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Title:
DEVICE FOR ELECTROMAGNETICALLY PROBING A SAMPLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/161182
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The device comprises a metal body (30) as part of its frame (2), The metal body forms a lateral wall (40) and a separating wall (44) enclosing an interior space (42, 43). On a first side (32) of the metal body (30), a shielding structure (46) forms a plurality of shielded chambers (48) for receiving RF circuitry. Interior space (42, 43) faces the second side (34) of the metal body (30), A first circuit board (54) containing driver and receiver circuitry is mounted to the first side (32) of the metal body (30), and a second circuit board (56) containing an antenna structure (20, 22) is mounted to the second side thereof,

Inventors:
LEHNER, Samuel (Häringstrasse 2, 8001 Zürich, CH)
MENNICKE, Ralph (Rännenfeldweg 7, 8610 Uster, CH)
Application Number:
CH2017/000027
Publication Date:
September 13, 2018
Filing Date:
March 10, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PROCEQ SA (Ringstrasse 2, 8603 Schwerzenbach, CH)
International Classes:
H01Q1/52; G01N27/82; G01S7/02; G01S7/03; G01S13/88; H01Q17/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016144956A12016-09-15
Foreign References:
DE102014218364A12016-03-17
DE102012111183A12014-05-22
EP2720065A12014-04-16
US7518880B12009-04-14
EP2631680A12013-08-28
EP2720065A12014-04-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
E.BLUM & CO. AG (Vorderberg 1 1, 8044 Zürich, CH)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A device for the non-destructive probing of a sample by means of electromagnetic wave reflection, said device comprising

a frame (2) ,

an antenna structure (20, 22),

a driver (10, 12) electrically connected to said antenna structure (20, 22) for sending a probe signal through said antenna structure (20, 22),

a receiver (14, 16) electrically connected to said antenna structure (20, 22) for receiving an echo signal through said antenna structure (20, 22),

at least a first circuit board (54), wherein at least part of said driver (10, 12) and/or said receiver (14, 16) is arranged on said first circuit board (54),

at least a second circuit board (56) , wherein said antenna structure (20, 22) is arranged on said second circuit board (56),

a metal body (30) arranged in said frame (2) having first and second opposite sides,

at least one electrical connector (60) for electrically connecting said first and second circuit boards (54, 56),

wherein said first circuit board (54) is mounted to the first side of said metal body (30) and said second circuit board (56) is mounted to the second side of said circuit body.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said metal body (30) comprises a lateral wall (40) circumferentially enclosing an interior space (42, 43) adjacent to said second side, wherein said antenna structure (18) is adjacent to said interior space (42, 43), and in particular wherein the lateral wall (40) extends laterally outside the antenna structure (18) .

3. The device of claim 2 further comprising a damping structure (58) arranged in said interior space (42, 43), and in particular wherein said damping structure (58) is separate from said metal body (30) .

4. The device of claim 3 wherein said damping structure (58) comprises a conductive foam.

5. The device of any of the claims 2 to 4 wherein said metal body (30) comprises a separating wall (44) closing said interior space (42, 43) towards said first side, and in particular wherein said separating wall (44) is closer to said first circuit board (54) than to said second circuit board (56) .

6. The device of claim 5 wherein said metal body (30) comprises a shielding structure (46) extending between said separating wall (44) and said first circuit board (54) and forming several mutually shielded chambers (48) between said separating wall (44) and said first circuit board (54) .

7. The device of claim 6 wherein circuitry of the driver (10, 12) and circuitry of the receiver (14, 16) are backed by different ones of said shielded chambers (48) .

8. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said antenna structure (20, 22) comprises a sender antenna and a receiver antenna.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein said metal body (30) comprises a shield wall (45) shielding said receiver antenna from said sender antenna, wherein said shield wall (45) ends at said second circuit board (56) .

10. The device of the claims 7 and 9 wherein said shield wall extends between said second circuit board (56) and said separating wall (44) dividing said interior space (42, 43) into a first chamber (42) backing said sender antenna (20) and a second chamber (43) back¬ ing said receiver antenna (22) .

11. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said electrical connector (60) is a rigid rod having a first plug (62) plugged into said first circuit board (54) and/or a second plug (64) plugged into said second circuit board (56), and in particular wherein said device comprises at least two such electrical connectors (60) .

12. The device of the claims 5 and 11 wherein said separating wall (44) comprises an opening (66) and wherein said connector (60) extends through said opening (66) .

13. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said connector (60) is plugged into said first and/or said second circuit board (54, 56) .

14. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said first and/or said second circuit board (54, 56) is /are attached to said metal body (30) .

15. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said metal body (30) is a single metal piece, in particular of aluminum.

16. The device of any of the preceding claims wherein said device further comprises a set of wheels (4) for rolling it along said sample, wherein said wheels (4) are mounted to said metal body (30) .

17. The device of the claims 2 and 16 wherein said metal body (30) comprises

wheel holders (50) for holding said wheels

(4) and

a base plate (36) at its second side and extending between said lateral wall (40) and said wheel holders (50),

and in particular wherein said second circuit board (56) is arranged in an opening (38) of said base plate (36).

18. Use of the device of any of the preceding claims for probing the structure of concrete.

Description:
Device for electromagnetically probing a sample

Technical Field The invention relates to a device for the non-destructive probing of a sample, in particular a structure of concrete, by means of electromagnetic wave reflection.

Background Art

EP 2720065 describes a device of this type. It comprises a housing-like frame with four wheels. Elec- tromagnetic waves are sent into the sample by means of an antenna structure. Echo signals reflected back from the sample are received by the antenna structure and analyzed. Disclosure of the Invention

The problem to be solved by the present invention is to provide a device of this type that is easy to construct.

This problem is solved by the device of claim

1. Accordingly, the device comprises:

- A frame: This is the mechanical framework of the device.

- An antenna structure: This may be a single antenna acting as a sender and a receiver, or it may comprise two separate antennas for sending and receiving the signals, respectively.

- A driver: The driver comprises at least the output stage of the electronics generating the probe sig- nal. It is electrically connected to the antenna structure for sending the probe signal through the same. - A receiver: The receiver comprises at least the input stage of the electronics for receiving the echo signal. It is electrically connected to the antenna structure for receiving the echo signal through the same.

- At least a first circuit board: At least part of the driver and/or the receiver is arranged on this first circuit board.

- At least a second circuit board: The antenna structure is arranged on this second circuit board.

- A metal body: This metal body is arranged in the frame (by forming part of the frame or by being mounted to the frame) . The metal body has first and second opposite sides.

- At least one electrical connector: This connects the two circuit boards.

Further, the first circuit board is mounted to the first side of the metal body and the second circuit board is mounted to the second side of said circuit body.

Hence, this design allows a simple mounting of both circuit boards to opposite sides of the metal body as a common carrier. The metal body forms a mount as well as a spacer between the two boards.

Advantageously, the metal body comprises a lateral wall that circumferentially encloses an interior space, i.e. that surrounds the interior space an all sides with the possible exception of the sides of the first and second sides. The interior space is adjacent to the second side of the metal body, and the antenna structure is adjacent to the interior space. This design electrically shields the interior space and therefore the side of the antenna structure that faces away from the sample. Advantageously, the lateral wall extends laterally outside the antenna structure such that all of the antenna structure borders the interior space.

The metal body can further comprise a separating wall closing the interior space towards the first side. This separating wall shields the antenna structure from the circuit board carrying the driver and receiver.

The device can further comprise a damping structure, advantageously separate from the metal body, arranged in the interior space in order to absorb and thereby damp the waves emitted by the antenna structure into the metal body and to suppress reflections originating from that side. Advantageously, the damping structure can comprise a conductive foam.

The metal body can further comprise a shielding structure that extends between the separating wall and the first circuit board. It forms several mutually shielded chambers between the separating wall and the first circuit board. This allows to shield different parts of the circuitry on the first circuit board from each other. In particular, circuitry of the driver and circuitry of the receiver are backed by different shielded chambers, i.e. separate shielded chambers are located between the driver and the receiver circuitry and the separating wall.

In a further embodiment, the antenna structure comprises a sender antenna for sending the probe signal into the sample and a receiver antenna for receiving an echo of the probe signal reflected from the sample. In this case, the metal body advantageously comprises a shield wall that shields the receiver antenna from the sender antenna in order to reduce direct crosstalk between these antennas. The shield wall ends at the second circuit board, i.e. at the circuit board carrying the antenna structure.

Advantageously, the shield wall extends between the second circuit board and the separating wall and divides said interior space into a first chamber backing the sender antenna and a second chamber backing the receiver antenna. In this context, "backing" is to be understood such that the respective chambers are located between the respective antennas and the separating wall. The connector can be plugged into the first and/or the second circuit board, thereby forming a re- leasable connection for easier assembly and disassembly.

The present device can be used for probing the structure of any kind of sample, but it is advantageously used for probing the structure of concrete, e.g. of a building, tunnel or bridge.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The invention will be better understood and objects other than those set forth above will become apparent when consideration is given to the following detailed description thereof. This description makes refer ence to the annexed drawings, wherein:

Fig. 1 shows a view of a device,

Fig. 2 shows a block circuit diagram of the device,

Fig. 3 shows a metal body to be used in the device,

Fig. 4 is a view of the metal body from its first side,

Fig. 5 is a side view of the metal body, Fig. 6 is a view of the metal body from its second side,

Fig. 7 is a sectional view along line B-B of

Fig. 5,

Fig. 8 is a sectional view along line C-C of

Fig. 4,

Fig. 9 is the sectional view of Fig. 7 including some parts of the electronics and the damping structure, and Fig. 10 is the sectional view of Fig. 8 including some parts of the electronics and the damping structure.

Modes for Carrying Out the Invention

Overview :

Fig. 1 shows a device for determining the structure of a sample by means of electromagnetic reflection measurements.

It comprises a frame 2 forming a housing enclosing the electronic components of the device.

In the embodiment shown here, the device comprises a set of wheels 4, in particular four wheels, by means of which the device can be guided along the sample at a defined distance therefrom. Instead of four wheels, the device can e.g. also have only two or three wheels, or wheel-like components, such as rollers or sliders.

Further, the housing comprises, at a side opposite to the wheels 4, a handle 6 to be gripped by the user.

The device also comprises input and output devices, such as a touchscreen 8.

Fig. 2 shows some of the electronic components within the device. These include, by way of example, the following parts:

- A driver 10, 12 for generating a probe signal to be sent into the sample. Driver 10, 12 e.g. includes a digital section 10 as well as an analog section 12. Digital section 10 can e.g. be used to generate a pulse or a CW signal, and analog section 12 can be used to amplify and/or modulate and/or filter this signal.

- A receiver 14, 16 for receiving an echo signal from the sample. It can e.g. include an analogue section 14 for filtering and/or demodulating and/or amplifying the received signal as well as a digital section 16 for further signal processing.

- An antenna structure 18 for sending the probe signal into the sample and for receiving the echo signal reflected therefrom. In the present embodiment, antenna structure 18 comprises a sender antenna 20 and, separate from the sender antenna 20, a receiver antenna 22. Driver 10, 12 is connected to sender antenna 20 and receiver 14, 16 is connected to receiver antenna 22.

- A control unit 24 for controlling the components in the device, for operating screen 8 and for communication with external circuitry.

In operation, the user typically moves the device along the sample while control unit 24 performs a stream of measurements. Control unit 24, or circuitry external to the device, can use the recorded data in order to determine the sample's internal structure, e.g. using SAFT (Synthetic Aperture Focusing Technique) technology as it is known to the skilled person.

Mechanical Design:

A core of the device of Fig. 1 is formed by a metal body 30. This metal body can e.g. form the bottom side of frame 2. It is shown in Figs. 2 - 8.

Metal body 30 is advantageously a single piece of cast and/or worked metal, in particular aluminum. It comprises a first side 32 and a second side 34 (Figs. 5, 7, 8). In operation, first side 32 is facing away from the sample, while second side 34 is located on the side of frame 2 where the wheels 4 are mounted, i.e. second side 34 faces the sample to be measured.

Metal body 30 comprises a base plate 36 (Figs. 7, 8) at its second side 34. It forms a wall of frame 2 towards the sample.

An opening 38 is arranged in base plate 36. On the side of base plate 36 that faces away from second side 34, metal body 30 forms a lateral wall 40 that extends around opening 38. Lateral wall 40 is advantageously aligned perpendicularly to base plate 36.

Lateral wall 40 encloses, i.e. runs around, an interior space 42, 43.

Metal body 30 further forms a separating wall 44. It extends parallel to, and at a distance from, base plate 36 and borders interior space 42, 43.

Metal body 30 further forms a shield wall 45. It is perpendicular to base plate 36 and extends between two opposite sides of lateral wall 40, thereby dividing interior space 42, 43 into a first chamber 42 and a second chamber 43. Shield wall 45 extends between second side 34 (namely opening 38) and separating wall 44.

Further, metal body 30 forms a shielding structure 46a - 46e (see Figs. 3, 4, generally denoted by reference number 46 in the following) formed by a plurality of raised structures on the side of separating wall 44. Shielding structure 46 faces first side 32. It extends between separating wall 44 and first side 32 (i.e. between separating wall 44 and the first circuit board 54 mentioned below) and forms several, mutually shielded chambers 48a - 48e (which are, in the following generally denoted by reference number 48 and shown in Fig. 4) .

Metal body 30 further forms wheel holders 50 for holding bearings for the wheels 4 and therefore for holding the wheels 4.

Base plate 36 extends between lateral wall 40 and the wheel holders 50, thereby connecting these parts.

As shown in Fig. 1, frame 2 of the device further comprises a cover 52 mounted to the second side of metal body 30 and forming an upper side of the device's housing. Handle 6 is mounted to cover 52 or forms a part thereof.

As shown in Figs, 9 and 10, metal body 30 is used for mounting two circuit boards 54, 56. A first circuit board 54 is attached to first side 32 of metal body 30, namely to shielding structure 46, e.g. by means of screws (sitting in screw openings some of which are denoted with reference number 58 in Fig. 4) . Shielding structure 46 extends along the edge of first circuit board 54 thereby shielding it.

A second circuit board 56 is attached to second side 34 of metal body 30, again e.g. by means of screws (sitting in screw openings, some of which are denoted with reference number 50 in Fig. 6) . Second circuit board 56 is mounted over opening 38 (Fig. 7, 8) . Lateral wall 40 extends along the edge of second circuit board 56 thereby shielding it.

First circuit board 54 holds at least part of the electronics of driver 10, 12 and/or of receiver 14, 16. Advantageously, it holds at least the analog parts 12 and 14 thereof.

First circuit board 54 can be a multi-layer PCB comprising a shield layer 62 that provides radio frequency shielding to the components above it. In this case, at least some of the electronic components of the sender 10, 12 and/or the receiver 14, 16 are on the side of shield layer 62 that faces second side 34 of metal body 30 in order to be shielded.

In order to avoid crosstalk, different parts of the circuitry on first circuit board 54 are located in different ones of the shielded chambers 48. In particular, the circuitry of the driver and the circuitry of the receiver are backed by different ones of the shielded chambers 48.

Second circuit board 56 holds the two antennas 20, 22, which can e.g. be implemented as circular conductive regions or in a bow-tie arrangement structured in a conductive layer of second circuit board 56.

Sender antenna 20 and receiver antenna 22 are on opposite sides of shield wall 45 in order to reduce cross-talk between them. Further, and as shown in Figs. 9 and 10, the device further comprises a damping structure 58 arranged in interior space 42, 43, namely in first chamber 42 and second chamber 43. Damping structure 58 is an extended structure, advantageously separate from metal body 30. It is designed to absorb electromagnetic radiation (of the frequencies used by the device) without reflecting it. For example, damping structure 58 can be a conductive foam, e.g. a foam comprising graphite.

In order to have a large volume available for damping structure 58, separating wall 44 is advantageously closer to first circuit board 54 than to second circuit board 56.

As mentioned, all of antenna structure 18, i.e. both antennas 20, 22, is backed by interior space 42, 43 such that all the backside of antenna structure 18 is damped.

In the present case, first chamber 42 is arranged at the backside of antenna 20 and second chamber 43 is arranged at the backside of antenna 22.

The antennas 20, 22 on second circuit board 56 have to be electrically connected to first circuit board 54. For this purpose, the present device is provided with at least one electrical connector 60 extending between first and second circuit boards 54, 56. For easy assembly, this electrical connector is plugged into one or both of the circuit boards 54, 56.

In the embodiment of Figs. 9 and 10, there are two such connectors 60. Each connector 60 is a rigid rod having a first plug 62 plugged into first circuit board 54 and/or a second plug 64 plugged into second circuit board 56.

Advantageously, each connector extends perpendicularly to the circuit boards 54, 56.

For each connector 60, separating wall 44 comprises an opening 66 (Figs. 4 and 6) with the connector 60 extending through it. Notes:

Even though, in the present embodiment, each of the first and second circuit boards 54, 56 is formed by a single board, it is possible to assemble each of them from two or more boards, each such board only holding part of the circuitry and antenna structure, respectively. However, using single boards is advantageous because it makes it easier to assemble the device.

While there are shown and described presently preferred embodiments of the invention, it is to be distinctly understood that the invention is not limited thereto but may be otherwise variously embodied and practiced within the scope of the following claims.