After receiving the Molex antenna sample kit that tariq.ahmad kindly posted to me over a month a go, I have been thinking how to use it (or some of the antennae), and finally take part to my very first Project14 contest. Considering that I didn't own any RF instruments, and last time I dealt with RF was at university, many many years ago, I thought my project should reflect this, and build from this starting point, i.e. starting from scratch!
It followed that the best project I could get myself absorbed in was a DIY one and, since in the last year I have been toying with LoRa, the choice was a natural consequence: build an antenna and compare its performance with a few antennae I already have (including the Molex 433MHz included in the kit).
So, basically, my target is to build a cheap quarter-wave antenna, using only components that most makers already have laid around somewhere in their garages labs. No previous knowledge is required to follow this project, as I will try providing all the basic information needed. Forgive me in advance if, in the process of simplifying some electromagnetism and antenna theories, something will be omitted. Feel free to add/correct me, whenever you feel necessary, any contribution is welcomed!
I want to stress again the majority of my measurements will have to be taken with a pinch of salt: my RF equipment is very basic and I don't have any special setting available for measuring (i.e. no anechoic chamber), so all the measurements are intended more to give a qualitative than a quantitative view. Nevertheless, I will try to be as accurate and precise as possible, and employ standard measurement techniques. Again, please feel free to chip in anytime, if you spot something wrong or know better ways to take the measurements.
For this project, my plan is very simple and, hopefully, straightforward, whose milestones are:
- build and test the antenna
- take measurements of the antenna and all other antennae
- test all the antennae performance and compare results
To help me with the tasks, I will be using 2 TTGO ESP32 LoRa boards (RX and TX) and, for measuring some of the antennae characteristics, I will use the NanoVNA, an extra-cheap Vector Network Analyzer, capable of covering the range 50Hz-900MHz! I will be exploring this tool when dealing with measuring the antenna's parameters.
Other articles of this series: