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Using Antenna Modeling Software and an RF Analyzer - A Study for Student Oriented Helical Antenna Projects

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

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Paper Authors


Paul Benjamin Crilly U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Paul Crilly is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the United States Coast Guard Academy. He received his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, his M. S. and B.S. degrees at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, all in Electrical Engineering. He was previously an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Tennessee and was a Development Engineer at the Hewlett Packard Company. His areas of interest include laboratory development, antennas, wireless communications, signal processing, and instrumentation.

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Shane P. Corbett U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Shane Corbett is currently a senior electrical engineering student at the US Coast Guard Academy. At an early age Shane found himself tinkering with electronics more than he would like to admit. His parents feared buying him new pieces of technology because inevitably they would end in pieces on a work bench next to a kid with a smile on. Once accepted to the USCGA Shane took his curiosity to the classroom and began his studies within the EE major. After an antennas course his junior year he found himself perplexed at the intricacies of this field of study. He then pursued an internship at MIT Lincoln Labs in the radar development group where he worked on helical antennas. Once back at the Academy for his senior year he took up time to dive further into helical design. Shane is looking forward to graduation and service in the Coast Guard aboard a cutter out of Pensacola, Fl.

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Abstract – The helical antenna has several advantages over other directional antenna types. These include universal polarization, relatively high gain, broad band with respect to both directionality and SWR, as well as relatively simple structure and feed system to name a few. Helical antennas are widely used in space satellite communication as well wireless local area networks. The aforementioned reasons justify why helicals are an important topic for an undergraduate antennas course. This paper will present a student oriented, experimental approach to learning about the axial mode helical antenna. Specifically students design, simulate, build and test their helical antenna. We use software available in the public domain for simulation. Students then construct their antennas using readily available materials and finally test their products using a portable RF analyzer to measure the SWR and radiation pattern. The RF analyzer enables the student to see first-hand that the radiation pattern from their newly constructed helical does indeed match their simulations. In both our empirical testing and simulations, we seek to have the student understand how the three basic parameters of the helical namely circumference, pitch angle, and number of turns, affects its performance. We also look at how dielectric loading can be employed to achieve size reduction. Students also explore helical antennas with differing polarizations (right hand vs left hand) and thereby better appreciate how spatial multiplexing is accomplished. Our approach allows students the opportunity to gain more insight into the characteristics of helical antennas so they can fully appreciate their capabilities as well as their limitations. Student assessment has shown that our approach greatly enhances understanding of helical antenna systems and has caused significant increase in student enthusiasm for selected topics in antennas.

Crilly, P. B., & Corbett, S. P. (2017, June), Using Antenna Modeling Software and an RF Analyzer - A Study for Student Oriented Helical Antenna Projects Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29071

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