YOU ARE AT:Test and MeasurementDrones used for RF test and measurement

Drones used for RF test and measurement

The testing and measurement of radio frequency signals is a multi-million dollar business that relies on versatile hardware and sophisticated software. Now unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, are set to become an important part of the RF measurement industry. A U.S. startup called RDF Wireless, a Canadian subsidiary of Gap Wireless, and an Australian company called SIXARMS are three providers of drone-based RF test measurement services.

RDF Wireless
RDF Wireless, founded by tower industry veteran Phil Larsen, uses custom-made drones and a proprietary algorithm to map RF signals for clients in the public and private sectors. Larsen said the company’s drones weigh just 33 pounds fully loaded with equipment, putting them well below the Federal Aviation Administration’s 50 pound limit.

Anritsu and Tektronix are RDF’s two test equipment partners. The RDF drones typically keep the equipment 40-50 feet away from the tower during signal testing.

“Drones don’t like RF because they use RF,” said Larsen. Nonetheless, customers and potential customers are telling him they want to use drones to test RF signals because the UAVs can test from positions that humans cannot. Larsen also sees demand for drones as testers for satellite signals, and his company is using a specific spectrum analyzer for that purpose.

inUAVi
inUAVi is a drone provider formed by Canadian equipment supplier Gap Wireless. Marc Bouvrette, the president of both companies, said inUAVi offers network quality testing through an unnamed partner.

“For enterprises doing antenna inspections and deployments, real-time measurements can enable immediate adjustments to the network, provide more accurate measurements, and reduce the time required to inspect and adjust wireless equipment,” Bouvrette said.

inUAVi’s proprietary radio modules process signals in WCDMA and LTE bands, and can measure channel power, signal to noise ratios, and various spectrum parameters. The measurements are immediately transmitted to ground-based crews, who can read them in an iOS application.

SIXARMS
Australia’s SIXARMS, formerly Innovative Drone Solutions, initially partnered with Signal Hound. The company mounted Signal Hound’s compact signal analyzer on a drone to characterize the radiation patterns of tower antennas.

Now SIXARMS is integrating RF measurement systems with several different drones from various manufacturers. The solution includes an integrated RF receiver and onboard computer, calibrated antennas and a ground control station that runs SIXARMS’ software. SIXARMS also offers the RF measurement system as a standalone solution that a company can mount onto its own drone.

Follow me on Twitter.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrassehttp://www.nbreports.com
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports (nbreports.com). At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

Editorial Reports

White Papers

Webinars

Featured Content