GPS and GNSS antennas for precision location applications

GNSS communications is the most widely used wireless technology for locational applications. It consists of signals and transmissions between the various satellite constellations (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou) and individual devices. From the trilateration of these transmissions, devices are able to pinpoint their exact location on a global scale.

When it comes to GNSS antenna integration, there are integral factors that determine the overall design of a device. GNSS/GPS reception consumes more power when compared to other wireless communications as the satellite signals are significantly weaker. They also need sufficient bandwidth and protection from interference to perform effectively. All of these factors need to be considered when choosing the specific GNSS/GPS antenna solution.

Types of GNSS and GPS antennas

Ceramic patch antennas
PCB trace antennas
GNSS/GPS module

Ceramic patch antennas

Ceramic patch antennas are embedded and printed directly onto a device’s PCB. It consists of a rectangular or circular patch of ceramic material that can radiate, acting as a gateway for RF signals; the larger the patch, the wider the access to different frequency bands. The patch itself also acts as the ground plane for the antenna. Moreover, GPS stacked patch antennas have an even greater bandwidth by utilising a greater surface area without taking up valuable PCB space.

In terms of GNSS communication, patch GNSS antennas are commonplace for a range of devices. They support the varying frequency bands of the different constellations (1176 MHz – 1575.42 MHz), exhibit impressive performance and are relatively inexpensive to mass produce. That said, there are various design limitations that can make ceramic patch antenna integration a challenge. For example, they need to be pointed directly upwards for effective performance, or suffer from a prolonged TTFF (time-to-first-fix).

PCB trace antennas

PCB trace antennas are, as their name suggests, trace drawn onto the host PCB of a device. There are varying trace designs for these antennas depending on the required frequency band, such as an inverted-F shape or quarter-wavelength patch. As a result, they are integrated at an early stage of device design, but reduce the physical footprint of components on the PCB itself.

In the context of GNSS applications, PCB trace antennas present sufficient performance while being inexpensive to produce. They can also operate on a wide bandwidth if they have enough space and proper tuning, and additionally have reliable connectivity. That said, there are a range of integration challenges they bring. Firstly, they are sensitive to component noise and can easily become detuned as a result. Secondly, it is a challenge to integrate them into a design, especially in smaller devices. Finally, they are almost impossible to alter or repair as they are printed onto the PCB.

GNSS/GPS module

GNSS and GPS modules contain all the components, RF circuitry and chip GNSS antennas needed to connect to the various constellations of satellites. These function as embedded GNSS antennas that include all the technology required to acquire signals from multiple satellites (at least four) to provide a position fix. Satellite signals are significantly weaker when compared to other wireless technologies like cellular and Wi-Fi, so performance is critical for GNSS/GPS modules in order to ensure accuracy.

The antennas within GNSS/GPS modules can be tuned by means of a tuning circuit (Pi Network) to increase the antenna’s ability to receive the GNSS/GPS signal. As the satellite signal is so weak, the module allows the antenna to be tuned to reduce TTFF without being affected by other device components. Moreover, GNSS/GPS modules exhibit impressive performance and resistance to interference due to their all-in-one modular nature. That said, there is still a level of consideration required to ensure the maximum level of performance from a GNSS/GPS module.

GNSS/GPS antenna applications


The efficient transportation and delivery of goods and products are optimised by effective route planning and accurate location information. This is especially true for cold chain, where the location and time spent outside of optimal temperatures are absolutely vital. GNSS antennas provide businesses with accurate and reliable information to improve processes and prevent goods from perishing.


Depending on the specific asset, having tracking capabilities via GNSS communication provides businesses with a holistic view of where their assets are in real time. Moreover, it also provides an opportunity for reclamation if they do end up going missing. The battery efficiency and compact size of GNSS modules and antennas gives businesses a reliable tracking solution that can maintain communication for long periods.

Select the perfect GNSS antenna solution for your device

Each GNSS antenna technology presents a range of features that are applicable for different asset tracking devices. That said, GNSS modules proves to be the best all-rounder, having ease of integration, high efficiency and reliable connectivity. At Antenova, we offer a range of GNSS modules and antenna solutions that exhibit impressive features, such as our recently launched M20047-1 that works in unison with cellular connectivity.

View our range

Introducing M20047-1

Made of FR4, M20047-1 offers a predictable, robust solution for devices used in fluctuating temperatures, conditions and environments. In changing temperatures, ceramic and FR4 thermally expands and contracts at different rates, straining solder joints and reducing the useful life of the device. FR4-on-FR4 makes this thermal expansion and contraction more predictable.

Plus, M20047-1 have matching circuits on-board, eliminating the need to spend any time creating a matching network. With this, Active GNSS is less susceptible to detuning, even when embedded within composite plastic housings. Additionally, its LNA and SAW are reversed for optimum performance in applications with cellular modems. To find out more about how M20047-1 can benefit your device design, contact a member of our team today.


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