 2-9. The bending, called diffraction, results in a change of direction of part of the wave energy from the normal line-of-sight path. This change makes it possible to receive energy around the edges of an obstacle as shown in view A or at some distances below the highest point of an obstruction, as shown in view B. Although diffracted rf energy usually is weak, it can still be detected by a suitable receiver. The principal effect of diffraction extends the radio range beyond the visible horizon. In certain cases, by using high power and very low frequencies, radio waves can be made to encircle the Earth by diffraction.

Figure 2-9. - Diffraction around an object.

Q.10 What is one of the major reasons for the fading of radio waves which have been reflected from a surface? answer.gif (214 bytes)




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