The WSS-LWA builds on the Self-Structuring Antenna and Leaky-Wave Antenna technology. The resulting antenna is conformal and wraparound.

The Conformal Wire Self-Structuring Antenna technology is a wideband, high-efficiency conformal wire antenna for use on medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the HF/VHF band (1-80 MHz). The antenna uses RF switches to reconfigure its aperture dynamically and is based on Self-Structuring Antenna (SSA) technology. The antenna provides continuous tuning across the 1-80 MHz band and does not need an impedance matching network on the medium-to-upper band (15-80 MHz).

At the low end of the band (1-14 MHz), the antenna resistance is too small to be connected directly to the radio and an adaptive impedance tuning network along with loading coils is inserted before the antenna for 50-ohm matching to the radio. Wire mesh is selected for light weight and ease of printing on a UAV's composite body.

The wraparound wearable antenna technology aspect is based on the leaky-wave principle. The Leaky-Wave Self-Structuring Antenna (LW-SSA) is configured using 12 MEMS switches and operates in the 2.4-2.5 ISM band with eight selectable beams. Large degrees of freedom afforded by the high number of switches on the antenna aperture provide built-in redundancy against switch failure or structural damage, making it self-healing. The antenna control board houses a microcontroller with an optimizing algorithm that is 802.11 mesh network compatible.

For more information, contact the NASA/JSC Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 281-483-3809.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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