What Is Wavefront Modeling? Why Industries Use the Tech (And Why People Might, Too)

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High-powered antennas, like those used in aviation, tell pilots and navigators exactly where they are. Knowing your precise location is vital for a fighter jet pilot. Wavefront Modeling is the main topic for today.

How do you test these complex and expensive pieces of equipment?

Anechoic chambers with their science fiction spikes and testing in the field are two options. But field testing can be dangerous when working in high-risk situations, and Anechoic chambers are expensive.

Wavefront modeling is the answer. Even NASA used it to calibrate the optics on their James Webb Space Telescope.

Read on to learn why wavefront modeling is the cost-effective, simple, and accurate way to test navigation antennas.

What Is Wavefront Modeling?

Wavefront Modeling simulates the signals sent from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The simulation uses software to test the electronics of high-powered antennas with multiple scenarios and an unlimited number of interference sources.

The testing is faster, iterative, and scalable compared to complex Anechoic chambers and field testing.

The result is a low-cost, accurate option for high-powered antennas.

Flexible System

Two important advantages of wavefront modeling are the hardware and software that make up the system.

The simulator does not depend on specific hardware architecture. Instead, it uses high-end, off-the-shelf computer parts. As computer companies make advancements in processing power, the simulator’s hardware design can advance at the same time.

The hardware configuration is also scalable, allowing for the system to be built to match your testing needs.

The simulator’s API can be controlled using popular languages such as Python, C++, or C#. This makes the writing of testing scenarios and automation easier.

Also read: How much does it cost to get a pilot’s license?

Accurate Testing Process

Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna, or CRPA, are high-powered, multi-element antennas. The antenna elements work together to reduce noise and maximize “truth” signals, where interference may be high.

The CRPA system will adapt dynamically to the interference using beam forming and beam steering. Whether the interference is deliberate, like jamming and spoofing, or unintentional.

CRPAs are used in situations that rely on GNSS. For example, navigation warfare or civilian applications like self-driving cars and heavy-duty freight shipping. They use wavefront modeling during their testing and calibration phase.

To test CRPA capabilities, the wavefront simulators require the following information:

  • The vehicle’s trajectory
  • Information about the satellites sending the signals
  • The antenna pattern
  • The jammers and spoofers frequencies

This data is streamed to phase-aligned radios, where each radio represents an antenna element in the simulation. The radio generates an RF signal that is passed to the antenna electronics for the CRPA to perform its math for a valid simulation.

Better Simulation

With its easy-to-calibrate system, scalable hardware, and cost-effective design, wavefront modeling is the perfect testing tool for high-powered antennas. Which is good news for the growing applications for CRPAs. From aviation to self-driving vehicles and from military to civilian uses.

For more informative articles on electronics and navigational aids, keep reading our blog!

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