Microlab, a Wireless Telecom Group company, and RF Connect have partnered to develop a new and innovative in-building GPS signal distribution system. The new system consists of an integrated GPS repeater and distribution network in a package enabling precise and controllable GPS coverage, the first of which will be deployed in a testing facility of a major American automotive manufacturer. Incorporating signal conditioning and fine tuning of output power for each antenna, this new platform ensures the GPS signal does not extend beyond the desired test zone range. Driving these innovative capabilities is the new Microlab GPSD209 GPS Signal Conditioner, a 2 input, 9 output splitter with signal conditioning through variable gain settings and the ability to switch GPS outputs on and off in response to an external control signal.
It is often assumed that wireless signal availability, including GPS, is ubiquitous, however, that is not always the case and in-building environments pose many challenges for connectivity. Indoor use of GPS is often intermittent and unreliable, requiring a repeater to bring the outdoor signal inside. Microlab, with its expertise in RF and microwave products for signal distribution and deployment and RF Connect with its expertise in wireless communication and connectivity solutions were able to identify the challenges associated with bringing a GPS inside and controlling the coverage, as both continue to address unique connectivity requirements for in-building communications systems worldwide.
"Unique problems require unique solutions," said Jeff Hipchen, executive VP at RF Connect. "Rather than design, deploy and coordinate carriers for an indoor cellular network to support the use of smartphones which is a typical use case, we adapted to deliver a 'GPS DAS' that uses privilege-based licenses to enable the testing of GPS navigation systems on vehicles inside a testing facility. Microlab's agility and out-of-box thinking resulted in a specialized solution that will empower us to better address this market segment."
"Just like cellular signals, GPS signals cannot easily penetrate building materials. This results in intermittent or non-existent GPS signals within a building." said Luke Getto, director of product management at Microlab. "Our solution captures the GPS signal on the rooftop and rebroadcasts it into a customer facility, so their equipment and devices behave as if it is outdoors."
The Microlab GPSD209 Signal Conditioner provides 5 to 35 dB of gain range per output port using manual step attenuators for adjustment. The active section is designed to provide -55 to -85 dBm of absolute power range with a -90 dBm GPS signal input. The step attenuators can be adjusted in 1 dB increments from 0 to 30 dB for fine tuning GPS signal distribution. Three of the 9 ports share an external switch control that disable GPS signal. In this initial deployment the switch is connected to garage door sensors. GPS re-transmission is halted when the doors are opened allowing the test facility to bring vehicles in for testing while remaining in compliance with regulatory requirements regarding rebroadcasting and distorting GPS signals outdoors.