SoftWear Antennas is a product development project, which will result in a wearable antenna product family. Previously, Patria has completed two ESA funded Artes 5.1 projects (Textile Antennas- and Cospas-Sarsat Antennas -projects), successfully demonstrating that fully textile, wearable antennas are extremely versatile and therefore feasible for different user applications.
The project work involves the development of fully textile antennas for selected frequency bands and applications. One particular challenge in this project is to fit traditional textile manufacturing with state of the art textile antennas production.
The initial launch of the antenna product family includes three members: VHF-, L-, and S-band antennas. However, the baseline designs give a provision to scale antennas to also cover other frequency bands.
The overall objective of this activity is to produce textile antennas. Three different textile antenna versions will be developed to a technical readiness level that allows them to be produced in high volumes. In addition to nominal antenna characterization tests performed in anechoic chamber, the antennas will also be tested in practical field tests during this activity.
Project output from a hardware point of view is the delivery of antenna 0-series.
There are two major challenges in this project. The first challenge concerns the size of the VHF antenna. As the free space wavelengths are in the scale of meters, sophisticated miniaturization methods shall be utilized. Antenna miniaturization tends to degrade the antenna performance. Therefore, the key issue is to maintain reasonable antenna bandwidth, gain and efficiency.
The second issue deals with the actual antenna manufacturing. The main challenge is to optimize the antenna designs in order to make the antenna robust enough against manufacturing and textile material tolerances.
The main benefits of the textile antennas are summarized:
- Light weight,
- Low maintenance,
- No set-up requirements,
- No damage from obstacles (robust),
- Unnoticeable (military).
The textile antenna product family is designed to serve several space and terrestrial wireless applications. Furthermore, the mechanical form factor will be designed to support different installation platforms.
Antenna elements are covered using a pouch option that makes them fully water tight. In addition, various antenna attachment methods will be supported.
The project started in November 2011. The total project length is 15 months. The work to be done during this time is divided into different work packages. The work packages cover:
- Refinement of the antenna specifications,
- Manufacturing trials,
- Antenna family design phase,
- 0-series manufacturing,
- Testing of the 0-series,
The policy to monitor the project status is to arrange progress meetings in 2 month intervals. Moreover, design review meetings will be organized according to the technical milestone schedule. The project will be finished on 31st March, 2013.
The project started in November 2011. The final work package (testing of the 0-series antenna modules) was completed and reported at the end of March 2013.
SoftWear antenna product family is now available for customers to evaluate and acquire.