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CUSTOMER-TAILORED ANTENNA FOR LEVEL SENSING

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000241787D
Publication Date: 2015-Jun-01
Document File: 3 page(s) / 236K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The present disclosure in general relates to an antenna whose radiation pattern is tailored to customer needs by adjusting the settings (phase, gain) of a phased antenna array. The present idea aims at products that fulfill individual customer needs as closely as possible, but without complex adaptations. Level sensors are operated under a wide variety of conditions and setups. They are used to measure the level of liquids, slurries, granular materials and powders stored in containers of diverse shape and size. Furthermore, operating conditions vary from ambient conditions to harsh environments, i.e. high pressure and temperatures, smoke, vapor and dust. To cope with that variety, level sensor vendors offer a widespread choice of process fittings, sealing, antennas and housings. This allows users to compile devices that fit their individual needs, but it also leads to increased production costs, inventory and product complexity. More importantly, ready-made components might perform in a suboptimal way and require careful adjustments.

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Page 01 of 3

Author: Olivier Steiger

The present disclosure in general relates to an antenna whose radiation pattern is tailored to customer needs by adjusting the settings (phase, gain) of a phased antenna array. The present idea aims at products that fulfill individual customer needs as closely as possible, but without complex adaptations.

Level sensors are operated under a wide variety of conditions and setups. They are used to measure the level of liquids, slurries, granular materials and powders stored in containers of diverse shape and size. Furthermore, operating conditions vary from ambient conditions to harsh environments, i.e. high pressure and temperatures, smoke, vapor and dust. To cope with that variety, level sensor vendors offer a widespread choice of process fittings, sealing, antennas and housings. This allows users to compile devices that fit their individual needs, but it also leads to increased production costs, inventory and product complexity. More importantly, ready-made components might perform in a suboptimal way and require careful adjustments.

One problem common to all level transmitters available on the market is that they are offered in a wide variety of versions and with many options, in order to cover the vast range of possible applications. This leads to confusing product lines, inventory at both the manufacturer and customer sides, and increased production costs due to lower quantities. Furthermore, these ready-made components might still not ideally fit the setup at hand - e.g. unconventional tank geometries. Also they might require tricky adjustments, e.g. careful antenna placement and orientation. Competitors cover a broad range of possible applications and setups by offering many different antennas and mounting options (notably).

This idea on the contrary proposes one single versatile antenna which - once properly configured - meets the individual needs of the customer exactly. This is achieved by using a phased antenna array with customer-tailored configuration. A phased array is an array of antenna patches in which the relative phases of the respective signals feeding the patches are varied in such a way that the effective radiation pattern of the array is reinforced in a desired direction and suppressed in undesired directions. In other words, the antenna's radiation pattern (beam aperture, shape, gain) can be adjusted by changing the phase and gain of the electrical current driving each patch. The phase/gain can be adjusted by means of RF electronics with multiple configurable outputs or, more simply, by connecting single-output RF electronics in series with (configurable) delay lines connected to each antenna patch.

Essentially, the proposed invention trades adaptability by hardware (i.e., select the proper antenna for the job) for adaptability by software (i.e., configure the antenna as needed). This entails considerable advantages in terms of cost (less different antennas higher quantities), invento...