The widespread use of satellite networks depends on two key drivers; their cost and their usability. In order to use satellite links, professional equipment is required that needs to be installed and configured by a specialist; it is too extensive and involved for the end user. The cost of that equipment and the specialist is an on-going challenge, which satellite service providers undertake significant research and development to mitigate.
The end-user of satellite services is not a technician but, in most cases, a person with limited technical knowledge and a basic understanding of the setup of a satellite installation. This project seeks to achieve two general goals. Firstly, to demonstrate the simplification for standard fixed satellite installations, resulting in cost savings for an installer company and ultimately in a self-aligning antenna system fit for self-installation by the end user. Secondly, to remove cost barriers for a wide range of applications by implementing a low-cost, vendor-independent and self-aligning antenna system.
STAB has developed, under the ESA ARTES 5 programme, a prototype motorised system with auto pointing that can enable a two-way satellite self-installation. The innovative aspect of this all-in-one package consists of offering users a simple and immediate installation procedure, with precision of less than 0.3°, regardless of the installation place and terminal used.
Avanti brings experience as a satellite operator and provider of rural broadband services and provides access to the market for exploitation of the project’s results. Avanti also has the expertise required for developing a robust software interface and validating the deployment for the YouDo product.
The overall objective of the project was to bring the motor unit from a prototype to a marketable product with specific objectives as follows:
- Develop a set of consolidated requirements for a commercial YouDo product;
- Develop a robust software interface between the motor unit design and Satellite Interactive Terminal for self-aligning antenna’s;
- Develop a motorised professional terminal for Ka/Ku frequency band as well as Ka/Ka frequency band;
- Confirm interoperability with different manufacturers through testing;
- Resolve specific challenges concerning power supply to the motor.
In order to validate the durability, reliability and user friendliness of the developed “motorised kit”, the equipment was put into real world trials using Avanti’s network of service partners.
- Bring the prototype unit developed by STAB under the ESA ARTES 5 programme into the market as a commercial product.
- Test the developed product during real world trials by using Avanti’s network of service partners.
- Deliver a business plan for the developed product and evaluate its commercial feasibility.
The YouDo product is envisaged to suit both fixed installs (fit, align and forget) and semi-mobile/nomadic users. It opens up a new market segment for DIY home users and small businesses, since the kit is designed to be set up by non-professional, without prior experience in Ka-band antenna alignment. As the kit allows the antenna to be moved and re-aligned without the need for a service call to a professional engineer, it will suit the semi-mobile user group, e.g. construction, mining, caravans, holiday homes, etc.
The benefits will be as follows:
- Wider spread use of satellite broadband;
- Simplified, close to “Do It Yourself” (DIY) Installation;
- Lower installation costs for operators;
- Lower upfront costs for end users.
- Affordable motorised solution for semi-mobile/nomadic users
The YouDo Solution
The YouDo solution consists of a motor, a dish mount support, a motor interface unit and an off-the-shelf wireless router. The motor interface unit is a small device, inserted between the modem and the motor via standard coaxial cabling, providing control and power to the motor. The motor is mounted on a standard pole and connected to the LNB. The wireless router allows the solution to be operated completely wirelessly via the provided software, available for PC, Mac or Android smartphones/tablets. The figure below depicts a high level architecture for the YouDo System, including the main components and their connections.
Installation Setup & Software
The supplied software allows for configuring, aligning and commissioning the install into a fully running service, all integrated in a single user friendly step-by-step guide. All required installation parameters are supplied within a small sticker in each kit. No further need for specialist equipment such as satellite meters or inclinometers, the only required tools for setting up a YouDo install is a single spanner and a compass (integrated in Android app).
Each step of a typical YouDo installation (assembly, installation, alignment and service commissioning) are being presented in the following video:
The work was divided into six work package series addressing:
- System Design
- Assembly & Testing
- Field Trials & Exploitation
The project kicked off in July 2011, with requirement definition and design and development continuing until the end of the year. The implementation and testing phase followed until Sep 2012, where the field trial phase of the project started and continued until May 2013. The project finished in July 2013.