Polarization Requirements for Various Frequencies
Ground-wave transmission is widely used at medium and low frequencies. Horizontal polarization cannot be used at these frequencies because the electric lines of force are parallel to and touch the earth. Since the earth acts as a fairly good conductor at low frequencies, it would short out the horizontal electric lines of force and prevent the radio wave from traveling very far. Vertical electric lines of force, on the other hand, are bothered very little by the earth. Therefore vertical polarization is used for ground-wave transmission, allowing the radio wave to travel a considerable distance along the ground surface with minimum attenuation.
Sky-wave transmission is used at high frequencies. Either horizontal or vertical polarization can be used with sky-wave transmission because the sky wave arrives at the receiving antenna elliptically polarized. This is the result of the wave traveling obliquely through the Earth's magnetic field and striking the ionosphere. The radio wave is given a twisting motion as it strikes the ionosphere. Its orientation continues to change because of the unstable nature of the ionosphere. The relative amplitudes and phase differences between the horizontal and vertical components of the received wave also change. Therefore, the transmitting and receiving antennas can be mounted either horizontally or vertically.
Although either horizontally or vertically polarized antennas can be used for high frequencies, horizontally polarized antennas have certain advantages and are therefore preferred. One advantage is that vertically polarized interference signals, such as those produced by automobile ignition systems and electrical appliances, are minimized by horizontal polarization. Also, less absorption of radiated energy by buildings or wiring occurs when these antennas are used. Another advantage is that support structures for these antennas are of more convenient size than those for vertically polarized antennas.
For frequencies in the vhf or uhf range, either horizontal or vertical polarization is satisfactory. These radio waves travel directly from the transmitting antenna to the receiving antenna without entering the ionosphere. The original polarization produced at the transmitting antenna is maintained throughout the entire travel of the wave to the receiver. Therefore, if a horizontally polarized antenna is used for transmitting, a horizontally polarized antenna must be used for receiving. The requirements would be the same for a vertical transmitting and receiving antenna system.
For satellite communications, parallel frequencies can be used without interference by using polarized radiation. The system setup is shown in figure 4-8. One pair of satellite antennas is vertically polarized and another pair is horizontally polarized. Either vertically or horizontally polarized transmissions are received by the respective antenna and retransmitted in the same polarization. For example, transmissions may be made in the 3.7 to 3.74 GHz range on the vertical polarization path and in the 3.72 to 3.76 GHz range on the horizontal polarization path without adjacent frequency (co-channel) interference.
Figure 4-8. - Satellite transmissions using polarized radiation.
Advantages of Vertical Polarization
Simple vertical antennas can be used to provide OMNIDIRECTIONAL (all directions) communication. This is an advantage when communications must take place from a moving vehicle.
In some overland communications, such as in vehicular installations, antenna heights are limited to 3 meters (10 feet) or less. In such instances vertical polarization results in a stronger receiver signal than does horizontal polarization at frequencies up to about 50 megahertz. From approximately 50 to 100 megahertz, vertical polarization results in a slightly stronger signal than does horizontal polarization with antennas at the same height. Above 100 megahertz, the difference in signal strength is negligible.
For transmission over bodies of water, vertical polarization is much better than horizontal polarization for antennas at the lower heights. As the frequency increases, the minimum antenna height decreases. At 30 megahertz, vertical polarization is better for antenna heights below about 91 meters (300 feet); at 85 megahertz, antenna heights below 15 meters (50 feet); and still lower heights at the high frequencies. Therefore, at ordinary antenna mast heights of 12 meters (40 feet), vertical polarization is advantageous for frequencies less than about 100 megahertz.
Radiation is somewhat less affected by reflections from aircraft flying over the transmission path when vertical polarization is used instead of horizontal polarization. With horizontal polarization, such reflections cause variations in received signal strength. This factor is important in locations where aircraft traffic is heavy.
When vertical polarization is used, less interference is produced or picked up because of strong vhf and uhf broadcast transmissions (television and fm). This is because vhf and uhf transmissions use horizontal polarization. This factor is important when an antenna must be located in an urban area having several television and fm broadcast stations.
Advantages of Horizontal Polarization
A simple horizontal antenna is bidirectional. This characteristic is useful when you desire to minimize interference from certain directions. Horizontal antennas are less likely to pick up man-made interference, which ordinarily is vertically polarized.
When antennas are located near dense forests or among buildings, horizontally polarized waves suffer lower losses than vertically polarized waves, especially above 100 megahertz. Small changes in antenna locations do not cause large variations in the field intensity of horizontally polarized waves. When vertical polarization is used, a change of only a few meters in the antenna location may have a considerable effect on the received signal strength. This is the result of interference patterns that produce standing waves in space when spurious reflections from trees or buildings occur.
When simple antennas are used, the transmission line, which is usually vertical, is less affected by a horizontally mounted antenna. When the antenna is mounted at right angles to the transmission line and horizontal polarization is used, the line is kept out of the direct field of the antenna. As a result, the radiation pattern and electrical characteristics of the antenna are practically unaffected by the presence of the vertical transmission line.
Q.10 What type of polarization should be used at medium and low frequencies?