Ever since NASA began its race to space, U.S. technology companies have searched for solutions to solve a variety of challenges designed to push us further in our exploration of the stars. Whether the purpose is for space travel or for launching satellites that track weather patterns, space innovation is gaining momentum. One of the most critical challenges we are trying to solve is how to optimize communication with moving spacecrafts. Tucson Arizona’s FreeFall Aerospace has an answer; developing unique antenna systems for both space and ground use.
When working to develop this technology, FreeFall ran into a number of roadblocks due to limitations in its engineering software tool-set. The company was able to bypass these hurdles and successfully optimize development thanks to the introduction of Ansys HFSS, a specialized 3D electromagnetic software used for designing and simulating high-frequency electronic products such as antennas, antenna arrays, RF/microwave components, and much more. Because of the speed of this tool and its ability to solve multiple simulation challenges in different domains, FreeFall is able to make design changes more quickly and with better data.
Join PADT’s Lead Electromagnetics Engineer Michael Griesi and President of FreeFall, Doug Stetson for a discussion on Ansys electromagnetics offerings, and how FreeFall is able to take advantage of them for their unique application.
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HFSS (High Frequency Structure Simulator) employs versatile solvers and an intuitive GUI to provide unparalleled performance, as well as deep insight, into a wide variety of 3D electromagnetic (EM) problems. ANSYS HFSS is the premier EM tool for R&D and virtual design prototyping. It reduces design cycle time and boosts your product’s reliability and performance.
The ANSYS HFSS simulation suite consists of a comprehensive set of solvers to address diverse electromagnetic problems, ranging in detail and scale from passive IC components to extremely large-scale EM analyses. Its reliable automatic adaptive mesh refinement allows users to focus on the design instead of spending time determining and creating the best mesh.
Join PADT’s Lead Electromagnetics Engineer Michael Griesi for a look at what new capabilities are available for HFSS users in ANSYS 2019 R2.
This presentation will include updates for the following topics:
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ANYSY HFSS provides many options for creating non-planar and conformal shapes. In MCAD you may use shapes such as cylinders or spheres, and with some steps, you can design you antennas on various surfaces. In some applications, it is necessary to study the effect of curvatures and shapes on the antenna performance. For example for wearable antennas it is important to study the effect of bending, crumpling and air-gap between antenna and human body.
Equation Based Surface
One of the tools that HFSS offers and can be used to do parametric sweep or optimization, is “Draw equation based surface”. This can be accessed under “Draw” “Equation Based Surface” or by using “Draw” tab and choosing it from the banner (Fig. 1)
Once this is selected the Equation Based Surface window that opens gives you options to enter the equation with the two variables (_u, _v_) to define a surface. Each point of the surface can be a function of (_u,_v). The range of (_u, _v) will also be determined in this window. The types of functions that are available can be seen in “Edit Equation” window, by clicking on “…” next to X, Y or Z (Fig. 2). Alternatively, the equation can be typed inside this window. Project or Design Variables can also be used or introduced here.
For example an elliptical cylinder along y axis can be represented by:
This equation can be entered as shown in Fig. 3.
Variation of this equation can be obtained by changing variables R1, R2, L and beta. Two examples are shown in Fig. 4.
Application of Equation Based Surface in Conformal and Non-Planar Antennas
To make use of this function to transfer a planar design to
a non-planar design of interest, the following steps can be taken:
Start with a planar design. Keep in mind that changing the surface shape can change the characteristics of the antenna. It is a good idea to use a parameterized model, to be able to change and optimize the dimensions after transferring the design on a non-planar surface. As an example we started with a planar meandered line antenna that works around 700MHz, as shown in Fig. 5. The model is excited by a wave port. Since the cylindrical surface will be built around y-axis, the model is transferred to a height to allow the substrate surface to be made (Fig 5. b)
equation based surface, create the desired shape and with the same length as
the planar substrate. Make sure that the original deisgn is at a higher
location. Select the non-planar surface. Use Modeler->Surface->Thicken Sheet … and thicken the surface
with the substrate thickenss. Alternatively, by choosing “Draw” tab, one can expand the Sheet
dropdown menu and choose Thicken Sheet.
Now select the sheet, change the material to the substrate material.
At this point you
are ready to transfer the antenna design to the curved surface. Select both
traces of the antenna and the curved substrate (as shown in Fig. 7). Then use Modeler->Surface->Project Sheet…,
this will transfer the traces to the curved surface. Please note that the
original substrate is still remaining. You need not delete it.
Next step is to generate the ground plane and
move the wave port. In our example design we have a partial ground plane. For
ground plane surface we use the same method to generate an equation based
surface. Please keep in mind that the Z coordinate of this surface should be
the same as substrate minus the thickness of the substrate. (If you thickened
the substrate surface to both sides, this should be the height of substrate
minus half of the substrate thickness). Once this sheet is generate assign a
Perfect E or Finite Conductivity Boundary (by selecting the surface, right
click and Assign Boundary). Delete
the old planar ground plane.
Wave Port Placement using Equation Based Curve
A new wave port can be defined by the following steps:
Delete the old port.
Use Draw->Equation Based Curve. Mimicking the equation used for ground plane (Fig. 9).
Select the line from the Model tree, select Draw->Sweep->Along Vector. Draw a vector in the direction of port height. Then by selecting the SweepAlongVector from Model tree and double clicking, the window allows you to set the correct size of port height and vector start point (Fig. 10).
Assign wave port to this new surface.
Similar method can be used to generate (sin)^n or (cos)^n surfaces. Some examples are shown in Fig. 11. Fig. 11 (a) shows how the surface was defined.
Effect of Curvature on Antenna Matching
Bending a substrate can change the transmission line and antenna impedance. By using equation based port the change in transmission line impedance effect is removed. However, the overall radiation surface is also changed that will have effects on S11. The results of S11 for the planar design, cylindrical design (Fig. 8), cos (Fig. 11 b), and cos^3 (Fig. 11 c) designs are shown in Fig. 12. If it is of interest to include the change in the transmission line impedance, the port should be kept in a rectangular shape.
Equation based curves and surfaces can take a bit of time to get used to but with a little practice these methods can really open the door to some sophisticated geometry. It is also interesting to see how much the geometry can impact a simple antenna design, especially with today’s growing popularity in flex circuitry. Be sure to check out this related webinar that touches on the impact of packaging antennas as well. If you would like more information on how these tools may be able to help you and your design, please let us know at email@example.com.
You can also click here to download a copy of this example.