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GPS Antennas

RF Design Considerations
for u-blox GPS Receivers
Application Note

Abstract
Overview of important antenna and interference issues to be
consideredwhenintegratingu-bloxGPSreceivers.

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GPSAntennas-ApplicationNote

Document Information
Title

GPSAntennas

Subtitle

RFDesignConsiderations
foru-bloxGPSReceivers

Document type

ApplicationNote

Document number

GPS-X-08014-A1

Document status

Released

Thisdocumentandtheuseofanyinformationcontainedtherein,issubjecttotheacceptanceoftheu-bloxtermsandconditions.They
canbedownloadedfromwww.u-blox.com.
u-bloxmakesnowarrantiesbasedontheaccuracyorcompletenessofthecontentsofthisdocumentandreservestherighttomake
changestospecificationsandproductdescriptionsatanytimewithoutnotice.
u-bloxreservesallrightstothisdocumentandtheinformationcontainedherein.Reproduction,useordisclosuretothirdpartieswithout
expresspermissionisstrictlyprohibited.Copyright2009,u-bloxAG.

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Contents
Contents..............................................................................................................................3
1

Introduction..................................................................................................................5

Antenna basics .............................................................................................................5

2.1

Generalconsiderations ......................................................................................................................... 5

2.2

Antennarequirements.......................................................................................................................... 5

2.3

Antennaplacement .............................................................................................................................. 6

2.4

Activeandpassiveantennas ................................................................................................................. 7

Passive antenna types..................................................................................................8


3.1

Patchantenna ...................................................................................................................................... 8

3.2

Helixantenna ....................................................................................................................................... 9

3.3

Monopoleantennas ........................................................................................................................... 10

3.3.1

Chipantenna .............................................................................................................................. 10

3.3.2

FractalElementAntenna(FEA)..................................................................................................... 13

3.4

Dipoleantenna ................................................................................................................................... 14

3.5

Loopantenna ..................................................................................................................................... 15

3.6

PlanarInvertedFAntenna(PIFA) ......................................................................................................... 15

3.7

HighendGPSantennas ...................................................................................................................... 16

Which antenna is best for my application? ..............................................................17


4.1

Helixorpatch? ................................................................................................................................... 17

4.2

OtherAntennaTypes.......................................................................................................................... 17

Design Considerations ...............................................................................................18


5.1

PatchAntennas .................................................................................................................................. 18

5.1.1

GroundPlane .............................................................................................................................. 18

5.1.2

Placement ................................................................................................................................... 20

5.1.3

ESDIssues ................................................................................................................................... 20

5.2

HelixAntennas ................................................................................................................................... 21

5.2.1

GroundPlane .............................................................................................................................. 21

5.2.2

Placement ................................................................................................................................... 21

5.3

AntennaMatching ............................................................................................................................. 22

5.4

GSMApplications............................................................................................................................... 23

5.4.1

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5.5

Interference Issues .....................................................................................................26


6.1

SourcesofNoise ................................................................................................................................. 26

6.2

EliminatingDigitalNoiseSources ........................................................................................................ 27

6.2.1

PowerandGroundPlanes ........................................................................................................... 27

6.2.2

HighSpeedSignalLines............................................................................................................... 28

6.2.3

DecouplingCapacitors ................................................................................................................ 28

6.3

Shielding ............................................................................................................................................ 30

6.3.1

FeedthroughCapacitors ............................................................................................................. 30

6.3.2

ShieldingSetsofSub-SystemAssembly ....................................................................................... 32

6.4

DualAntennaSystems........................................................................................................................ 23

IncreasingJammingImmunity............................................................................................................. 33

6.4.1

In-bandjamming......................................................................................................................... 33

6.4.2

Out-bandjamming...................................................................................................................... 33

Performance Tests ......................................................................................................35


7.1

Skyview ............................................................................................................................................. 35

7.2

Statisticview....................................................................................................................................... 35

7.3

SupplyVoltageCheck......................................................................................................................... 36

7.4

SensitivityTest .................................................................................................................................... 36

7.5

StartupTest ........................................................................................................................................ 36

Appendix ..........................................................................................................................37
A Example of receiver signal to noise (C/No) performance calculation .....................37
Related Documents ..........................................................................................................39
Revision history................................................................................................................39
Contact..............................................................................................................................40

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1 Introduction
AntennasareacriticalpartofanyGPSreceiverdesignandtheirimportancecannotbestatedhighlyenough.
Eventhebestreceivercannotbringbackwhathasbeenlostduetoapoorantenna,in-bandjamming,orabad
RF-boarddesign.GPSsignalsareextremelyweakandpresentuniquedemandsontheantenna.Thechoiceand
implementationoftheantennacanultimatelyplayasignificantroleinGPSperformance.
ThisdocumentconsiderssomeoftheRFandinterferenceissueswhenimplementingaGPSantenna.

2 Antenna basics
2.1 General considerations
A GPS receiver needs to receive signals from as many satellites as possible. Optimal performance will not be
availableinnarrowstreetsandundergroundparkinglotsorifobjectscovertheantenna.Poorvisibilitymayresult
in position drift or a prolonged Time-To-First-Fix (TTFF). Good sky visibility is therefore an important
advantage. A GPS receiver will only achieve the specified performance if the average carrier to noise power
densityratio(C/N0)ofthestrongestsatellitesreachesatleast44dBHz.Inawell-designedsystem,theaverageof
theC/N0ratioofhighelevationsatellitesshouldbeintherangebetween44dBHzandabout50dBHz.Witha
standardoff-the-shelfactiveantenna,47dBHzshouldeasilybeachieved.

2.2 Antenna requirements


Foroptimalperformance,useantennaswithhighgain(e.g.>4dBic)andactiveantennaswithanLNAwitha
lownoisefigure(<2dB).Ideally,theantennahas:

Alowlevelofdirectivity 1 (seeFigure1).

Goodantennavisibilitytothesky.

Goodmatchingbetweenantennaandcableimpedance.

Highgain.

Filter.

Figure 1: Antenna radiation pattern showing low directivity (left) vs high directivity (right)

AppendixAprovidesanexampleofhowtoestimatetheinfluenceofthenoisefigure(NF)andgainon
antennaperformance.

Antennagainincreaseswiththelevelofdirectivity.

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2.3 Antenna placement


The position of the antenna mounting is crucial for an optimal performance of the GPS receiver. When using
patch antennas, the antenna plane should be parallel to the geographic horizon. The antenna must have full
viewoftheskyensuringadirectline-of-sightwithasmanyvisiblesatellitesaspossible.

1st Choice placement

2nd Choice placement


Performancemaybedegraded!
Ifrecommendedplacementsarenotavailable,these
mayalsoviable.

RecommendedAntennapositions

Note:

Window and roof reduce GPS signal and


2
obstruct sky view

Note: There may be multipath signals and a obstructed


sky view

Note:

Fiberglass airfoil attenuates the GPS/GALILEO


signal

Figure 2: Recommended antenna position

Placetheantennaasfarawayaspossiblefromradiatingorjammingsignals.

Some cars have a metallic coating on the windscreens. GPS/GALILEO reception may not be possible in such a car without the use of

SuperSense Technology.Thereisusuallyasmallsection,typicallybehindtherearviewmirror,reservedformobilephoneandGPS/GALILEO
antennas.

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2.4 Active and passive antennas


Passive antennas contain only the radiating element, e.g. the ceramic patch or the helix structure. Sometimes
theyalsocontainapassivematchingnetworktomatchtheelectricalconnectionto50Ohmsimpedance.Active
antennashaveanintegratedLow-NoiseAmplifier(LNA).Thisisbeneficialintworespects.First,thelossesofthe
cableaftertheLNAnolongeraffecttheoverallnoisefigureoftheGPSreceiversystem.Secondly,theLNAinthe
antennahelpstoreducetheoverallnoisefigureofthesystemresultinginabettersensitivity.Somereceiversare
designedsuchthattheywillonlyworkwithactiveantennas.
Active antennas need a power supply that will contribute to GPS system power consumption, typically in the
orderof3to20mA.Usually,thesupplyvoltageisfedtotheantennathroughthecoaxialRFcable.Insidethe
antenna, the DC component on the inner conductor will be separated from the RF signal and routed to the
supplypinoftheLNA.
The use of an active antenna is always advisable if the RF-cable length between the receiver and antenna
exceeds about 10cm. Care shouldbe takenthat thegain of the LNA inside the antennadoes not lead toan
overloadconditionatthereceiver.ForreceiversthatalsoworkwithpassiveantennasanantennaLNAgainof
15dBisusuallysufficient,evenforcablelengthsupto5m.TheresnoneedfortheantennaLNAgaintoexceed
26dBforusewithu-bloxreceivers(attheRFinput).Withshortercablesandagainabove35dB,anoverload
conditionmightoccuronsomereceivers.
Whencomparinggainfiguresofactiveandpassiveantennasonehastokeepinmindthatthegainofanactive
antennaiscomposedoftwocomponents,theantennagainofthepassiveradiator,givenindBic,andtheLNA
powergaingivenindB.AlowantennagaincannotbecompensatedbyhighLNAgain.Itisnotpossibletojudge
the quality of the antenna if a manufacturer provides one total gain figure. One would need information on
antennagain(indBic),amplifiergain,andamplifiernoisefigure.

Active antenna

Passive antenna

Needsmorepower(1060mW)thanapassive
antenna

Doesnotaddanythingtothepowerbudget

Ismoretoleranttominorimpedancemiss-match
orcablelengththanpassiveantenna(seesection
5.3).

Antennamustbeconnectedwithacarefully
designedmicrostriporstriplineofmaximum10
cmtotheGPSreceivertoensuregoodGPS
performance.

Helpstokeepthereceivernoisefigurelow.

Islessaffectedbyjammingintotheantenna
cablethanapassiveantenna(ifequippedwith
filter).

Jammingsignalscoupledintothemicro-stripor
striplinenegativelyaffecttheperformance.

RFdesignexperienceisrequiredtoproperly
designapassiveantenna.

Table 1: Active vs. passive antenna

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3 Passive antenna types


TheGPSsignalisright-handcircularpolarized(RHCP).Thisresultsinastyleofantennathatisdifferentfromthe
well-knownwhipantennasusedforlinearpolarizedsignals.

3.1 Patch antenna


The most common antenna type for GPSapplications is the patch antenna. Patch antennasare flat, generally
haveaceramicandmetalbodyandaremountedonametalbaseplate.Theyareoftencastinahousing.
Patch antennas are ideal for situations where the antenna is mounted on a flat surface, e.g. the roof or the
dashboardofacar.Patchantennascanshowaveryhighgain,especiallyiftheyaremountedontopofalarge
groundplane(70x70mm).Ceramicpatchantennasareverypopularbecauseofthelowcostsandthehuge
variationofavailablesizes(40x40mmdownto10x10mm;typical25x25mm).
Antenna type

25x25mm Patch

Application example

u-blox reference design with 25x25mm Patch (C04-5H)

Figure 3: Examples of patch antennas

Asmallerantennawillpresentasmalleraperturetocollectthesignalenergyfromskyresultinginaloweroverall
gain of the antenna. This is the result of pure physics and there is no magic to get around this problem.
Amplifyingthesignalaftertheantennawillnotimprovethesignaltonoiseratio.

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Patch antennas of 25mm by 25mm show optimal performance and are cost-efficient. Patches smaller
than 17mm by 17mm tend to demonstrate moderate navigation performance 3 . Performance is
dependantonthegroundplanesize.

Formoreinformationaboutu-bloxreferencedesignsseeourwebsiteatwww.u-blox.com.

3.2 Helix antenna

Anotherstyleisthequadrifilarhelixantenna.Theactualgeometricsizedepends
onthedielectricthatfillsthespacebetweentheactivepartsoftheantenna.Ifthe
antennaisonlyloadedwithairitwillbecomparativelylarge(60mmlengthand
45mmdiameter),highdielectricconstantceramicsresultinamuchsmallerform
factor.Thesmallerthedimensionsoftheantenna,themoreperformance-critical
tightmanufacturingtolerancesbecome.

Figure 4: Helix antenna

As with patch antennas, filling the antenna with a high dielectric constant
materialcanreducethesizeofhelixantennas.Sizesintheorderof18mmlength
and10mmdiameterarebeingofferedtothemarket.
Again,antennagainwilldecreasewithdecreasingsizeoftheantenna.

Helicalantennasaretypicallyusedinapplicationswheremultipleantennaorientationsarepossible.They
arerobustanddemonstrategoodnavigationperformance.

Antenna type

Helix: GeoHelix-P2 (Sarantel)

Application example

u-blox reference design with helix-antenna (C05-5H)

Figure 5: Examples of helix antenna

Formoreinformationaboutu-bloxreferencedesignsseeourwebsiteatwww.u-blox.com.

Unlessenhancedbyu-bloxSuperSensetechnology.

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3.3 Monopole antennas


3.3.1 Chip antenna
Chip antennas are becoming increasingly important for GPS designs. Their low cost and extremely small size
(down to 3.2 x 1.6 x 1.1 mm), as well as high gain and omni-directional radiation patterns make them
particularly attractive in consumer electronic applications such as mobile telephones and PNDs. Due to their
miniature size, a variety of factors influence the performance of chip antennas. These factors include the
footprint, ground plane size, isolation distance (typical 5 mm) and mounting of the chip antenna and GPS
device.Theisolationdistanceorkeep-outareacanhaveanimportantimpactonantennaefficiency,andthus
onGPSperformance,andneedstobecarefullyconsideredindesigns.Isolationdistancesmustbeincludedto
avoiddeviationsinantennaperformance.Evenwiththesemeasuresacceptableperformancecannotalwaysbe
guaranteedduetopotentialdetuningeffectscreatedbynearbyobjects.
Evenifsomeantennamanufacturersclaimthatagroundplaneisnotrequired,theavailablegroundplanehasa
significantimpactontheGPSperformanceofachipantenna.Therefore,notonlythesizeofthechipbutalso
the ground plane must be considered in the design. For designs with a sufficiently large ground plane a chip
antennacanprovidesatisfactoryGPSperformance.However,indesignswithaninadequategroundplaneand
devicelayouttheirperformanceisinsufficientforGPS.
Chip antennas have a 3dB loss compared to helical or patch antennas due to linear polarization and their
performanceishighlydependantonthesizeofthegroundplane.
Antenna type

Chip antenna

Figure 6: Example of chip antenna

C/N0 vs. Elevation


55

50

45

40
C/N0

80 mm

35

30

25

Chip Antenna PCB 80x40mm


MIN
MAX

20

40 mm
Chip antenna PCB 80x40mm

15
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Elevation [degrees]

90

Chip antenna PCB 80x40mm, C/No vs. elevation

TheaverageC/N0is43.4dBHz.
Figure 7: Performance of chip antenna with 80 x 40 cm PCB

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C/N0 vs. Elevation


55

50

45

40
C/N0

24mm

35

30

25
Chip Antenna PCB 24x15mm
20

MIN
MAX

15

15mm

10

20

Chip antenna PCB 24x15mm

30

40

50

60

70

80

Elevation [degrees]

90

Chip antenna PCB 24x15mm, C/No vs. elevation

TheaverageC/N0is34.7dBHz.
Figure 8: Comparison of patch and chip antennas

Figure 8 shows a performance comparison between a 25x25 mm patch antenna as reference and two chip
antennas.
Average C/N0 vs. Elevation
55

50

45

C/N0

40

35

30
u-blox ANN-MS 25x25mm Patch
25

Chip Antenna PCB 80x40mm


Chip Antenna PCB 24x15mm

20

15
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

Elevation [degrees]

80

90

Figure 9: Comparison of 25x25 mm patch antenna with chip antennas

Chipantennasarenotrecommendedforuseindeviceswherenavigationisanessentialfeature.

Formoreinformationaboutu-bloxreferencedesignsseeourwebsiteatwww.u-blox.com.

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AlinearpolarizedwhiporaPCBstripantennaisasimpleandeconomicalantennasolutioniftheuseriswilling
toacceptsignificantlyweakersignals.Comparedtoapatchorhelixtheseantennashaveadditionallossesdue
to:
Polarizationmismatchofabout-3dBduetolinearpolarization.
Lowersignalsduetomassivelyin-homogenoussensitivitypattern(directivity)
Loweroverallgain
ThePCBstripisperhapsthecheapestwaytoimplementaGPSantenna,buthassomedefinitedrawbackswhich
mustbeconsidered.Dependingonthegeometrychosen,theantennahasahighdirectivity.PCBantennasare
typically bigger than Chip antennas and usually have a larger bandwidth than Chip or Patch antennas. In
addition,implementingPCBstripantennasrequiresRFexpertise.

Antenna type

Performance
GroundPlane[mm]
100x30

Typ.Gain[dBic]
1.0

PCB antenna

Figure 10: Example and performance of PCB antenna

PCBantennasarenotrecommendedforuseindeviceswherenavigationisanessentialfeature.

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3.3.2 Fractal Element Antenna (FEA)


Afractalantennaisanantennathatusesaself-similardesigntomaximizethelength,orincreasetheperimeter
oninsidesectionsortheouterstructure,ofmaterialthatcanreceiveortransmitelectromagneticsignalswithina
giventotalsurfacearea.
Fractal antennas have a 3dB loss compared to helical or patch antennas due to linear polarization and their
performanceishighlydependantonthesizeofthegroundplane.
Antenna type

Performance

FEA antenna

GroundPlane[mm]
None
50x30
60x30
60x35
120x65

Typ.Gain[dBic]
n/a
-1.2
1.5
0.2
2.2to2.5

Figure 11: Example and performance of FEA antenna

Figure 12: Radiation pattern

FEAantennasarenotrecommendedforuseindeviceswherenavigationisanessentialfeature.

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3.4 Dipole antenna


Dipoleantennascanbeaverycosteffectivesolution,especiallywhenprintedonaPCB.Theyshowacceptable
performanceinindoorenvironments.Thefielddoesnotdependonagroundplane.
Dipoleantennasarelinear,notcircularpolarized.Thisresultsina3dBlossinopenspaceforGPSbuthassome
advantage for the backlobe, which is useful for indoor reception. Dipole antennas demonstrate similar
drawbacksasPCBantennasandrequireRFexpertise.

Antenna Type

Dipole Antenna

Printed PCB Dipole Antenna

Figure 13: Examples and performance of dipole antennas

Figure 14: High directivity (virtually no reception perpendicular to antenna orientation)

Dipoleantennasarenotrecommendedforuseindeviceswherenavigationisanessentialfeature.

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3.5 Loop antenna


TheloopantennashowninFigure15isprintedonasticker,whichisattachedtoawindshield.Sinceitsfieldis
independentofagroundplane,itsimpedanceandcenterfrequencyarenotverysensitivetoobjectsinthenear
field.
Antenna type

Performance
GroundPlane[mm]
None

Typ.Gain[dBic]
+4.5

Loop antenna

Figure 15: Example and performance of loop antenna

Ifmountedonglassasspecified,loopantennasdemonstrategoodnavigationperformance.

3.6 Planar Inverted F Antenna (PIFA)


ThePIFAantennaliterallylooksliketheletter'F'lyingonitssidewiththetwoshortersectionsprovidingfeed
and ground points and the 'tail' (or top patch) providing the radiating surface. PIFAs make good embedded
antennasinthattheyexhibitasomewhatomnidirectionalpatternandcanbemadetoradiateinmorethanone
frequencyband.Theyarelinearpolarizedandtheirefficiencyisonlymoderate.
Antenna type

PIFA Antenna

Figure 16: Example of PIFA antenna

PIFAs are mainly used in cellular phones (E-911). Their use in devices where navigation is an essential
featureisnotrecommended.

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3.7 High end GPS antennas


For precision applications such as surveying or timing, some very high-end systems exist. Common to these
designsarelargesize,highpowerconsumptionandhighprice.Thesedesignsarehighlyoptimizedtosuppress
multi-pathsignalsreflectedfromtheground(chokeringantennas,multi-pathlimitingantennas,MLA).Another
areaofoptimizationisaccuratedeterminationofthephasecenteroftheantenna.ForprecisionGPSapplications
withpositionresolutioninthemillimeterrangeitisimportantthatsignalsfromsatellitesatallelevationsvirtually
meetatexactlythesamepointinsidetheantenna.Forthistypeofapplicationreceiverswithmultipleantenna
inputsareoftenrequired.

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4 Which antenna is best for my application?


HelixandPatchantennasarethemostwidelyusedtypesinGPSapplications.Thischapterexaminessomeofthe
considerationstobemadewhenselectingtheantennatype.

Always test the actual performance of different antenna types in a real life environment before
beginningthemechanicaldesignoftheGPSenabledproduct.

4.1 Helix or patch?


For practical applications the possibilities of integrating a certain style of antenna into the actual device is of
primaryconcern.Somedesignsnaturallypreferthepatchtypeofantenna,e.g.forrooftopapplications.Others
prefer the pole like style of the helix antenna, which is quite similar to the style of mobile phone antennas.
Furthermore,itisimportantthattheantennasmainlobepointstotheskyinordertoreceiveasmanysatellites
as possible with the maximum antenna gain. If the application is a hand held device, the antenna should be
designedinawaythatnaturaluseroperationresultsinoptimumantennaorientation.Thehelixantennaseems
tobemoreappropriateinthisrespect.
However, one has to keep in mind that comparable antenna gain requires comparable size of the antenna
aperture,which will lead to a larger volume filledbya helix antenna in comparisontoa patch antenna. Helix
antennaswithareasonablesizewillthereforetypicallyshowalowersensitivitycomparedtoareasonably
sizedpatchantenna.
Ahelixantennamightresultinamoresatellitesonthescreensituationindifficultsignalenvironmentswhen
directlycomparedwithapatchantenna.Thisisduetothefactthatthehelixwillmoreeasilypickupreflected
signalsthroughitsomnidirectionalradiationpattern.However,thepracticaluseofthesesignalsisverylimited
becauseoftheuncertainpathofthereflectedsignals.Therefore,thereceiverscanseemoresatellitesbutthe
navigationsolutionwillbedegradedbecauseofdistortedrangemeasurementsinamulti-pathenvironment.

Helix antennas

Patch antennas

omnidirectional

highgain

robust

lowcost

cost

spacerequirements

largevarietyofsizesavailable
onmarket

Lessisolationbetweenfeed
andantennawhencompared
tohelixantenna

Table 2: Helix vs. Patch Antennas

4.2 Other antenna types


In devices, where navigation is not a core feature, chip, fractal, PCB, PIFA or dipole antennas can be an
alternativetopatchorhelicalantennasduetotheirsmallsizeand/orlowcosts.Itisimportanttounderstandthat
theseantennasdonotprovidethereceptionqualityofpatchorhelicalantennas.Forthisreasonusingpatchor
helicalantennasisrecommendedinapplicationswherenavigationperformancematters.

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5 Design considerations
5.1 Patch antennas
Patchantennasareidealforanapplicationwheretheantennasitsonaflatsurface,e.g.theroofofacar.Patch
antennas can demonstrate a very high gain, especially if they are mounted on top of a large ground plane.
Ceramicpatchantennasareverypopularbecauseoftheirsmallsize,typicallymeasuring25x25mm2downto
10x10mm2.VerycheapconstructiontechniquescanuseordinarycircuitboardmateriallikeFR-4orevenairasa
dielectric,butthiswillresultinamuchlargersize,typicallyintheorderof10x10cm2.Figure17showsatypical
example of the radiation pattern of a 16x16mm2 ceramic patch antenna. This measurement only shows the
uppersphereoftheradiationpattern.Dependingongroundplanesizetherewillalsobeaprominentbacklobe
present.

Figure 17: Typical Radiation Pattern of a Patch Antenna

5.1.1 Ground plane

Figure 18: Typical gain and axial ratio of a patch antenna with respect to ground plane size

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ForthespecificexampleshowninFigure18 onecaneasilyseethattheso-calledaxialratio,therelationofmajor
tominoraxisoftheellipticalpolarizationhasaminimumatthe50mm2squaregroundplane.Atthispoint,the
polarizationoftheantennaisclosesttoanidealcircularpolarization(axialratio=0dB).Ata100mm2square
ground plane size this particular patch shows an axial ratio in the order of 10dB, which is closer to linear
polarizationthantocircularandwillresultinrespectivelosses.Thiseffectcanalsobeseenintheleftgraphof
the figure, where gain no longer increases with increasing ground plane size. In conclusion, the correct
dimensions for the size of the ground plane can serve as a useful compromise between maximum gain and
reasonablepolarizationloss.
A good allowance for ground plane size is typically in the area of 50to70mm2. This number is largely
independent of the size of the patch itself (when considering ceramic patches). Patch antennas with small
groundplaneswillalsohaveacertainback-lobeintheirradiationpattern,makingthemsusceptibletoradiation
comingfromthebacksideoftheantenna,e.g.multi-pathsignalsreflectedofftheground.Thelargerthesizeof
thegroundplane,thelessseverethiseffectbecomes.
Smallersizedpatcheswillusuallyreachtheirmaximumgainwithaslightlysmallergroundplanecomparedtoa
largersizepatch.However,themaximumgainofasmallsizedpatchwithoptimumgroundplanemaystillbe
muchlowerthanthegainofalargesizepatchonalessthanoptimalgroundplane.
Figure19illustratestheimpactofgroundplanesize,patchsizeandpatchthicknessontheantennagain.

6
5

Gain[dBi]

4
3

INPAQI425x25x4mm

INPAQI225x25x2mm
INPAQJ418x18x4mm

INPAQJ418x18x2mm

0
-1

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

-2
-3
-4
Groundplane[mmxmm]

Figure 19: Antenna gain vs. ground plane

It is not only the gain and axial ratio of the patch antenna that is affected by the size of the ground
planebutalsothematchingoftheantennatothe50Ohmsimpedanceofthereceiver.

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5.1.2 Placement
The performance of a patch antenna heavily depends on the size, shape and symmetry of the ground plane.
Improperplacementofthepatchwillyieldpoorantennaperformanceandstrongdirectivity(seeFigure20).

Best

Good

Not recommended

Figure 20: Placement of Patch Antenna

Inadditionthefollowingplacementissuesneedtobetakenintoaccountforpatchantennas:

Nocomponentsshouldbeplacedclosetothepatchantenna.

Maintainaminimumdistancebetweentheantennaandthehousingofthedevice.

Nosignallinesshouldpassunderorneartheantenna.

5.1.3 ESD issues


GPS receivers are sensitive to Electrostatic Discharge (ESD). Special precautions are required
when handling.
Most defects caused by ESD can be prevented by following strict ESD protection rules for production and
handling.Whenimplementingpassiveantennapatchesorexternalantennaconnectionpoints,thenadditional
ESDmeasuresasshowninFigure21canalsoavoidfailuresinthefield.

Small passive antennas (<2 dBic Passive antennas (>2 dBic or Active Antennas
andperformancecritical)
performancesufficient)
B

LNAwithappropriateESDrating

GPS
Receiver

GPS
Receiver

RF_IN

C
RF_IN

GPS
Receiver

LNA

RF_IN

Figure 21: ESD precautions

ProtectionmeasureAispreferredduetoperformanceandprotectionlevelconsiderations.

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5.2 Helix antennas


Helix antennas can be designed for use with or without ground plane. If a helix antenna is designed without
groundplaneitcanbetunedsuchtoshowamoreomnidirectionalradiationpatternasshowninFigure22.

Figure 22: Radiation pattern of helix antenna without ground plane (Sarantel)

Althoughwecandetermineanaxialratiocloseto9dBbetweenzerodegreeand90degreeselevation,which
compares to the patch antenna, the back lobe of the helix generally degrades much smoother and does not
showanysensitivityatthe180degreedirection.Incontrast,thebacklobeofapatchantennadependsvery
muchonsizeandshapeofthegroundplane.

5.2.1 Ground plane


Helix antennas typically do not require ground planes. However, a ground plane can significantly improve
performance(e.g.2-3dB).
Duetoantennanearfieldradiationpatterns,currentscanbeinducedingroundplanesincloseproximitytothe
antenna.Thiscannegativelyaffecttheradiationpatternoftheantennaandoverallperformance,and
additionallyincreasestheantennassusceptibilitytohandloadingandinterference.Forthisreasonground
planesshouldbekeptaminimumdistancefromtheradiatingsectionofahelixantenna.Seethe
recommendationsofthemanufacturerformoreinformation(e.g.Sarantel).

5.2.2 Placement
HelixantennascaneitherbeplacedinternallyintheGPSdeviceorusedasafreespaceantenna.
With free space antennas ground planes within 5mm of the antenna radiating section can affect the
performanceoftheantenna.Inadditionmechanicalsupportsshouldbeprovidedtoholdtheantennainplace.
Certain system parts around the antenna, for example PCB or LCD screen, may lead to impairment of the
antennaradiationpattern

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5.3 Antenna matching


AllcommonGPS/GALILEOantennasaredesignedfora50Ohmselectricalload.Therefore,oneshouldselecta
50Ohmscabletoconnecttheantennatothereceiver.However,thereareseveralcircumstancesunderwhich
thematchingimpedanceoftheantennamightshiftconsiderably.Expressedinotherwords,thismeansthatthe
antennanolongerpresentsa50Ohmssourceimpedance.Typicallywhathappensisthatthecenterfrequency
of the antenna is shifted away from GPS/GALILEO frequency - usually towards lower frequencies by some
externalinfluence.Thereasonsforthiseffectareprimarilydisturbancesinthenearfieldoftheantenna.Thiscan
either be a ground plane, that does not have the size for which the antenna was designed, or it can be an
enclosurewithadifferentdielectricconstantthanair.
In order toanalyze effects likethisonewouldnormally employ electrical field simulations, which will result in
exactrepresentationoftheelectricfieldsinthenearfieldoftheantenna.Furthermore,thesedistortionsofthe
near field will also show their effect in the far field, changing the radiation pattern of the antenna.
Unfortunately, there is no simple formula to calculate the frequency shift of a given antenna in any specified
environment.Soonemustdoeitherextensivesimulationorexperimentalwork.Usually,antennamanufacturers
offer a selection of pre-tuned antennas, so the user can test and select the version that best fits the given
environment. However, testing equipment such as a scalar network analyzer is recommended to verify the
matching.

CENTER FREQ. (GHz)

Again,itmustbepointedoutthatthesmallerthesizeoftheantenna,themoresensitiveitwillbetodistortions
inthenearfield.Alsotheantennabandwidthwilldecreasewithdecreasingantennasize,makingitharderto
achieveoptimumtuning.

1595
1590
1585
1580
1575
1570
40

50

60

70

80

90

100

SIZ E OF SQUARE GROUND PLANE (mm)

Figure 23: Center frequency of a 25 x 25 mm patch vs. ground plane dimension

Figure 24: Dependency of center frequency on ground plane dimension for a 25 x 25 mm patch

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An LNA placed very close to the antenna can help to relieve the matching requirements. If the interconnect
lengthbetweenantennaandLNAismuchshorterthanthewavelength(9.5cmonFR-4),thematchinglosses
becomelessimportant.UndertheseconditionsthematchingoftheinputtotheLNAbecomesmoreimportant.
Withinareasonablemismatchrange,integratedLNAscanshowagaindecreaseintheorderofafewdBsversus
an increase of noise figure in the order of several tenths of a dB. If your application requires a very small
antenna, an LNA can help to match the impedance of the antenna to a 50Ohms cable. This effect is indeed
beneficialiftheantennacablebetweentheantennaandthereceiverisonlyshort.Inthiscase,theresnoneed
for the gain of the LNA to exceed 10-15dB. In this environment the sole purpose of the LNA is to provide
impedancematchingandnotsignalamplification.

5.4 GSM applications


GSMusespowerlevelsupto2W(+33dBm).TheabsolutemaximumpowerinputattheGPSreceiveristypically
-5dBm.

5.4.1 Isolation between GPS and GSM antenna


ForGSMapplicationsplanaminimumisolationof40dB.Inahandheldtypedesignanisolationofapproximately
20dB can be reached with careful placement of the antennas, but this isnt sufficient. In such applicationsan
additionalinputfilterisneededontheGPSsidetoblockthehighenergyfromtheGSMtransmitter.Examplesof
thesekindsoffilterswouldbeaSAWFilterfromEpcos(B9444)orMurata.

40 dBm

Extra
SAWFilter

u-blox
u-blox
GPS
receiver
5 LNA

GSM

Figure 25: GPS and GSM antenna isolation

5.5 Dual antenna systems


Dual antenna systems are typically used to switch between internal antennas and external active antennas.
Figure26andFigure27giveexamplesofdualantennasystems.
Thefollowingpointsneedtobeconsideredforthedesign:

Most switches require DC-blockers at every input, and when selecting the switch or Schmitt trigger
particular attention needs to be give to the switching thresholds function of the antenna being used.
Dependingontheswitchanadditionalbuffermaybenecessary.

The LNA is placed before the SAW filter because LNAs can accept a maximum power of between 10 to
15dBm.

Placing the LNA after the SAW filter will reduce sensitivity by ~1dBm but maximum input power will be
higher(typically25dBm).

ItisrecommendedtopowertheLNAthroughVCC_RF.
SelectionoftheESDdiodedependsonthevoltagesupply(SeetheIntegrationmanualforthespecificu-blox
receiver).
TheantennadetectioncircuitryisthesameasthatintheIntegrationmanualforthespecificu-bloxreceiver.
Open Circuit Detection must be activated on the module so that the antenna supply can be switched off
whenthereisnoantenna.

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Active
GPS
Antenna

27nH

100nF

47pF

Passive
GPS
Antenna

LNA as close
as possible to
antenna

GND

LNA

SAW
Filter

RF1

27nH

Electronic
RF-Switch

47pF
RFC

(e.g. Peregrine
PE4259)

47pF

CTRL_ENABLE

ESD Protection
Diode

RF_IN
VCC_RF
V_ANT
AADET_N

FB1

R2

C2

R1
C1

u-blox
Module with
Antenna
Supervision

T2
PNP

T1
PNP

R3

R4

R5

Analog GND

Open Circuit Detection Circuitry


(As in Hardware Integration Manual)

Figure 26: Example of dual antenna system using an electronic switch.

AsanalternativetothesolutionshowninFigure26amechanicalswitchcanalsobeused(seeFigure27).
valuesofthecomponentsidentifiedseetheIntegrationManualforthespecificu-bloxreceiver.

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Active
GPS
Antenna

Passive
GPS
Antenna

LNA

SAW
Filter

LNA as close
as possible to
antenna

MCX mechanical switch


(e.g. f-time RX761-50311T1-A)

ESD Protection
Diode
ESD9R3.3ST5G

RF_IN
VCC_RF
V_ANT
AADET_N

u-blox
Module with
Antenna
Supervision

Figure 27: Example of dual antenna system using a mechanical switch.

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6 Interference issues
AtypicalGPS/GALILEOreceiverhasaverylowdynamicrange.Thisisbecausetheantennashouldonlydetect
thermal noise in the GPS/GALILEO frequency band, given that the peak power of the GPS/GALILEO signal is
15dBbelowthethermalnoisefloor.Thisthermalnoisefloorisusuallyveryconstantovertime.Mostreceiver
architecturesuseanautomaticgaincontrol(AGC)circuitrytoautomaticallyadjusttotheinputlevelspresented
bydifferentantennaandpre-amplifiercombinations.ThecontrolrangeoftheseAGCscanbeaslargeas50dB.
However,thedynamicrangeforajammingsignalexceedingthethermalnoiseflooristypicallyonly6to12dB,
duetotheoneortwobitquantizationschemescommonlyusedinGPS/GALILEOreceivers.Iftherearejamming
signals present at the antenna and the levels of these signals exceed the thermal noise power, the AGC will
regulate the jamming signal, suppressing the GPS/GALILEO signal buried in thermal noise even further.
Depending on the filter characteristics of the antenna and the front end of the GPS/GALILEO receiver, the
sensitivitytosuchin-bandjammingsignalsdecreasesmoreorlessrapidlyifthefrequencyofthejammingsignal
moves away from GPS/GALILEO signal frequency. We can conclude that a jamming signal exceeding thermal
noise floor within a reasonable bandwidth (e.g. 100MHz) around GPS/GALILEO signal frequency will degrade
theperformancesignificantly.
Even out-of-band signals can affect GPS/GALILEO receiver performance. If these jamming signals are strong
enough that even antenna and front-end filter attenuation are not sufficient, the AGC will still regulate the
jamming signal. Moreover, very high jamming signal levels can result in non-linear effects in the pre-amplifier
stagesofthereceiver,resultingindesensitizingofthewholereceiver.Onesuchparticularlydifficultscenariois
thetransmittingantennaofaDCS 4 handset(max.30dBmat1710MHz)incloseproximitytotheGPS/GALILEO
antenna.WhenintegratingGPS/GALILEOwithotherRFtransmittersspecialcareisnecessary.
Iftheparticularapplicationrequiresintegrationoftheantennawithotherdigitalsystems,oneshouldmakesure
thatjammingsignallevelsarekepttoanabsoluteminimum.EvenharmonicsofaCPUclockcanreachashighas
1.5GHzandstillexceedthermalnoisefloor.
Onthereceiversidetheresnotmuchthatcanbedonetoimprovethesituationwithoutsignificanteffort.Of
course, high price military receivers have integrated counter-measures against intentional jamming. But the
methodsemployedareoutofthescopeofthisdocument andmightevenconflictwithexportrestrictionsfor
dual-usegoods.
The recommendations and concepts in this section are completely dependent on the specific applications. In
situations where an active antenna is used in a remote position, e.g. >1m away from other electronics,
interferenceshouldnotbeanissue.

If antenna and electronics are to be tightly integrated, the following sections should be read very
carefully.

6.1 Sources of noise


BasicallytwosourcesareresponsibleformostoftheinterferencewithGPSreceivers:
1. StrongRFtransmittersclosetoGPSfrequency,e.g.DCSat1710MHzorradarsat1300MHz.
2. Harmonicsoftheclockfrequencyemittedfromdigitalcircuitry.
Thefirstproblemcanbeverydifficulttosolve,butifGPS/GALILEOandRFtransmitteraretobeintegratedclose
toeachother,theresagoodchancethatthereisanengineerathandwhoknowsthespecificationsoftheRF
transmitter.Inmostcases,countermeasuressuchasfilterswillberequiredforthetransmittertolimitdisruptive
emissionsbelowthenoisefloorneartheGPS/GALILEOfrequency.
EvenifthetransmitterisquietintheGPS/GALILEOband,averystrongemissionclosetoitcancausesaturation
inthefront-endofthereceiver.Typically,thereceiver'sfront-endstagewillreachitscompressionpoint,which
will in turn increase the overall noise figure of the receiver. In that case, only special filtering between the

DigitalCommunicationSystem

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GPS/GALILEOantennaandreceiverinputwillhelptoreducesignallevelstotheleveloflinearoperationatthe
front-end.
Thesecondproblemismorecommonbutalsoregularlyprovestobehardtosolve.Here,theemittingsourceis
notwellspecifiedandtheemissioncanbeofbroadbandnature,makingspecificcountermeasuresverydifficult.
Moreover,theGPS/GALILEObandisfarbeyondthe1GHzlimitthatappliestoalmostallEMCregulations.So,
evenifadeviceiscompliantwithrespecttoEMCregulationsitmightseverelydisturbaGPSreceiver.
IftheGPS/GALILEOantennaistobeplacedveryclosetosomeotherelectronics,e.g.theGPS/GALILEOreceiver
itselforaPDA-likeappliance,theEMCissuemustbetakenveryseriouslyrightfromtheconceptphaseofthe
design.Itisoneofthemostdemandingtasksinelectricalengineeringtodesignasystemthatisessentiallyfree
ofmeasurableemissionsinagivenfrequencyband.

6.2 Eliminating digital noise sources


Digital noise is caused by short rise-times of digital signals. Data and address buses with rise-times in the
nanosecondrangewillemitharmonicsuptoseveralGHz.Thefollowingsectionscontainsomegeneralhintson
howtodecreasethelevelofnoiseemittedfromdigitalcircuitboardthatarepotentiallyincloseproximitytothe
GPSreceiverortheantenna.

6.2.1 Power and ground planes


Usesolidplanesforpowerandgroundinterconnect.ThiswilltypicallyresultinaPCBwithatleastfourlayersbut
willalsoresultinamuchlowerradiation.Solidgroundplanesensurethatthereisadefinedreturnpathforthe
signalsroutedonthesignallayer.Thiswillreducetheantennaareaoftheradiatingloop.Planesshouldbe
solidinasensethattherearenoslotsorlargeholesinsidetheplane.
Theouterextentofthepowerplaneshouldbewithintheextentofthegroundplane.Thisavoidsthattheedges
of the two planes form a slot antenna at the board edges. Its a good idea to have a ground frame on the
circumferenceofeverylayerthatisconnectedtothegroundplanewithasmanyviasaspossible.Ifnecessary,a
shield can then be easily mounted on top of this frame (see Figure 28). Furthermore, free space on the
outermost Layers can be filled with ground shapes connected to the ground plane to shield radiation from
internallayers.
Bad: Excessive Radiation

Good: Radiation terminated

Figure 28: Signal and power plane extends should lie within ground plane extends

Optional shield

Figure 29: Further improvement of reduction of power plane radiation

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6.2.2 High speed signal lines


Keep high-speed lines as short as possible. This will reduce the area of the noise-emitting antenna, i.e. the
conductor traces. Furthermore, the use of line drivers with controlled signal rise-time is suggested whenever
drivinglargebussystems.Alternatively,high-speedsignallinescanbeterminatedwithresistorsorevenactive
terminationstoreducehighfrequencyradiationoriginatingfromovershootandringingontheselines.
Ifdielectriclayersarethickcomparedtothelinewidth,routegroundtracesbetweenthesignallinestoincrease
shielding.Thisisespeciallyimportantifonlytwolayerboardsareused(seeFigure30).
Bad: Excessive Radiation

Good: Radiation terminated

Figure 30: Terminating radiation of signal lines

6.2.3 Decoupling capacitors


Useasufficientnumberofdecouplingcapacitorsinparallelbetweenpowerandgroundnets.Smallsize,small
capacitance types reduce high-frequency emissions. Large size, high capacitance types stabilize low frequency
variations.Itspreferredtohavealargenumberofsmallvaluecapacitorsinparallelratherthanhavingasmall
number of large value capacitors. Every capacitor has an internal inductance in series with the specified
capacitance. In addition to resonance, the capacitor will also behave like an inductor. If many capacitors are
connectedinparallel,totalinductancewilldecreasewhiletotalcapacitancewillincrease.Figure31showsthe
impedancedependenceofSMDcapacitors.

Figure 31: Impedance of 0805 size SMD capacitors vs. frequency, MuRata

Ifthepowerandgroundplanearenotconnectedbyanefficientcapacitornetwork,thepowerplanemayactas
a radiating patch antenna with respect to the ground. Furthermore, ceramic capacitors come with different
dielectric materials. These materials show different temperature behavior. For industrial temperature range
applications,atleastaX5Rqualityshouldbeselected.Y5VorZ5Utypesmaylosealmostalloftheircapacitance
at extreme temperatures, resulting in potential system failure at low temperatures because of excessive noise

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emissions from the digital part. Tantalum capacitors show good thermal stability, however, their high ESR
(equivalentseriesresistance)limitstheusablefrequencyrangetosome100kHz.

Figure 32: Temperature dependency of COG/NPO dielectric, AVX

Figure 33: Temperature dependency of X7R dielectric, AVX

Figure 34: Temperature dependency of Y5V dielectric, AVX

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6.3 Shielding
IfemployingcountermeasurescannotsolveEMIproblems,thesolutionmaybeshieldingofthenoisesource.In
therealworld,shieldsarenotperfect.Theshieldingeffectivenessyoucanexpectfromasolidmetalshieldis
somewhere in the order of 30-40dB. If a thin PCB copper layer is used as a shield, these values can be even
lower.Perforationoftheshieldwillalsoloweritseffectiveness.
Beawareofthenegativeeffectsthatholesintheshieldcanhaveonshieldingeffectiveness.Lengthyslotsmight
eventurnashieldintoaradiatingslotantenna.Therefore,apropershieldhastobetightlyclosedandverywell
connectedtothecircuitboard.

6.3.1 Feed through capacitors


Thebasicconceptofshieldingisthatametalboxwillterminateallelectricalfieldsonitssurface.Inpracticewe
havetheproblemthatweneedtoroutesomesignalsfrominsidetooutsideofthisbox.

Supply Ground Layer (noisy)

Feed through Capacitor

Signal Layers

Signal line leaving box


Shield (free of supply currents)

Figure 35: Ideal shielding

The proposed setup for such a system is shown in Figure 35. A feed through capacitor removes all high
frequencycontentfromtheoutgoingsignalline.Itsimportanttonotethatanyconductorprojectingthrough
theshieldingboxissubjecttopickingupnoiseinsideandre-radiatingitoutside,regardlessoftheactualsignalit
is intended to carry. Therefore, also DC lines (e.g. the power supply) should be filtered with feed through
capacitors. When selecting feed through capacitors, its important to choose components with appropriate
frequency behavior. As with the ordinary capacitors, small value types will show better attenuation at high
frequencies(seeFigure36).FortheGPS/GALILEOfrequencybandthe470pFcapacitoristheoptimumchoiceof
theMurataNFM21Cseries.

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Figure 36: MuRatas NFM21C feed through capacitors

Anyfeedthroughcapacitorwillonlyachieveitsspecifiedperformanceifithasapropergroundconnection.
Iftheuseofaspecialfeedthroughcapacitorisnotfeasibleforaparticulardesign,asimplecapacitorbetween
thesignallineandshieldinggroundplacedveryclosetothefeedthroughofthesignallinewillalsohelp.Ithas
been found that a 12pF SMD capacitor works quite well at the GPS/GALILEO frequency range. Larger
capacitancevalueswillbelessefficient.
Oneshouldkeepinmindthatafeedthroughcapacitorisbasicallyahighfrequencyshortbetweenthesignal
line and ground. If the ground point that the capacitor is connected to is not ideal, meaning the ground
connectionorplanehasafiniteresistance,noisewillbeinjectedintothegroundnet.Therefore,oneshouldtry
toplaceanyfeedtroughcapacitorfarawayfromthemostnoisesensitivepartsofthecircuit.Toemphasizethis
onceagain,oneshouldensureaverygoodgroundconnectionforthefeedthroughcapacitor.
Ifthereisnogoodgroundconnectionavailableatthepointofthefeedthrough,orinjectionofnoiseintothe
non-idealgroundnetmustbeavoidedtotally,insertingacomponentwithahighresistanceathighfrequencies
might be a good alternative. Ferrite beads are the components of choice if a high DC resistance cannot be
accepted. Otherwise, for ordinary signal lines one could insert a 1K series resistor, which would then form a
low-passfiltertogetherwiththeparasiticcapacitanceoftheconductortrace.
SeealsotheMuRatawebpageforextensivediscussiononEMCcountermeasures.

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6.3.2 Shielding sets of sub-system assembly


Yet another problem arises if multiple building blocks are combined in a single system. Figure 37 shows a
possiblescenario.Inthiscase,thesupplycurrenttravelingthroughtheinductivegroundconnectionbetweenthe
two sub-systems will cause a voltagedifferencebetween thetwoshields ofthe sub-system.The shield ofthe
other system will then act as a transmitting antenna, radiating with respect to the ground and shield of the
GPS/GALILEOreceiverandtheattachedantenna.

RadiationfromShield
Antenna

VoltageDifference
ReturnCurrent
0

Coaxialantennacable
SomeotherElectronics

Ground
Connection

GPS/GALILEOReceiver

Figure 37: Two shielded sub-systems, connected by a poor ground

This situation can be avoided by ensuring a low inductivity ground connection between the two shields. But
now,itmightbedifficulttocontrolthepathofthegroundreturncurrentstothepowersupplysincetheshield
isprobablyconnectedtothesupplygroundatmorethanonelocation.ThepreferredsolutionisshowninFigure
38.Again,itisimportanttohaveagood(i.e.lowinductance)interconnectionbetweentheoutershieldandthe
shieldinggroundoftheGPS/GALILEOreceiver.
Antenna

Coaxialantennacable
SomeotherElectronics

PowerSupplyGround
Connection

GPS/GALILEOReceiver

Connectionofshieldinggrounds

Figure 38: Proper shielding of a sub-system assembly

It is clear that the situation illustrated in Figure 38 can become complex if the component Some other
electronics contains another wireless transmitter system with a second antenna, which is referenced to the
systemsshieldingground.Asalreadypointedout,inasetuplikethisitisimportanttokeeptheshieldfreefrom
supplycurrentswithhighfrequencyspectralcontent.Iftherearetobeadditionalconnectionstotheshielding
ground,theseshouldbeofahighlyinductivenature.

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6.4 Increasing jamming immunity


Jammingsignalscomefromin-bandandout-bandfrequencysources.

6.4.1 In-band jamming


With in-band jamming the signal frequency is very close to the GPS frequency of 1575 MHz. Such jamming
signalsaretypicallycausedbyharmonicsfromdisplays,micro-controller,bussystems,etc.

Power[dBm]

GPSCarrier
1575.4MHz

Jamming
signal

GPS
signals

0
Jammin
gsignal
GPS input filter
characteristics

-110

Frequency[MHz]
1525

1550

1575

1600

1625

Figure 39: In-band jamming signals

CPU
u-blox
u- blox
GPS
receiver
5 LNA

databus

Figure 40: In-band jamming sources

Measuresagainstin-bandjamminginclude:

Maintainingagoodgroundingconceptinthedesign

Shielding

Layoutoptimisation

Filtering

PlacementoftheGPSantenna

AddingaCDMA,GSM,WCDMAbandbassfilterbeforehandsetantenna

6.4.2 Out-band jamming


Out-band jamming is typically caused by signal frequencies that are different from the GPS carrier. The sources are
usuallywirelesscommunicationsystemssuchasGSM,CDMA,WCDMA,WiFi,BT,etc..

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GSMGSM
900 950

Power[dBm]

GPS
signals

GPS
1575

GSM GSM
1800 1900

GPS input filter


characteristics

-110

Frequency[MHz]
0

500

1000

1500

2000

Figure 41: Out-band jamming signals

Measuresagainstout-bandjammingincludemaintainingagoodgroundingconceptinthedesignandaddinga
SAWorbandpassceramicfilterintotheantennainputlinetotheGPSreceiver(seeFigure42).

u-blox
u- blox
GPS

CDMA, GSM,
WCDMA,etc.

receiver
5 LNA

Figure 42: Measures against in-band jamming

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7 Performance tests
For successful integration of a GPS design, it is recommended to perform outdoor static measurements (with
measurements performed in a defined location and with good sky visibility). u-center is the ideal tool for the
designverification.TheSkyViewandtheStatisticViewfunctionsareespeciallyhelpful.Seetheu-bloxwebsiteto
downloadu-center.

7.1 Sky view


TheSkyViewtooloftheu-centersoftwareisanexcellentmeanstoanalyzeantennaperformanceaswellas
the environmental conditions for satellite observation. The polar plot graphically displays the average satellite
signalstrength,thepositionofsatellitesinthesky,identifiessatellitesbynumberandindicateswhichsatellites
arebeingused.
When recording over a long time period, sky view is excellent for displaying the antenna visibility and to
perform a comparison between two designs. Regarding the distribution of GPS satellites, customers should
conductatleast12-hourmeasurementstohavea360-degreeantennavisibilityviewwiththeirdesign.Recorda
second12-hourtestwiththedesignturnedby180degreeonthehorizontalplane.Comparetherecordedfiles
forbothdesignsforthenorthandthesouthhemisphere.
Thefollowingpicturesshow24-houroutdoormeasurementsdonewiththedesign.Whilethepictureontheleft
side shows mediocre performance (recommendations were not followed), the one on the right side shows
successfulintegrationofthedesign.

Figure 43: 24-Hour Sky view test with poor Antenna

Figure 44: 24-Hour Sky view test with a standalone reference

These pictures show examples of possible measurements. Bear in mind that the plots might be
influenced by the environment (e.g. buildings or hills close by) as well as GPS conditions (e.g. no
satellitesabovethenorthandsouthpole).

7.2 Statistic view


Theu-centerstatisticviewvaluesdisplayedinthetablebelowcanbeeasilycopiedfromtheu-centerSoftware
andpastedinanExcelsheetforcomparisonpurposes.
T itle
S V sU se d
U se dS V s
S V s T ra c k e d
T ra c k e d S V s
S V C /N 0

C u rre n t

M in im u m

M a x im u m A v e ra g e
D e v ia tio n U n it
11
8
1

7
3,11,14,20,21,28,31
42.13

12

35.7

44.5

41.56

3,11,14,21,28,31
1
1.06 dBH z

Table 3: Example of statistic view

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Average, minimum and maximum signal strength ratios, so called C/No (carrier to noise ratio), provide good
estimatesofthesignalreceptionquality.

7.3 Supply voltage check


Onceadesignprototypeisreadythesupplyvoltagerippleatthemoduleshouldbechecked.Itmustbebelow
50mVp-p.

PlacetheLDOfortheGPSclosetothereceiver.

UsewidePCBtracesorpowerplanes.

Ensurethattherearenoinductors,resistors,fusesordiodesbetweentheLDOandtheGPSreceiver.

7.4 Sensitivity test


ChecktheC/Novaluesinthe$GPGSVortheUBX-NAV-SVINFOmessages.Underopenskyagooddesignshould
reachupto50dBHzforthestrongestsignals.Ifitreaches45dBHzitcanstillbeacceptablebutthesourceofthe
reductionshouldbeinvestigated(e.g.smallantenna,...).
Designs withmaximal signal strengths below 40dBHz usually providedegradedperformance (longTTFFtimes,
lowercoverage,accuracy,dynamic).

7.5 Startup test


Withgoodskyvisibilitythedeviceshouldmakeacoldstartwithin30-40seconds.(Taketheaverageof10-20
tests).

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Appendix
A Example of receiver signal to noise (C/No)
performance calculation
Figure45showsatypicalGPSreceiversystemsetup.ItisapparentthatthenoisefigureofthefirstLNA(NF1)will
dominate the receiver noise performance. If the first LNA is absent, the losses between antenna and receiver
input should be minimal. These losses are represented by gain (G1) and NF1 (G1 < 1!). If the cable losses are
reasonably low, the first amplifier stage of the GPS receiver (LNA2) dominates the noise performance of the
system.Eventhebestreceivercantcompensatethecablelosses,inbestcasesitwillonlyaddnofurtherlosses.
Antenna Supply Voltage

Antenna
G1=10 dB
NF1=2dB

G2=10 dB
NF2=2dB
Coaxial Antenna Cable
Low Noise
Amplifier
(LNA2)

Low Noise
Amplifier
(LNA1)

Active Antenna

GPS Receiver

Figure 45: GPS receiver setup with antenna

Table4showsanexamplecalculationforatypicalGPSreceiverprocessingchainasdepictedinFigure45.The
finalstageofthereceiverissummarizedintherowReceiver.Gainandnoisefigurearearbitrarilychosensince
thisfigurewillnotincludethetransitiontothedigitalsignalprocessingdomain.TotheuserofaGPSRFchipthe
internalanalognoisefigureofthereceiverisusuallynotvisible,becausehecanonlyaccessthedigitizedoutput
signalsofthisstage.Ifquantizerarchitectureandgaincontrolmechanismsareknown,onecanhoweverreverse
calculate the noise figure of the analog part. Finally, in digital signal processing there are noise contributions
which do not fit into the concept of noise figure theory. To just name one, quantization errors will always
contributeafixedamountofnoise,regardlessofthesignalpre-amplification.
Stage

Cascaded Equiv. Noise Power C/No


Power Cascaded Noise
Gain of Power
Figure of Noise
Carrier Density
Stage
Stage Gain
Figure
Power
[dB]

[dB]

[dB]

[dB]

Antenna

[dBm] [dBm/Hz]

[dBHz]

0.00

-130

-173.98

43.98

Cable

-1

-1

1.00

-131

-173.98

42.98

1st LNA

10

3.00

-121

-161.98

40.98

Cable

-3

3.26

-124

-164.71

40.71

2nd LNA

10

16

3.56

-114

-154.42

40.42

Receiver

60

76

10

3.97

-54

-94.01

40.01

Table 4: Example of Receiver Gain and Noise calculation

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The highlighted fields in Table 4 are the input values, the other fields show the results calculated from these
numbers.Forahighergainantenna,onecouldincreasethecarrierpowerinthefirstlinebytheantennagain
givenindBic.Onecouldalsomakeadifferentassumptionfortheantennanoisetemperatureinthefirstlineand
change the initial noise power density accordingly. Of course, gain and noise figure of the analog signal
processingstagedifferforeveryreceiverimplementation.
Figure46illustratesthedirectrelationbetweenreceivernoisefigureandtheC/N0measurethatisavailableto
the receiver. Again, one can easily see the dominant influence of the first processing stages. If the first LNA
wouldhaveahighergain,e.g.25dBinsteadofonly10dB,thecontributionofthesubsequentstagestothe
sensitivitydegradationwouldbenegligible.

C/No and Cascaded Noise Figure

C/No [dBHz], Noise Figure [dB]

50.00
45.00
40.00
35.00
30.00
25.00

C/No
Cascaded NF

20.00
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
Antenna

Cable

1st LNA

Cable

2nd LNA

Receiver

Stage

Figure 46: C/No and noise figure in receiver processing chain

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Related documents
[1]

GPS Compendium,Docu.No GPS-X-02007

[2]

u-blox5ReceiverDescriptionincludingProtocolSpecification,Docu.NoGPS.G5-X-07003

Allthesedocumentsareavailableonourhomepage(http://www.u-blox.com).

Forregularupdatestou-bloxdocumentationandtoreceiveproductchangenotificationspleaseregister
onourhomepage.

Revision history

Revision

Date

Name

Status / Comments

-
A1

29/01/2009
02/07/2009

jfuh,tgri
jfuh,tgri

Initialrelease
NewCI,2.2Antenna,2.3Dipoleantenna,5.1.2Placement,5.1.3
ESDprotectionmeasures,5.5Mechanicaldualantennasystem
solution,6.4Increasingjammingimmunity,Appendix

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Contact
Forcompletecontactinformationvisitusatwww.u-blox.com

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