Microwave Antenna Principles and Practice

Course Length:



Microwave antennas are indispensible for wireless and RADAR applications in commercial and government environments. This three – day course covers the theory and practice of microwave antenna design and test, providing a thorough grounding in their principles and technology. After considering the physical foundations of microwave antennas, we move to discussions of specifications for performance for various designs: primary elements (monopoles, dipoles, slots, helixes, and patches), reflector antenna systems (prime focus and folded optics, center-fed and offset-fed), and array antennas (planar arrays and phased arrays). Array antennas figure prominently in current and future applications and so are considered in detail later in the course. Installation of microwave antennas on vehicles, aircraft (manned and unmanned) and vessels is reviewed in detail as there are many timely applications in government and industry. Innovation in phased array antennas is covered based on case studies in space communications and terrestrial wireless. The integration of microwave principles and digital processing is described in the context of adaptive antennas, including MIMO and Smart Distributed Antenna Systems. Prediction of microwave antenna performance using software modelling tools is reviewed, including techniques for metallic structures and adaptive arrays. Measurement techniques are key to a successful antenna, so we consider the standard procedures for antenna measurement (anechoic near field ranges and far field ranges) as well as innovative approaches like the compact antenna range. Microwave antennas may pose a challenge when being installed on aircraft, ships and vehicles and so we review their integration under such constraints. The course wraps up with reviews of recent topics related to microwave antennas, including the NASA SCaN Test Bed on the International Space Station and a UAV case study.

What you will learn:

  • Obtain a fundamental understanding of antennas from both theoretical and practical bases
  • Be able to identify the characteristics and designs of antennas in current and evolving applications in microwave and millimeterwave bands
  • Understand the means to design and predict antenna performance through principles and actual hardware examples
  • Evaluate the capabilities of various types of reflector and array antenna systems
  • Consider modern adaptive array technology as applied to several fields
  • Learn how microwave antennas can be integrated into various platforms such as vehicles, vessels and aircraft (manned and un-manned)

Course Outline:


  • Theory of Microwave Antennas as related to modern applications


      • Electromagnetic radiation, directivity patterns – three dimensional and two dimensional, microwave and millimeter wave regions, quasi-optical design
      • Elemental antennas – monopole, dipole, helix, horn, slot, patch
      • Linear and circular/elliptical polarization – performance, cross-polarization isolation
      • Reflector antennas – illumination, optics, primary and secondary patterns, surface tolerance, pattern integration
      • Folded optics – Cassegrain, Gregorian, splash-plate/backfire
      • Non-blocking structures – the offset fed paraboloid
      • Planar array
      • Controlled phased array principles
    1. Antenna requirements and constraints (directivity, gain, impedance, losses, beamwidth, sidelobes, polarization, power handling ability, RFI, antenna temperature, coverage)
    2. Antenna characteristics, design and the selection of antenna elements
      • Flyswatter, parabolic and spherical reflector, torus
      • Helix designs, circular polarization, microwave polarizers
      • Antennas for space communications (area coverage, spot beams, omni)


  • Microwave antenna mounts, drives and controls


    • Az-El, X-Y and hybrid techniques
    • Tracking systems – monopulse, amplitude-based (step track)
    • Antenna control units
    • Ground-based tracking system examples (S and X band)
  1. Understanding the various factors of the integration of antennas on mobile platforms
    • Vehicles – signal acquisition and tracking, stability on the move
    • Aircraft – low profile installations, withstanding the operating environment, operation at extreme latitude
    • Marine vessels – antenna placement above deck, harsh environment characteristics, stability
  2. Special applications in antenna technologies and the associated challenges
    • Phased array antenna – active element case study for the Main Mission Antenna
    • Combining multiple microwave bands on the same antenna – multiport and dichroic feed systems
    • Waveguide lens at 20 GHz
    • Spatial multiplexing – adaptive arrays
    • Digital processor control – beam to beam coupling
    • Multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) – cellular coverage
  3. In depth understanding of beam steering by discussing array antenna systems
    • Current active element technology, with solid state amplifiers
    • Low loss and low passive intermodulation (PIM) diplexing
    • Phase shifters
    • True-time delay devices
    • Application issues: grating lobes, beam squint, quantization errors, and scan blindness
  4. Antenna modeling techniques
    • Modeling of conventional metallic structures
    • Modeling of adaptive arrays; discrete transform techniques
  5. Antenna and microwave measurement techniques
    • Standard antennas for comparisons
    • Antenna gain measurement using directivity as the basis
    • Test beds for subsystem and system evaluation
    • Anechoic chambers
    • Bore sight ranges
    • Compact range and near field range
    • Satellites, radio stars and other reference sources
  6. Antenna installation issues and solutions
    • Operation in difficult environments – high winds, hot or cold temperatures, use and effect of radomes
    • Interaction with structures and ground reflections
    • Placement to optimize performance or esthetics
  7. RF interference reduction techniques – sidelobe suppression, filtering, cancellation
  8. Review of innovative projects
    • SCaN Test Bed on the International Space Station
    • Distributed antenna systems
    • Discussion of the antennas used in an unmanned aerial system as real life case study in the class


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or ati@aticourses.com. Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at ati@aticourses.com.

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at ati@aticourses.com.


  • Bruce Elbert is a recognized SATCOM technology and network expert and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 35 years. He consults to major satellite organizations and government agencies in the technical and operations aspects of applying satellite technology. Prior to forming his consulting firm, he was Senior Vice President of Operations in the international satellite division of Hughes Electronics (now Boeing Satellite), where he introduced advanced broadband and mobile satellite technologies. He directed the design of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia’s original satellite system; the Hughes Galaxy satellite system; and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. He has written seven books on telecommunications and IT, including Introduction to Satellite Communication, Third Edition (Artech House, 2008), The Satellite Communication Applications Handbook, Second Edition (Artech House, 2004); and The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook (Artech House, 2001). Mr. Elbert holds the MSEE from the University of Maryland, College Park, the BEE from the City University of New York, and the MBA from Pepperdine University. He is adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, covering various aspects of data communications, and presents satellite communications short courses through UCLA Extension. He served as a captain in the US Army Signal Corps, including a tour with the 4th Infantry Division in South Vietnam and as an Instructor Team Chief at the Signal School, Ft. Gordon, GA.

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