The most critical requirement was around the radar antenna. It was imperative that the antenna would continue to sense well, regardless of the enclosure placed around it.
Other considerations for the enclosure and mechanical aspects were:
- Must be suitable for indoor and outdoor use (a high degree of waterproofness).
- Must have both USB and serial connection points.
- Must be easy to connect to equipment.
- Must feel like a quality product.
- Must convey the RadarIQ brand.
- Must be environmentally friendly as much as possible.
- Be easy to manufacture (and repair if necessary).
The first iteration of the design used a fully plastic enclosure with two mounting holes and an over-engineered industrial-style connector.
The enclosure was designed such that when both halves were assembled together it became water tight. The mounting holes allowed the sensor to be mounted from either the top or the bottom. A smooth section around where the antenna would go was left clear, so as not to interfere with the sensing.
This design met most of the technical needs, but had some drawbacks:
- The mounting method and connectors were non-standard.
- Once sealed, it was almost impossible to open.
- The enclosure was made mostly of plastic, and realistically, would probably not be recycled at the end of its life.
- The product lacked the quality 'feel'.
During our research into suitable plastics, we identified that, for radar applications, not all plastics are created equal. In fact, there is a whole class of engineering plastics which are designed for Radar applications, called radome plastics (the name comes from "Radar" and "Dome"). These plastics have very specific electrical properties which make it possible to design enclosures which are near transparent to radar.
After some consideration, we decided to have another go at the design to see what improvements could be made. And we are pretty happy with the result!
With this design, we opted for a metal enclosure for all but the radar antenna face. This design has the following advantages over the previous design:
- The enclosure is more environmentally friendly - the metal is recyclable and the amount of plastic is minimized.
- The product has more of a quality feel to it.
- We are no longer limited to just black for the color.
- Switching to a single micro USB plug (with water proof mounting) standardized the connector.
- Through some careful design the single USB connector can be used for both UART Serial and USB (cable dependent).
- The product is now more water proof.
- The product is also easier to manufacture (and repair if needed).
- Mounting is now via 1 mm screws with an optional mounting bracket.
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