The FCC last month handed down a unanimous 4-0 NPRM approval of something that Dielectric was instrumental in initiating: The allowance of directional FM antenna modeling through computational methods. With its passage, the new rule allows FM broadcasters to transition from expensive, time-consuming physical modeling to more efficient, economical, and accurate simulated modeling procedures.
The FCC’s passage of this rule, combined with compelling new antenna designs available to FM broadcasters for the first time, makes this an exciting new era for industry design consultants and engineers. In preparation for the ruling, Dielectric spent considerable time in research and development with AI technologies to automate simulation processes, which included our new FM pylon antenna family that we introduced at NAB Show in April.
AI has penetrated nearly every corner of the broadcast world to this point, and its convergence with the RF segment will bring exciting innovations to over-the-air broadcasters for years. Given the nearly six-decade path that it took for FM broadcasters to move beyond physical modeling (TV broadcasters were permitted to adopt virtual modeling in 2017), it feels especially rewarding that FM radio is on the leading edge of AI innovation for over-the-air broadcasting. This is due to the application of Artificial Intelligence Optimization (AIO), which is the specific AI process used to automate virtual, simulated antenna models.
AIO, combined with virtual modeling, ensures that the geometry for each antenna installation best fits the broadcaster’s desired radiation patterns while maintaining FCC compliance. This is made possible by enhancing the already groundbreaking benefits of the computer simulation process through what is generally referred to as an “optimizer.”
Dielectric is using High-Frequency Simulation Software (HFSS) to help drive the computer simulation process for virtual antenna design. HFSS specifically eliminates the lengthy set-up and breakdown times of physical models. The long-used physical process of choosing antennas models from controlled libraries, manipulating the model and comparing models to FCC protection envelopes is no longer necessary. HFSS makes small changes very efficiently across the virtual design process to optimize radiation patterns without time and material constraints.
Using an optimizer is what drives AI-driven decision making outside of the HFSS environment, and ultimately accelerates the design process for our FM antennas. There are many types of optimizers available to further the AIO process. Dielectric’s approach utilizes OptiSlang, an optimetric language that ultimately reduces setup times (from physical to virtual) by several hours, and reduces labor from 40 hours to one. FM pylon antenna iterations improve from 120 to as many as 400 thanks to the accurate measurements of HFSS and AIO together.
The result is that broadcasters can now utilize all the advantages of pylon antenna technology with drastically reduced lead times for antenna design. That means enjoying the long-term benefits of low windload, increased reliability, pattern flexibility and, for FM broadcasters, full-band operation – with quicker delivery timelines than what broadcasters have lived with for decades.
“Our trials of AI scripts have proven that we can completely optimize the entire process and not be compromised by time constraints,” said Keith Pelletier, President, Dielectric. “By simultaneously solving combinations of parasitics, pattern shapers and radiator locations, AI has replaced the slow, inaccurate, and limited process of trial and error. We no longer settle for being ‘close enough’ when it comes to pattern verification.”
For more information, go to Dielectric.com.