For RF engineers, directional antennas provide the best method to improve a wireless link. Directional antennas provide important benefits:
- Antenna directionality improves energy focus, which results in improved gain
- Antenna gain improves the link budget in both directions (transmit and receive)
- Narrowing the directionality limits the impact on other wireless links
- Narrowing the directionality mitigates interference from outside sources
However, directional antennas have inherent limitations:
- Directional antennas must be manually pointed and aligned to ensure link quality
- Directional antennas are static and therefore can not be automatically adjusted
- Narrowing the directionality limits the ability to establish links outside the area of focus
Dynamic Directional Antenna Switching
To provide the benefits of directional antennas and overcome the inherent limitations, SkyPilot developed a system that dynamically switches between directional antennas. Each system has an array of 8 high-gain (18 dBi) directional antennas, and since each antenna covers 45°, the system is capable of full 360° coverage. The system dynamically determines which antenna to use, so it automatically and dynamically aligns directional antennas. This overcomes all of the manual antenna pointing and static antenna issues with directional antennas.
With dynamic directional antenna switching, the system provides the benefits of omnidirectional antennas (i.e. 360° coverage, automatic discovery, no antenna pointing) with the benefits of directional antennas (i.e. increased link budget, intereference mitigation).
Wireless communications, of course, have two ends of each link – a transmitter and a receiver. We just described how a single system can dynamically switch between directional antennas. But how does the system determine which antenna to use? For this, SkyPilot invented Synchronous Switching.
With Synchronous Switching, the two systems at each end of the wireless link are synchronized to dynamically align directional antennas. The directional antennas are dynamically pointed at each other during the transmissions, resulting in a dynamic point-to-point communication.
To take the benefits of synchronized directional transmissions even further, SkyPilot allows an entire network containing multiple systems to synchronize simultaneous dynamic point-to-point connections between pairs of systems. This architecture of simultaneous point-to-point communications across a network of interconnected systems is called SyncMesh™