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How antennas work | Omni-directional vs focused beam antenna

A: You can hear everybody around you but only in the close vicinity. This is similar to an omni-directional antenna.

B: You hear only one person clearly, but that person can be quite far away. This is similar to a directional panel antenna.

Everyone knows their mobile phone has a built-in antenna, somewhere in the phone. Most people have heard about the poor antenna designed into the i-phone 4 when it first came out, and many people were amazed when Steve Jobs mentioned,

“tell them to hold it (the phone) differently”.

But antenna choice and design is important. All 3G repeater systems have an indoor antenna and an outdoor antenna. But how do we decide which outdoor antenna is best for the repeater system, and why is it important?

An analogy is the best way to describe this. Let’s say you’re at at party surrounded by people chatting.

What’s going on?

Everyone is talking at the party and it is even difficult to hear the softly spoken person opposite you. Your ear is an antenna, so you turn your head to hear what is being said. This still is not good enough, so you take out a cone, shaped like the one you see on a megaphone, put the small end to your ear and point the large end at the softly spoken person.  Now you can hear what he is saying, and the surrounding noise of all the other people talking has reduced. If your ear is an antenna, using the cone is like increasing the gain of the antenna. The results of a well designed higher gain antenna is that you “hear” more of the signal you want and less of the signals you don’t want. But you have to be more careful about how you point the higher gain antenna.

Stelladoradus supplies a directional outdoor antenna as standard. ie, you need to point it at the operators mast.  However, it is a medium gain antenna. This means it is more forgiving if you point the antenna slightly in the wrong direction. Higher gain antennas are also possible and should be used in very poor signal areas (like trying to hear that very softly spoken person at the far side of the noisy room. You will need a very large cone.)

If you do not want to go to the effort of pointing the antenna, or you need to connect to several masts at once, then an omni directional antenna is recommended, but do bear in mind, this could increase the noise which is experienced by the repeater system overall.

You should be in a strong signal area before using an omni-antenna.

Note: Using a megaphone at a party to hear the softly spoken person next to you WILL help your hearing but may result in a reduction of social value.

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