How does disconnecting the Wifi Antenna long-term, affect the unit?

If the Wifi antenna is disconnected from the unit, will their be degradation in the Jetson TX2 unit? Will there be an increase in power use or heat generation?

No if WiFi part is not enabled.

What if the WiFi was accidentally enabled? What if the Wifi was enabled and there wasn’t an antenna attached, would there be some form of error message generated?

Wi-Fi doesn’t really have the power to cause self-damage. It would possibly cause radio interference though. Unless the Wi-Fi is trying to maintain a connection though I doubt you’d see a log message other than failing to connect or needing to be configured. In theory, if one has a perfect transmission line and no antenna, then the voltage would increase until damage occurs (except if there is an automatic power level decrease, and the Wi-Fi I believe does this).

Just for general trivia on an antenna, consider that a transmission line has a 1:1 forward and reflected wave ratio. This means that any sine wave will increase in amplitude each time there is a reflection. Peaks align with peaks, valleys align with valleys, and the voltages add. Each reflection adds one more time. In the case of a perfect antenna, the forward and reflected waves are 100% out of phase; any peak aligns with a reflected valley, and the voltages add to zero. However, power is never destroyed, it is only changed in form, and if there is nowhere to go, then that infinite standing wave ratio antenna emits radio waves. If there is a balance of a perfect 1:1 standing wave ratio transmission line connected to a perfect infinite standing wave ratio antenna, then 100% of all voltage and power from the transmitter leaves the system and does not produce heat or excess voltage.

When you cut the antenna and have some random length of wire you get a complex combination of forward and reflected waves. Some places add and increase voltage (contributing to heat if the local system absorbs this instead of transmitting as an EM wave), while other places cancel and produce EM radiation (noise/interference). You have your choices: EM waves for output, or voltage build-up (indirectly being converted to heat if the excess voltage is dissipated to avoid high voltage damage).

Jetsons will roll back power if voltages are too high. If too much heat is produced, power will roll back. It doesn’t really matter if the rollback on power is from direct measurement of voltage on the RF output or if it is due to a measurement of heat going up (other than perhaps that voltage measurement is faster, but the power is not high enough to increase heat at any appreciable rate).

Also keep in mind that unless there is an established configuration telling the Jetson to talk to some Wi-Fi access point or router that it is only listening…it isn’t sending other than perhaps some sort of ID in some cases.

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