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VIP Projects: Antenna Range Team


Antennas are essential components of many vital systems for scientific, national security, public safety, commercial, and personal use. In this project undergraduate researchers will build, test, and enhance a low-cost, portable antenna range based on a design that was developed by VT ECE Ph.D. graduate Christian Hearn and his fellow faculty at Weber State University. A team of Virginia Tech undergraduate researchers is developing a proof-of-concept remote access and monitoring capability for the range as a first step towards its use in remote learning and research. The team is also investigating signal processing to remove reflected signals that distort antenna pattern measurements, and exploring ways to enhance portability of the range to support classroom demonstrations and STEM outreach.  Participating students can also design, simulate, build, and measure antennas.

Issues Involved or Addressed

  • Need for affordable hands-on and remote interactive learning of antenna concepts
  • Lack of dedicated resource to support undergraduate research that involves antennas
  • Optimization of accessibility and portability of antenna range and measured patterns
  • Accurate measurements outside anechoic chamber, in the presence of multiple reflections

Methods and Technologies

  • Python and JavaScript (code development)
  • GNU Radio Companion (SDR waveform development)
  • Arduino and GRBL (motor control and 3D printing)

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Others with relevant background

Preferred Interests and Preparation

  • Applied electromagnetics: antennas and radio-wave propagation
  • Wireless communications and other radio frequency / microwave systems
  • Digital signal processing / software defined radio
  • Web development, data visualization, user interface development
  • Motor control
  • 3D printing

Initial support is provided by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and Wireless @ Virginia Tech