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ANTENNA CHARACTERISTICS

You can define an antenna as a conductor or group of conductors used either for radiating electromagnetic energy into space or for collecting it from space. Electrical energy from the transmitter is converted into electromagnetic energy by the antenna and radiated into space. On the receiving end, electromagnetic energy is converted into electrical energy by the antenna and is fed into the receiver.

Fortunately, separate antennas seldom are required for both transmitting and receiving rf energy. Any antenna can transfer energy from space to its input receiver with the same efficiency that it transfers energy from the transmitter into space. Of course, this is assuming that the same frequency is used in both cases. This property of interchangeability of the same antenna for transmitting and receiving is known as antenna RECIPROCITY. Antenna reciprocity is possible because antenna characteristics are essentially the same for sending and receiving electromagnetic energy.

RECIPROCITY OF ANTENNAS

In general, the various properties of an antenna apply equally, regardless of whether you use the antenna for transmitting or receiving. The more efficient a certain antenna is for transmitting, the more efficient it will be for receiving on the same frequency. Likewise, the directive properties of a given antenna also will be the same whether it is used for transmitting or receiving.

Assume, for example, that a certain antenna used with a transmitter radiates a maximum amount of energy at right angles to the axis of the antenna, as shown in figure 4-7, view A. Note the minimum amount of radiation along the axis of the antenna. Now, if this same antenna were used as a receiving antenna, as shown in view B, it would receive best in the same directions in which it produced maximum radiation; that is, at right angles to the axis of the antenna.

Figure 4-7. - Reciprocity of antennas.

ANTENNA GAIN

Another characteristic of a given antenna that remains the same whether the antenna is used for transmitting or receiving is GAIN. Some antennas are highly directional; that is, more energy is propagated in certain directions than in others. The ratio between the amount of energy propagated in these directions compared to the energy that would be propagated if the antenna were not directional is known as its gain. When a transmitting antenna with a certain gain is used as a receiving antenna, it will also have the same gain for receiving.

POLARIZATION

Let's review polarization briefly. In chapter 2 you learned that the radiation field is composed of electric and magnetic lines of force. These lines of force are always at right angles to each other. Their intensities rise and fall together, reaching their maximums 90 degrees apart. The electric field determines the direction of polarization of the wave. In a vertically polarized wave, the electric lines of force lie in a vertical direction. In a horizontally polarized wave, the electric lines of force lie in a horizontal direction. Circular polarization has the electric lines of force rotating through 360 degrees with every cycle of rf energy.

The electric field was chosen as the reference field because the intensity of the wave is usually measured in terms of the electric field intensity (volts, millivolts, or microvolts per meter). When a single-wire antenna is used to extract energy from a passing radio wave, maximum pickup will result when the antenna is oriented in the same direction as the electric field. Thus a vertical antenna is used for the efficient reception of vertically polarized waves, and a horizontal antenna is used for the reception of horizontally polarized waves. In some cases the orientation of the electric field does not remain constant. Instead, the field rotates as the wave travels through space. Under these conditions both horizontal and vertical components of the field exist and the wave is said to have an elliptical polarization.

Q.7 The various properties of a transmitting antenna can apply equally to the same antenna when it is used as a receiving antenna. What term is used for this property? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.8 The direction of what field is used to designate the polarization of a wave? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.9 If a wave's electric lines of force rotate through 360 degrees with every cycle of rf energy, what is the polarization of this wave? answer.gif (214 bytes)




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