Written for RF Cafe
By Glenn Robb Principal Engineer
Antenna Test Lab Co.
Antenna Test Lab Co. is offering antenna test services in their anechoic chamber from $450, with
swept frequency and gain patterns. Consider the benefits of antenna testing to your system performance.
Your product's end-to-end success dictates that your customers will rely on your antennas to perform
well in their system. Most hardware and software is thoughtfully tested before sale or deployment, but
why are so many antennas ignored? The risks to system functionality and your customer's trust will hang
in the balance if you skip your antenna's verification. However, there is no reason to defer your antenna
evaluation, help is available. We offer full verification antenna testing services and free
The results of an anechoic chamber antenna evaluation can provide insight and confidence throughout
your company: from design engineering; parts procurement; right through to field support and customer
PCB "Copper" Antennas
layout your own trace copper antennas (such as meanders, PIFAs, patches, or monopoles) then verification
is a "must." Cookbook or app-note designs are only approximate, and they depend heavily on your PCB
artwork, placement, and board size. Board size matters a great deal in the ISM or cellular bands, since
the board's ground plane is part of the antenna. It can greatly influence radiation efficiency!
SMT/SMD Component Antennas
simply PCB mount component or "chip" antennas, then board-level antenna testing will allow you to understand
the immediate environmental effects of placement, enclosures, ground-planes, batteries, PCBs, or cables.
When you source your antenna, please beware … component antennas are often overly optimistically specified
by their manufacturers to compete with each other on gain numbers. They ignore the real world compromises
designers are forced to make during implementation and layout. Whether you layout your own PCB antenna,
or buy a part, the same risks of non-testing apply. That usually leads to impaired wireless system performance
and poor product reputations.
PCB layout "realities" such as crowding and proximity to objects like cables, batteries, or enclosures
can have a dramatic impact on RF performance. Definitely follow the antenna manufacturer's PCB layout
guidelines, but inevitably design constraints will compromise these guidelines. Don't be tempted to
believe that your antenna implementation will perform just like the antenna's data sheet or "demo board".
Many customers at our lab send several enclosures with different "proposed antenna locations" for flex-antennas
that are adhesively affixed to various locations on their enclosure walls. Our 3D testing will reveal
the best location for favorable radiation pattern and efficiency.
Also, please remember, when shopping for an omni-directional antenna,
more gain is not always better.
antennas that attach to U.FL or SMA connectors are also popular. However, they are typically sourced
from very low cost offshore sources. They too tend to have misleading data-sheets (sometimes based
only on simulations) that overestimate gain and efficiency for the sake of sales. An independent evaluation
of a sample antenna is a prudent (and cost-effective) step.
feeding and matching of small embedded antennas can be tricky to optimize. Virtually all reference designs
will note that these components need to be "tuned" for your PCB. Wishful thinking is not a good system
test practice, so why not verify your antenna implementation? It is all too common that poor antenna
performance goes ignored and untested. However, your customers will always notice poor performance!
Master and optimize your design early in its product cycle with an in-situ antenna evaluation. An iteration
or two of anechoic chamber testing can verify your antenna and your RF link just as you always verify
your other design elements. "Bench checks" conveniently generate false confidence, while test laboratory
far-field testing ensures success. Tuning or matching networks may appear to offer great broadband return
loss to your VNA, while often yielding poor radiation efficiency (under 10%). Get the facts !
3D far-field antenna evaluation will reveal your complete product's antenna patterns, gains, radiation
efficiency, circularity, axial ratio, and many other quantified performance parameters swept over frequency.
You can go well beyond that "sales pitch" gain number from an antenna part's spec sheet or design formulas,
and realize operational insight. Only then, can you have confidence in your wireless link.
If you import finished antennas, chamber testing allows you to verify their quality and specification
compliance, especially on those large buys from low cost offshore sources. If you design antennas, then
realize their final verification through chamber testing. Go beyond those simulations and bench checks
on all new antennas or out-sourced contract designs. Your customers trust test results, not simulations
Your antenna will ultimately cripple or enhance your wireless product's success, so why leave it
all to chance? Expert antenna testing services are easily available, cost effective and timely. Antenna
Test Lab Co will work hard to give you the insight you need for a successful wireless product.
Actual antenna testing can be complex, and definitely requires elaborate equipment, facilities, and
specialized knowledge. However, the task is easily handed off to our specialized laboratory, and our
engineers evaluate a wide variety of antennas daily. Antenna Test Laboratory Co can evaluate your antenna
within days and provide full performance data, as well as boost your understanding and confidence. Full
evaluations are available from only $450.
Glenn Robb is a Founder and Principal Engineer at Antenna
Test Lab Co www.AntennaTestLab.com
Glenn is an EE who has been working professionally with antennas for 30 years. He has a passion for
testing antennas and providing customer insights. Day to day, he runs the anechoic chamber at Antenna
Test Lab Co and is responsible for hundreds of customer antenna evaluations. Glenn also designed all
of the lab's custom software and test hardware configurations for accuracy, speed, and cost-effectiveness.
Antenna Test Lab Co
About Antenna Test Lab Co.
We are specialists in giving customers unparalleled insights into their antenna performance. By offering
quick-turn cost effective antenna (and live transmitter) patterning and analysis, we remove the risks
from antenna design, procurement, and deployment. It does not matter whether you are an expert antenna
designer, wireless product developer, or simply purchaser of antennas, we can arm you with a full electromagnetic
performance evaluation. Antenna Test Lab Co has been in operation since 2001, evaluating countless antennas
and RF transmitter products.
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Antenna Test Lab Co
Posted May 24, 2017