Microwave transmission forms the core of most modern communication technology, which in turn allows modern businesses and most other devices to function properly. Microwave antenna systems allow that transmission to take place, and it is safe to say that modern society could not exist without them. Unfortunately, very few people understand how they work in spite of their importance. It is dangerous to have a society where everyone depends on something that almost nobody understands, so everyone should take the time to learn the basics of how their antennas work.
What Are Microwaves?
A microwave is a type of electromagnetic radiation. The waves aren’t visible to the naked eye, but a given wave will have a regular frequency and wavelength. Those values can change if something interferes with the wave, but they are constant if that does not happen.
That means that a wave can travel from one point to another without changing too much. Microwaves can’t bend to go around obstacles, so they do need clear line of sight to get between points. Communication devices take advantage of these traits to use microwaves to carry information.
What Do Antennas Do?
The antenna is the device that makes the microwaves useful. An antenna can send out a microwave in a very narrow beam, which means that it can be aimed precisely and avoid interfering with any other microwaves that are in the area at the time. Alternatively, they can also receive the microwaves that were sent out by a different antenna.
Since microwaves can only travel along direct line of sight, these antennas are usually fairly close together. If that isn’t enough to get the wave to its destination, it is possible to use more than one antenna to solve that problem. The first antenna sends out the wave, then the next one receives it and sends out an identical wave to the next antenna in the chain. That continues until the wave gets where it needs to go. This is especially important in cities and other congested areas where they are more obstacles that could block the wave.
Decoding The Message
The microwave is essentially a code for other types of information, such as television shows or documents. Once the signal has reached its destination, a machine will analyze it to figure out its wavelength and other defining characteristics. It can then translate that wave into a form that humans understand.
The system works fairly well, but the quality of the final message can suffer if something interferes with the wave before it reaches the receiving antenna. That is one of the reasons that communication networks are designed with great care. Fortunately, engineers have gotten very good at setting them up, so problems are quite rare.