Price: $4,999.00

Length: 4 Days
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Microwave and SATCOM Systems Principles and Practical Operation Training

A microwave is an electromagnetic wave with a very short wavelength, between 0.039 inches (1 millimeter) and 1 foot (30 centimeters).

It’s a dependable wave used for everything from 4G wireless networks and mobile phones to satellite communications (SATCOM), TV and radio, and radar. The reliability of microwaves stems from its short wavelengths that gives this band a very large information-carrying capacity. They can transmit along a vast range of frequencies without causing signal interference or overlap.

The most popular devices for generating microwaves are magnetrons (for radar) and klystrons (used in satellite systems, television broadcast). They produce microwaves of low power and require the use of an amplification device, such as a maser. Like radio waves, microwaves are modulated for communication purposes. However, they offer 100 times more useful frequencies than radio.

The problem with microwaves in a communication capacity is their inability to penetrate buildings, trees, hills and other objects, which means they need a clear line of sight to be effective. Signals are transmitted directly from a source to a receiver site.

But reliable microwave signal range does not extend very far beyond the visible horizon. This is why it’s standard practice to locate microwave receivers and transmitters atop high buildings when hilltops or mountain peaks are not available. The higher the antenna, the farther the signal can be broadcast.

Since the 1960s, the U.S. has been spanned by a network of microwave relay towers known as repeaters. These are ground-based relay stations that allow point to point wireless links. In other words, repeaters provide the solution for getting around an obstruction to continue a microwave signal.

Microwaves are featured in high orbit satellite communications because they have a high enough frequency to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere to reach geostationary satellites which orbit above the equator at a height of 22,000 miles.

Overall, SATCOM uses microwaves because they provide unique advantages such as:

  • Transparency — Microwave frequency band ranging from 300 Mhz to 10 Ghz is capable of freely propagating through the atmosphere. This makes it possible for duplex communication and exchange of information between ground stations and satellites.
  • Less Fading — Due to Line of Site Propagation, there is less fading effect making microwaves more dependable.
  • High directivity –Microwaves are high frequency signals so as frequency increases the beam width of radiation decreases. This results in less interference due to the directivity enhancement.

Microwave and SATCOM Systems Principles and Practical Operation Training Course by Tonex

Microwave and SATCOM Systems Principles and Practical Operation is a special 4-day hands-on training. This course provides a complete background for understanding basic operation and setup of both terrestrial and satellite microwave systems. It is designed to provide a working understanding of the basic design, installation/adjustment, operation, and troubleshooting of both satellite communications (SATCOM) systems and point-to-point terrestrial microwave links.

Learning Objectives

Microwave and SATCOM (Satellite Communications) Systems Principles and Practical Operation provides participants with a solid understanding of the basic design, construction/installation, commissioning, alignment, operation and performance monitoring of microwave and SATCOM systems.

Design, construction, and operations personnel will benefit from this course. It provides a solid foundation for both engineers and technicians and takes a practical approach to developing the necessary skills to build and keep these systems operating. All technical personnel in microwave and SATCOM systems will also benefit from this course.

Topics Covered in Microwave and SATCOM Systems Principles and Practical Operation:

  • Basic RF principles and theory
  • Antennas: principles, construction, characteristics
  • Antenna types, their performance and trade-offs
  • Antennas commonly used in microwave and SATCOM systems
  • The electromagnetic spectrum: frequencies, applications, characteristics
  • Basic RF equipment familiarization – transmitters/receivers, antennas, transmission lines, test equipment, filters, couplers, terminations
  • How Radio links work and the considerations for design and operation
  • RF Link Budgets and their use for design and troubleshooting
  • Installation and adjustment of microwave and SATCOM systems
    • Alignment, performance verification, troubleshooting
  • RF Safety considerations and applicable requirements for hazard avoidance
  • RF Safety measurements and monitoring
  • Operational problems – troubleshooting and repair/readjustment
  • Basic electronics review (appendix)
  • How to do link calculations more easily using Decibels (DB)
  • Categories of satellites and their applications
  • Satellite Orbit types and their trade-offs
  • Satellite Link performance, common problems and corrections
  • Terrestrial Microwave systems performance, common problems and corrections

Course Outline

RF Introduction

  • What is RF? Basics of Electromagnetic Fields
  • Frequency and the Radio Spectrum
  • Wavelength and its effect on everything RF
  • Spectrum used by various services and applications
  • Basic RF equipment introduction and functions
    • Antennas
    • Transmission lines: cable, waveguide
    • Transmitters, receivers
    • Filters, directional couplers, measuring equipment
    • Spectrum analyzers, antenna/line test equipment
    • Introducing Active Devices: Definition and Examples
      • Vacuum Tube Devices, Solid State Devices
      • Gunn diodes, klystrons, magnetrons, TWTs, HP SSPAs
      • Functions: Amplifiers, Oscillators, Mixers, Diodes, Modulators/Demodulators, Rectifiers, Light Emitters, LASERs
    • Introducing Passive Devices: Definition and Examples
      • The fundamental elements: Resistors, Capacitors, Inductors
      • Transformers
      • Transmission Lines: Cables, Stripline, Waveguides
      • Attenuators
      • Antennas
    • Basic Math
      • Ohm’s Law
      • Basic Networks/Circuits

Working in Decibels

  • What are decibels
  • What’s the advantage of calculating in decibels
  • How to use decibels
    • Db, dbm, dbw, dbK, dbi, dbd, dbc and what they mean
    • Converting power units to db and vice versa
      • On a calculator
      • In your head
  • Decibel examples
    • How to easily plan, analyze, or troubleshoot a whole link

Fundamental Electronics Refresher (optional)


  • Basic operation of antennas
    • Why do antennas radiate? Basics of radiation
    • Current distribution, radiation shape
    • Transmitting: voltage and current cause radiation
    • Receiving: radiation causes voltage and current
    • Reciprocity of transmitting and receiving characteristics and links
  • Antenna Polarization
    • Types and advantages/disadvantages
    • Linear, Circular, Elliptical
  • Antenna Gain
    • Gain Units: linear or dB
    • Antenna gain is a relative property different from amplifier gain
    • Radiation intensity: ERP, EIRP, Power Density
  • “Standard” Antennas we compare real antennas against
    • Half-wave Dipole
      • simplest to construct and use, stable and non-critical
    • Isotropic
      • simplest pattern (no gain), but tricky to build
  • Properties of real working Antennas
    • Gain
    • Polarization
    • Main lobe beamwidth
    • Sidelobes: strength and directions
    • Impedance and matching
    • directivity and radiation patterns
    • Radiation Pattern examples
    • Efficiency: Input vs. Radiated Power
    • Efficiency of feed energy striking parabolic reflector
    • Velocity factor, resonant length
    • Noise level: equivalent “Antenna Temperature”
  • Antenna Examples and working characteristics
    • Aperture
    • Horn
    • Parabolic Dish
    • “Flat Dishes”
    • Helical and Traveling-Wave
    • Patch and Slot antennas
    • Dielectric and lens
    • Ground Plane – variation of dipole, ground loss effects
    • Colinear vertical array – common in broadcasting, two-way radio
    • Yagi – cheap directivity but narrow bandwidth
    • Log-Periodic – wide bandwidth but more complex construction
    • Electrically small, low-profile, compact, disguised
    • Special wide-bandwidth antennas; antenna cross-section effects
    • Effects of unintended parasitic re-radiating structures nearby
    • Antenna directional pattern examples, catalog demonstration
  • Selecting the appropriate antenna for an application
    • SATCOM, Microwave
    • Millimeter waves
  • Antenna system testing and field verification
    • Measuring pattern shapes, gain
    • Antenna ranges and Anechoic chambers
    • Verifying gain and other characteristics in troubleshooting
  • Other Components of Antenna Systems: What, why, and how they work
    • Transmission lines – cables or waveguide types
      • Characteristics: Impedance, Velocity factor
      • Need for constant-impedance connectors
      • Shape and dielectric considerations
      • Loss and power handling catalog examples
      • Physical considerations, minimum bending radius, etc.
      • Installation considerations – pressurization
    • Directional Couplers
    • Combiners, splitters, couplers, taps
    • Filters – types, purposes, design techniques
    • Connectors

Link Budget, Link Design, Link Performance

  • Signal Propagation Mechanisms and Behavior
    • L, S, C, X, Ku, K, Ka, Q, U, V, E, W, F, D bands, Millimeter waves
  • What makes a Link work? Link Planning Goals
    • Adequate signal for good performance: low BER, high data rates
    • Fade margin to overcome adverse conditions for reliably service
    • Enough capacity to handle traffic volume
  • Building Link Budgets
    • What must be included
    • How a link budget makes it easier to plan a link
      • Handling path loss
      • Choosing equipment
      • Troubleshooting/understanding situations of poor performance
  • Types of Propagation Losses which must be considered
    • Free Space
    • Obstructions; Fresnel Zones
    • Reflection and Scattering Loss
    • Multipath
    • Rayleigh Fading Models
    • Polarization distortion
    • Diversity implementation to overcome multipath losses
    • Absorption in trees, forests, clutter


  • Different types, advantages and disadvantages
  • Analog Modulated Signals: AM, FM, PM
  • Digital Modulated Signals:
    • ASK, FSK, PSK
    • Common Examples: 4FSK, QPSK, DQPSK, 16PSK, 16 QAM, 64 QAM, 256 QAM
  • Multiple Access arrangements
    • FDMA
    • TDMA
    • CDMA (spread spectrum)
    • Frequency hopping (spread spectrum)
  • Relationship between bandwidth, signal-to-noise ratio, and throughput
    • Shannon’s principles
    • Demonstration examples
  • PCM – Pulse-code modulation
  • Performance of digital receivers

Noise, Distortion, Interference and Intermodulation

  • Problems in radio transmission
    • Noise, multipath and intersymbol interference, RF non-linearities, distortion
  • Understanding Types of Noise
    • Thermal, shot, electrostatic, atmospheric, noise sources from space
  • Dealing with noise, interference, and RF overdriving results (intermod)
    • Thermal noise – the controlling problem on every link
    • Interference
      • Cochannel
      • Adjacent channel
      • Polarization effects
    • Solar fades

System Installation and Antenna Alignment

  • Importance of a full site survey
    • Identifying bad factors early
  • Equipment installation issues: grounding, transient protection
  • Physical Installation of antennas and coax or waveguide
  • Physical protection against extreme weather/high winds, falling ice
  • Path Alignment, antenna “peaking”
    • Determining correct “look” angles
    • Initial alignment
      • “peaking” – sometimes a “needle in a haystack”
      • Evaluate signal levels
        • Finding the real main lobe and not a sidelobe
        • Did you get the expected signal level? If not, Why?
          • You’re on a sidelobe, not the main lobe
          • Is one end of the link cross-polarized
          • Is there a “surprise” obstruction?
          • Bad waveguide or connector? Sweep, TDR
          • Is there bad equipment? Power, sensitivity?
          • Damage to antennas

Satellite Communication Systems

  • Orbital Choices – LEO, MEO, GEO, HEO – Coverage vs number of satellites
  • Quick look at a typical system, how it works, the challenges
  • Categories of Satellites:  BSS, FSS, MSS
  • Typical satellite architecture
  • Applications of satellites: Data, DBS, Data Communications, Communications, Military, VSAT
  • Radio architecture of a satellite: transponders, antennas
  • Payload radio configurations: single and multiple beams
  • Multiple Access: TDMA, FDMA, CDMA per transponder
  • Satellite link configurations: Bent-Pipe, Frequency-translating satellites
  • Bands, Regulation, Spectrum Availability
  • Required earth station beamwidth to avoid multi-satellite interference
  • System Design: Power, Gain, Noise, Fading, Reliability Calculations
  • Performance and dynamic optimization: backoff, noise/intermod floor
  • LNAs, Block Converters
  • Very Small Aperture Terminals – VSAT
  • Operational techniques
    • Determining proper “look” angles
    • Earth station equipment parameters and adjustments
    • Coordinating with the NOC

Terrestrial Microwave Systems

  • Common Frequencies, modulation types, system capacity
  • Link Planning
    • Site selection or analysis of existing site
    • Path obstruction survey
    • Is path diversity necessary? What type is best?
  • Terrestrial propagation: path clearance, weather, reflections, diffraction
  • Dispersion and Fading Mechanisms
  • Polarization and interference
  • Verifying link performance: tests to measure actual fade margin
  • Performance and Reliability

RF Safety

  • Types of radiation and what they can do:
    • Non-ionizing (radio, microwave)
      • Mainly tissue heating, no destruction or modification of cells
      • But eyes are sensitive (early cataracts)
      • But reproductive system is sensitive (sterility, gender selection)
      • Applicable requirements prevent human exposure to these levels
    • Ionizing (nuclear, X-ray, Ultraviolet)
      • Can destroy or mutate cells; sunburn, organ damage, cancers
      • Applicable requirements prevent human exposure to these levels
  • The Regulatory standards and which ones apply
    • FCC OET bulletin 65
    • U.S. defense department standards
      • Human exposure
      • Ordnance safety
    • International standards
  • What is the actual hazard distance surrounding an antenna?
    • Depends on transmitter power and antenna gain/pattern
  • Different permissible signal levels
    • For persons who don’t know they’re being exposed: low limits
    • For workers who know how to minimize time in high signal levels: medium limits
    • Sites must have signage warning of hazard levels, and fences or other barriers to prevent the public from unknowingly enter high RF areas
  • Personal Protective Devices
  • Radiation documentation surveys and reports
    • Example report for actual sites


  • Equipment familiarization for an example link
  • Equipment setup
  • Link alignment
  • Measuring system operating margin (SOM)
  • Experimenting with effects of impairments on a test link
    • obstacles, alignment, polarization, reflection
  • Intermodulation generation and measurement
  • Fresnel Clearance demonstration on a short local link
  • Look angle calculation
  • Example Microwave Radio Path Analysis
  • Example SATCOM link budget
  • Parabolic Reflector Gain and Focal Point Calculator
  • Hand-held radar demonstration
  • Examine a filter and measure its passband and loss

Microwave and SATCOM Systems Principles and Practical Operation Training


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