Every product, specialty or off-the-shelf, must be designed, tested, and perfected by a team of experts, so that the end-user can be assured of its reliability.
An antenna is no exception.
Our customers trust us to provide them with custom products, many of which have never been made in the past –or even conceptualized.
In this post, we share some of our antenna designing know-how…
1. Knowing where to start. Every single one of our antennas started out as a concept. Either a client or one of our own engineers wanted a device that could deliver a specific result, and our team worked to bring that concept to full-scale production. Our experts find out what the client is looking for, and quickly figure out how to make it happen. Our engineers have several decades of combined experience creating detailed drawings from 2-dimensional drafts to 3-dimensional CAD models.
2-Dimensional Rendering of Antenna
2. Performing a structural analysis. Naturally, one would want to make sure that the design doesn’t just look good on paper, but it also holds together, at the very least. However, it would be preferable to detect design flaws before spending money on building materials. For instance, COSMOS Static Analysis is an cost-effective way to perform a structural analysis on a computer-generated model, such as a SolidModel. We use this method to assess the feasibility of custom design projects.
COSMOS Static Analysis on a SolidModel (Animation may not play on certain devices)
3. Developing a prototype. Before one builds the final product, they must create a prototype to not only further evaluate a design, but to also establish the most efficient assembly methods for it, and assess the cost effectiveness of its bill of materials. This also leads us to the next item on the list…
Close-Up of Antenna’s Collapsible Components
4. Using the right materials. The difference between selecting one material over another can not only mean cost savings, but also overall better performance and longevity. Our mechanical engineers excel at finding the best materials for a project, measurably increasing the practicality of a product.
Close-Up of Antenna’s Various Materials
5. Seeing the prototype in action. So now it’s time to test the prototype. Before the product can go out into the field, it has to perform well in the lab. In our case, the antenna has to be carefully tested in one of our two test chambers by a well-trained and highly-skilled technician, who will provide guidance and support during the test, as well as assist with data analysis and interpretation. In a previous post, we explore antenna qualification in more detail. Read it here.
The Antenna, Awaiting Testing in Our SNF Chamber
6. Thinking about the whole package. After it is determined that the product works, the next point of consideration is its durability. Apart from material selection (see No. 4), the mechanical engineer designs the product’s housing and internal components so that as a unit it can resist various environmental conditions. To make sure that the final product will survive, it must be put through rigorous environmental testing, including shock, vibration, heat, moisture, chemicals, wind, and frost. This is especially important for devices used primarily outdoors and/or mounted on moving objects. Our external testing partners have these specific testing capabilities, which become available to our clients through us. Additionally, we can perform engineering analyses for electronics packaging to ensure that the encased antenna and its components are stored correctly.
In summary, designing a functional and structurally sound antenna has many crucial and complicated processes. Luckily, we can help you every step of the way! JEM Engineering staffs a Mechanical Engineering department capable of providing expertise to every product design. Send us an inquiry or call us at 301.317.1070 to let us know what you need!
Quality & Customer Service – Our Policy
JEM Engineering exceeds customer expectations by providing custom antenna design, manufacturing and testing solutions with a commitment to comply with customer requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system by maintaining a motivated, highly skilled and innovative team, and becoming a leader in our industry. Our commitment to quality is evident as our Quality Management System (QMS) is ISO 9001 Certified.
Our products and services have been used in programs set forth by the United States Department of Defense, as well as by many of its contractors throughout the past fifteen years.
We will continue to do our part in helping the US Armed Forces ensure the safety of this Nation.
JEM Engineering, through the American Red Cross, will be providing financial assistance to households that were severely impacted by recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as the impending Hurricane Jose.
As part of our efforts, we are also collecting monetary donations from the community. If you are interested in donating, you may contact us for additional information.
Why donate through JEM? Make your donations go twice as far!
Every gift you make is significant in our disaster relief efforts. We want to double your gifts so that our efforts will move twice as fast! JEM will match donations you make by 100%.
Like with most products, an antenna’s outstanding performance in the field must be preceded by outstanding performance in the lab.
It is JEM Engineering’s job to not only design and manufacture antenna products, but also to qualify them to meet RF specifications, as well as environmental standards such as military standard MIL-STD-810 and RTCA/DO-160. Because of this, not only do our products survive strenuous environmental conditions; they perform well. We extend the same guarantee to our customers by offering them the same qualification services.
Our rigorous qualification procedures combine our own internal testing capabilities with those of our external testing partners. In this post, we list some of our in-house qualification capabilities.
• Efficiency Measurements
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. JEM’s Spherical Near-field Chamber (SNF) and Tapered Antenna Test Facility (TATF) chambers generate efficiency plots, in addition to as addition to radiation patterns, and ASCII Data Files.
• Directivity Measurements
Directivity is one on of an antenna’s key performance factors. One can define it as the ability of an antenna to focus energy in a particular direction when transmitting. Directivity also measures the antenna’s ability to receive energy better from a particular direction.
• Gain Measurements
Another useful performance measurement is the antenna’s gain. It combines the antenna’s efficiency with its directivity. The gain measurements we provide as part of our data package include peak, average, maximum linear, minimum linear, horizontal, and vertical, as applicable. Additionally, SNF and TATF chambers generate gain measurements for antennas within two different frequency ranges. The SNF measures from 400 MHz to 6 GHz , while the TATF measures 80 MHz to 40 GHz.
• VSWR and Return Loss
Voltage standing wave ratio, or “VSWR,” is a measure that describes how well the antenna impedance -or voltage to the current at the antenna’s input- “matches” to the radio or transmission line it is connected to. A good match allows a transmitter or receiver to deliver power to an antenna without excessive reflection back on the line (return loss). At JEM, a single VSWR measurment, including system calibration, takes less than 10 minutes. In fact, minus calibration, it only takes 1 minute or less to complete a test!
• Radiation Patterns
An antenna’s radiation pattern measures the strength of its radio waves in relation to the direction at which the waves travel. We can generate both 3-Dimensional, as well as 2-Dimensional renderings of radiation patterns.
Steered Array 3-D Pot
Steered Array 2-D Plot
• Human Body Interaction
Besides producing full-spherical radiation patterns, our SNF chamber can accommodate a human test subject. This allows us to take accurate measurements of body interaction effects on body worn and handheld devices.
JEM Engineering technicians testing a wearable antenna in our SNF chamber in Laurel, MD
• Temperature Effects
Temperature testing allows us to determine how a complete product, its parts, and its sub-assemblies are affected by extreme temperatures, as well as changes in temperatures. Consequently, this also allows us to assist customers in analyzing the cost effectiveness of manufacturing a product and using its components.
Our team of experts has access to advanced simulation software, therefore, allowing us to measure in-situ performance, and eliminating need to run a physical test.
At JEM we offer a variety of communications antennas, each tailored to meet a specific need. In this article, we reintroduce some of our comms antennas.
Handheld Communications Antennas – Our high-power antennas are ground plane independent. The ruggedized, weather-resistant JEM‐9051 is just one of the handheld communication antennas we designed. Nicknamed “The Power Ducky”, it is a flexible whip antenna covering 90 – 512 MHz with 25 W CW of power handling. This antenna is designed for low‐profile and man‐portable wideband communications using high power amplifiers.
JEM-9051 | Frequency Band: 90 – 512 MHz | VSWR: 1 (typical) | Polarization: Vertical, Linear | Gain: ‐20 dBi to 0 dBi | Power: 25 Watts CW
+ High Power Handheld Antenna
+ Ground Plane Independent
+ Class Leading Gain & Pattern
QHA-081| Frequency Band: 800-1000 MHz | VSWR: <2.0:1 | Polarization: Circular, RHCP | Gain: >8dBi | Power: 25 Watts CWIn-building Communications Antennas – One of our antenna products’ common features is versatility. The QHA-081 right-hand Helix Antenna is circularly polarized, operating at frequencies 800-1000 MHz. Aside from in-building communications, this antenna is suitable for multiple wireless applications.
+ Circularly Polarized
+ Designed for in-building communications
+ Suitable for Multiple Wireless Applications
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Communications Antennas – Another versatile antenna is the UVW-1547, a UAV and vehicular qualified antenna is designed for ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, and air-to-ground communications systems. This antenna is optimized for the L, S, and C-band downlinks with low drag operations. The antenna is also optimal for SIGINT and sensor systems.
UVW-1547 | Frequency Band: 1500 – 4700 MHz | VSWR: < 3.0 : 1 | Polarization: Vertical, Linear | Gain: 0 dBi (Boresight) 3.3 – 9 dBi (+20°) | Power: 10 Watts CW
+ Designed for Ground‐to-Ground,Ground‐to‐Air, and Air‐to‐Ground Communications Systems
+ Suitable for SIGINT, ISR, and Sensor Systems
+ Optional magnetic mount or tubular chassis mounting assembly
Satellite (SATCOM) Communications Antennas – We have developed a number of antennas used for satellite communications, many of which can also be mounted onto a vehicle’s or an aircraft’s surface with no degradation to the pattern or VSWR. The HSA‐2438LP, also known as the “Low-Profule MUOS SATCOM Antenna” is a hybrid spiral antenna operates on 240 – 380 MHz. It can be flush mounted on a vehicle or airborne surface and its pattern is designed for uniform gain overhead to 40 degrees in elevation.
HSA-2438LP | Frequency Band: 240 – 380 MHz | VSWR: < 1.5 : 1 | Polarization: Vertical, Linear | Gain: 3 dBic, overhead | Power: 50 Watts CW
+ Flush mountable for low visibility
+ Ground Plane Independent
+ Optional Clamp Mounts for Quick Connect in All-Terrain Vehicle Operation
More about JEM Engineering
JEM Engineering’s team boasts over 150 years of combined experience, allowing them to take an antenna concept all the way through to full-scale production. All JEM’s antennas are qualified and tested in-house at their facility in Laurel, MD.