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Why antenna simulations are crucial for your wireless product success?

Building physical prototypes of complex products can be very expensive and time-consuming. Antenna/RF solutions for today’s wireless product require sophisticated 3D simulations, in order to estimate accurate antenna performance even before first prototypes are built.

Here, we like to give some insights into antenna solutions and challenges for wireless products.

The performance of integrated antennas in your products strongly depends on several factors. Some of these are listed as follows

  • PCB size and shape

An off-the-shelf LTE antenna optimized for a large PCB (example 140 mm x 70 mm) won’t work as per its datasheet when installed on a smaller system PCB (per se 60 mm x 50 mm). One of the biggest mistakes wireless device manufacturers do is to follow the datasheets of antenna vendors blindly, thinking that antenna is well-tuned. There is a huge difference between a well-tuned antenna and the one customer thinks its well-tuned.

  • Plastic housing and its material RF properties

Dielectric properties of plastic materials do impact antenna tuning, thus the choice of material is very important for optimal RF performance. The impact of housing materials, its shape, and size on antenna performance can be easily studied using state of the art simulation tools.

  • Location of an antenna on PCB

Deciding the position of antennas on system ground plane should start at the beginning of the project, for example, for LTE antennas or any sub-GHz antennas use the ground plane as a main radiating element and needs a longer ground plane for optimal performance, thus typically, they are located on the short edge of the system PCB. Antenna positions also need to take consideration of user’s head and hand positions as well, if the antenna is blocked by the user’s hand, it will result in poor on-field performance, one good example is the early iPhone death grip, where the user finger covers antenna slot, essentially detuning antenna.

  • Type of antenna

Expensive and well marketed off the shelf antenna doesn’t necessarily bring the best antenna performance to your device, a simple, well designed and tuned PCB antenna might work well for your device. This will reduce your BOM and extra unnecessary assembling costs. Its not which antenna is used, rather how well an antenna is tuned to customer device is more important in order to achieve the best wireless performance.

  • Frequency of operation
  • Device size with respect to wavelength.
  • User proximity such as head and hand

Modern 3D antenna/RF simulation tools enable us to design an optimized antenna solution for your product, maximizing the RF performance and device range and thus it ensured stable wireless communication and risk mitigation in rather expensive certification tests.

Typical customer requirements for IoT products :

  • Innovative and unique solutions
  • Stable RF connection
  • Low energy consumption
  • Compact, with the unique form factor
  • Challenges with a wireless performance for existing products.

The antenna performance requirement for IoT products :

  • Small size, fully integrated
  • A robust and low-cost solution
  • Optimal radiation pattern shapes and coverage
  • High gain and efficiencies
  • Optimal for the given industrial design of the product
  • Good performance in user environments such as head and hand

Advantages of antenna simulation/ virtual prototyping:

Surface currents of an antenna positioned near to D-cell battery

Simulated antenna 3D radiation pattern

  • Rapid simulation enables accurate estimation of antenna performance (such as antenna efficiency, gain, radiation pattern, mutual coupling…etc) and comparison of different antenna solutions for your product.

  • Optimized antenna solutions for challenging environments such as user head and hand.

  • Identification of PCB layout issues in early-stage before first prototypes are made.
  • Deep insights into antenna performance.
  • Lower costs of late product changes.
  • Replacing expensive off-the-shelf antenna solutions with better performing, low-cost PCB antenna solutions, whenever possible.

We, at CoreIoT Technologies Ltd., help companies in developing antenna solutions for their complex wireless systems. Our specialty in LTE, WiFi/BT, GPS, LoRa, Sub-GHz, 4G/5G, U.W.B, mmWave, and custom antenna solutions for your wireless product.

 

Check how our engineers design and simulate antenna performance using state of the art EM-simulation tools.