R&S®PKU100 Satellite Uplink Amplifier
R&S®PKU100 Satellite Uplink Amplifier

Rohde & Schwarz highlights power and sophistication of solid-state satellite amplifiers

Rohde & Schwarz is a company that has pioneering research & development running throughout its DNA. In days where companies increasingly think short-term – how are we going to get through the next quarter, for example – Rohde & Schwarz bucks that trend. If the goal is worthwhile, Rohde & Schwarz will invest many man (and woman) years of R&D in the development of new concepts.

So it is with the company’s newly introduced family of satellite amplifiers. The R&S PKU amplifier family represents a new and radically different approach to satellite amplifiers through their use of solid-state enabling technology in place of traditional tube-based amplifier systems.

“Developing the PKU family represented a Herculean challenge for us, not only in terms of the R&D effort, but also in manufacturing, so we were confident that every amplifier will operate in exactly the same fashion,” commented Dr. Wolfram Titze, Director of Product Management and Business Unit Amplifier Systems. “It took longer than expected, but we achieved our goals and introduced a range of amplifiers that are totally efficient and reliable across the spectrum of applications.”

Rohde & Schwarz has developed a product that is easy to integrate within existing satellite systems, is compact, lightweight and efficient in its use of power. Using the latest transistor technology, it has introduced a new family of solid-state amplifiers which combine the best of both worlds and offer users new and radically different functionality. Importantly, if transistors fail during operation, the amplifier continues to operate with reduced output power. With no high voltages used within the product it is easy to maintain and it offers a significantly longer operating lifetime than its tube-based counterpart. Moreover, it is possible to equip the R&S amplifiers with redundant power supplies, both for AC and DC operation, so that a power supply failure does not stop the operation of the amplifier.

Introducing the amplifiers to customers that have for many years used tube-based amplifier products was always going to be a challenge. “When an organization has become used to a way of working it can be a challenge to persuade them to adopt new ways of working,” explains Christian Baier, Product Manager, Satellite Amplifiers at Rohde & Schwarz. “If a tube-based amplifier fails, it fails completely. Whereas as one of our customers commented, the PKU solid state amplifiers never die – even if a transistor fails, the unit continues to operate effectively at a slightly lower power level.”

Rohde & Schwarz has developed two power classes for its uplink amplifiers: 400W and 750W models are available as indoor and outdoor units and for the two frequency bands 12,75 GHz to 13,25 GHz and 13,75 GHz to 14,5 GHz. The amplifiers can be used in large scale fixed satellite installations serving customer applications such as broadcasters, telecom & internet service providers, financial institutions, government and non-government organizations. At the same time, the smaller amplifier can also be used for mobile, vehicle-mounted satellite applications.

The PKU100 amplifiers come with optional adaptive linearization. Within satellite uplink amplifiers signal linearization is critical since it produces a significantly cleaner signal from the amplifier. Signal linearization has been a feature found in several tube-based amplifiers but until now it has not been possible to integrate it within solid-state amplifiers.

The linearization has two effects: first it improves the inband signal quality which means better MER (Modulation Error Rate) respectively better EVM (Error Vector Magnitude) or NPR (Noise Power Ratio), which makes the signal easier to receive. Secondly, linearization yields much better out of band performance, i.e. significantly better shoulder attenuation which translates into lower adjacent channel power and therefore less influence on neighboring channels on the satellite.

The team at Rohde & Schwarz is busy engaging with satellite operators, spreading the message about this revolutionary new amplifier system. “Maybe the best case so far is a Scandinavian broadcaster that was refurbishing its satellite uplink networks and initially specified tube-based amplifiers,” explains Christian Baier. “But when they first saw our PKU amplifiers they changed their minds and radically changed their system configuration, putting channels together and specified linearization within a new tender document that was built around our technology.

“There is a need to get out and get our message across about this terrific new technology. Normally, the major tradeshows would provide an ideal opportunity for us to meet with prospective customers and demonstrate the systems, but this year Coronavirus has changed everything which makes it more challenging,” explained Dr. Titze. “Without NAB and IBC – and with severely restricted capabilities to travel and meet customers at their premises we need to think and act differently.

“Already, we have developed an intuitive series of online demonstrations that graphically illustrate the power and sophistication of the PKU amplifier family. And we have created a large stock of demonstration units which we can ship to potential customers to provide a proof of concept,” Titze explains. “In many applications, the PKU satellite amplifier family offers users with a unique proposition. Even despite the social distancing restrictions imposed by this global pandemic, we are determined to communicate this fantastic news.”

For more information on the R&S PKU amplifier family, and to request an online demonstration, please contact Christian Baier at christian.baier@rohde-schwarz.com.

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