Radio direction finding overview and future developments


The Defence and Specialised (DS) Antennas Division of Poynting Antennas has developed more than 80 products related to radio direction finding (DF) over the past decade.

In a hi-tech industry, with few expert players, Poynting has established itself as a global supplier of antenna and radio signal propagation products. Increasing demand for radio DF systems by both civilian and military defence sectors resulted in significant growth for Poynting, which has gained vast experience in the radio DF field.

As a specialised antenna development house, Poynting supplies highly customised antenna products for radio DF systems. Antenna development requires specialised skills and equipment. The core focus of Poynting is the complex domain of electromagnetics and antenna theory.

Poynting enables its customers to remain focused on their businesses, which relates to signal interception direction finding algorithms, processing thereof, and the higher levels of system integration. Its customers enjoy a competitive advantage: it includes time to market, less spending on non-core technology, and the benefits of narrowly defined research and development efforts.

There are two types of DF systems: single aperture systems and multiple aperture systems. The simpler single aperture, time-changing system includes handheld directional antennas, such as the DF-A0047. These systems typically comprise a single receiver and directional antenna. The antenna is aimed at various directions, and the DF system derives directions of arrival (DOA) from incoming signals. Advances in the use of radio propagation, including the transmitter and receiver technologies, resulted in a shift from single to multiple aperture systems. The main reason for this stems from market requirements to monitor wideband frequency spectrums rather than a single signal (on a particular frequency).

Poynting is well abreast of market requirements for wideband systems as well as the latest radio DF techniques, and continuously assists customers to maintain system integrity.

Well-designed antenna systems are consistently manufactured and often require little calibration. Poynting’s range of tactical five-element interferometers (such as the DF-A0001 and DF-A0007) has been successfully deployed by numerous customers in diverse environments over many years.

Antenna design methods are influenced by integration of electronics in the DF antenna system. The modern trend is to integrate a complete band switch into the antenna structure, usually as close as possible to the antenna elements. Poynting has also developed experimental systems (DF-A0045 and DF-A0046) exploring DF capability combined vertically, horizontally and circularly polarised signal components. Another trend is hybridisation of systems (DF-A0029).

Poynting has developed specialised software allowing for behavioural modelling of antenna systems. This software employs various DF techniques. In conjunction with computational electromagnetic analysis, highly skilled engineers and vital inputs from its customers, Poynting continues to develop antenna systems of world-class quality and performance.

The challenges that remain would be: compactness, greater sensitivity and platform integration.

Poynting understands the requirements for continuous innovation in the DF industry and will continue to work closely with experienced customers and to remain at the forefront for antenna designs for radio DF technologies and systems.

For further information on Poynting’s DF antennas, please go to