Hiltron Communications has recently completed a satellite uplink and downlink system for one of Germany’s largest television news broadcasters — this project includes six antennas and related control infrastructure that will be used to communicate with the network’s associate organizations around the world.
Hiltron Antenna Control Units (ACU) are designed to control three-axis, motorized antennas. The antenna control unit and associated motor-control electronics are contained in an IP65-rated weatherproof outdoor housing with a hinged front access port secured by dual key screws. Each control unit can be operated from a PC running a graphic user interface compatible with standard web browsers. The control GUI displays all the information required to set and maintain azimuth, elevation and polarization, including current and target positions plus a database of potential accessible satellites.
“Following successful acceptance, we created a solution which integrates fully into the news production workflow,” said Hiltron managing director Antonio Monteverde. “Easy and efficient operation were essential requirements. The antennas are located on a city-centre rooftop earth station and operated via remote links from the network’s master control room. Hiltron software allows the system to be supervised via a single browser-based display screen showing all relevant performance parameters, confidence lights and alerts. Most important of all, de-icers in the antenna panels can be activated automatically if the rooftop temperature creates any risk of freezing.”
“All six of the new antennas will be used to capture incoming signals,” said Hiltron project manager Guy Van Bambeke. “Five of the reflectors are from General Dynamics, one being 3 metres in diameter and four being 3.7 metres. The sixth is a 2.7 metre Laminas dish which we have equipped to capture simultaneous feeds from three orbital positions, in this case 7 degrees east, 13 degrees east and 19.2 degrees east. Each antenna is on a fixed mount. We have also refurbished three existing antennas which will function both as uplinks and downlinks. That part of the project included the provision and integration of Hiltron ACU antenna control units which are used to control the dish azimuth and elevation. Each comprises a standalone unit contained in a weatherproofed outdoor housing, remotely operated via an IP data stream from a standard PC. Once a satellite is selected, precise access parameters can be determined by pressing a single button. Last, and not least, we have integrated 13 Swedish Microwave low noise block downconverters. These are high-performance units which ensure the received data conforms fully to broadcast specification.”