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Pat Hindle, MWJ Technical Editor

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Pat Hindle is responsible for editorial content, article review and special industry reporting for Microwave Journal magazine and its web site in addition to social media and special digital projects. Prior to joining the Journal, Mr. Hindle held various technical and marketing positions throughout New England, including Marketing Communications Manager at M/A-COM (Tyco Electronics), Product/QA Manager at Alpha Industries (Skyworks), Program Manager at Raytheon and Project Manager/Quality Engineer at MIT. Mr. Hindle graduated from Northeastern University - Graduate School of Business Administration and holds a BS degree from Cornell University in Materials Science Engineering.

Crazy for Ka-Band at Satellite 2014

March 15, 2014
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The SATELLITE conference and exhibition brought together about 12,000 satellite professionals across all facets of the satellite community, including the mobility, military, broadcast, maritime and enterprise markets. The event took place March 10-13 in the Washington DC convention center which is a very good location given its close ties to the Aerospace and Defense industry. There are more than 350 exhibitors ranging from the large OEMs like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Harris, SES, Intelsat, etc. to the antenna/dish manufacturers to component and test providers from the RF/microwave industry.

Some of the popular topics are IP networking over satellite, interference avoidance, satellite broadband services, UAV satellite communications among others.  Ka-band is the newer frequency band that is being implemented for higher capacity although various frequency bands do have other advantages. Almost everyone we met with was featuring new Ka-Band components and systems.

Satellite 2014Traditionally, the RF and microwave companies we have seen at Satellite are the antenna, cable, filter and amplifier companies plus the test and measurement companies, but there seems to be more general component and sub-assembly companies exhibiting each year. Here is our round up of the offerings we can across at this year’s event in the exhibition:

Satellite 2014 Photo Gallery
Satellite 2014 Video Demos

Agilent was showing off a variety of test equipment for satellite applications including their FieldFox handheld units, oscilloscopes and SystemVue software. From guidance systems to satellite payloads to microwave communications, design and validation tools from Agilent provide excellent assurance that the satellite and its subsystems will work the first time, every time for the duration of the mission using their test equipment. Agilent, soon to be Keysight Technologies, was sporting their new logo and red shirts - the first time I have seen the new look at a show.

Anritsu announced its MS2830A Spectrum Analyzer/Signal Analyzer is now compatible with the Monics satellite carrier monitoring system from SAT Corporation (SAT), a subsidiary of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. A new driver enables the MS2830A, which combines high speed and performance in a cost- and energy-efficient design, to be integrated into the Monics enterprise networked carrier monitoring system used by government agencies, satellite operators, satellite service providers, and telecommunications companies. The MS2830A offers best-in-class dynamic range and features a unique calibration technique to ensure excellent level accuracy at the instrument input.

Crane Aerospace & Electronics Microwave Solution launched a Ku-Band Iso-Divider product line designed for use in satellite applications at the show. It combines the functions of high performance power dividers with ferrite isolators to provide high isolation without introducing complex switch-based solutions. Integration of the two functions into a single package provides enhanced product reliability, interconnects and transitions. Also, putting the power divider and isolators in the same package allows the performance of the integrated unit to be better matched providing better overall performance compared to traditional solutions. They also re-launched their Microwave Space Qualified Products (MSQP) product line that offers a range of standard passive products. These products have been previously qualified to internally generated standards derived from industry standards so they can be deployed to space-flight applications in a more rapid fashion and with lower cost.

dBm was featuring their broadband satellite payload and UAV simulator with BW to 600 MHz, 12 path multipath and AWGN (link simulator), phase noise, gain/amplitude/compression distortion, AM/AM, AM/PM and TWT distortion measurement capabilities.

Diamond was showing off their broad array of coax and waveguide rotary joints with single and multiple channel designs. They can customize their products for wider bandwidth, shift in frequencies, higher power handling, better VSWR and lower loss.

DiTom manufactures ferrite circulators and isolators from 400 MHz to 40 GHz.  They were featuring their Ka-Band products operating from 27 to 31 GHz with insertion loss of .5-.6 dB, VSWR o 1.25 and isolation of 20 dB.  They make various products covering all of the satellite frequency bands using different options for coaxial connectors.

EM Research was featuring their up and down converters including S-Band to VHF, L-Band to VHF and Ku- to L-Band down converters and L- to Ka-Band block up converters. The down converters have common specs such as 0+/-3 dBm input level, 10 dBm output power (P1dB), IMD3 of -50 dBc, spurs of -60 dBc max and phase noise -90-92 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset. The BUC has RF output frequency of 30 to 31 GHz, output power of 0 dBm min, spurs of -60 dBc max and phase noise of -97 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset.

K&L Microwave was displaying their Mini-Pack Filters for radar and airborne applications. They meet military environmental requirements and can reduce weight by up to 80% and volume by up to 75%. The come in a surface mount package and low loss with excellent attenuation.  They cover from 6 to 18 GHz with 4 to 10 sections with a 3dB BW of 3 to 10%, VSWR of 1.5 max, meeting stringent environmental requirements.

KNS showed their marine stabilized antenna systems for satellite communications, broadband at sea, voice and data services. They provide units for all the different satellite bands with fully stabilized tracking by 3-axis servo platform, BLDC motor enabling quiet and smooth tracking, easier/less expensive installation and maintenance, track control software, auto beam switching, brake system and remote monitoring system.

Kymeta is a new company that is developing next generation antennas for satellite communications using metamaterials technology (see our Jan cover story for how they might enable new AESA radar configurations). The flat panel arrays electronically steer the antenna beam towards the satellite with no moving parts and their PCB-like process enables flat, light and less expensive solutions.  Currently, they are prototyping these structures but expect to be in production soon.  See our video demo of this new technology.

LPKF SystemLPKF was demonstrating the ProtoMat S63 which is a benchtop milling system that features high spindle speed and feature resolution to quickly and accurately produce printed circuit boards, oftentimes in less an hour. System features such as a fiducial recognition camera and 15-position automatic tool changer assist the user in producing PCBs. In-house PCB prototyping provides several benefits outsourced prototyping does not, including the ability to rapidly fabricate PCB design iterations. It also allows the user to maintain complete control over design data. See our short video demo on this system.

MDL was showing off their custom waveguide tapers and adapters.  Their tapers are made with a rapid prototype system with quick turnaround with custom waveguide sizes and optional flange configurations. They had datasheets on hand for end launch adapters such as their WR-229 and WR-137 end launch adapter type “N” connector.

MegaPhase was displaying their various cable lines including the “Killer Bee” KB Series test cables to 32 GHz (love the name and the cable colors). They are designed for a wide variety of lab, production and thermal testing applications that need phase, amplitude and temperature stability. Propagation velocity is 86.5%, time delay 1.17 ns/ft and shielding effectiveness of -110 dB with dynamic bending radius of 1.5 in. They come in a variety of connectors.

Mician was showing off their µWave Wizard horn antenna synthesis and radiation software tool and Time Domain Analysis.  The µWave Wizard horn antenna synthesis tool has closed forms for setup of horn geometry and the synthesized profiles are computed by µWave Wizard BOR horn antenna elements and can be optimized for typical antenna performance parameters.

Mini-Circuits offers one of the broadest arrays of components and assemblies for the SATCOM market with amplifiers, attenuators, bias-tees/diplexers, cables, couplers, equalizers, filters, mixers, limiters, splitters/combiners, switches, synthesizers, transformers, VCOs, custom modules/assemblies and test equipment.  They also showed their line of space qualified products that include many types of components packaged in their LTCC group of products to 20 GHz.

Ka-Band SystemTECOM was showing off their KaStream 5000 Ka-Band tail mount SATCOM antenna system.  It transmits in the 29 to 31 GHz band, receives in the 19.2 to 21.2 GHz band, has switchable polarization, has a G/T of 10.4 dB/K min, EIRP of 46.5 dBw linear/ 49 dB PSAT and tracking accuracy of <0.2 degrees weighing 13 lbs. It also has interchangeable Ku- and Ka-Band antennas and multi-modem capability.

Teledyne Microwave Solutions was featuring many of their products including ITAR free Ka-Band BUC and 16 W SSPA.  The BUC is designed to operate over a single or dual output frequency range with an output power of 10 dBm and frequency input range of 1 to 2 GHz.  The SSPA is designed to meet the extended Ka-Band SATCOM bands and is suited for low SWaP applications. It has 7.5 W of linear power over the full 2 GHz bandwidth.  Teledyne has various other products in this frequency range and many other and are celebrating their 50th year anniversary.

TriQuint announced at the show that its Spatium™ technology achieved 130 W of Ka-Band power. Spatium combines multiple GaN MMICs with low loss enabling cost effective and reliable solid state broadband power amplification.  The new device has an average saturated power of more than 130 W over the entire 27-31 GHz band with linear output power of 60 W with more than 15% efficiency, operating at only 20 V. Spatium offers ease of integration, a small form factor and parallel redundancy as an alternative TWTAs.

Wireless Telecom Group’s Boonton 55 Series wideband USB power sensor with rise times as low as 5 ns and time resolution down to 100 ps has opened up many new applications that previous power sensors could not do.  Boonton was demonstrating a new real-time USB peak power sensor with CCDF that can capture every pulse to assure signal integrity and see signal compression. The CCDF enable measurement of LNA or PA compression mapping it to system performance such as BER. Another demo they were showing was the effect of broadband additive white Gaussian noise on digital broadcast signals using the Noisecom UFX7000A series. It shows how the picture quality degrades as the noise level is increased to see much your system can handle.  See both demonstrations in our video demo we took at the show.

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