Tagged: vivaldi

SignalsEverywhere: Testing Wideband PCB Antennas from Hex and Flex

In the past we've posted twice about Hex and Flex who has been designing and selling various types of wideband PCB antennas. Previously we saw his wide band vivaldi antenna, and his wideband 400/800 MHz+ spiral antennas.

Now on the latest episode of SignalsEverywhere host Corrosive gives us a brief review of the Hex and Flex antennas, and goes on to demonstrate the spiral antenna in action. In his tests he was able to receive Inmarsat AERO, 433 MHz tire pressure monitors (TPMS), 300 MHz APRS signals, 300 MHz SATCOM, 800 MHz P25 and 1090 MHz ADS-B aircraft tracking signals with the spiral antenna and our RTL-SDR Blog Wideband LNA.

The video also comes with a 20% off promotion code for the Hex and Flex Tindie store. Simply enter the code "signalseverywhere" at checkout.

Designing and Testing a PCB Wideband Spiral Antenna

Back in January we posted about a Vivaldi antenna project by "hexandflex". In that project he showed how he designed and manufactured the Vivaldi. A Vivaldi antenna is wideband and directional and the design works well for frequencies above 800 MHz, but becomes too physically large to handle for lower frequencies like 400 MHz. In his latest project, hexandflex has designed a PCB based spiral antenna to cover these lower frequencies.

Hexandflex's post is split into three parts. The first post introduces us to his motivation and talks about what spiral antennas are. The second post discusses the modelling and simulation of the antenna with OpenEMS. OpenEMS is a free front end for MATLAB or Octave which allows you to simulate antenna parameters such as impedance and radiation pattern. Finally in the third post the real world parameters of the antenna are determined in an anechoic chamber owned by Antenna Test Lab, a professional antenna testing agency.

Hexandflex is currently selling his spiral antennas over on Tindie. There are two versions, one smaller one costing $32 designed for 800 MHz+ and a larger one costing $42 designed for 300 MHz+. Both come with suction cups that allow for easy window mounting.

The 800 MHz+ and 300 MHz+ spiral antennas by Hexandflex
The 800 MHz+ and 300 MHz+ spiral antennas by Hexandflex

Designing an Ultra Wideband Vivaldi Antenna

The LimeSDR mini is able to receive over a huge frequency range (10 MHz - 3.5 GHz), so having recently bought one "hexandflex" wanted to build an ultra wideband antenna to go along with it. On his three part blog post hexandflex introduces us to various ultra wideband antennas, introduces us to and shows us how to design and build a Vivaldi ultra wideband antenna, and measures the performance of the Vivaldi that he built.

The Vivaldi is a fairly well known ultra wideband antenna that is directional. It is fairly easy to build out of a PCB board, but requires some careful design considerations to work well. In the second post hexandflex goes over all the design considerations that he put into his Vivaldi incliding the feed design, substrate choice and additional improvements like adding corrugations and crafting the geometry for a lens effect.

The results show that the antenna works well as a directional antenna above 1.7 GHz, and begins to work more like a standard dipole below 1.7 GHz. Directional gain is greater than 5dB above 1.7 GHz, and becomes negative below 1 GHz. Although hexandflex notes that the gain below 1 GHz is still reasonable, and probably still better than any untuned monopole.

Hexandflex has put up a small number of Vivaldi antennas that he's produced up for sale on Tindie for US$18. Currently he has a limited batch of units to sell, but notes that he may run additional batches if they are popular.

Hexandflex's Vivaldi Antenna
Hexandflex's Vivaldi Antenna

Building a Wideband Vivaldi Antenna for SDR Use

Vivaldi’s are linearly polarized broadband antennas that have a directional radiation pattern at higher frequencies. The high end SDR manufacturer RF Space produces their own Vivaldi antennas made from PCB boards which they sell online. The larger the antenna, the lower its receiving frequency, and ones that go down to about 200 MHz are almost the size of a full adult person. But all sizes receive up to 6 GHz maximum. Typically smaller versions of Vivald antennas have been used in the past for L-Band satellite reception.

Over on his blog KD0CQ noted that he always had trouble trying to purchase a Vivaldi from RF Space because they were too popular and always out of stock. So he decided to try and build his own out of PCB boards. On this page he’s collected a bunch of Vivaldi cutout or transfer images. On his second page he shows a Vivaldi antenna that he built out of PCB material, just by using scissors and semi-rigid coax. With the Vivaldi placed outdoors he’s been able to successfully receive and decode L-Band AERO on his Airspy Mini even without an LNA. 

KD0CQ writes that he’ll update his blog soon with more results.

Simple Vivaldi antenna by KD0CQ cut out of PCB board.
Simple Vivaldi antenna by KD0CQ cut out of PCB board.