Drown an Electric Imp in oil, and the signal degrades. However, are the reasons for that degradation the ones that you assume?
We know that you can submerge a computer in oil, and it will still function. This isn't a new idea; it's been done for a multitude of reasons, such as protection from harsh environments and nifty display systems. However, most of us don't know whether submerging a computer in oil affects WiFi signals.
Christian Liljdahl was having this discussion with some friends, and he decided that the easiest way to explore this idea was to try it out for himself.
As you can see, this isn't the most in-depth experiment possible. He doesn't show any results, much less measure signal strength and graph the differences. However, he has sparked an interesting debate on Reddit.
Liljdahl says the Electric Imp (the WiFi module that's featured in the video above) had a harder time finding a signal once it was submerged. Like many of us, he assumed it was because the oil was blocking some of the signal. This seems like a reasonable assumption. However, a Reddit user (aslkfjsalfkjsfsdii) gave a very interesting response.
This is most likely due to the oil having a higher dielectric constant compared to air. The antenna and transmission lines inside the device are designed to work with air to achieve their characteristic impedance. With a different surrounding dielectric constant, there would be loss associated with the impedance mismatch. I doubt the oil would affect the propagation of waves that much though.
I would love to hear what you, the experts of EE Times, make of this scenario. What is the true situation? Is Liljdahl correct with this response on Reddit (under the handle "chrlilje")?
Ah, that makes sense. So, if I had a bubble of air surrounding the wifi-device, while submerged in oil, I could expect to get better signal? - The bubble should maybe have a size close to or larger than the wavelength of the wifi... (2.4 GHz - 12.5 cm)
Let me know your thoughts on this slippery concept in the comments.