Experimental Radio Applications at the FCC

This summarizes a selection of applications for the Experimental Radio Service received by the FCC during January 25-29: radar, mobile broadband, auto-tracking antennas, millimeter wave, missile telemetry, astronomy research support.

  • Powerwave, a wireless infrastructure vendor, files an application and supporting exhibits for experimental license to operate on 210-216 and 450-456 MHz in Santa Ana, California. The company wants to test operational and coverage aspects of Mobile Broadband Routable Internet (MBRI) users as they move about a campus setting. Hardware and software for handover, quality of service, and power control is to be tested.

  • SpotterRF files an application for experimental license to test the Spotter model SPR2.0 radar in Utah on 9.95-10.60 GHz. There is not much detail in the filing at this time. There has been correspondence between the applicant and the FCC as to what extent information filed will be considered confidential. Looking at the company’s web site, I presume the test involves a small 3-pound radar intended to track walkers up to 1 km, and “crawlers” up to 500 m. A brief video is illustrative. The market is law enforcement and military. SpotterRF is a division of ImSAR a vendor of synthetic aperture radar.
  • Raytheon Network Centric Systems files an application and supporting exhibit for special temporary authority to experiment with the Pathfinder/ST MK2 radar system. Testing is to be near Marlborough, Massachusetts on 8-12 GHz, and involves experimentation related to war fighter missions.
  • ViaSat files an application and supporting exhibits for experimental license to conduct unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) tracking antenna experiments near Ocotillo, California on 4400-4950 MHz. The company says it is developing an auto-tracking antenna to be used with its airborne communications equipment, wants to test tracking algorithms. The UAV will be simulated using a helicopter. For the communications link the company will use its Enerlinks III product, a full-duplex digital data link that carry IP traffic over L-, S- or C-band frequencies at data rates from 50 kbps to 11 Mbps.
  • The Aerospace Corporation files an application and supporting exhibits to test millimeter-wave transmission in El Segundo, California on 71-76 and 81-86 GHz. More specifically, the company says it will be studying propagation and data impairments under various weather conditions, with the goal of finding the parameters (coding, filtering, signal-to-noise ratio) required for reliable communications at data rates up to 6 Gbps. This is a feasibility demonstration for the US Air Force, which is said to have an interest in utilizing these bands for satellite applications.
  • Lockheed Martin files an application and supporting exhibits to test an “Expanded Telemetry (E-TM)” system to support DAGR, an add-on kit for unguided missiles that gives them laser-guidance capability. Testing will be near Bihlo, Florida on 2.417 and 4.700 GHz.
  • The University of Utah Physics Department files an application and supporting exhibits for an experimental license to operate on 2400-2483.5 MHz near Hinckley, Utah. The Department is a primary member of a team conducting the Telescope Array research project, a collaborative effort by the University of Utah, University of New Mexico, University of Montana, and several universities in Japan. They plan to build a cosmic ray observatory to try to determine the source of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays. An array of 576 scintillation detectors will be installed over 400 square miles. The applicant explains:

When a cosmic ray hits atmospheric gases, it causes a cascade or “air shower” of other subatomic particles that reach the ground and will be measured by the scintillation detectors. Each detector will contain a flat plastic plate that produces a measurable pulse of light when hit by the particles. Each solar-powered scintillation detector will sit on a 2-foot-tall stainless steel table measuring 6-by-10-feet wide. Each of the 576 detectors will be three-fourths of a mile from other detectors.

The experimental license is for a communications network linking the detectors using Wi-Fi (specifically, IEEE 802.11b). Five base stations will be constructed. They will poll the detectors for measurement data. The  network cannot operate unlicensed under Part 15 because the radio equipment, supplied by the Japanese participants, has not been certified by the FCC.