Five Essential Antenna Specs to Accelerate Discovery

by David A Moschella on July 21, 2016
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Antennas are multi-parametered beasts. When you send an request for quote (RFQ) or seek a new antenna solution, the response almost always requires us to ask questions too.

Important Antenna Specs

Many important aspects must be considered in recommending a solution, because engineering details matter a great deal for optimum performance—or even just to survive turning on your system!

Hint: it is not advisable to transmit through a receive-only antenna...Download the Antenna Buyer's Guide here

Five Essential Specs

So here are the five essential antenna specs to convey when describing your needs.

  1. FREQUENCY - obviously this is the fundamental specification, but really it is two or more numbers: min and max frequency, or center freq and % bandwidth. You choose, shouldn't Hz too much. ;)
  2. GAIN - normally stated in units of dBi, marketers usually use peak values or state a range of gains that are typical. Gain is a squishy number because it attempts to boil down a complex 3D field strength into just a few numbers. 
  3. PATTERN - refers to the shape of the radiation around the antenna. Omni implies a donut pattern typical of a dipole, pencil beam implies the pattern typical of a high gain dish, and so on. An infinite variety of patterns are possible! A sketch is worth a thousand words.
  4. FORM FACTOR - the old antenna saw about gain, bandwidth and compactness applies here—pick any two! Seriously, knowing the platform and size constraints strongly limits the possible solutions.
  5. POWER HANDLING - this one often gets overlooked, but is really important. Sometimes power handling is stated in kW for high power transmit antennas, or for receive-only antennas, the internal limiters (which protect against strong signals nearby) are specified in dBmW.

That's it, five easy pieces!


Visual Representations

Close study of this figure reveals its graphics and descriptions cover all five essential antenna specs to describe the OMNI-C014-01 fractal wideband antenna. It has impressive ten to one frequency coverage and is inherently frequency independent by its geometry, no matching network required.

So, if you can, when it's time to chat about your antenna application, please give some consideration to the five essential antenna specs; you'll have a much more efficient conversation!