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I'm building a temperature controller comprising a WiFi transceiver, AVR, and two relays, switching 240V (single phase -- I'm in Australia).

Because I'll have mains power in the box I want to use an earthed metal enclosure, but my 2.4GHz wifi board, a seeedstudio Wifi Bee has an on-board antenna made from a PCB trace.

I intend to cut a window in the metal enclosure and cover it with plastic.

How large does it need to be, and where should I put it in relation to the WiFi Bee's antenna trace?

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Since the window would actually be a near-field coupled antenna element, it would need to be sized to be resonant. The approximate size would be one half wavelength in the long direction, and less than 1/4 wavelength in the short direction, with the orientation being the same as the PCB trace antenna. The size error, as well as other factors like the size of the box and coupling distance from the PCB trace, would determine the radiation pattern and the VSWR. The quality of the cutting of the slot can also affect it (jagged is bad, smooth is good).

An alternative would be to not have a window at all, and place an antenna inside the box at some distance from the box metal surface, and connect it through an SMA connector to the outside, and use another antenna there. Near field coupling inside would pass most of the power through, depending on how the box size behaves as a resonant cavity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So given a 2.4GHz wavelength of 125mm, that would be 62.5mm x 31.25mm (not that I expect sub mm accuracy in my measuring/cutting) Those seem reasonable dimensions. If the slot is on the top of the box, directly above the antenna trace, what's the best vertical distance? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom Davies
    Oct 20 '11 at 0:31

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