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Satellite Antenna on a Chip

Flat satellite antennas using an array of phased antenna elements are not new, but their complexity and cost usually limits their use to specialized applications. Research by Marcel van de Burgwal at the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology at the University of Twente could make this technology affordable for consumer electronics.

The University of Twente news release is short on technical detail, focusing on the use of processors in a software defined radio configuration to replace analog components to provide the necessary processing. Much more detail is available in Marcel van de Burgawal's Doctoral Thesis. This describes the circuitry and networking architecture between "tile processors" used to process the signals. While much of the thesis is devoted to describing the tile processors and how they're networked, it also details applications for processing individual RF streams. The use of an example of the technology in phased array receivers using a DVB-S satellite antenna and receiver is also described in detail.

Van de Burgwal's technology--if it can be built inexpensively--could lead to major breakthroughs in receivers and antennas design.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.