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Mesaplexx - Ceramic filters set to improve our mobile coverage/reliability...

The Steve Golding Awards were judged and presented on 6 October 2009, and Phillip Moreno (QUT Infomechatronics Engineering student) won first prize. Phillip’s project was titled:  "Thermal and Mechanical Design of Ceramic Filter Structures for use in Microwave Telecommunications".  Phillip designed, researched and completed the project for his project sponsor, Mesaplexx in association with CEED and QUT.

 
 
 Phillip Moreno with his Steve Golding Award
 and his filter prototype.
 

The Awards purpose is to encourage and recognise final year engineering student projects in technological management and/or innovation in engineering, across Queensland.  In 2009, for the first time, students were encouraged to self-nominate for the Awards.  Entrants submitted a written abstract of their project, followed by a summary report.  The finalists were then invited to give an oral presentation in front of an audience and judging panel, and the final judging took place on the night.

Mesaplexx specialises in the development and application of microwave telecommunication products, incorporating new materials. They are focused on researching and developing world-class ceramic RF solutions and high temperature superconductive technologies. Their technologies promise clearer signals, which will result in better phone coverage and reliability for mobile users – i.e. reduction in call drop-out and dead zones.

According to Phillip Moreno, "Call drop-out occurs when a caller moves into a dead zone such as a building or foliage and the signal becomes weaker. If the signal becomes too weak, the base station is unable to maintain a connection, and the line goes dead,"

"Base station filters are designed to filter out signal noise, leaving one frequency which carries your phone signal. All filters however, have a certain degree of loss associated with them.  This means that your phone signal is always weaker after passing through the filter. Cooling the filter decreases these losses and makes the output signal stronger.

"This improved filter design needs to operate at a constant cool temperature because filters are strongly temperature dependent. When the temperature changes, the frequency changes, and so call reliability is compromised."

Phillip designed an outer casing that encloses the filter so that it can be cooled to and kept at minus 73 degrees, the optimal temperature at which the base station would be able to pick up and filter signals. "This results in a 90 per cent improvement in sensitivity which means improved reliability and reduced dropped calls." he said.

Phillip’s Academic Supervisor Dr Cheng Yan (Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering Systems at QUT) and Richard Taylor (Chief Technical Officer of Mesaplexx), believe that, through this project, Phillip gained a wealth of hands-on engineering knowledge which will better his future as a graduate engineer.

The main benefit of the project to Mesaplexx was to accelerate the development of the temperature stabilized filter.  Mesaplexx now has in hand a working prototype, many test results and a ready-to-go design for the next version of the filter. 

Phillip is grateful to Mesaplexx as the information he has been exposed to over the past 5 months will greatly assist him in achieving his career goals in engineering product development.

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