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GNSS antenna testing

Table of contents


Motivation

This document details a brief analysis on alternative antennas that Fixposition can suggest which have been proven to work properly with the Vision-RTK2. It is worth mentioning that we are not financially compensated for this test in any way. If you want us to test an specific antenna, contact us at support@fixposition.com.


Minimum requirements

The Vision-RTK2's GNSS receivers require signals located at the L1 and L2 bands for adequate operation. Based on our internal testing, we recommend using helical antennas with a gain of around 35 dB. For reference, our evaluation kit ships with two Hi-Target AH-3232 antennas. The frequency response of the GNSS antennas should be approximately located at the [1195 - 1280] MHz and [1560 - 1610] MHz bands. On top of that, for helical antennas, we recommend a noise figure lower than 1.5 dB.

Other antenna types (e.g., patch, short helical) should be evaluated carefully depending on their placement with respect to other electrical components and the shape of the ground plane provided for them. Thus, besides using a suitable and good antenna (and appropriate cabling), the placement of the antenna is important. See below and for example the following u-blox document: ZED-F9P_IntegrationManual_UBX-18010802.pdf

Antenna assemblies that combine multiple antennas (such as, GNSS, Wi-Fi and cellular) in once casing are not recommended at all. While such antennas work fine for autonomous standard (C/A only) GNSS, they are likely to have bad performance for high-precision GNSS that require phase measurements, such as RTK. Also, the GNSS performance may depend on activity of the other antennas (Wi-Fi signal strength, cellular band used, etc.).

For further analysis, besides analyzing the position estimate performance of the sensor, one can look at the "Receiver RF AGC" value located at the advanced "GNSS status" tab in the Web Interface. The expected values should ideally be located between 20 and 80 percent. For additional information, see also the following U-Blox document: https://www.u-blox.com/sites/default/files/products/documents/GNSS-Antennas_AppNote_%28UBX-15030289%29.pdf

Only active antennas (with a built-in LNA) are suitable for the VRTK2 sensor.


Setup

Fig. 1: Test setup

Each VRTK2 contains one Hi-Tech AH-3232 antenna (the one we ship with the started kit) and one test antenna (e.g., AH-4236).


Methodology

During the stationary tests, the first test uses the test antenna on GNSS2.

To verify that the selection of GNSS connector is not affecting the results, the second test is at the same position but switching connectors.


Results


Summary table

Antenna

Type

LNA supply

Bands

Freq [MHz]

LNA Gain [dB]

Noise [dB]

Suitability

Hi-Target AH-3232

Helix

3 - 16V, < 35mA

L1 L2

1197 - 1278, 1559 - 1609

35 + 3

< 1.5

🟩

Hi-Target AH-4236

Helix

3 - 16V, < 35mA

L1 L2 L5

1160 - 1280, 1515 - 1615

35 + 3

< 1.5

🟨

u-blox ANN-MB

Patch

3 - 5V, ~15mA

L1 L2

1197 - 1249, 1559 - 1606

28 + 3

< 3.2

🟨

PCTEL GNSS-L125-TNC

Patch

2.5 - 12V, ~37mA

L1 L2 L5

1150 - 1290, 1500 - 1615

40 + 5

< 3.0

??

Tallysman 33-HC882-XX

Helix

2.2 - 16V, ~15mA

2.2 - 16V, ~21mA

L1 L2

1192 - 1255, 1559 - 1606

28 + ?

35 + ?

< 2.0

Tallysman 33-HC977-XX

Helix

2.2 - 16V, ~15mA

2.2 - 16V, ~21mA

L1 L2 L5

1160 - 1255, 1559 - 1606

28 + ?

35 + ?

< 1.6

Harxon HX-CH7603A

Helix

3.3 - 12V, < 55mA

L1 L2

1205 - 1278, 1559 - 1610

33 + ?

< 1.5

??

Harxon HX-CH7609A

Helix

3.3 - 5V, < 55mA

L1 L2 L5

1166 - 1278, 1559 - 1612

33 + 2

< 2

Harxon HX-CH6601A

Helix

3.3 - 12V, < 55mA

L1 L2

1217 - 1257, 1559 - 1610

33 + ?

< 1.5

🟨

Harxon HX-CHX600A

Helix

3.3 - 12V, < 55mA

L1 L2 L5

1166 - 1278, 1520 - 1610

33 + ?

< 1.5

🟩

HighGain HG-GOYH7151

Patch

3.3 - 5.5V, < 45mA

L1 L2

40 + 2

< 1.5

??

Tallysman VSP6337L

Patch


Conclusions

  • Generally, keep recommending Hi-Target AH-3232. We know it works well.

  • Harxon HX-CHX600A seems to work as good as the reference. Good alternative but does not seem to be worth the price.

  • u-blox ANN-MB is the best option for a low-profile antenna, but requires proper mounting.

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