Antenna Downtilt: A Practical Overview

June 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM

  

When managing cellular networks with multiple base stations, one of the toughest challenges for operators is mitigating inter-cell interference. As 5G implementation ramps up, this will become increasingly important as service providers look to strengthen networks to increase capacity.

 

To successfully densify, base stations must be able to reuse frequencies within their cellular clusters. This means that operators will need to have firm control over the radiation pattern of each antenna, as radiation sprawl will result in electromagnetic interference and poor quality communications.

 

One of the best ways to stop radiation sprawl is downtilt – a process that directs the antenna’s vertical pattern towards the ground. Downtilt can be accomplished by using these two methods:

 

Mechanical Downtilt:

This is the fastest and easiest way to control an antenna’s pattern. It involves physically adjusting the pole-mounting brackets of an antenna by using a digital level against the back of the antenna for an accurate measurement. The downside of this method is that it will create an effect called pattern blooming, which reduces the signal more at bore sight and less at angles away from bore sight.

 

Electrical Downtilt:

Another way to change an antenna’s radiation pattern is by introducing an electrical phase taper inside of a sector antenna array. Electrical downtilt allows for a uniform reduction in coverage, preventing pattern blooming from happening. There are three types of antennas electrical downtilt antennas: fixed, variable and manual. The values of fixed electrical downtilt antennas cannot be changed after design and factor in the antenna’s elevation beamwidth along with other deployment dynamics. Antennas with variable electrical downtilt can be changed remotely. Manual electrical downtilt antennas are set with a tuning knob during installation, or they can be adjusted by a second tower climb if needed. While electrical downtilt prevents pattern blooming, variable and manual electrical downtilt antennas are usually more expensive and reduce antenna gain.

 

To check out our extensive line of antennas, click here.

 

M12 Connector Coding Demystified

May 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

When you need to ensure that you have a reliable connection, even in the harshest conditions, you need an M12 connector. These rugged connectors are ideal for maintaining connections in the world of industrial automation and in any application where the environment or conditions can be a challenge. But do you know how to interpret the coding of an M12 connector? If not, you’re in luck, we’re here to help.

 

First, let’s take a look at the structure of an M12 connector. These circular connectors have a 12 mm locking thread that is typically IP-rated and provides protection from liquids and solids. Inside, there are pins in configurations of either 3, 4, 5, 8 or 12.

 

Different pin configurations are used for different applications. For example, 3 and 4-pin versions are used for sensors and in power applications, 4 and 8-pin models are used in Ethernet and PROFINET and 12-pin models are usually used for signal applications.

 

In addition to the varying pin configurations, M12 connectors are also coded. This coding prevents improper mating.

 

Here is a list of M12 codes and the applications they’re used in:

 

A-coded: sensors, DC power and 1 Gigabit Ethernet

B-coded: PROFIBUS

C-coded: AC power

D-coded: 100 Mbit Ethernet

K-coded: AC power

L-coded: PROFINET DC power

X-coded: 10 Gigabit Ethernet

S-coded: AC power (will be replacing C-coded power parts)

T-coded: DC power (will be replacing A-coded power parts)

 

Codes A, B, D and X are the most popular. A, B and D codes originated with the first M12 connectors, so they’ve been available the longest. The growth of the high-speed industrial Ethernet market has brought a surge of popularity for X-coded connectors, which are likely to eventually replace A, B and D codes in Ethernet applications.

 

There you have it, M12 codes de-coded. For all of your M12 connector needs, check out our website.

 

USB Active Optical Cables (AOC)

May 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

USB has long been proven to be a dependable, flexible and simple-to-use interface that is a staple for a multitude of applications. Along the way, USB has adapted to offer a variety of formats to fit today’s technology needs. From power delivery to SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2, USB has got you covered. Now the interface is taking things to another level with the introduction of USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables (AOC).

 

Active Optical Cable technology uses the same electrical inputs as traditional copper cabling, but with optical fiber between connectors. With electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends, AOC provides faster speeds and distance performance while also maintaining compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. Building upon the features of AOC, USB 3.0 AOC is made to be compliant with SuperSpeed USB electrical specifications, allowing for easy plug-and-play use and continuous operation between existing USB 3.0 hosts, hubs and devices.

 

These USB cables have an ultra-thin profile and much longer reach than a standard USB cable. In fact, they can reach speeds of 2.2 Gbps at over 100 meters. This allows for USB 3.0 AOC cables to be used in new and different ways USB might not have been able to before, such as with security cameras, industrial and medical machine control systems and in high-def surveillance applications. These cables are capable of speeds up to 5 Gbps, depending on the length of the cable. They also boast low power consumption and minimal EMI/RFI since fiber optic technology is being used.

 

Though USB 3.0 AOC is not backwards compatible, it won’t support older USB standards, there are many other features that make it worthwhile. Overall, USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables can be a great option if you have an application requiring USB connectivity over a long distance that traditional USB cables cannot meet.

 

To help you with your next high-speed, long distance USB application, check out our USB 3.0 AOC cables

 

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Embedded Antennas and the IoT

May 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

In the not so distant future, the world will be fully automated with machines being able to communicate with little or no interaction from humans, thanks to the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of embedded antennas.

 

These small form factor antennas are a perfect fit for the shrinking size of IoT devices, while still being able to keep up with the massive amounts of data that will need to be transmitted as the IoT connects physical devices with software based management and control applications.

 

Embedded antennas are small, yet powerful antennas with many offering multiband support for use in mobile and fixed data applications. Their key performance attributes include high efficiency, low power consumption, low return loss and isolation.

 

High efficiency brings better signal reception, improving the system’s ability for faster data transfer rates. Reduced power consumption allows for increased longevity. Less return loss means more power transmitted, and isolation limits the amount of crosstalk interference. Embedded antennas can work with high-frequency or low-frequency systems, some feature MIMO technology and smart antennas have been introduced that feature embedded GPS and Flash memory capabilities.

 

As IoT deployments get underway, there are more embedded antenna options to consider to take full advantage of this exciting era of automation.

 

To help you succeed with your IoT implementations, we offer a full line off-the-shelf, embedded antennas ready to ship the same-day, plus custom designed antennas to suite all of your IoT needs.

 

12G-SDI Serial Digital Interface

April 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

Serial Digital Interface (SDI) is a digital video interface that provides a range of advantages for transmitting video and audio. This long-lived standard has been around nearly 30 years and is still as relevant as ever, keeping up with the changing demands of today’s technology. Now, SDI has come out with its most powerful iteration: 12G-SDI. Let’s take a look at all of the details.

 

12G-SDI brings the SDI standard to the next level with improved resolution, frame rate and color over a single cable. Capable of 12 Gbps speeds, it delivers four times the bandwidth of HD and is perfectly suited for the 4K 60p format. This makes it ideal for live broadcasting, studio sets and venues where it’s important for a cable to maintain a strong signal while also being easy to connect and fairly lightweight. 12G-SDI is also expected to expand into fiber to increase its distance and bandwidth capabilities up to 10km and open up opportunities for 12G technology throughout broadcast and production facilities.

 

Though this standard has been under development since 2012, it has not yet been ratified by the governing body of standards, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). Thus, not all manufacturers have begun making products to support 12G-SDI. But those that are being made are delivering customers with cables and connectors that are simple to connect with better image and signal, and without extra weight or cost. Even without ratification, 12G-SDI is a viable standard offering real solutions for today’s video and audio demands.

 

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