• Development of a Synthetic Beamforming Antenna - From Drawing Board to Reality

      Kelkar, Anand; Lamarra, Norm; Vaughan, Thomas; Creative Digital Systems (International Foundation for Telemetering, 2009-10)
      Following-up on an ITC 2006 paper, "From RF to bits with Synthetic Beamforming", we follow the development and fielding of a Digital Beamforming (DBF) Antenna. This antenna, built for an airborne Telemetry application, supports 10 individual polarization-diverse beams and immediately converts RF to IF at the antenna element through a suite of LNBs. The IF is then digitized and all subsequent processing is performed through an array of 200+ FPGAs, including DBF, optimal combining, demodulation, and IF upconversion. We present our Model-Based Design approach, which allowed us to develop and test the system incrementally and rapidly, particularly during the transition from factory testing to flight operations, where several unexpected problems were discovered. Our software tool set enabled us to dissect the System behavior via post-mission replay, and our detailed simulations were instrumental in developing mitigation quickly. The System-level impacts and root causes of some of these issues are also discussed. We believe the flexibility of DBF and the modular software architecture were key in quickly mitigating many of these unforeseen real-world issues without hardware modification.