Antennas are a crucial aspect of any cellular network because they expand the coverage. These antennas have become quite sophisticated, but they require careful calibration during setup and that alignment must be maintained for ideal operation. This maintenance is where the concept of antenna attitude sensors comes into play.
Attitude vs. Alignment
In the world of antennas, alignment often refers to polarization as well as azimuth, which simplified refers to left or right orientation, and elevation, which refers to a position up or down. Attitude comprises alignment but within the context of an antenna’s relationship to the ground, a satellite or some other object. These terms often can be and are used interchangeably and without confusion.
Antennas for cellular networks are set at very specific positions in order to ensure that they are within compliance, at an acceptable tolerance, minimizing interference and so forth. These antennas are often in remote locations, and it isn’t practical to man them. The problem is movement does occur at times. Antennas can be put out of alignment from high winds, seismic activity and other physical events. Such events have been traditionally difficult to detect, and antenna attitude sensors are a solution.
Antenna attitude sensors don’t just detect movement but assess it with the context of what’s acceptable for an antenna’s particular role. Depending on the scope of the project, sensors can perform these determinations locally or relay data to the cloud for advanced processing there. If an orientation outside of established thresholds has occurred, then an alert can be sent to all relevant parties.
An important role antenna attitude sensors play is facilitating remote monitoring of antennas. Prior to these innovations, communications companies would have to send technicians out on a regular basis to evaluate each antenna individually. These tests would identify any movement, but the problem was that depending on the inspection schedule, these issues could persist for an extended period.
Single Antennas and Entire Arrays
An attitude sensor can be attached and assigned to a single antenna. However, many cellular antennas aren’t isolated but rather put up in what are known as jammed environments. If these antennas are in an array, the attitude sensor can monitor the entire array rather just one antenna, and that approach makes monitoring more cost-efficient.
Optimize Network Performance
The concise answer to the question what antenna attitude sensors do is that they help communication companies optimize network performance. In the earliest days of cellular networks, true optimization wasn’t practical because there were always alignment problems waiting to be corrected. Companies now have certainties that their antennas are aligned and can respond to misalignments right away.