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dc.contributor.advisorLeuschen, Carlton
dc.contributor.advisorRodriguez-Morales, Fernando
dc.contributor.authorKaundinya, Shravan Ramakrishna
dc.description.abstractThe engineering ethos of the last decade has been miniaturization. Progress in various industries like material design, semiconductor technology, and digital signal processing has resulted in low-profile electrical systems. This has facilitated the means of integration onto platforms. Sensors such as radars are typically large, heavy, and consume a lot of power. Miniaturization of radars can enable important applications like remote sensing the various aspects of the Earth System from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Information about natural topography like ice sheets, vegetation cover, and ocean currents can improve our understanding of the natural processes and continued measurements offer insight into the changes over time. Soil plays a vital role in the Earth’s hydrological cycle. The moisture in soil influences the weather, vegetation, and human endeavors like construction. Models are built using an extensive set of temporal soil moisture data to predict natural disasters like droughts, floods, and landslides. It plays a central role in the areas of agriculture and water resource management and hence can influence policy making and economic decisions.

In this work, an investigative approach to the design, build, and test of a 2 – 18 GHz Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave radar for snow and soil measurements is reported. The radar system is designed to be integrated to the Vapor 55 rotorcraft, which is a Group 1 UAS. The radar can operate as a scatterometer to measure backscatter signatures in all four combinations of vertical and horizontal polarizations; or as a nadir-looking sounder for fine-resolution snow thickness measurements.

One of the primary contributions of this work is the exploration of a single-module that integrates the radar’s RF transmitter, RF receiver, receiver’s IF section, wideband sweep generator, and the DC bias circuitry for the active components. The sweep generator is based on a phase-locked loop and frequency multiplication/translation stage. The compact assembly is in the form of two multilayer Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) merged together and it occupies an area of nearly 170 cm2. This thesis describes the design, construction, and testing of the module, along with recommendations for future revisions.

A commercially off-the-shelf module (Arena series by, formerly Remote Sensing Solutions) is the digital backend and it consists of an Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG) and a data acquisition system capable of sampling up to 250 MSPS. The module is low-profile with dimensions of 7.6 cm x 19.3 cm x 2.3 cm and weighs less than 400 g including the separate aluminum enclosure intended to be integrated with the radar’s RF and mixed-signal sections.

A second contribution of this work is the design of a prototype antenna front-end, which consists of four four-element antenna arrays housed in a Delrin plastic fixture and are fed using custom-designed microstrip power dividers. The dimensions of the fixture are 13.7 cm x 5.9 cm x 5.5 cm and the uniform elemental distance is 2.5 cm. The arrays are fastened to a metal sheet and a custom-designed four-layer fiberglass composite fairing protects the arrays. The entire front-end is integrated on the rotorcraft and measured in an anechoic chamber. The measured, fully integrated return loss of each array covers 2 – 18 GHz and the highest value is -7.22 dB at 5.23 GHz. The radiation pattern shows a distinct nadir-pointing main lobe for nearly the entire bandwidth, however the effects of the platform increase the average side-lobe levels to less than 10 dB for 12 – 18 GHz. The measured maximum nadir gain is 15.88 dB at 10 GHz and there is a greater than 6 dB variation in magnitude within the bandwidth. This variation is compensated by processing the backscatter data over distinct sub-bands that have a maximum nadir gain variation of 6 dB.

Lastly, the thesis describes two system tests conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a prototype radar with soil as the target. These are proof-of-concept measurements to detect differences in backscatter signatures between dry and wet soil. Gravimetric measurements of collected soil samples indicate an average change of 9.5% between the two moisture states. The antenna front-end is exclusively characterized using a Vector Network Analyzer and measurements are recorded for both co- and cross-polarization at three look angles of nadir, 15°, and 30°. The relative measurements are repeated on the same patch of land with a 1U version of the miniaturized radar. There are distinct differences in relative received power and backscatter profile for all four polarizations and at each look angle. It is observed that vertical polarization indicates a change in moisture content by an increase in the relative received power over an extended range beyond the primary backscatter signal. The horizontal polarization results in a greater peak received power for the primary backscatter signal, relative to the vertical polarization. The degradation in backscatter profile for vertical polarization is higher than horizontal polarization as a function of angle and this is observed for both dry and wet soil.
dc.description.sponsorshipThe ETD Release form has been added to this record as a License bitstream
dc.format.extent203 pages
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansas
dc.rightsCopyright held by the author.
dc.subjectElectrical engineering
dc.subjectRemote sensing
dc.subjectUnmanned Aerial System
dc.titleInvestigative Development of an UWB Radar for UAS-borne Applications
dc.contributor.cmtememberAllen, Christopher
dc.contributor.cmtememberArnold, Emily
dc.thesis.degreeDisciplineElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

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