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Amplifiers / Antennas / Materials/Packages / Passive Components / Subsystems and Systems / Test and Measurement / Transmission-Line Components

Satellite 2010 Wrap Up: Business is Looking Up

March 19, 2010
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The opening session on Tuesday with the CEOs from the big four (Romain Bausch, SES; Daniel Goldberg, Telsat; David McGlade, Intelsat; and Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat) showed that the companies are more optimistic about the market than they were last year. The needs to expand bandwidth and provide communication services to less populated areas are opportunities for satellite providers. The desire for countries to provide Internet access to more of those without access today is another area where satellite can be a solution. While satellite does not have data rates as high as fiber, it can provide coverage much easier to remote areas. But some want to push higher data rates (like 100 Mb/s) over more access. It was said, "Should we get 100% access at 10 Mb/s for everyone or get 100 Mb/s access but not 100% coverage." The cost to do both is probably too high so it would make sense to give everyone access first but people love to talk about very high speed access.

The hot topics at the show were comms on the move, security, lower power consumption (green tech), M2M/SCADA, video standards, hosted payloads, among others. There are forums on various subjects including the MSUA Conference co-located. They moved the event to the Gaylord outside of DC and found it was not large enough to accommodate all the exhibitors this year so it probably will move back to the convention center next year. That is good news for the industry.

MWJ spent two full days on the exhibition floor meeting with various RF and microwave companies displaying their products and services. Below is a summary of what MWJ saw at the show:

There were a few of RF/microwave materials companies present:

Rogers Corp. was showing its 5880LZ laminate that has been formulated to overcome the mechanical and electrical limitations of standard PTFE-based laminate materials. The filled composite material offers the lowest dielectric constant in the industry for a copper-clad PTFE-based laminate with low density that makes it suitable for applications requiring lightweight circuit boards. Microwave Journal recently ran a product feature on this material last Oct. Other materials on hand included the RT/duroid 6202PR and RO3003™ circuit-board laminates.

Isola was featuring its IS680 RF laminate, which has a stable Dk and Df over temperature and frequency. IS680 is not a PTFE-based material rather a "Thermosetting Polymer Alloy" designed to provide improvements in lead free PCB and assembly processes in complex double sided boards (95% copper remaining on both sides) as well as multi-layer printed circuit platforms.

MFG Galileo Composites recently announced that they opened a new manufacturing facility in AL with expanded capabilities and capacity. They can now handle prepregs as they have added oven capacity.

The rest of the companies were components or subsystem RF/microwave suppliers – here is a summary:

EM Research was showing off its new family of VSAT frequency synthesizers for standard bands. They are miniature surface mount devices ranging in size from half inch square to 2.5 x 1.1 inches. They feature low phase noise and harmonics.

Alga Microwave was displaying its high power SSPAs, transmitter and transceiver systems covering the major frequency standards from 1 W to 5 KW. They also make filters, diplexers, couplers, isolators, circulators, adaptors, combiners/dividers and waveguides.

M2 Global has added design services for waveguide filters so they can both develop designs and produce them.

Micronetics was featuring its Ku-band high power transceivers for direct Internet on airplanes. It includes the block upconverter, downconverter, high power amp, 10 MHz OCXO and power regulation/distribution. It is versatile unit that provides all of the functions between the antenna and modem.

TECOM was displaying its new KuStream 1000 which is a full Ku-band system for in-flight connectivity and includes the antenna/mount, control unit and high power transceiver. It is a small and lightweight unit that should be approved very soon. They also were featuring an electronically steered INMARSAT BGAN antenna with beam peak at 50 degrees from horizontal.

Cobham was well represented with solutions from components to systems. In their components areas they were featuring high power Ku-band isolators which handle over 200 W and are also available in all of the other frequency bands.

ST Electronics/Agilis had a large display and from an RF perspective they were featuring VSAT SSPA boosters, transceivers, LNBs, outdoor BUCs and converters. The ultra slim Ku-band 20 and 40 W BUC offers the highest power/weight ratio with the 40 W unit at only 4.8 kg.

Wavestream Corp. introduced the PowerStream 757C-i 600 W C-band indoor rack-mount solid state power amplifier. It is designed as a plug and play replacement for traditional 750 W linearized TWTA solutions used in broadcast satellite communications, teleport and satellite news gathering systems.

A1 Microwave was proud to display its very low loss, high rejection filters. These filters achieve 90 dB rejection over the whole 7.9 to 8.4 GHz band in a length of only 180 mm with insertion loss as low as 0.35 dB. The have X-band and C-band design available.

Mitec was featuring 60-80 W C- and X-band BUCs. These are one box designs with an integrated BUC/booster and designed for high efficiency and lightweight. They have customer interfaces that allow the operator to monitor and control the unit from a web browser.

Anritsu had a full line of test and measurement equipment on display. Their Spectrum Master has added demodulation analyzers and covers up to 6 GHz with dynamic range of better than 95 dB and DANL better than -162 dBm (1 Hz). MWJ just did a product feature article on this unit. They also had the VNA Master on display, which covers from 5 kHz to 20 GHz which is a nice feature that it goes down to that low of a frequency.

Orbit was displaying Ku-band antennas for marine applications covering various bands. They manufacture all types of antennas including antennas for trains using low profile designs.

Work Microwave was showing its Ka-band converters that accept input signals at L- or Ku-band and provide output signals in Ka-band where the usable bandwidth is up to 1600 MHz. They have been making converters for over 20 years and have a MTBF of 29.7 years.

Starling stared with Ku-band solutions on planes and moved to comms on the move solutions primarily for video feeds since they already had small, lightweight solutions. They had very small size units on display and use phased array antenna solutions which is unique in this space. They have solutions for trains, cars and the StarPack the size of a carry-on bag.

CPI was on hand with power amplifiers, amplifier subsystems and high-power microwave devices for satellite uplink ground terminals and other Satcom solutions.

Avantech was showing its SUMMIT SSPA system, which is a modular solution that can provide output powers up to 3500 W at C-band, 2800 W at X-band and 1350 W at Ku-band in a single rack. They are designed for satellite up-link applications in ground station terminals.

New Japan Radio had its 4 and 8 W BUCs on display. These units have high efficiency, low distortion, wide input voltage range in a small and compact housing.

Florida RF Labs has released a new Space Heritage catalog and was featuring a new EMC Technology high frequency coaxial attenuator. It operates up to 18 GHz and offered in values of 0 to 10 dB in one dB increments.

Dow Key was showing a lightweight (55 g) DC to 27 GHz transfer switch for space applications with a 4 W power handling capability.

I.F. Engineering had on display its L-band unity gain distribution panel with 10 MHz internal reference. It features 15 dB isolation, 20 dB coupling and gain of 0 +/- 2.0 dB with phase noise of -160 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset.

Noise Com had a nice, low cost setup with their power meter that uses P1dB to quickly estimate BER using statistical analysis. They are working with several companies on the high speed end to develop proper testing setups.

Thales had a wide range of TWT amplifier solutions on hand. This included a 500 W peak power (350 W CW) Ka-band TWT to boost power for Satcom uplinks. It is intended for broadcast and Internet DTH applications.

RTLogic (Integrated Systems) recently published an article in our March issue on RF Channel Simulators. Their Telemetrix 400 Channel Simulator addresses a board range of IF and RF hardware-in-the-loop test, operational and training applications. It creates signals that match those that occur when transmitters and receivers are in motion with respect to one another.

Actox is a domestic low power transmitter company that complements the high power companies with smaller, light weight solutions. They use TriQuint transistors and were featuring Ku-band amplifiers with 32% efficiency.

Locus has combined with Codan, expanding its product portfolio for BUC products. They were featuring Ku-band a SSPA/BUC upconverter with 80, 100 and 120 W outputs and a 12/16 W Ku-band split BUC which is lightweight for man-pack applications.

Intellian announced three new VSAT communications antennas and a line of FleetBroadband antennas with bundled airtime programs. These are designed for commercial and recreational boaters or space constrained applications and provide broadband connectivity for worldwide on-demand communications.

Amphenol, SV Microwave and Times are all together now representing a powerhouse cable and connector company for RF solutions. They showed a 2.92 mm connector for space applications operation from DC to 40 GHz. The SVK connector is available in various configurations.

Bliley was displaying a one inch square OCVCXO 100 MHz product. It features output power of 15 dBm, low profile, low power consumption and phase noise of -168 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz.

JFW was showing its standard products, including a mini high power switch that is 1 x 1.75 inches with power handling of 20 to 25 W. It is available in 20 to 1000 MHz and 800 to 2700 MHz models.

Teledyne was well represented with various divisions including cables, component and subsystems. They were showing a micro dosimeter, which is the first compact microcircuit that provides a repeatable measurement of radiation dose and dose rate.

dBm was showing its Satellite Link Emulator that provides a cost-effective total solution for satellite to ground station RF link testing. Accurate simulation of propagation delays, flat fading, path loss, phase shift and Doppler shifts create realistic, full-duplex path scenarios for closed-loop testing of satellites, ground processing equipment and mobile transceivers. The SLE may be configured with up to four independent channels and operates at a center frequency of 140 MHz (optional 70 MHz, and L, C, S and K-band with optional RF converters). Resolution of static mode is 0.1 ns, dynamic 0.5 ps and Doppler resolution is 0.01 Hz.

CPI announced that ongoing improvements in its C-band Compact High Power Amplifier (CHPA) have resulted in increasingly superior efficiency and lower lifetime cost. Prime power for the 750 W CHPA is only 2.1 kW when running at saturated power. Operation at a linear 325 W output power consumes only 1.75 KVA at linear power.

While Elektrobit did not exhibit, MWJ met with them and saw some impressive satellite devices. They manufacture a cell phone with a satellite phone integrated into the same form as a Blackberry like smart phone. It automatically switches to satellite phone when it is out of range of the cellular service (and outdoors, of course). They also make a device for home satellite data services and dongle type device for satellite connectivity anywhere.

L-3 Communications Electron Technologies has developed a new TWT for use as a high-power microwave amplifier for high-rate transmission of data and video signals from deep space to Earth. The 999HA is a successor to the 999H (a non-space-qualified TWT) operating in the 31.8 - 32.3 GHz frequency band. It has been shown to generate 252 W of CW output power at 62 percent efficiency.

It is back to the DC convention center next year for Satellite 2011 – see you there.

Recent Articles by Pat Hindle

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