How to Optimize Your Wireless Video System – Which Antenna to Use with Teradek Bolt?
Wireless video systems all have one thing in common: antennas. Whether it’s a single one or an array of antennas, these devices are used to transmit and receive radio waves. So how do you choose the right antenna for your system to get the best out of it? Teradek tackles this question in one of their how-to articles, which is quite interesting to read, even if you are using other brands of wireless video systems.
Well, I’ve personally become guilty of arranging the antennas of video transmitters with multiple antennas sitting on top of my camera in a way that probably compromised video transmission quality and range: I aligned some antennas at a 45º angle and left the rest straight.
It felt… right. But it’s not, as Teradek explains in his How to Optimize Your Wireless Video System video.
Although this is clearly a Teradek video featuring Teradek products, the underlying concepts apply to other makes and models as well, so I think it’s worth watching even if you use completely different wireless video systems.
How to optimize wireless video
First, it is important to understand and distinguish between the two basic types of antennas available to you: V antennas and H antennas. While V antennas (as in Vertical) use a vertical electric field, H antennas (as in Horizontal) use a horizontal electric field to distribute a wireless radio signal.
So far, so simple, but how do you decide which variant to choose? Well, basically you have two modes at your disposal: V mode, which of course uses only V antennas, or V+H mode, which uses H antennas on the outer ports, while V antennas fill the gaps in between.
V mode is well suited for long-range, direct line-of-sight connections, while V+H mode is better suited for a more obstructed view that requires a more robust signal that can cut through interference and objects along the way.
And, in reference to my initial statement above, it is best practice positioning the transmitter and receiver antennas perpendicular to the ground, not at an angle like I did. That’s what the hinges on the antennas are actually for, so don’t try to create a fancy but counterproductive pattern here. Just point all the antennas straight up and be done with it.
If you need an even stronger signal for very long distances or complicated environments, Teradek has a solution with the Antenna Array for Bolt 4K, but that’s another topic for another day.
Using the most appropriate antennas for the job and positioning them correctly will greatly affect the quality of the transmission. Therefore, follow these guidelines when using a wireless video system in the field, whether it is a Teradek product or any other.
Since this is “basic” knowledge for radio engineers, these concepts apply to almost all makes and models. Sure, sometimes you can’t even swap antennas because they’re built into the device in question, but if you have a choice, choose wisely!
What do you think? Have you also misaligned your antennas in the past? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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