23-Mar-2004 Print page

Remote RF monitoring joins the digital revolution

Remote antenna system monitoring is the next generation of broadcast technology, according to wireless group Radio Frequency Systems (RFS). At April’s NAB 2004 exhibition, the company will exhibit a fully integrated solution for the remote digital monitoring of broadcast RF system performance—from the network operations center, for example—via modem or the Internet.

“We’re seeing a global trend toward remote monitoring of broadcast sites,” said Tony Magris, Americas VP Broadcast with RFS. “Operators want to be able to look at their networks from some remote central location, and obtain information on the status of a particular site. For that you need digital technology.”

The RFS antenna system monitor comprises a user-friendly touch screen connected to a programmable controller interfaced with a transducer and analog/digital converter. This provides a local active mimic panel as well as interactive graphical displays depicting parameters such as forward/reflected power, voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR), temperature—whatever is required. It also acts as an interface for control of motorized coaxial switches, where fitted.

A great deal more functionality is achieved through the adoption of RFS’s purpose-built ‘web interface unit’, which is connected to the monitor’s programmable controller. The web interface unit can be programmed to continuously log and record the data, liberating broadcasters from manually recording the readings from analog meters. It also allows the system to be interfaced with existing computer networks, and thereby accessed and utilized as part of the whole network management system—whether remote or local.

Alternatively, a stand-alone web server can be directly connected to the web interface unit, to provide Internet connectivity. This ability for remote monitoring and operation of the coaxial switching supports the trend toward unmanned operation of broadcast transmission stations.

RFS’s fully integrated digital monitoring infrastructure complements its comprehensive broadcast antenna system solutions portfolio. The programmable controller, touch-screen display and web interface unit, are all incorporated within the company’s fully customized U-link panels (for manual switching) and switch frames. In addition, all of RFS’s latest-generation combining equipment is supplied with a built-in power monitoring probe. This would enable, for example, the antenna system monitor to record and display the individual transmitter powers fed into that combiner.

Visit RFS at NAB 2004 to meet the broadcast systems team and discuss customized RF solutions, including digital monitoring technology: Central Hall, booth C8617, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, April 19-22, 2004.

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