Flexible PCBs are seeing increasing interest in satellite applications, mainly due to their longer life cycle and higher flexibility. The feasibility of flexible PCBs for satellite applications depends on the PCB design being able to operate trouble-free for up to 10 years. Special attention is paid to the design and development of flexible circuit boards to meet quality and reliability in high-frequency applications. Manufacturers need to ensure that the PCB design follows certain requirements in high-frequency applications.
1. Complexity associated with commercial satellite elements
Normally, a satellite system consists of three main circuits, including the satellite, the receiver, and the transmitter. The communication between the satellite and the transmitter is called the uplink, while the communication from the receiver to the satellite is called the downlink. Satellites are increasingly used for disaster risk management, weather forecasting, remote sensing, geographical positioning, and navigation. Other applications of satellites include television and telecommunications and emergency response monitoring. The electronics in these circuits are set to cover a highly specific wavelength range. These wavelengths are in the electromagnetic spectrum. Data captured by satellites include imagery, atmospheric sounding, communications, geolocation, and navigation. Transmitting the information collected over long distances is not possible without ground systems that rely heavily on line-of-sight transmission. Figuratively speaking, satellites are seen as being used to collect and process information, images, and data from Earth, space, or other satellites. For commercial satellite systems, the satellite itself serves as a relay station, allowing data transmission over long distances, which is not possible for terrestrial communication systems that rely on line-of-sight transmission. Commercial satellite systems fall into three main types based on location, ground equipment, and the different services they provide.
2. Satellite type and PCB requirements
Fixed Satellite Service (FSS), Mobile Satellite Service (MSS), and Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) are the three main satellite systems used. Fixed satellite services (FSS) are provided to end users using fixed receiving stations. Common applications for fixed satellite services (FSS) include cable television and Internet relay stations. Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) handle mobile ground systems and mobile phones. These services are also used for communication between ships and fleet vehicles. Broadcast satellite services (BSS) broadcast television and radio signals directly to subscribers. For example, Dish Network is used to broadcast television channels to subscribers. As a result, it becomes critical for manufacturers to identify challenges and requirements when designing PCBs for desired applications.
3. Key elements of Flex PCB design
(1) Temperature change — from -100°C to more than 120°C;
(2) maintenance orbit collision;
(3) degassing of hard vacuum limiting materials;
(4) ultraviolet (UV) radiation;
(5) ionizing radiation, etc
4. Materials in satellite PCB
Rogers developed Ceramics, hydrocarbons, and thermosetting polymer Composites, and Isola, Inc. Has allowed manufacturers to develop highly reliable satellite PCBS. Most of these materials have a dielectric constant (Dk value) of 3.27 to 12.85 along the z-axis. These materials are expected to have a specific set of properties. These materials are suitable for the challenging operating conditions of orbiting satellites. Low bleed is considered to be one of the main parameters to be considered before selecting PCB materials. Degassing is the release of gas within a solid, such as PCB materials. Degassing is the release of gas within a solid, such as PCB materials. Once released, the gas condenses on different surfaces inside the satellite, potentially causing problems with certain circuits and subsystems.
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