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Understanding and measuring circular polarization

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3 Author(s)
B. Y. Toh ; Sch. of Electr. & Electron. Eng., Queen's Univ. Belfast, UK ; R. Cahill ; V. F. Fusco

Many modern satellite and terrestrial point-to-point communications systems use circular polarization (CP) wave propagation in order to maximize the polarization efficiency component of the link budget. Therefore, in an undergraduate electromagnetics syllabus, an introduction to the topic of circular polarization is necessary to promote an understanding of the propagation aspects of modern communications system design. Students new to the antennas and propagation discipline often have difficulty in grasping the concept of CP; therefore, in this paper, the essential aspects of this topic are reinforced by a tutorial description of CP in terms of wave propagation, antenna properties, and measurement techniques. A simple laboratory-based project is described that requires the design, fabrication, and measurement of a crossed dipole antenna. The measured input impedance and radiation patterns are correlated with theory to highlight the conditions necessary to support CP wave propagation. By combining basic electromagnetic concepts with a series of simple intuitive laboratory experiments, the students can more easily visualize, and hence understand, CP wave propagation and its use in communications systems design.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 3 )