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Do GPS tracking devices work indoors?

And if they don’t, does it matter?

Every day, vast amounts of cargo are transported around the world by land, sea and air.

Keeping track of shipments as they make their way around the globe is often achieved by use of GPS-enabled tracking devices.

Does digital radio (DAB) work well indoors?

Do you listen to DAB radio broadcasts?

Maybe you prefer to stick to FM, or even “good old” AM if it’s voice-only programming that you’re interested in.

I recall a friend who was a news announcer on an AM radio station; he always stopped talking when he walked under a bridge …

Today we have a huge range of radio stations available to us. Even satellite TV broadcasters and Freeview TV tuners carry a few dozen radio channels so there isn’t always the need to have separate devices for your viewing and listening needs.

Flashback to July 2015: Iridium repeaters are flavour of the month

In mid-2015 the supply and installation of GPS repeaters was in full flow.

We were working with a number of fire services, police forces and hangar operators among others; the number of system sales was fast approaching 500 from the first three years of business.

Alongside this activity, we received a number of enquiries for a repeater that would allow use of Iridium voice and data equipment indoors.

Now, apart from a basic understanding of what Iridium is, I had no idea if such a repeater system existed.

So I did what anyone in the same situation would have done – some serious Googling!

What did I find?

Well, the Iridium satellite constellation is a fascinating thing. The home page of the Iridium Inc. website says it all in one concise statement “The world’s only truly global mobile satellite communications company”.

Iridium Coverage

Based in Virginia, USA, the company operates 66 low-Earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites that constitute the world’s largest commercial constellation.

The graphic shows the satellites rotating the earth in a pole-to-pole direction, arranged in 6 orbits of 11 satellites each.

No matter which way you look at this – Iridium is seriously cool technology.

Of course it has a serious side to it as well; the Iridium network provides critical communications coverage anywhere in the world, crucially where there is no primary communications network (landline or cellular) available.

However, in common with a lot of wireless communications systems – it generally doesn’t work indoors due to the blocking nature of the building structure.

Next question: who makes an Iridium repeater to facilitate indoor use?

Up until now we had specialised in GPS repeater systems which provide a one-way signal path from orbiting satellites into any indoor space that is otherwise signal-deprived.

By comparison, Iridium traffic is a two-way situation; there is an incoming (downlink) and an outgoing (uplink) signal path.

After much research and a few long-distance phone calls, FalTech agreed to promote and distribute a range of military-grade Iridium repeater systems from Foxcom, based in Israel.

They’re extremely robust (DO NOT drop one on your foot!) repeater systems were designed and built initially for the Israeli military; they allow coverage indoors up to 3Km away from the outdoor antennas using optical fibre technology.

Iridium repeater system

 

There is also a coaxial-only repeater system for situations where a long optical fibre link isn’t required; essentially the outdoor and indoor units have been combined into one single enclosure with connections for two outdoor and two indoor antennas.

There is a lot more information within this site about different applications for an Iridium repeater – please take a look and let us know if we can help you with your indoor coverage requirements.

Phil Whitting
FalTech GPS
01326 336 444

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE YEARS IN THE GPS REPEATER BUSINESS (part 2)

New GPS repeater products hit the streets in 2014

As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series FalTech GPS had just one product in the beginning: a repeater for GPS L1 signals only.

In 2014 the product range expanded to include support for the Russian GLONASS signals.

Why is this significant?

Well an L1/GLONASS repeater is very useful for companies involved with the testing, servicing and repair of GPS-enabled devices in workshops.

For example, many smart phones have GPS L1 and GLONASS receiver chips installed as standard.

Instead of cramming a workbench up against a window to get a signal, or maybe even taking the equipment out to the car park to get a sky view, a simple repeater installation allows indoor use of GPS equipment where normally it isn’t possible.

We published a blog post on this subject a couple of years ago – link to it below.

Repeater Technology Ensures GPS Testing Is An Inside Job

GPS signal in aircraft hangars

At around the same time we started to ship repeaters with GPS L2 support.

This is used largely in the military and civilian aviation industry, as well as some geo-surveying applications.

The addition of L2 into the product offering led FalTech into a new industry sector – aircraft MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul).

When an aircraft is in a hangar it doesn’t usually receive a live GPS signal and the avionics technicians can’t test the on-board navigation systems unless they can arrange for the aircraft to be towed outside the hangar.

Clearly this is a challenge if the aircraft is on jacks while the undercarriage is being serviced.

There are other benefits such as not letting heat out of the hangar when the doors are opened in cold weather; not to mention the disruption to the workflow.

Today the L2 repeater is unrecognisable compared to its first incarnation in 2014.

Coverage for this frequency is facilitated by a new device that has GPS L1, L2, GLONASS and now Galileo – all in one compact, IP67 waterproof enclosure.

End of part two; more to follow soon …..

Phil Whitting
FalTech GPS
01326 336444