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Frequency Scalable, Low Profile, Broadband

Quad Fed Patch Element/Array




Terrance J. Hawkins
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
Sunnyvale, CA.
terry.hawkins@lmco.com
Frank Butscher
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
Sunnyvale, CA.
frank.butscher@lmco.com

AbstractA novel low profile quad fed square patch element design offering excellent circular
polarization performance with simple fabrication techniques for SATCOM applications is
presented. The proposed patch element forms the building block for low profile broadband arrays
and is frequency scalable to most SATCOM bands. Patch element arrays are easily customized for
gain, bandwidth, beam pattern, and polarization requirements. Patch elements are inherently
linearly polarized which results in a 3 dB signal loss for circularly polarized waves. Several
techniques to produce circular polarization from a patch element have been in practice for over 40
years, but are axial ratio bandwidth limited for broadband applications. The square patch
element described in this paper represents a robust design configuration that utilizes a 50 ohm
quadrature (0 , 90 , 180 , 270 ) network to feed the patch four corners using commercial grade
90 hybrids and 180 dividers, in a small form factor, with excellent circular polarization (< 2 dB
axial ratio) over a much broader band than previously reported. The quad fed patch element is
then applied to various array configurations for broadband and multi-band SATCOM
applications.
Keywords-quad feed network, patch element, axial ratio, circular polarization, low profile design, broadband, multi-band
I. INTRODUCTION
In broadband communication systems a high quality signal is desirable over a large bandwidth. Circular
Polarization (CP) is important in SATCOM systems to minimize signal loss due to propagation effects and
polarization mismatch. Axial Ratio (AR) is an important parameter used to measure the quality of CP. Pure
CP would have an AR of 0 dB (i.e. 1) where the orthogonally polarized waves have equal amplitude and
90 phase difference. When the orthogonal components are misaligned the CP tends to be elliptical where
the AR is the ratio of the major to minor axis of the ellipse. Therefore, it is desirable to keep the AR as
close as possible to 0 dB.
Langston and Jackson
1,2
have derived closed form solutions for AR bandwidth and Impedance
bandwidth for rectangular, circular, and square patch elements using a single probe feed. Their results
indicate that with a single feed placed along the diagonal of a rectangular patch the AR bandwidth is half of
the Impedance bandwidth of a similar single feed Linearly Polarized (LP) patch. Additionally, the
Impedance bandwidth of a single feed CP patch is twice that of a similar LP patch. Thus, AR bandwidth is
the limiting factor for a single probe fed CP patch.
Other techniques to improve CP patch elements were reported by Cummings
3
by using dual feeds with
90 phase difference or a single feed along the diagonal, or chamfering opposing corners, or inserting a slot
along one of the diagonals. Single feeds are the simplest since they dont require a 90 hybrid, but their CP
performance is very limited. Dual feeds dramatically improve CP performance over a single feed, while a
Quad feed theoretically gives pure CP, but is limited in practice by the implementation hardware and its
associated insertion loss and phase variation.
28th AIAA International Communications Satellite Systems Conference (ICSSC-2010)
30 August - 2 September 2010, Anaheim, California
AIAA 2010-8720
Copyright 2010 by Lockheed Martin Corp. All Rights Reserved. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
90
0
180
270
Figure 1- Quad Model
The rest of this paper discusses simulation and test results of various square patch 50 ohm direct coax
probe fed configurations, including single, dual, and quad, and underscores the excellent performance of a
quad feed. This is then extended to various array configurations for SATCOM applications including
broadband arrays and multi-band configurations.
II. ELEMENT DESIGN
A single patch element was designed in the UHF band between 300 and 400
MHz. The patch size was 40 cm x 40 cm at a height of 6 cm off a 50 cm x 50
cm ground plane. 1 mm lossless copper was used for the microstrip patch
element. CST microwave studio was used to simulate the patch VSWR, Gain,
Axial Ratio, and Efficiency. Figure 1 shows the 3D computer model using an
idealized 50 ohm quad feed. Figure 2 shows the VSWR results and Figure 3
shows the realized boresight Gain and boresight AR results. All configurations
exhibited greater than 90% efficiency. First, linear polarization with a single
feed was studied as a reference. The feed point was moved inboard from the
edge halfway to the center for the best impedance match. Next, a single CP
feed was moved along the diagonal of a rectangular patch and the patch length
was varied to give the best axial ratio. This resulted in the feed moving inboard halfway between the corner
and center of the patch and the length increased 4.6 cm (~ 10%) while the patch width remained the same at
40 cm. Thirdly, dual feeds with ideal 90 phase difference were positioned along perpendicular diagonals
of a square patch and moved inboard halfway again for the best impedance match. Lastly, 4 feeds were
placed at the corners and moved inboard halfway and fed in quadrature phase. This places the feeds
physically and electrically 90 apart from each other. In essence, this produces pure CP over an infinite
bandwidth. To remedy this, linear phase variation was introduced, being zero at the center frequency and
varying linearly inward and outward from there, to model the phase variation of a real quad hybrid.
A. SIMULATED PERFORMANCE
The 2:1 VSWR results (Figure 2) of the LP patch were close to 6% Impedance bandwidth, and the Axial
Ratio 3 dB results of the single CP feed (Figure 3) were close to 3% (half of the LP impedance bandwidth)
thus confirming Jacksons analytical observation. Unfortunately, the single feed LP and CP 2:1 impedance
bandwidths were almost identical, thus contradicting Jacksons observation of twice the CP bandwidth.
But, if the Bandwidth is taken at 3:1 VSWR then we confirm Jacksons derivation of CP Bandwidth = 1.73
LP Bandwidth.

Figure 2- VSWR Simulated Results Figure 3- Gain & Axial Ratio Simulated Results
More importantly, the single CP feed is only usable over a narrowband (~ 3%) for good CP less than 3
dB AR, additionally, it is shifted down 30 MHz off the center frequency (290 MHz vs 320 MHz). This
would be unacceptable for most SATCOM applications.
The dual CP feed is markedly improved over the single CP feed. It exhibits good CP up to the center
frequency, but then climbs above 3 dB AR but never exceeds 5 dB. For most voice communications this
0
2
4
6
8
10
280 300 320 340 360 380 400
Single AR
Dual AR
Dual Gain
Single Gain
Quad Gain
Quad AR
Gain (dBi) & Axial Ratio (dB) vs Freq (MHz)
1
2
3
4
280 300 320 340 360 380 400
Single
Dual
Linear
Quad
VSWR vs Freq (MHz)
2:1
0
180
270
90
IN
0 90
Figure 4- Quad Hybrid
would be acceptable but will degrade the quality of signal and reduce the carrier to interference ratio (C/I)
from 15 dB to 11 dB where 10 dB is already marginal. Also, note the reduced gain from the skewed beam.
The quad CP feed is remarkable. The AR 3 dB bandwidth greatly exceeds the impedance bandwidth and
avails the entire 3 dB gain bandwidth for high quality CP. This is most important in SATCOM systems that
have tight margins to begin with and pay a premium for bandwidth. This result is predicated on the fact that
a quad hybrid can be manufactured with low phase variation and insertion loss over a large bandwidth, as
demonstrated by Guo
4
, who proposed a broadband 90 hybrid using a Schiffman phase shifter and L-probe
fed circular patches. The excellent CP results were confirmed in test.
B. HARDWARE TESTS- THE SINGLE QUAD FED SQUARE PATCH
Indeed, commercial grade 90 hybrids and 180 dividers are readily
available to confirm in test the simulated results. Figure 4 shows the quad
hybrid network to deliver 0, 90, 180, and 270 phase over a
broadband. Specifically, Mini-Circuit hybrids and dividers were used
with a 220 to 470 MHz rating. The quad hybrid is small (< 6),
lightweight (< 1 #), and inexpensive (< $150). The best configuration is a
90 hybrid on the input side and two 180 dividers on the output side,
which produced the desired low phase variation quadrature phase outputs.
The test setup in Figure 5 shows a single square patch element 40 cm x 40 cm x 5 cm height (1 cm lower
than the CST model which shifted the center frequency up) over a 36 x 36 ground plane. The patch was
fabricated out of double sided FR-4 PCB material and offset from the center of the ground plane to make
the test more realistic. All feeds points were located at the patch corners and not moved inboard. The patch
edges had to be copper taped to prevent any waves from entering the FR-4 dielectric sandwich. The single
CP feed for a square patch did not give good results, just the dual and quad feed measured results are
shown in Figure 6 and are close to the expected simulation results in Figure 3. The dual CP feed has a
lower center frequency than the quad CP feed, and, as expected, only exhibits good AR below the center
frequency. The quad feed shows remarkable CP performance (AR < 1 dB) over the entire frequency range
and also exhibits higher gain and bandwidth than the dual feed, all of which is usable for high quality
SATCOM. The only drawback is the 1 dB gain loss due to the hybrid feed network, which is expected.

Figure 5- Single Quad Patch Test Setup Figure 6- Gain & Axial Ratio Test Results
III. BROADBAND ARRAY DESIGN
A natural extension of the quad fed square patch would be to study array configurations for the purposes
of widening bandwidth and increasing isolation between adjacent elements. Several configurations were
tested that include: a closely spaced 2x2 array, a closely spaced 2x2 array of stacked patches with and
UHF Single Patch Antenna, 40cm x 40cm x 5cm height
Dual vs Quad Feed- Gain & Axial Ratio
0
2
4
6
8
10
0.28 0.30 0.32 0.34 0.36 0.38 0.40
Freq (GHz)
G
a
i
n
(
d
B
i
)
/
A
R
(
d
B
)
Dual
Gain
Dual
AR
Quad
Gain
Quad
AR
0
90
180
270
without a basket, a 2x2 array of isolated patches for separate transmit and receive, and a patch with a center
cutout for multi-band operation.
Creating a 2x2 array of patch elements allows widening of bandwidth to occur due to the constructive
coupling effects of the closely spaced patch elements. Nealy
4
, et al, proposed a Foursquare element that
was composed of a 2x2 array of very closely spaced patches (< 1% wavelength) with a quad feed only at
the intersection of the 2 narrow slots. In essence, this resembles a crossed fan dipole for dual CP.
Interestingly, the performance of the foursquare element can be improved in several ways: 1. feeding all
four corners of the four patch elements that comprise the foursquare element, 2. tapering the slots between
patches, and 3. using a stacked configuration of patches, bottom active and top parasitic, causes bandwidth
widening to occur. This can be further improved by placing in a cup or basket, such as a basket dipole.
Now, a compact low profile 2x2 array of patch elements, offering high gain, wide bandwidth, and excellent
CP, is an attractive alternative to large helix antennas for VHF, UHF, and L band SATCOM. Challenges
include designing a multipaction free quad hybrid for high power applications.
A. HARDWARE TESTS- 2X2 UHF ARRAY
A 2x2 array of square UHF patches fed in quadrature phase were developed and tested. The active patch
was 40 x 40 x 5.5 cm above a 36 x 36 ground plane. The stack patch was 32 x 32 x 4.5 cm above the
active patch. The active patch was solid copper plate and the top patch used double sided FR-4 PCB
material both 1/16 thick. Edges were taped for the top patch. The gap distance between the active patches
is 2 cm or approximately 2% of a wavelength. All four active patches were fed in quadrature phase and 4:1
power combined to a single output. All four patches had to be phase referenced identically for a quadrature
phase to be present at the slot intersection. The test setup is shown in Figure 7 for the 2x2 stacked patch
configuration. Figure 8 shows the back side of the ground plane and the 4 quad hybrid feed networks.

Figure 7- 2x2 UHF Stacked Array Test Setup Figure 8- 2x2 Quad Feed Network
As expected, the AR results shown in Figure 9 are less than 2 dB over the entire 200 to 400 MHz
frequency range and less than 1 dB over 90% of the useable gain bandwidth. The planar array exhibits a 70
MHz bandwidth (20%) compared to the 40 MHz (11%) bandwidth of a single quad fed patch at 6 dBi gain.
Using a parasitic patch extends the bandwidth to 110 MHz (33%), and placing in a basket extends the
bandwidth to 130 MHz (40%). These incremental builds resulted in a two fold, three fold, and four fold
increase in bandwidth. These results have significant implications for UHF SATCOM systems operating
from 225 to 400 MHz i.e. UFO and MUOS.
Specifically, UFO, which uses a 244 to 270 MHz Tx band, a 292 to 318 MHz Rx band (commonly
referred to as Legacy UHF), and a 2x2 array of crossed dipoles for Tx, and a separate Rx array, can be
implemented by using a single direct radiating 2x2 array of stacked patches to cover both Tx and Rx bands
simultaneously (244 to 318 MHz). Alternatively, separate Tx and Rx single patches could be utilized to
cover the 26 MHz bandwidths of UFO Tx and Rx bands, respectively. The 8 dBi gain level of a single
0
90
180
270
0
90
180
270
0
90
180
270
0
90
180
270
Tx
1
Tx
2
Rx
1
Rx
2
Figure 10- 2x2 Quad Fed Boxed Elements
patch could be improved to 10 dBi by placing it in a cup. If more gain is desired than a 2x2 array for
separate Tx and Rx could also be implemented. The isolation between Tx and Rx patches would be
important to relax filtering requirements. This will be discussed further in the next section.

Figure 9- 2x2 UHF Array Gain & Axial Ratio Test Results
The same implementation considerations are applicable to MUOS A/B which uses a 280 to 320 MHz Rx
band and a 340 to 380 MHz Tx band and sixteen 4 helix main beam assembly (MBA) feed elements. In
this case, sixteen 2x2 arrays can be used as the MBA to generate the 16 MUOS Tx/Rx beams, thus easily
covering the 100 MHz bandwidth and 2 dB axial ratio requirements in a low profile 4 design.
Alternatively, separate Tx and Rx elements can be implemented to relax the stringent filtering requirements
between Tx and Rx bands by 30 to 40 dB since the Rx to Tx stop band is only a mere 20 MHz.
B. HARDWARE TESTS- 2X2 BOXED ELEMENTS
As previously discussed, single quad fed square
patch elements may be an attractive alternative for
separate Tx and Rx functions. This alternative offers
better isolation especially when there is little, or no,
spatial and/or spectral separation between Tx and Rx
implementations, such as on a spacecraft with
limited mounting area and frequency allocation.
The quad patch was redesigned for the MUOS Tx
and Rx bands and placed in a 2x2 checkerboard
array with two Tx and two Rx elements along the
diagonals. A square box was placed around each
element to improve the nominal 20 dB isolation
between Tx and Rx elements. Figure 10 shows the 2x2 array configuration with the boxed elements. The
Tx patch was 38 cm x 38 cm x 6.5 cm, the Rx patch was 42 cm x 42 cm x 10.5 cm, and the box was 48 cm
x 48 cm x 20 cm ( wave x wave x wave cavity).
Gain and AR test results are shown in Figure 11 for a box height of only 10 cm, since 20 cm reduced the
Rx gain by ~ 2 dB. The Tx and Rx gains of 6 dBi is close to expected, and both cover the MUOS Tx and
Rx bands within the 2 dB gain bandwidth. Simulation gives a 1 dB loss due to the wavelength box plus 1
dB loss for the feed network gives the expected 6 dBi for Tx and Rx. Since the gain measurement is made
at broadside, and with each element on the corner, the radiation pattern is skewed ~ 15 off center and so is
max gain, Also, increasing the box height produces strong interactions with the direct coax corner feeds
2x2 UHF Array Quad Fed Patch
Patch: 40 x 40 x 5.5 cm, Stacked Patch: 32 x 32 x 4.5 cm, Gap = 2
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
0.20 0.22 0.24 0.26 0.28 0.30 0.32 0.34 0.36 0.38 0.40
Freq (GHz)
G
a
i
n
(
d
B
i
)
/
A
R

(
d
B
)
Stacked
w/ basket
Bandwidth = 70 to 130 MHz
AR
Gain
Stacked
Planar
0
90
180
270
Figure 13- Multi-band EnE Design
thereby flattening the gain pattern. Moving the feeds inboard will help minimize the interaction with the
box. Also, increasing the box size will improve the gain and isolation. Further research is required to
increase the gain and bandwidth. As expected, the AR results remain below 2 dB for both Tx and Rx bands
with Rx being slightly better around 1 dB.
Isolation between the Tx and Rx elements is shown in Figure 12. The measured results are better than
nominal by 10 dB. Tx to Rx and Rx to Tx isolation is greater than 30 dB. Without a box isolation was
measured to be only 20 dB. Isolation is dependent on element spacing, box size, and feed location.
Increasing box height to 20 cm and moving the feeds inboard will reduce gain ~ 1 dB, but increase isolation
~ 5 dB. On-going research is in progress to determine the optimum element size and spacing, box size, and
feed location to maximize gain, bandwidth, CP, and isolation.

Figure 11- Gain & Axial Ratio Test Results Figure 12- Isolation Test Results
IV. MULTI-BAND ELEMENT IN AN ELEMENT DESIGN
Lastly, a novel approach to achieving multi-band operation using a low profile quad fed patch in a
common aperture has been proposed by Hawkins
6
. It takes advantage of the low currents existing at the
center of the patch element, and thus the center of the patch can be removed and replaced with a grounding
box without degrading the performance of patch gain, bandwidth, radiation pattern, and polarization.
Jackson
7
et al, and Gonzalez
8
et al, proposed a shorted annular ring patch element that short circuited to
ground the inside ring, thus leaving valuable space for higher frequency elements to be embedded above
the same ground plane.
Figure 13 shows the proposed layout of a multi-band
design. The low frequency quad fed patch has its center
cut out and replaced with a grounding box. The size of the
grounding box may varying according to the size and
quantity of high band elements which are embedded
within it and the desired low band performance. Up to
50% of the patch length can be removed with still
acceptable simulated performance. Additionally, the
grounding box provides necessary shielding and isolation
between the low and high band elements, and may be
shaped like a horn or cup to enhance the gain of the
embedded elements, or function as a direct radiating horn
itself. For this example, a wideband (40%) K-band
crossed fan dipole (~ 1/2 wave) was embedded within a
broadband (25%) X-band quad fed patch element. The fan
dipole actually sits above the elevation of the patch. The
frequency separation between X and K bands is three fold.
Both elements are fed separately with idealized 50 ohm ports. Thus, an Element in an Element (EnE)
design for multi-band simultaneous operation is proposed.
UHF Tx/Rx 2x2 Boxed Quad Patch Antenna
Box = 10 cm, Tx1&2 = 6.5 cm, Rx1&2 = 10.5 cm
0
2
4
6
8
0.26 0.28 0.30 0.32 0.34 0.36 0.38 0.40 0.42
Freq (GHz)
G
a
i
n
(
d
B
i
)
Tx Gain
Rx Gain
Tx AR
Rx AR
UHF 2x2 Tx/Rx Boxed Quad Patch Antenna
Box =10 cm,Tx = 6.5 cm, Rx = 10.5 cm
-50
-45
-40
-35
-30
-25
-20
260 280 300 320 340 360 380 400 420
Freq (MHz)
I
n
s
e
r
t
i
o
n

L
o
s
s

(
d
B
)
Isolation ~ 30 dB
A. SIMULATED PERFORMANCE
The EnE design required an X band element from 6.5 to 8.5 GHz and a Ka element from 20 to 30 GHz.
Both elements were tuned to provide greater than 90% efficiency. Even though the X-band patch goes
through several resonant modes, the X to K and K to X isolation stayed below 30 dB due to the shielding
box. Both exhibit reflection coefficients less than 0.1 and good VSWR performance in Figure 14. The
actual VSWR may be less due to feed implementation. The gain of each element in Figure 15 performs as
independent elements. The X-band gain peaks at 8 dBi, 7.6 GHz and the K-band gain peaks at 10 dBi, 28
GHz. Note: the X-band patch has a strong resonant mode around 20 GHz which causes a slight dip in the
K-band gain. Otherwise, the gain response is acceptable. The axial ratio of the quad fed X-band patch
element (Figure 16) exhibits less than 2 dB axial ratio across the useable bandwidth using a linear phase
variation from the center frequency as an implementation model. This is typical of quad fed patches that
have been tested in the UHF band with commercial grade hybrids. Figure 17 shows clean radiation patterns
for both bands around the peak gain. Note: an infinite ground plane was used in simulation. The actual peak
gains may vary slightly due to finite ground plane effects.
The multi-band element design could be used as a single feed element for a reflector dish, or as a feed
array for an MBA. Beam pointing may have to be done mechanically since the high band element spacing
(~ 1 wavelength) would create grating lobes in a scanned array configuration. Using a common aperture
and reflector dish has significant cost and weight savings for multi-band SATCOM systems.

Figure 14- VSWR Simulation Results Figure 15- Gain Simulation Results

Figure 16- X-band Gain & Axial Ratio Simulation Results Figure 17- 3D Gain Patterns Simulation Results
10
5
0
-5
-10
-15
5 10 15 20 25 30
Freq (GHz)
X/K Multi-Band Element Gain (dBi)
X-band
K-band
X/K Multi-Band Element
Reflection Coefficient/VSWR
1.0
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.0
5 10 15 20 25 30
Freq (GHz)
VSWR 3:1
VSWR 2:1
X-band K-band
0
2
4
6
8
10
5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10
X/K Multiband Quad Patch
G
a
i
n
(
d
B
i
)
/
A
R
(
d
B
)
Freq (GHz)
2 GHz Bandwidth
~ 25%
X-AR
X-Gain
Gain Patterns
7.5 GHz, 8.6 dBi
30 GHz, 9.6 dBi
V. CONCLUSION
A novel patch element design has been proposed that greatly enhances Axial Ratio (AR) bandwidth and
offers pure Circular Polarization (CP) in a low profile, lightweight, scalable design. It has been
demonstrated by computer simulation and hardware test the AR bandwidth of a quad fed patch exceeds the
useable gain and impedance bandwidths of the patch element. AR bandwidth is not the limiting factor for
broadband high quality CP. With an idealized quad hybrid you can obtain pure CP over an infinite
bandwidth. For test purposes commercial grade components are adequate to demonstrate broadband axial
ratio less than 2 dB.
Several array configurations have been proposed that broaden the useable bandwidth while maintaining
good CP performance. Specifically, a 2x2 UHF array of closely spaced elements gave a 70 MHz bandwidth
(20%), a 2x2 of stacked patches gave a 110 MHz bandwidth (33%), while adding a basket extends the
bandwidth to 130 MHz (40%). This is a two fold, three fold, and four fold increase, respectively, over a
single patch element, while the AR never exceeds 2 dB in test. The compact 2x2 array configuration is a
good alternative to large helix antennas for VHF/UHF SATCOM. The challenge is to develop a space
qualified high power multipaction free quad hybrid with low phase variation and insertion loss.
Wider spectrum usage using tighter stop bands can be achieved using a boxed array of separate quad fed
patch elements for Tx and Rx. This relaxes the stop band filtering requirements by 30 - 40 dB of isolation,
as measured in test, though a x x wavelength box flattens the element gain by 2 dB. Further
investigation is ongoing to minimize the gain loss while maintaining good isolation.
Lastly, a multi-band design using a quad fed patch as the low frequency element was proposed.
Removing the center of the patch and inserting a grounding box frees up valuable space for higher
frequency elements and provides the necessary isolation for simultaneous operation. An X/K band design
was proposed that uses a common aperture, as a direct radiating element, or as a single feed element, or as
an array fed reflector for multi-beam, multi-band operations. Future research and development will extend
the UHF testing to X and K band for wideband SATCOM applications.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Hardware development and testing was performed at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in
Sunnyvale, CA. Special thanks to the Advanced Telecom Technology Group, and Wing Cheung RF
Technician, of the ATLO Environmental Test Group for supporting this ongoing effort.
Funded entirely by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Lockheed Martin Corp, All Rights Reserved
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