Patent 11329372 - Lightweight radome for housing an antenna > Description
This application is a continuation application of International Patent Application No. PCT/AU2019/050349 entitled “LIGHTWEIGHT RADOME FOR HOUSING AN ANTENNA,” filed on Apr. 18, 2019, which claims priority to Australian Patent Application No. 2018901335, filed on Apr. 23, 2018, all of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes.
The present invention relates to a lightweight radome for housing an antenna.
Antennas include delicate components that may be damaged when exposed to ambient conditions. Therefore, antennas are often housed in radomes that prevent physical matter, such as debris, precipitation, moving air and the like, from coming into direct physical contact with antenna components. As such, a radome functions as a physical barrier to potentially damaging matter, while still permitting the propagation of electromagnetic radiation, particularly radio waves, to and from the protected antenna.
An antenna is typically housed in a radome that is transparent to radio waves over a frequency band dictated by the operational requirements of the antenna.
Existing radomes are susceptible to aging damage due to environmental conditions, as well as stress when exposed to high loads.
A heavier construction of a radome increases radio frequency (RF) transmission losses, decreases receiving sensitivity, and thus requires an increase in the transmission power or the size of the antenna, at a great cost.
The inventive concept arises from a recognition that a radome which is lighter than prior radomes and continues to provide a structurally robust housing and a waterproof seal for an antenna housed within it, is highly desirable.
It is also advantageous to provide a radome that is simple, convenient and fast for an installer to mount at an installation site.
The present invention, in one aspect, is a radome for housing an antenna. The radome comprises a front portion. The radome also comprises a rear portion configured to mate with the front portion. The front portion includes a peripheral channel region configured to contain an adhesive sealant. The peripheral channel region is also configured to receive a peripheral edge of the rear portion that is partially submerged in the adhesive sealant before it cures.
The peripheral edge of the rear portion may be castellated or scalloped to increase a bonding surface area of the peripheral edge.
The front portion may include a plurality of alignment pins configured to align the front portion to the rear portion.
The front portion may include at least one first clip engagement member and the rear portion includes at least one corresponding second clip engagement member configured to mechanically engage with the first clip engagement member and mechanically secure the front portion with the rear portion.
The first clip engagement member may have a lower height than the alignment pins such that alignment of the front portion to the rear portion occurs before mechanical engagement of the clip engagement members.
The peripheral channel region may be substantially U-shaped.
The peripheral channel region may have a blind end comprising a stepped portion.
The peripheral edge of the rear portion may extend from an inner surface of the rear portion and is set back from an outer surface of the rear portion.
A base of the peripheral edge of the rear portion may be configured to abut against the stepped portion causing excess adhesive sealant to be displaced towards an inner wall surface of the peripheral channel region.
The present invention, in another aspect is a method for manufacturing a radome. The method comprises applying an adhesive sealant within a peripheral channel region of a front portion of the radome. The method also comprises positioning an antenna panel on an inner surface of the front portion of the radome. The method also comprises bonding a rear portion of the radome with the front portion of the radome. The step of bonding includes mechanically engaging the rear portion to the front portion and submerging a peripheral edge of the rear portion in the adhesive sealant to form a waterproof seal after the adhesive sealant has cured.
The method may further comprise aligning a rear portion of the radome with the front portion of the radome.
The method may further comprise fastening the antenna panel through holes in the rear portion to cause the clamping of the antenna panel between the front and rear portions.
Other advantages and features according to the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill upon reading this application.
Embodiments of the invention will be described with respect to the figures, in which like reference numbers denote like elements and in which:
A preferred radome according to the present invention is illustrated in
The radome 10 has a monocoque construction to reduce weight and still maintain structural integrity. The front and rear portions 20, 30 support their load by distributing tension and compression across the surface of the front and rear portions 20, 30. In one embodiment, the bonded radome 10 has a 10% thinner wall section than prior radomes, specifically 2.7 mm wall thickness instead of 3.0 mm. The size dimension of the front and rear portions 20 varies depending on the shape and design of the antenna panel 50.
Preferably, the adhesive sealant 60 is a Room-Temperature-Vulcanizing (RTV) silicone material. The adhesive sealant 60 is a plastic adhesive with good flame resistance that can cure at room temperature. The adhesive sealant 60 is applied as a sealing bead within the peripheral channel region 31 using an automatic applicator machine. A sufficient quantity of adhesive sealant 60 is applied by the automatic applicator machine such that the insertion of the peripheral edge 21 into the adhesive sealant 60 contained in the peripheral channel region 31 creates a waterproof seal and impermeable barrier. For example, the adhesive sealant 60 contained in the peripheral channel region 31 results in three surfaces of the peripheral edge 21 to be surrounded by and in contact with the adhesive sealant 60.
The peripheral edge 21 of the rear portion 20 is castellated or scalloped to increase bonding surface area of the peripheral edge 21 with the sealant 60. In one example, a series of small cut-outs 22 are defined along the peripheral edge 21.
The front portion 30 also includes a plurality of first clip engagement members 33. Turning to
The first clip engagement members 33 have a lower height than the alignment pins 32 such that alignment of the front portion 30 to the rear portion 20 occurs before mechanical engagement of the clip engagement members 23, 33 is possible.
The radome 10 is formed by sealing together and permanently bonding two halves 20, 30 using a combination of adhesive sealant 60 and mechanical clips 23, 33. The sealed and bonded radome 10 prevents the ingress of moisture and the detachment of the front and rear portions 20, 30 after prolonged use.
The radome 10 may have different shapes depending on the specific application and antenna panel 50 required to be housed. Referring to
Advantageously, the radome 10 does not require two radome rubber seals between the two halves that exists in prior radomes. Another advantage is that multiple screw fasteners to fasten the two halves are not required in the radome 10 of the present invention. Both these advantages save time for factory assembly and provide convenience.
Another advantage provided by the radome 10 of the present invention is that there is a reduction in the material required for the two halves 20, 30 using the monocoque construction, leading to less weight and lower manufacturing cost and also an increase in strength. Another reason weight is further reduced is because the groundplane for the antenna panel 50 can be made 0.8 mm thinner (44%) as there is no risk for the groundplane to be damaged by warping, bending or distorted during transit from the manufacturing site to the installation site because the antenna panel 50 is assembled within the radome 10 at the manufacturing site. The elimination of screws and radome seals and assembly labour reduces costs and decreases the overall weight of the radome 10 making it easier and safer for installers to install the radome 10 at installation sites where they may be in an elevated position and subject to windy conditions. The weight reduction of the two halves 20, 30 may be 10% compared to prior radomes, which excludes the weight reduction from removal of traditional radome seals, additional screws and additional thickness required for groundplanes with prior radomes.
Unless specified to the contrary, any and all components herein described are understood to be capable of being manufactured and, as such, may be manufactured together or separately.
Moreover, in interpreting the disclosure, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest reasonable manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced.
The subject headings used in the detailed description are included only for the ease of reference of the reader and should not be used to limit the subject matter found throughout the disclosure or the claims. The subject headings should not be used in construing the scope of the claims or the claim limitations.
Although the technology herein has been described with reference to particular examples, it is to be understood that these examples are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the technology. In some instances, the terminology and symbols may imply specific details that are not required to practice the technology. For example, although the terms “first” and “second” may be used, unless otherwise specified, they are not intended to indicate any order but may be utilised to distinguish between distinct elements.
It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative examples and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the technology.