With the wide range of capabilities and options offered by different types of terminals, selecting the right antenna for your satellite communication is essential to ensure you have a system that will be able to support your organization’s needs.  There are quite a few choices available on the market and navigating the relevant requirements can be a daunting task. Understanding customers may have varying communication needs and operate in different environments, Norsat offers an extensive product portfolio of satellite terminals  that cater to various applications and industries, as well as can customize products to meet specific requirements. This article will shed light on a few key considerations to take account of before purchasing your terminal.

Nature of Application

One question we ask our customers at the initial stage of the buying journey is to identify the operational needs and nature of the application. Commercial terminals tend to be lower-cost and do not require the same specifications, certifications, or durability that a military application would. Military terminals are more expensive, and durability and field-proven products are critical. Customization is also common amongst military customers, as they have more specific needs and requirements. Other differentiating features include materials used (for example, carbon fiber versus aluminum versus steel), the weight of the terminals, the portability, field verification by other military customers, and whether options like de-icing kits, vehicle power kits, and lighting protection are offered. Military terminals also must meet MIL-810G standards that guarantee the durability and design of the product. Testing should be performed and verified by a third-party lab, and tests should include temperature, weatherproofing, wind loading, vibration, transit drop and drop and topple, and blowing dust and sand, blowing wind and rain, free fall, and salt mist.  Third-party verification of these MIL-STD-810G tests substantiate the durability of military terminals against harsh environments and weather conditions.

Auto-Acquire versus Manual Acquire

A terminal must be aligned precisely to the target satellite to ensure maximum signal strength and to avoid interfering with adjacent satellites. Satellite terminals can be aligned manually, with the help of some basic tools, or via an auto-acquire capability. Auto-acquired terminals use a fully motorized system and integrated pointing tools to acquire the satellite. The key advantage of an auto-acquire capability is the ease of acquisition, which is ideal for a novice user. It typically only requires a single push of a button to lock onto the previously programmed satellite. However, the cost of such ease of use includes increased size (sometimes requiring an additional transit case), increased weight for motors and an integrated computer, and a higher price for the terminal. Manual-acquired terminals are manually operated with pointing tools to assist the user in acquiring the satellite. It may consist of a GPS compass, DVB receiver, narrowband power meter or receive signal strength indicator and spectrum analyzer. Some experienced terminal technicians can acquire a satellite lock faster with a manual-acquired terminal, thus negating the advantage of the auto-acquire feature.

Ease of Use and Portability

Ease of use and portability are essential features to consider when selecting the right terminal. Users should be able to set up a 1- and 1.2-meter terminals in under 10 minutes and be on the air in 15 minutes total, if equipped with an auto-acquire capability and a one-touch “stow/go” button. Some companies, including Norsat, packaged their terminals with a convenient “Pictorial Flip Book” that graphically shows how to put all the pieces of the terminal together so that a first-time user can follow each step and have the terminal built and operating without prior training. When it comes to portability, along with the deployed size and the weight of the terminal, one must consider how the terminal “measures up” when packaged. A customer needs to ask the terminal supplier whether the weight and number of cases include all components, including the modem, block upconverter (BUC), and whether the packaging is IATA compliant if commercial airline transport is expected. If soft backpacks are required, something to consider includes whether they fit in hard transit cases for air transport.

Norsat Terminals – Which one to choose?

All Norsat’s terminals offer extreme reliability and coverage for remote and challenging applications, rendering them ideal for different applications, including for military, maritime and commercial use. The bottom line when it comes to selecting and purchasing the terminal thus comes down to how the user plans to use it and what type of capability and features he or she would like to have.

Norsat’s Military Terminals

Norsat’s military terminals deliver the quality, durability and flexibility required for modern military communication solutions. They meet military standards and specifications, offer a wide array of reflector sizes and frequency bands as are necessary for operational and support networks, and come in lightweight packaging compact enough for commercial airline transport. Amongst Norsat’s military terminals, GLOBETrekker™ is one of its most intelligent military-grade fly-away satellite terminals. With a modular architecture that enables easy component swapping in the field, a simple one-touch interface, and smart LinkControl™ software for automatic satellite acquisition, GLOBETrekker™  is both powerful and easy to use.

Norsat’s Commercial Terminals

Norsat offers a wide breadth of terminal solutions specifically for the needs of satellite communication in commercial applications in various industries. Norsat’s WAYFARER terminals are a series of fast deploying, easy-to-use, compact, and ultra-portable antennas that include fly-away, drive-away and fixed options, as well as both manual or auto-acquire capability. The fly-away antenna offers excellent rugged and reliable satellite links and is ideally suited for remote enterprise, energy, emergency and media applications. The drive-away antenna deploys quickly for fast and secure satellite acquisition and can go from “stow-to-go” in under 5 minutes. It is ideal for tracking on an emergency vehicular command center or a mobile broadcast van. The fixed antenna deploys quickly with a simple installation, possesses weather-proof durability and comes in mast and non-penetrating mount options.

Norsat’s Maritime Terminals

Norsat also offers terminal solutions for the maritime market. Norsat’s MarineLink™ series provides reliable satellite communication at sea. The MarineLink™’s 3-axis operating platform and 360-degree high-speed tracking design ensures a secure link in even the most rugged conditions. With its simple setup and pre-programmed satellite almanac, staff with minimal training can have a MarineLink™ system up and transmitting in just a matter of minutes.