I’ve got the WIFI blues.
Our American skiing buddies (whom we haven’t seen for three years) are making the great trek across the Atlantic ocean for a ski vacation in France. Among the usual list of requirements (good snow and nice range of terrains and activities) was “must have WIFI”. They were happy to compromise on transfer time, travel by car/air/sea/train and even schlep bags on public transport. The only thing that was not negotiable was a WIFI connection. Easier said than done because not every resort offers WIFI that is accessible from the hotel/chalet room. And hence why I’ve got the WIFI blues.
It is funny how being connected has gone from being a luxury to a necessity. Aside from wanting to be connected to work, a working WIFI connection makes leisure time more productive. I remember the days when you’d look up the weather conditions on the mountain by walking down to the hotel lobby to read the latest note on the bulletin board (which was invariably a few hours old). Then after much chin and head scratching you’d leave the hotel prepared for every eventuality. But now you can simply go to the mountain website, check-out the weather conditions via a live webcam, see how many chairlifts are operational and decide whether you need full weather protection or just a t-shirt – all without even leaving the comfort of your room or changing out of your pajamas. Gotta love technology … especially when it works.
Thankfully manufacturers of various communications products such as WIFI antennas use simulation to ensure reliability of their equipment. We all know that manufacturers are on a quest to create smaller and less obtrusive electronic enclosures. Unfortunately this means that more and more components are getting packed into smaller spaces thus creating high temperature problems. And we all know what happens when temperatures rise inside electronic enclosure…
Using simulation is not difficult (if you’ve got the right tools and the right expertise at hand). For example, Solectron needed to optimize the cooling design of an outdoor WIFI antenna for one of their customers. The wireless access point was designed to be mounted outside on a pole and provide wireless service to a large building such as a hotel. The unit generated an internal heat load of 200W and solar heat loading of approximately the same value. The maximum allowable temperature in the electronics compartment was 66°C based on a maximum external ambient temperature of 46°C. There were two other constraints — a maximum weight of 12 pounds and a maximum cost of $120 for thermal management components.
The company decided to use simulation to optimize and validate the design before the physical prototype was built. Mr. Robert Rios, the Mechanical Engineering Manager at the company, investigated four different cooling methods on the behalf of their customer. When all was said and done, Mr. Rios reported that the initial prototype met all of their customer performance specifications. Therefore, they saved at least 3 months and $40,000 that would have been required to identify and correct problems in the initial design concept. Usually saving in time and money go hand in hand but sometimes they are not measured. In this case the organization was very much on the ball and was keeping track of ROI. If you’d like to read more about their design challenge, then please follow this link — it is an engaging story.
If you’re interested in the topic of electronics cooling and would like to learn more about the basics, then I’d like to recommend any of our free on-demand presentations from this page. You’ll find an extensive library here so you’re bound to find something of interest there! Now if only I could find one single library of available ski resort packages. I think I spent the better part of Sunday trolling various sites and even then the best resort I could find within our price range offered WIFI _only_ in the lobby. I think this is going to be a tough sell to my buddies.
Until next time,