How to Select Antennas     TV antenna; AM radio antenna; Parabolic dish antenna Images credits: Wikimedia; NRAO   Antennas are mechanical components which either transmit or receive radio frequency signals. For transmission, an oscillating RF electrical current is fed to the antenna's terminals, where the conduit radiates the signal as electromagnetic waves. For reception, an antenna captures some of the original signal to produce a voltage...
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Q & A on Antennas

We asked our users for their input on Antennas. Here are the results of 449 users familiar with Antennas.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing antenna design?
75 answers
Answers:
Phase array antennas, utilization of higher frequency ranges, satellite spot beam technology
~Technical Support/Services, Paris, France
The use of lightweight materials in the antennas. This creates lighter antennas, which reduce the structural load on a structure.
~Angelina W., Project Manager, St. Louis, MO
In my opinion, software simulation of antennas are the main influence, because we can do everything before building an antenna. For example, we can simulate all situations and parameters of antenna.
~Engineering, Other, Campinas, Brazil
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Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative antennas?
50 answers
Answers:
TECOM Industries. They design Antennas for all frequency bands, with ancillary products in an extended range, including Marine, military and satcom, and are leaders in GPS systems.
~Peter G, Licensed Radio Experimenter, Dundalk, Ireland
Probably cellphone-related companies - antennas for multiple bands, package constraints, environmental uncertainties (from associated electronics packages, user effects).
~H S, Engineering Consultant, Ashburn, VA
Depends upon applications: for satellite systems RSI-Vertex, Alcatel Aliena for Broadband Microwave ARA, Patriot for MW backhaul Tongyu, Shanglu, Cathrine
~Rakesh M, Engineering Consultant, New Delhi, India
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Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used an antenna for?
121 answers
Answers:
Electronically steerable antennas used in complex military radar systems. Lightweight antenna solutions for smaller radar systems.
~David T, Engineer, London, UK
In-building communications, microwave point to multi-point, microwave point to point, amateur radio, VHF, UHF, Cellular, PCS applications.
~Ronald R, Engineering Consultant, Dayton, OH
Point to point microwave links, Satellite links, broadcast systems, point to area sparse route telephony systems, Wi-Fi, Cellular base stations, radar
~Engineering, Design, Kilsyth, Australia
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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that an antenna has been used for.
43 answers
Answers:
Presence detection. Detection of human presence by means of LNA (0.18dB Nf) at 1300MHz. The temperature of the warm-blooded person, increases the noise-output of the LNA.
~Math P, Research & Development, Brunssum, The Netherlands
I used a discone for following communication between the ISS and the university of Wageningen. I also used the discone to hear Brazilian pirates using the Brazilian military transponders from a communication satellite.
~Engineering, Consulting, Schiphol, Netherlands
Presently we use yagi antennas for radio telemetry system. Those are vertical ground plane collinear antennas and 7 elements yagi antennas. Frequency band is 433~440Mhz.
~Manage W, Retired Engineer, Colombo, (Presently at Canberra, Australia), Srilanka
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Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of an antenna?
27 answers
Answers:
High gain co-linears on small boats, so as boat bobs left and right in the water, the signal comes and goes.
~Peter C, Unemployed, Tamworth, England
Yes, on the NSTAR satellite launched for Japan. The spot beam coverage was off, rendering a several hundred million dollar satellite unusable.
~Mh Yam, Research & Development, Cedar Rapids, IA
Yes, it will be a public nuisance, if not properly match the antenna with the frequency and the rig. Signals will penetrate into telephone lines and TV/ Radio channels.
~Manage W, Retired Engineer, Colombo, (Presently at Canberra, Australia), Srilanka
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FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
57 answers
Answers:
A low noise wideband (100 kHz - 30 MHz) loop antenna, usable in noisy environments, for receiving purposes only. A light-weight vertical (Marconi-like), remote tunable from 1600 kHz - ca 50MHz..
~Engineering, Consulting, Schiphol, Netherlands
Compact, Rugged, Wind speed, Weather resistant material, Frequency Band, Polarization, Gain, VSWR, Radiation Pattern, Cross Polarization ratio, Impedance, Front to back ratio.
~Rakesh M, Engineering Consultant, New Delhi, India
The design of each aerial is rigidly adhered to the basic product: to the transmitter, the receiver, other radio device. Requirements are rather inconsistent often.
~Vladimir Chepyzhenko, General Management, Molodechno, Belarus
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Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of an antenna?
33 answers
Answers:
Pay close attention to the gain values- are they in dBi or dBd? If the value is listed only as dB, it is implied to be dBi. dBi is about 2 dB less than dBd specifications. Aviation antennas must be well grounded (bonded) to aircraft skin (if metallic)- that means all the paint and zinc-chromate paint must be removed where the antenna bonds to the skin of the aircraft. If this is not done, high noise signal will be heard on the radio, reducing communications range severely.
~Shane J, Sr. Staff Systems Engineer, Mesa, America
Use a standard Dipole for reference first. Then find out how much extra signal you need. Use a good safety-margin to combat fluctuation in propagation conditions.
~Math P, Research & Development, Brunssum, The Netherlands
First thing you want to steer clear of are adverts telling you to "be first in your area" to select this new technology . Always select a proven design at an affordable price, which you can maintain yourself. Use S Steel mounting hardware, and always be aware of safety with overhead power lines. Use a safety harness when climbing a tower, and have a helper on hand to sort out any problems when you are on high.
~Peter G, Licensed Radio Experimenter, Dundalk, Ireland
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Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using antennas?
43 answers
Answers:
First piece of advice is to know the application well- what is it you intend to do with the product using antennas? Make sure you understand the constraints that will be placed on your communications link- regulatory, environmental, kinematics (motion) involved with the two end-points of the communications link, etc. Second, understand the receiver sensitivity, the transmit power, and the data rate expected to be used in the link. Understand the ability of the receiver to detect the symbols transmitted- what is the energy per bit transmitted, and received? Understand the practical aspects of connector and coaxial loss for both endpoints of the communications link. Third, understand the propagation issues associated with the frequency to be used in the communications link- atmospheric absorption, rain absorption (fading), also, look into Fresnel effects of the proposed antenna installation- lower to the ground increases Fresnel effects, higher above ground decreases Fresnel effects. These effects are not modeled in free-space propagation models. Be ware! Fourth, and finally, determine the gain required by the antennas in the link- overcome all the losses and margins under consideration above, and add a percentage to allow for slight misalignments of the antennas (especially if they are polarized). Now one can determine if there are commercial, off-the-shelf antennas that fit the application, or if custom antennas must be built. Remember- you don't get something for nothing. High-gain antennas come at the price of narrower beam widths, making mobile use more problematic. Omni-directional antennas also come with a price- less gain, and more susceptibility to interfering signals from directions other than that of the desired station.
~Shane J, Sr. Staff Systems Engineer, Mesa, America
For CB's you must realize you need a ground plane. If you have a non-reflective surface (fiberglass, aluminum, wood, or ungrounded reflective metal) you must utilize an antenna with built in counterpoise or ground plane in order to maintain a VSWR within safe operating range for your transceiver.
~Nate V., Technical Support, Appleton, WI
1dB difference may not seem a lot, but it could make a big difference in the functional system performance. 1dB antenna gain difference in a transceiver means 2dB difference in the path-loss budget. May come to a 6dB loss in SNR or picture quality when WBFM is used.
~Math P, Research & Development, Brunssum, The Netherlands
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