Wireless Antenna Information:

 

What are Wireless Antennas?
Wireless antennas are the part of a radio communications system that radiate and/or collect radio frequency energy.  The type of antenna used, will determine the path of radiation.

How are Wireless Antennas used?
Wireless antennas are typically connected via low loss coaxial cable either to an amplifier, splitter, filter or directly to a wireless access point or router. For outdoor applications wireless antennas are often attached via mounting clamps to a mast or to the side of a building via mounting brackets. Wireless Antennas used indoors are typically ceiling mounted or sometimes mounted high up on a wall.

Where are Wireless Antennas used?
Wireless antennas are used in many environments and for many applications. Models for both indoor and outdoor use are available as well as specialty antennas such as Marine antennas used in nautical applications.

Wireless antennas are used in both commercial and military/government applications including small office /home office (SOHO) networks, Enterprise (office) networks, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks, homeland security, factory automation, mining, oil processing , wireless cafe “hotspots”, energy management and control, police, fire and emergency services networks, radio frequency identification (RFID) applications, and industrial science and medical (ISM) networks.

Wireless communication involves the transport of voice, video and data using Radio Frequency (RF) or Microwaves.

Radio Frequency is defined as a rate of oscillation or frequency within a range of approximately 3kHz to 300 GHz. Typical Radio Frequency applications include AM broadcasting, navigational beacons, wireless networks, and shortwave radio.

Microwaves range from approximately between 300MHz and 300GHz and are typically used for broadcast television, FM broadcasting, aviation communications, radar and satellite links.

Today’s business and some Government networks typically utilize the 2.4GHz-5.8GHz RF range which encompasses one or several of the IEEE 802.11a, b and g, n wireless standards. Other popular RF frequencies used today include 900MHz for ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and 1.9GHz for PCS (Personal Communication Service) applications

Indoor RF Wireless Network Information:
When dealing with the installation and expansion of indoor wireless networks several factors must be considered. Most manufacturers of wireless access points and routers indicate a typical range that their equipment can provide. Usually these range estimates require line of sight which means you will need a clear unobstructed view of the antenna from the remote point in the link. In most cases there will be obstacles present in an indoor installation that could affect performance. Signals generally will not penetrate metal or concrete walls. Other factors that will reduce range and affect coverage area include metal studs in walls, concrete fiberboard walls, aluminum siding, foil-backed insulation in the walls or under the siding, pipes and electrical wiring, furniture and sources of interference. Other sources include other wireless equipment, cordless phones, microwave ovens, radio transmitters and other electrical equipment. Due to the increased gain, installing range extender antennas in the presence of interference could actually yield equal or worse range.

In wireless transmissions, reflections (when wireless signals “bounce” off objects) and multipath (when wireless signals travel in multiple paths arriving at the receiver at different times) are as important as signal strength in determining the success of an installation. A signal will also exhibit peaks and nulls in its amplitude and alteration of its polarization (vertical or horizontal) when propagating through walls, ceilings and reflecting off metallic objects.

Wireless radios have special hardware and software to deal with multipath and signal level nulls, but if the antenna is in a poor location, the radio will not be able to communicate. When trying to get the best performance in a location with a lot of barriers or reflections, it is important to be able to move the antenna in all three axes in order to minimize the effects of multipath and optimize the signal strength.

Outdoor RF Wireless Network Information:
Outdoor RF wireless network experience the same factors such as reflections and multipath as Indoor networks. For outdoor wireless installations clear line of sight is optimal. Trees and leaves are obstructions to 802.11 frequencies so they will partially or entirely block the signal if not cleared.

Before deploying any wireless network a site survey is recommended. The site survey typically entails installing an access point at each location where user groups are located and then monitoring the wireless signal strength by walking varying distances away from the access points using a laptop with site survey software. The result will show you where out may need more access points to provide sufficient coverage or where you may need to move an access point for optimal wireless connectivity.


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