A magician reveals the secrets of magic tricks

As many already know, I am interested in antennas. My great interest is integrated antennas. Such antennas can be found in gateways for electricity meters, but also in portable point of sale systems. Even permanently installed telematics devices use integrated antennas. For many developers integrated antenna designs require a magician’s skills.

Do you mind if I reveal the secrets of some of the tricks of antenna design?

The advantages of integrated antennas are varied:

  • Often have better performance in comparison with external antennas
  • Lower cost than external antennas
  • Reduced installation costs: avoid the costs of laying of the coaxial cable and mounting the external antenna
  • Vandal-proof

The disadvantages of integrated antennas:

  • The integration is complicated
  • The test measurement equipment (Vector Network Analyzer – VNA) costs more than 20,000 Euro plus accessories
  • The operation of a VNA is difficult

These three disadvantages can be overcome without magic:

  •  A quad-band PCB antenna design was published in my IoT M2M Cookbook in January 2014 and has been used with success several times by readers. They adopted it in a modified version in their IoT / M2M devices
  • A VNA wth a range up to 4 GHz will cost 2,900 Euro and outperforms the  20,000 Euro VNA
  • The VNA is easy to use – The test board (sand box) guides the user step by step from the measurement of a simple attenuator, to a low-pass filter, a lot of more passive circuits, up to the measurement of two antennas

This is how such a simple VNA will look like:

Vector Network Analyser - Euro 2900 only

Vector Network Analyser – Euro 2900 only

I will cover the accessories for the VNAin later articles.

  • The VNA has shrunk into a small box with two or three SMA connectors and USB interface for a laptop
  • The laptop display is the control panel for the VNA
  • The exchange of data with software for automatic calculation of a matching network will be done via export and import in Touchtone format (SP1 files)
  • The graphics for the documentation can easily be exported by mouse click or transferred to the clipboard
  • The data for the calibration or measurement (measuring object, measuring cable, DUT plus measurement cable) can easily be stored on the hard disk or a network share and to be loaded later by the developer or be shared with colleagues.

For the 20,000+ Euro VNA the manufacturer insists that training is mandatory. This will add costs again, throught the time and cost of travel to the training, and  charge for the training itself. For the low-cost VNA this is not necessary. Within three to four hours the sandbox will be measured and tested and after that you can start to measure your own circuits or antennas. The calibration tools for U.FL connectors in the test setup are included in the accessory box (more about in later articles).

The explanation of the magic tricks will continue, look out for:

  • Further short articles that explain the magic tricks in more detail
  • Training “Medicine and wireless” on April 14 at www.sgs.com in Dortmund
  • Free antenna antenna tests and analysis on April 28th and 29th at the M2M Forum in Milan www.m2mforum.it/en/ => please feel free to ask me for a discount and vouchers
  • Free antenna antenna tests and analysis at your offices

Why am I spoiling the magic by revealing the secrets?

Well, 25 years ago my boss expalined some magic tricks to me. He was the development director of a team designing Private Mobile Radios. He laid the cornerstone for my interest in wireless. This stayed wth me and I extended my knowledge piece by piece by reading and asking questions of engineers in wireless communication and RF. A portion of the knowledge is public in the IoT M2M Cookbook. The cookbook helps customers to finish their developments quicker and their products reach mass production faster as a result.
Mass production is the goal. I am not only a blogger and author or consultant – my daily job is sales director for wireless modules. But that does not stop me from sharing my knowledge and experience in short articles written in my leisure time or giving lectures and holding training courses.

If you want or need to do some wireless communication magic, then I look forward to receiving your email to harald.naumann (at) gsm-modem.de. And when your business partner has a new magic (wireless) application need, then I’m hoping you’ll be able to recommend me.

Everybody who has interest in VNAs can ask for a free excerpt of the IoT M2M Cookbook which contains the introduction and the chapter comparison of VNAs (estimated 10 pages DIN A4).

Updated: 2016-01-26 — 10:30 AM

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