Oops, we need antennas!

by David A Moschella on June 24, 2015
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Originally Published 3/21/2011

My odyssey into the field of antennas began like many wireless technology integrators and product developers:  with an 'Oops' moment. 

Embedded patch antenna under adAlive bridge membrane

Late in the dot.com boom I was leading the development of an interactive public space advertising network whose key public component was a WLAN to IrDA bridge attached to lighted signs like those seen in airports and malls.  Taking into account that this device needed to survive in the real world, it needed to be fairly robust, say like a public telephone.  Our industrial designers obliged with a cleverly shaped clamshell aluminum sheet metal enclosure seen here.  

To enable the dual diversity wireless LAN module inside, two antennas are required.  The simple solution is two stubbys.  Problem solved...until someone takes/breaks the antennas.  This design dilemma caused a few sleepless nights, until I finally had a dream reminding me that I had read about someone doing antennas using fractal shapes.

Googling the next day, I discovered that the inventor was literally in a neighboring town.  He delivered a clever dual patch antenna that we were able to conceal under the i of the label on the device shown to the right, saving the industrial design and aesthetics of our product.

Innovation often hits obstacles like these.   It seems that by holding a vision in one's mind for what you want, it somehow comes into existence!