Selecting the right antenna for your unique application is not exactly trivial in some cases. There are a series of questions that the system designer can ask themselves to narrow it down.
Omni or Directional?
Depending on the application, a directional or omni-directional antenna will be better suited. Directional antennas are best suited for point-to-point connectivity. This will typically be to extend a network to another area. Omni-directional antennas are typically found in access points such as your WiFi router. This typically provides 360 degree coverage around the antenna (excluding the top and bottom). Knowing which one you need for your wireless system allows for some down selection in the antenna architecture.
Gain, Frequency, and Power
It may not be obvious for some, but you can imagine a low power 2.4GHz Bluetooth antenna will not look anything like a high power 10GHz Radar antenna and for good reason! Knowing the operating frequency and power will set the size and architecture. The gain will help determine what the radiation pattern should look like. With the information gathered so far, we’re significantly closer to down-select an antenna!
Linear or Circular Polarization
If building a point-to-point link, choosing a linear or circular polarized antenna can affect the end-to-end signal quality. A circularly polarized antenna pair can minimize interference through reflections since a Right Hand Circularly Polarized (or Left Hand) will become a Left Hand Circularly Polarized signal (or correspondingly Right Hand) after odd multiples of signal reflections. This allows a certain degree of isolation built into the system.
Indoor or Outdoor
Knowing whether the antenna operates indoors or outdoors has a significant effect on the housing design including if a radome is needed. If outdoors, other factors like wind, temperature, air quality (like sea salt) are important for reliability. An Ingress Protection (IP) rating will help the design engineers know what the unit needs to withstand out in the field.
Choosing the Correct One
With the above questions answered, it’s much easier to narrow in on an antenna that will be best suited for an application. Be sure to check out our products and services page of custom antenna types for more details on some of the options available.
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