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Online Computer Simulation Tools For Dipole Antenna Radiation Patterns

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Optical and Wireless Communication Systems

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1125.1 - 12.1125.14

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Paper Authors


Adam Neale University of Waterloo

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Adam J Neale is currently working towards the B.A.Sc. degree in Honours Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada. His interests lie in the area of hardware development using FPGA's as well as student government. He is currently Vice President Internal for the undergraduate Engineering Society at the University of Waterloo.

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Jason Shirtliff University of Waterloo

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Jason N Shirtliff is currently working towards the B.A.Sc. in Honours Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada. His interests include VLSI, mixed signal integrated circuit design, and digital application specific integrated circuit design. He was employed for eight months at the Microsoft Online Learning Initiative where he worked on lab development for courses related to microprocessor systems and interfacing and antenna design.

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William Bishop University of Waterloo

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Dr. William Bishop obtained his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Bill is currently a full-time lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His research interests include configurable computing, tools and strategies for e-learning, and image and video processing.

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Cutberto Santillan Rios University of Waterloo

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Cutberto A Santillan received the Engineering degree in Electronic and Communications from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico City, in 1999 and the M.A.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo, in 2002. He is also working towards his PhD degree in the same institution. He is currently working as a Laboratory Instructor for electromagnetic, communications and electronic circuit design courses at the University of Waterloo. His research interests include RF & Microwave design, measurement and analysis, RFICs, electronic circuit design and antenna modeling.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Online Computer Simulation Tools for Dipole Antenna Radiation Patterns


Interactive computer simulation tools are an essential component of a modern pedagogy for electrical and computer engineering. Simulation tools offer dynamic, interactive, self-paced learning that is available at the convenience of the student. At the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, all senior level undergraduate students studying electrical engineering are required to take a course on electromagnetic waves to satisfy their degree requirements. The final laboratory exercise associated with this course requires students to measure, record, and analyze a series of dipole antenna radiation patterns for various antenna configurations. A common conceptual challenge for students to overcome when dealing with radiation patterns is the full effect of how the three dimensional field changes based on the antenna’s configuration parameters.

To counteract this issue, our university developed a collection of four dipole antenna radiation pattern simulation tools specifically tailored for the course. Comparable simulation tools that fit the needs of the course cannot be found online. The simulation tools display patterns for: a single dipole, an array of dipoles, a dipole above an infinite flat ground plane, and a dipole inside of a 90 infinite corner reflector. Students use the simulators to complete a pre-laboratory study to improve their understanding of the material, and to better utilize laboratory experimentation time. The online simulations supplement traditional lectures and laboratory experience by providing a deeper understanding of the concepts using online learning resources.

The simulation tools were first incorporated into the course during the spring 2006 term, and will next be used during the spring 2007 term. Although a comprehensive study into the effectiveness of the simulators has not been completed, the initial feedback from students has been favourable. These tools are now available online at the university’s website to members of the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDN AA). The simulators were developed using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 using the C# programming language.


The visualization of electromagnetic radiation can be remarkably difficult for undergraduate students in electrical engineering programs. This is particularly true for students studying electromagnetic phenomena for the first time. Introductory courses on antenna theory pose a significant challenge for undergraduate students. In some situations, students may not have access to a safe lab environment and the equipment necessary to experiment with antenna radiation patterns. Thus, good visualization tools are desirable for use in an introductory course on antenna theory.

Current textbooks are limited in that they only possess the ability to display static images of antenna patterns at a limited number of fixed parameters. To examine the effects of parameter changes, students must perform a series of long and tedious calculations just to plot a single

Neale, A., & Shirtliff, J., & Bishop, W., & Santillan Rios, C. (2007, June), Online Computer Simulation Tools For Dipole Antenna Radiation Patterns Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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