Story: How we added the Array synthesis tool in Antenna Magus (final: part3)

In the previous two blog entries (part 1 and part 2) I showed two different prototypes of the array synthesis tool and summarised what we learnt from various user tests.

Just before we started to plan the third prototype we all sat around the table once again. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It turns out that it is devilishly difficult to design an array while taking array element pattern into account. More importantly, the more elements you have, the less important the individual pattern becomes. Work that had been done quite a while before I had even started working at Magus included a design algorithm that designs arrays by assuming isotropic element patterns.

Furthermore, this is what antenna engineers also feel most comfortable with and why there was that unwillingness to start off with an element pattern each time.

Our terminology also had to be re-thought. “Array Calculator” became “Array Synthesis Tool” for the first time.

The three components: the array layout and excitation, element pattern and synthesized array were split up into three separate tabs.

Array tool: Final prototype (click to enlarge)

Array tool: Final prototype (click to enlarge)

Once again, a prototype was drawn up and put in front of five users (click on the image above to enlarge the final prototype). This time, we had a winner. The only biggish mental hurdle was apparent in users who had tried the previous prototypes and who now wondered, briefly, where their element pattern was coming from.

After tweaking a few last things, the array synthesis tool could be specified and implemented. Click here for a more detailed description and screen shots of the final array synthesis tool.

Author: Carien Fouch

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