The goal was to have the balloon tracked via APRS both on air and ground after landing.
We had to use a Byonics tracker, the 10W version but we was limited somehow by the battery due to the limit in weight for the payload.
Instead of maximizing the transmitted power and using the maximum power, I was thinking to use less power but with a better antenna. After all, this is how we are doing on QSO's, no?
|Ground Plane antenna diagram|
I approach the new design having in mind that the receiver has to be below the payload so, the diagram has to be relevant in this.
I used MMANA-GAL for simulations and, after various (crazy) designs, the turnstile antenna capture my attention.
|Classic Turnstile antenna|
Well, with not too much expectations, I put into MMANA a simple 2 x 2 dipole to see if my intuition will show something interesting. The ideea was to put two dipoles in paralell to lower the impedance close to 50 Ohm.
The simulation result was encouraging so I trimmed further more the design and made a few PCB to verify the theory. Of course, there was a lot of coat hangers but, fortunately, my wife is very understanding!
I measured the SWR with a Anritsu Sitemaster 331 and the results was well under 1:1.2!
The final result is below; the drawings are hand made but I hope that are clear to everyone who want to made this antenna.
In "real life", the antenna performed very well, radiating a lot below the balloon and very little at low negative angles. Therefore, distant reception was not so good but under the "belly" it was plenty of RF. We used only 3W from the tracker and all was OK.
The same antenna (not only the same design but the same PCB and wires) was used in Stratospherium II and Eclipser I in Australia in 2012.
We observed two more "features": the antena performed well when the payload was on the ground (we received the signals from the payload at about 4 km) and the antenna helped the payload to remain stable, countering the drag force from the wind on the parachute after landing.
As for the name of this antenna, I don't know! Leave a short comment if you have some ideeas. Or questions.
73 de YO3HJV, Adrian
|SWR results with ANRITSU SITEMASTER 331|
|Before launching Stratospherium I|
|Before launching Stratospherium II|