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An Introduction to Antenna Testing

RF Testing: Measuring Effects on a Human Body

RF testing is used to measure a variety of different antenna attributes. In this post, we discus a few ways in which antenna testing can help determine if your device is performing the way it should.

Measuring Radiation Patterns – An antenna’s radiation pattern measures the strength of its radio waves in relation to the direction at which the waves travel. 3-Dimensional and/or 2-Dimensional renderings of the radiation pattern make it possible to visualize which direction(s) the antenna is radiating the strongest, as well as where it loses strength. Finding this pattern is fundamental in determining the antenna’s functionality.

Measuring Antenna Efficiency – The radiation efficiency, or simply “efficiency” of an antenna is commonly defined as the ratio of the power radiated from the antenna, in relation to the power delivered to the antenna. This measurement is typically measured in decibels (dB). It is important to determine that an antenna is performing at a certain level of efficiency before it used for its intended purpose. Significant discrepancies in efficiency may be the result of a manufacturing defect or design flaw.

Measuring Antenna Gain – An antenna’s gain is a measurement that combines the antenna’s efficiency with its directivity, which is essentially the antenna’s ability to receive energy better from a particular direction. It is beneficial to have higher gain when there is a predetermined direction that the antenna will be receiving a signal from. In contrast, lower gains are preferable when receiving signals from multiple unspecified directions. Therefore, measuring gain is important in qualifying an antenna, particularly for its direction-finding and/or signal-receiving abilities.

Realizing any Effects on the Human Body – It is important to make sure that the use of certain antennas, especially those that are to be worn on one’s person, will not have adverse effects on the human body. Some testing chambers, such as the SNF chamber at JEM Engineering’s facility in Laurel, are able to accommodate human test subjects.

At JEM, we understand that accurate measurement of antenna electrical performance is critical. Therefore we offer a range of rapid antenna testing services from 80 MHz to 40 GHz. Our TATF and SNF test chambers are able to deliver the aforementioned measurements within hours, as opposed to days. Our experts also specialize in analyzing the data, helping our clients improve and perfect their custom product designs. For more information, feel free to contact us.