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How to match IoT antenna selection to mechanical and environmental considerations

Mechanical and environmental considerations for IoT antennas are crucial when selecting the right model for your device – to treat these as an afterthought is time-consuming, costly and complicated to retrospectively adapt.

Key considerations include which cables, connectors, glues, plastics, housing and radomes to use and there are basic factors such as the size, shape, temperature rating and durability of antennas to consider. In addition, UV rating, chemical resistance, impact rating and utilisation of environmentally damaging or hazardous materials should be taken into account.

Using IP ratings for antenna selection

Then, you should identify the IP ratings you need your product to have and protection level that you need the antenna to comply with. IP ratings are typically expressed with the first digit after the IP designation used to describe the dustproof grade the item achieves. The second digit is the waterproof grade. The numbers range from 0 which offers no protection to 6 in the case of dustproofing, where 6 describes the complete prevention of foreign objects and dust entering the devices. In the waterproof grade, the highest level is 9K which describes a product that is protected against high temperature, high-pressure injection and steam cleaning. To achieve this, the product is sprayed at various angles for at least 30 seconds in each position with water pressure of 100 bards and temperature of 80C. IP69K describes a device with strong protection against both dust and water.

Additional mechanical and environmental factors

The next consideration for antennas selection is whether there are restricted substances in the antenna. Organizations such as CE-RoHS and REACH cover restricted substances such as lead, cadmium and mercury setting out stringent limits for each substance per product. RoHS for example, specified that the lead content in the end product should be less than or equal to 0.1% of the total product weight. RoHS and REACH regulations are applicable to both internal and external antennas so ensuring compliance should be a priority.

In fact, these are only some of the requirements antennas face and, as mentioned above, attention should be given to ensuring compliant fixing, connectors, cables and housings are utilized. For an IoT organization keeping up with all the details can be challenging, so Quectel offers a range of verification and reliability testing services such as temperature testing, tumbling and vibration testing, thermal shock, dropping and storage testing. This process exposes a product to potential risks, enabling the opportunity to find and resolve problems at the R&D stage.

Quectel recognises that not every IoT organization can be an expert in all the factors that influence antenna design and compliance so our mission is to help customers ensure their products are designed efficiently and can be brought to market smoothly. It turns out that deciding on the communications capabilities you need your device’s antenna to have is only the start and decisions that balance compliance and safety need to be balanced with overall performance and cost.

These issues were explored in greater depth in a recent Quectel Masterclass titled ‘Mechanical and Environmental Considerations for Antennas’. To view the Masterclass visit: