14th November 2007 12:50 PM
linx plannar antenna 433 mhz
I am building an application for light control. Everything is working fine except the antenna. I bought the linx plannar antenna 433 mhz (thatīs the frecuency I am using) but the reception is very poor. Maybe I am doing something wrong. The diagram said that pin number one is the signal and the rest connect to a small pcb ground. So far a get a better reception from a simple wire use for protoboard applications. Any ideas? I would really like to use a small antenna for my application
15th November 2007 12:11 AM
Would like to help, but need more information. Can you please provide:
- part number of Linx antenna ( I'm assuming: ANT-433-SP, please confirm)
- a picture of your assembled printed circuit assembly
This kind of antenna is similar to a quarter-wave length of wire in that it is completely dependent on being placed correctly on a reasonable size of metal (ie. copper layer on a pcb) to act as a counterpoise. So, we need to see exactly how you have mounted the thing. A photo would be good.
15th November 2007 06:03 AM
how about a ground plane antenna. It can be made easily with a piece of 50Ohm coaxial cable. Strip the cable to have a length of lambda/4 and do not cut the shielding. Instead cautiously untangle the shield to make four equal packets of wires. Twist them and solder them together. This will be the "ground" for the antenna. Bend them about 45 degrees downward from the center pole and 90degrees apart from each other. Stabilze them with a drop of hot glue. This cheap antenna should do the job.
15th November 2007 04:10 PM
Since this is a light control circuit, is the receiver part of the circuit attached to the live power line? (Non isolated) If so, make sure that the Rx ground is connected to the neutral part of the circuit and not the Hot side.
15th November 2007 10:04 PM
I put the pictures from the antenna at http://usuarios.lycos.es/ulianov/antenna.html
The circuit is non isolated and the antenna is the ANT-433-SP (splatch). Any sugestions? The third antenna I am using (as shown in the web page) uses lambda/10. Anything bigger does not fit in the space I have for the project. The entire reception circuit has to fit in the wall plate. So lambda/4 is too big. Any other antenna I could use? or any way to improve the ones I have?
16th November 2007 05:57 PM
Check out fractal.com
May be you'll find a solution there. They make VHF-antennas not bigger than 1 inch.
17th November 2007 01:25 AM
In the first picture it is not clear if there is a ground plane on the other side of the board. Since I see no connection from the visible ground plane area around to the other side, I must assume there is no back side ground. In this case, it is obvious that your antenna counterpoise is awfully small which would contribute quite a lot to poor radiation performance. The other problem may also be that the trace leading from the receiver chip to the antenna pin 1 is not a 50 ohm transmission line. In this case, the impedance mismatch between antenna and IC may be very severe, causing considerable loss of signal.
Originally Posted by ulianov
In the second photo, I cannot tell how the connection is made to the receiver, an important issue. The ground plane provided for the antenna is getting better, but still is not as large as recommended by Linx. Since the antenna element of this type is only one half of what is needed for resonance and for adequate impedance matching, your ground plane must provide the other half, or the "counterpoise". This is necessary for RF currents to flow most strongly and therefore for radiation coupling to be the strongest. Your counterpoise should offer a quarter wavelength of conductor in any dimension projecting away from the Linx antenna. So you have the right idea with the shape in picture 2, but the length may still be inadequate. However, I am concerned that the bigger issue is that you have made no effort to correctly impedance match the antenna to the receiver, and so may be losing quite a bit of performance without knowing it.
The third photo is not useful. I cannot understand what is shown, as it appears to be a piece of metal with solder around the edge and some dark spots near the center.
To best understand your problem, I need to see exactly how you have connected the antenna to a pcb, and exactly how you have connected the antenna pin 1 to the IC. When I see this I refer back to the Linx data sheet which shows that you need a 50 ohm transmission line connecting the IC to the antenna, and the antenna should have about 3.3 inches of ground plane projecting away from it.
Another point to consider is that if you are putting this assembly inside a metal outlet box the metal of that box will severely interfere with the impedance of the antenna and so will degrade its performance. A plastic outlet box won't have this problem. It is best for the antenna element to project out and away from the majority of nearby metal.
What kind of range are you hoping for and what are you transmitting with?
Without any RF instrumentation to measure impedance matching and radiated energy, the best way for you to try and get improvement is to cut-and-try with this antenna and perhaps various shapes of wires. Are you planning to install into a metal box?
One idea that sometimes works (and sometimes doesn't) is to use two planar antennas set up to form a dipole. The antennas would point in opposite directions and share a common feedpoint, kind of like a butterfly's wings. In this case, there should be no ground plane under either antenna, and the IC would be in the body of the butterfly which must be kept as small as possible, and maybe even put off to the side and not between the antenna elements. Unfortunately, even this might not work if it is inside a metal box.
Small antennas are often made small even though they are electrically similar to a quarter wavelength by surrounding the antenna metal with a dielectric with a higher dielectric constant than 1.0 For example, the Linx antenna has a conductor embedded inside or on the surface of ceramic which has a dielectric constant of anywhere from 3 to 10 or more. The electric length of the antenna would be increased by the square root of this dielectric constant, so that might be able to make a "quarter wave antenna" that is 1.7 to 3 times smaller than a wire in air.
You can also get away with bending the end of a quarter wavelength copper wire to right angles and still have it work pretty well. You can do this with up to half of the overall length, so it can fit into a smaller space. Another trick that we use to shorten an antenna is to place a large area of metal on the open tip of the antenna. This is something we call a "capacitive top hat". If you had a quarter wavelength copper wire, you could shorten it to half that and add a one inch round disk or ball of metal at its tip and it might work well.
As I just typed this, I realized that it might be possible to use a metal switch box and use the two sides of the box as a pair of oppposing capacitive top hats. In this case, you would have to place the antenna feedpoint at the center of the face of the box ( a very inconvenient spot) and run copper wires out from that point to touch the metal sides of the box. I can't explain this very well in words here, but perhaps you get the idea.
One last comment and I'll stop. An antenna is very sensitive to its nearby environment. You cannot put an antenna inside a conductive box, or beside a bunch of cables, and expect it to work as if those things are not there. Most of the antenna work we see in the industry is in adapting common types like dipoles, monopoles, PIFAs and so on to fit their environment. Anything metallic and most dielectrics that are closer than, say, two wavelengths, to the antenna will have a strong effect on that antenna's impedance match and on its radiation. The closer, the worse. So, installling an antenna inside your box has to be done with some knowledge of antenna design, if you want the best possible performance. Without the knowledge, you can still go for it, but settle for something less than perfect.
Last edited by RadioRon; 17th November 2007 at 01:47 AM.
17th November 2007 06:11 PM
You are right. With the linx antenna I have use only a pcb line to connect the antenna with the receiver. I cannot change the outlet box for a plastic one due project specifications.
I hope to transmit over 120 feet after puting the circuit inside of the outlet box.
The idea of the third picture, is to build a dipole antenna, the wholes shown in the picture are not connected to anything, they just happen to be there. The main Idea I had with this antenna is to have it made in a soft plastic material (I know someone capable to do that) and use only the antenna area (the plastic part in the middle wonīt be there) so I would have the square dipole antenna ready to be glue around the electric switch, pretty much outside the outlet metal box and connect the antenna with the rest of the circuit using a 50 ohm coax cable. My problem here is to find a small connector for the coax cable.
What RF instrument do you recommend to measure impedance matching and radiated energy?
I have to admit that even when I have knowledge of electrics and electronics I am new to antenna design, but I am willing to learn. Any books or web pages you recommend?
Another thing, I did try fractal.com but it seems like they are installing apache server since thatīs what their web page shows.
Any ideas on small connectors for coax cable?
18th November 2007 02:03 AM
Does it really matter to have a back side ground for the linx antenna? The idea of connecting two of them as dipole sounds interesting.
Is there another 50 ohm transmition line available than a coax cable? So far a used a simple wire for protoboard connections.
Thanks for your help.
19th November 2007 05:50 AM
Measuring a correct impedance match is normally done using a vector network analyzer (such as the Agilent 8753E, and several other models from several makers), but I must warn that accurate measurement at these frequencies requires additional practical knowledge about how to calibrate the instrument, how to then connect it to the circuit under test, a good understanding of transmission line principles, and then how to interpret the results. I strongly suggest that you need some help from an RF-trained technician or engineer and this help needs to be right beside you, not via email. As I mention further down, if you can stick to the rules from Linx about how to use their planar antenna, you can avoid making these difficult measurements.
If the outlet box must be metal, then it would be best to keep the antenna as close to the face of the box as possible, like perhaps right behind the switch plate. The metal of the box itself may actually provide a reasonable counterpoise to the Planar antenna if you can mount the planar antenna at right angles to the front edge of the box and connect the ground of the antenna immediately to the box metal, perhaps using a small pcb and then some copper tape.
Small coax connector types include: MMCX or SSMB. These can be joined to coax cables of small diameters less than .1 inch. There are smaller types, such as Murata BFA or HSC or GSC or FSC series (link: http://www.murata.com/catalog/o30e.pdf ) but these series are not easily joined to cables by yourself, you have to buy ready-made coax jumpers from Murata. However, the surface mount pcb connectors are really small in these.
It is very important to maintain a 50 ohm transmission line from the IC to the planar antenna pin 1. This does not mean you must use coax. The more typical thing is microstrip transmission line, which does indeed demand a ground plane on the back side of the pcb. But if you just use coax, then you don't need a ground plane on both sides of the pcb to support the planar antenna as it only needs one plane of metal.
It is worth mentioning that if you must have a small pcb, you can extend the apparent length of the ground plane by adding some wire to the edge and extending that outwards away from the antenna. And if you connect this to the metal box, you might even see greater improvement.
You should study the information about how to apply the planar antenna that is available from Linx and follow their recommendations very carefully.
Antenna books, well, there are so many. It might be best to start with a basic one intended for amateur radio enthusiasts. Perhaps the ARRL Antenna Handbook 21st Edition might be OK.
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