Antenna Builder – Fit the Antenna to Your Project

Antennas are one of the most critical components in any wireless product. However, they are typically not selected until later in the product’s design. During the concept and early development stages of a design, antennas just need to meet the necessary wireless frequency and performance requirements. Size and type of antenna are generally not as important during initial testing since final antenna selection is usually not firmed up until the form factor and physical size of the finished product is determined.

Another characteristic of wireless products is that once the antenna selection is finalized and the product goes into production, the antenna rarely changes. This is mainly due to costly testing, wireless certification, approvals, and qualification of the finished product. Unless the antenna goes obsolete or becomes unavailable, it usually doesn’t change in a product’s lifecycle. The risk, time, and cost associated with qualifying a new antenna is usually not worth the effort.

Can’t Find Antenna for Project

Not all goes according to plan. A project’s antenna requirements can change, or the initially selected antenna becomes unavailable. Either situation requires revisiting the antenna portion of the project. Assuming an alternative antenna can be found, testing and qualification of the new antenna is performed, and the project is delayed but moves forward.

But what happens if a standard off-the-shelf alternative antenna can’t be identified? One could spend significant time and effort to redesign the product to use an antenna that is available. A potentially quicker approach would be to find a standard antenna that meets wireless performance requirements and have the manufacturer customize it to fit the product requirements. The plus side of a customized antenna is that you have exactly what you need. The downside is the time delay and cost needed to receive and evaluate the customized antenna. Even a seemingly minor request to change connector type or cable length can take considerable time and expense.

What if you could have a custom antenna shipped to you in days, not weeks, without NRE costs, tooling charges, or minimum order requirements? You don’t have to wait, Antenna Builder is available today at Digi-Key.

Antenna Builder

Antenna Builder is a configuration tool that provides the ability to customize Taoglas antennas with different connectors and cable lengths. It then creates a part number and price and lets customers immediately add it to their Digi-Key cart and order. Customized antennas are shipped directly from Taoglas to the customer.

  • You don’t need to commit to a minimum order quantity - order one and test it out in your application
  • There is no NRE or tooling charges
  • Once you have firmed up your antenna specifications, you can request volume pricing

As shown in Figure 1, antennas can be selected by Mounting Type, Frequency/Technology, External/Internal Type, Number of Antennas Inside, and color. Alternatively, you can just select the Taoglas antenna you are interested in.

Figure 1: Antenna Builder Selection page. (Image source: Digi-Key)

Once an antenna is selected, it can be customized for cable length and connector type as illustrated in the GPS antenna example in Figure 2. Pricing is shown after cable length and connector type are entered into the form. The antenna can then be added to the Digi-Key cart and ordered. Once ordered, the customized antenna is manufactured by Taoglas and shipped directly to the customer.

Figure 2: Antenna Builder Configuration page. (Image source: Digi-Key)

Conclusion

Antenna Builder can prove invaluable when trying to find an antenna that meets your project requirements and then quickly acquire it for testing and evaluation. Even if the antenna configuration needs to be revised, a modified version can easily be ordered and received in a matter of days.

Taoglas

Taoglas is a leading M2M antenna provider and provides an extensive range of automotive, tracking, utility metering, and remote monitoring antenna solutions. They offer a broad portfolio of antennas that can be customized, including cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, GNSS, and sub-GHz technologies.

About this author

Image of Scott Raeker

Scott Raeker, Principal Application Engineer at Digi-Key Electronics, has been with the company since 2006. He has over 35 years of experience in the electronics industry and holds an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. In his spare time, Scott enjoys the outdoors of Northwest Minnesota and working on his turn-of-the-century farmhouse.

More posts by Scott Raeker