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SKA AA-low mechanical optimization

Submitter: R.H. van den Brink
Description: Last July, Jarno von Piekartz finished his internship assignment at ASTRON. His task was to optimize the SKA AA-low antenna, designed at IRA-INAF, for mass production and to minimize cost. This job was done in barely six months with great result.

He was assisted by Jader Monari (IRA-INAF, Medicina, IT) and Giuseppe Virone (IEIIT-CNR, Turin, IT), who delivered the design of the AA-low Vivaldi antenna (see picture). And also by Benedetta Fiorelli (ASTRON), who judged various potential optimizations from an antenna performance point of view. The design was optimized for mass production with a total cost per antenna just above EUR 40, which is a price reduction by a factor of 5.

The biggest price reduction realized through minimization of material. The Vivaldi curve is created by an automated pipe-bending process (by DesignBending in Raamsdonkveer). Antenna simulations showed that some additional horizontal and vertical connections were needed, so they were made out of pipe as well and attached to the Vivaldi curve. The LNA is shielded and protected (inmould, see picture) from all kinds of environmental influences.

Measurements of the prototype have shown that, taking into account the huge cost reduction, the developed mechanical implementation introduces an acceptable degradation of the originally designed EM performance.

Jarno finished his assignment with a prototype (see picture) and some recommendations for further optimization.
Copyright: Piekartz, ASTRON, INAF
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