Your wireless product’s end-to-end success dictates that your customers will rely on your antennas to perform well in their system. Most hardware and software is thoughtfully tested before sale or deployment, but why are so many antennas ignored?
There is no reason to defer or ignore your antenna evaluation; help is available. This article will outline some basic antenna pre-testing techniques that can be used in your own design environment to quantify the basic effectiveness and functionality of your antenna.
After tuning your matching components for a good match over the product’s operating frequencies, it is now possible for efficient antenna operation. However, matching networks may appear to offer great broadband return loss to your VNA, while often yielding poor radiation efficiency (under 10%).
Stand-alone antennas that attach to U.FL or SMA connectors are also popular. Many cheap antennas tend to have misleading data-sheets that overestimate gain and efficiency for the sake of sales. Your evaluation of a sample antenna is a prudent (and cost-effective) step.