Mining Publication: Transmit Antennas for Portable VLF to MF Wireless Mine Communications
An investigation is made of the feasibility of developing compact transmit antennas and/or other means to efficiently couple VLF to MF band radio energy between portable wireless communication units in coal mines. The completely wireless communication ranges between two portable radios equipped with practically-sized reference loop antennas in representative coal mine environments are estimated. Antenna technology is assessed with respect to transmit moment, range, intrinsic safety, battery and wearability requirements to determine the most suitable antenna types for use by miners. It is concluded that air-core bandolier loop antennas, and erhaps ferrite-loaded loop antennas, having peak transmit moments of about 2.5 ampere-m2 will be the most effective antenna choices for portable units. This choice, however, will not allow the range goal of 1350 feet to be attained in mines having unfavorable signal attenuation and noise environments. Rectangular air-core loops are compared with grounded horizontal-wire and vertical-wire mode exciters for fixed station applications. The potential for significantly increasing the wireless communication range by inductively coupling to communications and power lines in a mine is evaluated and found to be considerable based on theoretical coupling equations. Lastly, the theoretical performance of a hybrid noise cancelling diversity receiving technique that utilizes both the electric and magnetic field components of the ambient noise to improve the receiver output signal-to-noise ratio under certain adverse conditions is estimated and shown to be favorable when the magnetic and electric field noise components are highly correlated.