June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
A locator project for small UAVs is described that emphasizes antenna design. A UAV locator system must include an on-board transmitter with capability for providing a beacon signal in the event of a crash and an operator receiver that is tailored for a transmitter hunt. Hence, antenna topics can be discussed in relation to electronics hardware, electrical power, systems integration, and UAV technology. This specific context for applying antenna theory can highlight the relevance and trade-offs in what are often abstract topics. The design criteria for the transmitting and receiving antennas in a locator system include constraints on size, power, weight, and performance as well as frequency selection based on radio-wave propagation characteristics. This work defines locator design objectives and constraints for small unmanned aircraft/systems (small UAVs or sUAS), i.e. aircraft defined by weights between 55lbs and 0.55 lbs. Possible antenna approaches for the transmitting antenna and the receiving antenna are presented with regard to directionality, frequency, power, range, etc. An example design is presented as a case study for illustrating trade-offs among the design choices. The difficulty and scope for a student project may be varied by the number of unspecified constraints and the required results, e.g. antenna simulations or anechoic-chamber testing. As an educational resource, the material can be used as an assignment for electromagnetics and antenna courses, as a focus project for capstone design teams, and as a UAV-related extra-curricular activity or competition. The paper provides a structure for organizing the material, a case study to illustrate possible choices, and recommendations on educational implementation.
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