Innovating for the satcom market:

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Digital communication has become such an all-embracing aspect of modern life that most people are awash with information via email, PDFs and PC-based slide-show presentations. The conference business continues to expand with events focused on increasingly specialised areas of commerce or technology. Sifting real information from such a wide range of sources can be quite a challenge.

Large-scale trade shows provide a useful opportunity to talk to customers personally, one to one, and get a thorough understanding of the tasks they are trying to resolve. IBC provides an excellent opportunity both to hold discussions with existing customers and to make new business contacts.

In the satellite communications market, Hiltron's focus is on turnkey installations based on innovative products and solutions. At IBC this year we have introduced two new additions to our range of satcom antenna systems.The first of these is designed for customers who require the ability to monitor the signal quality of multiple transponders on several satellites. Using our fast-tracking HMAM motorised antenna mount as a basis, we have developed with a partner a special dual-band feed. With this feed and a standard multi-frequency reflector, we are able to receive C-band and Ku band satellite signals.

In the case of C-band reception, the polarisation can be switched electrically from circular to linear and vice versa. Standard Ku band linear polarised signals can be received at the same time. Together with the motorised antenna and Hiltron's HMCS monitor and control software, the antenna can automatically scan most of the visible satellites to ensure optimal signal quality.

The second of our IBC2014 new product introductions also relates to multi-frequency downlink antennas. In this case, the customer requires high quality signals via exchangeable standard feeds. Hiltron has developed the HMFC high-precision motorised feed changer which allows different feeds (such as Ku band or C-band) to be moved into the optimum position of the multi-frequency antenna. The transition time required to exchange the feeds is only some 20 seconds. Antenna diameters of up to 3.7 metres width with various combinations of feeds can be accommodated.

Market demand for satellite tracking is increasing rapidly as it allows satellites to be used beyond their normal lifetime. Getting a geostationary communications satellite into orbit obviously requires a great deal of propellant. Additional motors are required to hold the satellite within a tightly specified positional window, offsetting micro-gravitational variations from the Earth and other relatively local objects. The alignment thrusters for a modern communications satellite typically last about 15 years and are themselves the subject of highly innovative research based on electrical propulsion.

Towards the end of their useful life, satellites are allowed to wander from a wider nominal angle. Operators therefore offer greatly reduced transponder capacity pricing. Based on our fast HMAM system, Hilton has developed software tools which automatically track satellites. Using two-line element data or signal quality information via a spectrum analyser, the antenna will follow the satellite with high precision.