Did you know that National STEM Day falls on the 8th of November each year? That’s because the abbreviation “NOV8” actually stands for “INNOVATE.”
STEM is all about innovation. The goal of STEM Day is to not only acknowledge those who work in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but also to encourage young minds to follow their passions and pursue such careers.
JEM Engineering is proud to have an extremely skilled and diverse group of individuals who make things happen! We asked our very own Matt Berry (Mechanical Engineer) and Anjali Bhattarai (Electrical Engineer) to talk about why they chose their career paths.
What is it about engineering that interests you?
M: Problem-solving. Also, the most satisfying thing about engineering is thought that the 3D models and design documents you spent time developing on your computer will eventually be held in your hand – your hard work has become a real thing. (Read more about the process of developing a product here.)
A: As an electrical engineer, I find the concept of energy very enticing. Every object in the universe requires energy to perform its activity. Having the opportunity to generate and control electrical energy is definitely the best part. There’s also the added benefit of working with high tech gizmos like cell phones and smartwatches before they hit the market.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an engineer? If not, what was your first career choice and what made you switch to engineering?
M: In high school, my success in STEM subjects led me to take an Architectural AutoCAD class at the Career and Technology Center in Frederick, MD. Thinking that I wanted to study architecture, I also participated in the ACE Mentor Program, which focused on orienting students with the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering. I realized later that architecture was not the correct fit since it was more art-rather than math- and science-based. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I then transitioned to pursuing my degree in mechanical engineering, since it’s widely applicable to many fields (ie. aerospace engineering, civil engineering, etc.)
A: As a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I later acknowledged my knack for analytical thinking, so I pursued engineering during my high school years, and later received a full scholarship to study engineering in college.
What would you say to persuade or encourage someone to study –or even pursue a career– in STEM?
M: STEM explains how things work, from something as simple as how water freezes to as complicated as a how a space shuttle can reach the moon. Engineering is problem solving and design. Both can be applied to any career you may see yourself doing, whether it be handling the foot traffic of hikers or directing water away from trails at a national park, or designing a robotic prosthetic to help those with a missing limb. Engineering is fun and challenging every day.
A: It pays well (laughs). As an engineer, you earn the skill set to transform your imagination into reality. Engineering teaches you how to better your concept and design through trial and error. It also alters your way of thinking by sharpening your analytical skills, making it easier to grasp any concept quicker. You become a problem solver and tackle important issues of the world. For instance, I once helped design a robot that could isolate and burn off cancer cells without harming healthy organs. With further research, it could have replaced chemotherapy.
Like Matt and Anjali, JEM Engineering proudly supports students and professionals in pursuit of careers in STEM!
Product Spotlight: The MBA-0162
The MBA-0162, also known as the “Sentry,” is multi-band array designed for SIGINT and ISR applications, this compact, low-profile, single-port antenna is the ultimate all-in-one solution.
The sentry optimized for the 400 to 2700 MHz applications and has an efficiency of over 50% for the aperture across the entire band. This versatile antenna can be installed in many locations on any aircraft or on other vehicles.
JEM’s Tapered Antenna Test Facility (TATF) Chamber provides powerful validation capabilities over a wide frequency range, allowing us to test antennas and antenna systems for a variety of applications. Using these tools, we are able to measure radiation patterns, antenna gain (peak, average, max linear, min linear, H and V) and axial ratio from 80 MHz to 40 GHz.
Measurement accuracy is critical, and our TATF chamber offers accuracy of peak gain measurements ± 1.0 dB from 80 to 400 MHz, ± 0.7 dB from 400 MHz to 1 GHz, and ± 0.5 dB from 1 GHz to 18 GHz. The data analysis and reduction software supports a wide range of outputs, including radiation patterns and swept gain. We produce ASCII data files compatible with third party analysis tools such as MATLAB®, MathCAD® or EXCEL®
- Our existing structures allow us to fixture multiple antennas during the allotted test time. If the weight of the antenna under test is off-center by more than 36”, or if the antenna requires a specific configuration, a custom fixture may be necessary. Customers have the option to design, as well as provide their own fixtures. Also, JEM may design and build a custom fixture for a separate fee.
- The operating frequencies are 80MHz to 40GHz
JEM Engineering Quality Commitment Guarantee
JEM has decades of experience in the custom antenna design and development and RF testing services industry. We promise customers a full 100% satisfaction guarantee of products and services, including rapid testing services for government and commercial applications.
At JEM, we are dedicated to improving performance, efficiency and overall business of our customers. Because of this dedication, we are always innovating alongside our customers to improve current products and tackle challenges.
Request A Quote for Testing Services in the Tapered Antenna Test Facility (TATF) Chamber at JEM Engineering
Learn firsthand how JEM Engineering is dedicated to developing and producing top quality antennas for their customers. Contact JEM Engineering for a free consultation and a quote on testing your antenna in the TATF Chamber at JEM.
JEM Engineering Releases the UHF Aerospace Blade Antenna
The UVW-0430A is a UHF Aerospace blade antenna that is UAV and vehicular qualified. It’s specifically designed for ground‐to-ground, ground‐to‐air, and air‐to-ground communications systems. It’s also suitable for SIGINT, ISR, and sensor systems
This versatile antenna is optimized for the 400 – 6000 MHz applications with low drag operations.
Over the past 16 years, JEM Engineering has designed and manufactured an extensive product line of antennas, ranging from frequencies between 2 MHz to 40 GHz. We pride ourselves in our ability to not only innovate and create new designs, but also to continue to improve upon existing products. We are committed to not only delivering better performance but also manufacturing them more efficiently and sustainably.
As we discussed in a previous post, before we can manufacture, we must prototype. For this step in the process, we are beginning to explore additive manufacturing, or as it’s more commonly known, 3D printing.
Why additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing)
As the name suggests, additive manufacturing involves successively adding thin layers of material together to form a three-dimensional embodiment of a computer aided design (CAD) model. Traditional manufacturing, on the other hand, is normally subtractive. Again, one may infer that in traditional manufacturing, the material (plastic, metal, fiberglass, etc.) is carved, cut, or hollowed out either by hand or using a machine to form the final structure.
Reducing material waste. While modern technology has vastly improved subtractive manufacturing, it still has its limitations. One of which is the amount of material waste it creates. 3D printed materials are produced according to the specifications of a digital file, such as a CAD (Computer Aided Design) model created using a modeling software. Alternatively, 3D scanners can scan a solid object and the printing machine can reproduce the object’s shape. Both methods allow the machine to create an exact blueprint to print, leaving little to no excess material.
Increased cost-effectiveness. Reducing the cost of materials and labor makes for lower expenses for the rest of the supply chain as well. Manufacturers, not unlike JEM Engineering, must source product components and building materials from qualified vendors. More often than not, there are costly NRE (non-recurring engineering) costs associated with custom components, and in some cases, additional tooling costs whenever previously used tools have worn out. While in the prototyping stage, it is common for there to be a few or even several different revisions made to any single custom component. As one can imagine, such revisions can restart entire processes, including the tooling. More processes = more labor and more materials = more cost. Most importantly, the cost to the manufacturer also drives the cost to the customer.
Faster turnaround. Rapid prototyping is one of the primary applications of 3D printing. The aforementioned tooling processes not only cost money but often take a lot of time, especially if during the course of the prototyping stage, revisions are made. With 3D printing, once a revision is made to the digital model, a new physical model can be printed out almost as quickly. The faster the turnaround time of prototyping and production, the sooner the end user will receive the finished product.
More complexity. Within certain constraints, such as size, there is almost no limit to the complexity of shapes that a 3D printer can produce. With this capability comes more creative freedom and innovation. Also, more objects can be made as a single piece, making it more durable. Imagine a car with a chassis made of one single piece, whereas with traditional manufacturing, it would have been several pieces welded together.
How additive manufacturing will shape antenna design
All factors considered, 3D printing unlocks nearly unlimited possibilities for antenna design. Using this technology, our engineers can design antennas in a larger variety of forms to suit our clients’ needs. Perhaps just as importantly, these custom products can be produced faster and at a better value, without compromising quality and performance.
An Overview of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — and their Antennas
An unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, refer to a vehicle that is able to fly remotely, either with some sort of controller or autonomously. An unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, includes not only the UAV, itself but also the person on the ground controlling the flight, as well as the system in place that connects the two of them.
UAVs vary in weight and size, ranging from vehicles measurable by a few inches to aircraft with wingspans of up to 400 feet. Among numerous other factors, UAVs also vary in altitude and general operating characteristics. While there is no widely used classification system for UAVs, there are six major classifications for their functionality: target and decoy, reconnaissance, combat, logistics, research and development (R&D), civil, and commercial. Target and decoy UAVs are typically used for military training purposes. Reconnaissance and combat UAVs are used in the battlefield for intelligence attack capability in high-risk missions. As the name suggests, logistics UAVs are used for cargo and logistics operations. Likewise, R&D UAVs are used to further develop UAV technologies.
A Steadily Growing Industry
The UAV Manufacturing industry is in the growth stage of its life cycle. The defense sector currently is, and will likely continue to be, the primary market for UAVs. While most systems will be used for fighter combat, stealth missions, aircraft carrier operations, surveillance, and military communications, industry trends suggest that there will also be a steady expansion in the civil, as well as commercial uses for UAVs. Manufacturers are becoming increasingly focused on developing aircraft for the uses of border enforcement, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, scientific research, meteorology, firefighting, precision agriculture, infrastructure surveying, police surveillance, freight delivery and communication signals relaying.
Although the industry is heavily regulated, more business have been able to operate commercial drones since 2016, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) issuance of new and less restrictive regulations. Researches, such as those at IBIS World, suggest that the finalization of FAA regulations over the next few years will create more demand for UAV industry products.
The manufacturing of UAVs requires a significant amount of electronic components for data recording and transmission purposes, as well as for avionic functions. Antennas are among the most important electronic components of any UAV or UAS, for they allow the vehicle to transmit information to and receive information from other systems, as well as the people on the ground.
Over the past 15 years, JEM Engineering has developed a variety of UAV-qualified antennas. We offer a selection of aerodynamic antennas in various form factors and frequency ranges. Our versatile antennas can be used in ground‐to-ground, ground‐to‐air, and air‐to‐ground communications systems. Our product applications include signal intelligence (SIGINT); intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); and sensor systems.
To learn more about our UAV antennas, feel free to contact one of our experts.
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.
Antenna 101: Types and Applications
We are experts in custom antenna design and manufacturing for various applications. Some common applications include vehicular, airborne, communications, SIGINT (signal intelligence), and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance). While certain types of antennas are more suitable for each of these specific applications, many of our products are versatile and multi-platform.
In this article, we take a look at some of the different types of antennas, and what applications they can be used for.
Broadband Antennas – These antennas operate over a wide band of frequencies, or “bandwidths.” Generally, the bandwidths over which they operate are higher than 1 octave. They come in a variety of forms, including spirals, log-periodic antennas, dipoles and Vivaldi notch elements.
An example of a broadband antenna, the HSA-056 is a 6″ spiral ideally suited for handheld and vehicular applications. With its wide bandwidth, broad beamwidth, and high RF efficiency, the antenna is also suitable for applications such as SIGINT, EW, and wideband communications.
Narrowband Antenna – In contrast to broadband antennas, narrowband antennas operate over relatively narrow bandwidths, generally much less than 1 octave. Patch and resonant cavity antennas are typical examples of narrowband antennas.
The RDF-8696 is a narrowband transducer for short range reading and writing of RFID tags including GEN2 tags. Some of the applications it can be used for include printers and various forms of automation equipment.
Antenna Arrays & Beamformers – Array antennas consist of multiple radiating elements. In some cases, these elements are fed by a corporate power divider or “beamformer.” The simplest beamformer is a power division network, which yields a fixed radiation beam. A beamformer that incorporates controllable phase or delay elements is called a steerable beam array or “phased array.”
Also nicknamed the “Hexband Array,” the MBA-0127 is compact, low-profile, single-port antenna covering multiple bands from 400MHz to 2.2GHz. This array is useful for multiband communications, airborne applications, ISR applications, and SIGINT.
Genetic Antenna – These antennas are designed entirely by an optimization algorithm, which can be a genetic algorithm or some other iterative method. While many antennas are pre-existent designs that are modified through optimizations, these antennas are entirely new designs generated solely via computer.
Genetic antennas are perhaps the most unique, mainly because they are almost completely custom, like the one pictured above.
Introducing the HSA-218 Compact Spiral Antenna
JEM Engineering is proud to announce the release of our newest addition to our vast product line: the HSA-218 Spiral Antenna (above).
Also, like many of our products, this compact spiral antenna is rugged and weather resistant.
JEM Engineering’s MBA product line consists of multi-band antennas that are suitable for airborne and ISR applications. These flight-qualified antennas are shock and vibration tested according to RTCA DO-160G standards.
One of our newest additions to the MBA product line, the MBA-0202 is an antenna array with two output ports. It has excellent low frequency performance and operates at frequencies between 650 to 1050 MHz, as well as 1500 to 2750 MHz. Additionally, with its 2-inch thickness, this array is mounted behind a pod, blister, or panel on an airborne platform.
Even with its comparatively simpler, box-like appearance, the MBA-0203 has all the functionality of the MBA-0202, plus a third output port and an additional frequency range of 3600 to 5900 MHz. The low-profile array is also 2 inches thick and mountable onto an aircraft.
If you would like to request additional information on these antennas, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our Flight-Qualified Products Page to view our selection of broadband, conformal, high-power, and high-gain antennas.