Bad news… Good news…
Things have been pretty busy around the shop ever since we moved in… We submitted four proposals to the Technology Ventures Office here at the engineering research center. This involved plenty of documentation and prototyping, which naturally we couldn’t talk about in public. (OK, we talked about it a little bit here, but we didn’t talk about the novelty stuff…)
Well, yesterday we got some bad news: One of the ideas had been thought of before, so we can’t patent it.
But what is bad news for IP is good news for blogging, because now we can talk about something! So here it is…
Hybrid Penta-band Antenna
Back before we made the move one of our very best customers asked us to design them a penta-band antenna for their new product. They had tried out one or two of the commercially available models, and while the performance was okay, the cost was not ($2 – $5 in thousand piece quantities). We decided to take a look.
We have helped other customers design matching networks for these commercially available products before, and let us tell you, their performance and packaging is impressive. How could we hope to drive the cost down with a custom design? We decided to develop an electromagnetically similar design that used less expensive material… we decided to take out the dielectric and only use the customer’s existing circuit board plus some sheetmetal.
We’re talking thousand-piece quantities of around a dollar (apiece).
We made the first prototypes on the Bridgeport with an engraving tool and then when we had the dimensions right, we went next door to HiDEC and fab’d ’em.
As you can tell from the figures, about one-third of the antenna is ‘free’ because it’s just artwork. The other two-thirds is a metal stamping. We’re talking thousand-piece quantities of around a dollar (apiece).
There are other advantages.
Taking out the dielectric means taking out some of the loss, so they should be more efficient. (We haven’t confirmed that yet.) The part of the antenna that’s artwork can be ‘tweaked’ to match the feedline impedance, so no matching elements are necessary (or are integrated into the design) – driving down the installed cost even more.
It’s great to finally be able to share some of what’s been going on down at the shop.