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Tech Note: Adding a Channel List to the SATELLINE-4Pro

Because the SATELLINE-4Pro is only available with “Survey Mode” firmware, Configuration Manager software is essential for loading a channel list and changing most settings. The most recent version of the software can be downloaded from our Support page.

Following are step-by-step instructions on loading a channel list to your 4Pro radio:

  • Connect the 4Pro to power (check that you have the right voltage).
  • Open SATEL Configuration Manager & click the “Program Preferences” tab.
  • Confirm that the correct COM-port is selected and that the baud rate matches that of the radio (default baud rate of the 4Pro is 115200 bps). (Important: to be able to change settings, in the “Program Preferences” tab, under User Level Settings enter the maintenance password and login.)
  • Select the blue “Connect” tab to fully access the modem settings.
  • Select “Modem Settings” tab
  • Select “Channel Selector”, blue button at the top right.
  • If creating a new channel list, in the Channel Selector Window, select “Add” and the Channel Editor Form will appear. Here you can set the User Channel (1-XX), Tx and Rx Frequencies, Bandwidth (12.5, 20 or 25 kHz), and Channel Tx Power (NOTE: if Tx Power is left blank, the radio will default to the max. power of that unit and the saved channel list can be reloaded to any SATEL radio. See previous blog post here for more information.). Input your selection for the user channel and press OK. Continue this process for each subsequent channel, to complete your channel list. (If loading an existing channel list, in the Channel Selector Window, select “Load”, where you will then be able to browse for your saved CFG or CSF file)
  • It is recommended that you then click the “Save” button, to save your new channel list to your PC.
  •  When done, click “Close”. Change “Channel List In Use” to “ON”. The edited settings will show in red font. 
  •  Select the blue “Write Settings” button. Once complete, these settings will change to black font, indicating they’re loaded to the radio.
  •  We recommend you select “Save Configuration to File” to save all specified settings to your PC, before selecting “Disconnect”.

For additional questions, or if you’d like to suggest a technical topic for us to review in our blog, please email support@satelusa.com.



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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 job site. 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 integrated the SATELLINE-EASy Pro 35W, either at the base or as a repeater, to allow for a larger working range. This solution 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):

  • Compact-4BT radio
  • Data & Power Cable with Power Supply (Serial or USB available)
  • Rubber Whip Antenna
  • Pole Mount Bag

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

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Featuring: the SATELLINE-4Pro 35W

SATEL’s latest high power, heavy-duty radio modem, the SATELLINE-4Pro includes the reliable features you’ve come to trust in a SATEL 35W transceiver, while also offering faster data speed (14400 bps at 12.5 kHz) at 8FSK and 16FSK modulations. The radio also allows for adjustable output power, to as low as 2W. This is a most appreciated feature for applications such as Machine Control, allowing operators to save crucial battery life on-site. IP67 classified housing ensures protection against moisture and dust. 406.180—470 MHz tuning range and selectable bandwidth of 12.5 or 25 kHz. Available in Survey Mode only. The LCD and keypad can be used to monitor the current operating status, as well as to change the operating channel and power level of the radio. The SATELLINE-4Pro is compatible with all SATELLINE-EASy products (8FSK and 16FSK modes are only compatible with 4Pro and TR4 based models). Wondering which radio better fits your needs, the classic EASy Pro 35W or the SATELLINE-4Pro? See comparison below:

Features SATELLINE-EASy Pro SATELLINE-4Pro
Frequency Range 403-473 MHz 406.180-470 MHz
Bandwidth 12.5, 20 or 25 kHz 12.5 or 25 kHz
Output Power (selectable) 10W, 20W, 25W, 35W 2W, 10W, 20W, 25W, 35W
Modulation 4FSK, GMSK 4FSK, 8FSK, 16FSK, GMSK
Firmware Standard or Survey Survey Mode Only
Data Speed of Radio       Interface at 12.5 kHz 9600 bps 14400 bps (at 8FSK or 16FSK)
AES-128 encryption? Yes Yes
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Tech Note: Using Configuration Manager

SATEL Configuration Manager is an essential tool for loading settings to your SATEL modems. One feature that can make that fast and easy is the ability to load settings from a pre-existing file. That way, if you need to load the same settings and/or a channel list on multiple units, you don’t need to individually key in the settings for each one. The settings of the first unit you set up can be saved to your PC by clicking on “Save Configuration to File”. On the next radio you set up, click “Load Configuration from File” and “Open” the cfg file that was saved. When completed, all loaded settings are red and an info tablet opens stating “Configuration file loaded successfully!”. The settings are then uploaded to the radio by clicking “Write Settings” on the top tab of Configuration Manager. Settings files should only be used across matching models, so settings for the EASy 1W should not be loaded to the EASy Pro 35W, for example.

When in Survey Mode, there is a helpful feature specifically for channel lists. You can save the channel list separately and in a format that can be used across SATEL radio models, as long as the “Tx Power” setting is set to “0”, indicating that the maximum power can be used. Select the “Program Preferences” tab, enter password for maintenance mode, then in “Modem Settings” select “Open Channel Selector”. Build your channel list by selecting “Add” and remember to put “0” in “Tx Power” (unless you have restrictions that prohibit you from doing so). Select “Save” to save the channel list to your computer to load to other radios. Select “Load” to load to your current radio, then click “Write Settings”.

Note that the Satelline-4Pro requires Configuration Manager version 1.6.1—that and the Configuration Manager User Guide can be found on our website, under Service>Software.

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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: Speed vs Modulation

Few radio parameters can be as confusing as modulation and over-the-air speed, not only for the novice user, but also for the experienced. Here are a few comments that hopefully help to shine some light on the subject:

Over-the-Air Speed

Although Port Speed and over-the-air speed have some relation to each other, they are totally separate settings.

While the Radio Port speed and GPS receiver Port speed must match exactly (for example GPS = 9600 bps & Radio = 9600bps), to allow the normal transfer of data over the connecting cable, the speed over-the-air cannot be set by simply changing the Port speed. It’s actually a fixed value which depends on both bandwidth and modulation.

In the US, the most common bandwidth today is 12.5kHz. So if your radio uses any of the following modulations:

– SATEL 4FSK, PacCrest 4FSK, PacCrest FST at 12.5kHz,

the speed over the air is fixed at 9600bps.

Whereas if you are using the following modulations:

– PacCrest GMSK, or Trimtalk 450S at 12.5 kHz, the speed over the air is fixed at 4800bps.

If a half-speed modulation type such as GMSK is used, the Base radio Transmitter is on-the-air for twice the length of time respect to a faster modulation. This means higher battery consumption and more overheating of the radio itself.

Modulation

Modulation can be an even more complex subject and it has a major influence on both the speed over the air and the actual range of the radio equipment.

The most common modulation today is 4FSK (4 Frequency Shift Keys). This means that the radio transmitter (base) transforms the NMEA data from the GPS into radio frequency variations that shift to 4 different points around its central working frequency. All the points must be contained within the 12.5kHz required by the FCC. This means that the TX will constantly “shift” to 4 frequency points, up to 6.25 kHz away from its central frequency, both to the right and to the left in the frequency spectrum.  A rough example: the Tx “shifts” from its central 450.000000 MHz to -> 450.006250 MHz and then back and forth from and to -> 449.9993750 MHz.  Each “shift” is interpreted as a data 1 or zero and the whole NMEA string of the GPS is recomposed in the rover.

Some equipment offer even higher over-the-air speed by using more complex types of modulation (ex. 8FSK, 16FSK). Some even use 32QAM, where not only frequency “shifts” but also “phase” variations are measured. SATEL offers an internal OEM module, already in production and used by major GPS manufacturers, with 8FSK and 16FSK modulation and over-the-air speed up to 14400bps.  This becomes useful when several constellations are received (for example GPS + GLONASS), which cause the radio to transmit more data. In order to be able to contain all data within 1 Hz (once a second) a higher over-the-air speed is desirable. The downside of higher modulation is that the receiver must work harder to detect very small variations, thus a stronger radio signal is required to counterbalance the environmental noise present in the air. Ultimately this means a decreased working range.

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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.