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SATELLINE-3AS Product Family EOL

 With the establishment of the SATELLINE-EASy product family, made with additional features and flexibility over the original SATELLINE-3AS product, the 3AS has been gradually reaching end of life. SATEL has announced that last orders for SATELLINE-3AS products shall be placed by June 26, 2019, at the latest. Additional SATEL development and improvements can be expected by end of year, of which we will keep you updated.

NOTE: SATEL USA does have a few used &/or refurbished units of the SATELLINE-3ASd EPIC units in stock! Contact us if interested, while supplies last.

The products that will be ceased in production are:

YM1013 SATELLINE-3ASm/LC

YM1014 SATELLINE-3AS/OA

YM1020 SATELLINE-3AS/TC

YM1025 SATELLINE-3ASm-OA

 YM1029 SATELLINE-3ASm-SMA EMI

YM1050 SATELLINE-3AS/KR

YM1070 SATELLINE-3AS NMS

YM1075 SATELLINE-3ASd NMS

YM3004 SATELLINE-3AS Epic DB

 YM3006 SATELLINE-3AS Epic C DB

YM3007 SATELLINE-3ASd Epic C DB

YM3010 SATELLINE-3AS Epic NMS

YM3012 SATELLINE-3AS Epic C NMS

YM3014 SATELLINE-3AS Epic NMS DB

YM3016 SATELLINE-3AS Epic NMS DB C

YM3017 SATELLINE-3ASd Epic NMS DB C

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Application Note: Drones

Bring Accuracy and Flexibility On-Site with SATEL’s Compact-Proof

Laser Specialists Inc, a long-time, valued dealer of Satel USA, has been using the SATEL Compact-Proof together with SenseFly’s eBee mapping drone for added RTK accuracy and flexibility on-site. This easy set up has been ideal for Laser Specialists’ mining and construction clients, finding use in quarries, stock piles, excavation and highway construction, where accurate maps and 3D models are needed to calculate volumes and perform site surveys.

The added flexibility the SATEL Compact-Proof provides is an operational advantage. Versus being physically tied to the RTK base at a specific location, the SATEL radio link allows the drone operator to place the base anywhere onsite and move around as needed throughout operation. With the Compact-Proof’s built-in battery and IP67 housing, the radio is conveniently mobile and can easily operate for a full day on-site, holding up to the dust and rugged elements of a construction site.

The improved accuracy is also significant. In standalone operation, the drone flies within 10-15 ft accuracy. With the RTK base and SATEL Compact-Proof in place, that accuracy ranges from .9 to 1.5 cm, a drastic improvement that is especially valuable across construction and earthwork movement applications. As Eric Wischropp of Laser Specialists explains, this accuracy is appreciated even in the operational task of landing the drone. With RTK accuracy, the drone can easily be brought down in most locations on the jobsite. Without this accuracy, the operator has a more difficult and tedious task, needing to strategically identify a larger area for safe landing.   

The Compact-Proof connects via USB data cable to the drone operator’s laptop, which runs the eMotion software that routes the UAV through its predetermined route. The Compact-Proof provides a real time data link to the base, which sends position corrections to the GPS receiver on the eBee every second, with an audible indication as images are captured. The built-in battery on the Compact-Proof makes for an easy, mobile solution, allowing the operator to move across the job-site as needed.

The SATEL Compact-Proof can also be used as an external radio at the base, if the GPS unit is without a built in radio. At 1W output power, the Compact-Proof can easily cover the range needed for most drone flights. The UHF signal also outperforms 900 MHz ISM and makes for much more reliable connectivity. In other cases, such as a long-range roadway project, Laser Specialists has also integrated the SATELLINE-EASy Pro 35W, either at the base or as a repeater, to allow for a larger working range. This solution also provides the possibility of integrated machine positioning and robust onsite capabilities.

Satel USA provides a complete Compact-Proof kit for easy set up. For more information and pricing, please contact Laser Specialists Inc. (Ph. 913-780-9990, eric@lasergps.com), or your local Satel USA dealer.

Screenshot of drone routing software, with connection to SATEL radio. Accuracy reported at .023 ft
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Troubleshooting SATEL Radios

The most frequent cause of Satel Radio issues is a mismatch in settings between the transmitting radio and the receiving radio. The key settings that must be the same on both radios are:

  • Frequency
  • Channel Spacing
  • Radio Compatibility/Protocol
  • Error Correction (FEC)

Note: On other Satel-compatible radios, or via 3rd party interfaces (such as Leica or Carlson Software), these terms may have different names. Other settings, such as Error Checking are uncommonly used.

Troubleshooting Steps

Base Radio

  1. Start with the base/transmitting radio. The “TD” light should be blinking. If it isn’t, that means the transmitting radio is not receiving data via its serial port. Check the settings on the attached device to ensure it is correctly sending data via the serial link.
  2. Note down the 4 above settings using the radio screen and buttons. The settings are found in the following menus:
    1. Frequency: “Radio frequency” menu (“TX & RX freq”)
    2. Channel Spacing: “Radio frequency” menu (“Ch Spacing”)
    3. Radio Compatibility: “Radio settings” menu (“Compatibility”)
    4. Error Correction/FEC: “Additional” menu (“Error corr.”)

Remote Radios

  1. Start by checking received signal strength. In the upper right corner, the number shown with a negative sign is the RSSI. A normal RSSI should be between -40 and -100 or so, with a higher number closer to the transmitting radio, and a lower number farther away. During normal operation the RSSI will likely change between a higher number, such as -60 and a low number (typically -120 or below).
    1. If the number stays low (below -100), the radio is not receiving a signal over the air, which indicates the frequency on the base radio and remote radio is not matching, or the base radio is not transmitting. Check and program the frequency on both radios.
  2. If the signal strength is high (above -100), or changing between a high and low signal, the next step is to check the RD light, which should be blinking. If it isn’t, this indicates a settings mismatch (the radio hears a signal, but can’t decode it). Check and program the 3 other settings (Channel Spacing, Radio Compatibility, Error Correction/FEC).
  3. If the RD light is blinking, but your data still isn’t making it through, check the Baud Rate on the receiving radio (in the “Port 1” menu), and ensure it matches the settings on the device attached to the receiving radio.

Further Troubleshooting

The above steps cover the most common issues seen when setting up a Satel radio system. If the instructions don’t address your situation, or you are unsure how to match settings on a Satel-compatible device, such as a radio from another manufacturer, or via 3rd party configuration software, please contact us.

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SATEL Compact-4BT: Portable radio for rugged outdoor use

The SATEL Compact-4BT  is an IP67 classified, 1W UHF radio modem with integrated lithium-ion battery and Bluetooth. It is designed for easy mobile use in demanding field conditions, ideal for land surveying, PrecisionAg and machine control application.

Configured using Configuration Manager, SaTerm, or Android App. AES-128 encryption enabled. The kit includes all parts needed for quick installation (p/n K-S7 Kit):

Contact us today for pricing and availability, sales@satelusa.com

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Tech Note: What is Error Correction?

Error Correction is an available setting in all SATEL radio modems, which can help improve data transfer in cases of poor or unreliable communication. Referred to as FEC Mode (Forward Error Correction) in Configuration Manager, note that this setting refers to SATEL 3AS Error Correction and does not affect other compatibility modes, such as PacCrest. This setting can be turned ON or OFF both in Configuration Manager and directly on the front screen of your radio modem.

When Error Correction is enabled (ON), the radio modem automatically adds additional error correction information, which increases the amount of transmitted data by 30%. It is used by the receiving radio modem to correct erroneous bits, as long as the ratio of correct and erroneous bits is reasonable. The resulting benefit can be an improvement of up to 3dB sensitivity.

Error Correction improves the reliability of data transfer via the radio interface, especially in unfavorable conditions. The Error Correction function should be used when link distances are long or received signal is otherwise low due to poor propagation conditions or multi-path fading. It is also recommended to use Error Correction in case there are intermittent interferences on the radio channel.

The Error Correction function decreases data transfer throughput by approximately 30%. Though transfer delays are longer, Error Correction can be quite useful for the best data transmission quality in the scenarios described above.

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Tech Note: Radio Power vs Distance

Myth: Double power will double the distance of my transmitter.

It is a common misconception that in order to achieve twice the distance in a radio link, you can simply double the power. The reality is that in order to double the distance, 4 times the Tx power is needed. This rule comes from a simple geometric formula: the propagation of radio waves expands in the shape of a sphere, and the surface of a sphere (and thus power density) changes proportionally to the square of the radius (in this case the radius = distance).

To put it simply, if with a 1 Watt transmitter you can reach 1 mile, in order to reach 2 miles you will need a 4 Watt transmitter. Of course the distance depends not only on the power of a transmitter but also–and very much so–on the antenna gain and height, the quality of the receiver and on the obstacles in the terrain.

A very useful way to calculate radio links parameters is using dB’s. In this case, mathematics show that doubling the power is the equivalent to increasing the power by 3 dB. It can also be demonstrated that doubling the distance is the equivalent of an increase by 6dB.

Seen below is a table of equivalence between Watts and dBm.

1 mWatt  =  0 dBm    
1 Watt     =  30 dBm 2 Watt   =  33 dBm 4 Watt   =  36 dBm
10 Watt   =  40 dBm 20 Watt =  43 dBm 40 Watt =  46 dBm

 

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Tech Note: Using a Repeater

Repeater Mode can be easily set up from the front screen of any SATEL radio (Main Setup>Additional>Repeater>select ON>Save changes). Many SATEL users stop there, however additional steps can be taken in order to prevent potential issues with your system. Some rather common issues we hear about when a repeater is in place are:

“I get a signal when near the base, but not when near the rover”

“I’m getting a signal, but not getting a fix”

“The rover sometimes hears both the base and repeater and it looks to be creating issues with my GPS”

The first scenario is likely an antenna issue; you will want to check your antennas and cables. The second scenario is likely due to parameters; you will want to go back through your settings and make sure parameters match. The last issue of an “echo” or double signal is a common problem you’ll experience with a repeater, especially in Precision Ag applications, or other scenarios in which the rover is moving. Some GPS are immune to the echo, while we’ve seen others get confused by the double signal. Here are some tips for fixing this common issue, depending on your licensing:

If You Have More Than 1 Frequency:

If in your licensing you have more than one frequency available for use, we recommend using separate TX/RX frequencies. For example, let’s say you have 469 MHz and 462 MHz available. You would set up the base to transmit at 469 MHz. You would set up the repeater to receive at 469 MHz (Main Menu>Radio Frequency>RX Frequency (change setting)) and to transmit at 462 MHz (Main Menu>Radio Frequency>TX Frequency (change setting)). Then you will set the rover to receive at 462 Mhz. This will ensure that even if the rover hears the base at times, it will not receive and interfere with the communication.

If You Do Not Have More Than 1 Frequency:

The alternative option, if you do not have more than one frequency available to use in your application, is to set up addressing. This is easily done through the programming software on your PC, using either Configuration Manager or SaTerm. The set up would look like this:

Base = Address 0001 0001

Repeater = Receive Address 0001 0001, Transmit Address 0002 0002

Rover = Address 0002 0002

As above, this also ensures that the base will not interfere with the rover, even if a double signal can be heard at different points.

Other Common Issues:

Another common issue in repeater set ups relates to modulation settings. Using a slower protocol, such as GMSK, is not recommended on a repeater set up because of the length of the data stream. The data string nowadays are so long that it can create a back up of data; the repeater may still be transmitting to the rover as the base is trying to send the next string. This can be resolved by using a faster protocol.

Set up should also be considered; we have seen numerous situations in which the repeater is placed too close to the base, instead of near the rover. You want to make sure the repeater and rover are as close as possible in order to ensure the best signal.

Double repeater set ups are much more complicated, especially when the rover is moving. Addressing, as described above, is recommended in this scenario.

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Tech Note: Overheating

Even if the summer heat has passed, the heat dissipated by a 35 Watt radio can be an issue any time of year. It is perfectly normal for a 35W transmitter to generate enough heat to be very uncomfortable to the touch. Any transmitter of any major brand consumes energy equal to about three times the radiated power. In the case of a 35W transmitter, that is about 105 Watts. As a comparison, a 100 Watt light bulb cannot be touched when it is on because it is too hot to be handled. Something similar happens to a radio, although there are various steps you can take to decrease this large amount of heat.

The first precaution the manufacturer takes is that a radio of 35W power is equipped with a heat-sink. Note that the heat-sink, normally mounted on the back of the unit, is only effective if air circulates freely without obstructions, and circulates vertically. A radio mounted horizontally will heat up much more than one whose flow of air can freely flow from bottom to top.

A potential source of overheating can be in RTK equipment working with multiple constellations, thus requiring longer strings of data to be transmitted each second. This means that the transmitter will stay on for a longer period of time, generating more heat. The solution is a higher over-the-air speed, which will in turn reduce the transmission time. For example, a base radio sending RTK corrections to a rover utilizing a GMSK protocol will generate almost twice as much heat as a base radio using a faster protocol like 4FSK (at the same bandwidth). The difference can be dramatic.

Another undesirable source of heat is the so-called “reflected power”. All the RF power of the radio should reach the antenna and should be radiated in the form of electromagnetic energy. If some of it returns back to the radio, the radio will heat up considerably more, not to mention that the working range will be reduced. In order to prevent reflected power, it’s very important to use a good RF cable with no damage and to make sure that the antenna is in good working condition without connector oxidation or other visible damage. Also, many users who utilize a steel whip antenna may not be aware that this type of antenna requires “tuning” to the right operating frequency. Normally such antennas are sold at a length which is optimal for the lowest frequency of its range. When a higher frequency is used, the operator should then cut it to the right length, as listed in the antenna instructions. Many users disregard this “fine tuning”, thus somewhat reducing their working range and increasing the heat (however only marginally).

Even if all the above is taken care of, when a radio is left operating in full sunshine on a hot day, it will inevitably heat up. SATEL radios have an internal protection that prevents damage once the radio reaches 176°F (80°C). The radio will continue to operate at reduced power, and the screen will flash to alert the operator.

Your best course of action if you believe heat has become a problem, especially in the summer or in warmer regions: reduce the power of the transmitter from 35W to 25W. It may be counter-intuitive, but this reduction of power (about 30%) will not affect the range very much. In fact, the range will decrease by about 15%, with the potential of saving you from a lot of downtime.

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SATEL modems now including AES-128 encryption

For stronger protection of your data over the air, certain models of SATEL modems now include AES-128 encryption capabilities. This feature is available on the following models (please note new part numbers):

  • SATELLINE-EASy Pro, p/n YM6813
  • SATEL EASy-Proof, p/n YM6485
  • SATELLINE-EASy with display, p/n YM6565
  • SATELLINE-M3-TR1, p/n YM6315

How to Set Up Encryption

AES-128 encryption can be set up through Configuration Manager (to download Configuration Manager, please go to Support>Software on our website). Set up must be done through a PC; set up cannot be completed through the keypad and display on the radio. To set up through Configuration Manager, connect your radio to the PC, open Configuration Manager, and follow the following steps:

  • Go to the Modem Settings tab
  • Click on the Misc Settings sub-tab
  • In the Encryption box, set OTA Encryption to ON
  • Under Password enter your password of choice. NOTE: make sure your password is memorable or kept in a safe place, as there is no way to retrieve your password once it is entered (if you forget or lose the password, a new password will need to be set for all radios in your system).
  • Click Generate & Save New Keys
  • Repeat for all other radios in the system. NOTE: As a safe check across radios, the key hash will match on all radios with matching password. The key hash is NOT the password, but instead is an indicator: if the key hash is different on one radio in your system, the password was entered incorrectly and should be redone.

Note that the LCD does not include any information or indication of the encryption or settings. Encryption support can be verified from the Firmware version. In Configuration Manager, when you go to Radio Modem Info, under Firmware Version it will list the version number, followed by “ENCRYPTION” or “CRYPT” or “CRYPT SURV”.

Will a new radio with encryption work with my current radios without encryption?

Radios with the AES-128 encryption feature are fully compatible with equivalent SATEL radio modem products when the encryption is set to OFF (Note: the factory default for the encryption feature is always OFF).

Does encryption work in Survey Mode?

CRYPT SURV firmware is available on our website (go to Support>Firmware). You can update/downgrade the firmware version between CRYPT and CRYPT SURV versions without issue.

Can my current equipment be upgraded?

You cannot update your standard firmware SATELLINE radio modems to the AES-supporting firmware in the field. Your equipment can be upgraded by the Satel factory. Please contact us for lead times and pricing.

Who can I contact for support?

Please contact us at support@satelusa.com or 408-973-1740.