RF Shorts for June 2, 2014

Commercial GPS Turns 25

Stewart Wolpin looks at the history of commercial GPS, describing in detail how Magellan's GPS NAV-1000 became the first consumer handheld GPS device in his article Commercial GPS Turns 25: How the Unwanted Military Tech Found Its True Calling on Mashable.com.

"As a result of the government's GPS openness, this weekend we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first consumer handheld GPS device. On May 25, 1989, the first Magellan GPS NAV 1000s were shipped to retailers. The 8.75 x 3.5 x 2.25-inch, 1.5-pound waterproof and floatable handheld looked like a large calculator with a rotating antenna arm attached. It featured a multiline LCD display, ran for a few hours on six AA batteries, and sold for $3,000."

I found Wolpin's article especially interesting because he outlines the challenges engineers faced in finding hardware that was able to handle the very weak GPS signals, process the data, and run on batteries. It is amazing how far both analog RF and digital technology has come in the last 25 years--we take for granted today what seemed impossible 25 years ago.

Austria Plans Switch to DVB-T2

BroadbandTVNews.com reports Austria to make transition to DVB-T2.

Jörn Krieger writes: "ORS logoAustrian transmitter network operator ORS wants to fully convert the country’s digital terrestrial transmission network (DTT) to the DVB-T2 standard. The predecessor standard DVB-T will be switched off in 2017 at the latest, ORS spokesman Michael Weber told Austrian newspaper Der Standard. The transition will commence at the end of 2014 with multiplex C which carries public channels ORF Sport+ and ORF III as well as commercial channels Puls 4 and Servus TV."

Austrian Broadcasting Services GmbH & Co KG (ORS) first began DVB-T2 pay-TV transmissions in April 2013 under the name "Simpli TV." It doesn't appear the new multiplex will be encrypted as it is carrying public channels. Comments and RF related news items are welcome.

Email me at dlung@transmitter.com.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.