RF System Test Facility


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The antenna and radar cross-section measurements facility, constructed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory on Hanscom Air Force Base, was designed with a rapid prototyping focus for radar and communications systems development.

There are five indoor test ranges: a small shielded chamber for EMI measurements; two small utility ranges consisting of a tapered anechoic chamber covering the 225MHz to 18GHz band and a millimeter-wave anechoic chamber covering the 4 to 100GHz band; a compact range covering the 400MHz to 100GHz band; and a systems development chamber that covers the approximate 150MHz to 20GHz band and that works in conjunction with an instrumentation laboratory. In addition to the chambers, multipurpose signal generation, data acquisition, and control and recording instrumentation in a systems integration laboratory provide a supporting role in the rapid prototyping of RF systems. A high-bay staging area and machine shop are used in supporting the development of rapid prototype antennas. The smaller utility chambers are used in developing antennas and subsystems that can be tested in an integrated RF system in the larger compact range and system test chambers.

The 12.2 m long tapered chamber is EMI shielded and has a range length of 8.5m with a rectangular cross section 4.3m by 4.3m with a length of 5.1m. The tapered chamber features an ultrawideband dual-polarized conical tip that is intended to cover approximately the 225MHz to 18GHz band for both antenna and radar cross-section measurements.

The millimeter-wave chamber is EMI shielded and is used for antenna testing of small feed antennas and arrays from 4 to 100GHz. The chamber has interior dimensions 9.1m length by 6.1m width by 5.5m height and a range length of 6.7m between the source antenna and antenna under test.

The compact range facility is composed of an EMI shielded large anechoic chamber with interior dimensions 20.1m length by 13.4m width by 11.6m height. The compact range reflector is a composite structure with a projected aperture of 7.3m by 7.3m and a central parabolic section 3m by 3m with a blended section to generate a 3.7m by 3.7m by 3.7m test zone. The adjacent target handling room (antechamber) has dimensions 9.1m length by 13.4m width by 11.6m height. Large double doors provide a target access opening 9.1m high by 4.7m wide. The temperature of the anechoic chamber is accurately maintained to ensure a stable environment for maintaining the reflector surface shape and for RCS background subtraction. The reflector, feed, and target support structures are located on a common isolated concrete slab to mitigate vibration effects.

The System Test Chamber is EMI shielded, has dimensions 18.3m long by 12.2m wide by 10.7m height, and is covered uniformly with 1.2m pyramidal absorber for RF testing from 150MHz to 20GHz. An overhead crane can be used to move the antenna-under-test positioner and to move and suspend test objects as desired. Large double doors allow access of large test objects. The facility is arranged so that vehicles can be driven into the chamber for RF antenna testing.


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