Selectable Multibeam Antennas – The Basics

Plasma Antennas’ selectable multi-beam antennas provide similar benefits to electronically-steered phased arrays but at a fraction of the cost and with advantages in size, weight, power consumption and bandwidth.  Free from mechanical parts, these robust, maintenance-free antennas are ideally suited to a wide range of high-performance wireless communications and sensing applications.

Selectable multi-beam antennas are innovative and cost-effective smart antennas that provide fully electronically-steerable beamforming capabilities. This capability is achieved by selecting and forming one or more beams from a set of beam patterns. The concept is illustrated in the diagram below, which shows simplified beam patterns (viewed from above) for hypothetical cylindrical and planar selectable multi-beam antennas.

The optimal directional beam is typically selected by another part of the overall system to which the antenna is connected – generally the radio. The characteristics of the beams formed, such as gain, beam widths and side lobe levels, etc., are determined by a combination of design parameters, including the number of beams positions and the physical dimensions of the antenna aperture.

Many of Plasma Antennas’ selectable multi-beam antennas designs also incorporate omnidirectional or sectoral “floodlight” modes in cylindrical and planar designs respectively. These modes support broadcast operation in both transmit and receive, as well as scenarios for node discovery and registration.

For more information, please refer to our list of Frequently Asked Questions or read this article published in the fall 2011 edition of Antenna Systems & Technology.