Product of the Week: Ethertronics’ Universal Broadband FR4 LTE/LPWA Antenna

November 10, 2020 ECD STAFF

IoT and connected device engineers looking for the flexibility of multiple wireless communications standards in a small physical footprint have come to the right place. The Universal Broadband FR4 LTE/LPWA Antenna from Ethertronics, an AVX Group Company, is a surface-mount (SMT), internal (onboard) antenna that supports the 617 to 960 MHz, 863 to 928 MHz, 1710 to 2200 MHz, and 2500 to 2700 MHz frequency bands for connectivity that includes:

  • Old-school 2G cellular all the way through new-age LTE-M and NB-IoT
  • Low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) protocols such as LoRa and Sigfox
  • ISM networks
  • Short-range wireless options like Z-Wave
  • And even 5G and Sub-6 GHz

And all of that wireless potential is packed within a low-profile, 36.0 mm x 9.0 mm x 3.2 mm footprint and weighs just 2.1 grams. The high-performance, multi-layered isolated magnetic dipole (IMD) antennas feature robust isolation characteristics, improved bandwidth, and better efficiency than alternatives. They are manufactured in FR4 material organized into seven different layers that include a solder mask, a bottom solder mask, top metal, top substrate, middle metal, bottom substrate, and bottom metal.

The Universal Broadband FR4 LTE/LPWA Antennas are mechanically robust, electrically insulated, and even flame resistant, and supports operation in temperatures from -40ºC to +85ºC.

The Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded LTE / 5G / LPWA Antenna in Action

As mentioned previously, the Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded Antenna is capable of operating in low-band, high-band, and band 7 spectrum, with both wideband and narrowband support. What hasn’t been mentioned is the device’s high peak gain efficiency, which measures in at 1.6 dBi, 3.1 dBi, and 1.7 dBi across the 698-960 MHz, 1710-2400 MHz, and 2500-2700 MHz ranges, respectively.

The efficiency of the linear polarization antennas across the different bands is shown in the charts below, which characterize performance on a 125 mm x 45 mm PCB. Average efficiencies are as follows: 61 percent (600-698 MHz), 64 percent (698-960 MHz), 55 percent (1710-2400 MHz), and 53 percent (2500-2700 MHz).

The Ethertronics Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded Antennas have a feed point impedance of 50 Ω, while also exhibit standing wave ratios (VSWRs) ranging from < 2.5:1 to <5.5:1. These efficiencies allow connected device designers to maximize power utilization in battery-operated or otherwise resource-constrained devices. The various VSWRs are outlined in more detail in the diagrams that follow, also based on a use in a typical 125 mm x 45 mm PCB.

Getting Started with the Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded LTE/5G/LPWA Antenna

The Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded Antennas feature eight pins, including one feed pin (2 W CW power handling), two for antenna tuning, and five dummy pads, the latter of which are directly in line with the antenna feed traces.

Antenna tuning can be performed at various places on the top or bottom solder masks, while the 50 Ω transmission line and Pi-matching network circuit are located on the top metal layer of the antenna.

To help engineers access these hardware features, AVX offers demo boards for the 1004795 and 1004796 variants of the antennas. Using these, developers can evaluate radiation patterns, efficiency, and other performance characteristics in relation to their own system designs.

AVX also provides an extensive set of design tools to help reduce design times. Most notably, users are given access to DXF, ME-FIT, and Gerber design files and libraries that link to electronic design automation (EDA) software tools like Microwave Office, Eagleware, and ADS.

Ethertronics has also made S-Parameters available for many components, which can be accessed through the AVX SpiCAT, SpiTAN, SpiMLCC, SpiMLV, SpiNTC, or SpiCALCI engineering software to calculate performance characteristics and parameters of ceramic capacitors, connectors, varistors, thermistors, and other components used with the Universal Broadband FR4 LTE/LPWA Antenna.

The Universal Broadband FR4 Embedded LTE / 5G / LPWA Antenna from multiple distributors for as low as $1.23250 per unit.

For more information, visit www.avx.com or browse the resources below.

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