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Industry News

International Report

February 1, 1997
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Rohde & Schwarz Launch TETRA Test System

German contractor Rohde & Schwarz has launched a new test system designed to verify, quality assure and type approve trans-European trunked radio (TETRA) base and mobile stations. The TETRA standard (which incorporates the Technical Basis for Regulation (TBR) 35 document) is nearing completion and is designed to codify the next generation of more flexible, higher frequency and better-transmission-quality mobile communications networks within Europe. Rohde & Schwarz’s TETRA test package comprises a TETRA simulator and a dedicated protocol tester. The simulator is billed as able to deliver accurate results in all 20 test programmes (divided into transmission, reception and transceiver categories) stipulated by TBR 35. A user-friendly graphic software interface is used, which features control, test cases, self-test and path compensation menus. The architecture allows users to develop their own test programmes if so required and features numerous debugging features. The protocol tester quantifies response to standardised protocols together with behaviour in case of fault or deviation. Users can predefine fault types in all layers of the particular protocol under test and TRB 35 protocol test cases can be pre-installed if desired.

Digital Terrestrial TV Action Group Established

A consortium of 16 equipment manufacturers, 13 broadcast organisations, 10 network operators, four regulatory bodies and the European Broadcasting Union have formed the Geneva, Switzerland-based Digital Terrestrial Television Action Group (DigiTAG). Primarily European in character (three contractors from Korea, Japan and the USA represent outside interests), DigiTAG is designed to complement the work of the 200-member Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project (established in 1993 to draft technical specifications for all applications of digital television whatever the distribution medium) and will cooperate with European national and continent wide bodies responsible for frequency allocation.

The organisation’s primary aim is to create a European operating framework for digital terrestrial services using the DVB-Terrestrial (DVB-T) transmission standard. Established by the DVB Project in early 1996, DVB-T has been recognised formally by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (as ETS 300 700) and is recommended by the International Telecommunications Union — Radiocommunications. Here, DigiTAG is driven by the need to find common solutions to the introduction of digital terrestrial services so that European industry can benefit from economies of scale. Emphasis is being placed on effective interworking between media and, if possible, the creation of multiplatform receivers and set-top boxes based on DVB-T terrestrial, satellite and cable standards.

In theory, the mix of broadcasters, network operators, manufacturers and regulatory bodies within DigiTAG should allow these goals to be achieved in the relatively small time window remaining before digital television becomes widespread in Europe. To date, DigiTAG has established task forces dealing with services, equipment, regulation and marketing, and has held its first general assembly (December 1996).

Philips Awarded Long-term Chip Contract from Samsung

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has been awarded a multimillion-dollar contract from South Korea’s Samsung covering the long-term supply of its model TDA6403 single-chip TV tuner. The device will be used in Samsung’s three-in-one tuner unit, which provides IF amplifier, tuner and RF modulator functions in VCR equipment for the North American market. In addition to its own equipment, Samsung is making the three-in-one unit available to third parties.

The TDA6403 tuner is one of three new 5 V ICs introduced by Philips to address the TV tuning market. The model TDA6402 and its mirror-image, pin-out version, the TDA6403, integrate complete frequency synthesiser, LO, mixer and IF amplifier stages onto a single chip. The TSA5523M device is a 5 V frequency synthesiser featuring on-chip converter control circuitry that can generate varicap tuning voltages of up to 33 V. As such, the TSA5523M is designed primarily for use in multimedia PCs where no suitable 33 V supply is available elsewhere in the system. Philips claims that the compact tuner designs used on these devices help to minimise radiated and received RF interference levels and thereby maintain picture and sound quality in PC applications.

Both the TDA6402 and TDA6403 are credited with a wide RF input dynamic range that prevents lock-outs. Both ICs provide two-pin connection to an external IF filter between their VHF/UHF (30 to 1000 MHz) mixer and IF amplifier stages as well as two- and four-pin connections for VHF and UHF tuning networks. Other features include a 75 W IF amplifier load; a 33 V tuning voltage output; programmable charge-pump currents; in-lock detection; programmable reference divider ratios; outputs for band-switching and frequency-modulated sound trap switching; a five level, on chip A/D converter for digital automatic frequency control; and programming/interrogation via industry-standard control buses.

The TSA5523M device features converter control circuitry, which operates in conjunction with an external oscillator and rectifier to generate an adaptive tuning voltage that maintains the optimum charge-pump conditions at the IC’s tuning amplifier input. The described converter can be disabled if the device is to be used with a fixed 33 V supply. All three ICs share a generally similar 64 MHz to 1 GHz phase-locked loop frequency synthesiser design, which includes programmable charge-pump currents and reference divider ratios; in-lock detection and on-chip A/D conversion. Additionally, the TSA5523M synthesiser includes eight open-collector outputs (four of which have bidirectional input/output capabilities) and one band switch output.

Sweden and Norway Order ARTHUR

In a $100 M deal, the Swedish and Norwegian armies have placed a joint order with Swedish contractor Ericsson for approximately 20 samples of the company’s artillery hunting radar (ARTHUR) weapon location system (WLS). Under the terms of the agreement, the order will be split equally between the two services and will contain an option for the future procurement of additional units. Production will be split between Ericsson’s Norwegian subsidiary Ericsson Radar A/S and its plant at Mölndal, Sweden.

Development of the ARTHUR system is a joint Swedish/Norwegian effort, which began in 1987. Ericsson describes the system as a mobile, medium-range WLS mounted on an articulated Hägglund Bv208 tracked all-terrain vehicle and centred on a C-band (0.5 to 1 GHz) pulse Doppler, phased-array radar. Other onboard equipment comprises a data processing subsystem, operator workstations, communications equipment, a navigation unit and a power generator.

ARTHUR serves two primary functions, including weapons location and fire control. Functionally, the system searches its radar horizon (20 km) for targets (up to 100 per minute). Once a target is identified, the system tracks the inbound projectile and calculates its trajectory. Targets are classified as mortars, guns or rockets, and threats are prioritised on the basis of the position of the firing battery and the calculated impact area. Data processing functions are handled by a general-purpose computer, and the system’s two operator workstations are provided with high resolution, colour graphic displays. As a high priority target for counter action, ARTHUR is designed to balance detection range against system mobility and size. In addition to its all-terrain capabilities, ARTHUR is designed to be air transportable using a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules-sized aircraft. Field trials with a preproduction system were performed in Finland, Norway and Sweden during 1995.

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