GPS Antenna Tracker

Expanding the RF Range:

The HDwireless GPS antenna tracker has been designed for the optimization of radio links where the corresponding broadcasting unit is in motion during transmission for example on motorcycles, in cars, helicopters, airplanes or on ships. If the radio transmission also takes place over a large area, or in a densely built-up urban area, using antennas with directed radio waves, the tracking system can achieve exceptional results with regard to the maximum transmission range.

 

How it Works:

At the RF receiving location, the GPS antenna tracker features a dual diversity antenna system on two motor-controlled axes. The mobile radio transmitter is also equipped with a GPS receiver and continually transmits its GPS coordinates to the receiving station. There, the data is fed into a computer and used to calculate the stepper motor positions of the tracker. The weatherproof electronic tracker is controlled remotely via a network and also offers the option of mounting the lightweight GPS antenna tracker in elevated positions, such as on a mast. During operation, the GPS antenna tracker with its dual-axis control follows the transmitter against the horizon from its fixed point via rotation and angulation, thus ensuring stable, reliable radio transmission.

 

Fields of Application:

With regard to RF project planning, the tracker can be used in a wide range of applications. Numerous projects that were previously only feasible using a helicopter downlink can now be realized via this ground-based system. This does away with complex, costly project components, such as the organization, approval and carrying out of a flight, flight costs, and radio transmission and receiving systems in a downlink helicopter. This does not mean that air-based systems will not be used in the future. For transmissions from very large areas, the scope for radio transmission can now be further expanded with the aid of a GPS antenna tracker. This is the case for sports events involving very long courses, such as cycling or extreme running events of more than 60 km. In a direct line of sight and with precise spatial positioning, the tracker provides outstanding reception of signals from relay helicopters or relay planes over very long courses.

 

Manufacturing:

In early 2017, HDwireless developed a prototype for initial project use. In-house construction, mechanics, electronics and programming resulted in an exceptional product. The system was first used at the “Wings for Life” world run in Olten, Switzerland (in combination with a relay plane), and then in Dortmund as part of the HDwireless “Citynetz” to enable the Borussia Dortmund soccer team to broadcast from the moving parade vehicle. Since summer 2017, HDwireless GPS antenna trackers have been a fixed component of many wireless image transmission projects and have enjoyed great acclaim thanks to their high performance. As a result of the in-house manufacturing and software development, the system is continually updated and can also be adapted to customers’ requirements.

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HDwireless RFiber system

The importance of wireless cameras for broadcasting and events is perpetually increasing. The requirements regarding efficiency of wireless camera systems that cover vast areas are on the rise, especially for live sports events. At planning complex wireless transmissions not only radio links are used. Optimal sites for RF-antennas are calculated and connected with fiberglass cross-links, depending on the requirements.
RFiber Outdoor Unit
With this technology signals from various antenna sites can be linked via fiberglass inside one mobile production unit – such as the HDwireless RF1 or a mobile editing. The software „HDwireless System Overview“ offers effective observation of long or linked wireless transmissions. This way each RFiber-unit on site can be regulated transparently and intuitively. This software enables the operator not only to control the RFiber units but also the demodulators and decoders within the fiberglass network. For the user, various fiber-connection-systems like Lemo, Neutrik, LC, SC or customer-specific solutions are available.

 

System components like RFiber are used for the implementation. With the in-house developed HDwireless product RFiber, for example, high or intermediate frequency signal can be transported without loss for several kilometers before they will be demodulated by receivers and forwarded to decoders. In this case, either a high-frequency signal between 1,9 and  4GHz, or alternatively an intermediate-frequency from a downconverter between 70 – 860 MHz is converted to glass fiber.
HDwireless System Overview
RFiber comes in robust in- and outdoor units, and was developed for professional broadcasting. Every unit is equipped with a display, indicating the relevant parameters like temperature, fiber-status and voltage. In the Lemo version, the outdoor units (ODU) are supplied with power over a maximum distance of 2,500 meters. For the use of other fiber-connections, the outdoor-units (ODU) can be powered directly using a 12VDC-power supply or rechargeable batteries.
Every outdoor-unit can be connected to two separate antennas. At the indoor-unit, the transferrred signals are available on BNC-connectors for further distribution. Optionally, camera-control-transmitters, data-radios or GPS-modules for exact localization of the antenna-array can be attached to the ODUs. Within the dry-hire rental HDwireless offers all components for high frequency wireless and fiberglass transmission.
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Relais Airplane – Case Study Wings for Life World Run

 

Case Study published in the printed edition of “Pure Live 2017”

Wireless technology with relais airplane and GPS antenna tracker for World Run in Olten, Switzerland

“Wings for Life World Run“ is a charity run, which takes place annually in 33 countries worldwide and is broadcast live. This year, it took place for the fourth time in a row since 2014. The running courses are designed with very long distances, which is the result of this sport event’s special regulations: on the course, runners are followed by a so-called “catcher car”, which starts to pursue runners 30 minutes after they have started and gradually gets faster. The car catches the runners one by one. The runners’ athletic effort is ended, once they are caught by the car. The majority of runners successfully complete between 10 and 23 kilometres; the world’s fastest have nearly made 90 kilometres. In terms of time, the run takes several hours until the catcher car takes the last runner of each respective run out of the game. In Switzerland, the run took again place in the canton of Solothurn, in and around Olten. The winner of this race succeeded in achieving a distance of 68.11 kilometres. The live broadcast of such a sport event of this size poses a special task at any location. The leading runners are broadcast live by cameramen on motorcycles with wireless camera systems. This called for a wireless and interruption-free transmission over very large distances. The company HDwireless from Mechernich near Cologne, Germany, was responsible for the run’ transmission on May 7th, 2017, in Olten. Thus, the Managing Director Patrick Nußbaum’s HDwireless team was also on site for the their fourth Wings for Life World Run.

“Here, we’re the complete service provider for video, audio and communication.”

HDwireless is often responsible for the broadcast in large areas or for complex video transmission applications and has long-lasting experience when it comes to a secure transmission at major events – from Formula 1 to the SemperOpernball in Dresden, Germany; from cable way broadcasts to large-scale city networks with broadcasts from city centres. The requirements for the Wings for Life World Run in Olten included the recording with multiple cameras and the broadcast of image and sound in broadcast quality using directional transmission. Further tasks included director’s and communication radio for all relevant locations: from the course, the broadcast positions, the production vehicles including OB trucks. The six-hour live broadcast was to be transmitted without disruption across the complete course and time. The so-called “Wireless Video Village”, the site of receiving antenna, production vehicles and OB trucks, was to transmit the decoded video signal to the broadcaster.

“The optimum selection of HF broadcast technology and transmission coordination are decisive in the planning phase”

The size of the area covered, the canton Solothurn’s topography and the timeframe of around six hours of live broadcast immediately suggested the use of a relais airplane instead of a download link via helicopter. The advantages were numerous. Helicopters have a high flying price per minute and cannot stay in the air for the whole duration of the event. They need to refuel. In order to do so, they either need to head for either a regular airfield or a temporary landing location, which has been approved and constructed solely for this occasion, where a fuel truck can refuel the helicopter. Both lead to an inevitable and undesired interruption of the transmission. Additionally, helicopters fly considerably lower than airplanes. This has disadvantages for the directional radio in the area to be covered and causes a grave dependency on the weather during the event. During bad weather or even a thunderstorm, the helicopter has to terminate the broadcasting operation and land. The relais airplane on the other hand circles at the optimum altitude above the broadcast region, its interruption free and thus considerably more cost-effective. For this project HD wireless selected a German flying partner that could lift off in Germany and circle above Solothurn for the duration of the broadcast. Additionally, the airplane’s equipment including prepared wireless technology in the flight racks was easier to handle from Germany with no inconvenient customs proceedings. After the approved and completed deployment, the airplane simply returned to its German airfield. The relais airplane’s task was to receive the HF data signals from the motorcycles’ wireless camera systems via antenna and to transmit these to a receiver in the Wireless Video Village. For the transmission of the video data from the motorcycles, the latter were accordingly prepared and equipped. For this, HDwireless cooperated with TVtek, which offeres customised motorcycles on which the cameraman sits on the back and can film with a hand camera. The wireless camera systems installed on the motorcycles are based on Sony PDW 700 cameras with a 1080/50i image format. The motorcycles were equipped with broadcasting technology in the RF frequency range between 2 and 3 GHz for the live broadcast and additionally with a frequency range of 450 to 470 MHz for communication with the director. For this purpose, HDwireless planned an in-house developed data network for use on site. GPS position information are very important for projects with moving camera transmitters, flying relais stations and also special receiver devices. GPS information not only serves as position control but also to operate – manually for the pilot’s flight course or even automatically for the RF antenna. This way, the GPS positions could be played into Google Earth for a clear visualisation and then for example made available to the director. For the optimisation of the receiver quality, the pilot could adjust the relais airplane’s route using the GPS position data. An automatic processing of the GPD data for the antenna systems’ receiver optimisation can now also take place using HDwireless’s in-house “GPS antenna tracker”.

“With our new GPS antenna tracker we are able to significantly improve the directional audio quality of moving HF senders”

For moving senders, a rigidly aimed antenna inevitably receives signals fluctuating in strength, depending on the respective sending position. Sport events such as marathons or cycle races naturally stretch over large areas. Cameras, senders and relais stations are thus always moving – as was also the case for Wings for Life with its particularly long course. The transmitter range had an especially large influence on the radio link’s transmission reliability. And this could be considerably increased using the new HDwireless technology – by not rigidly aiming the antenna but rather flexibly adjusting according to the mobile sender. The system was developed, constructed and built as a prototype for the first tests by HDwireless at the beginning of the year. The in-house software constantly aligns the GPS tracker’s alignment with the mobile sender’s GPS data. In doing so, the optimum setting for the radio transmission is calculated using the position data and the attached antenna are set freely rotated and swivelled. The system operated in a very variable way and can follow senders on vehicles or be used for download links from helicopters and airplanes. This way, broadcasting chains from cars can be created in a urban environment, where the GPS tracker with its antenna is mostly positioned on a high building to allow a disturbance-free transmission in an urban setting. In contrast, the maximum radio distances in the “line-of-sight” between a flying sender and the GPS tracker on a high mast can be achieved in a direct transmission path without structural or geographic obstacles. Meanwhile, the system is available as HDwireless GPS antenna tracker and enables an even more extensive broadcast of widespread events with simultaneous transmission stability and cost effectiveness. At the World Run in Olten, the antenna alignment took place according to the relay airplane at 10,000 feet altitude; its GPS position data served to fully automatically align the GPS antenna tracker.

“In the end only the uninterrupted, smooth operation counts”

The signals from all time synchronous runs worldwide were gathered in the broadcast headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. The different sources for the World Run’s live broadcast were created and the live programme for RedBull-TV and the Internet stream were produced. The broadcaster supplied the live signal via satellite from Olten from the OB truck in the Wireless Video Village. Here, HDwireless operated its RF receiver and signal conversion stations. For this purpose, the GPS antenna tracker with its antennas was located on a 40 metre high riser in order to receive the RF signal directly from the relais airplane. The signal reached the RF control station, which was located in HDwireless’s RF1 production vehicle, via HDwireless RFiber technology. Here, the signals were converted and decoded for the transmission as a video signal to the OB truck. Additionally, the RF1 served as headquarters with its own communication network and transmitting stations for the team and director’s radio. At the same time, the GPS data from the data network was read out here and used to operate the GPS antenna tracker on the 40-metre riser. Extensive planning and radio communication along with a customised technical set-up needed to be implemented for a reliable transmission of video signals in a 1080/50i format – to thus provide vivid live images of the runners. The major event Wings for Live with its complex requirements regarding RF radio transmission is an excellent case study for a large-scale video and director radio solution. The application and the coordination of all components including customised solutions such as the GPS antenna tracker enabled a reliable and also cost-effective realisation.

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RF1 – The Wireless Camera Solution

Case Study published in the printed edition of “Pure Live 2018”

Live images from wireless cameras are an important part of many broadcast
and event productions. Service providers such as HDwireless are specialized
in such high-frequency video radio transmissions. With the project-specific
“wireless camera solution”, the company from Mechernich near Cologne,
Germany, offers the right technology for every dimension of video radio.
For more extensive projects with wireless cameras, HDwireless has
created its own mobile HF production unit.

 

“The HDwireless RF1 concept stands for reliability and flexibility in RF video transmission.”

HDwireless RF1 is designed as an interface between wireless camera systems and a broadcaster’s OB van or video control room, for example for event productions. All RF signals converge in the production vehicle. In addition to video images, these signals can include signals for camera control as well as any data or radio signals for on-site communication with the director and team. The technology processes the incoming information and provides camera signals via cable, for example via fibre optics. The RF technician on board has complete control over all signals and processes via RF receivers, displays and RF measurement technology. Short vehicle set-up times allow a high flexibility of use. With the mobile production unit, rapid location changes are very easily possible – as is the case when it comes to sports events, which last several days. All of the vehicle’s technical components are optimised for reliable and fast operation – up to the 12-metre high antenna mast, which is ready for operation within a few minutes. “The selected and compact equipment in the HDwireless RF1 allows the realisation of RF productions with up to 16 wireless camera systems in HD and 4k.”

 

The air-conditioned vehicle is based on a Mercedes Sprinter and optimised for outside broadcast applications.

It can connect wireless camera systems, RF signal processing/control and RF frequency monitoring with the imaging equipment designed in a consistent 3G-SDI standard and for 4k environments. Monitoring occurs using UHD displays from Sony. The RF structure is equipped with multiple RF distribution units and “RF over fibre” solutions, so that up to 16 wireless camera systems including camera control can be processed in parallel via the signal and process structure. The RF1 offers full camera control for Sony, Ikegami and Grass Valley camera systems. Integrated network, intercom and fibre optic systems enable simple, fast and trouble-free connection to the production environment on site. The high antenna mast is suitable for static antennas and for the HDwireless GPS antenna tracker system, which greatly increases the RF range of antennas for mobile transmitters.

 

“One HF production vehicle and a lot of camera combinations.”

The requirements for wireless camera transmissions differ considerably. Hence, the pool of RF-capable systems in HD and 4k resolution with Sony, Ikegami and Grass Valley camera heads must be correspondingly diverse: studio cameras, hand cameras, steadicams. These are fully compatible with the HDwireless RF1’s “Wireless Link System”. A fundamental distinction must be made between integrated solutions and add-on technologies. Side panel solutions are available for Sony camera heads, in which the transmission technology is located in the side cover. For fibre optic or TRIAX-bound cameras, the transmitter can be used within a few minutes without the need to update the camera’s software. For RF use as a studio or handheld camera, the only visible differences are the additional antennas for video transmission and camera control. The Grass Valley INCAM-G wireless camera system provides a fully integrated solution for the Grass Valley LDX series. As an alternative to these solutions, add-on transmitters can be connected to the camera head using a mounting plate. The camera and transmitter are powered using “power through the line” technology via the camera battery, which for example allows Steadicam wireless cameras to be as handy as possible. For high-resolution video transmissions, HDwireless HCAM is available as a new 4k wireless camera system for live image transmission to the RF1 mobile production unit.

 

The most recent example of an extensive wireless camera transmission using the HDwireless production vehicle RF1 was “Schlager, Stars & Sterne – Die Schlossparty in Österreich” …

… with Florian Silbereisen on June 2nd, 2018. Commissioned by the German public broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, HDwireless ensured extensive video radio transmission in Kitzbühel, Austria. Several wireless cameras were used for the primetime live show broadcast on Saturday evening on public TV stations ARD and ORF – including the very lightweight HDwireless ULC EVO2 Steadicam system. The cameras’ live images were received via remote antennas as a network-based ASI signal and were transmitted to the RF production vehicle via fibre optics. The transport stream’s decoding was ensured by the RF1’s technology from where video signals were then transferred to the OB van. In addition to video radio transmission, HDwireless was also responsible for the communications radio, which was provided via the vehicle’s transmission technology. CEO Patrick Nussbaum on the deployment of his HDwireless team: “We planned and implemented the wireless camera transmission in close cooperation with the MDR. Among other things, a remote camera on a neighbouring golf course had to be included, which provided live images of a helicopter landing. For the transmission of all signals, reliable transmission with stable video signals from our RF1 was ensured.”

 

“HDwireless RF1 is equipped with the latest wireless systems for complete control of all wireless cameras.”

The wireless cameras’ control functions are connected to the RF production vehicle via radio so that each camera can be fully controlled. The transmitter transmits the control signals from the production vehicle to the cameras in the frequency range between 435 and 490 MHz, while the control hardware on board can be controlled via Ethernet. The operator can thus either work in the RF1 vehicle itself or control the cameras from an OB truck. In the latter case, the connection is ensured via a data cable connecting the OB van to the RF1.

 

“In the end, all radio frequencies converge centrally here in the HDwireless RF1.”

Every frequency that is used in the course of a production and that is received by the RF production vehicle is measured, analysed and processed. RF receivers indicate signal strengths and qualities. Is each wireless camera system sending perfectly decodable signals from its assigned work area? Is the signal strong and stable enough in time for processing? Are the registered and licensed frequencies free of interference? The RF technician in the HDwireless RF1 analyses and evaluates all these questions and aspects with the help of control displays and RF measurement technology. For each project, the task is unique and depends on factors such as the size and topography of a broadcasting area or on the nature of a location. The project-dependent RF concept determines the antenna setup. Often, antennas are not only located on the production vehicle’s mast, but also at remote positions with ideal reception positions – for example on buildings or elevations. Remote antennas are conducted loss-free over longer distances with the so-called HDwireless RFiber connection via fibre optics. Depending on the production, the RF1 also receives signals from established antenna networks. FC Bayern Munich’s championship celebration at Marienplatz in Munich, Germany, on May 20th, 2018, is an excellent example of the HDwireless RF1’s effective RF production structure. During this production, several RF radio tasks were performed using the RF1. The production vehicle’s antenna technology received live images from the various wireless cameras located on the square, in the town hall and on its balcony as well as via a radio link from the church tower of St. Peter. Additionally to the live images, the audio signals from the presenters’ microphones were received via the RF antennas on the vehicle’s high antenna mast. The complete communication radio, including recording manager and directional radio, was also handled from here.

 

“It’s an obvious choice to use the RF1’s potential at the production site for communication radio as well.”

The RF production vehicle’s infrastructure includes the integration of communication using Clear-Com FreeSpeak II at 1.9 GHz and 2.4 GHz. This way, radio network plots can be set up for the desired application area from the vehicle. Using fibre optics or network cable, the wireless intercom area can be extended to many square kilometres. Typical radio tasks also include the transmission of presenters’ microphones. For the championship celebration in Munich, this meant a complete supply of the presenters micros’ radio transmission with the return transmission of the sound mix N-1 on the one hand and the supply with the communication radio for direction, recording management and team on the other hand. During the production in Munich, the radio coverage included the city hall, Marienplatz, the TV compound and the more distant church St. Peter. For this purpose, HDwireless used Clear-Com FreeSpeak II and digital Motorola UHF radio cells. “An all-in-one solution with many options for RF transmission.” The importance of wireless camera transmissions for broadcasting is constantly increasing. At the same time, the demand for complex and demanding implementations requires high-quality and reliable RF solutions. An important component is the HDwireless RF1 as the central interface for high-frequency transmission of all types of radio signals during TV productions and events. Patrick Nussbaum sums up: “The customer benefit is the reliable and stable provision of all desired output signals, from video and data to on-site communication – even in large broadcasting areas.”

 

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RF1 Mobile Production

 

RF1 for Outside Broadcast

External broadcasts often use wireless camera systems. Multiple mobile positions with handheld cameras, steadicams, or remote camera locations often require more widespread use of wireless cameras. As a result, many different RF signals have to be transmitted, processed and provided at the production site: picture and sound signals, camera control and other tasks like RF communication for team and direction. The RF production vehicle HDwireless RF1 is designed as an interface between the RF braodcast and the OB truck of the broadcaster. It is highly flexible with shortest set-up times, for example in productions with changing transmission locations, as often occurs in multi-day sports events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The equipment of the RF1 production vehicle

The vehicle, based on a Mercedes Sprinter, is air-conditioned and connects up to 16 wireless camera systems, RF signal processing / control and RF frequency monitoring. The video equipment is designed in a consistent 3G-SDI standard and designed for 4k environment. The monitoring is equipped with UHD Sony displays. The RF structure is designed with multiple RF distribution units and “RF over Fiber” solutions, so that up to 16 wireless camera systems including camera control can be processed in parallel via the signal and process structure. The HDwireless RF1 offers full camera control for Sony, Ikegami and Grass Valley camera systems.

Integrated network, intercom and fiber optic systems enable easy, fast and easy connection to the production environment on site. The production vehicle has a 12-meter antenna mast that can be put into operation in just a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Technology: HDwireless RFiber

The importance of wireless cameras for broadcasting and events is perpetually increasing. The requirements regarding efficiency of wireless camera systems that cover vast areas are on the rise, especially for live sports events. At planning complex wireless transmissions not only radio links are used. Optimal sites for RF-antennas are calculated and connected with fiberglass cross-links, depending on the requirements. System components like RFiber are used for the implementation. With the in-house developed HDwireless product RFiber, for example, high or intermediate frequency signal can be transported without loss for several kilometers before they will be demodulated by receivers and forwarded to decoders.

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Video transmission with RF amplifier

 

The Application

In the wireless camera transmission, mobile or stationary RF video links are frequently used, often without electic power supply. For example, in sports broadcasts, cameramen ride on motorcycles or other vehicles on the run or race transmit live images to RF receiving antennas or airborne systems. The signals are often amplified and transmitted over a longer period of time for the duration of the event. In stationary camera positions, these are often offset over greater distances and transmit signals to more distant RF receiving antennas. Often there is no electric power supply available at the desired location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HDwireless Solution

HDwireless has developed its own product solutions for such applications, which are optimized for such transmission situations. HDwireless PA Case is an RF amplifier available in two versions for 2 GHz and 3 GHz radio ranges. For perfect outdoor use, the units are practically integrated into weatherproof and shockproof Peli Cases. The transmission power is a maximum of 5 watts. The HDwireless Mobile Power Unit was developed for a stable and secure power supply, delivered in a weatherproof and shockproof Peli Case. The unit has a capacity of 1,200 Wh and has output voltages of 12 V, 24 V and 48 V. Thus, all components are supplied for the duration of the operation, in mobile applications and anywhere where no electric power supply is reliably available. HDwireless Mobile Power Unit has an integrated charging unit that controls the lithium-ion battery and optimally recharges.

Typical Applications

Mobile transmission technology in a golf caddy or in a gondola with RF live broadcast to stationary receiving antennas with transmission over greater distances via HDwireless PA Case and autonomous power supply with HDwireless Mobile Power Unit.

 

 

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