Antenna upgrade enables better sewer management

Tuesday, 23 April, 2024 | Supplied by: Hi-Tec Aerials NZ Ltd

Antenna upgrade enables better sewer management

Amphenol Procom recently consulted a US company that produces market-leading devices that collect data and other information relevant to collection system flows, sewer levels and the effects of rainfall. Amongst many benefits, these allow accurate sewer billing and sewer capacity management. This data is collected and reported back wirelessly on commercial LTE networks.

Problem statement

Typically, the antennas used to send data are buried just under the road surface next to the manhole cover; inside the hole is the concealed data collection equipment, making maintenance or swapping out the antenna difficult and expensive. In situations where it’s not buried, but rather mounted alongside the equipment, there is a risk of flooding and, without best-in-class waterproofing, the antenna is liable to fail.

The incumbent antenna did not cover all 4G/5G and Wi-Fi network frequencies. It was narrow banded, meaning it could only see a few networks covered by the frequencies of the antenna. This prevented the customer from swapping data contracts with the mobile network operator to optimise operational costs, unless they swapped out the antenna for a new one that worked on the chosen network.

Ensuring ingress protection, for water specifically, was time-consuming and messy. If the cable became detached even during routine maintenance, water could get in the antenna lead via the SMA male connector. The housing of the antenna was a two-piece design that over time would also fail.

Design objective

The goal for this customer design ultimately became a ‘fit once’ solution.

Step one was optimising the performance of the antenna so it would work on all 4G/5G and Wi-Fi networks. The next agenda item was how to eliminate the swap-out of antennas that became damaged by water ingression. Finally, it required an SMA connector that was also resilient to water ingression.

This naturally started to define the product specification. It needed the antenna to cover 600 MHz–6 GHz without compromising return loss. Some manufacturers will increase the return loss to 3.1:1, basically meaning you have a huge amount of reflected power.

The housing of the antenna should be IP67 protected, achieved by overmoulding into one piece, removing the chance of ingression. A best-in-class SMA connector was used from Amphenol RF that, even when not mated, provided IP67 protection. This would be the final piece of the ingress protection.

Results and achievements

Within six weeks from initial consultation to approval of first samples, the UWTA 600-6000 was approved by the customer.

The product is wideband, not only making it suitable for all global LTE and 5G networks but also futureproofing it all the way up to Wi-Fi 6 while achieving a VSWR across a band of 2:0:1, achieving the goal of creating a product for all 4G/5G and Wi-Fi networks.

The design and manufacturing of the moulding process created a product that is IP67 ingress protected, providing a water-sealed housing that will have an operational lifetime of at least 10 years. This is compared to the incumbent antenna that was swapped every 12–18 months, reducing the maintenance costs by over 5x.

Additional features allow the antenna to be installed in a multitude of ways. A 3M scotch pad can be sourced and stuck to the back side of the moulding, or one can use the lug holes with screws to mount on a wide selection of surfaces. Areas that would benefit from this antenna include vending machines, metering, ATMs and numerous other fixed wireless applications.

Amphenol Procom products are proudly supplied by Hi-Tec Aerials in New Zealand. Hi-Tec will be exhibiting at Comms Connect New Zealand from 2627 June.

Phone: 0011 64 3 384 3375
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