Shielding Elastomer Protects Microcell Radios

Ricochet, a division of Metricom, Inc. of Los Gatos, CA, has developed a wireless modem and Internet service for on-the-go professionals using lap-top computers. The Ricochet service allows access to the Internet, E-mail functions, the World Wide Web, Intranets and various on-line services. Ricochet subscribers benefit from wired phone modem performance without a phone line or phone jack.

Microcell radios, which are most often attached to the tops of light poles, provide the building blocks for the wireless network.

RTP Company and molder, Wright Engineered Plastics, Inc. of Santa Rosa, CA, worked together to meet material requirements including shielding against electromagnetic and radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI) and environmental resistance.

An RTP 2800 Series (polyolefin thermoplastic elastomer) specialty compound fills the requirements for a soft, pliable gasket material. The end product fits accurately into the designated spot, sealing-off sensitive inner communication components.

The gasket provides shielding in the joint between the two metal halves of the radio housing, protecting internal electronics from EMI/RFI. The specialty compound achieves the needed attenuation to shield properly.

Because Metricom’s radio is designed for outdoor use, the application demands extreme environmental resistance. The compound exhibits good chemical resistance typical of olefinic elastomers and can be designed in various hardnesses depending on specific customer needs.

Matt Casebolt, an engineer at Metricom, had little luck with the other compounders before turning to RTP Company for help. Casebolt says, "Within three weeks of my inquiry, I had a sample and tensile specs on my desk. I was pleasantly surprised with the attitude and speedy response from RTP Company. You can’t find that kind of service anywhere else."

The Ricochet network offers a flat rate service fee and unlimited usage to its users in the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, and Washington D.C. For more information about Ricochet network, call 1-800-GO-WIRELESS.

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