How To Design Wireless PCBs?

Telecom Tech Outlook | Wednesday, July 22, 2020

FREMONT, CA: The age of big data and the IoT is already here, and wireless sensor technology is being used to gather massive amounts of data quickly. Wireless technology encompasses software, hardware, and network design, and it plays a significant role in daily lives. As the role of wireless technology increases and diversifies across sectors and applications, designing PCBs for wireless networks needs utmost care.

One significant aspect of wireless sensor network design is to select an appropriate communication protocol and network topology. Wireless networks with a centralized control unit usually operate using star topology. While a star topology requires a centralized control unit to collect data from the network, the range of the network is limited. If developers need to extend the range of network beyond the limit of the control unit, they can opt for a point-to-point topology. Typically, the scalability of the wireless network will be increasingly determined by its communication protocol and topology.

Designing a sensor node for use in the wireless network will need to include a microcontroller to gather data from the sensor, an antenna module for the communication protocol, a battery power pack, and a memory module. Maintaining uptime requires a direct current power source or battery. The PCB for the wireless sensor network will always be a mixed-signal device. In a wireless PCB, dielectric losses can be lessened by choosing the right board material. FR-4 with a high-speed laminate or building the board on a ceramic substrate can enhance the dielectric efficiency.

Today, electronic devices with wireless capabilities are becoming high-speed, high-frequency signal devices. Therefore, the antenna and other critical components that behave as transmission lines should be able to maximize efficiency. All antennas in wireless networks have some impedance at their operating frequency. With so many antenna options to consider in wireless network design, developers will need PCB design software that includes IC libraries to avail of all the options they need.