In a proposed digital signal-processing technique, a radio receiver would control the phasing of a phased-array antenna to aim the peaks of the antenna radiation pattern toward desired signal sources while aiming the nulls of the pattern toward interfering signal sources. The technique was conceived for use in a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, for which the desired signal sources would be GPS satellites and typical interference sources would be terrestrial objects that cause multipath propagation. The technique could also be used to optimize reception in spread spectrum cellular-telephone and military communication systems.

During reception of radio signals in a conventional phased-array antenna system, received signals at their original carrier frequencies are phase-shifted, then combined by analog circuitry. The combination signal is then subjected to downconversion and demodulation.

ImageIn a system according to the proposed technique (see figure), the signal received by each antenna would be subjected to down conversion, spread-spectrum demodulation, and correlation; this processing would be performed separately from, and simultaneously with, similar processing of signals received by the other antenna elements. Following analog down conversion to baseband, the signals would be digitized, and all subsequent processing would be digital.

In the digital process, residual carriers would be removed and each signal would be correlated with a locally generated model pseudorandum-noise code, all following normal GPS procedure. As part of this procedure, accumulated values would be added in software and the resulting signals would be phase-shifted in software by the amounts necessary to synthesize the desired antenna directional gain pattern of peaks and nulls.

The principal advantage of this technique over the conventional radio-frequency- combining technique is that the parallel digital baseband processing of the signals from the various antenna elements would be a relatively inexpensive and flexible means for exploiting the inherent multiple peak/ multiple-null aiming capability of a phased-array antenna. In the original intended GPS application, the peaks and nulls could be directed independently for each GPS signal being tracked by the GPS receiver. The technique could also be applied to other code-division multiple-access communication systems.

This work was done by Charles E. Dunn and Lawrence E. Young of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free online at under the Electronics/Computers category.

This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to

the Patent Counsel
NASA Management Office–JPL
(818) 354-7770.

Refer to NPO-20031.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Receiver Would Control Phasing of a Phased-Array Antenna

(reference NPO-20031) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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