This paper describes experimental results for transmission quality based on antenna direction, packaging materials, and interactions with the local environment. Many mobile devices depend heavily on wireless communications for their operation, making antenna efficiency very important for their successful operation. The Personal Server (PS) research platform enables the user to carry with them their palm-size personal computer anywhere they go. By simply approaching another computer, a kiosk, or other computing interface, all of the user’s data is accessible by wireless connection and transferred to the receiving device. The prototype acts like a mobile server that the consumer can take with and depending on the situation can interact with through any available computing device such as laptops, PCs, tablets, etc. Since the PS uses RF transmission to send files and images to the interfacing computers, maintaining reliable and robust signal strength is important for the device. An experimental approach was used to better understand the factors which may degrade or augment signal strength. The approach taken in this investigation quantifies the effects of human and electronic-mechanical factors on the transmission strength of the PS and help guide decisions on design changes that would favor an improved quality of signal. The investigation looked at two specific areas that could potentially influence signal performance: i) human interaction and usage ii) electronic-mechanical design factors. The first part of the investigation looked at how the device performed in the presence of a human body, specifically the way it was positioned with respect to the user as well as the position of the human body with respect to the receiving antenna. In addition, the signal strength was observed when the PS was in the presence of other objects commonly carried along the human body. The remaining part of the experiment concerned itself with the given design of the device, specifically the PCB components and plastic casing. Factors from both the electronic and mechanical domains, such as battery placement, paint presence on housing, and geometry of casing, were varied simultaneously using a Design of Experiment (DOE) approach.

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