June 18, 2024

This Week in Amateur Radio

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Hackaday

via HACKADAY: No Dish? Try a Portable Weave Helix Antenna

 

When you think of satellite communications, you probably think of a dish. But that’s not the only option — a new device from the American University of Beirut and Stanford created a portable antenna made of woven materials that packs easily, weighs little, and can reconfigure for ground-to-space or ground-to-ground communications. The antenna reminded us of a finger trap and you can see it for yourself in the video below.

Because of the antenna’s construction, it can fold up and also adjust to different lengths for different purposes. The antenna collapses to a ring that is five inches across and 1 inch tall. The weight? Under two ounces. The actual paper in Nature Communications is available to read online.

Stretched out to about a foot, the antenna is omnidirectional. The size, of course, also changes the resonant frequency. Tuning is no problem, though, since you can easily change the size as needed. The antenna may also find use on satellites where it’s low weight, and compact storage would be a definite advantage.

The antenna’s weave is actually two separate helixes, one conductive and the other insulating. The antenna normally operates in a vertical configuration. It looks like it might be simple to make some version of this without anything exotic. Let us know if you try!

Helical antennas aren’t new, but this is an unusual construction. They are popular as satellite antennas because of their polarization characteristics among other things.