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In-Car RF Lab

Application Note
Issue 1

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Consideration for Optimum Antenna Placement in a Vehicle

Cambridge Silicon Radio Limited 2013


Confidential Information - This material is subject to CSRs non-disclosure agreement

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Document History
Revision

Date

History

6 NOV 13

Original publication of the document

Contacts
www.csr.com

Information on this product

sales@csr.com

Customer support for this product

www.csrsupport.com

More detail on compliance and standards

product.compliance@csr.com

Help with this document

comments@csr.com

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General information

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Trademarks, Patents and Licences


Unless otherwise stated, words and logos marked with or are trademarks registered or owned by CSR plc
and/or its affiliates.
Bluetooth and the Bluetooth logos are trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and licensed to CSR.
Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Alliance, WMM, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo, the Wi-Fi logo, the
Wi-Fi ZONE logo, and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup logo are registered trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance; Wi-Fi
CERTIFIED, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, Wi-Fi Multimedia, and the Wi-Fi Alliance logo are
trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Other products, services and names used in this document may have been trademarked by their respective owners.

01

The publication of this information does not imply that any licence is granted under any patent or other rights owned
by CSR plc or its affiliates.

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CSR reserves the right to make technical changes to its products as part of its development programme.

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While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this document, CSR cannot accept
responsibility for any errors.

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No statements or representations in this document are to be construed as advertising, marketing, or offering for sale
in the United States imported covered products subject to the Cease and Desist Order issued by the U.S.
International Trade Commission in its Investigation No. 337-TA-602. Such products include SiRFstarIII chips that
operate with SiRF software that supports SiRFInstantFix, and/or SiRFLoc servers, or contains SyncFreeNav
functionality.

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Life Support Policy and Use in Safety-critical Compliance


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CSRs products are not authorised for use in life-support or safety-critical applications. Use in such applications is
done at the sole discretion of the customer. CSR will not warrant the use of its devices in such applications.

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Performance and Conformance

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Refer to www.csrsupport.com for compliance and conformance to standards information.

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Contents
Document History.................................................................................................................................................. 2
Contacts ............................................................................................................................................................... 2
Trademarks, Patents and Licences ........................................................................................................................ 3
Life Support Policy and Use in Safety-critical Compliance....................................................................................... 3
Performance and Conformance ............................................................................................................................. 3
Contents ............................................................................................................................................................... 4
Tables, Figures and Equations............................................................................................................................... 4
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................... 6

2.

Aspects of Physical Layer ............................................................................................................................... 6

5.

,2

2.2.

Free-Space Path Loss ........................................................................................................................... 10

2.3.

Reflections and Fading Aspects ............................................................................................................. 11

2.4.

Absorption by Interior and Human Body ................................................................................................. 17

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Antenna Characteristics ........................................................................................................................... 6

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EMC Aspects ............................................................................................................................................... 20


EMC inside a Vehicle............................................................................................................................. 20

3.2.

EMC to Environment of the Vehicle ........................................................................................................ 20

3.3.

Vehicle to Vehicle Interference ............................................................................................................... 21

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Example of In-Vehicle RF-distribution:........................................................................................................... 22


Test Set-Up ........................................................................................................................................... 22

4.2.

Test Results .......................................................................................................................................... 23

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2.1.

Conclusions ................................................................................................................................................. 24

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Document References ......................................................................................................................................... 25

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Terms and Definitions.......................................................................................................................................... 26

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Tables, Figures and Equations


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Table 2.1: Direct and Reflected Path.................................................................................................................... 12

Figure 2.1: Radiated Field of an Isotropic Antenna [1]............................................................................................. 6


Figure 2.2: Schematic: /2 Dipole and its Radiation Characteristic [1]...................................................................... 7
Figure 2.3: Monopole Antenna and its Radiation Characteristic [1][3] ...................................................................... 7
Figure 2.4: Inverted F Antenna and its Radiation Characteristic .............................................................................. 8
Figure 2.5: Chip Antenna [2] .................................................................................................................................. 8
Figure 2.6: Typical Chip Antenna Pattern [2]........................................................................................................... 8
Figure 2.7: Patch Antenna ..................................................................................................................................... 9
Figure 2.8: Horizontal Radiation Characteristic of a Patch Antenna ......................................................................... 9
Figure 2.9: Vertical Radiation Characteristic of a Patch Antenna ............................................................................. 9
Figure 2.10: Graph of Free-Space Path up to a Distance of 2 m............................................................................ 10

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Figure 2.11: Graph of Free-Space Path Loss up to a Distance of 20 m.................................................................. 10


Figure 2.12: Example of Multi-Path Horizontal Layer............................................................................................. 11
Figure 2.13: Example of Multi-Path Vertical Layer................................................................................................. 11
Figure 2.14: Cube Model for Multi-Path Investigation ............................................................................................ 12
Figure 2.15: Frequency Response with Direct Connection and Multi-Path no Attenuation ...................................... 13
Figure 2.16: Frequency Response with Direct Connection and Multi-Path; Direct Path 25 dB Attenuation .............. 13
Figure 2.17: Dual Printed Antennas on a PCB ...................................................................................................... 14
Figure 2.18: Reflection Impacts the Antenna Isolation........................................................................................... 14
Figure 2.19: Antenna Isolation with no Reflection Plate......................................................................................... 15

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Figure 2.20: Antenna Isolation with a Reflection Plate in 1 cm Distance................................................................. 15

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Figure 2.21: Antenna Isolation with a Reflection Plate in 5 cm Distance................................................................. 16

Figure 2.22: Antenna Isolation a Reflection Plate in 10 cm Distance...................................................................... 16

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Figure 2.23: Human Body Absorption of Man 1..................................................................................................... 17

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Figure 2.24: Human Body Absorption of Woman 1 ............................................................................................... 18

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Figure 2.25: Human Body Absorption of Man 2..................................................................................................... 18

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Figure 2.26: Human Body Absorption of Man 3..................................................................................................... 19

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Figure 2.27: Human Body Absorption of Woman 2 ............................................................................................... 19

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Figure 3.1: RF Emission of a Car using Wireless Communication with two Devices (Antennas).............................. 21

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Figure 3.2: RF Emissions in Crowed Traffic.......................................................................................................... 22

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Figure 4.1: Test Set-Up for In-Vehicle RF-distribution Measurement ..................................................................... 23

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Figure 4.2: Test Results In-Vehicle RF-Distribution............................................................................................... 23

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1.

Introduction

With the introduction of wireless technology inside a vehicle aspects of RF-technology have to be considered in
order to reach acceptable performance levels.

The quality of wireless communication depends on several aspects. Beside the devices used for the wireless link
and their performance the environment has a huge impact, too.
A vehicle as an environment for a wireless link is a very difficult case. The cabin works partly like a Faradays cell
and the behaviour of reflections has to be also considered

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The automotive environment means that the majority of the wireless links are short ranged, less than 5 meters.

Aspects of Physical Layer

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This document provides an overview of the RF considerations needed, in particular antenna placement and design,
to achieve the best possible wireless radio performance. This document primarily considers the physical layer and
some relevant EMC aspects.

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Antenna Characteristics

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With respect to the OSI layer model the RF connection is within the lowest layer which establishes the physical
connection and therefore it is called the physical layer. In the following the principal aspects of the RF distribution are
introduced.

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For wireless communication the antennas are one of the most important devices in the device chain. An antenna is a
converter. It converts the electrical power available at its input to an electric-magnetic field which is radiated in the
free space. And in other direction it picks up the electro-magnetic energy of an available RF field and converts it to
electrical power.

Isotropic Radiator

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Based on the characteristic of that radiation there are various kinds of antennas. In the following the most important
are introduced.

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The isotropic radiator is a theoretical device which radiated the total power in every direction with same density. It
has a horizontal and vertical diagram of 360

Figure 2.1: Radiated Field of an Isotropic Antenna [1]

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2.1.2.

Dipole and Monopole Antennas

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The /2 dipole is a simple antenna. It has a toroidal radiation pattern, symmetrical to the axis of the dipole. The
radiation is maximum at right angles to the dipole, dropping off to zero on the antennas axis.

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Figure 2.2: Schematic: /2 Dipole and its Radiation Characteristic [1]

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Using only one half of a dipole and use a ground layer as counterpart, results in a so called monopole antenna.

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Figure 2.3: Monopole Antenna and its Radiation Characteristic [1][3]

This kind of antenna is built-up un-symmetrically. The second half of the dipole is realized by a ground plane. It is
easy to imagine that the pattern of such an antenna corresponds with the relevant half of a dipole pattern shown in
figure 2.2.

2.1.3.

Inverted-F Antenna

A very frequently used antenna in the 2.4 GHz ISM band is the inverted-F antenna. This has the advantage of being
very easy to produce on a PCB. For more information about inverted F antennas, see CSR application note
Designing an Inverted-F Antenna [5].
The radiation characteristic of an inverted-F antenna is shown in the following figure.

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Chip Antenna

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Figure 2.4: Inverted F Antenna and its Radiation Characteristic

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Chip antennas are also easy to use. They could be assembled like a simple component. However, the placement
has to consider the environment of the Chip antenna because there could be some interaction with wiring and
components which are nearby to the chip antenna. A typical version with its radiation characteristic is shown below.

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Figure 2.5: Chip Antenna [2]

Figure 2.6: Typical Chip Antenna Pattern [2]

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2.1.5.

Antennas with Wanted Beam Patterns

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In some applications it is a requirement that the RF distribution is only within certain directions. This could be
realized for example by using more (active and/or passive) elements in case of Yagi antennas [3] or designing a
patch antenna

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Figure 2.7: Patch Antenna

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Figure 2.8: Horizontal Radiation Characteristic of a Patch Antenna

Figure 2.9: Vertical Radiation Characteristic of a Patch Antenna

Note:
This collection of antenna types is not complete but it covers the most important.

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2.2.

Free-Space Path Loss

Every electromagnetic wave radiated from an antenna is attenuated with increasing distance from this antenna. The
attenuation depends on the wave length of RF signal. The formula for free-air attenuation is like following:

Path Loss [dB] = 20 log((4 d)/ )


= Wave length [m]
d = distance [m]

Equation 2.1: Free-Space Path Loss based on Wave Length

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In case of 2.4 GHz ISM band we got:

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Figure 2.10: Graph of Free-Space Path up to a Distance of 2 m

Figure 2.11: Graph of Free-Space Path Loss up to a Distance of 20 m

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2.3.

Reflections and Fading Aspects

Beside the increasing attenuation with distance there is another aspect which is very important for wireless systems
especially within vehicles. Normally the body of a car is made of metal. Metal however works for RF waves like a
mirror.

In case there are at least two antennas placed in such a vehicle and both transmitting and receiving electromagnetic
waves. With the metal body around them there is a single direct connection but also quite a lot of indirect
connections. These indirect connections are caused on reflections by the surrounding metal body.

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So this is a multipath situation. An example of reflections in a multipath environment is shown below:

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Figure 2.12: Example of Multi-Path Horizontal Layer

Figure 2.13: Example of Multi-Path Vertical Layer

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2.3.1.

Simple Model of Multipath Investigation:

As shown on the previous page the reflection behaviour inside a car is very complex. In order to get more details of
reflections and its impact to wireless communication a simple model was created:

2.3.1.1. Introduction of the Model


Within a cube two antennas are placed. As the shape of the cube is clear, reflection paths can be estimated:

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Direct path 0 reflections

With the simple assumptions that the surface of the cube reflects RF totally and the characteristic of the
antennas used is nearly isotropic, we got a certain number of paths. This number depends on the amount of
reflections within one path (grade of reflection) we want to consider:

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One reflection per path

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Table 2.1: Direct and Reflected Path

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Two reflections per path

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The figure 2.14 shows all the reflection paths with one reflection and one example with two Reflections.

Antenna 1

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Antenna 2

Figure 2.14: Cube Model for Multi-Path Investigation

This model is useful to investigate reception performance via the location and during movement, too.
Based on the model above a spread sheet calculation was done. There were some assumptions made:

The cube has a length of 1.5 m.

The antennas were placed at the centre of two opposite surfaces.

Their distance from the outside was 0.25 m.

This example was taken to demonstrate the huge impact of reflection paths.

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For this calculation the direct connection and the paths with only one reflection were considered.

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2.3.1.2. Results of Simulation

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Figure 2.15: Frequency Response with Direct Connection and Multi-Path no Attenuation

Figure 2.16: Frequency Response with Direct Connection and Multi-Path; Direct Path 25 dB Attenuation
It can be seen that the reflections are dominant in this case.
Small changes in antenna placement could also have a significant impact on path attenuation.

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2.3.2.

Impact of Reflections to Antenna Isolation

In many vehicles more than one wireless service is used, high independency of these services is required in order to
avoid any impact between them.
With respect to the physical layer it is recommended to use a separate antenna for each service. In order to get high
performance in concurrency, for example between BT and Wi-Fi, a very high isolation between both antennas is
necessary. Otherwise, in case of one service is transmitting while the other is receiving any cross-talk from the
transmitting antenna reduces the reception performance of the other and this finally results in performance reduction.
Therefore great efforts have been made to get high isolation of antennas. However the isolation is also influenced by
the environment of such an antenna configuration.

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Assuming there are two antennas at a PCB (one for Bluetooth and one for Wi-Fi). Basic measurements show an
isolation of 30 dB is required. See CSR application note M2501 Antenna Isolation [4]

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Figure 2.17: Dual Printed Antennas on a PCB

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Since the radiations of the antennas are not separated from each other a piece of metal or other reflecting material
could modify the RF-fields and reduce the isolation behaviour:

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2.3.2.1. Test Procedure

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A metal plate was placed with a certain distance to the PCB with the antennas. The antenna isolation was tested
with no metal plate, with the metal plate in a distance of 1, 5, and 10 cm distance.

Figure 2.18: Reflection Impacts the Antenna Isolation

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2.3.2.2. Test Results

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The isolation of the two antennas was measured in the frequency range from 2 to 3 GHz:

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Figure 2.19: Antenna Isolation with no Reflection Plate

Figure 2.20: Antenna Isolation with a Reflection Plate in 1 cm Distance

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Figure 2.21: Antenna Isolation with a Reflection Plate in 5 cm Distance

Figure 2.22: Antenna Isolation a Reflection Plate in 10 cm Distance

With these results it is strongly recommended to keep a distance >10 cm from a dual antenna to a reflecting surface
in order to maintain suitable antenna isolation.

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2.4.

Absorption by Interior and Human Body

2.4.1.

Absorption by Human Body

In order to get an impression whats the impact of a human body to a wireless connection is, a test was established:
A transmitting and a receiving antenna (both horn antennas) were placed in EMC chamber with a distance of 2 m
and a top height of 1.33 m over ground.
A vector network analyzer was connected with port 1 to the transmitting and with port 2 to the receiving antenna.
Within a frequency range of 100 MHz, centred at 2.45 GHz the arrangement was calibrated to 0 dB attenuation.

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People were placed between these antennas on three positions each (middle, 20 cm in-front of transmitting and 20
cm in-front of receiving antenna).

Figure 2.23: Human Body Absorption of Man 1

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The resulting frequency responses were documented:

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Figure 2.24: Human Body Absorption of Woman 1

Figure 2.25: Human Body Absorption of Man 2

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Figure 2.26: Human Body Absorption of Man 3

Figure 2.27: Human Body Absorption of Woman 2


These results show an additional attenuation of the RF-link by 10 to 30 dB caused by human body. Also there is a
wide deviation from person to person and its position related to antennas. In order to find the causes of these
deviations additional investigations are necessary. Also the impact of the clothing has to be considered.

2.4.2.

Absorption by Interior

Inside a vehicle there are a lot of materials which impact the RF-distribution as well. A quantitative estimation is very
difficult, because the parameters which are necessary for, depending on the used material, size and location.
However, as long as values of these parameters are not available, it is important to consider them in a qualitative
way.

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3.

EMC Aspects

RF connections are embedded in a real environment and therefore EMC becomes important. Especially in an
environment which is more and more loaded with RF.
The basic requirements to avoid EMC issues are that a device has limited emissions on the one hand and on the
other it is immune against the remaining emissions created by its environment or other devices.
This means in case of wireless communication inside a vehicle, that these requirements have to be met within the
vehicle and its interaction to its environment.

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EMC inside a Vehicle

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3.1.

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A modern vehicle contains a lot of RF distributing devices. Either the RF are wanted signals (for example. wireless
communication) or they are unwanted emissions.

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Under these circumstances case has been taken to find the optimal placement for antennas.

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Keep in mind antennas pick up RF-radiation in a wider frequency range than even the wanted one.

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Therefore the following aspects of suitable placement should be considered.


Keep distance to a potential interferer

Avoid that a device which is working at the wanted frequency or could generate harmonics in this
range, is located near to the antenna

Take care of antenna beaming and avoid unwanted emissions

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EMC to Environment of the Vehicle

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If wireless communication is used inside a vehicle, a certain part of the RF power is transmitted to the outside, too. In
contrast to the metal body the windows do not (or much less) reflect the RF. And so it could pass to the environment.

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In case there is another location (house, shop, people using mobile phones, etc.) at which wireless communication is
used, too, a potential interference scenario is created.

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For a better illustration we assume a car in which wireless communication is used to connect two devices with one
antenna for each device.
With the further assumption that the RF passes the car through the widows we got the following pattern. Where the
yellow areas caused by antenna 1 and the blue ones are caused by the antenna 2.

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Figure 3.1: RF Emission of a Car using Wireless Communication with two Devices (Antennas)

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Vehicle to Vehicle Interference

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It is also very important to consider that the communication inside the car is sensitive to potential interferer located in
the displayed beam areas.

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Further on assuming that the there is heavy traffic and each of the cars use wireless communication in the same way
as described above, there is quite a lot of interference potential.
The following figure illustrates a scenario with 6 cars on a multi lane street. Four cars drive from South to North and
two in the opposite direction.

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Figure 3.2: RF Emissions in Crowed Traffic

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There is a high probability that with increasing number of cars using wireless communication near to each other
interference effects happen. These effects could cause disturbances and even break downs of the wanted
communication inside of one or more of these cars.

4.

Example of In-Vehicle RF-distribution:

4.1.

Test Set-Up

In a car, Chrysler Grand Voyager (left hand drive), one transmitting (IFA) and six receiving antennas were placed
according the schematic shown below. RF in the range from 2.4 to 2.5 GHz was transmitted and via a multi-switch
one of the six receiving antenna was connected to a receiver. Then the switch made one step ahead (the next
antenna is connected and the measurement was repeated. This was done for all six receiving antennas.

The testing was done for an empty cabin, a driver, driver and passenger, additionally a person behind the
driver and finally additionally a person behind the passenger.

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4
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Test Results

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4.2.

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Figure 4.1: Test Set-Up for In-Vehicle RF-distribution Measurement

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These figures are the frequency response cures of the different receiving antenna locations. They show the
attenuations with different numbers of passengers inside the vehicle.

Figure 4.2: Test Results In-Vehicle RF-Distribution

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5.

Conclusions
A general conclusion on antenna placement in a vehicle cannot be reached, however antenna
placement can clearly be optimised per vehicle based on the required behaviour and the vehicle
characteristics.

Because of the complexity of a vehicles shape its RF reflections behaviour and the various impacts of
absorptions by human bodies and the interior a prediction of the wireless link quality is not possible.

EMC aspects will become more important with the number of vehicles using wireless communication.
Consider that the areas with high RF emissions are bi-directional. This means that devices inside the
vehicle could be interfered from external devices located in these areas and vice versa.

But based on the considerations above the following recommendations can be made:

,2

01

Place the antenna on a location which minimize the amount of reflection paths:

Reduce the presence of human bodies within the RF-link (a human body absorption of 10 to
30 dB should be assumed).

Antenna locations inside the cabin towards the roof, next to B- or C-pillar may advantageous.

Use antenna with beam pattern. Orient the beam to the inside of the vehicle (for example
downwards if it is located next to the roof).

Do not place dual antenna, which have to have high isolation just in-front of reflecting
materials.

Lower the TX power as much as possible to avoid interference of the environment of the
vehicle. The distances inside of a vehicle cabin are short and do not need much power to
pass them (see chapter 2.2). The main part of link quality reduction is done with absorption
and reflection.

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Document References
Document

Reference

Designing an Inverted-F Antenna

CS-217944-AN

[1] Wikipedia
[2] Application Note AN048 TI
[3] Antennen.pdf, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
CS-235304-AN

[5] Designing an Inverted-F Antenna

CS-217944-AN

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[4] M2501 Antenna Isolation

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Terms and Definitions


Cambridge Silicon Radio

dB

decibel

EMC

Electromagnetic Compatibility

IFA

Inverted F Antenna

PCB

Printed Circuit Board

RF

Radio Frequency

RX

Receive or Receiver

TX

Transmit or Transmitter

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CSR

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