Development and Testing of a Radio Transmitter for Englacial Trilateration

Friday, 19 December 2014
Paul Kintner III1, Dale P Winebrenner2, Tim Elam2 and Mike Carpenter2, (1)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)Applied Physics Laboratory University of Washington, Kenmore, WA, United States
Recent need for englacial radiolocation of instrumentation has motivated the construction of a compact radio for GPS style trilateration. The summer of 2014 offered an opportunity to test the radio across the surface of the Greenland ice sheet. A compact crystal oscillator transmitter was developed to operate on the 10 meter amateur band, to put a watt across the transmit antenna. The transmitting antenna used was a coiled dipole antenna, which was tuned in a laboratory ice block. Multiple receive antennas were constructed, a Moxon beam, and two dipole antennas one tuned for air and another tuned for ice. Transmission was tested with a constant tone while positioning the radio above and below the glacier surface. The received signal was well defined at distances of 727m along ice surface despite the complexity and water content. The performance of each receive antenna was judged on a calculated signal to noise ratio. It was theorized the gain from the Moxon beam, reported to be 10dB, would be equal to the loss of signal in the reflection on the ice-air boundary, and thus performance for the Moxon beam and the dipole in ice would be equivalent. Preliminary results suggest this to be true. Previous modeling suggested that a signal to noise ratio above ten would give satisfactory results for trilateration. Here calculated signal to noise was greater at 730m, suggesting that developing a capable receiver would be the next step towards completing englacial trilateration.