Embedded Planar Antenna Controller


This was my first research project which eventually led to two publications. It was funded through Oakland University's IREECE REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) Program in the Summer of 2013. The project created an embedded controller for a planar antenna mounted in an RC aircraft. The position and orientation of the plane were measured using a GPS, IMU and altimeter sensor. A HCS-12 microcontroller calculated a direction vector between the RC plane and the base station and then correctly set the planar antenna's phase shifters to the desired values. The system was bench tested, but due to time constraints of the REU program, the systems was not able to be flown.

Project's Abstract

The goal of this project is to outfit an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a smart antenna array that is embedded within its wings. A smart antenna can modify its radio frequency (RF) ration patter to increase range and bandwidth or to tune-out sources of interference, unlike a conventional antenna setup. The smart antenna is in the form of a planar printed antenna consisting of 12 individually controllable antenna elements. A feed circuit for the smart antenna takes the RF signal and shifts the phase angles of the signal for each of the 12 elements to create the desired RF radiation pattern. An embedded controller was developed for the smart antenna to calculate the position and orientation of the plane relative to base station. An R/C airplane based prototype of the complete system was developed which contains the smart antenna, a feed circuit and an embedded processor to control the smart antenna setup.


The work from the REU project was published as a poster in the 2013 ASEE Conference held at Oakland University. Click on the poster image on the right to view the .pdf.

I also had the opportunity to further participate on this project after the Summer REU program was completed. A alternate version of the antenna was designed and I was given the job of performing a flight test. The work from this project was published in the paper,

"Performance Improvement of Embedded Planar Fixed Beam Arrays in Flying UAVs." 2015 IEEE International Symposium of Antennas and Propagation and North American Radio Science Meeting, Link

Highlights of What I Learned

  • Basics of Research

    I learned how to function on a team in an environment where I was not "micro-managed." This was also my first taste of what grad school will be like, and it has proved to be a fundamental experience for my career goals.

  • Fundamentals of Embedded Systems

    I had a good foundation in C programming concepts from previous (self taught) experiences, but this was the first time I was "formally introduced" to C. I learned fundamentals concepts in program/system debugging, embedded software design and microcontrollers.