Monthly Archives: August 2013

ViaSat KA Band Internet Satellite – Review

Exede Portable KA Band Review: This is a small portable package that delivers big internet service from KA space segment provided by ViaSat1 satellite at 115.1W.

.85M Carbon Fiber Exede Satellite DishThe small .85M dish sets up quickly and points easily, typically in under 5 minutes.  You rough it in using the angle finder gauge and then adjust with the fine screw azimuth and inclination until reaching the highest dB gain on the front panel of the Surfbeam2® Pro Portable Terminal (pictured).  This is typically around 8.10 dB or greater.  There’s also an audible beep that changes pitch until it reaches threshold then goes to a steady tone indicating you have reached zenith and you can hit enter and acquire network connectivity. The screen indicates a look up of GPS which is indicative of any TDMA network VSAT device and then it locks into internet.  My only misgiving is that it doesn’t tell you it’s actually in network, it just stops blinking and beeping around. There are several LED’s on the front panel to tell you PWR, TX, RX and ENET indicating you have internet. The best part of the device is running a speed test once you have in online, which is surprising, because you see download speeds nearing 20MB and 5MB on upload, which is usually reserved for terrestrial cable providers but not VSAT systems on KU or C-band. There are four Ethernet metal RJ45 jacks in the front, which is right where I want them.  The ergonomics were well thought out with the Ethernet router built into it, which I’m told is a Cisco OEM. There is a hinged steel lid to close and protect the LCD display and membrane soft control keys, which in my opinion could have been a little larger, my eyes and age showing here.

This unit is sturdy made of Carbon Fiber on the dish which assembles easily and intuitively. The Control panel will attach to the base with one built in removable pin assembly. I opted to move it indoors after pointing.  There is one coaxial cable F connector which surprise me that there’s no LNB or TX to keep straight, which was a great idea.  How many have gotten these turned around or arced out an LNB?  Come on fess up, you know who you are! So any way, this is a very robust military style designed hardware package, obviously intended for portable mobile deployment. There’s a pole mounted domestic version with standard set top box style modem packaged for under $1,500 I’m told.  There’s a SMA connector with a 2 meter antennae lead for the GPS device which is magnetic.  Oh yeah the stand is non-Ferris so it won’t stick.

Speed test on ViaSat

Speed test on ViaSat

I ran several speed tests, did my usual Hulu download, watched an episode of Star Trek Generations and didn’t see any obvious drop outs. I still am having a hard time justifying the data package costs, but clearly the pre-purchase plans are the way to go. If one was using this for home, you could run up quite a bandwidth bill if you weren’t careful.  I believe this will be very nice for DSNG users out there wanting quick deployable IP transport.  I’m told there are 3 vendors in the offering for Auto Acquisition for Drive Away and Quick deployable systems from AvL, C-Com and even Winegard. Considering the size and overall weight of this portable, which fits snuggly in an ATA style trunk, you could ESNG this around the world nicely. Portable office for Oil and Gas exploration, Geology, Disaster Recovery, or mobile office on the go, this is a nice package indeed.

We feed the Exede with a WELLAV SMP100 H.264 HD video encoder but weren’t able to connect to my colleagues streaming WOWZA server at first try.  Considering the “IN routes” capacity, this is the only thing that concerns me with the DSNG application, is having enough upload bandwidth to make an adequate video encoded picture.  Having said that, I have seen some remarkable 1MB uplink codecs and fly away systems recently that were very usable on the air for stand up news gathering. The global spot beams download capacity is something short of wonderful and will never leave you wanting more speed, well most people any way. It always comes down to “How good is good enough” and what it the real application. No, I’m not going to use it for multiple camera shoot on a sports or entertainment, but it could do in a pinch.  Certainly video conferencing even at the Video presence level would look very nice.  News gathering without excessive motion contribution is fine, and let’s face it a talking head in front of waves, fires or disaster doesn’t require that much bandwidth in reality.  Obviously the Disaster Recovery market is an excellent use for this little guy and I’m told the Red Cross has already purchased 70+ units for field use.  I did test my NEW Pearl 3203 IS (Intrinsically Safe) Wi-Fi “SIP/VoIP” phones across it and it was remarkably clean and low in latency for a satellite system.  If one were to combine my favorite MESH/MIMNO Ruckus (5GHz /2,4GHz) Wireless outdoor access point network combined with this, would be powerful mobile communications and command center package.

KA Band, ok well everyone says, the spot beams have holes and don’t overlap. I can’t attest to this but in discussions with factory personal, I’m told the overlapping and switching is now seamless and operates much like a cell phone network. This I haven’t test and can only say, I’m happy to hear they addressed this issue and have a solution in place.  If this is true, the aforementioned DSNG for the likes of storm chasers should yield some impressive footage in the days and years to come.

The other technical issue is the nasty one “Rain Fade”. This unit operates with a 4Watt BUC and I’m told they are developing an 8Watt version for future release.  I haven’t had the opportunity to operate in a down poor or good ole Texas thunder storm yet as we are still having a drought here.  However, the efficiency seems to be good and I would guess with the doubling the power and additional 3dB of link budget should get one through the nastiest of weather. Again, we’ll see how our storm chases fair with this last one

As always, I make no claims, these are only my subjective opinion and you are welcome to disagree with my findings base

d on your own. Always happy to share.

Michael C. Creamer

Founder Managing Partner – FAVNET LLC

For more information:

E-mail michaelc@favnet.net

Exede ViaSat Surfbeam controller interface

ViaSat Surfbeam2® Controller interface

 

ViaSat Surfbeam rear panel connectors

ViaSat Surfbean 2® Rear panel connections

ViaSat Exede Carbon Fiber w/4W BUC

ViaSat Exede Carbon Fiber w/4W BUC

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WELLAV Successful Encoder/Decoder Testing

August 17, 2103 marked the first complete day of successful day of lab testing the NEW WELLAV SMP100 H.264 video encoder and their UMH “IRD“(Integrated Receiver Demodulator) decoder online. I am happy to report its 100% with no line errors dropped packets or tiling!  Now we just need to modulate it up on the bird and confirm all of our specifications to our “Link Budgets” and were complete!  Well and get take the confirmation feed back and utilize the L-band input on the UMH with it’s selectable ASI,  C or KU band tuner on the input selection. Today is was ASI input to HDMI to the second 43″ LED monitor.

Yes, FAVNET will become a reseller of these fine products from China to any and all who wish to have a cost effective high performance H.264 Encoder scheme.  Test signals included a SONY Blue Ray for 8 hours alongside a professional CANNON HD SDI camera on input 2 and switched back and forth. Noteworthy, you can push the stream engine to 12 assignable IP outputs simultaneously while output to 2 x ASI as well for the uplink satellite chain. Nice when you have IP based solutions over the internet or a push to a CDN house. Initially had some audio pumping from the decoder only which turned out to be a setting in the output of the ASI chain in the encoder settings! Duh! Thanks to Jordan – technical sales support; who in 2 minutes on Team Viewer spotted the error.

The SMP100 chassis frame supports all sorts of modules including transcoding, so if you think you want to “Chunk” for CDN for iPhone, Droid, Flash, WM player, well you can while you are steaming out your primary high bandwidth encoded signals. Will generate in either Unicast of Multicast UDP or RTP as well.

The SMP100 frame will hold 3 encoder modules which are mostly dual inputs as well.  I found myself switching back and forth between sources, not really fast, but very usable. BTW – I did a hard reboot and clock it at 38 seconds which is pretty darn good. Certainly fast enough to carry off during a TV Ad commercial break! In comparison, I have seen 90 seconds to 2 minutes on encoders costing 5-10 times the price. More as we progress to the next phase of our FCS (FAVNET Certified Solutions) Broadcast IP-Video Uplink trailers and services roll out.

Successful H.264 Video encoder testing

Successful H.264 Video encoder testing  WEALLAV products