Modern technology is extremely complicated, so even a relatively small adjustment can have a big impact on how it works. The modern world is also highly interconnected, so advances in one technology can lead to changes in other fields. Antenna alignment tools provide a wonderful example of both trends. The tools were originally designed to optimize the alignment of the antenna arrays that form a vital part of modern communication networks, and the impact of doing so has created a ripple effect that made other technologies more viable.
Lower Costs Expand Networks
The technical details of antenna alignment are complicated, but the basic principles are easy to grasp. Every antenna has an optimal alignment that maximizes its ability to send and receive information. When it is outside of that alignment, the signal suffers. Alignment tools allow engineers to calculate the optimal alignment and easily adjust the antenna to match it. The precise alignment will vary depending on whether the antenna is meant to communicate with other antennas, satellites, or both, but the tools always make it easy to find.
The increased broadcasting power that proper alignment offered, along with the ease of maintaining it, made it much cheaper to maintain strong communication networks. This is particularly important in rural areas, where many people are dependent on distant towers or satellites for service. In cities, proper alignment can help to prevent signal loss due to obstructions, which reduced the number of antennas that are needed to maintain proper service.
That means that it is cheaper and easier than ever to rely on wireless communications. This isn’t the only factor that is contributing to their growth, but it still makes a difference, and further improvements will continue to make it easier to maintain strong signals.
The first satellites were launched for the sake of national pride, but pride couldn’t fund them for long. Most modern satellites launch for commercial purposes, usually communications.
One of the most recent sources of revenue is satellite Internet access. Until recent years, satellite Internet was slow and had very limited bandwidth. Recent developments, partly in the form of easier access to proper alignment and partly from innovations that emerged from that, have mostly solved that problem. This is a huge gain for isolated consumers who often lack access to other connections.
Alignment tools can also be useful on a larger scale. Radio telescopes use the same basic principles as other antennas, but they allow astronomers to gather data that is inaccessible to traditional telescopes. The largest and most powerful of these telescopes, the FAST, has a dish with a diameter of more than 1,600 feet. A system of that scale is useless if it isn’t aligned properly, and it relies on larger versions of many of the same tools and techniques as smaller systems to do so.