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ThinKom Engineers Developing Interesting New Antennas

An article on, Big on Small introduced me to a southern California company developing some interesting antenna products—ThinKom.

ThinKom's Web site has several technical papers on its products. The engineers that founded the company worked at Raytheon before starting ThinKom.

One of the technologies, in which they use electronically steerable antennas, is the Continuous Transverse Stub (CTS) Array. Bill Milroy, chairman and CEO of ThinKom, described the CTS Array this way: “The Continuous Transverse Stub (CTS) array represents a unique class of array antenna that exploits the low-loss, low-dispersion, dimensional robustness, and design flexibility of an open parallel plate structure as both its transmission-line and radiator basis. Relative advantages of this array type include unusually high aperture efficiencies; precision sidelobe control; benign active impedance dependence on both frequency and scan angle; and inherently low cost.”

Obvious applications are electronically steerable antennas on vehicles (cars, trucks, aircraft) for satellite communication.

In addition to its line of directional antennas, ThinKom's engineers are looking for ways to improve omnidirectional antennas.

“Currently, we are developing an omni-directional antenna that can operate across a wide spectrum of frequencies, including very low bands, while maintaining a thin profile overall (dispensing with the bulk normally associated with long wavelengths),” the company says on its Web site. “Additionally, these very-wide band antennas are being developed to instantly scan across operating frequencies to search for a desired signal, and then quickly switch to a directional, high-gain steerable beam. This 'scan and lock' approach has never been accomplished in one antenna before, and has unrivaled uses in today's consumer, enterprise, and military applications. We believe that such an antenna in a package size that's smaller than we've ever done before (and we've done small) will help catalyze the antenna marketplace to be ready for the forthcoming wireless world.”

If ThinKom is successful in developing and marketing in these antennas, it could have an impact on broadcast operations ranging from news gathering to consumer DTV reception, where a directional antenna could minimize interference and multipath.

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.