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Most radiators emit (radiate) stronger radiation in one direction than in another. A radiator such as this is referred to as ANISOTROPIC. An example of an anisotropic radiator is an ordinary flashlight. The beam of the flashlight lights only a portion of the space surrounding it. If a circle is drawn with the flashlight as the center, as shown in view B of the figure below, the radiated light can be measured at different positions around the circle. Again, as with the isotropic radiator, all positions are the same distance from the center, but at different angles. However, in this illustration the radiated light is measured at 16 different positions on the circle.

Anisotropic radiator

Directly behind the flashlight (position 0) the radiation measured is minimum. Accordingly, a 0 value is assigned to this position in the rectangular-coordinate graph (the figure above, view A). This radiation remains at minimum until position 4 is reached. Between positions 4 and 6, the measuring device enters the flashlight beam. You can see this transition from darkness to brightness easily in view B. Radiation is fairly constant between positions 6 and 10. Maximum brightness occurs at position 8, which is directly in the path of the flashlight beam. From positions 10 to 12, the measuring device leaves the flashlight beam and the radiation measurement falls off sharply. At position 13 the radiation is again at 0 and stays at this value back to position 0.

Radiation from a light source and radiation from an antenna are both forms of electromagnetic waves. Therefore, the measurement of radiation of an antenna follows the same basic procedure as that just described for the Sun and the flashlight. Before proceeding further with the study of antenna patterns, you should be sure you understand the methods used to graph the measured radiation (magnitude of the radiation). Study the rectangular- and polar-coordinate systems of plotting presented in the following section.

In the figure above, view A, the radiation pattern of the flashlight is graphed in rectangular coordinates. The illustration of the flashlight beam in view B clearly indicates the shape of the flashlight beam. This is not evident in the radiation pattern plotted on the rectangular-coordinate graph. Now look at the next figure below. The radiation pattern shown in this figure looks very much like the actual flashlight beam. The pattern in figure is plotted using the same values as those of the figure above, view A, but is drawn using polar coordinates.

Polar-coordinate graph for anisotropic radiator

The positions marked off on the two polar-coordinate graphs in the figure above and the figures below respectively were selected and numbered arbitrarily. However, a standard method allows the positions around a source to be marked off so that one radiation pattern can easily be compared with another. This method is based on the fact that a circle has a radius of 360 degrees. The radius extending vertically from the center (position 0 in the figure above) is designated 0 degrees. At position 4 the radius is at a right angle to the 0-degree radius. Accordingly, the radius at position 4 is marked 90 degrees, position 8 is 180 degrees, position 12 is 270 degrees, and position 16 is 360 degrees. The various radii drawn on the graph are all marked according to the angle each radius makes with the reference radius at 0 degrees.

Comparison of rectangular- and polar-coordinate graphs for an isotropic source

The radiation pattern in the figure above is obtained by using the same procedure that was used for (the first figure above, view B). The radiation measured at positions 1, 2, 3, and 4 is 0. Position 5 measures approximately 1 unit. This is marked on the graph and the rotating radius moves to position 6. At this position a reading of 5.5 units is taken. As before, this point is marked on the graph. The procedure is repeated around the circle and a reading is obtained from positions 6 through 11. At position 12 no radiation is indicated, and this continues on to position 16.

The polar-coordinate graph now shows a definite area enclosed by the radiation pattern. This pattern indicates the general direction of radiation from the source. The enclosed area is called a LOBE. Outside of this area, minimum radiation is emitted in any direction. For example, at position 2 the radiation is 0. Such a point is called a NULL. In real situations, some radiation is usually transmitted in all directions. Therefore, a null is used to indicate directions of minimum radiation. The pattern of the figure above shows one lobe and one continuous null.

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