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Wireless Communication Primer: Data Radio and Telemetry
Radio technology – traditionally understood as the wireless broadcasting of audio signals like music and speech – has had a fresh lease of life in recent years.
In simple terms, radio technology leverages the electromagnetic radiations (EMR), which can be oscillate at desired frequency and allow trans-reception of data when attuned to the correct value. EMR waves travel at the speed of light, through any media (or even vacuum!), and may be used for either near-field or far-field communication based on the frequency specifications. In short, radio waves are just low-frequency versions of what we call “light”. Range of these EMR wave frequencies comprise a particular ‘channel’, which is precisely what the radio stations adhere to.
Commercially, the need for transmitting information over geographical distances has skyrocketed in recent years, as has the demand for radio to meet those needs. From radar, sonar, GPS navigation systems, wireless networking, and cellular data plans at industrial scale to Bluetooth technology and near-field communication (NFC) for your hand-held devices, radio is omnipresent.
The critical parameters of wireless communication are: the frequencies at which information is sent, the amount required to convey information and accessibility of the communication end-points. Limitations of available channel bandwidth and accessibility/ data loss at remote locations demand a very controlled amount of data transmission for monitoring, and wireless needs.
Quantifying such measured trans-reception of data in an automated process is called Telemetry. It has wide array of practical applications, from the simple GSM networks and SMS messages to monitoring of space stations and its equipments, manned space-crafts and communicating with astronauts.
The radio-data system (RDS) standardizes the communication parameters like time, channel frequency and station identification to carry specified amount of information.
What is a Data Radio?
Broadly speaking a telemetry transmitter would include an encoder to translate measuring instrument reading into analog/ digital signals, a modulator, and a wireless transmitting unit with an antenna.
Similarly, a telemetry receiver would have a wireless reception unit with an antenna, radio-frequency amplifiers, a demodulator and recording devices to store and process info.
When all of these are packaged into a cost-effective and efficient unit with a compact footprint – we land ourselves a Data Radio!
Advanced data radios boast of features like remote "Ping" capability, store-and-forward repeater capability, ultra-quick T-R switching times, and temperature, current and voltage monitoring.
Data Radio for Amateurs
Amateur radio enthusiasts use a variety of image, speech and data communication options. Licensing authorities monitor all amateur transmissions, especially if they sense undisclosed or encrypted transmissions, both of which are not permitted expect for professional satellite vehicle uplinks.
Analog speech transmission can be carried out over any regular data radio which can handle AM, FM, PM, SSD and ISB modulations. Digital ones would encode the signals into a data stream before trans-reception using either proprietary coding or free-for-use software CODECs for audio file-types.
Several websites also offer access to automatic packet reporting system (APRS) mode of digital communication in order to trans-receive geo-location/ map data, SMS, and other short peer-to-peer information packets. A network of digital repeaters along with a quality data radio suffices.
In other cases, digital modes of the Amateur (“ham”) radio takes an input data stream from the transmitting computer and sends it via radio communication to a similarly equipped receiver in short bursts (or packets) of information.
Data Radio for Professionals
Communication is a critical aspect of several professional sectors. Healthcare, security, education, space research and retail point-of-sales (POS) are just some of the sectors which value the ability to quickly and efficiently get in touch with disparate and remote information locations and communicate over radio signals. Vehicle tracking and telematics are also getting increasing leverage with the Internet of Things (IoT) wearable devices, ‘smart’ cars and ‘connected’ homes getting plenty of traction. Exposure to wide range of conditions and volume of information in flux demands a cost-effective device with excellent physical endurance and signal fidelity. Data radios check all the right boxes as a device of choice.
A professional-grade data radio must have compatible aerials, relevant and clear measurement displays, easy configuration options (including offline ones) and a wide operating range. Additionally, it must be compliant with industrial protocols and provide network options for point-to-point, point-to-multi-point or multi-point to multi-point networks.
Depending on your radio telemetry needs, a data radio unit may vary in power settings, modulation options, mechanical volume and connector strength. However, for excellent mechanical durability, solid power output and ease of configuration either with an existing wireless application or a stand-alone unit, the SD-125E Data Radio provides an unbeatable package.
Whether you are an amateur radio enthusiast or a professional wireless communication expert who needs a reliable all-weather telemetry radio, the SD-125E is guaranteed to deliver the performance you seek. Nimble but sturdy, the device can work seamlessly with any Windows OS device.