3 Factors in a Quality Grid Antenna(blogger@L-com.com)
Grid Antenna - A type of antenna which employs an open-frame grid as a reflector, rather than a solid one. The grid spacing is sufficiently small to ensure that waves of the desired frequency cannot pass through, and are hence reflected back toward the driven element.
Grid antennas are very popular for directional wireless applications. They provide a nice, controlled beam width and a high relative gain, and their grid construction makes them resistant to wind. But there are a lot of options out there, ranging from the very cheap to the very expensive. How do you know what you need? What are the factors you should consider before you place your order? We have three suggestions that make sense.
1: The Packaging Must be Transportable
Grid antennas, like the HyperLink brand grid antenna pictured above, are great once installed, but first you have to get them to the installation site, assemble them correctly, and then mount them wherever they belong. Before purchasing a grid, make sure it is packaged appropriately for a large-but-delicate piece of high-tech equipment. They usually come disassembled, but they should not be awkward to transport, and they should be protected from transport damage. A good manufacturer will send you the antenna in a package that you can leave it in until you are at the install site.
There's a pretty neat video of someone assembling a grid antenna here.
2: The Grid Material Must Be Weatherproof and Durable
Just because the antenna has a grid for wind-resistance doesn't mean the material doesn't matter. 99% of the time these antennas are installed outdoors, so you need a material that is light yet strong, and you need the construction to be properly designed. A great grid antenna uses weather-resistant die-cast aluminum, with precisely arranged grid holes to produce the correct signal. Aluminum is light, and the die-cast manufacturing process makes a strong, sturdy grid that will provide years of use no matter what climate you are in.
3: The Mounting Options Must Match Your Installation Site
How many times have we heard from installers who buy a great grid antenna, have it transported to the site, then they assemble it for use, only to find out they can't mount it correctly? The most common mounting method for a grid antenna is "mast mounting", or mounting on a round, vertical pipe at one end of the target area. A good manufacturer knows this and provides the correct mounting hardware for setup. It should use U-bolts big enough for a mast up to 2" in diameter, and it should include all you need to tilt and aim the antenna appropriately. Also, make sure it can be installed for either vertical or horizontal polarization. It would definitely ruin your day to get one on-site only to find out it is the wrong polarization.