Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Making Sure EMI Tents Perform

It is vital that EMI shielding enclosures function to specific requirements, whether you are protecting sensitive data from espionage,  assuring evidence for data on seized mobile devices, or testing for EMI before product launches.

How can buyers of enclosures be sure they will perform? Product literature supplied by vendors often provides test data, but that must be carefully examined to see that the specific tests used will predict the functionality of the enclosure in actual operation.

Different tests offer different insight as to effectiveness. Tests of the enclosure’s material may give an indication of shielding effectiveness, but this is insufficient to predict usability. The fully assembled enclosure needs standardized testing to ascertain shielding effectiveness. Leakage may come from seams, vents, filters, I/O plates, or doors, shielding effectiveness should be measured through the wall at multiple locations and at various frequencies.

The minimum shielding effectiveness that is recorded anywhere throughout the enclosure is the critical measure for security applications. An IEEE-299 test of a high attenuation tent plotted on the chart below shows shielding effectiveness of at least 85.7 dB from 400 MHz to 18 GHz throughout this portable chamber. Peak shielding performance of 98.7 dB was recorded at 1 GHz on the side with the door.
Shielding Effectiveness, Double Layer Tent with Internal Vestibu

Specific applications may have unique shielding effectiveness requirements. dB measurements are logarithmic, a 60 dB rating is ten times higher then a 50 dB rating. Shielding effectiveness needs vary greatly with the signal intensity encountered, which drops exponentially with the distance to the source. Critical security applications to prevent electronic eavesdropping in hotels and office buildings may need to shield computer and cellular equipment’s RF emissions from reaching the next room or floors above and below.

Proactively managing your RF shielding enclosure’s procurement process is critical to assure the buyer gets the results they need for their specific application. Specifying shielding requirements in the request for quotation is important. For highly critical applications, you may need to assure that the specific enclosure you purchase, as manufactured and delivered, will actually work for you on the site where and how it will be ultimately used. In these sensitive situations, the request for quotation may possibly include a receiving verification process to assure that the specific enclosure as configured and delivered performs in the field as used. This may require third party testing of the enclosure on the site where it will be used, perhaps requiring the supplier to make field modifications to adjust for any shielding issues. We at Saelig work with customers with highly sensitive requirements to facilitate this verification process.

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