We are in the process of upgrading our existing Radio Frequency (RF) Anechoic Test Chamber at the Poynting Antennas offices in Midrand, South Africa.
Our R&D Laboratory recently moved to larger premises and at the same time we decided to upgrade and modernize our laboratory, including our RF analysers and other RF test equipment. The RF Anechoic Test Chamber (‘the chamber’) was no exception and was also targeted for upgrade by our R&D team. Our chamber was originally designed by our very own CTO, Dr Derek Nitch about three years ago. This chamber has served us well, but we needed to upgrade some of its characteristics as our requirements have changed. We needed to enhance the chamber’s measurement bandwidth, sensitivity and enlarge the test zone of the chamber. While we moved our laboratory (and chamber), this became an ideal opportunity to further modernize the chamber to meet and exceed the evolving demands of our design and measurement capabilities. The RF Anechoic Test Chamber upgrade required different types of microwave absorbing materials in the chamber, prompting us to remove all the previous material and replace it with a specific configuration and layout within the same chamber. The rear wall had to be moved backwards to make space to accommodate the longer pyramids of the high-performance absorbing material required to improve the low-frequency performance of the chamber. Our R&D manager, Shane Mundy, and his team of RF engineers, Shane Moyce and Peter Prince, were responsible for the execution of the upgrade, together with a team of engineering students. Going ‘all the way’, Poynting Antennas brought Dr Dirk Baker on board as consulting engineer to oversee the absorber installation and characterization of the upgraded chamber. Dr Baker is a renowned antenna engineer who has been responsible for the design and development of many antenna test facilities. Some of these facilities are those at SAAB Grintek Defence, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Alaris Antennas, The National Antenna Test Range (NATR) at Paardefontein and several other world-class test facilities for antennas.
At the time of writing this article, the construction has been completed, but the overall project is still underway. We have a few photographs taken during the chamber upgrade construction, which we hope you find interesting. This project will soon be completed, and we will have a follow-up article in our next newsletter. By the time you read this newsletter, we will have installed the new test equipment (for example, the network analyser, coaxial cables and horn antennas) and concluded the initial characterisation (chamber measurement calibration).
In addition to the chamber upgrade, we have planned several other interesting enhancements to our R&D facilities – stay tuned!