Smart Drone Technologies
Receivers & Antennas
One of the biggest challenge of a drone-based airborne measurement system is to find the proper „compromise“ between the performances and the size as well as weight of the elements constituting the payload, mainly RF receiver and antennas.
This challenge has been fulfiled for both our NavAidDrone and AMU, thanks to a technical cooperation with selected partners incl. OEM integration work as well as the specific design of components like antennas.
Measurement receivers and antennas for airborne RF measurement
Profit from our cooperation and OEM-work with the best experts on their field
The idea to use a highly integrated receiver has been part of the original concept of the NavAidDrone, as the receiver from our partner FCS has been exclusively designed for that purpose.
The extremely lightweight receiver, which consists of RF front-end and processing subsystems, has been designed to cope especially with the measurement of “signal-in-space” from a moving platform. To guarantee that the DDM value can be measured at highest precision, an adaptive signal processing is implemented that adjusts filtering efforts in real-time. Unlike other standard ILS receivers, the measurement system of the NavAidDrone features high bandwidth internal processing and recording of the entire transmission channel, permitting in-channel separation of useful ILS signals and interference sources. Potential propeller modulation from the drone can thus be analyzed and eliminated. This is a unique and crucial feature!
The antenna is the first element of the measurement chain; its characteristics, for example in terms of directivity and sensibility, but also the influence of the further metalic parts of the drone must be carefully taken into consideration. We consider the entire drone system as „the“ antenna.
This is only possible because we have conducted various simulations of the „antenna installed performance“ to determine the true far-field ratiation of the complete system and adapted the design accordingly.
Both the UHF Glide Path antenna and the VHF Localizer antenna that we use are thus proprietary and only usable on our NavAidDrone, and represent a major factor for the accuracy offered with our system!
Light, fast & accurate, high dynamic range, low consumption level, easy to interface and trigger, time-stamping, covering a large frequency band: these are some of the most important criteria we defined for selecting the appropriate RF receivers to be integrated in our Airborne Monitoring Unit LS OBSERVER AMU.
We equip our AMU with two types of spectrum analyzers, depending on the requirements in terms of frequency range and analysis capabilities (like I/Q recording). In line with the growing demand for higher frequency bands, for example to measure microwave links, our solution to cover a frequency range from e.g. 30 MHz to 50 GHz with just ONE SINGLE receiver constitutes a real innovation and benefit.
We have of course the possibility to add additional filtering and pre-amplifying according to the type of signals to be measured.
Beside the physical and electric integration of the receivers, the performances of our AMU rely on the way we control them and how we realize the capture and analysis of the measured data: the most valuable part of our own-developed software.
The selection of antennas with a good compromise in terms of size/weight and performances, but also regarding their frequency range – in order to limit the number of antennas to be swapped on the drone – has been part of our design process.
We integrate in our AMU antennas of various technologies (log-per, horn, biconical, loop) and with either directional or omnidirectional characteristics in our AMU, depending on the selected application (spectrum scan or DF) and technology used (AoA or PdoA).
We have also designed practical fixing to allow quick position changing depending on the polarization of the signal to be measured. For some specific application like antenna measurement, the antennas can be mounted on special gimbals in order to maintain the polarization.