Conformal Load Bearing Antenna - What can we do in todays world?

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Message posted by Smythers (Member since 04/27/2023) on August 10, 2023 at 11:52:51 PST:

I thought that as this is a black projects site we would have some cave dweller research types, so I have been leaving breadcrumbs to areas not many folks would wander through. However, seeing people online talking about load bearing antenna, I decided to write a little snippet.

First off: 20 years ago it was (To steal a phrase from my brother) absolutely nails. It was a crude, brutish affair.

Antenna Array. Honeycomb core above it. Face material. Bending, shearing, twisting nightmare fuel. Wing's snapped. Aircraft fluttered to death.

But we got it wrong. Massively wrong, and when the PhD student stepped forwards and gently said 'Maybe we should...' Could have heard a pin drop. But she was right. And it is why she is in charge of so much of it all today. She saw it differently. She saw an elegant solution that took the raw materials at hand, and designed a system that was utterly bewitching.

Now? Now the build is more than exquisite: To explain in the rough and ready: First at the base of the build is a reflecting layer (This printed/patterned layer reduces the sidelobe levels to negligible amounts).

Above that is a thin honeycomb (Not the inches deep slabs of old) THEN goes the lines to take power to the antenna array & your ground. After that is another honeycomb layer, upon which sits the substrate, and FINALLY your radiating antennas. Antennas. For the key to it all was breaking the large array into thousands of smaller 'plates' that mimicked the honeycomb within (each plate having its own individual power supply).

As an added bonus? It was discovered that the EM parameters of the honeycomb core layers themselves had a major influence on the performance of the conformal antenna as a whole! By splitting the layers up? Performance took an exponential leap.

Touch of genius. Now your wing bends, now it twists, now it does whatever it needs to do, and the array stays within all accepted parameters whilst doing its job. Simply put - the entire thing acts like a bird's wing in total harmony.

20 years ago it was nightmare fuel. Today? Soars on the wings of an Eagle.


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