RF Antenna Overview

It is a mixed blessing as devices become free from the tethers of the various cables connecting them to the outside world. Every connector that can be removed not only saves money on your bill of materials; it also frees up valuable real estate on your PCB. The trade-off is that the PCB must contain an antenna (or antennas) to receive and transmit. This now takes your design into the world of RF (Radio Frequency), an area you may not have fully explored.

This can lead to several different concerns and issues beyond the design of the antenna:

  • Is there antenna design knowledge within your company's design team?
  • How do you shield the antenna from the rest of the circuit?
  • What materials do you need to fabricate this PCB?
  • How will you simulate the RF effects on the board?

This is not limited to deficits in RF knowledge. This also requires investment in the right tools. Unfortunately, many of these tools assume a fundamental understanding of RF design. Otherwise, it is "garbage in and garbage out." It also requires a rather hefty monetary investment. The software tools to simulate and design such antennas are not trivial. Otherwise, they would be included in every tier 1 PCB layout package.

There is also a hardware cost. Tools such as ANSYS HFSS (high-frequency structure simulation) or Mentor's HyperLynx require machines with far more computing power than the typical desktop or laptop. If you seek these tools, be prepared to spend between $8,000 to $30,000 on a multiprocessor PC. These tools perform 3D mechanical modeling, requiring thousands of iterations and calculations to produce accurate models. They require significant amounts of DRAM because there's a lot to store and have on standby.

At Nine Dot Connects, we have the knowledge, skills, tools, and hardware necessary to assist you with creating and simulating your PCB antennas. Our RF team has 40 combined years in antenna design using tools such as ANSYS HFSS. We can also do this far faster and for less cost than what it would take for you to purchase these tools and bring yourself up to speed in this intricate field of RF.

If you need assistance with your design and are unsure where to start, contact us at Nine Dot Connects. We're happy to assist you in your RF design and simulation efforts. By the way, our skills in antenna design issues go beyond the printed circuit board. Our knowledge of antennas on a printed circuit board is based on our experience with various military and commercial antennas for the last 30 years.

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