The goal of this work was to improve offaxis cross-polarization performance and ease of assembly of a circularly polarized microwave antenna element. To ease assembly, the initial design requirement of Hexweb support for the internal circuit part, as well as the radiating disks, was eliminated.
There is a need for different plating techniques to improve soldering. It was also desirable to change the design to eliminate soldering as well as the need to use the Hexweb support. Thus, a technique was developed to build the feed without using solder, solving the lathing and soldering issue. Internal parts were strengthened by adding curvature to eliminate Hexweb support, and in the process, the new geometries of the internal parts opened the way for improving the off-axis cross-polarization performance as well.
The radiating disks’ curvatures were increased for increased strength, but it was found that this also improved cross-polarization. Optimization of the curvatures leads to very low off-axis cross-polarization. The feed circuit was curved into a cylinder for improved strength, eliminating Hexweb support. An aperture coupling feed mechanism eliminated the need for feed pins to the disks, which would have required soldering. The aperture coupling technique also improves cross-polarization performance by effectively exciting the radiating disks very close to the antenna’s central axis of symmetry. Because of the shape of the parts, it allowed for an all-aluminum design bolted together and assembled with no solder needed.
The advantage of a solderless design is that the reliability is higher, with no single-point failure (solder), and no need for special plating techniques in order to solder the unit together. The shapes (curved or round) make for a more robust build without extra support materials, as well as improved off-axis cross-polarization.
This work was done by David Green and Cornelis Du Toit of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15727-1