UCLA Extension

Satellite Link Budgets with SatMaster 9 Software

Link budgets are the standard tool for designing and assessing satellite communications transmissions, considering radio-wave propagation, satellite performance, terminal equipment, radio frequency interference (RFI), modulation and forward error correction coding (MODCOD) and other physical layer aspects of fixed and mobile satellite systems. This hands-on 2-day training course conducted in the UCLA computer laboratory covers the format and content of the link budget as used by engineers and managers in their design and operation responsibilities. SatMaster is a highly-recognized yet low-cost PC-based software tool offered through the web by Arrowe Technical Services of the UK. It is appropriate for initial planning of satellite applications and as a standardized tool for presenting the results. This training course covers the application and use of SatMaster 9 for a range of satellite communications applications, including one- and two-way transmission of digital television; two-way interactive services using very small aperture terminals (VSATs); point-to-point transmission at a wide range of data rates; and interactive communications with mobile terminals. Services at UHF, L, S, C, X, Ku, and Ka bands to fixed and mobile terminals are considered.

The course emphasizes the use of the latest (2014) version, SatMaster 9, revealing all of the improvements in computation and usability. Instruction begins with a brief review of the underlying theory of link budgets and moves quickly to the user interface, calculating and estimating features, and file formats of SatMaster. The course then concentrates on examples that demonstrate both the principles and use of the software. Some of the more advanced aspects covered include configuring satellite links in an interference-limited environment due to co-channel interference (beam-to-beam), cross-polarization interference (XPI) and adjacent satellite interference (ASI); the relative benefits of advanced coding and modulation systems (e.g., DVB-S2 and extensions including those from ETSI and NovelSat, Turbo Codes, and ACM and VCM); and optimization techniques like transponder linearization and carrier cancellation to minimize occupied bandwidth. Also learn how to use SatMaster 9 to evaluate a network of many locations within a common point-to-multipoint network.

The course concludes with several computer workshop examples to enhance participants’ confidence in using SatMaster 9 and to improve their understanding of how to select input values. Participants should gain confidence in their ability to prepare link budgets and their facility with SatMaster. Examples from the class are employed as time allows.

SatMaster 9, the version currently in use, is addressed in detail. Instruction begins with a brief review of the underlying theory of link budgets and moves quickly to the user interface, calculating and estimating features, and file formats of SatMaster. The course then concentrates on examples that demonstrate both the principles and use of the software. Some of the more advanced aspects covered include configuring satellite links in an interference-limited environment (e.g., ASI and XPI); the relative benefits of advanced coding and modulation systems (e.g., DVB-S2, Turbo Codes, and ACM); and optimization techniques, such as carrier-to-carrier, to increase transponder throughput and minimize occupied power and/or bandwidth. The capability of SatMaster to evaluate a network of many locations within a common point-to-multipoint network also is discussed.

The course concludes with several computer workshop examples to enhance participants’ confidence in using SatMaster and to improve their understanding of the link budgeting process. Participants should gain confidence in their ability to prepare link budgets and their facility with SatMaster. Examples from the class are employed as time allows.

Course Materials

This course is conducted in a UCLA Extension computer lab with SatMaster software preloaded on PCs. Lecture notes also are distributed on the first day of the course. The notes are for participants only and are not for sale.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Bruce R. Elbert, MSEE, MBA, President, Application Technology Strategy, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California; and adjunct professor (retired), College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized satellite communications expert and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 40 years. He founded ATSI to assist major private and public sector organizations that develop and operate cutting-edge networks using satellite and other wireless technologies and services. He contributed to the engineering of a satellite network to deliver video programming to commercial aircraft, evaluated a Big LEO MSS system under realistic conditions, and planned the implementation of a VSAT WAN for an international nonprofit organization. During 25 years with Hughes Space and Communications (now Boeing Satellite Systems), he directed communications engineering of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia’s original satellite system; the Galaxy C and Ku-band system in the U.S.; and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. Mr. Elbert has written seven books on satellite communications, including The Satellite Communication Applications Handbook, Second Edition (Artech House, 2004); The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook (Artech House, 2001); and Introduction to Satellite Communication, Third Edition (Artech House, 2008). He also was a recipient of a UCLA Extension Distinguished Instructor Award in 2006

Course Outline

Principles of Satellite Links and Applicability of SatMaster

  • Standard ground rules for satellite link budgets
    — Frequency band selection: UHF, L, S, C, X, Ku, and Ka
    — Satellite footprints (EIRP, G/T, and SFD) and transponder plans; application of on-board processors
    — Propagation considerations: the isotropic source, line of sight, antenna principles
    — Atmospheric effects: troposphere (clear air and rain) and ionosphere (Faraday and scintillation)
    — Rain effects and rainfall regions; use of the built-in DAH and Crane rain models
    — Modulation systems (QPSK, OQPSK, MSK, GMSK, 8PSK, 16 QAM, and 32 APSK)
    — Forward error correction techniques (Viterbi, Reed-Solomon, BCH, Turbo, and LDPC codes)
    — Transmission equation and its relationship to the link budget
  • Introduction to the user interface of SatMaster
    — File formats: antenna pointing, database, digital link budget, and digital processing/regenerative repeater link budget
    — Built-in reference data and calculators
    — Example of a digital one-way link budget (DVB-S2) using equations and SatMaster
  • Earth station characteristics
    — Antenna characteristics (main beam, sidelobe, X-pol considerations, mobile antennas)
    — HPA characteristics, intermodulation and sizing, uplink power control
  • Link budget workshop example using SatMaster: multiple channel per carrier

Detailed Link Design in Practice: Computer Workshop

  • Transponder loading and optimum multi-carrier backoff; power equivalent bandwidth
  • Review of link budget optimization techniques using the program’s built-in features
    — Minimize required transponder resources
    — Maximize throughput
    — Minimize receive dish size
    — Maximize availability
    — Minimize transmit power
  • Further discussion on interference considerations
    — Interference sources (X-pol, adjacent satellite interference, adjacent channel interference, terrestrial interference)
    — Earth station power flux density limits and the use of spread spectrum for disadvantaged antennas
    — C/I estimation and trade studies
    — Performance estimation for carrier-in-carrier (Paired Carrier Multiple Access) transmission
  • Discussion of VSAT parameters and technology options as they relate to the link budget
  • Example: digital VSAT, multi-carrier operation
  • Use of batch location files to prepare link budgets for a large table of locations
  • Case study from the class using the above elements and SatMaster

For more information contact the Short Course Program Office:
shortcourses@uclaextension.edu | (310) 825-3344 | fax (310) 206-2815

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