Passive beam forming and spatial diversity in meteor scatter communication systems


  • Ammad Akram,

  • Paul S. Cannon


The method of passive beam formation using a four-element Butler matrix to improve the signal availability of meteor scatter communication systems is investigated. Signal availability, defined as the integrated time that the signal-to-noise ratio (snr) exceeds some snr threshold, serves as an important indicator of system performance. Butler matrix signal availability is compared with the performance of a single four-element Yagi reference system using ∼6.5 hours of data from a 720 km north-south temperate latitude link. The signal availability improvement factor of the Butler matrix is found to range between 1.6–1.8 over the snr threshold range of 20–30 dB in a 300-Hz bandwidth. Experimental values of the Butler matrix signal availability improvement factor are compared with analytical predictions. The experimental values show an expected snr threshold dependency with a dramatic increase at high snr. A theoretical analysis is developed to describe this increase. The signal availability can be further improved by ∼10–20% in a system employing two four-element Butler matrices with squinted beams so as to illuminate the sky with eight high-gain beams. Space diversity is found to increase the signal availability of a single antenna system by ∼10–15%, but the technique has very little advantage in a system already employing passive beam formation.