Precision Embedded GNSS Antennas for IoT – By Chris Anderson

Applications for GNSS in IoT

There are many applications for precision embedded GNSS antennas for IoT. Obvious uses would include mobile applications such fleet tracking and pay as you go insurance while other applications may not seem as obvious. For instance, using GPS to uniquely identify a specific trash compactor, smart garbage can or even street light. In cases where an IoT device may move but doesn’t move often, adding movement sensors can let you shut-off that receiver to save power once you have acquired a fix on the signal.

GNSS also has other uses besides location such as having an automatic means for setting system time. This can dramatically improve the performance of remote sensor systems by ensuring your time and date stamp are always correct and your device is reporting in when it’s supposed to. In addition, this combination of location and time can give you the timezone setting as well. GNSS reports altitude as well as location and sometimes that altitude information can be combined with other sensor data like barometric pressure for automatic deployment of weather or other sensing systems.

Another less obvious way to make use of GNSS is to deploy either multiple antennas switched into a single GNSS receiver or multiple receivers and antennas to measure the orientation of your system. For example, placing a GNSS antenna on each wingtip of a fixed-wing drone and at the front and back ends of a school bus can let you directly determine the orientation of the vehicle in real time with no magnetic errors or other issues associated with using a digital compass. The further apart the antennas, the more precise the orientation calculation can be. The receivers can be adjacent to each other if required but will not give the same precise results. The feedback can be close to instantaneous as modern GNSS receivers are capable of refreshing at up to ten times a second.

“With autonomous vehicles and other high volume applications creating a mass market need for high precision embedded GNSS antennas and receivers, expect to see dual frequency receivers available to the IoT market by 2019.”

Since GNSS receiver accuracy is mostly limited by variations in ionospheric propagation delays, which for any two receivers near (within a few km) each other, the relative accuracy of the two receivers can be very good. This high relative accuracy can be exploited in specific applications such as determining orientation as mentioned above, precision agriculture, lawn mower robots, invisible fence systems or any other application where relative location can provide sufficient information for use-case.

Why Use Multiband GNSS?

This high precision is achieved by removing the that ionospheric error. In a two receiver system, one receiver is referenced to a physical location, for instance, the corner of a yard for an invisible fence system, and the difference in locations is computed and used for the application rather than the absolute position. The absolute position could vary by several meters but the differential measurement can be accurate to a few centimeters. Any means of removing that ionospheric error will accomplish a similar improvement in accuracy and this is why GNSS systems always use two different frequencies. The satellites send the same information on two different frequencies. The delay through the ionosphere varies in a known way with frequency so by comparing the delay through the ionosphere for the signal on each frequency, one can calculate the ionospheric delay and correct it out resulting in a single (albeit dual frequency or “band”) receiver with centimeter-level accuracy.

With autonomous vehicles and other high volume applications creating a mass market need for high precision embedded GNSS antennas and receivers, expect to see dual frequency receivers available to the IoT market by 2019. Also, as joint CEO, Dermot O’Shea wrote in this article, Centimeter-level positioning will drive the next generation of location-based apps.  At Taoglas, we have seen the need for low cost and high precision for a long time which is why we have numerous multi-band GNSS antenna products available already.  It is due to this foresight that many of the companies developing multi-band receivers are using our antennas already to test their products.

GNSS still won’t work indoors, but outside it will now be much more accurate.

For more information, please contact our Customer Services Team. We can also test your antenna and customize it for your specific project requirements.

Designing an IoT Project?

Sign up for a replay of this webinar by our CTO,

Chris Anderson

IoT Antenna Design Key Considerations Webinar image for Carol

 

 


Landon Garner Joins Taoglas as Chief Marketing Officer

Landon Garner Joins Taoglas as Chief Marketing OfficerGarner brings strong wireless, IoT expertise to leading antenna vendor

Taoglas, a leading provider of IoT and Automotive antenna products, today announced the appointment of Landon Garner to the newly created position of chief marketing officer (CMO). As CMO, Garner is tasked with growing awareness of Taoglas’ global presence and will oversee all aspects of brand communications, product strategy and marketing, and demand generation.

Garner joined Taoglas from Ingenu, where he was responsible for overseeing Ingenu’s corporate launch in 2015, as well as supporting the rollout of the company’s technology and networks to a global audience. Prior to Ingenu, Garner led the marketing efforts at KORE/RacoWireless from 2012-2015, driving the brand strategy and positioning the company as an IoT market leader and technology innovator.

“Having been an ecosystem partner of Taoglas in the past, I developed a great deal of respect for the culture and people of the company. The engineering team, impressive for their innovative nature and commitment to delivering the highest-quality service, really stands out in the industry,” Garner said. “Antenna vendors have a front-row seat into all of the innovation taking place in the wireless market, and I am happy to be joining the Taoglas team at such an exciting time to drive further awareness of the company and its solutions.”

Garner earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Brigham Young University-Idaho and his MBA in International Business from the University of Hawai’i’s Shidler College of Business.

“Landon brings to Taoglas not only strong marketing expertise but also a strong track record of helping IoT and wireless companies grow their brand awareness,” said Dermot O’Shea, co-CEO of Taoglas. “As Taoglas continues to increase its global presence as a leading RF and antenna company, Landon is the perfect choice to help elevate our brand.”

About Taoglas

Taoglas provides advanced antenna and RF solutions to the world’s leading wireless and IoT companies. With five world-class design, support and test centers in Ireland, Germany, Taiwan, and the USA, Taoglas works with its customers to provide the best solution for their unique antenna and RF challenges, quickly and easily. In-house manufacturing in Taiwan and USA enable us to deliver the highest quality products. Our team of professionals live and breathe RF solutions, with expertise and experience across different wireless and IoT use cases, from LTE to GNSS, DSRC, and NFC and beyond to 5G. This expertise is proven in the huge number of success stories across a variety of applications, including Telematics, Automotive, Metering, Smart Grid, Wearables, Medical Devices, Remote Monitoring, and High-Speed Video Broadcasting.


5G Antenna Technology

5g antenna technology

Slide from presentation given by Taoglas RF Engineer Baha Badran at The International Wireless Industry Consortium, 2017.

5G innovation will enable an era of connectivity like never before. Anticipated experiences from autonomous driving, tactile internet, Ultra HD video and VR based immersive technologies, all capacity-hungry communications, will see demands for higher throughput, better spectral efficiency, ultra-low latency and over 100 times the current number of connections. Taoglas are continuously at the forefront of wireless antenna technologies and we have various 5G antenna products to meet these demands.

In order to support increased traffic capacity, over 10 times existing throughput, and to enable the transmission bandwidths needed to support very high data rates, 5G will extend the range of frequencies used for mobile communication in legacy LTE/4G systems as well as leverage the new Radio Access Technology for 5G called ‘NX’. ‘NX will focus on new frequencies including new spectrum at sub 6GHz, as well as spectrum in higher frequency bands at mmW. We will address these new standards in 3GGP release 14.

Taoglas envisages that 5G antenna technology will be a combination of sub 6GHz antenna systems as well as mmW antenna systems, the latter will work just below 30 GHz and also from 30 GHz to 77 GHz. There is particular emphasis from a hardware and network deployment viewpoint on the 28 GHz.

3GGP Release 14 also discusses MU-Massive MIMO which uses a large number of antennas, typically 64/128/256 or more antennas for Multi-user MIMO and/or 2 dimensional beamforming.

Taoglas 5G antenna technology offerings will leverage both the sub 6GHz and mmW frequency space to give ubiquitous coverage and capacity for networks of the future. We believe that the C band can offer a good compromise for range vs coverage for MU Massive MIMO beamforming antenna technology. At Taoglas we demonstrate this in our product offering of the 5-6 GHz Massive MIMO Base Station Antennas, namely the MCM 100 with 64 elements 19dBi effective gain. Digital beamforming can be incorporated in the base band processor of the radios connected to each of the individual antennas.

According to this CNET article, which features Ronan Quinlan, Joint CEO of Taoglas “Next-gen networks will have vast capacity so your phone can handle data even in massive crowds. Help for self-driving cars will have to wait longer, though.”

But watch this space! At Taoglas we are constantly innovating on 5G antenna technology.

See our range of internal and external 5G antennas. Work with our engineers to have the antenna tested, customised and even certified for your needs.


Taoglas LDS Optimises Performance in the Wearables Market

This LDS case study comprises of how Taoglas engineers assisted in the development of the SmartWatch antenna. Outlined here is how the customer received consultation services in the design, optimisation, and execution of their unique antenna designed for the SmartWatch.

As seen in a previous case-study ‘Taoglas LDS Solutions For The Automotive Industry’ the highly innovate solutions for these products were realized and manufactured, using the Taoglas LDS capability in Taiwan.

Title: 

Smart Watch

Industry:

Wearables

Challenge: 

Integrate a high-performance GNSS and a 2.4GHz Bluetooth antenna into lightweight wearable SmartWatch.

(SmartWatch) Figure 1

A new SmartWatch design presented an opportunity for Taoglas to work closely with one of their customers to provide a highly innovative solution to the wearables industry. The challenge was to integrate two high performance and efficient antennas within the compact, low profile wearable device. The first antenna was a 1575MHz GNSS antenna to provide personal positioning information, the second antenna was a 2.4GHz Bluetooth antenna to be used for data communications.

The first stage of the design involved modeling the physical device in 3D and selecting the optimum LDS polymer resin. Taoglas used Solidworks® to clearly define the 3D structure, communicate with the customer and to ensure that the antenna could be implemented within the planned product construction.

As this was a wearable application the LDS polymer resin selected was a Polycarbonate [PC]. Polycarbonate is one of the many LPKF approved* LDS polymer resins available. Below is a list of the popular LDS resins that can be used:

  •  Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Nylon (PPA)
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT)
  • Polyphenylene Sulphide (PPS)
  • Liquid Crystal Polymers (LCP)

Once the physical design is finished and the correct polymer resin selected, the basic antenna designs could begin. For full antenna modeling, Taoglas used CST Microwave Studio®. The two antennas were designed to fit on the surface of the of the plastic part (see figure 2). This plastic part is commonly referred to as the antenna carrier. The antenna carrier, in the case, had an outer radius of 38mm and a height of 3.2mm which provided a very compact solution. The carrier was also designed to snap fit into the watch outer casing and to provide simple connection points to the main electronics board [PCB].

(Highly integrated dual antenna carrier) Figure 1

 

Modelling of the design in CST allows for design adjustments and antenna optimisation without the need for “trial and error” sampling which, in turn, reduced cost and lead-time for the overall design.

(LDS Antenna locations and layout) Figure 2

(LDS Antenna locations and layout) Figure 2

Below are images of the optimised radiation patterns developed within CST (figure 3).

CST Modelling: Antenna Radiation Patterns

CST Modelling: Antenna Radiation Patterns. Figure 3.

The first production representation samples of the SmartWatch frame were manufactured using the Taoglas LDS capability in Taiwan. The MicroLine 160i LDS laser (see figure 4) can be quickly configured to precisely transfer the antenna pattern from CAD data onto the surface of the first molded carriers.

Once the antenna pattern has been completed the activated areas of the part are metalized using an electroless plating process. The electroless plating process used deposits a minimum of 12um of Copper followed by 4um of Nickel.

(LPKF Microline 160i LDS Laser available at Taoglas Taiwan)

Conclusion:

Taoglas was able to provide the customer with two highly integrated and efficient antennas on a single antenna carrier. The antennas performed well within this low profile, compact device. The LDS solution, that Taoglas provided, easily outperformed traditional approaches because the antennas could be placed at locations furthest away from the active electronics. Due to space limitations, traditional antennas are difficult to use and impact on space and performance requirements. LDS allowed the antenna patterns and associated performance to be optimised quickly. Minor changes to the antenna design and pattern were implemented immediately without cost and without the need for expensive tooling modifications. This product once finished ramped up quickly into volume production.

References:

  • Solidworks® and CST Microwave Studio® are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes, France.
  • MicroLine 160i is an LDS laser system manufactured and licenced by LPKF, Germany.
  • *: LPKF LDS Approved Polymer Resins: http://www.lpkf.com/_mediafiles/2074-approved-plastics-lpkf-lds-2017-02.pdf http://www.lpkf.com/applications/mid/lpkf-lds-process/index.htm

Related Articles:

Lazer Direct Structuring. LDS Technology

Taoglas LDS Solutions for the Automotive Industry


Taoglas LDS Solutions For The Automotive Industry

OBD Wireless Transceiver Module

OBD Wireless Transceiver Model – with outer sleeve removed. Figure 1.

New LDS Technology gives Taoglas a highly competitive edge in offering ultimate design freedom for customers. We support running design changes such as antenna performance tuning & optimisation as seen in our SmartWatch case study. With Taoglas working closely with the customer during all stages of the design process, we can facilitate a high degree of design flexibility.  See how we use LDS technology to provide innovative solutions for the Automotive industry.

Title:

On-Board Diagnostics [OBD] Wireless Transceiver Module.

Industry:

Automotive.

Challenge:

Integrate a high-performance GPS and a GSM antenna into compact OBD form factor.

 

The challenge was to integrate two high performance and efficient antennas into the compact space provided. The first antenna was a 1575.42 MHz GPS antenna to be used for positioning information, the second antenna would be a dual-band GSM antenna for data transmission and designed to operate at both 900MHZ and 1800MHz.  The first stage of the design involved working closely with the customer to mechanically model the product in Solidworks®. This stage of development was important as the 3D structure, the construction requirements and space limitations needed to be clearly defined. Taoglas is now offering LDS Technology to address customer needs for smaller, higher performance products with integrated LDS antennas. 

Once the physical outline and space requirements were complete, the choice of LDS polymer resin could be made. Based on the requirements of the application, ABS resin was chosen as it is a popular polymer, for internal cabin use, in the automotive industry. Many LDS resins* are available within the popular LDS resin families shown below.

  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Nylon (PPA)
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT)
  • Polyphenylene Sulphide (PPS)
  • Liquid Crystal Polymers (LCP)

Once the physical design and LDS resin had been selected, the basic antenna designs could begin. The two antennas were placed on opposite sides, and on the outer surface, of the planned plastic housing. The positions of the antennas were chosen to maximise isolation between antennas themselves and between the antennas and from the main internal electronics board [PCB].

The design of the connections to both antennas was achieved by using compact surface mount “C” clips. These connector components are supplied by Taoglas [part number CC.001] and are ideal for use in these types of compact assemblies. They are easy to assemble onto the main PCB as they use the same standard SMT assembly process used to manufacture the PCB.

The plastic housing design is also optimised to provide dedicated contact points for the clips to make reliable connections to the LDS pattern. The LDS pattern is designed so the contact points will be directly over the PCB mounted “C” clips during final assembly (see figure 2). The “C” themselves have a working vertical tolerance of 1mm so possible concerns with construction tolerances are not an issue.

(Cut away graphic showing two CC.001 clips connecting with the GPS antenna pattern)

(Cut away graphic showing two CC.001 clips connecting with the GPS antenna pattern) Figure 2

Finally, detailed modeling of the two antennas could be completed with the final physical requirements defined. For full antenna modeling, Taoglas uses CST Microwave Studio®. The antenna performance was iterated on and optimised using CST minimising the need for expense and time consuming “trial and error” sample builds.

The first production representation samples of the device were manufactured using the Taoglas LDS capability in Taiwan. A MicroLine 160i LDS laser was quickly configured to precisely transfer the antenna pattern from CAD data onto the surface of the first molded housings. Subsequent metalization of the antenna surfaces, activated by the LDS laser, provides plating Copper plated to a thickness of 12um followed by Nickel plated to a thickness of 4um.

(Optimised CST Electromagnetic field and current models)

(Optimised CST Electromagnetic field and current models) Figure 3

 

LPKF Microline 160i LDS Laser available at Taoglas Taiwan

(LPKF Microline 160i LDS Laser available at Taoglas Taiwan) Figure 4

Conclusion:

For the customer, Taoglas provided two highly integrated and efficient antennas which performed well within their compact OBD transceiver device. The LDS solution easily outperformed traditional approaches. The radiation patterns for traditional antennas such as stamped metal, PCB mount or integrated PCB antennas would have been impacted by their close proximity to the main electronics PCB and would have led to reduced isolation between antennas. The alternative was to make the OBD transceiver module bigger which was not an option for the customer. Finally, LDS allowed the antenna patterns and associated performance to be optimised quickly, without expensive tooling modifications, and allowed the product to go quickly into production.

Read more about Taoglas LDS Technology

References:

  • Solidworks® and CST Microwave Studio® Registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes, France.
  • MicroLine 160i is an LDS laser system manufactured and licensed by LPKF, Germany.
  • CC.001 is a SMT “C” Clip available from Taoglas: http://www.taoglas.com/product/cc-001-smt-c-clip-connector/
  •   *: LPKF LDS Approved Polymer Resins: http://www.lpkf.com/_mediafiles/2074-approved-plastics-lpkf-lds-2017-02.pdf
  • **: LPKF LDS Design Guidelines: http://www.lpkf.com/applications/mid/design-rules/index.htm

 

Related Articles:

Lazer Direct Structuring LDS Technology

Taoglas LDS Optimises Performance in the Wearables Market

 

 


Taoglas Antennas Connect the MangOH Open-Source Cellular Platform to Simplify and Accelerate IoT Development and Adoption

There are lots of inventors, developers and makers who have an idea for an IoT solution, but don’t have a platform over which they can design prototypes and test ideas quickly and cost-effectively  in an open source fashion. The mangOH open source hardware program was founded by Sierra Wireless to make it easier for IoT developers to create prototypes for wired, wireless or sensor technology based on their unique IoT use cases. It utilizes a platform that delivers up to 90 percent of the building blocks required for a prototype in an out-of-the-box fashion. mangOH is the first and only B2B open source cellular platform in the industry.

Continue reading…


Connected Cars Place New Demands on Vehicle Electronics Design 

By Chris Anderson, CTO, Taoglas. Article featured in Wireless, Design & Development Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 5 

The connected car of the future will have more options than ever, expanding beyond basic infotainment and navigation systems to offer the latest in safety features, and (in the-nottoo-distant future) autonomous driving. The requirement for more sensors and antennas to deliver high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity is seemingly at odds with another requirement of auto manufacturers—fewer cables and connectors that cause noise and vibrations, while being complicated and expensive to install. In today’s connected cars, antennas and electronics are increasingly being forced in closer proximity. What does that mean for design engineers?

Continue reading…