Radio waves are invisible the naked eye, but they are still part of the physical world. That means that every antenna array needs to be carefully aligned to capture them. A poorly-aligned array can still function, but the speed and clarity of the transmission will suffer because it can’t properly make contact with the waves. Optimizing the alignment is difficult, but engineers have developed antenna alignment tools that make the process much easier.
They’re On The Network
Antenna alignment tools produce a huge amount of data about the position and alignment of each antenna and the area around it. This information is often useful, since it can provide evidence of an antenna that is getting knocked out of position and guide future improvements to the array. Since the data is most useful when it can be stored and examined in a central location, most modern antenna alignment tools include USB ports and other access points to connect to computer systems.
They’re Combination Tools
These devices are convenient because they collect several types of information at once. It’s technically possible to get most of the same information by combining altimeters, protractors, cameras, and a variety of other tools, but doing so is prohibitively difficult. Antenna alignment tools are faster and more accurate, which is why they are universal in the industry.
They’re Still Improving
Antenna alignment tools have been in use for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean that the technology is stagnant. To the contrary, engineers are still publishing the occasional research paper about how to improve them. The progress isn’t rapid, but wireless communication is so important to the modern world that it’s likely to continue at a steady rate for a long time.
They’re Consolidating Crews
Antennas existed long before these alignment tools, but they still needed to get aligned properly. That used to require a large ground crew to gather information from expensive sets of equipment as the tower crew worked on the antenna. The development of the alignment tool made the ground team redundant, which dramatically reduced the time and money required to set up an antenna array.
They’re Using Antennas
Many antenna alignment tools can make use of wireless technology to access or send information, which means that they make use of the world’s antenna network even as they improve it. They can also use GPS technology to help gather information. While that doesn’t require an antenna, it only exists because antenna-based technology bridged the gap between modern devices and older satellite communication systems.
They’re Easy To Use
In spite of all their power, these tools are reasonably easy to use. It does take some training to properly align the tools and make sense of the readings, but it’s something that almost anyone can learn to do. That’s a rarity when it comes to technical equipment, and one of the reasons that the tools are so useful for constructing, maintaining, and optimizing antenna arrays.