The Antenna with Legs

By Eric Griffith

October 25, 2002

Etenna's tri-band antenna for 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth has a table top shape so components can fit under it on a circuit board.

Entenna Corporation of Laurel, MD, has released the ClearLink 5800, a tri-band antenna for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs ) that supports 2.40-2.48GHz for Bluetooth and 802.11b/g , and 5.2-5.9GHz for 802.11a and HiperLAN/2 .

The unique table shape of the ClearLink 5800 -- it's 10 mm by 14 mm, with legs giving it a height of 3mm -- lets it straddle components that go underneath.

"We've got the ClearLink in PC cards successfully, in laptops, even cellphones," says Greg Mendolia, Executive Vice President of Etenna. "Six months ago we did a joint paper with Ericsson to show their entire Bluetooth module could go under that antenna. This is for the mobile side, not the access point side, because of its size and versatility."

The ClearLink 5800 has the same dimensions as the company's previous release, the 2400 for Bluetooth and 802.11b, so upgrades to the 5800 are easy on existing designs. The ClearLink antenna's "table legs" include one that acts as the information port. The other three are for assembly on to the circuit board. Each antenna is made with standard plastic and metal.

"We married a high tech antenna to a low cost manufacturing process -- the overmold plastic process," says Mendolia. "This gives us a low cost base and because the process gives us a repeatable geometry to the antenna, it eliminates tests in our factories and saves us money on equipment." The antenna uses a frequency selective surface (FSS) -- it shrinks the dimensions of the antenna and makes it resistant to detuning or reduced performance due to proximity to other components. The ClearLink is ground plane independent, so it works the same no matter what form factor or orientation it's placed in within a product.

The ClearLink 5800 is available for sampling now. The company expects full production in quantity to start in January 2003, at a cost of $1.09 per unit in quantities of 1000 units.

Mendolia is confident that a multi-band antenna is the wave of the future for all WLANs based on what he's seeing in the market: "Some of our customers populate laptops with multi-band antennas, even without the chipset." That means laptops are getting ready for better range Wi-Fi and Bluetooth before the actual chips are available. Naturally, says Mendolia, "That's good for us. Even though the volume hasn't kicked in, people are still scrambling for parts."

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

802.11 Planet Conference How can better antennas help your WLAN? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, Dec. 3-5 in Santa Clara, CA. One of our sessions will cover Optimizing WLAN Coverage with High-Performance Antennas .

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