AtlanTecRF Introduces World's First Drone Payload for RF Testing of Satellite Communications

AtlanTecRF has introduced a new light-weight, rugged and compact Drone Payload Satellite Simulator.  The unique simulator is capable of providing a transmit (Tx) to receive (Rx) loop-back for compact and mobile satellite communications systems testing without the need for cable connections.

AtlanTecRF standard high performance LTT microwave circuits, have been configured for installation along with circularly polarised Ka-Band antennas and a rechargeable battery power pack into a specially designed and weatherproof housing capable of being carried by a moderately sized hovering drone. The drone is then flown into the line of sight of the satcom system antenna providing the loop-back and facilitating system/antenna testing and calibration without the need to go live on the satellite.

Test methods using other satellite simulator models can involve mounting the simulator test instrument on a mast or ‘cherry picker’ to intercept the satcom system's line of sight. But such an arrangement can give rise to test site clutter and inconvenience in some circumstances. The Drone Payload avoids this scenario and also has the advantage of being able to provide the loop-back from heights above the ground which would be simply impractical by other methods.

With a fixed local oscillator frequency and pre-adjusted conversion gain, the drone-bourne satellite simulator carries out a dedicated and defined task for Ka band antenna testing, such as might be found in aircraft based communication sets or other difficult to access system.

While the launch product is designed specifically for the Ka band 30 GHz uplink and 20 GHz downlink markets, similar drone-capable payloads are possible for Ku band and DBS bands. The internal rechargeable battery is capable of lasting for up to two hours at full test power, usually adequate to carry out a system alignment test and also matching the typical drone battery endurance.