Let’s talk about setting up reliable and high-performance IoT networks using outdoor radio equipment and gateways. You might come across devices with RF connectors and antennas on the surface, seemingly a cost-saving choice. However, it’s important for you to understand the potential issues that can arise from this design. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why it’s advisable for you to avoid placing RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces.
One of the key reasons why RF connectors and antennas should not be placed on the top or side surfaces of outdoor radio equipment is the risk of mechanical issues. These problems can lead to performance degradation over time, making it difficult to detect or test early on.
Placing RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces increases the risk of moisture and water entering the device. Even small amounts of water can cause corrosion or short circuits, which can damage the power amplifier and other critical components.
Water ingress can also result in changing RF match, degrading return loss or voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR), corroding connections, lightning damage, reduced receive (Rx) sensitivity, and increased intermodulation or mixing products.
Outdoor environments are subject to strong winds, which can pose a significant challenge for devices with RF connectors and antennas on the top or sides. Over time, wind can compromise the integrity of the connectors and connections, leading to water ingress, reduced performance, and increased risk of damage.
Snow and Ice Build-up
In regions where snow and ice accumulations are common, RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces can lead to additional issues. The wind-load factor increases significantly in snowy and icy conditions, putting strain on the connectors, enclosures, and seals. This can result in damage, corrosion, and compromised IP rating.
Radio Performance Degradation
Another important consideration for avoiding RF connectors and antennas is the impact they have on radio performance. Placing them on the top or side surfaces can lead to radio performance degradation, affecting the overall reliability and efficiency of the network.
The positioning of RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces can result in increased signal interference. The proximity to other components and structures can introduce interference and reduce the clarity and strength of the radio signals. This can lead to poor connectivity and unreliable data transmission, impacting the functionality of the IoT network.
Blocked Radiation Patterns
When RF connectors and antennas are placed on the top or side surfaces, there is a risk of blocking the desired radiation pattern direction. This can result in ineffective signal propagation and reduced coverage, limiting the IoT network’s reach and performance.
Limited Testing and Detection
Putting RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces makes it challenging to test and detect radio performance issues. The inaccessibility of these components in a sealed enclosure can make it difficult to identify and resolve issues early on, potentially leading to prolonged periods of reduced performance or complete failure.
Industry Best Practices
To further highlight the importance of avoiding RF connectors and antennas on the top or side surfaces of outdoor radio equipment, it is helpful to look at industry best practices. Tier 1 base station manufacturers, such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and many Tier 2 manufacturers, do not place RF connectors on the top surfaces of their cellular 2G-5G base stations.
This practice was established after realizing the problems and costly consequences associated with such a design decision. In the early 2000s, a few 3G radios had RF connectors on the top surface for ease of jumper cable routing, but they were quickly replaced due to the issues mentioned earlier.
To sum up, it is evident that outdoor radio equipment and gateways should not have RF connectors or antennas on the top or side surfaces. The mechanical issues, radio performance degradation, and industry best practices clearly highlight the importance of proper design and placement.
By avoiding these flaws, operators and enterprises can ensure the deployment and operation of low-cost, reliable, and high-performance IoT networks. It is crucial for companies to prioritize telecom expertise and invest in well-designed enclosures specifically tailored to radio and gateway requirements to maximize the equipment’s longevity and efficiency.
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