An apparatus that generates four signals at a frequency of 7.1 GHz having precisely controlled relative phases and equal amplitudes has been designed and built. This apparatus is intended mainly for use in computer-controlled automated calibration and testing of a phase-comparison digital tracker (PCDT) that measures the relative phases of replicas of the same Xband signal received by four antenna elements in an array. (The relative direction of incidence of the signal on the array is then computed from the relative phases.) The present apparatus can also be used to generate precisely phased signals for steering a beam transmitted from a phased antenna array.
The apparatus (see figure) includes a 7.1-GHz signal generator, the output of which is fed to a four-way splitter. Each of the four splitter outputs is attenuated by 10 dB and fed as input to a vector modulator, wherein DC bias voltages are used to control the in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) signal components. The bias voltages are generated by digital-to-analog- converter circuits on a control board that receives its digital control input from a computer running a LabVIEW program. The outputs of the vector modulators are further attenuated by 10 dB, then presented at high-grade radio-frequency connectors. The attenuation reduces the effects of changing mismatch and reflections.
The apparatus was calibrated in a process in which the bias voltages were first stepped through all possible IQ settings. Then in a reverse interpolation performed by use of MATLAB software, a lookup table containing 3,600 IQ settings, representing equal amplitude and phase increments of 0.1°, was created for each vector modulator. During operation of the apparatus, these lookup tables are used in calibrating the PCDT.
This work was done by Amy Boas, Samuel Li, and Robert McMaster of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Electronics/Computers category.